[WARNING: Some spoilers up to the winter hiatus.]
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the baddest of them all?
On Once Upon a Time there are a number of villainous characters, from the gorgeous Captain Hook to the selfish Queen of Hearts to the very enjoyable but very dark Rumplestiltskin. For every fairytale hero the show presents an antagonist, though some only appear once (shout out to Emma Caufield for her single appearance as the terrifying witch in the Hansel and Gretel episode) while others, such as Rumple, are inserted as the baddie in a different story.
Of all the villains of Disney, one of the classics is the Evil Queen from Snow White’s story, and boy, does OUAT deliver. When we first meet her, we get the full-on Evil Queen treatment: ambitious, fiercely protective of what she thinks is hers, intensely jealous of Snow White, and pretty much just as evil as you’d expect.
Within the fandom there is a lot of love for Regina. One reason that I love OUAT’s treatment of the villains (and conversely the “good guys”) is that by using flashback scenes we get to see the development of character. We get to see the journey that each person takes to get where they are in the present day in the show; most of the time we get to see the major forks in the road, where a character takes a stand or descends further into darkness. Regina’s back-story, among other things, is a major reason as to why the fans love her.
Though there are many problems with the shipping wars that take place within the fandom, there is an overwhelming appreciation for the woman that raised Henry. She brought a kingdom to its knees by casting a spell that altered everyone’s memories and took them to a new world. She’s a powerful woman in her own right, but circumstances had led to her to this path rather than one of good. And sometimes that’s a more interesting road to follow.
Reasons Why We Love Regina Mills, the Evil Queen:
1) She’s played by the fabulous Lana Parrilla
It’s definitely not an easy role to play, but Lana Parrilla does it with grace and truthfulness, plus she’s absolutely gorgeous. The Evil Queen did not start evil; Lana does a magnificent job showing the transition and character growth through the flashbacks and present-day scenes. And we also see her development and reconciliation with her role as Henry’s mother at the end of the first half of the third season. She takes responsibility for her deeds and lets go of the one thing that she had fought for the first two and a half seasons: the one person that loved her, Henry. That development isn’t always easy to do as an actor, but with the storyline of the Season Three and her talent it seemed natural and rather heartbreaking. Not only is she talented, but she’s also the type of actor that loves and appreciates her fans, taking time to respond to Tweets and promote causes that are important, such as Feathers of Hope (against cyber bullying). She’s really lovely to her fans and her costars, especially Jared Gilmore, who plays her son Henry. It’s hard to hate a woman who’s as talented, sweet, and lovely as Lana Parrilla.
2) Her heart-wrenching backstory
Of all the fantastic backstories of the series, the most heart breaking has got to be Regina’s. From her intense mommy issues to her arranged marriage, Regina has lacked a lot in the love department, making her story one that doesn’t excuse her actions, but rather explains her motivations throughout. Chronologically, her story moves through her being saved by a young Snow White, the loss of her love at her mother’s hands, her marriage to Snow White’s father, learning magic from Rumplestiltskin, taking the crown at Snow’s father’s death, many attempts to kill or capture Snow, and the casting of the curse that lands the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest in Storybrooke. Her story is set off by her own mother, Cora, who pushes her to power rather than allowing her to decide her own path. At the root of Regina’s problems is a lack of love. She was never shown love from her mother, her own love was killed before her eyes, and she killed her father in order to create a powerful enough spell to destroy Snow White’s happiness. In the Enchanted Forest, as in Storybrooke, Regina has very little love from the people. All she really wants is for someone to love her, which is why she adopts a child.
3) Her love for Henry
One of my criticisms of the show is that it hasn’t always treated Regina’s role as Henry’s mother in a positive light. There is a lot of emphasis on Emma as Henry’s biological mother, but Regina’s constant defense is that for all intents and purposes she is his mother – she raised him almost from his birth. This is critical to the development of the story, especially the growth of Regina’s character as she reluctantly joins forces with the Charmings & co. as they sail off to Neverland to rescue Henry. It’s through this journey that she undergoes major character development. When they return to Storybrooke they have more issues than just joint custody battles. Though they have to switch back Henry and Pan’s bodies, the real problem is the curse that Pan has set on the town that will take them all back to the Enchanted Forest. She decides that her love for Henry is enough to let him go, to do what Emma did when he was born in order to give him a better life. In this she act proves her love, though many of the viewers have never doubted her.
Though I have made my thoughts on the wardrobe of OUAT known, my last comments on the matter were on male costumes. The Evil Queen’s wardrobe easily tops any costume on the show. She has a gorgeous array of clothing for every single flashback scene. They do such an incredible job juxtaposing her with Snow White in the flashbacks that she ends up looking fierce and glamorous and we all love it.
Christina Casano is a TV & Film Writer at Girls in Capes and studies Theatre and Mass Communication at Miami University in Ohio. She is the resident expert on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her wardrobe is not nearly as fabulous as Regina Mills’.