When “Broken” first aired, I assumed (as I believe the audience was supposed to) that Emma was able to jumpstart Regina’s magic because she was the Savior/child of True Love/etc. And, as such, I assumed that Regina thought the same.
Except, she’s surprised that Emma has magic in “The Cricket Game”. She had no idea that Emma could use magic, and between the episodes there is no indication to Regina that Emma was able to do anything magical (e.g., she doesn’t know about Cora trying for her heart).
So when Emma says she can use magic, she’s shocked. And you can see when it clicks that it’s because she’s the Savior. Only, this implies that she’d come to another conclusion about how she was able to get the hat to work in “Broken”. A conclusion that has nothing to do with Emma being the Savior, but rather Emma being Emma.
This means that Regina had assumed that her magic was kickstarted solely by Emma touching her.
And, as we all know by now (as does Regina), magic is emotion. So Regina had not only assumed that Emma’s touch had brought about her own magic, but she had accepted that Emma’s touch brought forth emotion strong enough to power a damn portal.
And the only magic she knew powerful enough to create a portal would have been … True Love.
So she thought Emma *loved* her. And since the magic can only work if both are in love, Regina spent the first several episodes of season 2 wondering how she could have not known what her own feelings toward Emma were.
How could I miss being in love? I lost so much of myself that I don’t know my own heart anymore? I want to know love again. And then Emma smiles at her when she comes back through the portal, invites her to the celebration. She’s excited, she’s pleased, and she’s feeling the love.
Only to have Emma level charges of Archie’s murder on her. She asks her, straight out, you know me, you know my feelings, you know I have no motive to do this, because it would change how you feel about me, and I am not willing to endanger that. So when Emma lets her go, over her parents’ objections, Regina thinks she has a chance.
She sees Emma on her doorstep, but Charming and Snow are there, and her defense is snark. And then it’s revealed that Emma has her own magic. Elementally. Regina’s belief that Emma’s actions (saving her from the mob and the wraith) and starting the portal were caused out of love for her is shattered. Fact she’s faced with: Emma’s magic simply started up Regina’s like a car battery with jumper cables. Emma has no feelings for her, believes she did kill Archie, and is now party to tricking Regina into a magic trap…
No clue how to defend herself when no one will listen to her, Regina poofs away, hides, devastated.
And THAT is the condition Cora found her. Broken, not actually by Cora’s manipulations, but rather broken because Regina had lost the people she thought loved and supported her, as she had come to realize she loved them: Emma AND Henry. This is why, when she realizes it was Cora who set her up, Regina demands they seek out “Emma, Henry, and the two idiots” because her primary goal becomes to get back Emma and Henry’s love and trust by showing them proof/truth (“see I *didn’t* do this”) to win it back.
SWAN MILLS FAMILY IS THE CORE OF THIS FUCKING SHOW.
EVERYTHING comes back to Emma, Henry, and Regina, and how they interact with one another. And it always will. No other relationships will ever come close. Even Snow Queen is a paltry relationship compared to the vibrant layers of the triad that is Regina/Henry/Emma.
IMHO. Full stop.
'So she thought Emma *loved* her. And since the magic can only work if both are in love, Regina spent the first several episodes of season 2 wondering how she could have not known what her own feelings toward Emma were.'
Hence why the day after Emma fell through the portal, Regina wore the SQ shirt and she changed her ring to the opposite hand. It was when Emma falsely betrayed her, it went back.
I don’t care what anyone thinks about this ring. This ring was Lana’s conscience decision to symbolise Regina’s personal change.
Swan Mills Family IS the core of Regina’s resilient honey crisp apple. This show needs to get back on the SMF track to survive. That’s why it was a bloody disgrace that they sidelined Regina and Henry in the TWO HOUR LONG finale and writing Emma to not take Regina’s feeling into consideration by wanting to take Henry back to NY, was just fucking ridiculous.