I see a good deal of people (particularly on tumblr) saying that Regina still hasn't suffered enough for what she has done and still has a lot to do before she is redeemed. I personally disagree. I'm not here to press my opinions on anyone, but so simply share why I think she has paid a pretty large price for the things she has done and has already redeemed herself.
For starts, and this one is a big one for me; she was tortured. Now this has no direct connection to the curse and the deeds she had done in the Enchanted Forest, but it was definitely an ass-kicking courtesy of karma. Honestly the electro-shock torture she undergone alone is enough to make me think she's done enough suffering. I mean not only was her pain emotional at this point but also physical. She probably had that feeling of helplessness, the thought that no one was going to save her or even try to look for her. And at one point you could tell she was preparing to die.
But even before this she had suffered. In 'Broken' she was thrown in jail (a direct disciplinary action for the curse). Gold seized this opportunity, triumphantly pranced up to her cell, slammed an amulet into her palm, and sent a dementor (it has a different name but we're just gonna call it the dementor) after her. A fate he pridefully declared was "worse than death." Hmm. Not many things are worse than death. And isn't it saying something about suffering if a person goes through something 'worse than death'. I mean that thing was after her soul, and that is a truly cruel and unusual punishment. Of course Mr. Dementor was not successful in his/her mission but still, you know what they say, it's the thought that counts.
And let's not forget she was framed and wrongfully accused of murder. It's kind of hard to explain; but I think the fact that she got punished for a murder she did not commit almost substitutes for the murder of, say, Graham. I know a lot of people disagree with me on that one. And I don't exactly know how to explain it.
And soon after she finally got a glimpse of a loving and caring mother and that was ripped away from her. She was manipulated into killing her own mother. And this came from Regina trying to do a good
thing. No good deed goes unpunished right? She got her hopes up for the chance of genuine love, for a person who truly cared. And that dream was promptly shattered. Is killing one's own mother while trying to save her, not suffering?
Even before that she paid for screwing Whale over when he was desperate enough to bring Dan back. Now this wasn't Whale doing the punishing (I'm fairly certain he was trying to help it just backfired) it was more karma. Karma for screwing with him in the first place. Karma that resulted in her having to put her lover out of his misery like a sick and suffering animal. And you can see it in her eyes alone just how painful that was for her. Those few things alone are enough punishment to serve three life times.
Plus all the little things like Henry leaving and scorning her. And that probably wasn't even a little thing. The whole time, the kid resented her despite her efforts. In one episode he asked her to go to dinner with him--she was just so happy--but naturally it was just a set up. A distraction to get her out of the office.
She was totally alone, no one ever reached out to her, no one ever tried to help her. They just sat there and waited for her to lose it. They didn't try to prevent her from doing something evil out of desperateness. Nope, they just watched her sanity unravel (and sometimes pushed her closer to the edge) and acted all surprised when she did do something horrible.
Now to get into why I think she's been redeemed. For one, she risked her life/happiness thrice; at the well, with the fail safe, and with Pan's curse...And she was repaid with nasty remarks spat in her direction and total abandonment.
At the well she put her life on the line to save the two very people she hated the most. And upon saving them she was pretty much cast aside; hugs for Emma and Snow but none for Regina who was left teary-eyed leaning against a tree. I'm just glad Emma invited her to the dinner. And the worst part is the fandom seemed more mad at her than sympathetic or even pitied. They blamed her for causing the well problem in the first place. That's only sort of true; most of that was on Gold and his masterful manipulations. He made it seem like that was the best thing for Henry, that it was the only option. At least she went and fixed what she did, Gold was content standing by and enjoying the show.
Later on that season she put her life on the line again
. This time assuming full responsibility for her actions instead of playing victim. She specifically stated "I created this (the fail safe), it's only fitting that it takes my own life." Or something of that nature. She thought that holding the destruction off would be the last thing she did. And she wanted her last deed to be a good one. The fact that she acknowledged that she did wrong and tried to and even risked her life to repair the damage she did was a clear sign that she was redeemed.
And then in Going Home she really made her redemption clear. If I remember right she actually apologized for everything that had happened. She then proceeded to do literally the opposite of her most prominent evil deed; she saved everyone from Pan's curse knowing very well that she'd have to give up the thing she loved the most. She looked at her ex-rival and promised her a happy ending and good memories. Good memories with the boy she used to try to forbid the woman from seeing.
Season 3 in general was redemption for Regina. She began to use 'our son' instead of 'stay away from my
son'. She was more willing to work with the enemy. Yeah she complained a lot, but she didn't cause them physical harm (aside from the rocky start in the first episode of the season).
But the fandom and the characters seemed to ignore most of it. I specifically recall a confession on tumblr in which the confessor was actually mad at Regina for saving them from Pan's curse. They said the following exactly; “I wish the Charmings would grow a backbone and stop being so forgiving when Regina tried to kill them time and time again. Now they lost their daughter again because of her.” To which I had to respond; Sometimes I wonder if these people are even watching the same show. Yeah I totally agree, she’s done a lot of bad things in her life…but this time I’m pretty sure that the Charmings were agreeing that letting Emma and Henry go was the best chance they all had. Last I checked it was Pan who cursed them all again. And last I checked it was Regina who, despite knowing she’d lose Henry decided to pay the price; “It’s not our price it’s mine.” “I did this I have to fix it.” I don’t know how antis think that that’s evil. I know ER can be biased and such but come one, the bias in this confession is ridiculously clear. It’s clear that people are now trying to find reasons to hate her that aren’t even there!
And the Charming’s being forgiving my arse! In season 2 episode 20ish, they planned on going back to the Enchanted Forest and leaving her behind. Up until the very season 3A finale they never showed sighs of forgiving her… I still don’t think they have. So I don’t see why this even has to be a complaint.
The fandom gave her a hard time after the well thing too, claiming that she wasn't even trying to be redeemed. The characters were also very disregarding of her. Emma not as much. Like they didn't even invite her to the dinner. And when Emma did, she was flat out outcasted and alone. In Neverland too; she was there to help yet they always shot down her ideas and they never really talked to her unless they were yelling at her or needed something. Yet Rumple (the one who caused the well scene, the one who manipulated Gina into casting the curse, the one who turned men into snails and crushed them) still has Belle and quite a few others on his side. And Hook did one good thing and it's drinks all around (sure he didn't do anything nearly as bad as Gina but he definitely didn't try as hard to be redeemed, I don't even think he was trying at all, it was just a bonus).
And to top all of this off, the worst part is, she was manipulated pretty much every step of the way. Be it by Rumple alone, Snow, or Rumple and his merry duo--Whale and Jeff. Yet none of the characters judged them really. And Gold played the biggest hand in driving Regina to cast the cure "You see you think you're attending the feast; testing the offerings, a little bit of love a little bit of darkness. But really you are the feast..." he goes on about how she's already been consumed by darkness and there is no more hope and then states "and bring that simmering rage it's all ya got." He really did make it seem like there was no other way. Yet he seemed to get let off the hook much easier. But I feel like this is a bit off topic.
Anyhow it is for these reasons that I think Regina has suffered enough and for these reasons I think she has achieved redemption.