Home, the Future, and Operation Light Swan:
Ever since the series began the concept of “Home” has been ingrained into Emma Swan’s journey, and through her many relationships we have witnessed her seek this abstraction, whether it be a feeling or a physical place. While her parents are definitely a part of this, it has been her two true loves, Henry and Killian, who have been a part of this journey in the most profound way. Perhaps that is why it is so unbelievably touching to learn that Henry and Killian developed their own mission together, “Operation Light Swan,” which involves finding a home in Storybrooke that is a promise for a happy future together. Henry only creates missions about people and things he truly cares about. They are about finding a happy ending for whoever the mission is centered around. So it is so sweet that he is at a place where he recognizes Killian and Emma as not only happy and together, but as a future that should be fought for. I can picture Killian coming to Henry asking what the term “white picket fence life” actually meant and the pirate finally finding the perfect home – an idyllic Victorian house with room for a growing family. Before, when I thought that Emma had chosen the house yourself, I found it sad because it was the type of house a child with no home would dream about living in. But now knowing that Killian chose it, this house is even more beautiful because it represents what she always dreamed about and now can have. I have no doubt that Killian wants to marry Emma, but she doesn’t need a ring (even though he did give her his brother’s) she needs something that represents safety, warmth, and stability. As the lovely ladies at MG circles pointed out in their review (go read it now) the house is his way of promising Emma forever. This heartfelt act came as a touching surprise but when examining how much home and the future have been a part of their story, it feels so natural. Let us explore how often home and the future have been a part of their story:
– 2×6 Tallahassee: “Let’s find the compass and go home.”
In their very first adventure together, Emma and Killian are searching for a magical compass that will be able to guide them back to Storybrooke. After Killian takes the opportunity to flirt, Emma says “let’s find the compass and go home.” It’s interesting dialogue to say the least seeing that Storybrooke may be Emma’s home but it is not Killian’s. So why say let’s go home? It was a lovely way of foreshadowing that their search for something that can lead you to where you want to go, led them to each other and the home they would eventually share.
– 3×5 Good Form: “It’s what I did every time I went to a new foot foster home. Counting the days until counting seem pointless.” — “I do know what it feels like to lose hope.”
Despite Emma deflecting Killian’s attempt to bond with her, this was very important. He heard more about her childhood in countless foster homes – that hopeless existence that he could relate to. She never had a proper home so you know that stayed with him.
– 3×12 New York City Serenade:
After giving up his home (although we did not know what at the time) Killian was able to convince Emma her life was false and brought her home to Storybrooke. Moreover, when she and Henry discuss Walsh’s proposal Henry says “He wants us to be his home “and it was so clearly alluding to have Killian felt about them.
3×20 Kansas: “Why you so scared of staying? I think it’s because you can see a future here. A happy one.”– “Let me guess, with you?”
This conversation was so significant and provides a lovely parallel to 5×8 “Birth. Emma was clearly scared of staying because she could see a happy future there with her family and with Killian. As per usual, Emma has trouble expressing her feelings until she is in an extreme situation. In this case, Killian nearly drowned and she whispers “come back to me” showing that she does indeed cherish him. Not only was Storybrooke becoming her home, but this man was.
– 3×21 Snow Drifts vs. 5×8 Birth: “You keep running. What are you looking for? “–“Home.”
“Then what are you a part of Swan?”–“The future is nothing be afraid of.”
This scene holds as special place in their relationship as Emma truly opens up to Killian about her search for home- that it a feeling of missing this place as soon as you leave. In the end it was about the people more so than the physical location. As he sits down beside her you see a parallel to 5X8 when Killian asks “And what are you afraid of?” Both times this happened after her family couldn’t get through to her she shut down but then opens up to Killian. And in this case, it was the future. She has found her home and the place and man she wants a future with but is frightened because everything a time was promised to her it turned out to be false. Not only that, she has found the man who has made her happier than she ever dreamed of. It is no wonder is afraid. But he tells her “The future is nothing to be afraid of and the sweetly kiss, igniting the Promethean flame. This would only be lit when she was truly ready to be rid of the darkness, so this means she is ready for her future with Killian.
– 3×22 There’s No Place Like Home:
Emma accepting Storybrooke as her home was such a beautiful and profound moment in Emma’s journey and so much of what Emma attested to Henry was also exactly what Killian did for Emma. In both Season 1 and Season 3, Henry and Killian did not bring her up back to Storybrooke to break the curse; they were bringing her home. In this episode we also learn that Killian traded his ship for a magic bean, which meant that he traded his home in order to bring her back to hers. This was because Emma’s happiness meant more to him. He loves her and true love means more than a few planks of wood and a sail.
– 4×4 The Apprentice: “I really need my own place”
After their first date, Emma may have playfully joked that she needed her own place – no doubt so they can enjoy post day activities alone. It was a light moment but set the stage for Killian’s future plans. Emma loves her family but it’s time for her to think of her own future and that includes a home of her own, and in this case the home of their own because the future includes the two of them together.
– 5×4 The Broken Kingdom: “You really think we can get back to Storybrooke and some white picket fence life?”
Season 5 has firmly established that Emma and Killian are together, forever, and want a future and it was so touching to hear them speak of this for the first time.
– 5×7 Nimue “Bring her home to me.”
This line was so beautiful as it not only demonstrated that he realizes that Emma is not the darkness, but that he wants her to return home to him. Here, home is not a physical place but a feeling. They are each other’s home no matter where they are. He wants her to come back to him.
– 5×8 Birth:
Imagining a scene like the one that transpired in “Birth” I pictured one very much like the one we witnessed. I have always felt like the lyrics to the Beauty and the Beast Broadway song “Home” at the end of the play related to Captain Swan and this moment in “Birth” was undeniably reminiscent of these lyrics:
“We are home. We are where we shall be forever.
Trust in me, for you know I won’t run away.
From today, this is all that I need, and all that I need to say.
Don’t you know how you’ve changed me. Strange how I finally see.
I found home.
You’re my home.
Stay with me.”
Emma and Killian have not only found home within each other, but now in a physical place they can lay their heads down at night, and build a future in with Henry and possibly more children. Although Killian is no doubt happy to have the Jolly Roger back, he gave up the ship once before and for certain would do it again in a heartbeat. That ship may have been his home for hundreds of years but no longer is and him choosing a home for him and Emma represents his love and unfailing commitment to her. His ship is good for dates and sailing trips, but a ship also represents a rootless existence- the kind Emma always had, never staying in one place for too long. But this house, their home, represents forever. It is the place they can grow old together in and live their own happily ever after.
Killian’s first “I love you”:
I have been hoping to hear Killian utter these three beautiful words in Season 5, so much so that I put it on my Season 5 Wish List. And lo and behold my wish came true one week later. And it came at a crucial and dramatic moment for their characters. We know that Killian loves Emma with all of his heart, but things have been tense between them in Storybrooke, and after everything she had done, probably thought she had lost him. Such was not the case and he tells so. Echoing his first confession in “The Jolly Roger” it was beautiful hearing him use her full name. “I love you, Emma Swan” was a perfect moment.
The moment Killian revealed the origins of his rings was quite poignant and revealed so much about his character: His self-awareness and his journey to be a better man. One of the things that I love most about his character is that he doesn’t make excuses for the bad things he’s done in the past – he owns up to them and the fact that he remembers each person who wronged including their name and what they did, and more importantly what he did to them, is so important. He was a villain but he did not slaughter countless people never remembering who they were. He remembers his sins. He may have wore his rings as trophies, but when Emma gave him a reason to hope and believe in love again that all changed. It a such a moving lesson that all sins can be forgiven as long as you have someone who loves you. And I was touched beyond words that the one ring that wasn’t a symbol of a past wrong, but like the others a sad story, belonged to his brother Liam – a man he says was far better than him. He gave that ring to Emma to keep her safe and as a reminder that he loves her. It’s a ring we had not seen before and I would venture to say he kept it close to his heart so that a part of his brother was always near him. And in giving it to Emma, he was once again giving up one of his most treasured possessions just so she could be safe and happy – just as he gave up a ship for her. This moment was beautiful on its own but the one little bit of another piece of wedding foreshadowing made my heart skip a beat. Bonding over a ring and what it can symbolize – in this case that someone can love you no matter what and that all can be forgiven- Killian utters the words “I do.” Of course we also must mention that the moment Killian gave Emma Liam’s ring, a ring he believed may have kept him alive, he is mortally wounded. Killian would give his life for Emma, and he may have literally done so putting his life in her hands. Perhaps this ring is indeed very powerful.
The Beauty of Touch:
One of the loveliest aspects of Emma and Killian’s relationship is the sense of touch and affection between them and the way it’s blossomed as their love has grown deeper. This culminated with moving results in “Birth.” Moreover, many of these signs of affection have become constants in the way they show each other how they feel. Whether they are acting choices or scripted, these gestures shown by Jennifer Morrison and Collin O’Donoghue are beautiful consistencies for their characters. No one can deny you can feel how much they love each other in the way they kiss or look at each other, but the way they touch is just as meaningful. Early on in their story touch was rare, and therefore special; but now it’s special in a more profound way. As I have said, Emma and Killian’s is a story of hands and hearts entwined shown in many ways such as emphasis put on their hands held and placing of a hand over their hearts. These gestures are so common now, but no less special, and in this season we see Emma continue to touch Killian’s chest, a way to guard his heart as he has been trying to guard and protect hers as she has been struggling with the darkness. It’s her way of showing she is still her and that the give and take and equality between them has not faltered. As Killian lay dying in the field of Middlemist flowers and we see once again their hands held in reverence, it’s a reminder that their connection is unbreakable.
But it was also poignant because Emma was pleading with him to stay – to hold on and not let go even though he told her that she must. But she is not going to let him go, ever. I had alluded to this quote before the season began and it seems even more apropos as the season has progressed.
Now that they are both cursed with the darkness it is the time to hold on more than ever. They both may falter, but through this darkness they can prevail if they reach for you each other and don’t let go, for they are each other’s light.
The way Emma always rests her head on Killian’s shoulder, a symbolic gesture of support as well as one of love, has developed just as their love has. This has always been a way of Killian helping to shoulder her pain or fears, giving her strength in an unmistakable but silent way. The first time, Emma was sharing childhood memories with Killian that were painful, so he takes her hand and wraps his arm around her and she rests her head down on his shoulder. She closes her eyes and was no doubt feeling thankful and loved; with a few people Emma could depend on, and Emma being the only person able to make him feel like life was worth living again, they are leaning on each other.
The next time she leaned her head on his shoulder they are enjoying a happy stroll home having just promised to always see the best in each other. The repeated gesture matches the continuation of the mutual support and affection, only this time there is no pain but instead radiant smiles. It was a progression in both entities the gesture and feelings.
The next time she rests her head on his shoulder it is sweet and showed a sign of familiarity as if this is simply what she always does. After everything was set right in the alternate universe, Killian was alive, standing beside her in Granny’s telling her parents they don’t have to apologize for their actions. She was happy he was there and showed him such in the little way.
Now it is not only a sign of support but one up and wavering affection. How often do you nuzzle into the neck of the one that you love? It is one of those beautiful things that make each other feel safe and loved. This is what Emma does. And again this is a sign of progression in their relationship. And perhaps it makes touch even more special not in its rarity but in that it is commonplace. They know that no matter what they will be there for one another. In “Birth” we see a combination of this progression in a beautiful way. As they gain Excalibur and Emma “heals” his wound they are full of hope that they can finally be rid of the darkness and go home. She cuddles into his shoulder, smiling as he wraps his arms around her, and for the first time we see him lean his head down onto hers and close his eyes. They look hopeful, happy and deeply in love and we see in such a simple and sweet moment so much about their feelings. They both are truly happy, and they both have faith that their future together is on the horizon. And the fact that Killian reciprocates the gesture is so moving because we can see that not only does he love her but he feels loved to. We always speak of how crucial that is for Emma but it is just as monumental for Killian to have found someone who cherry cherishes him as much as he cherishes her, having lived centuries without anyone who genuinely cared for him. But now he is Emma, who cherishes him like no other.
As I wrote in my Nerd Machine review, you can see how much Emma loves him in her agonizing tears and refusal to let him leave her, but also in the way she strokes his face. It is another one of those gestures that has become one of the things she simply does. Emma touches him this way to show him comfort and love, and this was amplified in these heartbreaking moments in “Birth” as she softly stroked his face. I have never seen Emma this way and it shows the brevity of her feelings for this man she loves with all of her heart.
We must first mention the parallel between the scenes in the field of Middlemist flowers in “The Broken Kingdom” and “Birth.” Both episodes were written by David H. Goodman and Jerome Schwartz, with Stephen Jackson as the cinematographer. These two scenes are quite different in tone – one is filled with hope and light, while the other is tragic and heartbreaking. But both demonstrate the depth of their love for each other and the mirroring of the overhead visual demonstrates this, as well and simply being a way of giving their story a stunning aesthetic. This parallel is a thing of beauty and one that is deeply affecting.
Captain Swan has also had so many parallels to Snow and Charming and in “Birth” there was a particularly touching one. In “Heart of Darkness” charming throws himself in front of an arrow so Snow would not kill Regina saying “I would rather die than let you fill your heart with darkness.” In “Birth” Killian expresses the same selfless sentiment willing to die so she can have a future without that darkness, knowing that saving him would be a final step into that. Both men love these women so much they are willing to lay down their lives to keep them in the light. There is no surer sign of true love. Beyond Emma and Killian paralleling Snow and Charming and so many other couples, they are unique unto themselves. But most beautiful is the ways they parallel each other. In “Birth” we saw so many parallels that are highlighted in this gif set here by captainswaan. These parallels have always been present and the number is in fact unparalleled. Kindred spirits since the beginning the connections between them keep going and as they have reached a truly epic proportion. Let us look at things that are rue for both of them:
– Abandoned as a child
– Had loved ones die in their arms by a heart crushed or the price of magic – Milah and Graham and Liam and Neal.
– Demonstrate similar affectations. These were seen in their first adventure together in “Tallahassee” demonstrating this connection from the start.
– Both claim to not be sentimental but hold onto important mementos
– They never forget their first loves but were able to move on from them
– Brought families back together- Emma with Hansel and Gretel and their father and Killian with Ursula and hers
– In their younger days had to fend for themselves so turned to thievery or piracy
– Have had moments of self-doubt and self worth
– Saved hearts- Emma saved Snow, and Killian Aurora’s and Merida’s
– In season 4 both of their hearts were on the line- threatened with darkness
– Are often scared to admit their feelings to each other but not so to others
And now they are paralleled in the most epic way possible, solidifying that they have an undeniable, unbreakable connection. The names engraved side-by-side on Excalibur, they are now both Dark Ones. It is such a beautifully poetic chapter in their story that I believe was always meant to be. In the very first episode of the series, Rumpelstiltskin told Snow and Charming that their only hope was their unborn child and that in 28 years the final battle would begin. Beyond the original curse the ultimate battle is to defeat the ultimate darkness. In Killian’s very first episode we see his story with Rumpelstiltskin and how his quest to kill him began: “Even demons can’t be killed! I will find away!” It has been said how beautifully poetic it was that the woman he loves became what his life is been bound to for centuries. Now that he too is cursed by the same darkness it has become even more poignant and poetic. Circumstances brought Emma and Killian together, but their love is what is most special as right now both have that darkness residing in them. Perhaps it was always their destiny to destroy the darkness together.
Beyond the beauty and sadness in the scene where Emma saves Killian, there was so much strength demonstrated by him even when he was denying such. I don’t think I will ever be over Killian bleeding, in horrible pain, finding it hard to breathe, telling Emma it was alright and to simply reunite the blades. In what could have been his last moments, he was still only thinking of her, to show her comfort and belief. When he lay amongst all the middlemist flowers I was heartbroken to hear him call himself weak and doubting whether he could once again push away the darkness. It makes me think of the quote “always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think .” Killian is brave and he is strong, but feelings of doubt and unworthiness still plague him. He believes in Emma but still does not see himself as a true hero. It is this reason why the darkness is sure to overtake him. He’s not perfect and has, as he said, succumbed to darkness in the past. But even more so it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you are weak rather than strong you will not be able to fight back. But if he believes in himself the same way and it does you can defeat this correction. It will be difficult battle but if anyone can succeed it would be Killian Jones.
Unity in Speech:
in my further thoughts for “The Broken kingdom” I spoke of how for the first time Emma and Killian spoke in abundance about themselves as a unit: “Us,” “you and me,” “Our. “This has continued and in “Birth “this was made even more profound by this type of unity now associated with the word “future.” In “The Broken Kingdom” Killian asked Emma to put her faith in them and “their future together.” This alone was significant but in “Birth” so much of episode centered around their future – so much so that the word itself was used excessively. The house he picks out for them is a promise for the future -a future she does not have to fear. And in that climactic scene when Emma saves him they only speak of “our future.” Killian is resigned and happy that she can have one, thinking only of her, but for Emma there is no future without him. She cannot lose him. This is echoed in Storybrooke in a way that was quite foreshadowing. When she takes him to their house she tells him that it represented their future together and says that “everything I’ve done was to keep that feature of life. “And what she means is that she has been trying to keep him alive. That is because Killian is her future.
I will end with this quote that feels like it was written for this chapter in Emma and Killian’s story. Through the darkness love and light will always shone through. That is what the greatest of stories epitomize. And there is not greater love story than the one between Emma and Swan and Killian Jones.