OUaT - Who am I inside?
or, My thoughts on Regina and redemption
I think that no matter what Regina does, her past will always haunt her, whether it’s in the form of other people or in herself. There are those who will always see her as the Evil Queen, those who believe that that is who she is at the core — innately evil and unforgivable. There are the internal demons, the ones in which she herself doesn’t believe she can ever truly change, to be someone who is worthy of love which is why her attempts to be worthy sometimes seem futile (“But I am— I was… trying so hard to be worthy of Henry’s love.”)
I think a huge part of Regina’s redemption arc needs to be about her coming to terms with herself, to find the real Regina that she’s buried deep inside and shielded from other people since the early days in FTL. That’s how I decided on the line: “Who am I inside?” I think it’s futile to look for validation of worthiness or “goodness” in someone else because that is not healthy and it doesn’t work long term. She needs to find those things inside and then strive to be better, not just for someone else, but for herself. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of that person saying, “Jump,” and her asking, “How high?” And that isn’t true change within herself, that’s obedience and dependence.
She needs to heal all the old wounds, get to the root of all the things that made her so sad and angry and broken. Because her whole life has been about patching up every hurt and pain, but never getting to the source of that hurt and pain. I think it’s important that she come to terms with them and how they led her down such a dark path (and how they made her so susceptible to manipulation from Cora and Rumpel to go down that path.)
So I wish the show would address that, instead of simply having Henry tell her that she shouldn’t use magic and she’s bad if she does. Why is magic such an addiction for Regina, why does she feel like she needs it so much? Because it takes away the pain. She first used it when she pushed Cora through the Looking Glass and that was during a period when Daniel had just been murdered and her mother forced her, then literally trapped her in a marriage with Leopold. This is why later, after much pushing, she admits to Rumpel that magic “felt good.”
I hope that in future episodes, Regina breaks away from Cora because of some revelation/wake-up-call that she has by herself. I don’t want Henry to come along at some convenient time and say, “Mom! Don’t do this!” Because right now, she’s still that little girl starved for love and approval, especially from her mother who never gave that to her when she was young. Some people say that Regina is completely unrecognizable at this point or that she must be stupid not to see Cora’s manipulation. But I just see this sad little girl who will do anything to get the love that she thinks Cora is giving her right now — “I love you” (love) and “I’m impressed, Regina” (approval). I think it’s always been obvious that Cora is her biggest weakness because despite all the abuse, Regina can’t help but love Cora. And that was before Cora started giving that love back in an observable and appreciable form, even if it’s very twisted.
So I hope Regina finds out who she is inside (not innately evil, forgivable, loveable) and realize that none of that aligns with what her mother stands for and what Cora wants for her. I hope that she finds all that in herself instead of depending on Henry or other people to validate that. I hope that maybe then, she can truly start to heal.