While I tend not to be deeply involved in fandom these days, I still am interested in reading analysis and fan reactions. I started watching Once Upon a Time end of last year, and could binge on the first two seasons and early third one in a row. I loved this show and I can’t wait for the fourth season now that I watched the most recent finale.
There is one big thing in the show that I don’t see: Emma and Regina as a couple.
And it feels from some things I’ve read that if you think this, it is likely because you don’t want to see a same-sex couple relationship brought to the forefront of such a mainstream story. I don’t like generalizations.
I was (still am) hoping that we would see more of Mulan and Aurora and I’m crossing fingers that since Believe was sadly cancelled that Mulan will be able to return to this show, along with seeing Ruby/Red Riding Hood more again (with Intelligence having also been cancelled). It was all the more a surprise for me to root for them so much, because I am a huge Sleeping Beauty fan and always loved Aurora and Philip, but in the show, Aurora/Mulan was obvious to me and I hope to see things evolve in the upcoming seasons. I even think that if Mulan had been around Aurora when the people from the Enchanted Forrest returned, she wouldn’t have sold them to Zelena.
I would love to see more same-sex couples featured in main cast in TV shows and movies, and see them raising families together. But to me Emma and Regina ending together would look extremely forced, because I never saw any sexual or romantic chemistry between them. Many people see it, but I don’t, so I can’t imagine them together. This isn’t specific to Emma/Regina, as I have issues with some mainstream ships in media productions, such as Sheppard/Weir or Teyla/Ronon in Stargate Atlantis, Buffy/Spike in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Jaina/Jag in Star Wars, to name a few.
To me, Emma and Regina being together as a couple would only be due to Henry. And to me this isn’t a valid enough reason to put two characters together, just as putting two characters together because they are the two gay/bi/pansexual ones in a given setting (office, school, university) isn’t easily enough.
I liked how Emma started as well, but as the seasons have gone on, I have liked her less and less. Many characters in the show went through very difficult times, but I still like many of them. Emma? Not so much. Regina, just like Neal or Hook, isn’t perfect either. Being able to develop flaws to make characters credible is very important. Yet, save for a few moments, I’ve not really cared for Emma, so maybe this is why in the end, I don’t ship her with anyone.
I found her history with Neal interesting and that it brought a lot to the show, but first of all the love triangle with Neal/Emma/Hook annoyed me, but once again, this is nothing special to this case, as I have never been a fan of love triangles.
I’ve felt sorry for Hook more than once, especially given how patient he has been, how dedicated to help he has become. I am not saying that Emma should have just fallen into Hook’s arms after Neal’s death, but she didn’t always have to treat him the way she did. In the finale of the third season, some things begin to hit home in Emma’s mind, but as great as it was, I can’t help but wonder whether this new revelations will last.
Regina started as a villain, and became more and more layered as time went by, to the point she became an actual hero in the third season. I love how she has evolved and I love her character even more than before. She has also cared more for Henry than Emma in my view in the third season. While Emma’s want to return to New York makes sense because she wants to protect Henry, she doesn’t seem to think one moment about how she is taking Henry away from his other mother and his whole family now that the boy shows how well he has grown fond of Storybrooke again now that he has his memories back. (On a side note, I also love how when Hook interacted with Henry to look after him, he also mentioned Neal on a few occasions, showing that he being for Henry wasn’t just a ploy to conquer Emma).
Regarding Regina’s relationship with Robin, I think it was really well handled, despite introducing him in the third season, especially the second half. Between the omen that Tinker Bell gave earlier on, and working with the missing year in flashbacks, I like how Regina and Robin’s relationship evolved, and I also loved how they could relate to each other as parents. They both walked towards each other, in a more significant manner than Emma did with anyone (at least in present time, as I’m not talking about her past history with Neal). One thing that angered me in the finale of the third season was bringing Robin’s wife back from the past. This was gratuitous drama that was totally unnecessary in my view. It was the one big thing that peeved me in the season finale. And Regina’s horrified and hateful reaction to Emma is quite understandable, although Emma is certain she did the right thing (which technically was as saving innocent lives is the right thing).
I also like the idea that two beings who can wield supernatural powers aren’t necessarily drawn together. For example, I love how Han and Leia are to me the greatest couple in Star Wars, and she is Force sensitive and eventually trained while he never had this gift. Even as they raised three Force sensitive children together, Han wasn’t made any lesser because he didn’t have it. In a more recent example, I loved the idea of Astrid and John in The Tomorrow People even before John lost his powers, because Astrid wasn’t a lesser being either because she was a regular human. While the series narrative crumbled, I also used to love Max and Logan in Dark Angel, though she was a genetic prodigy and he was a human who ended in a wheelchair.
I am giving a lot of examples here but as I mentioned above, the main problem I have is that I’ve liked Emma less and less as time went on, and in my view the show could benefit from having her die in an epic fashion (as she is the Savior). It would throw her family and close ones through turmoil and give possibilities of character development to them, but I would really like to see that. And I am aware of how unlikely this is to happen.
To me both Emma and Regina could perfectly be bi or pansexual, and if Regina was presented with a female love interest with whom I saw chemistry when watching the show, I would be happy, but as much as I recognize that her relationship with Emma is special, I don’t see the sexual and romantic chemistry at all. I tried to see it, looking back, or seeing whether I was missing something on my screen that many other people saw, but I can’t see it, no matter how I try. I don’t necessarily see strong relationships with a romantic lens either. For example, I mentioned how I never considered Sheppard and Weir as a couple in Stargate Atlantis. I loved them both as friends/enemies/mentor and student; and liked their bond a lot, but I never saw romantic chemistry either.
So, I’ll keep watching Once Upon A Time, rooting for Regina and Robin (though I have no idea how they will get out of this new mess) and cross fingers for Mulan and Aurora. And while I don’t dislike Emma/Hook, I honestly wish Hook to find someone else, but I know that unless Emma died, this is unlikely to happen. I would like to like Emma again, but I’m not certain that this will be the case, though the show is welcome to surprise me in a good way.