That was … strange.
Episode Summary: In flashbacks, with the help of Tinkerbell, Regina’s father tries to bring her to her happiness by helping her find the man with the lion tattoo, but instead, she makes it so the magical arrow points her in the direction of the person she hates most. Upon remembering that she’s the person she hates most, in present day Storybrooke, Regina combines her love with the Evil Queen’s hate, and they send her back to the Wish Realm where she can start over. Emma learns the truth about what Killian did to her grandfather and just as he’s about to come home from running off to find himself, Gideon tramps him in Nemo’s submarine.
Review | Analysis: If we stop trying to figure out Once Upon A Time’s timelines and realms, we won’t be confused right? That’s essentially where I’m at with this episode. While I thoroughly loved the thematic importance of “Page 23”, when things don’t make sense, it’s a little tough to be fully engaged and pleased. But nonetheless, “Page 23” highlighted the importance of self-love beautifully. And thankfully, we no longer have to deal with the Evil Queen anymore.
Once Upon A Time knows how to remind us of the struggles we continuously face in our lives and “Page 23”, much like “Murder Most Foul” did that best by reminding us of the fact that forgiveness and self-love go together. It reminded us of the fact that at the end of the day, love will always win. It’ll always be able to heal even the darkest souls.
As we’ve mentioned in our previous reviews, this whole split between the Evil Queen and Regina wasn’t something we were ever a fan of because of the fact that they are one. And one thing I had said in the beginning was that I had hoped Regina would realize this in the end. She did. Thank heavens, she did. When Regina was first trying to make amends, the greatest barrier that stood between heroism was her inability to understand that she is responsible for her own actions. Once Upon A Time has always illuminated the importance of our choices even in the midst of fated events, and because Regina would continuously blame others for the heartaches endured, she never fully grasped that becoming a villain was entirely out of choice.
However, the Regina that stands before us today isn’t the woman we’ve once known, and I’m more intrigued with the character now. I especially appreciated the fact that when Emma apologized for convincing her to bring Robin back, she stopped her and stated that it was no one’s responsibility but her own. And even before when she blamed Zelena for what Hades had done, it was great to see them in the same room peacefully discussing what should be done with the Evil Queen. It paid great homage to “Sisters” and everything that made the episode a remarkable one.
Regina’s choice to finally admit to the fact that everything she’s done was a result of the hatred in her heart and not something forced by another person’s actions showcases the heroic growth she’s reached. And to present the episode in a way where we were given the chance to see that she is the person she hates most, in spite of the fact that she believed it was Snow was a great surprise. It was often evident that Regina hated herself, but to this extent, isn’t something I ever expected. It’s true when they say those who appear to always be on top of their game and stepping on the world are filled with the most self-hatred. And we’ve all heard it before when dealing with any sort of bully. From a young age, we’re taught that when someone’s unfairly cruel, their inner demons are greater than what we can imagine. It isn’t always our fault. Now while that’s never an excuse to misbehave because there are plenty of people with self-hatred who don’t go on murder sprees like Regina, it’s great that she’s finally come to the understanding that it was all her choice.
That’s why combining her love with the Evil Queen’s hatred felt right. At the end of the day, every human being has an ugly side — no one is perfect, but we are who we are because of the choices we make every day. And Regina’s choice to accept the fact that darkness is a part of her, but she could still choose the heroic route was the kind of ending this storyline deserved. To atone for the mistakes we’ve made, we must first apologize, accept them, then forgive ourselves. Although Regina forgave herself a while ago, in order to fully move forward as a hero, she needed to love herself, too. And loving herself meant accepting the darkest parts of herself. It meant admitting to everything that broke her. It also meant sharing her love, which is essentially never easy. It meant, accepting that the Evil Queen was and will always be a part of her.
While Regina’s life as a villain began after Daniel’s death, her life as a hero begins with Robin’s death. It’s unfortunate that Robin needed to suffer in order for Regina’s life to come full circle, but the choice to grieve as most human beings do not only honors his legacy, but it strengthens her as a character. I really, truly wish there could have been a way to bring the old Robin back for her, though.
Now, although Regina didn’t get a happy ending with Robin, we can be certain she’s okay with the fact that she still has her loved ones by her side. In that sense, it’s fascinating that in some other world, Robin and the Evil Queen could move forward. A version of Robin and a version of Regina. It’s strangely fitting. To be frank, I wish it weren’t this way because the timeline is more confusing than any math class I’ve ever taken, it’s comforting. It’s comforting that there’s some way for them to move forward. Though I still don’t understand how that realm works, it was still sweet.
While the scene with Regina hugging herself was bizarre and not something I was fully okay with, Regina remembering her face in the mirror before crushing the Evil Queen’s heart broke me. Lana Parrilla was at her strongest at the moment breaking down what’s often been the darkest part of Regina with utmost sincerity. She never wanted to become the Evil Queen. Regina Mills wanted to marry the stable boy and live a happy life riding her horses, but magic was never the dream. Darkness was never pictured. And to see that heartache in her eyes at the realization that she’s wasted years filled with such self-hatred served as an incredibly powerful moment. It’s scenes like this where Once Upon A Time is at its best. In its attempts to shine a light on the characters and their deepest quarrels, it reminds us of what is most important in life. The key to happiness isn’t revenge, but rather love — a love for ourselves and every person around us. Love and only love can save even the darkest of souls.
A lesson that Snow White has been trying to teach us for years through her kindness. A kindness, which has often been extended to people who at the time, didn’t deserve it. The Evil Queen wasn’t deserving of that kindness, but a changed Regina is a result of it. And it’s because of Snow’s choice to ceaselessly love that has helped inspire goodness in people. It’s hard to love the villains, but perhaps, it’s what saves them. It’s Snow’s kindness that’s given people the strength to find the best versions of themselves deep within. And I appreciated the fact that this week, it was not only extended to the Evil Queen but also, to her future son-in-law. While Charming didn’t trust Killian easily because of his past as a pirate, Snow had seen a lot more to be weary of him. But today, Snow White knows that Killian Jones, the man behind the façade is the only hero worthy of her daughter’s hand in marriage.
When Emma and Snow lived together as friends in season one, Snow was able to understand that Emma’s past had broken her so much, that finding love wouldn’t be easy. But she knew that if her friend kept her heart open to the possibility, one day a man would be worthy to walk alongside her. That’s why when Emma finally opened her heart to love Killian, Snow was persistent that she brings him back home from the underworld. She believed in the power of their love. And today, while she doesn’t realize how much she’s helping Killian, believing in the fact that love can save even the darkest souls was enough for him to go back home to Emma. Accepting and appreciating him for who he is, was enough to remind him of the progress he’s made. If the fairest of them all approves, who would dare to question his heroism? And even when she learns the truth, we know that Snow’s heart is big enough to understand that the man standing before them today, would take a sword to the heart instead. The man standing before them today would do anything and everything to protect the family he’s found through the woman who’s filled his heart with ardent adoration and unshakable faith.
Speaking of the broken lovers, as most of you know, I wasn’t pleased with last week’s proposal. I wanted this secret to be out before it happened, and that’s why knowing there will be a second proposal has made me an incredibly happy camper. This time, I’ll probably shed way too many tears.
But that happiness isn’t without sadness because as scene partners, Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue broke me in their fight. Although Killian is no longer the man he used to be, his heart and mind are still filled with immense self-hatred that often governs his actions and forces him to believe that he cannot be loved or forgiven. But I was absolutely amazed by the fact that Emma wasn’t angry at what he did, but rather she was upset that he didn’t go to her first. At this point, Emma knows that whatever Killian has done as Captain Hook, he’s greatly apologetic about. She knows his past has been horrifically dark. Most importantly, she knows he isn’t that man anymore. She knows it haunts him above all things.
As a character who has needed to overcome her fears in order to fully embrace love, Emma has come so incredibly far. And in this season especially, Morrison is on fire with the impeccable performances she’s putting on as a woman who’s finally found her place in the world. When you look at Emma Swan, she’s no longer broken or burdened, she’s whole and fearless. And in order to come full circle, in order to find that serenity within, Emma has needed to love herself while fully grasping the fact that she is a human being deserving of great things. Her acceptance that she is not nothing and she could pave her own road has given her the chance to truly be happy. As a result, it’s easier for her to forgive and love Killian. If he had told her the truth, in the beginning, Emma would have understood and the two of them would have found a way to tell her parents together.
But it’s easy to understand how Killian must have felt at that moment, too. Because he didn’t want to taint the unparalleled bliss in her eyes as she realized she could spend forever with him, he chose to keep a secret. O’Donoghue broke my heart in his display of self-loathing. While Emma’s eyes tell the story of a healed woman, when you look at Killian, you’re easily reminded of how deeply he regrets his choices. You’re easily reminded of the fact that he’s unable to forgive or love himself. And O’Donoghue wears that haunting guilt impeccably through his expressiveness. As his voice breaks every time he mentions his fears of losing Emma, that guilt and heartache intensify in his eyes, reminding us that she is his absolute world, and he’d do anything to be worthy of the love she gives him. Little does he know, he is. He is the only one worthy.
Once Upon A Time is a show about happy endings. It’s a show where even the villains get the chance to atone for their sins. It’s a show where even the villains could find love. And while I wish none of this happened, I’m thrilled that we’ll finally, once and for all be able to see Killian truly forgive himself for the man he used to be. Emma already has. The Charmings already have. If Regina can forgive and learn to love herself, then so can Killian. And “Page 23” did a marvelous job of revolutionizing the fact that self-love is immensely vital. It isn’t selfish to accept ourselves. It isn’t selfish to want the best for ourselves. Where there’s a healthy balance, we’re doing things right. But it’s also beautiful that “Page 23” showed us that togetherness is incredibly vital, too. We are not created to live our lives alone. Those who love us will ceaselessly fight to make sure we are our best selves, but we must also help them by confiding and trusting in them. And it was beautiful to see that come from Emma because learning to be vulnerable has been a prodigious part of her journey. Today, she’s brave enough to know that it takes strength to admit defeat, and where there’s love, there’s always hope. Where bravery is concerned, armor isn’t needed, but rather the courage to be our honest, vulnerable selves is the key to releasing whatever has burned us.
Next week, Nemo, Liam II, Killian, Ariel, Jasmine, and Aladdin. Quick, how does one build a time machine for what’ll undoubtedly be a riveting hour of television?
- I loved seeing Rose McIver reprise her role as Tinkerbell. And I’m so glad Outlaw Queen’s origin story came back because it was always my favorite part of their relationship.
- If I could ask one thing it’d be that Nemo sticks around to serve as the father figure Killian never had. It would also be for Liam II and Killian to bond. I appreciated Killian confiding in Nemo so much. It was the unexpected blessing in this week’s episode and it reminded me of how desperate Killian’s often been for a family. To this day, he still carries Liam’s death as his responsibility. He feels immense, haunting remorse for killing his father and leaving Liam II as an orphan. And that guilt continues to haunt him in spite of the fact that he’s apologized. It’s upsetting to know that such an honorable man could still feel so much pain for what he’s done in his dark days, but it’s great that Once Upon A Time reminds us of the fact that forgiveness is always possible. For inner serenity, it’s what is needed.
- Oh, Gideon, you need to find your chill, buddy. Now all because of you, Emma’s going to think Killian abandoned her. I truly hope that she’s talked out of this idea because we all know it’s her biggest fear and for it to cloud her, even for a moment, is too much to bear as her fan.
- I wanted Regina and the Evil Queen to be one person again, but it would appear as though that’s not possible. Perhaps what the shears do cannot be undone? Or the potion to split them in the first place was a permanent thing? I have no clue and if I sit here trying to figure it out, I may lose my head.
- Can we also form a prayer circle so that Regina figures out a way to lift the sleeping curse off of Snow and Charming next week? I miss Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin on my screen together.
- Speaking of Ginnifer Goodwin, how adorable was her excitement throughout this episode? Is there anyone cuter? I think not.
- Also, how exciting was Emma’s excitement over her engagement? Jennifer Morrison’s smile could melt an entire room. And in the scene at her parent’s loft, it was too adorable for words. So was Zelena’s excitement. (Let’s be real, we all know she’s the biggest Captain Swan shipper.) And I also appreciated the genuine happiness Regina had for Emma. She may not have love today, but another person’s happiness is no longer something that pains her.
- I also really loved the possible proposal scenarios Henry came up with. Let’s hope that one of them actually becomes a reality this week. And am I the only one who wishes Killian would get his blessing, too?
Sadly, I feel about this episode pretty much how you felt about the previous one.
But that is exactly why the return of your positivity is such a great thing!
Unfortunately, while your observations about Regina’s story were lovely (and they were), I just can’t get on board.
However, all the insights about Hook and Emma got me to thinking much more about them and their situation and that is always a good thing, in my opinion.
I absolutely agree about getting Henry’s approval, but considering how excited he was about the details of the engagement, they sort of already have it. And as the Truest Believer, I’d love to see him play a significant role in using that belief to convince Emma that Hook would not willingly leave her.
Thanks for another great read! I do very much enjoy the way you write.
Yeah, it’s a small detail (Henry’s approval), but it’s not something I’m sad about. He seems to loving Killian and be super excited so I’m board with it. And I can understand not being on board with Regina’s story. It isn’t easy for me, but after one negative review, I needed to dig in and find the best things to say. Thank you for your sweet feedback week after week, Amy. Your insight is always lovely and welcomed. I’m a fan of long comments lol!