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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2016 Year in Review: Best Televison Relationships

1. Emma Swan and Killian Jones (Once Upon a Time) cheek

Every so often a fictional couple comes along that captures our imagination, touching our hearts in immeasurable ways. For the past four years the brave and fiercely loving Savior and Pirate have grown and evolved tremendously both individually and as a couple and in 2016 they only further demonstrated how their story is one of the most beautiful depictions of true love ever. And it’s true love in its most exquisite form – the epitome of an unbreakable, unshakable, and powerful bond showing that true love in its truest form is the sum of many things that when can combined can be truly remarkable. For what is true love? It’s emotion and an entity. True Love is the most powerful thing in the world. It is never easy but must always be fought for. It’s overcoming impossible odds and finding joy in the simple quiet moments. When you find your one true love they are the person who makes your heart pound and breath catch, while also feeling safe, serene and comforted. They are the person you want to kiss with passion or tenderness, laugh with, cry with, and hold tightly in your arms and never let go. They’re the person who always knows the right thing to say, can sense when something is wrong, and can tell you so much without a single word. They are the person who inspires you to be the best version of yourself, encourages you and never lets you doubt your self-worth. They’re the one you can truly be vulnerable with, who brings down the walls that guard your heart, for they are the person you would give your whole heart to. You will walk through Hell for them, do anything to protect and sacrifice everything for to ensure their happiness or well-being no matter the cost to yourself. Your True Love is the person you choose to walk hand-in-hand with through life because when you do it feels like home. Is there not a more perfect way to describe what Emma and Killian have grown to become to each other?


From the moment Emma marched into the Underworld to save Killian, declaring the steadfast motto “I will always find you” it was clear that both emotionally and narratively that this was undeniably true love. The Savior who always helps others find their happy endings was fighting for her own. But both Emma and Killian have become a pristine example of a quote from Lao Tzu, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” What they felt in their hearts was officially confirmed for the Gods themselves not by a kiss but by a choice – and one that was about sparing the other from great pain. And when it seemed as if this was goodbye forever they solidified that love with tearful and selfless promises and literally feeling and sensing each other across not just realms but also death. And when Killian miraculously returned to where Zeus himself deemed “where he belongs ” it was back into Emma’s loving arms. After going through such insurmountable odds in an truly epic part of their story, they also showcased true love in their more joyful moments as Emma happily expressed her love in a moment of normalcy, let go of her fears of an uncertain future asking him to move in with her, and overcame secrets with understanding and compassion as they’re based out of protection and the desire for the happiness of each other. And importantly they reminded each other just how remarkable they are not only to each other but as people, as Emma reminded Killian that he is a hero, worthy of being saved and needs to forgive himself on his own, while Killian reminded her that she is the product of true love but also a person who is just as wonderful and strong as her parents who can truly overcome anything in a deeply romantic moment where Killian reads Emma the story of her and her parents, able to steady her trembling hand, kissing it with reverence. Just like the love that Emma and Killian embody that is the sum of many attributes, so too is the nature of their story, beautiful not just because of one single thing but because of everything which holds an integral piece to their relationship – the writing, the narrative, and the performances by Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue who this past year were deeply profound in both grand moments and ones of lovely subtlety  and remarkably gorgeous in their authenticity. In each scene you can feel every heartbeat from the hearts they are willing to share, sacrifice that are indelibly entwined in the deepest way possible. There’s sure to be so many more milestones, moments of epicness and battles, and ones of tender intimacy in 2017, with a relationship that is truly special. It is a beautiful blend of fairy tale familiarity and modern-day sensibilities. Emma and Killian enchant our hearts, move our souls, and create a tale that is one of the most glorious to ever grace our lives in a story book that will remain exquisitely beautiful and profound long after we’ve reached the final page.


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2. Lucy Preston, Wyatt Logan and Rufus Carlin (Timeless)timeless2timeless

The time team as they’ve come to be known could not be more different. Lucy is a historian and professor, Wyatt is a soldier, while Rufus is a scientist and pilot to the time travel machine. Lucy is kind and fiercely intelligent, used to a world of academia, Wyatt is stoic, determined and often single-minded, while Rufus is likewise vastly intelligent and ingenious. Despite their differences they also share some significant commonalities. In truth they are all intelligent and resourceful,each offering something important to the team. And all our brave, heroic and loyal. Within the group there are some wonderful dynamics – Lucy and Wyatt’s burgeoning romance, Lucy and Rufus’ is growing friendship and Wyatt and Rufus’ strong understanding of each other. But it’s the three of them together that are truly a joy to watch, often funny and heartfelt as they go from time to time encountering history with awe and reverence and learning to work together for a common goal even when they disagree. It’s touching to see how quickly they’ve all grown to deeply care for one another, and relate to each other with compassion which is a testament to the narrative, and the wonderful performances by Abigail Spencer, Malcom Barrett, and Matt Lanter. The embraces, the laughter, the willingness to face death for each other and the ways they hold hands while the future they are returning to might be vastly different demonstrates that theme that people from all walks of life can come together and form even the most unlikeliest of friendships and come out the other side stronger and better from having known each other. I eagerly anticipate many more adventures from this fantastic trio as they continue on a journey of themes that are truly timeless.


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3. Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Lucas (Stranger Things)strangerstranger1

Growing up one of my favorite films was The Goonies. I love the adventures and relationships between the group of best friends. One of the things I love about Stranger Things is the similarities between this group of kids to that of The Goonies: Both taking on truly scary and bad people and relying on each other above all else, while are all smart and quick thinking, all deeply caring (but show it in different ways) and often have penchant for recklessness and profanity. But make no mistake my love of the similarities doesn’t mean these kids are mere carbon copies. On the contrary each has their own personality and strength, while the way the boys help and embrace Eleven is something unique, poignant and touching. They make me laugh with the way they relate to each other, cheer at their courage against frightening government agents and a terrifying monster, and cry with their demonstrations of true devotion and friendship that always is believable and moving. Sometimes I cry and laugh at the same time – something only the best of stories can evoke. And the moment when bullies are beaten, Mike is saved by Eleven and Dustin yells “She’s our friend and she’s crazy” is a perfect example of this. In the end, what this group shows is that children should never be underestimated, ignored, or used. They can sometimes be the bravest, smartest and most loving people imaginable. 2017 will surely bring more dangers and I look forward to more humor and heart from the kids who have learned to play a real life strange and dangerous game of Dungeons & Dragons.


4. Lorelai Gilmore and Luke Danes (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)lorelai-lukelorelai-luke1

In terms of true love and romance Lorelai and Luke were always the cornerstone couple of the Gilmore Girls. From best friends to lovers, two committed partners, these two had many ups and downs but came back together in series finale. But the divisive the final season only left so much time to arrive at said reconciliation so there were many things that fans never got to see. Despite its imperfections, when it comes to the Luke and Lorelai relationship in A Year in the Life it was beautiful, emotionally satisfying, consistent in the characterizations, and everything we could’ve hoped for. What makes this couple so wonderful is their humor and heart, and the way they hilariously banter back and forth like a couple from classic cinema, understand and support each other, work through arguments, and most importantly demonstrate that love and relationships can be difficult but in the end are worth it. Feelings of complacency and identity were what their story entailed in 2016 and it was believable, sweet and touching because in the end we see a couple truly devoted to loving each other and making each other happy. Wonderful moments abound, the two that will surely remain in our hearts forever are the whimsical wedding montage, a dream of a scene complete with the tear inducing inclusion of the song “Reflecting Light “which was played when Luke and Lorelai shared their first dance, and Luke’s speech about his commitment and willingness to do whatever it takes to save the relationship not knowing it needed no saving. Lorelai wanted to get married. These two prove that struggles can be overcome, that day-to-day life whether it’s grand or simple can be fulfilling, and that the strongest relationships are about devotion, trust, honesty and a great sense of humor.

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5. The Pearson Family (This Is Us)us.gifus1

It seems so rare nowadays to see families portrayed as genuinely close, caring, protective, and good, where family dinners and get-togethers are important, wanted and looked forward to, with just their day-to-day lives which include phone calls, lunches and support, are natural and unforced. The Pearson family may not be perfect – they fight and argue and disagree sometimes on big issues- but at the end of the day we see that in both the past and the present, there is nothing more important than family. From parent/child relationships, to the close-knit sibling bond of the affectionately titled “Big Three,” the Pearsons bring us the kind of warmth, poignancy, affectionate dynamics that many audiences have been yearning for, breathing beautiful life into the stories that bring us to tears on a weekly basis, and warm our hearts in ways that are deeply affecting.

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6. Killian Jones and Henry Mills (Once Upon a Time)cap cobra.gif

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Once Upon a Time is the way family dynamics are varied and purposefully are breaking the mold of traditional family dynamics of fairy tales with Henry’s ever-growing family. Like the traditional fairy tales, in the show we have seen deceased biological parents and evil stepparents. But what Once Upon a Time does so well is that it takes these traditional premises and expands and alters them in great ways. Natural parents are alive, the evil stepparent changes and does good, and we see adoption and friends included showing that families need not be defined merely by blood. The relationship between Killian and Henry has been a growing favorite of mine the past three years with fun and heartwarming moments between Emma’s two true love’s – from sailing trips and nautical lessons, rogue and daring rescue missions, to the special Operation Light Swan, a house and promise for a happy future for Emma. But 2016 delved into a new territory that was not only significant and poignant but natural and realistic. Yes there were moments like we’ve seen before – special Operations to help find happy endings, help save others, help save Emma, and there were moments of heartache where leaving Killian behind in The Underworld caused a look of heartbreak on Henry’s face. But what was lovely and meaningful way that this year also truly developed the future step father and stepson bond, with an entire episode revolving around the conflict and resolution that faces many blended families today. Henry had always gotten along well with Killian, but it’s very different when your mother is now living with her romantic partner. It’s a big change and they handled this in a way that felt authentic to what a boy Henry’s age would feel – uncertain, wanting to lash out, even saying hurtful things they don’t mean. But in the end Henry realizes how much Killian loves his mother and how he cares more for Henry’s well-being and safety than his own. Henry will always miss his father and no one can replace him, and while he already has a large extended family with mothers and grandparents, it was lovely to see that family tree grow a branch in the young boy’s eyes to include a man whose heart is filled with such genuine affection for his true love and her son, as well as an evolving and positive depiction of a future step parent and child relationship, something television definitely needs to see more of and Once Upon a Time shows so beautifully.

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7. Lucifer Morningstar and Chloe Decker (Lucifer)deckerstardeckerstar1

This pair has so many classic characteristics from the get-go: witty and sharp banter, often flirty or filled with tension, humor or exasperation with each other that masks deeper underlying feelings, two people who are guarded learning to become vulnerable because of each other, and a kind of instinctual, deep connection. In many ways they remind me of our number 1 Pick, Emma and Killian, and that should be considered the highest praise. But Chloe and Lucifer are also very unique most of all because, well, he’s the Devil. How many shows have a Devil who’s in the body of a dashingly  handsome man, helping solve crimes with a courageous and caring detective who was the one person he cannot read like he does others, and consequently the one person who changes his entire world. No one else would have him promise to return to Hell just to keep her safe. With a palpable chemistry between Tom Ellis and Lauren German, their relationship is still growing and it could go down some dark paths, but the fantastic combination of a classic, romantic couple who solve crimes with a fantastical element and touch of destiny and love of Biblical proportions is absolutely fantastic.

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7. Peggy Carter and Daniel Sousa (Agent Carter)peggy daniel1.gif

In the first season of this period adventure series, there was definitely a connection between these two agents, but Peggy was still grieving over Steve, wanting to protect what was left of him, that love was not something she was ready for. But in 2016 in the show’s second and final season, romance was certainly in the air. And while their affections were torn between each other and scientist JasonWilkes and nurse Violet, it was clear that Daniel was always the one who was Peggy’s true match. The relationship is built on mutual respect, trust, and a real chemistry and spark with charming and magnetic performances by Atwell and Gjokaj. Seeing these two crazy kids realize just how much they care for each other was equally sweet and touching – the kind of great relationship tension where you were just yelling at your TV screen to “just kiss already!”And after Peggy and Daniel showed that they would risk their lives for each other, the audience got their wish when they finally came together with a passionate kiss. This was pure happiness and while we don’t know for sure, in my mind Daniel is the man Peggy married and continued to inspire others and help combat evil, fighting alongside him and forming the SHIELD agency. These two are as perfect a duo as there ever was.


8. Snow White and Prince Charming (Once Upon a Time)snowing

In 2016, the original true love couple, and still one of the main reasons the show remain so magical and a pillar of a beautiful sense of hope and fairy tale sweetness, were able to demonstrate once again what true love really means in ways like we’ve always seen for the couple as well as new and poignant twist on their story. While on a journey to the Underworld it was touching not only to see that steadfast devotion to each other and belief of “always find each other” but to also see them provide their daughter with a sense of hope. They also gave Killian a great gift in their willingness to find and save him, accepting him into their family. Their love gives their daughter hope and inspiration and now their epic fairy tale intertwines with the product of their true love. The reading of their story was such a touching reminder of how special the Snow White and Prince Charming fairy tale is in a time when they once again proved the strength of their bond in new and meaningful ways. With the sharing of hearts came the sharing of a sleeping curse which is yet to be broken. And while their faith may be wavering their love for each other remains as strong as ever – taking care of their son, leaving each other notes, keeping watch over their beloved as they sleep. I believe they will soon break this curse. True love will never falter in the end. Because any couple who discovers they had a connection long before they realized, in a moment based on respect, belief in each other, and feeling as if they were not alone in the world, that can create a first spark of true love, and a sapling, is as magical as it gets.


(Tie) 10. “DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy “The She-Wolf Pack” (Fuller House) she-wolf

Positive friendships and sibling relationships are special and when I see them in film and TV I am happy. What makes the relationship between DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy (2 sisters and 1 best friend) but in truth all one part of a larger family and affectionately self dubbed “She-Wolf pack,” so wonderful is that it’s about three women who all genuinely love, support and respect each other. Much like the original series where Jesse and Joey moved in to help Danny with his kids, Stephanie and Kimmy are doing the same for DJ. But she reciprocates that support to her sister and best friend, and the three together are not only a joy to watch but represent something rare in TV these days – a heartwarming, funny, touching relationship between women who always have each other’s backs and will do so with compassion, honesty, and a great sense of humor. I know I personally relate to this relationship more so than other harsher and snarkier friendships we see. This family is undeniably wholesome but no less realistic and relatable.

(Tie) 10. Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis (Agent Carter)peggy jarvis.gif

Such a wonderful friendship indeed, just like the first season, when these two are together there is fun to be seen, sometimes tears to be shed, and smiles to be shown. No two represent the witty and nostalgia Agent Carter embodies more so than Peggy and Jarvis. But once again this year showed the beauty of the platonic love that can exist between a man and a woman. There was never a sense of romance between them, but their chemistry was amazing because it represents something different but no less special and important. They will hold each other’s hand in comfort when they need it, encourage each other, and fight alongside each other, always with a wittiness and realness that will be deeply missed each week.


Honorable Mentions
11. Liv Moore, Clive Babineaux , Ravi Chakrabarti, Major Lilywhite, Peyton Charles (iZombie)
Admittedly I adore every relationship within this dark and funny drama, but when all of the characters work together and interact with each other something really amazing happens. They may all be quite different but they truly show that these differences mean nothing in the grand scheme of things especially when a zombie attack may be on the horizon and two of their own are zombies themselves. As we saw in the Season 2 finale, when everyone finally knew the truth and they all work together, we see that they are stronger together than apart. If a zombie apocalypse was here this are the team I would want on the job.

12. The Crawley Family (Downton Abbey)
In 2016 we bid a reluctant farewell to the residents of Downton Abbey both upstairs and downstairs. While they may be a differences in stations, when it comes to the Crawley clan, especially in this last season, everyone feels like one big family filled with everything you expect – love, support, disagreements and resolutions. From the health scare of Lord Crawley, to the weddings of Lady Edith, Lady Mary and Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, to the return of Tom, to Anna and Bates finally having a baby, to Thomas finding place, and Lady Grantham’s ever wit and wisdom, I came to think of every character as a member of the Crawley family and found it hard to say goodbye. But perhaps it is merely “till we meet again” because their lives will go on and we’re lucky to have witnessed so much. Tears and smiles were abundant in 2016 and hopefully there’s more to come in the future for this wonderful family.


2016 Year in Review: Best Television Characters/Performances

Top 5 Female Characters/Performances

1. “Eleven” portrayed by Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)eleven

From the moment Eleven stepped onto the screen barefoot and wide-eyed, I knew this was going to be quite the character. A resonant, captivating character indeed, and a remarkable performance, Brown was 11 years old herself when she filmed the first season of this nostalgic show, as the sufferer abuse and control, but strong and fierce child “Eleven.” As the girl with powers of telepathy and telekinesis, Brown exhibits a talent and depth well beyond her years and beautifully showcases Eleven’s signs of trauma, her bravery, and her vulnerabilities with such stunning believability proving that you can be moving with very few words. From the moments skittishness, fear and sadness as she escapes from her captors, to learning what a friend is and wondering if she needs a wig to be “still pretty,” to the intensity of her saving her friends from the “bad men,” bullies, and ultimately a terrifying monster, Brown is an absolute revelation, and Eleven a character of great heart and strength despite her circumstances. And she deserves all the Eggos her brave soul desires.

2. “Emma Swan” portrayed by Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time)emma


2016 was in an intense year for Emma Swan filled with heartache, love, and the truth about the fate of all Saviors which manifested itself with tremors and disturbing visions of her impending death, making her hope for her own a happy ending seem like an elusive dream. And yet through it all she remains courageous and noble, finding that fight within herself and a desire to embrace the happiness and beauty of the present without the fear of the future. She embraced love with all of her heart, ready to share it with the man she now knows is her true love, said a heartbreaking goodbye to him and then was miraculously reunited, and in the end was finally able to tell him she loved him in a moment of normalcy – a huge step for her character. We may not have seen the duality the Dark Swan arc gave us, but Morrison was no less brilliant, exquisite, and touching especially in moments that demonstrated very raw and vulnerable emotions of love and courage with her two true loves. As Emma said goodbye to Killian for what she believed to be the last time, Morrison brought such a powerful sense of heartbreak and selflessness wanting him to move on and be at peace. And when she tries to comfort her son Henry who was fearing his mother’s impending death and blaming himself for her fate, she showcased the bravery of a mother shouldering the sadness and fear for the sake of their child. One could not help but be moved and astounded at the unencumbered joy of seeing her true love Killian come back to life, the sweetness and softness of the way she finally asked him to move in with her, and the way she works through her trembling hand tremors and grabs the sword then fated to kill her, ready to fight for her future. And I eagerly anticipate watching Emma’s continued journey of what it means to be a Savior and her finding her way towards her own happy ending in 2017. Through her tears, smiles, and fierceness we see that Emma, and Morrison’s performance, remains one of the most beautiful, brilliant and remarkably moving of all time.

3. “Lorelai Gilmore” portrayed by Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)lorelai


As someone who watched and adored Gilmore Girls during its initial run and has watched the reruns frequently, I was anticipating the revival of the series with fervor and excitement; and when it came to Lorelai’s character and Graham’s performance, A Year in the Life did not disappoint. I may have had some issues with the revival, but not with our beloved Lorelai. Just like the original series, she was relatable, likable, funny and touching. Lorelai is a type of woman who is far from perfect but we still admire tremendously. She is strong, but not too proud, and a woman who makes mistakes but learns from them and overcomes them with authenticity and warmth. Dealing with the loss for father, tensions with her mother and daughter, and a feeling of complacency and uncertainty in her romantic life, her journey was beautiful and touching and Graham seamlessly slips back into the role as if it was yesterday that she was in Lorelai’s fast talking, coffee guzzling shoes. Many wonderful moments abound, it was her phone call to her mother about her best memory of her father that was the most poignantly performed and one that I will not long forget.

4. “Lucy Preston” portrayed by Abigail Spencer (Timeless)lucy


Stepping into different time periods each week must be great fun for an actress, from adapting a different persona and manners to the vastly different costumes. These are just one small part of why I love Timeless and its characters, most especially our lead heroine. What makes Lucy such a wonderful character is her intelligence, her reverence and awe of history, her caring heart, her tenacity, and her courage. Each person in the Timeless team serves a purpose and Lucy is arguably the most crucial as they rely on her vast knowledge and ability to adapt and think on her feet as they enter worlds so different than the one they live in. Suffering a great loss, Lucy remains steadfast in her determination amidst the uncertainty of the future they will return to. She is strong, smart and inspiring and the kind of real woman to look up. Showcasing that knowledge is indeed power, Spencer portrays Lucy with a grace and passion that is beautiful to witness.

5. “Liv Moore” portrayed by Rose McIver (iZombie)liv


Getting to be essentially a different character each week is not only a wonderful opportunity for an actor to showcase their range, but also endlessly entertaining to watch. It takes an actor of high-caliber to showcase a new persona with each episode while keeping the essentials of their true character intact. McIver does this brilliantly,  making Liv’s suffering and strengths something we can all relate to despite the wildness of the situation. She may be a zombie but she is no less real in her relationship and personal struggles, and no less warm despite her less than alive state. And as far as each different brain she consumes, McIver continues to shine with varied material to sink her teeth into – pun intended – as Liv takes on the personalities this year of a the writer of erotic fiction, a pathological liar, a social media obsessed woman, and my favorite, the eternally positive owner of a coffee shop. Liv’s character and McIver’s performance is often funny and heartbreaking, brave and sweet, making her character feel as real and alive as any on television.

Honorable Mentions:
“Peggy Carter” portrayed by Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)sunglasses


In 2016 we bid a sad farewell  to one of my favorite shows and a character I find tremendously inspiring in so many ways. Peggy had mourned her great love, ready for romance once again, as an assignment to LA entangles her in a series of adventures and a very dangerous threat, and did so with the same intelligence, ingenuity and strength that makes her so unbelievably fantastic. The show may be over, but Atwell’s tenacious performance of the remarkable Agent Carter will live forever.

“Emily Gilmore” portrayed by Kelly Bishop (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)emily


Like Graham, Kelly  Bishop stepped back into the role of Gilmore matriarch Emily as if no time had passed. She went through quite the transformation as she grieves the loss of her beloved husband Richard and found a new lease on life with raw believability. Seeing her find a new “family “to look after it with the one maid she finally kept, to her finding a new understanding with her daughter and a new purpose and sense of self was such a joy to watch and something that could only be accomplished by someone aof Bishop’s talent. And her the moment she finally lets loose at the DAR will go down as one of Emily Gilmore’s crowning moments!

Top 5 Male Characters/Performances

1. “Jack Pearson” portrayed by Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)jack.gif


Every single character on this moving family drama feels real, relatable and can illicit tears each and every episode; but if I were to choose my favorite it would be that of Jack,  the endlessly loving, stalwart, strong father and husband who always tried to do what was best for his family. Although he wasn’t perfect – dealing with the drinking problem early on, through him we see that personal demons can be overcome as he showed his family that with harsh realities and the simple every day conundrums, life can still be fun, beautiful and good. Ventimiglia has always always been so talented, but he has matured into such a performer of vitality, nuance and great warmth and portrays so beautifully who Jack is in his simplest form – a truly good man. With scenes with each of his three children he showcases the depths of his love for them, and the wisdom and comfort that we all long for in a father. He passionately loves his wife and endlessly loves his children and teaches us that the sourest lemon can inspire a strength we never knew we had. It makes the fact that his character is not alive the present-day hurt so much more, but ultimately appreciate witnessing the well lived life he had.

2. “Killian Jones” portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time)killian.gif


2016 began in a dark place for Killian Jones. After overcoming his demons and sacrificing himself to save Emma and his friends, believing he was helping destroy the darkness forever, Killian began the year trapped in the Underworld, being mercilessly tortured by the God of Death Hades. His suffering was acute, and his heroic status position was undeniably solidified, from helping another prisoner escape, to making sure Emma and her family could leave the Underworld even if he could not, to working with the man responsible for his death to help Emma and everyone defeat Hades. He proved to be a true hero once again and miraculously and was sent back to where he belonged- with his True Love Emma Swan. And given a second chance at life, he may not believe he is the hero he is, but further proves to be as he continues to atone for his past wrongs helping Belle, his long-lost brother, and working to become someone worthy of being a part of a family with Emma and Henry. It’s been truly amazing journey in 2016 for our dear Captain and O’Donoghue continues to breathe vigorous life into the dashing pirate hero with sincerity, brevity and great depth. All one has to do is watch the moment he says goodbye to Emma in the Underworld to understand his great talent. But in each and every scene we see that he can break our hearts one moment and make them soar the next, sometimes with a single look and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for his character. There will never be another Captain Hook quite like O’Donoghue’s Killian Jones.

3. “Lucifer Morningstar” portrayed by Tom Ellis (Lucifer)lucifer.gif


There’s an old saying “the Devil made me do it” and when it comes to the title character of the Biblical procedural drama that phrase certainly applies. This Lucifer is a fascinating character. He is strikingly handsome, debonair and charismatic and has the ability to make people admit their deepest desires – all except one, and that is what fascinates him. The straight-laced, fiercely caring and brave detective Chloe Decker becomes his friend and partner, giving the character a perfect sparring partner. But on his own, Lucifer is layered and flawed as he becomes more and more like the humans he’s found a home with. And although his behavior is far from saintly and very much the devil may care attitude, he’s not evil. Rather, he wants to punish those who are, and while not admitting it, protect others as well. Quite the interesting take on the character, it’s very refreshing especially made that way by the magnetic and enthralling performance of Tom Ellis, who has a brilliant ability to let us see into his soul, sometimes with a single change in his expression. His eyes can go from manic and scary, to soft and suffering in the blink of an eye. This Lucifer can be funny, chilling, sympathetic and bring us to tears and that is an accomplishment of epic proportions.

4. “Randall Pearson” portrayed by Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)randall.gif


Much like the other This Is Us character and performance on this list, Randall, portrayed by Sterling K. Brown, is above all a very good man and his performance is deeply real and moving. He always had to deal with things his siblings and not have to – not always feeling like he truly belonged with his family, wondering who his birth parents were, and not wanting to be different when he realized how smart he was. But just like his father Jack, this made him try even harder – to endeavor to be the best man he could be, and pour all of his love from his unbelievably strong and giving heart into his family. He works hard to be a good husband and father, demonstrates forgiveness towards the father who gave them up, and in a very heart-wrenching scene helped a coworker realize that ending his life will only hurt those he loves. Yet Randall is not perfect. When he learns about a lifelong secret from his mother he demonstrates that sometimes we can’t always forgive instantly, and when he and his brother Kevin fight, he recalls how he often felt like he wasn’t accepted. It’s all very touching and viscerally relatable with so much heart poured into the performance by Brown. There is not one false moment, and not one instant where you can’t empathize or completely understand what Randall’s going through with his family or himself. Brown is a gifted actor who exudes sincerity with every single breath.

5. “Rufus Carlin” portrayed by Malcolm Barrett (Timeless)rufus.gif


I adore every character on this time traveling adventure series, but if I had to pick one favorite it would be the caring, vastly intelligent, often funny scientist and pilot Rufus. As mentioned early on, there is not a single point in American history that they could be traveling to that is going to be particularly kind to a black man. But that doesn’t deter him from risking his life for their missions and his new friends. He displays a great sense of morality not wanting to spy on Lucy and Wyatt, ingenuity and courage when each mission proves to be more difficult than last, and retains a sense of goodness despite everything. Rufus makes me laugh, cry and frankly sometimes I just want to hug him for his sense of true courage and friendship. It’s often his ideas that help bring them home, and from learning black-smithing in mere hours, to figuring out how to repair the damaged lifeboat, to saving his friends from being killed, to the simple gesture of helping a little girl reach a water fountain, and finally to him questioning his own character after shooting someone that was threatening them, Rufus is a character to love, admire and root for thanks in no small part to the genuineness from Barrett’s performance. He is simply fantastic and showcases a real sense of humor, authenticity and steadfast bravery into his character. I eagerly anticipate where Rufus travels to next.

Honorable Mentions:
“Ravi Chakrabarti” portrayed by Rahul Kohli (iZombie)ravi


Ravi- the charming, funny, brilliant and brave Doctor is so much more than Liv’s trusted ally and closest friend. He’s even more than what could possibly be the zombie’s saving grace as he tirelessly is trying to find a cure for their condition. Ravi is a truly wonderful person. He is loyal and a good friend and someone who will fight even the darkest of villains even when he’s frightened or outgunned- the mark of true courage. My heart broke for him as the girl he pines for embraced another man, and when another said she’d never seen Star Wars – for shame! Rahul is completely charismatic, funny and sincere in his performance making Ravi’s one of this year’s brightest spots.

“Luke Danes” portrayed by Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)luke


Like Graham and Bishop, Patterson stepped back into the role of Luke Danes with the greatest of ease as if time had not passed at all. Luke was always the character we rooted for as he was undeniably good, and steadfast, patiently waiting and willing to go above and beyond for the woman he loved. In A Year in the Life, not much has changed. He still has a bit of a curmudgeon in him, but still loves Lorelai deeply  and Rory as if she’s his own daughter, and still demonstrates a stalwart heart and determination. Like Lorelai, he makes mistakes, but there’s no better man in Stars Hollow than this man. And much like his speech when Roy was leaving college, his impassioned promise to Lorelai about willing to do anything to make their relationship the best it can be forever, will forever move me to tears while also bringing a smile to my face. And only Patterson can make a line like “the only way out is in a body bag” sound completely romantic.

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:

Moments of asking for trustcs-aladdin-1

Falling into each other’s armscs-aladdin-2

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!