How? I watched the show.
I saw two women whose lives inevitably collided, two women who were never given real choices, two women who learned to close themselves off from love, and who learned to love again with the help of the same child. I saw two women with the immense capability to love, despite being deprived of it all their lives. I saw two women who challenged each other in every way. I saw two women who might not agree on anything, but who would always work together when it came to their son.
I was told true love is the most powerful magic of all, the only magic capable of transcending realms and breaking any curse. And then I saw these two women literally make magic together, and not any magic, but magic that transcended realms.
I saw Emma meet Regina’s mother in the same episode I saw Snow meet Charming’s mother. I saw a whole episode dedicated to Emma’s first love, tragically lost, followed immediately by a whole episode dedicated to Regina’s first love, tragically lost. I saw Emma repeat Regina’s response that she had “once” been in love, something only the two of them have ever done. I saw Daniel tell Regina to love again.
I saw Regina tell Henry that Cora would destroy everything she loves, and then I saw Cora try and kill Emma, in the same way she killed the last person Regina loved. I saw Cora repeat her mantra to Emma, for only the second time ever, since killing Daniel. I saw Emma disprove that destructive belief, which Regina had held onto throughout her darkest years.
I saw Regina risk her life to make sure Emma got home for Henry, and I saw her miraculously survive what we were told no one could. I saw Emma’s journey in FTL bookended by her and Regina saving each other. I saw Emma finally make it home, to Henry and Regina.
I saw Emma invite Regina to dinner, smile when she arrived, and stand up for her against the entire town. I saw Regina look at Emma the way I’ve only ever seen her look at Daniel. I heard her apologize to Emma, in exactly the way she once apologized to Daniel. I saw the fragile beginnings of a new relationship, and I saw that Cora knew the best way to break Regina was to destroy what was only just beginning between her and Emma.
I saw Regina being friendly, trying to move forward. I saw her pleading to Emma, and only to Emma. I saw how she knew Emma would listen like no one else would. I saw Emma believe in Regina just like David believed in Mary Margaret. I heard Emma say she wasn’t the Evil Queen, she was just Regina. I heard Emma say exactly what David had said about Mary Margaret in the same situation, “I know her.”
I saw that Emma believed in Regina and, just like David, she only lost faith when she couldn’t find any other explanation (though certainly not for lack of trying). I saw how hurt Regina was, how angry Emma was. I saw the emotion between the two of them, the kind of heartbreak that doesn’t exist between two people who don’t care deeply about one another.
I saw Regina’s eagerness to prove her innocence not only to Henry, but to Emma as well. I saw Emma still plead with Regina, even when it seemed hopeless to everyone else, Emma still believed in her, she still tried. And when it got worse, I saw how Emma’s loss of faith in Regina hurt her even more, and drove her to do the right thing, even if only to prove her wrong.
I saw that the curse never made Regina happy. I saw that she was lonely, bored, eager for company and a real challenge. I saw that everything she had wanted out of life, the “happy ending” she thought the curse would bring, was actually given to her by Emma.
When Regina was taken, I saw Emma’s genuine concern, and I heard her promise Henry they would find her. I saw Regina say goodbye to Henry, repeating the words Emma had said to her earlier, words that had clearly stuck with her. I saw Regina decide to sacrifice herself, finally trusting Emma to take care of their son. And, yet again, I saw Regina look at Emma the same way she looked at Daniel.
I saw that Emma didn’t want to leave Regina to die, I saw her plead for any other way. I saw Regina express sadness at only being seen as the Evil Queen, to the one person who had only ever seen her as Regina. I saw Emma wanting to save her again, but agreeing to put Henry first, like any good parents would. I saw that Henry’s two moms didn’t want him to grow up alone and unloved, just as they had.
I saw how little convincing it took for Emma to take a chance on saving Regina, and how her only struggle was because she and Regina had agreed it was most important to save Henry. I saw her eyes widen at the words “love” and “strong” and connect it to the day Cora had tried to take her heart, as she had once taken Daniel’s.
I saw that important scene directly correlated to the climax of the season, when Emma realized that she and Regina could be strong enough to save the entire town together. I saw them do magic, a familiar mixture of blues, purples, and pinks. I saw them stop something that had been declared more than once as something no one could ever stop.
I saw the season end as it had begun, with Emma, Regina and magic. I saw the most thrilling moment of the mid-season finale had been written to be called back in this moment, when Emma realizes that love is strength and she and Regina are stronger together. I saw the most important scenes of the season all come back to these two, their magic, their strength, and their love. I can only assume it’s because they’re laying the foundations for something incredible to be explored further.
And that’s not even everything.
How can I believe anything else?