I'm really liking where this season is going, especially in terms of the aftermath of the curse being broken and how it doesn't automatically solve everyone's problems, including magic being unleashed and it simply doesn't work the same as it would have in their world. One the drawbacks that, despite breaking the curse, they are still trapped in Storybrooke. Attempting to leave with only result to them reverting to their Storybrooke alter egos with no memory of their former selves and magic and everything else. That is something very interesting and it makes me wonder if this is the side effect of what Rumpelstiltskin did or if breaking the curse isn't all there is to solving everyone's problems. I mean, again, all this was cleverly constructed by Rumpelstiltskin for a long, long time, maybe there was something he missed? I don't know, but I'm loving that it's a long more difficult that simply solving issues with magic. Because as we all know, magic always comes with a price.
Another thing I loved is the aspect of their dual selves.
Charming explained this during his speech at the end, that regardless of everything that has happened they are who they are. Both worlds and memories must coexist with each other now because no matter what that's who they are.
Which leads me to Regina, and why I believe this episode focused on her in the flashbacks. We see the origins of how she is the way she is now, and I think she's battling this very thing with herself, between power and love for Henry, which I believe she does love Henry, but she is confused on how to go about loving without using power to get it. We have her former self who just wants to be free from everything, wants to live her own life, and then we have the Regina that was created to want power and control. We found that the only way that she ever got her freedom was by using magic, and it was against her mother, the one that was keeping her from her goal. So, in a sense, Regina's first lesson of getting that freedom and getting what she desired the most was the one thing she swore she wouldn't ever use for personal gain. That is the only thing she knows. She never wanted to become her mother, she continually tried to fight against it, and yet here she is. She is her mother. But even now she recognizes that she doesn't want to be, but she knows deep down that is who she has become.
Which is why her decision of letting Henry go after taking him and trying to seduce him via magic was the greatest sacrifice for her, at least at the current moment. Giving up Henry and her confession to him was something big for her character.
Of course this doesn't erase what she's done and probably will continue to do, because that can't be reversed overnight, but we see that she's contemplating her decisions. She wanted to burn the spell book, after all, realizing that it would never get her what she wanted. But at the same time she kept it. Could it be for safe keeping? That one day she might need it again? Perhaps, I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, because she does love Henry and she promised that she wants to redeem herself and in a sense I do believe her, since she does recognize the things she's done only because she wants happiness and freedom (and again, the only way she's ever known how to get that was through magic and manipulation.) But we all know that Regina, despite her best efforts, will go back to her old ways if the opportunity calls for it.
But in a sense, I do want the show to have Regina set off on a redemption arc. I have a feeling with Emma and Snow encountering Cora in fairytale land things are gonna get pretty interesting.
So far, I am liking the direction of this season. I am definitely looking forward to what else is coming and how they are going to handle these two storylines between Storybrooke and the post-apocalyptic fairytale land (and additionally having a third storyline via flashbacks of individual characters.)