When hearing the title of this episode “The Evil Queen”, it felt like a generic label for the latest of many Regina episodes. However the episode made the title perfect. It captures Regina’s insecurity with the evil way her actions have been perceived and her delusion about the justification for her actions.
This episode’s flashback is one of my favorites of the series. In disguise Regina comes face to face with the innocent belief in kindness in Snow, before her actions kills it in her and sends Snow down the angrier pathway eventually leading to her killing Cora. While Snow lets off Regina later from execution in another episode, that Snow doesn’t forgive Regina or see her as less than evil, just that she shouldn’t die. In the episode where Regina is once again interrogated in Storybrooke after the Cricket murder framing, Snow wants her to die, completing her transformation that leads to the revenge on Cora and Regina.
Regina cries when she hears Snow’s forgiveness because that’s better than her. And as is usually the case, although on the verge of a better road, her actions in the past make it impossible. Though it bears mentioning although Snow stops forgiving her when she sees the body, Regina doesn’t make another attempt to get right. She uses it an excuse to go evil for good. In Storybrooke, Regina’s attempt to woo Henry into joining her in escaping Storybrooke and killing everyone else, is a fascinating moment. No level head could believe Henry’s reaction would be anything but a "wat". Regina’s delusion about what she can do without deserving blame for it, is off the charts. She is a sick puppy.
Emma and Henry do a great job in this episode. The return of Operation Cobra is charming and the scene in Tamara’s apartment between them and Neal when he arrives, is excellent scene crafting and use of a setting.
A few parts of this episode felt forced for television reasons, such as making Emma confront feelings about Neal or especially setting up a “stop the bomb” plot, though these are necessary evils for a network television show as it leads up to a season finale. Hook coming face to face with monster Maleficent didn’t excite me any more than when Emma did, though Hook clearly having a history with her is as nice touch.
Tamara and Owen introduction science that can counteract magic, opens up storyline possibilities. It increasingly seems Earth and its history with magic outside Storybrooke, will be important to the show going forward. Dr. Whale’s “It’s science” line from early in the season now holds greater relevance.
The collection of Regina-centric episodes this season when placed together, is incredible. I have concerns whether seasons in the future they’ll keep this pace with her. Perhaps like Snow & Charming, they’ll tell as many flashback stories as they feel necessary for her, then move on to fresher fields. At least through 2 seasons, the Evil Queen has to be one of all time great villains television has seen and perhaps its most complex female character in a drama.