Once Upon a Time: “Broken Heart” Further Thoughts


The stakes have never been higher, the drama never so intense, and the pain is as stinging as we have ever seen on Once Upon a Time. When I hoped for a epic season that focused on Emma, especially her romantic relationship, I never dreamed it would turn out this spectacularly. This season has surpassed my wildest dreams, and even though “Broken Heart” was a devastating episode, I still feel nothing bit hope amidst the darkness. I touched on many things in my review for The Nerd Machine so this addition of Further Thoughts will be focused on some little moments, parallels, some speculation, and a reminder of what makes this show and these characters so special

Moments of Truth:

I spoke a great deal about this in my review, but it bears reiterating how powerful Emma and Killian’s moments in Camelot were in this episode. They discussed things we have wanted them to talk about for so long, and laid out emotional truths about their characters and their relationship. When Killian says there has never been a moment where he did not believe in her, or trust her, you see so clearly on her face, she knows the depth of this truth. Emma has always had trouble expressing herself in words, but her expression says it all. She knows how much he believes in her. It is why he is so deeply hurt that she is was not showing him the same belief and trust.

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This is why the following scene is even more poignant. She does believe in him and does trust him. That is why she gives him the sword. But it was the pain they have both experienced that really affected me, including some between the two of them. Killian loves Emma more than anything so it is why he has always been so patient with her. He would wait until the ends of time for her. But being willingly patient does not mean it will not hurt. The way Emma pushed him away in Season 3 must have pained him a great deal, and the trauma he went through in season 4 when Rumplestilskin controlled and nearly killed both himself and Emma also left a scar. We assumed they had discussed some of these things off screen, but perhaps not. So seeing these two discuss how much they have gone through with such honesty was a breath of fresh air. He understands why she puts up walls, and she knows he understands that implicitly. He has walls just as high as hers. But he is right. That does not make it fair. Despite the darkness, anger and frustration Emma and Killian needed this. Being honest about how you feel helps the soul heal and can only make your relationship stronger. Hearing them both recognize that Killian has never abandoned her is so imperative. Emma has never had someone who has never failed her, and even though things seem bleak at the moment, I do not expect that to ever change. And Emma will not abandon him either!





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Moments of Vulnerability:

When Emma was able to quiet the darkness within Killian the same way he had been able to do so, I was moved to tears, most especially because she was able to do rather quickly. All it took was her looking into his eyes and reminding him that they can have that future together in Storybrooke in that white picket fence house. He just has to want it as she does. When he says he does “More than anything” you can hear how deeply he means these words. His heart is exposed, the anger vanishes, and darkness disappears. These are the kind of moments that make the show so stunning.




The moment Killian cradles Killian face, kisses him, and then rests her head against his cheek will stay with me forever. It s such an exquisitely vulnerable moment and one that exemplifies how deeply she loves him and knows that he loves her. She often expresses her affections through touch rather than words, but here is a beautiful instant where her love is expressed through both. Have we ever seen Emma this vulnerable before? She is in tremendous pain but is not holding back sobs. Instead she is holding the man she loves, with hope and a promise that when he awakens he will be the man he truly is. It may take time, but their future can be saved. Sealed with a kiss, Emma is making a vow to save him and it is profoundly moving.







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As the curse envelops them and Emma cradles Killian, we were reminded of the moment from the Pilot when Snow held onto Charming as the curse surrounds them. This may be one of the loveliest Captain Swan/Snowing parallels ever. Emma was not always a hopeful person. She lived a life of disappointment and betrayals. So to see her in the same position as her mother, the person who is the epitome of hope, is very touching. The circumstances may be different, but they are both fearful but full of hope. Snow knew their memories would be gone, but still believed happiness could be restored because she believed in her daughter. Emma knows that that both she and Killian will have the darkness inside of them, and that it will not be an easy road to gain anyone’s trust or understanding. But in both cases Emma is meant to be the hero. Only this time she has the choice. It is not a destiny assigned to her, but one she takes on because she believes in the power of their love. She can be his savior. If that is not poetically beautiful, I don’t know what is.




The Cutest Dark Ones Ever!

In one of the episode’s happiest moments, Emma and Killian kiss and smile before separating. Of course things go badly after this, but in this brief scene Emma and Killian are just about the cutest Dark Ones to ever exist. They may both be dressed head to toe in black leather, but they are also, to speak in internet terms, precious cinnamon rolls. And who did not love Killian’s little moan as they kissed? This was, in my mind, a little sneak preview to the long awaited CS coffee time.

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The Field of Middle Mist Flowers:

This glorious field of pink blossoms will forever hold a special place in Emma and Killian’s story. With each poignant scene encompassing the power of true love, there were two things in particular that struck me. One, each time there appears to me more flowers than there were the previous time. Is this meant to have a deeper meaning than simply being aesthetically beautiful? Perhaps it a visual clue that their feelings are continuing to blossom into a field of endless love. The other interesting aspect of these three different scenes is that they each occur at different, successive time of day. The first one was early morning with the sun rising behind them, demonstrating that a new dawn is upon them filled with hope. The second appears to be in late afternoon just before dusk signifying that darkness is approaching, which is ever significant because Emma saves Killian by turning him into a Dark One. The last scene, takes place in the deepest of night. The sky is black, and they are both inflicted with darkness, but the endless seas of flowers surrounding them still emanates their bright pink beauty symbolizing that despite the darkness, hope remains.

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“I Love You–I Love You, Too”:

It does not matter what Dark Hook says about playing her, this first time Emma and Killian exchange” I love you, I love you too,” was genuine. There can never be a time where Killian telling Emma he loves her is not imbedded with honest and sincerity. For that reason, and the way he pulls her towards him for a passionate kiss, I have nothing but deep affection for this scene. And as my friend Mimi (@ShimmeringCrown) pointed out, it appears as if he lifts her up as they are kissing because she is suddenly almost as tall as him. More kisses like this in the future would be most welcome.





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What love stories are made of:

As I said in my review, “One of the things that is so special about their dynamic is that they demonstrate so much raw emotion and intensity, showcasing deep and real complexities.” (X) All couples fight. All go through struggles. That is what real relationships are like. But I was a little surprised how some were so taken aback by their interactions when this is what so many love stories are made of. Were their scenes harsh and difficult to watch? Yes of course. Be we know not only deep down they love each other more than anything, but that they both have the greatest evil inside of them. Honesty, fights, moments of hope lost, threats and cruel words are seen in some of the greatest love stories of all time.

Although the ending of Casablanca does not have the happy one Emma and Killian will surely have (it is too different of circumstances) we know that Rick and Ilsa’s love is true. But they have very dark moments. He is angry and heartbroken and does not want to forgive her. She even pulls a gun on him! But no one can deny they still love each other.




In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Darcy say very hurtful things to each other. He insults her family, considers her station in life beneath him, she calls him hateful and arrogant and the kind of man she could never marry. But they overcome these prejudices against each other and clearly forgive each other through falling in love, seeing who they truly are. Are you sensing a pattern here? Words said in anger and misunderstanding can be forgiven.








Lastly, Allie and Noah in The Notebook fight each other constantly. There have so much fire that it either comes out in intense passion or intense anger. She pushes and hits him, he wants to wait and see and anticipates breaking up, and in one of the film’s most real moments he lays out a real truth about them and the complexities of love. She will tell him when he is being a “son of a bitch” and he will tell her when “she is being a pain in the ass, which is 99% of the time!” But he wants to be with her, forever. That is what love is all about. You struggle and fight but when you love each other you work for it despite it being difficult.


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Allie and Noah’s love is deep and true just like Emma and Killian’s. And after all this of the Hell they will have to endure, I want Emma and Killian to die in each other’s arms, just like Allie and Noah did, having lived a long and beautiful life together. But without the memory loss because I think Once has had their fill of this.



Endless Wedding Foreshadowing:

As my fellow, wonderful Oncer @G8rMom7 pointed out to me, Merida’s line of taking an arrow to the knee is an allusion to getting married. Upon further research apparently it refers to when we propose falling to one knee. Furthermore, in the beginning of the Middlemist scene with Emma walking alone, there is definitely a wedding look about it. Not only is she walking down an aisle, (and why is there suddenly one there?), but she is walking in a slow deliberate pace like that of a bride. If there is not a wedding at the end of Season 5, I will be very much shocked!


Hands Entwined:

Dark Ones or not they still continue to place an emphasis on their hands entwined and that is a beautiful thing to me. Killian may have already embraced the darkness when they walk back towards Granny’s but he still holds hands with her. And in the moment he really needed it she holds out her hand to him. It is a sign of trust and fidelity as it always has been. Something tells me the finale may reiterate this unbreakable bond.




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Killian vs. Rumplestiltskin:

I realized a very intriguing, and perhaps very telling difference between Killian and Rumple as Dark Ones on their two paralleling scenes on the Jolly Roger. As the Dark One, Rumple maims Killian, cutting off his hand. On the other hand, as the Dark One, Killian heals Rumple, restoring his leg back to normal so he no longer has a limp. It’s interesting how both of these afflictions were caused by Rumple as well, but Killian chooses to heal rather than hurt in this instance.

Team Plan vs. Team Flip:

I have been entertained and intrigued by the debate amongst Oncers on Twitter and tumblr these past few days. The debate is simple: is Killian playing the darkness and simply engaging in a plan to fool everyone and in turn save Emma, or has he truly succumb to the darkness and his behavior is all as it seems, leaving the opportunity for him to overcome the darkness in the end? Honestly, I am 50/50 on this debate and can it see it playing it out either way. Both have the potential to be moving and epic and both can make sense narratively. Although I will admit I do think him having a plan is a bit more believable to his character, it truly can go either way at this point. Both scenarios however will leave me equally moved as they are both heart wrenching. If Killian has a plan, he is playing the darkness and everyone superbly. His words are pushing Emma to no longer work on her own but seek out help from her family, and convince her that he is so far gone, she has no choice but destroy him. If you think of this scenario it is absolutely heartbreaking but sounds like something Killian Jones would do for Emma Swan. He knows that if she thinks he can be saved she will never let him go. She proved that by tethering him to Excalibur. But if she believes the true Killian is indeed gone, she will be able to kill him and destroy the darkness once and for all. Then he can die happy knowing she will have a future free from the darkness. That is all that he wanted for her. If Killian is indeed doing this, think about how difficult it must be. He has to do unspeakable dark things and hurt the woman he loves. But if anyone is willing to do what it takes to ensure her happiness it would be Killian. On the opposite end, if he is not playing everyone and truly is exactly as dark as he seems, this can also playing out in a heart wrenching and poignant way. We know how possible it is to have him succumb to the darkness. He has done so before and believes he is not strong enough to fight it. But Killian is stronger than he thinks. And if indeed he is dark and no longer his truest self, there will no doubt come a moment where he will snap out of it to save Emma. This would be very powerful and showcase how strong and heroic he can be, to be able to break free from the control of the greatest evil of all time, solidifying Killian Jones as a true hero. Either way, I will surely be an emotional mess and be crying buckets of tears.

Killian’s heroics & good deeds:

Speaking of Killian displaying true heroics, I was a little disheartened that David questioned Emma’s faith in Killian especially when he has seen so much of what he has done. No one is denying his bad deeds from his past, but since starting on that path of good he has done a great deal to save or help Emma, Henry and or members of the Charming family and others important to them and I wanted to list them all:

– Risked his life by taunting the giant atop the beanstalk so Emma she throw the sleeping powder on to him.

– He may have taken it in the first place, but he saved Aurora’s heart from falling into the portal, losing his advantage in the sword fight with Emma.

– Although he stole the bean that allowed Greg and Tamara to kidnap Henry, he came back, and on his own. Although he had Emma’s words in his head, he still made that choice to turn his ship around without anyone showing any kind of belief in him.

– Once he found out what happened to Henry he immediately offered his ship and his services to help rescue him.

– He gave Emma Neal’s cutlass as a sign of kindness and to give her the weapon she would need in Neverland.

– Guided and fought alongside the Nevengers through Neverland and offered knowledge they did not have, including Tinkerbell. Don’t forget, without her Pan’s shadow would not have been destroyed in Storybrooke.

– Led them all to Neal’s cave where they found the coconut shell that would eventually be used to trap Pan’s shadow.

– Saved David’s life by leading him to the cure for dreamshade, told him exactly the price, and respected David’s wishes and did not say anything about it.

– Told Snow and David immediately that Pan paid him a visit and that Neal was still alive.

– Revealed a difficult, heartfelt secret he may not have otherwise, but did so to help save Neal, all while believing Emma still loved and may have wanted to be with him.

– Upon receiving a message, he traded his ship for a magic bean in order to find Emma in New York.

– Did not give up on helping her even after she threw him in jail.

– Continued to work alongside the heroes in Stoybrooke to fight the Wicked Witch.

– Took Henry to safety away from Zelena and told him about his father to ease his sorrow.

– Followed Emma through Zelena’s time portal so she would not be alone.

– Helped correct the mistake and make sure Snow and Charming would fall in love as they were meant to.

– Helped David as they tried to rescue Emma from the ice cave, Taking Bo Peep’s staff, which gave Elsa hope that Anna was still alive.

– Helped Elsa with her desire to find out more about the Snow Queen.

– Did everything in his power to stop Rumplestiltskin from killing Emma, confessing his mistakes on her voicemail no matter the consequences, and vowing that he would die fighting to save her.

– Asks Rumple for one dying wish: to leave Emma and the rest of Storybrooke be and not harm them.

– Showed Belle compassion and understanding when they thought Rumple was gone forever.

– Helped restore Ursula’s happy ending, gaining knowledge of Rumple’s true intentions towards Emma.

– Helped Emma forgive her parents for lying to her.

– In the AU, helped Henry rescue Emma from the tower, fighting a dragon even though he was terrified.

– In the AU, sacrificed himself so Emma and Henry could escape.

– Told Snow not to control Emma with the dagger, and helped stop Emma from crushing Merida’s heart.

– Helped Emma quiet the darkness inside her.

– Gave Emma his brother Liam’s ring, which he believed could be the reason he is alive, to keep her safe.

– Saved Snow and everyone else’s life by taking down Arthur and getting Excalibur back, mortally wounding himself in the process.

I think Killian has proven to be a hero and a good man, many, many times. He may be facing his biggest struggle yet, but I have faith in him. The finale is only one day away and I eagerly anticipate seeing love finally destroy the darkness!

2 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time: “Broken Heart” Further Thoughts

  1. This is fantastic! What is interesting to me is looking at that long list of things Killian has done to show that he is good and a hero and yet the one person who still doesn’t truly believe he is a HERO is…Killian Jones himself. This is why, among many other reasons, that I think Killian is going through this ordeal. Until HE HIMSELF stops with the self-loathing, he cannot move forward in a real meaningful relationship.

    For Captain Swan fans, I just say “be careful what you wish for”. This whole season is about them and yes, there is angst and pain, but do you want them to have an epic love story or do you just want to see them going on cute dates and never having any struggles? Well, let me answer that for you…if you want the latter, then write your own AU fanfic because that is NOT what this show is about. NONE of their stories are like that. My only issue with this story is I am just too accustomed to binge watching now and I have no patience. I just want the next episode (especially after a heart breaking one like last week), and I want it NOW! But I am 100% sure that next summer, I will be watching this season OVER AND OVER again and loving every minute.

    Thanks for giving me credit on the “arrow to the knee” but I want to share it because I didn’t know that until one of my friends on Captain Swan Army group page on FB pointed it out. It originated from a Nordic phrase but I think it is also used in the gaming community (which I am not a part of).

    THANKS AGAIN Marianne! You have been a treasure in helping us all understand but even more so see the beauty in the most fantastic fairy tale this show has ever given us. Really it’s the best love story I’ve ever seen on TV! LOVE!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know I have already said this to you on Twitter, but thank you for writing such an amazing article. I am always in awe how you (and others) are always able to write your reviews/blog posts etc. so beautifully about a show that when I started to watch it earlier this year struggled to get in to, and yet I have fallen in love with it and the characters.

    Watching Killian telling Emma that he had never abandoned her, like you said was a beutifully poignant scene; the raw emotions in both their voices and faces was heartbreaking and goes to show what amazing actors both Colin and Jennifer are in as much as them being able to show their characters vulnerability with just a slight expression. I’m glad that Emma is finally starting to recognise that Killian has always been there for her and how she is willing to be there for him too.

    I loved the scene where Emma was able to quiet Dark Rumple in Killian’s head in the same way Killian was able to quieten Dark Rumple in Emma’s. This to me showed just how meant for each other these two really are.

    Seeing Emma showing her vulnerable side in the diner after the curse had been cast was heartbreaking and reading your thoughts on that scene and seeing the gifs bought all the emotions I felt when I originally watched the scene flooding back. I had completely forgotten about the Snow/Charming scene from the pilot when I watched the scene with Emma holding Killian – I thought more Snow/Charming from season 3 as being the parallel. Either way, both are beautiful and both just as heartbreaking.

    That’s quite the list of things Killian has done to prove himself a hero – thank you for listing them all; as I read them, I could picture the scenes in my minds eye. I thought it a little odd of David to question Emma’s loyalty to Killian but liked when Snow said that “helping the people we love is something we do” (or something along those lines) as it showed how she has accepted Killian as being a part of Emma’s life; but was David questioning Killian Jones or Dark Hook? I’m hoping it’s the latter and that if it is the former, we see Killian redeem himself in the Finale.

    And that is where I will leave this. Sorry, if I have rambled and made no sense whatsoever. I am looking forward with trepidation to seeing the finale play out and Killian and Emma are finally able defeat the darkness with the love they have for each other – as Emma said in season 2 “love is strength” – and with all her family, friends and residents of Storybrooke, I have faith that good will win out in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

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