Season 4, Episode 11 (Heroes and Villains)
In a dramatic finish worthy of a heartfelt ballad as the curtain falls (leaving us in tears as we queue up to the toilets or head for refreshments), our favourite main characters (can’t really call them heroes or villains at this point) find themselves separated from their loved ones by the town line. For Regina, she wins a dubious victory in that Marian is willing to let her and Robin be together rather than staying with her out of duty. However, the Snow Queen’s curse on Marian begins to resurface and the only way to save her seems to be to send her over the town line where magic has no effect. Because Marian has never lived outside the Enchanted Forest, she would be entirely lost without her family. Robin ends up staying with her out of duty to her and Roland – familial rather than romantic love winning out. Regina even acknowledges that she would have done the same, but their parting is no less dramatic, sad, or uncomfortable. Marian is not happy about the situation and just wants to get away from Storybrooke, Roland is confused, and Robin and Regina are devastated. The whole scene is terribly unjust to all parties. Regina is entirely justified in thinking that the author of the book must have it out for her and not want her to have a happy ending. Her search for the author, therefore, is indeed the fairytale equivalent of searching for God. What would she have to do to make Him (or her, in the author’s case) give her a happy ending? What must she do to redeem herself? Hasn’t she done enough? What is enough? Does it even matter about “enough”?
I’m interested to see what the writers of the show do with this subplot. It is a natural human question – why must injustice happen? How can we make it right? Can we? These questions flow especially naturally from one of the show’s main themes, namely that Evil isn’t born, it’s made.
Meanwhile, the rest of the ballad involves Belle finally realising the Rumplestiltskin has fooled her with the dagger. She finds the real dagger and commands her husband to leave Storybrooke forever. For the first time since becoming the Dark One, Rumplestiltskin is alone, crippled, powerless, and afraid. He resolves to take his own happy ending for himself, even as he is banished, and he finds new villains who have been wronged in the past to help him. He has been disillusioned with waiting for God. Is he irredeemable? Never say never, but at this point, he needs a lot of counselling.
The rest of our main characters are in a relatively good place. Hook is saved from the brink of death and reunited with Emma. The Charmings have much-deserved quiet time together. Henry and Emma are resolved to help Regina in her quest – especially important for Henry, who may well become a villain in a vain attempt to be a hero.
Ultimately, every villain is a hero of their own story. They think that they are righting wrongs or correcting injustice. They think that they are entitled to happiness and wealth over others, or that hurting others is justified if it is for a nobler purpose. They don’t recognise their inherent wrongness. Paradoxically, the Charmings are the designated heroes, but they have more in common with a lot of literary villains: they are sure in their beliefs, always seem to win, relentless in their pursuit of helping others. In this series, “good” is the force attacking our heroes – for I would argue that Emma, Regina, and Rumplestiltskin are the show’s main heroes – to make them less evil. Luckily, they seem to be winning – as they should.
Now for refreshments.