When I was a child, I loved fairytales. Actually, I really just loved stories. When my grandmother used to babysit me, she would put me to bed by reading one of my books aloud to me. She likes to talk, to this day, about how I had memorized those books -- how if she messed up a word or forgot a sentence, I would correct her. The fact that my parents encouraged me to read and encouraged me to be creative and tell stories is probably why I'm a writer today. In seventh grade, I took a writing class -- a benefit of attending a really small school in a really small town was that English and Writing were two separate classes -- and found myself lost in fantastic worlds. I could create characters and have them fall in love and make them angry and give them hopes and dreams. I could create lives for them that I couldn't have for myself. To this day, I'm a lover of stories for that very reason. I love creating a moment in time in which a character lives and breathes that is completely outside of my own world and my own limitations.
When I was a child, I loved stories about princes and princesses; about knights and evil witches and magic and daring rescues. Nothing entrances you more, as someone who loves a good story, than to sit and pore over tales like those. But as I grew up and read more and took a lot of English classes in college, I realized something -- perfect characters are boring. Perfect characters aren't interesting. In fairytales, princesses seem perfect, right? They're gorgeous and can sing and talk to animals and cook and sew and everyone loves them except for the step-sisters or evil witches who are jealous of her beauty and youth. But as someone who reads stories now, critically, I realize how dull and flat perfect characters like that really are. Characters should be complex. Characters should be layered and nuanced. Princesses should have bad days and say the wrong thing and doubt themselves every once in a while. They should be HUMAN. And when characters in stories are portrayed as humans rather than liquids to fill a hero or villain-shaped mold, you find that they are infinitely more interesting and infinitely more relatable.
I love that Once Upon A Time constantly returns to the dichotomy between heroes and villains. What I really love is that this show doesn't box characters into one label or the other. We have fluid characters, then, those who have noble motives but who mess up and those with evil intentions but are occasionally empathetic. And both "Shattered Sight" and "Heroes and Villains" (aptly titled, might I add) reminded us that not everyone in Storybrooke is easily classified as either a hero or a villain. And that's okay. So let's talk about these episodes below and discuss the end of Ingrid's story and the beginning of the tale of the Queens of Darkness, shall we?