5 Things that Should Happen in the Once Upon a Time Series Finale

As the end of the fairy tale series reaches its final chapter there are certain things each of us wish to see in those precious last 42 minutes of screen time. Despite this final season being a divisive one, I think all will agree that during these past 7 years there were stories and characters that captured our hearts and our imaginations in ways that cannot possibly be measured.

Of course there are certain things many would like to see happen that are extremely unlikely: season 7 is some sort of dream or Henry’s authoring gone haywire to explain away the incoherent timeline and plot holes, Belle didn’t really die, and Robin Hood can be brought back to life to be with Regina. The chances of these happening seem very slim, so therefore the following list are things (many of which are connected) that have a greater chance of occurring. Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, a SERIES FINALE should include those from the many seasons of the show, not just a single one. And there are just some things that really should be in the last episode ever to conclude the current stories and most especially to bring the series to a hopeful and satisfying conclusion- a true happily ever after.

5. Earned and Wrapped Up Season 7 Storylines
The crux of this is that characters get what feels deserved and logical. This means that there should be no redemption for Gothel but an ending fitting such a vile villain, Wish Hook’s heart should be cured so he can be with his daughter again, Tiana deserves her own restaurant, Henry, Lucy and Ella are saved and safe, Regina finds some form of happiness, Rumple is reunited with Belle (and Emilie De Ravin returns) even if that means death, and Alice and Robyn and Zelena and her fiancé find happy endings together. However, I also do not think, as I saw suggested, there should be something as special as a SERIES Finale wedding for these couples who are also guest stars. They just don’t warrant such an auspicious event. The only ones who would are already married (Emma and Killian), or we have not seen this season (Robin and Regina). However, while the main focus of the finale will most likely and should be centered on Henry, if we can see the return of Sean Maguire for a wedding between the alternate Robin and Regina, who got engaged in the Season 6 finale, that would be lovely. Lastly, the Guardian should be a character that is logical and worthy- so not a new alternate character like Anastasia, or one who would not exist had the story not been altered like Alice. The only ones that make sense would be Emma and Killian’s child, being the product of True Love twice over, or Henry who was always meant to be Rumple’s “undoing” and has a pure heart. Whether all of these stories are wrapped up in the finale or simply final episodes remains to be seen, but they definitely should be on the roster.

4. Wish Hook goes in search of Wish Emma
As discussed in detail in this article, the one good thing about the Wish Hook character now being from a parallel universe is that it means there should be another Emma out there that exists for him to find, who was displaced when our Emma was brought into that realm by the Evil Queen’s wish. A wish cannot erase a very real person from existence. She’s out there somewhere. All he has to do this find her. For many reasons, which also includes finding that realm’s version of Henry, when all is settled with his daughter the next thing this Hook should do is seek out the woman who is meant to be his romantic partner, to maintain that steadfast theme about True Love and soulmates, no matter the realm, no matter the version of the character, and fulfill that promise of “I Will Always Find You.” It does not matter that a lot of time has passed or that it hasn’t been mentioned yet. It should happen to complete his story and maintain the integrity of the “Captain Hook” character. Whether we actually see him find his Emma is determinant on whether Jennifer Morrison returns and how much time is available. So, if that is limited, precedent would have to be placed on the appearance of the original Emma, and knowing he is seeking her out would be enough. But if there’s time for both, this would be the perfect ending to his storyline and give audiences the delight in seeing that first spark of True Love again, and the beginning of what would be many adventures together.

3. We See Snow and Charming Again
Although Snow and Charming got their happily ever after in the Season 6 finale, moving to a farm in Storybrooke, raising their son, and living a peaceful life surrounded by family, they also should make an appearance in the Series Finale not only because they are truly wonderful characters, but the Charming Family was very much the family that was the heart of the series and I cannot imagine the show concluding without them. The very first scene of the entire series began with their True Love’s kiss. The final episode needs to include them to help maintain symmetry with the Pilot and especially in connection with the final two things that the finale should entail.

2. Henry and his family return to Storybrooke
It is still difficult to reconcile why Henry and Ella remained in the Enchanted Forest for 8 years after Lucy was born. We cannot get that time back and that’s heartbreaking to me. But to help ease that and end things right, Henry, Ella, and Lucy, and Regina as well, need to return to Storybrooke and their family. Storybrooke is HOME. It always has been on Once Upon a Time, and Henry has always been all about family, so a reunion and meeting between him, Ella and Lucy with his grandparents Snow and Charming, and Mother and Stepfather Emma and Killian, as well as his new sibling, is imperative to ending the series in a way that maintains who Henry is as a character and ending it on the right emotional note.

1. We See Emma, Killian and their Child
In the connection with the previous necessity, seeing Emma, Killian and their child in the series finale is also imperative to maintaining a connection to the Pilot and the integrity of who the series centered on, and what the series has always embodied: love, hope and family. After marrying at the ending of Season 6, we saw very little of their happy life together, and only the news that they were expecting a baby was revealed. We have no idea whether the child was a boy or girl, their name, and didn’t see the birth. With the timeline the way that it is, most likely these things would have to be seen in flashback, and perhaps by now they have multiple children, but it’s difficult to know for sure. But we should see at least one scene of the couple with their baby born out of True Love- a happiness that contrasts the utter devastation Emma experienced when she gave birth to and gave up Henry. More than anything, after such a long journey for Emma especially, the series should end with her, and the family she has found and created. The foundation of the series began with her son finding her in Boston and the start of their relationship. It should end with Henry and his wife and child reuniting with his mother and her husband and child, bringing everything full circle, perhaps concluding with her birthday, paralleling the Pilot where she made a wish that she didn’t have to be alone. Whatever the circumstance, the finale moments of Once Upon a Time should be with the characters that started it all, and the ones that became part of this beautiful family in very much the way the exquisitely moving montage in Season 6 finale did. That would be a true and touching happily ever worthy of the last page of this beautiful and poignant storybook.

finale page

More than a Show, More than a Game: The Hits & Misses of Season 7 of Once Upon A Time

At first thought you may not think that entertainment and sports, or specifically television and baseball have that much in common. But truly there can be many similarities found: collective joy and sorrow, dedication and passion from fans on multiple levels and in various ways, and many differing opinions. People have their favorite characters or players and there are often standouts that “put people in the seats.” One major difference is that I think is that feedback is more easily welcomed and mistakes can be corrected in television more so than in baseball. But importantly, we see in both it is truly a team effort to have the most success and it takes having all the right people in place to achieve that to the highest degree and create the perfect blend of natural chemistry and hard work and planning. Take people away from the team and suddenly it can all change in drastic ways.

As someone who always focused on the positive and has given Once Upon a Time deserved high praise, it felt unnatural to feel anything but, so I sought a way to express honest thoughts about this season’s issues. Using baseball as a metaphor is a way of sorting out everything with comparisons many may find helpful, and if I may be so bold, the writers themselves could understand. And while I’ve always had complete and utter faith in the writing, many recent storytelling choices have splintered that faith somewhat. I never thought that would happen and I am about the easiest person to please with very little I ever find fault with in most of what I watch, especially OUAT. But just as some things we’ve seen I never thought would happen, and in a one case repeated, it’s left me with feelings akin to Shoeless Joe Jackson, “Say it so, Joe” moments.

One thing that I feel needs to be said is that for countless people, baseball is not “just a game,” and Once Upon a Time is not “just a show.” As J.M. Barrie said in Finding Neverland “just” is a “Horrible candle-snuffing word.” They are not just anything. Both can become truly significant parts of our lives in ways that cannot be measured or replicated. Hours and years spent dedicated to loving, analyzing, sometimes complaining, but more often relishing in the joy it brings us. And if we see what we love go down unpleasant paths it can be very difficult, so the old age verbiage of “don’t like, don’t watch” I find to be short sided and even cruel. Is it true sometimes we need to step back? Of course. But overall, to just give it up, I don’t think that’s necessarily right either. Would you have told those fans of the Red Sox or Cubs to just stop watching their favorite team and not hope that they could finally be the team they dream of. Or perhaps even more analogous, tell the fans whose team who had won the World Series the previous season, and are now suffering in the standings, to just “shut up and be grateful” because they’d already won and to no longer hope they can find that magic again? And the thing is, for me personally I am grateful. I will always love this show and find it amazing in ways I cannot properly express. It’s brought so much into my life. That is why there is a struggle for myself and I believe many others. Are there lines of criticism? Absolutely. But the dialogue and hope should not be extinguished.

After the first episode of Season 7 aired, I likened it to returning to a favorite restaurant only to discover most of the menu had been changed, and while you still may enjoy some meals, it would never be quite the same. But now with half the season over and many writing choices being egregious, comparing to baseball feel more accurate. Whereas the first 6 seasons were World Series caliber in every regard, I don’t think Season 7 would even make the playoffs for many of the best players left or were traded, the chemistry is not quite right, with some hits, but more often strikeouts and foul balls. Before the season began I hoped that this would perhaps be like the last seasons of The Office after Steve Carrell departed, where it wasn’t as good, but still retained most of its heart and humor. I knew it would be difficult though, and it’s clear that losing the main character of Emma, as well as Snow and Charming, was too much overall. I had hope that even off screen they and Storybrooke would still at least be part of the story because three cast members were returning, as well as Henry. There had to be some connection remaining. And it’s there but its weak and often at odds with what’s come before. The tagline for the season was “a new book opens.” It did but it still tried to keep the last one there as well, but in odd, misguided, confusing and even heartbreaking ways. They’ve tried to have it both ways and it’s not quite working. The most confounding thing to me is that it can work as we know they are capable of beautiful, well thought out brilliance and it is possible to open a new book while retaining the old one, if they had made some different choices- and ones that could have happened. On a show with magic, the possibilities are much more vast than on other shows. While some may still be enjoying it, many are feeling that opposite, with a sharp decline in ratings. For these reasons, I hope the choice is made to wrap things up, bring back past cast members for the finale and conclude the series with some grace and dignity. Unlike baseball, which is ever ongoing and changing, no show can or should last forever. They all must end sometime. The question is when, and whether all involved in the production can correct the mistakes and make choices that can restore the small hope remaining to conclude with the beauty we know they are capable of and beauty that would give fans and characters the closure and happy ending they deserve to see.

The Hits and Misses

When examining the hits and misses of Season 7, employing this baseball window is indeed a useful tool. The thing that I think is important to note is that some- not all, but some- of what can be enjoyable, for me, is merely on a surface, superficial level. The season thus far as a self contained story has some great moments. It’s when you look at the big picture of connecting it with the rest of the series that issues arise. So when examining things closer, the enjoyment dissipates, revealing significant issues with plot choices and holes, contradictions and retcons, and out of character behavior which are at odds and even undermine the integrity of the characters and their stories from the past 6 seasons. The question to me is, do the writers realize this and don’t care? I never want to believe that. I think there are good intentions but for some strange reason choices that are quite out of touch. It’s like the batter is misreading the signs from the coach.

The first couple episodes are sort of like a baseball game that is nothing write home about. It’s a low scoring game. Not much happens, there’s little excitement. It’s pleasant enough but there aren’t any huge plays or home runs or things like that. Not even sure if the team you’re rooting for wins- maybe, but it’s not that great of a game. Just one of those menial ones. But after that, they definitely become a more mixed bag. The best of these were “One Little Tear,” “Wake Up Call,” “Pretty in Blue” and “Greenbacks” because they were the most interesting and importantly, overall did not undermine anything to any great degree. The episodes meant to be final ones for Morrison and DeRavin, “A Piarte’s Life” and “Beauty”, on an episode level were lovely and emotional. But they also had deep seated, big picture issues- it’s very much a push and pull. And overall, so many of these episodes became like games with few hits, missed opportunities, with only superficial enjoyment that makes the efforts to retain what they’ve done in the past made feel hollow.

– The performances and characters themselves for some of the cast- specifically O’Donoghue, Parrilla, Carlyle, West, Kane and Cox are solid hits- doubles, even triples, performance wise. In fact, I believe the actors elevate the material. Nothing is quite at the Home Run status of past seasons, and that is why these hits never score- but that all is due to the storylines.

– The Henry/Ella pairing is a single/double that never scores. They are sweet, but the chemistry is lacking, especially compared to what we’ve seen with other pairings. But despite this, their relationship to some degree is actually of the things that really deserves to be in the “Hit” category because of how they relate to each other, and the story of how they came together is what we love about OUAT. It’s what comes after that the problem arises.

– Little things throughout episodes also solid hits, mostly single and doubles: Tiana’s tenacity and warmth, Ivy’s demeanor, Henry’s sweetness and warmth, Rogers’ heart, and Regina and Zelena reunited are the ones that stand out.

Looking at some general things and episodes on an “at bat” level:

Hyperion Heights is Strike 1. Unlike Storybrooke which had a unique, mysterious, out of time fairy tale quality despite being in the real world, Hyperion Heights is prosaic, dreary and even boring. There is nothing particularly special about it and it feels like we could be watching any other show. Being in a larger city was fun for a few episodes here and there but the novelty has worn off. Not to mention that without Storybrooke, you are without it’s array of colorful characters at your disposal that brought so much to the series such as the Dwarves and Granny. Moreover, it was completely realistic for Henry to wander about the little town unattended. Lucy wandering around this Seattle adjacent city, not so much.

– Unexplained Magical Retcons, Plot holes, etc. are a Foul Ball/Strike 2. MacGuffins, Plot holes and retcons have surely happened on the series before; And sometimes it’s fine. It’s the nature of a show like this and called a suspension of disbelief. This why they do get a piece of the ball. It goes foul and counts as a strike because in the past these also felt insignificant and did not change things that much, and never felt so glaring or contradictory on any kind of significant level. But when there are many and ones that change things from season’s past on a higher level, one cannot help but not only keep noticing them but find them alarming or upsetting because it shows a lack of care or forethought. How does Henry never run out of gas for his motorcycle in this other Enchanted Forest? Why do stories from the alternate realms like Cinderella and Rapunzel appear in the storybook? Shouldn’t it just be the ones from S1-6? Why do portals no longer appear on the ground you jump into but rather upright in the air that you step through? This is a big one because of one of the show’s most iconic moments- Rumple letting go of Baelfire. And how do these portals seem to appear out of nowhere and at specific times or spontaneously as we saw with Henry and Alice. It makes no sense, is never explained and contradicts greatly what we’ve seen before.

The greatest of these are the sudden knowledge of The Guardian and no longer needing a heart to cast the dark curse, just the blood of someone who has. The Guardian would have been most helpful to Emma during the Dark Swan arc, and why can’t True Love’s Kiss break the Dark One curse as it began to in “Skin Deep” before Rumple stopped it? It was clear in “Beauty” Rumple finally was ready to give up his power. As for casting the curse, it is stretching it that novice Drizella knows more than Regina, and that Regina sensed nothing ominous in the years leading up to it. It feels like mere plot convenience which takes away from the story they are attempting to tell because it punches holes in what you’re watching. And somewhere Snow and Charming are crying over now what seems like unnecessary trauma of crushing Charming’s heart and splitting Snow’s.

– Using Alternate Realms and Versions of Characters and Making the Wish Realm Real is another Foul Ball/Strike 2. I think it’s significant to note that in using alternate realms and versions it fundamentally changes the original concept of the show. This concept was that there was a land filled with all the characters we know- or thought we knew. All the stories we know are not the real stories and these were what really happened. Having multiple versions of the same characters may be reflective of how many fairy tales have different versions, but in the Once Upon a Time universe it contradicts the original concept making it feel like an attempt to continue no matter if it makes sense with the universe they created.

Going back to the Wish Realm and changing what it was is clearly their way of keeping a “Hook” on the show without separating Emma and Killian’s or taking away their happy ending. Those intentions are good and I appreciate them. But the thing is there were other ways to do so that could have kept original Killian on the show. Last season this realm was created as a wish to trap and punish Emma. Now it’s been changed to a parallel universe with the same concurrent history that at one point deviates and Emma no longer had to be the Savior. It is the same but twisted. And now that means that a very real Snow and Charming were murdered, Belle was left to die in a dungeon and Henry was left alone seeking revenge against the Evil Queen. It also presents a slippery slope of potential lands. Are there now two Neverlands, Two Wonderlands, Two Land’s without Color etc.? It is too confusing and diminishes the specialness of the stories we watched, which I find very, very sad and hard to accept. The reason this is not a complete swing and a miss is for the potential that have set up for an endgame (whether they realize it or act on it remains to be seen). But I have chosen to have hope.

– The Timeline/Ages are Strike 3. This is a big swing and a miss in a crucial situation leaving many fans dumbfounded. It’s true that recently the timeline of the show became more vague, using phrasing like “Many years ago,” and at times the ages were not perfect; for example Neal and Robyn seemed too close in age. But the timeline still did make sense and could be followed fairly easily, while the reason for a child being grown and around the same age as their parents as we saw with Emma and then Gideon was clear and explained. The former was the initial concept of the show and the latter served a purpose and was later set right when he turned back into a child. But now the timeline and ages make little to no sense at all. At least 8 to 10 have passed for Henry and yet his family has not noticeably aged at all. Robyn was a baby and is now 25, but Lucy is only 8. Alice was born around the same time as Emma and should be 30ish at least but is only in maybe her early 20s. And Hyperion Heights is set in 2017? Nothing has been explained and the one mere attempt was Regina making a quip about not being here to “discuss timelines.” That is not clever or funny. It’s just lazy. And I know they can do better. The timeline also presents one of the biggest grievances with the season- which I will discuss in the “Eighth Witch” points. 

“A Pirate’s Life”
– Emma and Killian’s Happy Beginning is a Triple. After all they went through the couple being able to have a quiet and happy life in Storybrooke, expecting a baby is beautiful, well deserved after an arduous journey. But there is a reason it’s not a Home run. We should have seen more of this life.

– Choosing to use Wish Realm Hook, instead of the Hook we’ve known is a pop fly. Whether it’s an out depends on perspective. On one hand, they get a good piece of the ball and it looks good and like it make go out of the ballpark. This is all due to O’donoghue’s performance and the character still having Killian’s qualities because he is merely a copy (it also leaves some hope in my heart if the writers have the courage to acknowledge it). But examining deeper it could be an out alas because there were superior options: a clone that could re-merge with him, time travel or time jumps which would mean little to no separation, and choosing to show him coming home with the rest being all flashback. The entire series began with such a thing with the True Love’s Kiss between Show and Charming and what led to that being the story. They could have done the same because contrary to popular belief, knowing an ending, or at least relatively knowing where its heading, does not diminish its power. Shocks and surprise twists are not always needed and we expect happy endings on a show like this.

Moreover, this could be an out because having an alternate Hook takes away the established connections and therefore a lot of the investment and emotion. Henry and Rogers are not step father and son- merely allies and friends. The history is not there. Rogers and Weaver do not truly have a long past with each other but with the other versions of themselves, so any long awaited alliance audiences would have loved to see is not really seen at all. Can it still be poignant? Yes, but not in the same way and not as deeply.

– Having so little Emma and not knowing anything about her and Killian’s child is a Strikeout on its own. There may have been a limit on time but not on content. They could have written anything. And I cannot understand this choice not to show this at all. We should have seen some of their lives together such as finding out about the pregnancy, happy moments, or the birth of the child. The main character and lead actress for 6 seasons deserved that and so did the fans. Things like this should not be up to the viewer’s imaginations. But in Morrison’s final episode (and original Killian’s) they were merely cameos with so little having to do with them. There were some truly lovely moments that will be cherished, but as a whole this is the kind of at bat that is a wasted opportunity that leaves runners on base, missing a scoring opportunity. And they didn’t even try to swing at the ball. The just watched it go right past the heart of the plate and if they had swung it could have been a home run just like the past episodes about this beautiful couple have always been.

– Seeing so much Belle in her final episode, her happiness with her son and her husband is a double. The character got much focus and this was lovely to see and DeRavin was wonderful.

– The “Up” montage in this far off realm was in one sense a double and in another sense a walk. It was extremely sweet, beautiful and emotionally affecting. The performances were from DeRavin and Carlyle wonderful and believable. It was the kind of thing I actually hope to also see for Emma and Killian (minus the sadness of course) which leads to the big issue. We must forget much of the past between them and just accept what is happening to her.

– Seeing Belle die onscreen, aging rapidly away from her family and friends is a pop out. They get a piece of the pitch, but no matter how beautiful, it is also so difficult to watch this character not only pass away but live out her days in isolation with her husband and only seeing her son on occasion. She was happy and chose this but as an audience member to know that she never again saw her father, her friends that became like family, aging quickly while no time has passed for them, is rather sad and depressing.

– Making Rumple suicidal is a pop out as well. Perhaps I am misinterpreting things but it seems as if Rumple wants to find the Guardian so he can die and be reunited with Belle in death. Understandable? Yes. But he would be leaving his son parentless. Considering throughout the series most of his motivators were about getting back to his first son, why would he not want to not live as long as he can with and for his second?

“Eloise Gardner”
– Choosing the have Wish Hook in a “romantic” scenes, first flirting with Tiana (thankfully some scenes were cut) and then seen kissing and sleeping with Gothel disguised as Rapunzel is Strike 1. It’s a big swing and a miss. This may be another Hook, and in the flashbacks in a time before he would have met Emma (and one should exist in this realm), but to see this so soon is jarring for the audience and for many extremely unpleasant to watch considering what we have seen in the past. He is a pirate. We have seen him flirt and know he obviously was engaging in sexual encounters but we NEVER once saw it even before him and Emma were even close to being a couple. We never even saw him kiss Milah. And now that Emma is no longer on screen and he’s “different” you suddenly do, when we have just witnessed a 5 season long love story. Like I said jarring. Also completely unnecessary. We know he had a daughter. We know how babies are made. But we need not see anything. It wasn’t much, but at the same time TOO MUCH. As far as the present day with Tiana, the only thing I can say is it feels so misguided to even tease the idea of pairing him with someone an episode after Emma’s departure, different version or not. It goes against their True Love/Soulmate theme. Thankfully they seemed to have nixed the idea, but that they even considered it- it’s like the writers were cursed. I still have hope they will do right. That they considered it does make me doubt. But anyone other than another Emma would be insulting and wrong. Plus O’Donoghue is capable of so much. Forcing a romantic story would suggest shallowness on the writer’s and the audiences’ parts.

– Choosing to have this storyline involve “Rapunzel” is a like a Foul Ball/Strike 2. I think the writers thought they were being clever or honoring the parallel we’ve always seen between Emma/Killian and Rapunzel/Flynn but it doesn’t really and the result is not what they thought it’d be. It actually feels more like a slap because we saw those similarities with Emma, and seeing a Hook put into the story is not at all what most would want to see. And It’s like someone caught that foul ball, but it really stung.

– Making this encounter a rape by deception storyline is Strike 3 for many reasons. It’s a vile story choice to make AGAIN. This was not necessary. There were other ways to have him have a daughter that did not have to involve him being raped. The lack of acknowledgment that this is what happened by the writers is beyond problematic. And the argument that this is simply what villains do, that they needed to show her being truly evil holds little weight. Again there are other routes that could have been taken.

It didn’t even have to be his biologically. It have been like Jean Valjean in Les Miserables where he takes in the child of a friend who died. There were options before them. But this route- They may not being condoning what happened and of course recognizing that what she did was wrong but not calling it what it was defending the story choices as  was the only one or necessary choice is a big miss. It wasn’t. This is a I cannot believe you swung at that pitch situation. And please don’t mistake me comparing a game to the very serious situation of rape as me trivializing it. I do not. On the contrary, issues like this should be handled with care and proper attention and recognition. That is the understandable issue many are having. But all these issues could have all been avoided if they chose another story path.

– The scenes involving Wish Hook/Rogers and Alice/Tilly are a bit difficult to define. On one hand I would say it’s like getting a hit. Seeing him being a father, giving up everything for her, singing to her is sweet and nice in itself. But we could also look at the batter getting on base because they were hit by a pitch. Sure you got on base but it was forced. This is because as sweet as these moments can be, like getting hit by a pitch they are also a painful reminder of things many wanted to see with Original Hook and we never did. We still can though and not having Morrison available is no excuse. Why the writers thought the audience would delight in seeing an alternate Hook with his child instead of the Killian we know with his and Emma’s child is mind boggling. It feels like a strongly misguided attempt to give the audience some semblance of what they wanted to see. We wanted to see Emma and Killian with their child but instead we see an alternate version- and not Emma’s child. They teased the audience in episode 2 with a 24 karat Gold Necklace and then gave us a gold plated one. If we had or were seeing both, it would improve this and take the sting away considerably. Then all would be good. We should and still can see Original Hook with his child. And if we don’t. Well that runner will never reach home plate and score.

Moreover, it is not just seeing one and not the other, it’s the implications that Alice has “replaced” Emma as the significant motivator in the Captain Hook Storyline. Then it’s like the runner is thrown out trying to steal second base. He’s on base because the concept of the story is nice- A father doing anything for their child. Once Upon a Time has done this in spades. He is thrown out because the issue lies with the undermining of the original tale as well as Emma’s, and even her family’s, significance in his story. It took Killian years/seasons to redeem himself and give up his revenge. Now this Hook does so in a single episode? Do I not believe he’s not capable of it? No. But why undermine the power of what came before? Killian trading his ship for Emma is such a profound, iconic moment in the series. And now this Hook quickly and without much thought gives it up to Smee. In Killian’s wedding vows he told Emma she did something “NO ONE else could,” she showed him “that a heart filled with love is the most precious treasure of all.” Do these words mean nothing simply because we are seeing an alternate version? If he’s meant to be almost the same it should not. If he were an actual completely different version like the way Cinderella is, it would be different. But he is literally a copy of the Hook we’ve known and loved for 5 seasons, so it’s not the same as her. And no this does not mean I think of him solely as Emma’s love interest and not his own character. But it’s like they took the character and basically started all over again without those who came to matter so much to him, except perhaps Henry. The only thing that takes the sting out of this is that there must be an explanation as to how he became the man we saw in “Wish You Were Here” and “A Pirate’s Life,”- the bumbling man who was still willing to be ruthless. Because his heart was poisoned and he gave up? It seems clear that it was only after Emma healed him, that he’s maintained that goodness, unlike before? That is the one silver lining that gives me hope that all Emmas will remain important in all Hook storylines but in various way that show how they important to each other.

“The Eighth Witch” and beyond
– Henry and his new family not returning to Storybrooke is one of the biggest Strikeouts of the Season. This is something that makes a significant difference in the story and leaves a lasting negative impact; it’s possibly the season’s biggest issue and the one I don’t know how the writers can excuse or correct. Lucy was born, their threat was all but taken care, or so they believed. And yet they stayed there happily living their lives for 8 years! And the only explanation I can muster is becasue they need them to stay to go with the plot they wanted. But Henry has always been about family- and that family being all together in Storybrooke- their home. Him wanting to expand his horizons, find himself and his story is understandable. But to leave for years and never return? Emma gave him something precious- the same chance he gave her. She told him that he should not come home (even though it hurt deeply) until he found his story. Well as soon as he and Ella were together, or at least when Lucy was born and Drizella “defeated,” as far as it should be concerned his story was found. And yet I repeat they stay there for 8 YEARS! This is completely out of character for Henry, and for Emma, and the Charmings to be okay with being apart for that long and missing all that time with him and his child. Perhaps Storybrooke’s time moves slower, but for Henry that time has assuredly passed and you can’t get that back. This is tragic and a heartbreaking story choice that completely undermines the show’s steadfast theme about the importance of family. It should be noted how little Henry has even mentioned his family in Storybrooke; leaving another heartbreaking cloud over this story. Has he completely forgotten his family besides Regina? In Hyperion Heights any mention or nod is merely from Henry’s book, and that okay because they are cursed. But Henry has not mentioned Emma once in all these episodes past 7×2 in the Enchanted Forest, and there was only 2 brief mentions of the Charmings. Perhaps the writers feel like this is enough and that this is honoring them. And it’s true that it’s better than nothing. But I still believe more would make sense, especially in the mid season finale at Lucy’s birth and later birthday. The lack of it is glaring. How could the writers believe this to be okay?

-The potential of another love interest for Regina is a strike out as well. Although we have not seen it on screen yet and the character/relationship may end up being nice on the surface, after Robin who was her soulmate, anyone else won’t truly live up. How can anyone compare with a soulmate? Why not restore Robin’s soul? Anything is possible on this show. At least this would maintain their themes. Sadly I fear it’s too late.

– That small sliver of hope I have is like having a great batter on deck but unsure whether they can truly deliver. There are many things that can happen if the stars can align and the writers have the fortitude to choose to do so, including following through on some things they have set up or not properly shown- whether they realize this is unclear. If the show is wrapping up there are some scenarios that I believe would restore my faith, correct some of the issues and give fans and the characters the proper and beautiful closure they so deserve.

– The Dream (but least likely scenario):
There is one scenario that some may not like but I imagine many would because it would erase every single issue with S7- that all of this has been Henry’s dream or an attempt at writing as the author. The new and alternate characters are not real. Belle isn’t dead and Rumple’s Dark One curse is broken by True Love’s Kiss. Robin Hood’s soul is restored and he comes back to Regina. If Henry leaves home, it’s brief and for college, and if they want Ella to remain he can bring him home with her as a girl he met at school. The only truth that remains is that Emma and Killian are having a baby. Of course the chances are of this happening are slim. But one can dream.

The Next Best Dream (And Hopefully) More likely scenarios and Theories:
-These scenarios are ones I believe should and I hope come to pass for symmetry, closure, satisfaction, and maintaining the integrity of the story and characters from the past six seasons. And this is my humble and formal request to the writers out there if they honor me and see this to please realize some of the issues at hand and follow through on things established both this season and from the past that would preserve the beauty and honor what you all have created that has brought immeasurable joy to fans around the world.

– Whatever storylines are coming up and ones that have already been established are wrapped up quickly, and things get explained at least to some degree. Henry and Lucy are saved, the Coven is defeated (all these witches and one from The Haunted Mansion feels like an odd story choice btw). Gothel dies a fiery death. She deserves no redemption. Not every villain does. The mix of new and old characters are more sectioned off because the new and alternate characters really do not belong in Storybrooke. That is not their home. Henry and his wife and daughter are the only ones who should return- and Regina as well since she’s family. Zelena is less certain, but with the way realm jumping seems so easy, her sister is just a portal away for a visit. But all I know is that Wish Hook, Alice, and then by extension Robyn do not belong in Storybrooke. It was weird when the split Reginas were both there. No need to repeat that mistake. Hook and Alice’s hearts can be cured and they see each other whenever they want, and she and Robyn can be happy together. And if that conclusion with his daughter is his happy ending, so be it. But there is another scenario that I truly feel would help make the story choices worthwhile and restoring some much of that faith and integrity, even if we never see it on screen. I do believe Wish Hook has someone else he should find- the romantic love he’s meant for. It’s the woman who should exist, and one of the aspects I feel most strongly about and one I hope the writers realize and follow through with as they have clearly established it in canon. I fear it may be too late to remain pure with their True Love/Soulmates theme with Regina, which I am not pleased with, but it’s not too late for Wish Hook and the woman who should be out there for him- the Wish Realm’s version of Emma.

– Since the Wish Realm is now a concurrent parallel universe, the difference is that the curse was never cast and Emma was never the Savior. But she still existed. The question is what happened to her? The most logical answer is that the Wish that brought our Emma there misplaced this Emma, and possibly even erased her memories. And if the writers make an excuse and say there isn’t another Emma, I will cry foul. A wish could not erase someone who we know to be very real completely from existence. That’s illogical and frankly awful to even fathom. No, the truth of what they have changed to be real must comply, which means the connection between these soulmates remains, especially considering that the happenings from “The Song in Your Heart” exist for these characters as well. Their stories were the same up until a certain point so this Hook’s song along with everyone else’s remained in Emma’s heart, even if she never became the Savior. Perhaps they’ll serve a purpose yet to be fulfilled. The memories of these events were gone but the connection cannot be broken.

The existence of this realm’s Emma and this Hook finding her (and of course finding love with her) would allow the integrity of the stories and that steadfast theme of True Love transcending everything to remain true. In this realm the love remained between Snow and Charming, Belle and Rumple, and even the alternate Robin and Regina, so it should be the same for Emma and Hook. Of course this realm is also like a cracked mirror with sad differences, so preserving this would most assuredly restoring some happiness while not contradicting any previous writing staples. It’s encouraging to see what made such a lasting impact him was Emma healing him, more so than perhaps what came before, proving that their the souls are connected, a soul that exists in every Emma. Moreover, it is possible based on the canon of what we’ve seen. Our Killian said this realm was, as I said, like a creaked mirror, a reflection of the original universe but slightly distorted. Wish Hook also said he searched the realms looking for True Love and looking for Emma, but that it proved futile on both accounts. The problem was that he did not search the Wish Realm but also that he was searching for the wrong version of Emma. Moreover, as with original Emma and Hook, whose lives often mirrored each other, this other realm’s version do as well, but they are flipped which makes sense since it’s a reflection.

The parallels are actually uncanny when you look at them. Original Emma had a child born in prison, conceived in a situation not ideal, and not with someone who was her TRUE Love. She was separated from her child and then reunited, and after this journey with her child, meeting and falling in love with Hook not only broke down her walls but she helped Hook let go of his revenge. In the Wish Realm, they’re flipped and made darker (a cracked mirror as it were). Wish Realm Hook’s daughter was born in a prison, conceived by rape in most definitely not a love situation. He was separated from his child and reunited and I’m sure all will turn out well as it did for Emma and Henry.  After this journey with his child,  in the end, just as our Emma helped Hook let go of revenge, the Wish Realm’s Hook can help that realm’s Emma  perhaps restore her memories of needed but then help her and Henry let go of their likely quest for revenge against the Evil Queen for murdering Snow and Charming. Unlike our universe, this one does not have the happiness because Emma’s family is gone. But they all could find happiness together. This would preserves the importance of them in each other’s stories and maintain the integrity of the way the show has always presented True Love. And not having Morrison available is not an excuse to not include this for all of this could simply be mentioned in dialogue and happen off screen, and one need only see Emma from the back when he finds her. If we can’t see it on screen, knowing it happens will be enough. This is the best way to keep the indelible “I Will Always find you” intact. The only romantic love for another version of Captain Hook should be another version of Emma. They can find each other and live their lives together off in another enchanted realm, seeing their children whenever they want, free from the hurt they’ve endured. The original Emma and Hook took a long time to find each other and get things right. Why would it not be the same for this Hook and Emma? For the show has always said that True Love is the rarest magic of all, transcending time, realms and even death. These concepts mean something to viewers. It’s one the show’s most beautiful and special attributes. It needs to be maintained. Why  else would you have episodes like “Snow Drifts” and “There’s No Place Like Home” about paths diverging and still arriving back at the same place with Snow and Charming? Why have an episode this season called “A Garden of Forking Paths” if not to explore this idea again. And so far there has not been anything. I’ve always had faith as both a fan and writer who’s spent years analyzing and delighting in the brilliant and intricate work on the show, and believing in these themes are ones that are unbreakable. Let’s hope that remains true.

-Lastly, and most importantly, the biggest hope I have, and the greatest way to bring back that heart and give fans and the show proper closure in a finale is to return to Storybrooke and see Snow and Charming and Emma and Killian with their baby. Henry needs to be reunited with his family. And we should see some of the happy beginning moments for Emma and Killian. A finale with Morrison, Goodwin and Dallas is essential to maintaining the emotional connection and continuity with the rest of the series. Pilots should connect to the end, and ending without those who began the series would be fundamentally wrong. Did we see “endings” for them in season 6? Yes, but it matters not. For the way the story has gone this season I think requires their presence to maintain the continuity of the show. The great hope is that these appearances are proper screen time and not mere seconds or minutes on screen. Of course the dream would be true fruition of the “Captain Swan” passionate and epic adventure that was teased last season and never ended up being what we’d hoped, with a good dose of Snow and Charming and other favorite characters as well. But this may be too much to hope for.

Most especially, I truly feel that seeing Emma and Killian with their child is the crucial way of bringing everything full circle as they are the perfect example of what this show embodies- love, family, overcoming your past and finding courage to move forward towards a sunrise of endless roads of happy beginnings. The series began with a lonely, lost girl all alone on her birthday. Should it not end with the same woman, who was the show’s heroine and main character for six years celebrating again, but now surrounded by her large extended family, including her son who has gone on his own journey of self discovery, found himself, and a new family, but discovered he need not go anywhere but home from now on, coming back to that idea from the episode of “There’s No Place Like Home.” And for the character of Emma herself, the fans of her character, and the show as a whole entity, seeing the ending of her journey with her parents, son, friends, husband and new child would be the most beautiful conclusion to the show. Are there other ways to conclude the series? Most definitely, but one without Emma should not be one of them. What matters is to end with the characters who were the heart of the show giving them and the audience who have lived and breathed this show for years a much deserved happily ever after. Can it truly happen? That remains to be seen. But I hope with all my heart that it can. Can it be like when Dave Roberts stole that fateful base which lead to the Red Sox coming from behind to win the World Series? Can it be like Kirk Gibson hitting that iconic game winning homerun, bringing in the veteran they needed in a crucial moment? I want to maintain the steadfast emblem of Once Upon a Time and hope that it can happen. For if it does, that would be the happiest ending of all.



Once Upon a Time: The Most Romantic Captain Swan Moments

Emma Swan and Killian Jones are getting married and it is time to celebrate. Five years in the making, their journey has been such an incredibly beautiful and epic story, but also so grounded and real, filled with countless exquisite moments- some heartfelt, some heartbreaking, some beautifully romantic. In honor of their upcoming nuptials, I thought I would highlight the latter with the moments that are the most romantic. Although I suspect their wedding may be included in this list (perhaps even at the top) after we see it. But before then, these are what I deem their most romantic moments. Reliving their journey has been quite emotional and special. The writers of Once Upon a Time have created a true love story for the ages, and Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue have given us an incredible gift with their moving performances and chemistry that is truly remarkable in its depth and authenticity. Writing and acting at it’s very best, the Captain Swan love story is one is of rare, profound beauty that has become one of the greatest of all time.

15. Emma and Killian share a happy reunion (Season 4, Episode 22 “Operation Mongoose”)

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Not only was this one of their sweetest moments (the first of many reunions), but it was so sweetly romantic in the way that, despite Emma’s walls going up again still afraid to say “I love you,” the love they share was undeniably felt. The way she tackled Killian onto the bed and their happy giggles made us smile. And Emma’s loving expression, Killian’s endearing nervous swallow and bright smile of anticipation, knowing she wants to say, and finally the way she gently and tenderly expresses that love with a caress and forehead touch made our hearts happy.


14. Emma asks Killian to move in with her (Season 6, Episode 3 “The Other Shoe”) cs-happy 
The setting and tone of this lovely moment, and the meaning behind it was unequivocally romantic: a quiet dinner during the twilight of the day, soft music, Emma gently caressing Killian’s hair and asking him to move in with her in true Emma fashion. It’s not pretty language but nonetheless beautiful. It’s perfectly romantic and a moment so undeniably them – sweet, a bit funny, but oh so profound. The two moving in together was a big step and this scene was glorious.


13. Emma and Killian share a night of firsts (Season 4, Episode 2 “White Out”) white hug
This entire episode was filled with the kind of simple romantic moments we all long to see. The fact that these were beautiful firsts for them were all happening in the same episode was amazing, and each so romantic in gesture and meaning. The first time we see Killian frantic with worry about Emma, the first time they hug each other, the first time Emma entwines their fingers together, and the first time Emma snuggles into him, seeking warmth and comfort in Killian who kneels beside Emma and holds her with love and adoration. This episode was like a romantic’s dream.


12. Killian gives Emma a special ring in Camelot (Season 5, Episode 7 “Nimue”) 5x7 bring homering5
Killian may not have been proposing (yet) but this romantic moment in Camelot was the next best thing, from Emma’s playful teasing of “working my way back to you babe,” to the completely passionate and tender kisses, a bestowing of a ring to keep her safe, a request to bring Emma home, and the first time Killian says he loves Emma in so many words in such a sweet, self-effacing way. It made my heart soar.

11. Killian’s life is restored and he’s reunited with Emma (Season 5, Episode 21 “Last Rites”)

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What began as a moment of deep sorrow for Emma, became one of complete joy and happiness. This moment is truly romantic in both its epic nature and simplicity. The miracle of Killian coming back to life and the pure unencumbered joy of the couple kissing and embracing, completely overcome with emotion and lost in their love for each other is gorgeous in every way. From the way Emma can’t stop kissing him, to the way Killian grasps Emma tighter, to their overwhelmed expressions, and the soft rain coming down, this pristinely miraculous moment where True Love prevailed exudes romance.


10. Emma and Killian go on their First Date (Season 4, Episode 4 “The Apprentice) cs date
If there was one word to describe Emma and Killian’s first date I think it would have to be romantic. Full of sweetness, smiles, and lovely gestures, Killian brings her a rose, holds out her chair and most especially gets his hand back, His reason resulted in a line that that is one of the show’s loveliest: “Should things go well and she wants me to hold her, I want to use both hands.” And from their quite dinner and constant hand holding, what really made our heart’s flutter was Killian’s gorgeous expression as he asked for second date and their intense kiss that was a resounding “Yes.” Emma, and we, were left breathless.

9. Two Marriage Proposals (Season 6, Episode 13 “Ill-Boding Patterns”, Episode 17 “Awake”)

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It’s rare that a couple have two proposals of marriage but it’s not surprising for such a special couple as Emma and Killian. Of course the first wasn’t perfect with a secret looming between them, but it still exuded romance from the score to the gentle performances – Emma smiling shyly, Killian looking up at her with utter adoration and love. Of course, the second proposal was even more romantic and the perfect one they deserve. With a promise to always stay by her side, Emma knelt down to him to say yes, a symbolic gesture to the equality in their relationship. With bright smiles, an amazed little laugh from Killian, a sweet kiss and a beautiful score, it’s romantic in feeling and profound in meaning. And I could listen to O’Donoghue say “Emma Swan, will you marry me?” all day long.

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8. Emma’s shares mementos of her childhood with Killian (Season 4, Episode 5 “Breaking Glass”)

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Emma sharing some childhood mementos with Killian was not only special because she was opening herself up to him in a way she rarely does with anyone, but Killian just sweetly looks at them in wonderment, holds her hand and wraps his arm around her as she leans her head on his shoulder. He wanted to know more about her beginnings. It’s special in its romantic simplicity. There’s no fancy words or ballrooms – just two people with who care deeply for each other, Emma being brave and sharing a part of her soul, Killian showing unfailing support, wanting to know the real her no matter what. Sharing pain can help your heart heal and this was such a real and grounded romantic moment.

7. Killian vows to win Emma’s heart (Season 3, Episode 7 “Dark Hollow”) dark hollow 1.gif
Before this moment Emma most definitely had some romantic moments – the hand bandage scene, their first kiss and an admission by Killian that kissing her exposed that he was falling for her, which something he thought he’d never be able to do. But this was their first truly breathlessly “romantic” moment, and the one I vividly remember making my breath catch, my heart skip a beat, and without a doubt realize that this was a forever couple. Killian is both confident but nervous, resolute and sincere, and Emma is clearly struck by him. With one of their two musical themes playing, and gentle performances, this scene made the romance temperature rise in the hot jungles of Neverland.

6. Emma and Killian make “Pancakes” (Season 6, Episode 18 “Where Bluebirds Fly”)

There is no denying that this moment was not only a long time coming but completely and utterly sexy, as we saw for the first time clear confirmation that Emma and Killian had spent the night (and possibly morning ) engaging in amorous activities. As Emma happily makes pancakes and Killian nuzzles up behind her, telling her she smells delicious, it’s obvious that not only engaged bliss looks good on them as they are both positively glowing, but also that they are ready for more “pancakes.” But what makes it not only sexy but also romantic is that it encompasses all that the two of them and their love are. Love and romance is not just sweet smiles, flowers, and hand holding. It’s full of playful flirtations, passion and enjoying each other in the emotional and physical sense, taking pleasure in any time spent together. It’s as simple as making breakfast and then as meaningful as making love. What could be real more romantic than that.


5. Killian reads Emma the Storybook (Season 6, Episode 7 “Heartless) cs-hand-kiss
What makes this sweet and lovely moment for Emma and Killian so romantic was its simplicity framed within the beauty of grand storytelling and the power True Love. Killian has always been one to build Emma up and this scene proves no different as he reads her parent’s story and reminds her not only of the strength within her, but also how she is indelibly intertwined with their love story. She is the product of their True Love. But in truth it’s also their story that is in entwined in this book, and their love that once again helps her overcome her fears. Beautiful in every way, with such a traditional but ever so romantic gesture of love and romance, Killian reading this story and then kissing Emma’s hand makes the scene not only romantic but absolutely swoon worthy.


4. Emma and Killian waltz at King Midas’s Ball (Season 3, Episode 21 “Snow Drifts”) cs dance.gif
Up until that point in her story Emma had never felt a part of her parent’s fairy tale world, nor has she had many experiences where she was made to feel special just for being her. But when Killian leads Emma onto the dance floor for a waltz, proving to be the true partner who knows what he’s doing, he makes Emma feel like the princess that she is. But most importantly he makes her feel cherished. In this moment we see one of her first recognitions of how much she was falling in love, clad in gorgeous costumes amidst glittering, golden grantor. This is fairy tale romance at its best.


3. Killian tells Emma he traded his ship for her (Season 3, Episode 22 “There’s No Place Like Home)

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After their time traveling adventures to the past, what began as a simple conversation turned into so much more – an admission that Killian had traded his ship to bring Emma home, Emma’s awestruck look, and their passionate kiss that followed. This all was an admission of deep feelings between them, and the first real expression of such. There’s something so hopeful about a relationship about two people who were so guarded but slowly began lowering their walls and opening their heart. With the Storybrooke sign in the background this moment was one of love recognized and felt and home and hope found, and above all was deeply romantic.

2. Killian tells Emma she’s his happy ending (Season 4, Episode 15 “Poor Unfortunate Soul”)

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Telling someone you love them is always romantic, but to tell them they are your happy ending – that is as fairy tale, profoundly beautiful and romantic as it gets. From the brilliant performances, Killian’s soul baring expression and breathless “It’s you,” Emma’s astonished look of amazement, their soft tender kiss, the gentle musical score, and Emma’s single tear, this first recognition that Emma and Killian are each other’s happy ending was beyond beautiful, tender and profound. Truly remarkable in it’s romantic intimacy.


1. Emma and Killian Kiss in the Middlemist Meadow (Season 5, Episode 4 “The Broken Kingdom)

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True love can always vanquish the greatest darkness and in a truly sublime moment Killian and Emma’s love proved to chase away the demons in her head. This is romantic and lovely in itself but combined with the setting of the glorious field of Middlemist flowers in Camelot, a lilting musical score, exquisite costumes, and cinematography where the camera pans above them passionately kissing amongst these flowers, was beyond breathtaking and glorious visually and emotionally. This is the most idyllic fairy tale moment the show has ever seen, making it without a doubt their most romantic moment.


Special Recognition
Emma and Killian face death and goodbye (Season 5, Episode 8 “Birth,” Episode 20 “Firebird” )

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The only reason these were not included in the above choices was because I wanted to choose happy, romantic moments and these obviously were devastating and heartbreaking. But in truth they were also undeniably and completely romantic in quality. In “Birth” writer David H. Goodman called this scene’s tone and tenor “mega romantic,” and despite the sadness, it’s true that the intimacy of the moment, the two surrounded by flowers was simply gorgeous. In “Firebird” the selfless promises, tears, the way they do so desperately kiss and refuse to let go as Killian kisses her hand was heartbreaking but so beautifully romantic and melancholy.

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Killian and Emma promise to see the best in each other (Season 4, Episode 13 “Unforgiven)

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The couple’s softly said promise to always see the best in each other was not only rich in meaning, but also sounded like wedding vows. And now they’re about to say “I do.” They’re beautiful promise continues to endure.

Emma teaches Killian to Swordplay (Season 4, Episode 22 Operation Mongoose) swordplay.gifswordplay2.gif
This is one of Jennifer’s favorite romantic moments as she thought it was sweet, different and unconventional, and she is right about that. Swapping traditional gender roles, seeing Emma teaching Killian how to use a sword with him being the one left breathless was just a wonderfully romantic look at the sweet and modern aspect of their relationship.


Emma and Killian’s Camelot hug (Season 5, Episode 8 “Birth”) cuddle
It’s such a simple moment, but when Emma snuggled into Killian’s chest and he knelt his head down into her, the two ready for their future together, this was such an sweetly romantic moment. I watched this episode with friends and we all audibly “awwed,” and our hearts were completely touched by this sweet expression of love and hope.


Reader Favorites

kek84 on tumblr chose one on my list (Killian reading the storybook), and another lovely one I did not- the two horseback riding and talking before they go to the Middlemist field where Killian says “I’ll never stop fighting for us.” Great pick!

@wannjordan on twitter  chose the hand bandage scene from “Tallahassee,” the moment of chemistry that started it all.

@Rosered0331 on twitter chose their reunion from “Last Rites,” her favorite moment of all time.

@nerdy_nuyorican on twitter chose so many on our list- the “Last Rites” reunion, “Don’t you know Emma it’s you,” Killian admitting he traded his ship for her, the two on Emma’s bed in “Operation Mongoose,” and the second proposal. Two we did not include but are worthy- their True Love test in the Underworld and Emma vowing, “Hook, I will always find you.” Such lovely choices.

@Praline_addict on twitter chose Emma and Killian’s waltz, the first time she said “I Love You,” their True Love test and goodbye in the Underworld, their reunion from “Operation Mongoose,” and the first marriage proposal. Wonderful!

@ChloeDeckStar on twitter chose Emma asking Killian to move in, their iconic kiss in the Middlemist field, their goodbye in the Underworld, and a great one I didn’t include- Emma telling Killian “I can’t lose you.”

@Sharipep on twitter chose Emma sharing her childhood mementos with Killian- by far her favorite moment!

@suzieqluvcs on twitter chose their beautiful kiss in the Middlemist field. Lovely!

@NiamhLoveCS on twitter chose some lovely moments we included: Killian revealing he traded ship, their Middlesmist field kiss, Killian reading Emma the storybook, their second proposal, and lastly them making  “pancakes.” I approve!

@sharafambam on twitter chose an amazing moment we did not include: when Killian tells Emma he’s liked being the one to break down her walls in “Siege Perilous.”

@_biancarose on twitter chose their romantic waltz from “Snow Drifts.” Lovely.

@BrennaG5 on twitter chose three goodies we included: Killian’s promise to win her heart, him carrying her from the ice in “White Out,” and their Underworld goodbye.

@CSSwanJones on twitter chose a really beautiful moment: Emma quietly realizing how deep for feelings for Killian were after their date.

Thanks to those who sent in their choices!! With so much love and romance it was difficult to narrow it down and there were more we could have chosen. This love story is just a rich and sublime treasure trove of romantic gems, with many more sure to come. With their wedding fast approaching, let us rejoice in the power of their True Love and the beauty of this remarkable pair. There will never be another that will compare.

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Once Upon a Time: “The Savior” and “The Other Shoe” Further Thoughts

This first edition of “Further Thoughts” for Season 6 of Once Upon a Time is all about parallels and connections we have seen so far in episodes 1 and 3, and the possible future ones we may see play out in Season 6.

Captain Swan Connected Kisses:
I think it’s rather beautiful, and appropriate, that their last shot of Season 5 was Killian kissing Emma and lifting her up, and the first shot of Season 6 was Killian and Emma kissing and him setting her down on the couch in their house.lift kiss1cs-sit-down


Sweet and Gentle Affection:
It always moves me when I see Emma and Killian, who are both very strong and tough in their own right, who were once very closed off emotionally, who rarely showed any kind of physical affection with others, be so loving, sweet and gentle with each other. These affectionate nuances capture my heart in a special way, and the scene where Emma asks Killian to move in was a perfect example of this kind of tenderness. The way she softly plays with his hair, and the way he holds her face while they kiss and gently caresses his thumb over the cheek was just so beautiful. They just look so happy and in love.

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And the way he sweetly rubs his nose back and forth against hers. As many have pointed out, this is like an Eskimo kiss and it makes my heart overflow. Seriously, what could be more beautiful?

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Aladdin & Jasmine vs. Killian and Emma:
Aladdin is the perfect character to bring in at this point of Once Upon a Time, as we are exploring what it means to be a Savior, Emma’s identity, and then how this relates to many things including her romantic relationship. In OUAT Emma and Aladdin are both Saviors, which is a natural connection for the writers to portray with their version of the character as there are so many similarities between Emma and the character in the Aladdin film:

  • Both Emma and Aladdin are inherently special individuals- in the film, Aladdin is a “Diamond on the Rough” and the ONLY one who can enter the Cave of Wonders, and on OUAT Emma is the ONLY one who can break the Dark Curse in Season 1.
  • Both are orphans who dream of a better life
  • Both are thieves, but basically only steal food and what’s needed to survive, with the exception of the yellow bug.
  • Both are resourceful and smart.
  • Both are very generous and often put the needs of others above their own comfort or happiness, i.e. Aladdin giving children his bread, freeing the Genie, Emma offering her jacket to Aurora, becoming the Dark one to save her family.
  • Both have issues of self worth and not feeling good enough.
  • Both lie to the person they love- Aladdin about being a Prince, Emma now lying about her tremors/vision.
  • Both are called “Street Rats.” Aladdin is called this by Prince Achmed, Palace guards and Jafar , while Emma is called a “dirty street rat” by Regina in a deleted scene from “There’s No Place Like Home”, called a “pathetic street rat” by Lily’s dad in a deleted scene from “Breaking Glass.”
  • Interesting enough there are also some parallels between Killian and Aladdin. He is often called simply “a pirate” as an insult. Killian also struggles with issues of self worth, i.e. not feeling like he is a good a man as his brother, feeling he needs two hands for his date with Emma, not feeling as if he’s worthy of forgiveness yet.
  • Killian and Aladdin are also great at surviving. This is one of Killian’s trademark characteristics, and Aladdin survives three murderous attempts by Jafar: at the Cave of Wonders, when he’s thrown into the ocean, and when he’s sent to the Ends of the Earth. Jafar even says “How many times do I have to kill you, boy.”

There are also quite a few parallels between the two couples:

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Father’s placing the women into the arms of the man they lovecs-aladdin-3

There are even more! See these in this great gift set by tough-lass

Let’s not forget, interrupted romantic moments, especially kisses. There’s quite a few.aladdin-kissaladdin-kiss1aladding-kiss-2cs-kiss-incs kiss in1.gif

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Their love stories are about choosing each otheraladdin-choosecs-choose


And lastly, don’t these moments of shoulder leaning and hand holding remind you of Emma and Killian?


Season 4 and Season 6 Parallels:
6×1 “The Savior” began with some striking parallels to 4×1 “A Tale of Two Sisters”: Regina grieving Robin, Rumple and Belle having a dance to “Beauty and the Beast” where she is in a yellow dress, and Emma and Killian having an important moment interrupted. The last one is what I am focusing on because in both episodes Killian knows something is not right, she is not telling him something, and is avoiding talking to him about it.cs-avoidcs-avoid1


In both episodes Emma gives Killian a soft kiss to assure him, but in 4×1 she leaves him, while in 6×1, she comes back. And in both she keeps what is troubling her inside and does not reveal it yet. In both cases, it is because Emma has the “weight of the world on her shoulders” and it can be hard to let people in despite the love and good intentions between them, as Elsa tells Killian in 4×3 “Rocky Road.” Killian then confronts Emma wanting to be trusted, saying he understands how she feels.

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Moreover, in both instances, this is not about trust- it’s about fear. And in both cases it’s about fear of mortality. In 4×3 what Emma reveals is that she is afraid of losing Killian- that he will die just like everyone else she has ever been with. As we know, in our current season Emma is afraid of revealing to Killian about her own mortality- that she will die- and take away both their happy endings, something he has revealed great fears about losing.



“The Other Shoe” paralleled this greatly. Emma admits that she fears telling Killian because she knows their happy ending won’t happen if this vision comes to pass:

“He deserves a future and I can’t give that to him. I feel like a fraud. This happiness is an illusion. I went and fought for everybody else’s happy endings and I don’t get mine.”

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Emma’s Identity as The Savior:
It seems as if Season 6 will deal a great deal with Emma’s identity- what it means and how it relates to her past, present and future. As you can see being the Savior has become an important part of her persona. She has embraced it. But now she is questioning if this part of her identity and who she is beyond that.

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If she is not the Savior does she fear she will no longer have a place, be loved by her family and Killian? That remains to be seen but this sets up a very introspective, meaningful and poignant storyline, one I hope is explored deeply, and one that a character as extraordinary as Emma Swan deserves. I so look forward to this arc, which I hope is the Season’s main storyline.

I also think it’s interesting and significant how Killian has referred to Emma as the Savior for the most part in times when he is trying to build her up, help her believe in herself or as a sign of capability. In 3×4 “Nasty Habits” he had just learned that is what she is and asks her to help open a cave in Neverland, in 3×17 “The Jolly Roger” he is encouraging her to embrace the power inside of her that “makes her the Savior” (ie her specialness is because of her, not the other way around), and in 3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home” when he says she can regain her magic, to which she does when she admits Storybrooke is her home. Also important is when her refers to Emma as simply herself or other important parts of herself, especially when she was the Dark One. In 5×4 “The Broken Kingdom,” she comments on how Henry lied to her being the Dark One and Killian says “You’re his mother,” most definitely a very important part of her. And in an significant moment from 5×8 “Birth,” Killian tells her she is more than the Dark One- “You’re still you,” and imperatively that she saved him not saying that was “The Savior,” but that she “was Emma.” No matter what persona she is embodying, Killian loves her. Whether she is the Savior or the Dark One, both or neither, as Colin O’Donoghue says “she is everything that he loves because she’s Emma Swan.”

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How Does Emma’s Story End:
I am finding it extremely significant and intriguing that this season has brought up that concept that we are all stories, and then Emma sees a vision of the end of hers because there have been two very crucial moments where the same sort of dialogue and concept was employed. And these were two of the most important moments and pieces of foreshadowing for Emma the show has done.

In 1×20 “The Stranger” August takes Emma to the tree where they both entered this world. He is telling her about her story, and that they are writing the ending as they speak, hoping she will finally embrace who she is.

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She doesn’t believe at the moment, In fact she says “Not gonna happen!” But she does end up believing a few episodes later, just not in the way August was hoping in this moment.

In 4×19 “Sympathy for the Devil” Snow and Charming confront the author, Isaac, about what Rumple has planned for Emma.

Isaac: Even I couldn’t see the end of this story!
Snow: What are you talking about? How does the story end?
Isaac: With The Savior, turning Dark.

And Emma does end up turning dark a few episodes later- just not in the way the villains wanted. Instead of Emma succumbing to darkness, she took it on to protect everyone and became the Dark One.

Now in 6×1 “The Savior” we have these scene:
Oracle: What you saw, was a small piece of the end of your story, Savior.
Emma: There has to be another way.
Oracle: You can change the path to the destination, but the destination is the same. On the day you saw, and the battle you saw, you will die.

If we are to believe the pattern then Emma will end up dying. But before you bite my head off, I don’t think she will actually die because just like the other two instances, how her story ends always ends up being different than what they expected. Emma’s death will not real or permanent. She will win this battle! And I truly believe her story will end with Emma and Killian living a happily ever after, growing old together and raising a family. Their story will end up in the book just like their trip to the past and it shall be beautiful.cs book.gif


Parallels to Star Wars and Back to the Future:
OUAT has done their fair share of Star Wars parallels and allusions and when the Oracle tells Emma about her vision I immediately thought of what Yoda tells Luke in The Empire Strikes Backs.

Oracle: The future is always in motion, always changing, but also inevitable.yoda

What I find interesting is that if the future is always changing and in motion how can it be inevitable? Is that not a contradiction? Is it just the destination that can change? I think the end can be as well, which ties into the way in which they have paralleled Back to the Future and how I suspect they may do so again.

The Season 3 finale is still my favorite episode of OUAT and the ways in which it parallels BTTF is sweet and fun and made such an amazing adventure for our characters. It’s remarkable just how similar these are:

  • In BTTF Marty travels back to the time when his parents fall in love, but his encounters with them alters history. They do not meet the way they are supposed to and so he must repair the damage and make sure his parents end up together so he does not cease to exist.
  • In  OUAT 3×22/23 Emma & Killian travel back to the time when Snow and Charming meet and fall in love. They too interrupt her parents meeting, altering history, and they must work to make sure her parents fall in love, or Emma will cease to exist.


  • In BTTF there is a significant dance- the Enchantment under the Sea Dance. In the OUAT Emma & Killian attend a King Midas’s royal ball and this becomes the new place her parents meet- and in almost the same way.
  • At one point in BTTF 2, past Marty and present Marty are on screen at the same time. In OUAT, past Killian and present Killian come face to face and one punches the other.
  • In both BTTF and OUAT, Marty and Emma witness the ultimate moments their parents fall in love and in both cases they know things are set right when what had disappeared returns- Marty and his siblings in a photograph and Snow and Charming’s wedding in the Storybook.


In both, everyone returns home, through dramatic and magical methods, with things sets right.

Thanks again to tough-lass for this amazing gif set!

It is also to amazing to think that others things can be interpreted as allusions to BTTF. Think about what both the film and the show have:
– Both have significant Clock Towers
– Both have a child and their parents being in a time when they are the same age.
– And both have characters that must help another believe and find courage within themselves in order to save the day. Marty must do this with his father, and Henry and Killian must do this with Emma in S1 and in S3.

Which brings me to Season 6 where Emma believes she is going to soon die. The fact that they did such an important episode with so many allusions to this film series makes me believe they may do so again. In BTTF Marty tells Doc he will be shot so Doc makes sure to wear a bullet proof vest and save himself. But even more significant is the possibility of a OUAT version of what happens in the third film. If you recall, in BTTF 3 Marty discovers that Doc Brown has died, and he travels back in time to stop that from happening. That is the entire plot of the film and in the end they succeed. And when he visits Marty and Jennifer at the end of the film and she asks why a letter she had from the future had erased, he says “Of course it erased!”bttf-4bttf 5.gifbttf-6


I would not be surprised in the least if OUAT revisits these the BTTF allusions with Emma’s loved ones fighting to make sure her future can change. I would love it actually. And if that included an episode where they travel into the future somehow- then sign me up!!

Emma’s Hand Tremors:
There is another very significant parallel worthy of note. The tremors that Emma is experiencing in her hand in 6×1 “The Savior” are almost identical to the ones she experiences when she first becomes the Dark One in 5×1 “The Dark Swan.”emma tremor.gifemma tremor1.gif

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If you recall, in 5×1 this was her new dark magic which she didn’t even realize was happening at first and then had trouble controlling it. Her becoming The Dark One is was triggered these tremors. Flash forward to 6×1 and once again she is experiencing them. What triggered these is not known yet, but it has to be something brought from the Land of Untold Stories. It’s also important to note that when Killian approached her in 5×1 saying “We can find another way together” she gained control and the shakiness stopped. Methinks when she tells Killian an her family about everything this time around, these tremors will be alleviated considerably. There is definitely a connection here in my opinion, and I thinks it makes the theory that some form of Emma (the Dark Swan or a manifestation of her fears, insecurities, or guilt) is the hooded figure in her vision even more plausible. Not to mention that this hooded figure resembles what the Dark Ones in Storybrooke looked like in 5×11 “Swan Song.” We shall see if this parallel ends up being as significant as I suspect it may be.

But one thing I thought would come true has done so in “The Other Shoe”- that when Killian took Emma’s hand her tremor’s would be alleviated. And that happened. When he held her hand the shakiness subsided. Her magic was still not working, but this moment led her in the right direction. As always their connected hands provided strength and comfort.



Sweetness Towards Children:
I think many would agree that when we see how others interact with children it can really warm out hearts. I know for me personally, a man will become more attractive if I see him being sweet and kind with a child. And if it’s a person you desire or love that can be even more meaningful. The moments Emma witnesses in “The Other Shoe” between Killian and Alexandra and Henry were not only sweet but you could see in her eyes how much it affected her. And seeing him trying to make any child laugh is heartwarming in itself, but seeing how he has interacted with her son for quite some time now, and in this past episode really showed not only how much he cares for Henry, but how much that means to Emma. Any mother who sees the person they love being good with their child I think will fall in love with them even more. And I think in these paralleling moments Emma’s great love for Killian may have grown even stronger. The way she lovingly looks at him says it all.

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Waiting for “The Other Shoe” to Drop and Parallels to “The Price of Gold”:
The title for this latest episode is, like many of their titles, is very clever. Of course it refers to Cinderella famously losing her glass slipper. But more importantly, it is about the phrase “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” which means that when things are good you are just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. You can apply this to many of the characters- Cinderella herself kept waiting for that after Rumple told her he wanted her first born. But I think no other character embodies this phrases more so than Emma Swan. She has trouble letting people in and letting down these walls because her entire life is an example of the other shoe constantly dropping whenever she was letting in love or close to finding a home or family:

  • With her first foster family,the Swans, she was sent back to the orphanage when she was 3 after they had a child of their own.
  • With her second foster family, Lily causes problems and they no longer trust her so she leaves.
  • With Ingrid, she was ready to adopt Emma and give her a home, but then tries to convince Emma she has magic by putting her in front of a moving car. Emma understandably runs away.
  • With Neal, she was ready to make a home with him in Tallahassee, but then is set up and sent to prison for his crime.
  • With Graham, she starts to open her heart to the possibility of love, and then he dies in her arms.
  • With Walsh, after spending 8 months with him, and considering his marriage proposal, she finds out that not only were her memories false, but that Walsh was too. He not only didn’t love her, but was a flying monkey!
  • With Killian, she admits that she does want a future with him and lets go of her fears, ready to let go of the Darkness. And moments later, Killian lay dying and she must turn him into the Dark One to save his life.
  • And finally, after overcoming darkness and death, ready for that future with Killian, she gets a vision that tells her she will soon die.

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The other shoe is always dropping for Emma. It’s no wonder she is struggling and not telling Killian about this vision yet. She doesn’t want the other shoe to drop for him and preserve the happiness between them. When she finally tells him, I am sure he will be angry, but he will forgive her. What was beautiful is that in this episode Emma is learning that she must live her life despite the future being uncertain.

I must admit, I never thought about it until a recent re-watch of “The Price of Gold” just what an important episode this was for the series. Not only was Ashley’s the first happy ending that Emma ever returned but this is the episode where Emma decided to not only stay in Storybrooke in a more permanent basic when she accepts as job as deputy, wanting to put down some roots, but also where she gave one of her most inspirational lines.emma-speech

There was also the line Mr. Gold says about Ashley to Emma which was clearly a foreshadowing connection to how Emma gave birth: “It would be a shame if that baby was born in prison.” My mind was blown when I heard that.

In “The Other Shoe” we saw some important callbacks and parallels to “The Price of Gold”:

  • Emma’s “This is who I am speech”



  • Emma deciding to put down some roots in 1×4 is a lovely parallel to Emma doing so with Killian asking him to move in with her.



There are also some possible parallels that were set up in this episode that are worthy of note:

  • “The Price of Gold” is about very much about a child being conceived and preserving that family. In “The Other Shoe” there are definite clues that children are in Emma and Killian’s future. Emma watches lovingly as Killian tries to make Ashley’s daughter laugh, she implies she wants a family with him, and now that they will move in together, a child could be conceived because they will finally be able to make love.
  • In “The Price of Gold” Rumple wants Cinderella’s first born child. We still don’t really know why, but they make a deal to trick him and save their child. She lies and says she is having twins and gets him to sign a contract that he can have them in exchange for a good harvest for their kingdom. But the quill he uses paralyzes him and they are able to capture him. Now that we are where we are with the story, the possibility of a callback to this baby story sounds possible. Also interesting, twins run in Emma’s family!

Season 6 has presented some may amazing stories, parallels and potential that I so look forward to seeing develop. And I cannot wait!

Captain Swan: A Story of Hands and Hearts Entwined (Part 2)

Once Upon a Time has always been a show that has put emphasis on holding hands and on hearts for all of the characters. But before Season 5 began I wrote here about just how much Emma and Killian’s journey put an emphasis on their hands and hearts entwined, symbolic motifs that bring great beauty to their story in emotional ways. So, it was unsurprising that in Season 5 this emphasis continued; but it also was truly amazing just how much this was intrinsically part of their character’s journeys for the season. Both aspects reflect that unity and connection between them in physical and spiritual ways and demonstrate the love that has blossomed into the rarest and truest forms, much like her parents. As I wrote, “Holding hands is a lovely sign of love and for Emma and Killian is unquestionable. But also undeniable is the emphasis on their hands that displays how these two characters are written specifically as meant to be joined together. [And] if the emphasis on Emma and Killian’s hands entwined was meant to show the connection they have in a physical way that is an emblematic sign of love, the way their hearts are entwined solidifies that their story is not only one of remarkable beauty, but also one that was always meant to be felt and seen by the characters and the audience.” From Camelot to Storybrooke to the Underworld, Emma and Killian’s journey in Season 5 was intense and poignant but only demonstrated further have these aspects entwined show how their characters are indelibly and irrevocably connected.

“Holding hands is a promise to one another that, just for a moment, the two of you don’t have to face the world alone.”

In 5×1 “The Dark Swan,” just after Killian was able to get through to Emma, he offers her his hand to show her just how they were able to reach her. And we see a front view of him walking with her hands entwined, a significant image as it is something that is repeated throughout the season, and a signifier that the season they will be holding onto each other and deeply connected.

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Moreover, we see in the episode’s final scene in Camelot a close-up shot as Killian smiles at Emma and intertwines their fingers together, a sign of love and support that they will face this latest obstacle together. The first of the season, this close-up of their hands that has been seen frequently on their journey, continues this emphasis and establishes that it will remain an important element this season.

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In 5×3 “Siege Perilous” we see another close-up as Emma holds out her hand to Killian and he cautiously takes it. The scene is fraught with heartache and angst but the image of their hands continues as we see that this was the real Emma reaching out to him. Her motives were murky but this was her wanting that real connection back with him.

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The importance of touch and the way in which it shows support, love, and unity has been seen the past few seasons and was further established in 5×1 “The Dark Swan” and then exemplified in 5×4 “The Broken Kingdom.” As Emma shares her struggles with inner voices, Killian shares that he was able to purge demons on the calm deck of his ship. She caresses his hand as a sweet sign of empathy and holds it as Killian gets an idea on how to help her.

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And after their horse ride that leaves her feeling lighter and free, (and was meant to get her heart racing) they walk hand-in-hand into the field of Middlemist flowers feeling less burdened, a beautiful and foreshadowing way of showing that they can overcome darkness when joined together with trust and understanding.

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This sweet and profound affection, as well as the emphasis on their hands continues with them in 5×7 “Nimue,” with two close up shots of their hands in a single scene. Before Emma parts from Killian, one last step before they can destroy the darkness, he takes her hand asking her to be careful; and then gives a ring to help keep her safe and remind her of his love for her. By showing their hands clasped together again that motif continues of finding strength in unity.

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By the next time we see their hands entwined in close up, Emma grasps Killian’s hand asking about their future as he lay dying in 5×8 “Birth”, while he is let go as long as she has one. It’s the first sign that they will have to both let go eventually to be able to come together again. And then they will hold onto each other and never let go again.

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As Emma did in 5×3 “Siege Perilous,” in 5×10 “Broken Heart” she reaches out her hand for Killian seeking forgiveness and trust, this time Killian’s motives more murky. But make no mistakes their hands joined are meant to demonstrate their connection, as is the moment when we once again see them walking out of the forest hand-in-hand that has become their natural state. And even though darkness had begun to take over Killian, this image is a sign that it will not prevail – light will shine through once again.

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“With these hands and these fingers,  I will reach across, over, and under, or through anything that separates you from me. I will paint your face and neck with tenderness, I will coat you in calm. I will be everything you need because you are everything to me.”

– Tyler Knott Gregson

When Killian sacrifices his life in 5×11 “Swan Song” Emma holds his hand and doesn’t let go until the last possible the moment (something will see again) and it’s a heartbreaking image. Importantly, it’s a way of connecting this goodbye with another Emma and Killian are forced to face again.

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In the Underworld rescue mission we see the emphasis much less, say for them standing with their hands together after Emma rescues him in 5×14 “Devil’s Due.”

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Significantly, as a way of paralleling their goodbye in 5×11 “Swan Song” it’s in 5×20 “Firebird” that the emphasis returns significantly.

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It was in the goodbye at the elevator that this prominence was so crucial, and the parallels with ‘Swan Song” were so poignant. They don’t truly want to let go but reality settles in with the heartbreaking realization that they cannot find a way to restore his life. Killian is able to accept it first but soon both must make their tearful farewells, bringing back the emphasis on their hands entwined. Their hearts may be breaking but their promises to each other are of selfless true love. As Emma ascends away from Killian he tenderly holds her hand and then reverently kisses it as a way of showing her that loving her was his life’s greatest honor. And as they hold on for as long as possible, Killian’s fingers grasping until he can no longer can, we bear witness to one of the most beautifully heart wrenching scenes of the series. They did not want to part from each other but the way they hold on until the last moment showcases that no matter what their connection will remain, if not in the physical sense then in the spiritual one. It was a way of demonstrating the way their characters are inherently entwined through their hearts.

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What is remarkable about Season 5 in terms of the emphasis on hearts entwined is that for as much as we’ve seen this emphasized, Season 5 in a away had its main story revolve around Emma’s heart, and found a way of connecting that motif of the one of emphasized hands intertwined in really emotional and beautiful ways. Season 4 ended with Killian telling Emma he hoped it was his job to protect her heart, and we see now that was a prelude for what was to come.

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That season focused on trying to protect the Savior’s heart from turning dark. While she did overcome that, in the end she still did, just in different way – by becoming the Dark One to save everyone’s lives. And Emma’s last moments with someone before she disappeared were with Killian, their hands entwined and placed over her heart. Just as she had instinctively placed her hand over Killian’s heart in a protective, loving manner ever since he had his heart returned (something that continues on), it now was Emma’s heart that was threatened. And Season 5 revolved so greatly around her heart – protecting it, preserving it, weighing it, willing to sacrifice it, and finally, her heart being completely open – all within a complex framework of both romantic and personal journeys for these characters.

Much like the scene in 2×9 “The Queen of Hearts,” in “The Dark Swan,” multiple hearts were threatened and saved. In this case it was both Merida’s and Emma’s. Emma, listening to the voice of Rumplestltskin thought her only option was to crush Merida’s heart. You could see her internal struggle manifested in a visual and physical way – something the show has always done. The way hearts are thought of in reality has a much more of an emotional bearing to us. They allow us to live but more so they are where our feelings reside, what allows us to love and guides our morals and acts combined with their minds. And on Once Upon a Time we see this manifested in physical ways. Evil deeds can turn a heart black, and a heart filled with true love can be shared with another. In this scene we see Emma’s new struggles with the dark curse, but with Killian’s wise words and her own strength, she gives Merida her heart back and keeps her own from giving into the darkness completely.

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This scene is meant to be a direct contrast to Nimue and Merlin – all the ways they were not able to overcome the darkness, the ways in which love failed them, and that Nimue couldn’t resist the power. But Emma was able to succeed in ways she didn’t as we see in 5×7 “Nimue,” and she and Killian’s love was in and able to overcome the darkness, even if there was a struggle.

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A small moment that represents that struggle was a very subtle one in “Siege Perilous.” When Emma and Killian are on the Jolly Roger you can see that she places her hand over his heart. She had been reaching out to him, and again here was the real Emma doing so – touching the heart she knows has been darkened because of her but still wants to protect and connect with. They’re both struggling in the moment to understand each other, and the time was not right yet.



What was emotional about the first half of Season 5 was that after spending so much effort to protect Emma’s heart from fully giving into the darkness, it was the love in her heart for Killian that led her to doing just that in order to save his life. The anger and turmoil in the episode “Broken Heart” was felt by both; Killian is heartbroken by Emma’s choice to turn him into the Dark One and her deception about Excalibur, both he felt were betrayals. Emma was heartbroken to see Killian let the darkness consume him and say harsh words to her. And yet hope wasn’t lost. Their hearts were broken but not shattered beyond repair. Killing refused to enact the dark curse and crush Emma’s heart, Emma refused to give up on him and took his memories determined to save both of their hearts in the end.

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When we reach the midway part of Season 5 and onward it’s clear that Emma and Killian’s hearts will continue to be emphasized and remain connected, transcending the darkest of times and obstacles. In “Swan Song” both of their hearts are freed from the darkness with Killian’s heroic sacrifice. And from the way Emma holds his hand close to her heart refusing to let go, to her plan to march into the Underworld and share her heart to save his life, it solidified how their story truly is about their heart entwineds.

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“And invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” – Chinese Proverb

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What is, for lack of a better word, heart-wrenching was that even though they both love each other so deeply they were still astonished by how much. Killian especially had doubts of his worthiness and that Emma could love him so much. In “Devil’s Due” Killian looks awestruck that Emma plans to split her heart as she smiles lovingly assuring him that it will work. His reaction is of acceptance but still disbelief, which manages to change to one of hope and happiness in “Firebird” when Emma places her hand over his chest ready to give him half of her heart.

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It doesn’t matter they were that they were not able to do so. It doesn’t matter that her physical heart could not restore his life, because as we see in “Devils Due,” “Firebird” and “Last Rites” it is that love that saves him in the way their hearts still indeed remain forever entwined. The moment Emma and Killian pass a test of true love was undeniably about both of their hearts in such a striking visual on its own, both looking onto the scale with her heart on one side. But true love is based on equality so it’s not any wonder why they proved their love is true by choosing each other in equal measure. It was touching to see Killian still wonder if the love they share is True- if weighing her heart will prove it once and for all. No matter what they are still willing to try because love is worth it. What was moving was that it was not about simply weighing her heart – it was about her willingness to sacrifice it and his willingness to let himself be engulfed in flames to protect it. They are both in excruciating pain but chose to save each other over themselves – that is the measure of true love.

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Emma’s heart may night not have physically saved Killian’s life but the spiritual way their hearts are connected, (something that has been developing since the beginning), most certainly did. She has saved his life many times, but none more so than by offering him a chance to be a part of something and inspiring him to be the man he always wanted to be – the man he truly is. And he saved her by his constancy and patience that allowed her to trust again. And they saved each other by reawakening each other’s hearts to the kind of feelings neither thought they would or were going to allow themselves to feel. But when you meet the right person all the things you thought impossible can come true.

What is truly beautiful is that like Snow and Charming, they felt that connection before they knew the love they shared was True. Their hearts are connected in spiritual ways as Emma can sense Killian’s presence when she was close to rescuing him. But even more remarkable was after Emma had to leave him behind – they still could feel what they were going through, not only transcending realms but also death. Emma could feel his pain and that he could not move on and Killian could not because he knew Emma was still in danger. And when they were able to work together, despite being physically separated, Killian just felt she had done what she needed to do – their hearts undeniably are connected.

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And so brings us to the end of Season 5 where it’s clear that just as we’ve seen all season and beyond, these aspects entwined are an undeniable part of their story. After their joyful reunion in 5×21 “Last Rites,” the very first shot of them in the finale is a close-up of their entwined hands as they walked down the street towards Granny’s.

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And when they are back in each other’s arms at the end of episode, Emma embraces Killian, puts her hand over his heart and as they again begin to walk towards Granny’s, they instantaneously intertwine their fingers. It’s become so natural and an instinctual gesture between them almost as if it’s second nature.

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And in this moment we see how both of these motifs are connected. For as they walk hand-in-hand, a symbol of their unbreakable bond as they face the world together, Emma says that after going through so much she wants to tell him something when they’re not in the middle of a battle and neither of them is facing death – when things are just normal. And then Emma tells Killian and she loves him. It’s not a new declaration but the emotional meaning behind it is. For the first time she was able to tell him she loves him in a moment of peace and normalcy. But importantly it’s an “I Love You” where not only both of their hearts are completely free from darkness or pain for the first time all season, but also that Emma’s heart is completely open. It already was open to love but was still filled with fears and burdens. Now her armor is off and she’s no longer afraid to express herself solely in life or death moments. It can simply be in a happy moment because she wants to. Holding each other’s hands, their hearts completely open, they kiss each other as they’ve never done before, Killian lifting her up in joy and bliss.

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Hand in hand, one heart beat at a time, these entities will forever be entwined as Emma and Killian are ready to face a bright and happy future together.