Once Upon a Time: “Siege Perilous” Further Thoughts

This week’s addition of Further Thoughts is a bit shorter as I was able to cover most everything in my Nerd Machine review. But there are still some interesting things to discuss.


I touched upon the poignant parallels a bit in my review but they’re worth mentioning again because it shows just how well structured the show truly is. Going all the way back to 2×6 “Tallahassee” Emma and Hook’s conversation on the beanstalk revealed how he could read her like an open book. He could see that she is scared and recognizes the lonely look in her eyes. He says it’s because he knows the Lost Boys, but we know that he too has seen that look when he has looked at his own reflection. Their first adventure established them as kindred spirits. The fact that very much the same dialogue is employed in the current scene, and the fact that Emma says she is no longer scared, is was a way of connecting these two scenes in a meaningful way, and creating a long thread to their story.



It is also no coincidence that this current storyline came after Killian’s ordeal with Gold in Season 4 where his heart was taken and he saw that Gold was trying to have both power and love. In “Fall” Killian makes the wise statement that Belle truly loves Gold and he could have her or power. Gold says he can have both, but the point is that love was not enough for Gold. He refuses to give up one. Emma is now doing the exact same thing. She wants to be the Dark One and wants Killian to be with her. But he knows better and know this is not the real Emma. Love is more than enough for the both of them, and that is what he wants her to remember.





Coincidentally, and beautifully, all 3 episodes were written by Jane Espenson. She clearly likes to connect her stories together.

Lastly, this parallel does not require much explanation. It is just an exquisitely poignant one. Emma has always been described as having walls that protect her heart. When the line about breaking them down was played over their passionate kiss in the season 3 finale it was a moving way of showing how they have finally come tumbling down. And Killian loved being the one to break them down because that meant she not only was finding courage to let love in and return it, but that she chose him as the one who finally could break down those walls. Only someone she could truly love would be able to do so.





The music of Once Upon a Time is one of the things that adds to its depth, beauty, and caliber. Movie scores are probably what I listen to more than anything and the best are memorable, evocative, and reflect what is going on in the scene while still being beautiful on their own. Mark Isham’s score for Once is brilliant and I love the recurring themes. But in “Siege Perilous” I was impressed not only hearing new themes but also music just a bit different than we’ve heard before. In the Captain Swan scene on the Jolly Roger, the music is somber and melancholy with still a hint of romantic undertones. Most especially, it is restrained and delicate reflecting the tension and intimacy of the moment. Watch the scene below to hear this lovely music.

Similarly, the chilling scene with Arthur and his squire was elevated by its score, in particular the high pitched, somewhat frantic use of violin. I have never heard music like this on the show before and it made the scene even more gripping. Listen below and be amazed!


Stephen Jackson’s cinematography is another crucial aspect of the show that deserves attention and praise. The best lighting is not only beautiful but can give you visual clue to what is happening in the scene, even if it’s on a subconscious level. The scene of the Jolly Roger is a lovely example. The scene is dim and the color is muted, a stark contrast to the bright lighting and saturated color from the Emma and Killian’s first real date. The lighting here reflects that this date is not the same. It’s an illusion. Moreover, I love the way the lighting mirrors the nature of their relationship in the two shot and individual close ups. The scene may be dim but in the shot with the two of them in frame, the window behind them is very bright. This is to show that together they are strong. When they are united they are a beacon of light and love. In the close ups, however, we see that while Killian still has light behind them, Emma does not. There is no light behind her, only darkness. So while Killian is in the light, Emma is in the dark. But the important thing to remember is we are neither all dark or light. We have both. Still, these were lovely visual reflections of their characters in this moment.

cs lighting

The same visual clue can be said for some scenes with Lancelot and Arthur. When Lancelot appears to Snow, they are standing in a dark corridor, but he is literally standing in a pathway of light. Is this light a sign of his trustworthiness? The contradictory and perplexing nature of Arthur is reflected in the lighting on his face while he watches his squire die. Half in light, half in shadow, Arthur literally has two sides to him. Which is the truer one remains to be seen.

camelot lighting

Killian’s Heart:

The line the Dark One Rumple says to Emma about Killian is very intriguing: “You crushed his heart even more…” Even more suggests she already has in the past. Was his heart crushed to cast the curse and he is now sharing Emma’s? That is certainly a possibility. I do know that dialogue is specifically chosen, so I truly believe there is something to this line. It is also lovely to see that Emma appears to touch Killian’s chest when they are speaking, the way she often does. That is a glimmer of the real Emma.




The idea that Emma is going to create a hero out of Mr. Gold so he can pull the sword from the stone feels not only like a misdirect but also disingenuous. If Gold is ever going to show the kind of heroics necessary (the kind he displayed when he defeated Pan), it must come from within. Emma can’t make him a hero.

An interesting thing about Excalibur is that I wonder if you not only have to be worthy to pull the sword from the stone, but also to wield it. Perhaps only a true hero can do so, much like Thor’s hammer, or your fate will be that of Sir Kay.

Off Screen Conversations:

Although we would love every single conversation to happen on screen, it is simply not possible. That is why I appreciate when they reference ones that have happened off screen. Hearing that Killian told Emma about the first time he met Rumple is moving. It shows that he has been very honest with her about his darkest days, and that like he does with her, she loves him for all his scars and imperfections. Neither would condone his dark past, but Emma does not condemn him for it. She recognizes how he has changed for the better and loves him for who he truly is. After all, she likes when people find their good hearts along the way.


I cannot get over the fact that David turned a car chase into a jousting match. This is one of those things you would only see on Once Upon a Time, and I love it! Also, he is the most trusting person ever when it comes to letting people with no driving experience get behind the wheel. First Henry and now Arthur. He certainly has faith!



Screencaps Source: Screencapped.net

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