Spoilers up through season 2’s “We Are Both.”
So first let’s list Regina’s crimes and character flaws. Just off the top of my head (feel free to chime in with more):
She lied to Snow about Daniel leaving, but then had murderous thoughts about a girl that, while dumb, was honestly trying to help.
She conspired to murder the king (Snow White’s father, Henry’s great-grandfather!) and got her father to be complicit.
She seduced a patsy and got him to murder the king.
She betrayed her patsy.
She tried to have the Huntsman murder Snow White.
She ripped the Huntsman’s heart out and enslaved him.
She REGULARLY raped the Huntsman.
She sent an unknown number of children to their deaths in the Blind Witch’s house.
She tried to kill Snow White with a poisoned apple.
She murdered her father.
She attacked the Enchanted Forest with armed guards, unknown death toll, but the Prince was seriously wounded.
She placed a curse that enslaved everyone for 28 years with permanent false memories.
She murdered the Huntsman.
She psychological abused her son by lying to him and manipulating him.
Even after the curse is broken, her victims retain the memories of any soul-crushing deeds they did while not in their right minds. E.g. Snow remembers committing adultery on her husband, and Charming remembers committing adultery on his wife, neither knew what they were doing, but they will forever carry the memory of those actions, even if they understand they were not culpable. That is lasting and permanent psychological damage.
The curse victims remain stranded from their homeland.
Snow White and Charming lost their daughter, forever. They saw her as a baby, and now she’s 28 and they will NEVER get to raise her, see her first step, teach her what they would have wanted to teach her. That cannot be undone and is wholly the fault of Regina.
There’s probably more.
Now, it seems like the character of Regina is being setup to possibly try for redemption. I don’t believe anyone can NEVER be redeemed, IF they actually want to be. I do believe people get so evil that they will never be willing to do the things necessary to actually achieve redemption though.
Considering that she’s a rapist, murderer, torturer, kidnapper, and dictator, she has a lot to answer for. If she wants redemption, wouldn’t she have to:
Admit her crimes, without trying to justify them.
Acknowledge that was evil and hurt people that cannot be undone.
Nevertheless attempt to make restitution to all her victims. She can’t bring back the dead but she could do everything in her power to help heal the harm she has caused.
Accept that she would need to spend the rest of her life in prison and all her power and worldly goods would be used to mitigate the damage she has caused.
Now, do you see Regina doing this? I sure don’t. If she wants redemption but tries to justify her past actions, if she thinks she can say “sorry” and then get let off to live her life happily, well, that is not redemption either.
So no, she will not be redeemed. If the writers of the show have a horrible idea of redemption (like Darth Vader being “redeemed” from countless murders simply because he saved *his own son*), then they may go that route, but I doubt that many viewers will be convinced!
Does Regina really want redemption? I doubt it. She’s a sociopath at this point, she doesn’t care about anyone but herself. She is only making noise about redemption for two reasons:
1. She doesn’t want to be her mother.
2. She wants Henry to love her.
Everyone else can go hang, she doesn’t care about them. If Henry would love her, she’d be able to shuck off point one, and continue being evil. She likes being evil. She hasn’t developed a conscience.
Now, the danger: since she remains utterly selfish and sociopathic, it is ONLY her desire to be loved by Henry that is restraining her at this point. If she ever realizes that Henry is NOT going to approve of her unless she goes the WHOLE redemption route (which she won’t do), she may consider obtaining Henry’s love as a “lost cause.”
In other words, Henry could snap and say “I hate you! You’re not my mom! I will never love you! You murdered my great-grandpa! You’re evil and I never want to see you again!” And she could lose the last thing worth faking redemption for and even turn on Henry and not care anymore about *him*.
Plenty of mothers are capable of behaving evilly and abusively to their children. It’s no stretch at all that a sociopath like Regina could feel betrayed by Henry and consider him her enemy. If that happens, watch out Henry, and watch out citizens of Storybrooke.