Out of Once Upon a Time
's large cast, few characters have been as unlucky in love as former Evil Queen, Regina Mills. Regina's life has been a series of romantic misadventures that usually end with the object of her affection dead, at another's hands. It was therefore a source of excitement when Once Upon a Time executive producers teased (for months) that Regina would get a new love interest in season 7
. In the episode "A Taste of the Heights," Regina's new love was finally revealed as Dr. Facilier. Sadly, he leaves a lot to be desired as Regina's next great love.
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One Step Forward, Many Evil Steps Back
As a character, there's nothing wrong with Dr. Facilier. Once Upon a Time has always suffered from a lack of characters of color and male villains. Facilier not only manages to tick off both boxes but is quite interesting in his own right. In less than half the screen time, the live-action version of The Princess and the Frog villain has been infinitely more entertaining than season 7's real baddie, Mother Gothel.
Facilier has been a lot to fun to watch. There should be as much of him as possible in Once Upon a Time's seventh and final season. It's just very disappointing that the way that the show is bringing him into the larger narrative is through a romance with Regina. The attraction is incredibly ham-fisted and goes against everything Once Upon a Time has done with Regina's character up to this point.
Regina's entire arc on Once Upon a Time has been trying to reject her inner darkness and become a true hero. It's been a long struggle and in season 7, it's finally been achieved. For the majority of the new Once Upon a Time, there has been none of the usual repetitive waffling from Regina trying to fight between the light and the dark in her. She's become a completely different (and much stronger) person. This is why it's so bizarre that Once Upon a Time is trying to sell the audience on the idea of Regina being deeply (undeniably) attracted to the clearly evil Dr. Facilier.
There's no subtlety in Dr. Facilier, that's part of what makes him so fun to watch. He's a selfish shyster and a shameless trickster. There's nothing about Facilier that suggests any deeper emotional depths, he's just out for himself. It's the type of person that the Evil Queen might've found appealing but someone Regina should (and has) found repulsive in the past.
Obviously, the intention of Dr. Facilier and his romance with Regina is an example of Once Upon a Time personifying Regina's pull to the dark side. However, that story has been told constantly, specifically with Regina. To revisit it, in any form, is taking several steps back in Regina's development. She's grown way beyond this point.
Even if Once Upon a Time is looking to have Regina redeem Facilier, that's not particularly new ground either. Romance as a redemption motivator has been used a lot on the show already but that's not what makes it repetitive. Romantic redemption has been (unsuccessfully) employed in Regina's storyline. Regina previously had to balance an attraction for someone who wasn't good for her and trying to make him better with Wish Robin during season 6.
The idea of Regina taking all her character development and helping another redeem themselves is a sound one. It just didn't work in a romantic setting between Wish Robin and Regina. Despite the proven chemistry between actors Lana Parilla and Sean Maguire, the storyline was frustrating and tired. Regina felt so far removed from the selfish place that Wish Robin was in that they could never get on the same page.
If it couldn't work with Robin and Regina, it won't work with Regina and Facilier. Regina is even further in her story as a hero and should have even less time for Facilier's unrepentant evil ways. Yet inexplicably, Regina is like a moth to his evil flame. On top of it all, Once Upon a Time has no time to tell a satisfying redemption story arc.
Regina deserves some happiness. With Once Upon a Time ending, one of the series' best characters should get her long overdue, classical fairy tale happy ending. The show also could spend a lot more time on Facilier. Yet putting the two of them together, in a romantic setting, is one of the bigger mistakes of Once Upon a Time's final reboot season.
But what do you make of the new romance between Regina and Facilier? Do you think he is a good love interest for Regina? Is it a mistake to introduce a new love interest for Regina? Where do you think their story is headed?