Regina (Lana Parrilla) has been in the spotlight all year on Once Upon a Time Season 2. From her attempts to put aside her wicked ways in the earlier part of the season, to her misguided devotion to her mother, to her current crazy plan to destroy Storybrooke, we've seen every side of her, from Evil Queen to distraught and loving mother. Now we're wondering: Do you think she's actually redeemable?
In many ways, this season has made a strong argument in both directions. On one hand, we've been given a painful look into Regina's past; it's been made very clear that she started out as a sweet girl with a good heart. Years of abuse from her mother, culminating in the murder of her True Love in front of her eyes, was enough to make her unstable — a situation Rumplestiltskin skillfully used to his advantage, easily manipulating her down a path of magic and darkness.
At her core, under all the pain and anger and obsessive need for vengeance, Regina is still just a woman who wants to be accepted and loved. Her mother was literally heartless, her True Love was torn away from her — arguably, all she wants is to fill that void. In the flashback during Season 2, Episode 20: "The Evil Queen," it even looked like she was going to forgive Snow and try for a family once again, until Snow declared that Regina was pure evil after all.
On the other hand, there's a reason Snow made that declaration: Regina had ordered an entire village be slaughtered for defying her. And she hasn't exactly learned her lesson, since her latest plan is to destroy Storybrooke so she can have Henry all to herself. Regina's version of love is possessive and unforgiving; her perception of herself as the constant victim is so out of step with reality it's hard to see how she can ever truly fix herself. Yes, she had a terrible childhood. Yes, people don't give her a chance. But neither of those facts excuses the number of times she's returned to horrific evil — including wiping her own son's memory this week — after facing the slightest obstacle.
In our view, redemption for Regina needs to work a bit like recovery from addiction if it's going to be narratively satisfying and believable. She has to make the decision to change for herself. As long as she waits for other people to forgive her, she's always going to fail, because she has done unforgivable things. If she wants real redemption she needs to own up to the choices she has made and show that she's willing to change even before people are willing to forgive her. That's the only way it will stick.
The question is, is Regina even capable of seeing her own culpability anymore, or has her ability to reason been too warped by magic, abuse, and manipulation? We're pulling for her to see the light, but every time she whips out a new plan that's more evil than the last, we have to wonder if she'll ever change for good.
What do you think: Is Regina redeemable, or is she too far gone? Do you want to see her redeemed, or do you prefer her as a fabulous villain? Let us know in the comments below.
Catch the next episode of Once Upon a Time on Sunday, May 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.