There is nothing that makes me angrier at Regina than what she did to Jefferson. Not even the curse and what Emma went through because of it. Even now, when I can mostly accept Regina and even like her now and then, I think of this, and the fate she damned him to in SB, and I see red.
…I think in Storybrooke, everyone’s lives were lesser and none of them were truly happy or their best selves. But Jefferson and Graham had it worst, and it’s all the more galling in that they were never her main antagonists. She took Graham’s liberty away, and took Jefferson’s family, she raped Graham and she drove Jefferson mad, and all for just - petty vindictiveness, even more so than her hatred of people like Snow and Charming. Just cruelty, plain and simple.
When I think about these two, I can’t like Regina at all.
Jefferson took a careful step back, making sure to head in the direction of the working spinning wheel. To those untutored in life at the Dark Castle, it would seem folly to seek refuge next to Rumpelstiltskin, but when Belle gathered her child closer against her chest and glared with such disgust, making it clear that only the dozing child was saving Jefferson from a sharp tongue-lashing, a smart man looked for the one who might soothe her temper.
“Eh, Rumple?” Jefferson asked, coughing a little when he realized his throat had gone dry. “Please tell your beautiful companion that I meant you no insult?”
The wheel kept turning, with nothing more than a soft giggle for an answer.
The dream team of Storybrooke hanging out at “The Rabbit Hole”
“And I win… again! Sorry Dave, but apparently, you need some practice! Haha” Robin chuckled and met Killian’s eyes. The pirate was giving him a knowing look, one that was saying ’i-know-you-cheated-well-done’, to which Robin quietly answered ’thief’.
A smile danced over the lips of the two partners in crime when they saw David looking suspiously at the cards on the table, analysing them. Who would have known that Prince Charming was actually a bad loser?
So here’s a headcanon I have for Jefferson, The Mad Hatter of Once Upon a Time.
1. Jefferson has been trapped in Storybrooke with his false and true memories because his madness made him resist the mind altering magick.
2. At some point Regina must have gotten wind that Jefferson knew the truth. Maybe he tried to confront her. Either way he ended up in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. He must have been deemed harmless and released or escaped. That’s the only way he could know Belle was there and that is how he knew how to get down there when he freed Belle.
3. Jefferson waited to free Belle from the psychiatric ward because he knew Mr. Gold had false memories. He did not know Rumplestiltskin’s memories were restored when he heard Emma’s name. Jefferson waited until he was fairly certain the curse was about to be lifted before he freed Belle because then Rumplestiltskin would recognize her and protect her. He did not do it sooner for fear that Gold would not know who she is and therefor would not protect her. Until the curse started to lift, until he knew Mr. Gold would know who he and Belle are, he probably figured it was safer for Belle to stay put.
4. Jefferson obviously has a close friendship with Rumplestiltskin. He’s the only one who knew about Belle and Rumplestiltskin’s feeling for her. That’s why he released her after all. This means Rumplestiltskin trusts Jefferson as he does few others. Perhaps as his only friend. (MadGold bromance?)
He doesn’t remember. Unlike Jefferson, Rumplestiltskin is blissfully unaware of his life in the Forest, and though he knows the merciful thing would be to leave Rumple to the ignorance, Jefferson has worked far too hard to find him. If anyone can fix the hat, it’s Rumplestiltskin. If anyone can sate the gnawing hunger he’s felt since arriving, it’s Rumplestiltskin.
Scared, confused, he looks so delectable curled up in Jefferson’s bed. The tea he’s prepared his old friend does its trick - he’s awake, if disoriented, but there’s recognition in his eyes. He knows Jefferson, and that’s all the invitation he needs.
The hat can wait. Tonight, Jefferson won’t be alone. Tonight, it’ll be like they never left the Forest, like they never parted ways.
Recently I was re-watching all of the episodes with Jefferson, marveling at the complexity of his character and the brilliance of Sebastian Stan’s performance. I always hold out hope that, despite his busy schedule, he may appear on the show again. But even if he doesn’t the significance of his character remains. It is indelible. When examining key plot points and character arcs, it is remarkable the weight he holds. Take Jefferson out of the equation and everything is different. Let’s look at the ways Jefferson proves undeniably important the overall story, Regina, Emma, and Captain Swan.
Jefferson, along with Rumple and Victor, orchestrated the ruse of attempting to bring back Daniel so Victor could obtain a heart and Rumple could motivate Regina. Not being able to resurrect Daniel was a key factor that ultimately sent her on her darker path of revenge.
Later on Regina meets Jefferson again and tricks him into taking her to Wonderland so she can retrieve her father. Without Jefferson Regina may not have even been able to get there, and the curse could have never been enacted. Regina had to give up the heart of the thing she loves most- her Father’s.
Staying in Wonderland, unable to make any hat work, drove Jefferson mad. When Regina brought him over with the curse, his madness remained, cursed with two sets and memories and separated from his daughter Grace.
If Jefferson were not in Storybrooke, Emma and Mary Margaret would not have been kidnapped. And despite her insistence that he is a “crazy son of a bitch,” Hat Trick was a huge step in Emma starting to believe, seen the episode’s final moments when she’s looking through Henry’s Storybook. This episode is also the first time Emma referred to Mary Margaret as her family, realizing how much she cared for her and could not bear to lose her. That’s definite character development brought about from Jefferson’s presence.
Though a bit indirectly, Jefferson is also a key player in the curse being broken. If both he and his hat were not Storybrooke, Regina could not have possibly acquired the poison apple she used to make the apple turnover. Henry ate the turnover, fell into a sleeping curse, and Emma saved him with TLK breaking the curse in the process.
Let’s also not forget Rumbelle fans that Jefferson is the one who freed Belle from the asylum and told her exactly where to go and what to say to Gold. That’s right: he reunited this true love couple.
And here it comes my fellow Captain Swan fans. If Jefferson’s hat was not in Storybrooke, our heroes would not have used it to send the wraith through its portal, and Emma and Mary Margaret would not have fallen through to the Enchanted Forest. That means Emma and Killian would not have met!
I suppose you could argue that Cora and Hook could have found another way to Storybrooke, but that would have completely changed the story. The fact remains that Emma and MM did fall through, and if they hadn’t Emma and Hook would have never met and bonded in the same way, going on their adventure up the beanstalk and forming a strong connection.
The last piece of significance deals with the S3 finale. Remember back in The Doctor when Jefferson gave Rumple the crystal ball?
This is the same one that Emma and Killian look into at Rumple’s castle in Snow Drifts where they are able to see Snow trying to secure passage with Blackbeard. Without this magical object they would have no idea where Snow was and it would be basically impossible to formulate any plan and make sure Snow and Charming meet. EVERYTHING would be different. Snow would have run away, Charming would have married Abigail, and Emma would have never been born. And Killian would never met the woman who would show him that love is worth more than revenge.
So if you ever despair that Jefferson may never again grace OUAT, take pride in just how crucial this mad hatter is to the overall story. It’s absolutely remarkable.