I watched the winter cliffhanger to Once Upon a Time last Sunday night. I’d like to share what stood out to me and see if I can bring all that together into a coherent thought.
1. Regina was the evil queen of the Snow White story. She has been trying to be good, though. Her problem is that, in fairy tales, villains do not have happy endings, and so she fears that she will not have a happy ending. That is confirmed, in her eyes, when she loses Robin Hood, with whom she is in love. Robin Hood is married to Maid Marion, who has been comatose due to a spell by the Snow Queen. (Regina and Robin Hood did not fall in love while Robin Hood was married, for Maid Marion had died, but Emma and Hook went back in time and brought back a woman from the past, and she turned out to be Maid Marion.) Regina helps bring Maid Marion out of her coma, but Marion begins to fall back into her disease. Regina concludes that Marion can only be free of her disease outside of Storybrooke, for Marion needs to get away from magic. The thing is, no one who leaves Storybrooke can ever come back. Regina recognizes that Robin Hood will have to leave Storybrooke with Maid Marion, for it would be wrong to leave Marion out there alone. Regina does the right thing, but she is depressed because she cannot have her happy ending.
2. Regina has a talk with Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin, who himself has struggled in choosing between good and evil. Gold has decided to pursue a selfish path. Gold tells Regina that he does not need any author of fairy tales to write him a happy ending, for he will simply take his happy ending. Mr. Gold then tells Regina that, as hard as it may be for her to believe, he hopes that she will have her happy ending, too. Things do not turn out well for Gold, though. Gold’s wife, Belle, whom Gold sincerely loves, and who has long rooted for Gold to become good, learns that Gold has pursued evil and rejects Gold, making him leave Storybrooke (she has a dagger that can control Gold’s actions). Gold does not get his happy ending, after all. At the end of the show, he himself wants to find the Author!
3. Amidst her sadness, Regina actually feels happy that Gold lost out on his happy ending? Why? My guess is that it shows her that, on some level, the universe is still a fairly just place. She is disillusioned because she did the right thing and is suffering for it. It may be a relief to her to see that, notwithstanding Gold’s attempts to claim his happy ending while being selfish and evil, his selfishness and evil led to his downfall. Doing good will not always lead to things going well, but evil often contains the seeds of downfall.
4. What particularly interests me is that, on some level, Gold was being good when he was talking to Regina. He sincerely wished that she might have a happy ending, and he was offering her advice. I would not say that he was altruistic or was invested in Regina having a happy ending—-I am sure that if he had to choose between his happiness and Regina’s, he would choose his own. But he was a detached observer, one who felt that he learned some valuable life lessons and was imparting those lessons to Regina. While Gold is being somewhat giving on his path of evil and selfishness, however, Regina in her commitment to goodness gloats a bit over Gold’s misfortune.