Once Upon a Time 100th Episode Celebration: Top 10 Best Underrated Episodes

underrated

Hello Oncers! As I said in this post here I will be celebrating Once Upon a Time reaching 100 episodes with a series of posts highlighting the best of our beloved show. This first one is the Best Underrated episodes. These are ones that are excellent and worthy of praise but episodes that often overlooked and rarely discussed, especially when speaking about the best of the series. Here are my top picks in underrated gems.

1.”The Shepherd” (Season 1, Episode 6)

The very first backstory for Charming/David’s character is also one of the best. As is often the case for his centrics and his character, David is underrated and overlooked, but “The Shepherd” is a wonderful episode. Touching and engaging, the present day drama explores the tension between David and Mary-Margaret wanting to be together, with David’s confusion, weakness and altered memories getting in the way, contrasted with Enchanted Forest David, thrust into a new life, finding his courage, and slaying a dragon. This episode also featured one of the show’s most unexpected twists (David has a half-brother named James who was slain in battle), and one of the sweetest relationships that is rarely talked about- David and his mother. The moment he must say goodbye to her is very moving, and overall this episode established what makes the real Prince Charming such an amazing character: that his goodness and integrity do not come from some idealized arcetype but rather from a very real and believable place.

2.”A Curious Thing” (Season 3, Episode 19)

Romantic, surprising and exciting, “A Curious Thing” came at a crucial point in the season before the arc came to a close. The tension and drama were high as our heroes try their best to discover Zelena’s plans and had to rescue Henry when Killian tried to protect him by helping him leave Storybrooke and they were attacked. When episodes always manage to bring unexpected and beautiful moments especially for many characters it’s a treat. We witnessed the amazing moment of Henry regaining his memories and belief thanks to the Storybook, Regina giving him true love’s kiss and breaking the curse, and a moment where Emma expressed that she felt she could not trust Killian. Sad as this last one was it was necessary to move Emma towards the end of the season when she realizes all he has done for her and opens her heart. Speaking of hearts, nothing was as romantic as one of the most beautiful moments ever for Snow and Charming. Not only was it poignant to see them physically share a heart but it was also touching seeing the shift and trust and friendship between the couple and Regina, and the unfailing believe expressed by Snow. She believed her heart was strong enough to be shared and her faith proved true when her husband’s life was restored, solidifying how strong true love really is.

3.”The Snow Queen” (Season 4, Episode 7)

Well-balanced and poignant, this backstory for Ingrid’s Snow Queen was one of the best ever for a villain on the show as we see her feel completely isolated and living her life in fear; and when she accidentally kills her sister, her devastation is so heartbreaking and there has rarely been a more sympathetic moment for any villain on the show. Ingrid’s fears of her powers parallel what many in Storybooke were going through most especially Emma’s whose powers go awry and Regina and Robin who could not deny their feelings for each other. And what this explored was the lovely theme that we should not be afraid of our feelings – there is no need to conceal and not feel. Be open and honest, do not be afraid, and when a loved one reaches out their hand, always take it.

4.”Red-handed” (Season 1, Episode 15)

Clever puns notwithstanding, Once Upon a Time has always been known for taking classic fairytales and turning them on their heads. This episode was the first twist that completely floored me. The original “Little Red Riding Hood” fairytale is a cautionary story to be leery of strangers and predators. So, Ruby being the wolf was a brilliant new spin, instead showcasing that theme again of finding out who we are and finding the courage to be true to that. Aesthetically gorgeous in flashbacks (her red cloak contrasted against the white snow is stunning), sweet in its establishing of the Red and Snow friendship, gripping in its mystery, and touching with Ruby and Granny finding love and understanding from each other, this episode is one of the most overlooked of the series.

5.”Siege Perilous” (Season 5, Episode 3)

Another Charming centric episode – a commonality on this list for the unappreciated character – what made this episode so great was not only the storylines involving David but also Emma, Killian, Robin, Snow and Arthur. As is often the case in episodes with David’s character, a prescient theme is showcased with poignant results, we are treated to exciting action sequences, and in the end David continues to live up to his princely name. As David and Arthur go on journeys in the past and the present we learn the timeless lesson that we must never give up even when we fail and that sometimes it’s continuing to fight after the failure that is the true measure of our character. Despite Arthur’s ulterior motives, David earned his seat at the Roundtable, as well as his hero status and Snow’s eyes because he continues to fight for his daughter. This theme applies to the poignant moments for Emma and Killian when she re-creates their first date and he uttered those heartbreaking words “I loved you.” But neither give up on each other and we see just how much their true selves mean to one another when he tells her that he liked her walls and being the one to bring them down. Lastly, the levity brought to the episode by the new friendship between Robin and Killian was fantastic and something I’d love to see continue.

6.”What Happened to Frederick” (Season 1, Episode 13)

One of the series’ most beautiful and iconic lines, and one of my personal favorites, is heard in this in episode that does what Season 1 so famously embodied: a flashback that demonstrated a truth about the story and character contrasted with present-day struggles due to the dark curse personas, all while Emma continues on her journey of belief. While we see the beginning of Emma’s friendship with August with talk beside a wishing well about magic, it importantly showed Emma skeptical but not closed off. And David’s journey to help reunite Abigail with her true love Frederick not only resulted in an amazing scene where a siren image of Snow tempts him until he overcomes this, but also a poignant one as he says he wants the real thing or nothing else. Here we witness one of the show’s most constant and romantic themes: “True Love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for. Because once you find it, it can never be replaced.”

7.”In the Name of the Brother” (Season 2, Episode 12)

In one of the most unexpected episodes of the series we finally saw a proper backstory for Dr. Whale – first hinted at in “The Doctor” – with the inspired and brilliant choice for his land to literally be in black and white. They create an evocative, noirish Victorian setting, and a heartbreaking tragedy of Victor Frankenstein, losing his brother and father because of his choices. And the result is fantastic! For an episode to be focused so heavily on a guest character,the story must be gripping and Whale’s tragic past, and present day triumphs thanks to the sweet, burgeoning friendship and understanding with Ruby, created one of the most unique episodes of the series. And who doesn’t love the tense back-and-forth between Emma and an injured Hook, from him calling her beautiful, despite being hit by a car, to their conversation in his hospital room where you see that she does not condone his actions but still has a hint of sympathy in her eyes. It was only the beginning.

8.”Dreamy” (Season 1, Episode 14)

The story behind how the grumpiest of dwarfs got his name is one of the sweetest, saddest, and most under-appreciated episodes of the series. For one thing, it was so delightfully inventive learning how dwarfs hatched from eggs as adults,were meant for one purpose, and given their names by the one that appears on their chosen pickax. Seeing that Grumpy was once “Dreamy” was surprising and seeing the sweet and unlikely love story with a fairy named Nova, and how they did not have a happy ending was actually pretty heartbreaking. A broken heart made him grumpy, but as we continue to witness the dynamic themes of identity, we see we are not defined by singular things. He may be “Grumpy,” but Leroy still has kindness in him as we see in the past and more importantly in the present, as not even the curse could stop his inherit goodness. Despite some grumbling, he helped the nuns, in particular Astrid (the fairy Nova) and Mary Margaret during the Miner’s Day festival. I hope that in the end Leroy and Astrid get their happy ending.

9.”We Are Both” (Season 2, Episode 2)

What makes this episode so great is its unique structure, development of relationships not often discussed or highlighted, and fantastic moments in that they bring forth one of the most constant and profound themes of the series. This is one of the few times Emma’s character is seen but for moment, so it would take a lot to make up for a favorite character not being on screen. But what we saw was engaging and poignant. These were some of Regina’s best flashbacks to her young and not evil self simply wanting to escape her mother’s plans while the allure and feel of magic put her on the first step towards a dark path. But in the present while we saw some similarities in Regina’s behavior, mirroring her mother in trying to get control Henry (this was crucial in her present learning how to be a better mom ), the main story was not hers but rather David’s as he dealt with town chaos, taking care of Henry, and tracking down Jefferson, determined to reach Snow and Emma. This different structure was refreshing as we see the sweet relationships developed between him and his grandson and his friend Ruby, two relationships that are wonderful but not often discussed. But it was his impassioned speech at the town line about how “we are both” that truly made the episode. It was a moving example of what the show always exemplifies about the human condition: we all have light and dark, moments of weakness and moments of strength, triumphs and mistakes; but it is remembering that and striving to be our best selves while accepting our flaws that make us who we are. And delivered by David, we, and the town, were inspired.

10.”Family Business” (Season 4 Episode 6)

This episode is perhaps my favorite of Belle’s adventures because it showcased new layers for her character and some of DeRavin’s best acting, not to mention giving the audience the necessary cues to see the inevitability of the rift between Belle and Rumple, as well as lovely quiet moments for Emma and Killian and Regina and Robin. Getting better upon multiple viewings, the rapport between Belle and Anna was natural and sweet. We expect Belle to always do the right thing, so seeing her have a moment where she did not – where she acted selfishly and someone suffered – made her more human, but also ever more likable when her guilt makes her work so hard to right her wrongs and be honest. Her worst fears reflected back in the Snow Queen’s mirror was so chilling it’s too bad we do not see this more characters. Lastly, moments of bravery for Belle and the quieter moments for the two couples may not have been earth shattering but were lovely in their simplicity: Robin unable to forget his love for Regina and her trying to do the right thing, Belle courageously realizing that sometimes we may must sacrifice everything to save those we love, and Emma discovering Ingrid saved things from her childhood while Killian provides the understanding shoulder as someone who knows wounds made when we are young can often linger. Such simple but profound truths delivered beautifully.

2015 Year in Review: Best of the Best in Television

Most Consistent Drama: These are the shows that week after week were proved to be captivating, moving, and had me on the edge of my seat with incredible storytelling.

Once Upon a Time:

By far my favorite show on television, 2015 proved to be one of the best for the series about true love and happy endings, moving in new, daring directions while still remaining true to its roots in hope, forgiveness and redemption. Very few episodes fell short, especially in the first half of Season 5 which dealt with the bold move of turning the show’s heroine into the “villain.” Of course the truth was much more complicated, but getting there had us glued to our screens every week, and in the end, completely devastated, but still full of hope. Now, if only the premiere of 5B would get here sooner. Is it March 6th yet?

Agent Carter:

Agent Carter succeeds remarkably so in its first season run of 8 episodes with each and every one feeling like an exciting and compelling miniature movie, between the evocative cinematography and stunting trip into nostalgia with the gorgeous production design and wardrobe, and finally to the gripping performances and story all around. Agent Carter was not only the best new show of 2015 and one of the most consistent ones, but a delight for anyone who loves adventure with a slice of 1940s nostalgia and modern, inspiring themes of integrity and equality.

Poldark:

This romantic and poignant drama was consistently profound and gripping in every one of its first season 9episode run. From week to week a great deal of time would pass for our characters and we never once felt unsatisfied or unmoved by the drama. Real and touching, sad and hopeful, Poldark is thoroughly wonderful in all regards.

Castle:

The most remarkable thing about this drama is not only that the series continues to be consistently compelling while in its 8th season, but also that even when a story I wasn’t particularly fond of on the surface – Beckett distancing herself from Castle – the show finds ways to create new and familiar dynamics that are thoroughly entertaining. Castle continues to balance lighthearted banter with real and moving stories and relationships all while solving interesting crimes every week.

Most Consistent Comedy:

Modern Family:

It’s amazing that so far into the series that Modern Family continues to shine; but when you have such a natural set up and colorful characters who continue to grow and evolve yet remain true to who they are, it’s unsurprising. There was not a single episode of 2015 that did not result in laugh out loud moments as well as ones that were genuinely touching. Modern Family succeeds in ways very few comedies do because it’s not only truly both modern and traditional in its family dynamics, but also because it’s beauty lies in its simplicity. It’s not just about family. It’s about life and all the crazy ups and downs and the people who make it all worth it. 

The Goldbergs:

This look into the 1980s at a family of misfits is consistently hilarious and sweet. I suppose if you grew up in the time you might find it a bit more enjoyable but truly the humor and storylines are well-balanced between the parents and the kids all with issues and situations inspired by two life events, peppered with delightful references. This year alone we were treated to the sweet pangs of adolescence and first love, to fitting in and dealing with an overbearing but loving mother, with tributes to Ferris Bueller, New Kids on the Block, The Princess Bride, Transformers and more. Every week we are in stitches.

Series Finale:

Parks and Recreation:

The final season of the delightful comedy ended on a unique high note, fast forwarding into the future. And it’s final episodes were everything the show embodied – sweet, silly, inspiring, and eccentric. Each relationship and character was given a final bow in relation to series leading lady Leslie Knope as we see how this unlikely group of people became a family, in a very unlikely place of work, all with different ideologies. In the end we saw what really mattered was what Leslie would spend hours creating vision boards and color-coordinated binders on – friends, waffles, and work, where friends are always first. 

The Mentalist:

What was so wonderful about the finale of the serious and heavy crime drama was how light it felt. After wrapping up one last case, Patrick Jane and Teresa Lisbon were married in a beautiful, small ceremony with family and friends. Knowing how television often is, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. But thankfully and happily it never did. Instead, after so much pain, the series ended in a truly beautiful and peaceful way where love and hope endured. The final image was Jane hugging Lisbon – a joyful look on his face previously unseen. It was a perfect way to end his journey as he learns that she is pregnant and that life and their future will be happy.

Underrated Shows:

The Mysteries of Laura:  

This fantastic crime drama has a wonderful ensemble and balances the lives of a harried mother/homicide detective with intriguing mysteries each week – some emotional, some harrowing, and always entertaining. As we said previously, Laura Diamond is one of the best characters of the year, but indeed each character is wonderful as we see the true sense of camaraderie amongst those who protect and bring people to justice every day, demonstrating that these are not only brave individuals but also very human ones. Poignant and funny, refreshing and realistic, this is the one show that if you’re not watching you definitely should. 

Blue Bloods:  

This family political and crime drama is a relatively new love– I recently caught up on Netflix – and I became comletely engrossed in the lives of the Reagan family. Every character has their own valid point of view, the stories are compelling and the weekly family dinners that are a part of every episode are so wonderful. Steady and true, Blue Bloods deserves more praise.

Show I Miss the Most:

Forever:

I cannot express how amazing Forever was and how heartbroken that such a gripping, moving show ended in 2015. It had everything that makes a great procedural drama with an extremely unique format. Each episode had an intriguing flashback to a different time period, ruminations on the preciousness of life, captivating, affable performance and relationships, and most importantly a beautiful heartbeat that what was felt undeniably. I shall miss the show forever.

Netflix Binge:

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:

At the risk of getting too personal, there are multiple reasons why Kimmy Schmidt is such a fantastic show and worthy of your latest binge- one that I know from personal experience can’t be completed in one day. This show is sweet and laugh out laugh funny, often times to the point of excess. I binged this show on a weekend after I injured my knee and literally could be barely move. The pain did not disappear but watching the show help to alleviate it and make me forget as I watch Kimmy’s fighting spirit and sunny attitude. She is inspiring in a silly world and proved that laughter can indeed be the best medicine.

Relaxing Reality Show:  When it comes to reality shows my taste involves those that offer something both useful, sweet, and relaxing- the type of show that serves a purpose and is still entertaining. 

Dinner at Tiffani’s:

As a fan of Tiffani Thiessen’s since childhood I never imagined I’d be watching a cooking show with her, but here we are and it is a delight, full of fun guests and delicious looking recipes. Literally everything she prepares not only look scrumptious but unlike many other cooking shows, completely doable for even the most inexperienced. She is so affable and engaging especially with the witty banter with her friends, and the end result always looks good enough to eat. Pun intended. 

Fixer Upper:

The work of Chip and Joanna Gaines is simply remarkable as they turn sometimes dilapidated unlivable properties into gorgeous dream homes. The process is interesting and the interactions delightful especially the charming look at their own sweet family.

Heroes:

Emma Swan, Killian Jones, Henry Mills (Once Upon a Time)  

Showing moments of heroics both individually and together, what made Emma and Killian heroes in 2015 was the way they overcame the greatest evil of all time, a darkness neither of them wanted. And while both faltered they were able to overcome it, both for themselves and by themselves, as well as together. The overcame their demons. But their true heroism was in sacrificing their own happiness to save others. Emma becoming the Dark One to save everyone in Storybrooke, Killian telling her to let him go, and Emma finally doing so were heartbreaking but truly heroic. They proved that when you fall you can pull yourself back up and demonstrated the timeless truth the show epitomizes – love is strength. Henry also showed true heroism when he became the next author of the storybook. This honor is only bestowed upon those truly worthy and not only does he know that no one should have power to change things the way the previous author did, he made it his mission to set things right for his family and the ones that they love, thinking only of their happiness and proving that the heart of the truest is believer beats in the person that it is truly meant to.

Villains:

Adam (Forever)

Learning that another immortal existed besides Henry was an unexpected twist, especially when we learned that he was the therapist Henry had been seeing. But in 2015, what made Adam so terrifying was his ability to not only be one step ahead of Henry, but to be able to exploit all of his deepest fears, because they share such a unique connection. His demeanor was cold and unsettling, and his lack of compassion and regard for human life when he himself can live forever was spine tinglingly scary. 

Rumplestiltskin (Once Upon a Time)
What makes Rumple such a compelling villain is that as many horrible actions as he performs, he can still garner sympathy and as selfish as he is, he is still capable of selfless heroism. These contradictions were abundant in 2015, but while you saw that he was capable of goodness he is still the over arching villain of the show and his evil deeds are dazzling to watch. Choosing power over love, lies over the truth, and allowing others to sacrifice their own happiness so he could regain the dark wind power Rumple’s villainy is always frightening.

Happy Moments:

Emma is reunited with Killian, She tells him she wants a future with him (Once Upon a Time)

Once Upon a Time is always a show that implores us to enjoy the good and quiet moments amongst all the chaos of the world. And indeed there were some truly beautiful moments this year for all the characters particularly the shows most glorious couple. The pure joy and elation that Emma displayed when she found Killian alive after their trip into the alternate storybook was so beautiful in its purity. So happy that the force of her hug causes them to fall down onto her bed, the two of them giggling in the process, was incredibly sweet. And even though she was still afraid to tell him “I love you,” the happiness and love was felt in their exquisite expressions and tender affection. This scene was matched by the one in which Emma tells Killian and she does want a future with him but is afraid at the same time. When he tells her that the future is nothing to fear, she kisses him lighting the flame of Prometheus beside them. Their love literally ignited a spark and signified that she was ready to move on and enjoy their happy future together. 

Lisbon tells Jane she is pregnant (The Mentalist)

Lisbon revealing her pregnancy was such a perfect way to end a series that was so often dark in filled with grief. It began with Jane losing his wife and child. It ended with him coming to terms with that loss, moving on and finding love again. After so much loss it was so touching to see them share this private moment of pure joy.

Deacon Proposes to Rayna (Nashville)

This season on Nashville has not been particularly happy one but after surviving so many ups and downs and literally a life-and-death situation with Deacon’s cancer, the couple finally were able to find their way back to happiness. The moment he proposes was not only joyful but so well-earned.

The Ball in Camelot (Once Upon a Time)

Rounding out our OUAT mentions in this category, the ball and Camelot was a lovely, resplendent gift wrapped in golden grandeur. It was brief; but fora few glorious moments all the characters were able to simply be happy and in love. Snow and Charming where are all smiles finally seeing their daughter at a ball and Henry developing his first crush. As for Emma and Killian and Robin and Regina- both couples were able to forget about curses and obstacles and enjoy themselves with dances, smiles, and kisses completely lost in the moment and in each other. Happy moments like this make the show so special.

Sad Moments:

Howard believes he is going to rescue Steve & Peggy finally says goodbye (Agent Carter)  

Agent Carter was always able to pull our heartstrings with inclusion of Captain America and the affection our characters had for Steve Rogers. As a brainwashed Howard Stark flies towards New York City with a look of hope believing that he is finally going to rescue Steve, it was so sad because you could see how much he cared first friend and was about to wake up from this delirium and realize that Steve is gone and they must move on. Equally tear inducing was the moment Peggy finally lets the love of her life go. Standing on the Brooklyn Bridge she lets go of Steve’s blood saying “Goodbye, my darling.” letting his, what she believes would be his final resting place, be the place he called home. 

Jake doesn’t remember his conversation with Laura (The Mysteries of Laura)
It was touch and go when Captain Jake Broderick was injured in the line of duty. But when all seems fine, the road to forgiveness also seemed to be lit towards him and his ex-wife Laura when he asked her if she still loves him and she says “maybe a little bit.” But only a few minutes later he has no recollection of the conversation – a side effect from his accident. After coming so far on this path towards love again it was so sad that it suddenly turned dark once more.

Henry learns the truth about Abigail (Forever)

Henry had finally begun to open his heart again when he met Detective Jo Martinez, but the unknown of his beloved wife Abigail was still holding him back. The truth set him free and allowed him to begin to truly mourn her loss. But the truth of her death was sad and profound. She died protecting his secret from the vile man Adam. She could’ve survived but chose to die so Henry would be safe. Her final act of love for her husband was indeed sad, but beautifully moving.

Heartbreaking Moments:

Killian Dies (Once Upon a Time)

Seeing Killian Jones die once was devastating enough but seeing him perish three times in front of his true love Emma, each time her grief growing more and more powerful, was agonizing. Beautiful drama and storytelling, what makes it heartbreaking was that each time was to protect Emma and that as he was taking his last breaths his only thought was to comfort her. Emma and Killian lived very sad, lonely lives so finding love with each other was like a beautiful gift to each other and the viewers. So to see them lose their chance at happiness ws utterly heartbreaking. Luckily for them, and for us, this show is the embodiment of hope and with Emma marching into the Underworld to save him it’s certain this heartbreak will only be temporary. 

Ross and Demelza’s baby dies (Poldark)
It was painful to watch to Demelza fight for her life, wondering if her husband’s heart could still be stolen away. But to see her wake up and discover that her daughter had died in Ross’s arms as he made sure she wasn’t afraid, is as heartbreaking as can be. The loss of a child is utterly devastating; I cry as I sit here writing about it. The story maybe fictional but the effect it can have is truly deep.

Chief Dooley sacrifices himself (Agent Carter)

I’m not sure which was the most heartbreaking part of Chief Dooley’s noble sacrifice as he leapt out of the window of the SSR to save everyone’s lives: his final words, the pain on everyone’s faces, or the fact that moments before he was dreaming of  being at home with his wife and children happy and at peace. As he asks Peggy to get those responsible telling her “thatta  girl” when she promises to, one cannot help but cry for this good man’s final heroic act.

Visually Beautiful Scenes:

Emma and Killian kiss in the field of Middlemist flowers (Once Upon a Time)

Emma and Killian had three stunning scenes that took place in the field of middle mist flowers in Camelot, but there was something so unbelievably gorgeous about the first, happiest moment. After the darkness was quieted from Emma, she feels light and happy again and ready to share a quiet moment with the man she loves. With the sun rising behind them, the two share a passionate kiss and the camera pans over head to the couple amongst hundreds of pink blossoms. With a rich score by Mark Isham and gorgeous cinematography by Stephen Jackson this moment was perfect in its idyllic fairy tale beauty.

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Ross and Demelza’s promise of hope (Poldark)

As Ross and Demelza mourn the loss of their daughter, they vowed to move on and mend fences between family. Releasing the ribbon that held their baby’s hair into the wind they cling to each other, the windswept moment on the beautiful cliffs on the edge of the sea. Stunning in meaning, with glorious cinematography Adam Etherington, it’s beauty is matched by the breathtaking visual that was akin to something out a big grand romance.

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Plot Twist:

Killian was a Dark One the entire time, Rumple Becomes The Dark One again (Once Upon a Time)

My favorite show of the year also held the monopoly on plot twists. Both dealt with the ominous aspect of the Dark One, completely unexpected and matched by the fact that Season 5 was all about Emma taking on the darkness and struggling to overcome it. It was definitely a shocking turn of events when Emma turned Killian into a second vessel for this evil curse to save his life revealing that in present-day Storybrooke he had been so all along and had no idea. In the end, when he chose to sacrifice himself I believed he was destroying it forever, so was completely dumbfounded when we discovered that Killian’s sacrifice was manipulated by Rumple to channel the darkness back into himself as he regained the power he cannot seem to let go of. Seems that the darkness will still have to be destroyed after all. 

Laugh out Loud Moments:

“Pinot Noir” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt):

In truth, Kimmy Schmidt’s first season had an abundance of hilarious moments, but one in particular holds the rare exception of making me laugh so uncontrollably I literally had to pause the episode to catch my breath. Tituss made a music video called “Pinot Noir,” which was a nonsensical string of phrases meant to sound elegant. It’s beyond silly and beyond hilarious. 

Any Goldbergs 80s reference (The Goldbergs)

It is difficult to pinpoint specific moments from The Goldbergs that resulted in laugh out loud instants because each episode does so. But needless to say every single 80s reference this year did so, from Barry dressing up like Boy George and him and Adam re-creating New Kids on the Block dance moves, to the famous frozen tongue to the flagpole from A Christmas Story, two Pops dressing up as a Transformer for his grandson, and Adam wanting to be the next Inigo Montoya, any reference had us busting a gut laughing.

Best Wardrobe:

Once Upon a Time: 

Going in new directions in Season 5 allowed brilliant costume designer Eduardo Castro to also give our characters some beautiful wardrobe. As the Dark Swan, Emma had stunning and sleek black outfits that reflected her colder demeanor but still retained a distinct elegance. But it was the trip into Camelot that gave the characters an abundance of gorgeous, colorful frocks. Emma was in intricate white dresses and Killian in a red vest and quilted long coat. Snow, Regina and Zelina in sumptuous gowns and Charming and Robin has costumes masculine and undeniably fairytale like. Even Henry had a wonderful fairy tale outfit as well as the numerous guest stars. Take a look at this brilliant work.

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Agent Carter:

Agent Carter’s trip into 1940s New York City is wonderfully sleek and crisp while still having the comic book style feel especially in Peggy’s iconic constant costume inspired by Captain America But each character looked incredibly stylish fabulous. Take a look for yourself.

costumes carter

Inspiring Moments:

Emma fights back against the Darkness (Once Upon a Time)

After seeing Emma struggle for so long with feelings of worthlessness, abandonment and feeling unloved, it was beyond moving and inspiring to not only see her fight back against the darkness trying to overtake her, but declare “I am not nothing! I was never nothing!” It was a monumental moment for her character as well as an example of hope that those who feel such despair can overcome these thoughts and that your life is worthy and important. 

Peggy knows her value (Agent Carter)

After a season determined to prove herself to her colleagues and earn the respect she deserves, it was inspiring to hear Peggy state that she knows her own value and that it’s not determined by the opinions of others. This is a very wise lesson we all should endeavor to remember. 

Musical Moments:

Gunnar and Scarlett sing “Longer” and “Wake Me Up When It’s Over” (Nashville)

We spoke of the beautiful chemistry of Scarlett and Gunnar and that despite what their characters are going through the moment they sing together magic happens. Why explain further when you can hear for yourself. These were their best moments.

“Lords of the Sea” (Galavant)

Just about every number and Galavant’s first season was golden but I must mention that the Pirate’s little shanty was so funny and clever that it deserves all the praise in the world.

Sexiest Couples:

Emma and Killian (Once Upon a Time)

What makes Emma and Killian so sexy is that the two actors have undeniably palpable chemistry, subtle nuances in their performances, and exude so much passion while doing so little. It is easy to be sexy in certain more obvious ways that the PG show doesn’t afford. But that is what makes them even sexier. Their kisses, intense glances, the way they touch, you always feel the intense magnetism between the characters, and for a couple who has not made love yet, that is remarkably beautiful. 

Ross and Demelza (Poldark)  

This beautiful couple had one of the sexiest scenes of the year when Demelza wore a fine dress that was not her own and asked Ross to help her unbutton it as he kissed her neck and gently caressed her back. So little was seen an yet it was a very steamy scene. Every amourous moment after exuded the love and passion they feel in ways that were subtly and tastefully done. Sometimes seeing less is far more alluring.

2015 Year in Review: Best Television Characters/Performances

Top 5 Female Characters/Performances

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

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Emma Swan has always been an amazing character and beautifully portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, but 2015 was a truly exceptional year. It began with the threat of the Savior’s heart turning dark and overcoming those threats only for, in true Savior form, Emma to sacrifice herself and take on the greatest evil of all time and become the Dark One. And while she struggled with the darkness, made mistakes, and took drastic measures, all was to destroy that darkness, and more importantly to save those she loves. Because she could not bear to lose him, to save Killian’s life she had to embrace the darkness and in the end still had to say goodbye to the man she loves. But she came out of all of these challenges and tragedy stronger. She was able to truly overcome so much of her feelings of insignificance as she not only truly embraced romantic love, but love of herself. She fights back and exclaims she is not nothing, she was never nothing. It was a powerful moment of self discovery that was very profound and inspiring. In Emma’s journey from Lost girl, to Savior, to a woman who is stronger than ever, she is braver and absolutely determined, with her heart completely open and willing to go to Hell and back to save Killian, embracing her family’s steadfast motto that they will always find the ones they love. This year has been quite an extraordinary journey for Emma and it was brought to life with grace, vitality and utter brilliance by Morrison. She is always done such stunning work but this year allowed her to explore both familiar and new territory with her character. As the newly transformed Dark One we saw the internal struggles, the torment, and the times darkness was able to disappear into moments of joy. As the Dark Swan, Morrison did something completely different than the Emma we know . Her demeanor was formal and posture very straight with a deliberate, slower gait, and a tendency to stand with her feet crossed. Her voice was lowered an octave and speech much slower, sometimes cold and yet there were always glimpses of the heart of the true Emma inside. The choices and performance were astonishing especially when the entire story and her motivations were revealed. Lastly, in the moments where Emma was losing the man she held so dear, the sheer pain and heartbreak was so painful and devastating that one could not help but shed as many tears as she. And when she discovered that her beloved’s sacrifice was in vain, her anger towards Rumple was frightening and absolutely fantastic. We saw an expression completely new for she has never felt this way in her entire life. You could feel every single emotion and Morrison delivered the best performance of the year for the show and beyond.

Memorable Quote: ” I am not nothing! I was never nothing! The power you have I don’t need!”

2. “Peggy Carter” portrayed by Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)

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Agent Carter the show rests on the shoulders of Peggy Carter the character and the performance by its star Hayley Atwell. And for that reason we have seen the show deliver poignant and dynamic television. Peggy is strong and brave no doubt, but it’s the moments of vulnerability even when she tries to push that aside that make her even stronger. It’s this moments when she is determined to gain the respect she deserves, all with dignity, that she becomes even braver. And it’s the moments when she says that she understands and knows her value and that everyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter that she becomes even more of an inspiration than she already was. Peggy Carter is exactly the kind of character television needs more of and Atwell really shines at breathing life into this modern woman living in a time where it was difficult for them to find equal respect in life. Atwell’s performance showcases Peggy’s many beautiful qualities – warmth, compassion, tenacity, gumption, physical and emotional strength with fantastic results and believability. Every single person that loves Steve Rogers and Captain America should be watching because after all he would say “Listen to Peggy.” She wanted to protect him but in the end found the courage to finally let him go. Peggy Carter may not always have garnered the credit she has earned many times over but the beauty of her character is that she knows what truly matters is that her self-worth is not determined by others.

Memorable Quote: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”

3. “Kimmy Schmidt” portrayed by Ellie Kemper (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

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There are so many words to describe the incomparable Kimmy Schmidt and Ellie Kemper’s performance: sweet, hilarious, uplifting, surprisingly inspiring, and realistic. Yet despite the extreme circumstances of her character and satirical nature of the show, Kimmy feels very grounded in realistic pathos and one could not help but relate to her feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and doubt, but also beautiful ability to look on the bright side of things and fight back against those who would try to keep her down. Did I mention this was a comedy? Yes – peppered throughout the hilarious, raucous, sometimes absurd plots, are these very real and relatable character traits. She is called “unbreakable “and the theme song says “females are strong as hell. “Ain’t that the truth! Kemper portrays Kimmy like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day and makes you believe that anything is possible. Life can be amazing. We should all endeavor to possess Kimmy’s fighting spirit.

Memorable Quote: “Just take it 10 seconds at a time. Everything will be okay.”

4. “Demelza Carne” portrayed by Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark)

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Lovely, angelic, compassionate, feisty, bold yet and insecure, Demelza is such a beautifully human character. Abused by her family, she never victimized herself and when the man she would eventually fall in love with gives her a job as a maid she finds her place with him and within the world. Through all her trials, she is always loving and brave even when others try to make her feel inferior. Tomlinson portrays her with ethereal radiance and grace but also grounded in a very sympathetic and realistic sense of insecurity and desire to be loved and find your place in society. Her goodness is admirable without feeling pious. Even when she thought her husband still carried a torch for his first love Elizabeth she still cared for her, her husband and their sick baby, never leaving their side until they were recovered. And in the process she and her own child became ill. Her poor daughter succumbed, but she survived, leaving her devastated and still hopeful that life can go on- that Ross and his cousin can mend fences and they can endure anything. Demelza’s strength is an inspiration.

Memorable Quote: “I don’t believe there’s ever cause to give up hope.”

5. “Laura Diamond” portrayed by Debra Messing (The Mysteries of Laura)

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In the underrated crime drama The Mysteries of Laura, Laura Diamond is one of the best homicide detectives in the NYPD, juggling being a single mother and sparring with her ex-husband who is now her partner. In 2015 she solidified what makes her such a dynamic, relatable and wonderful character demonstrating intelligence and ingenuity at her job, a sense of love and beginning of forgiveness toward her ex, and a realistic look at a modern woman balancing being a mom while maintaining a very important job. Sure it’s great when female police detectives are chic and sophisticated in demeanor and wardrobe, but what makes Laura Diamond so great is Messing’s very real, likeable and grounded performance. She is undeniably beautiful but also completely believable and practical in her dress. No stiletto heels or designer suits for her. Her attitude is strong but not closed off, understanding, sometimes stubborn, but usually right on the money, using whatever she must to solve her case. She feels like a real person- a woman who is intelligent, funny, loving and protective. If you’re not watching this show you definitely should.

Memorable Quote: “I’m desperate for any conversation that doesn’t include the words “homicide” or “pokemon”!”

Honorable mentions:

“Leslie Knope” portrayed by Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)

“Sue Heck” portrayed by Eden Sher (The Middle)

 

Top 5 Male Characters/Performances

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

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Much like his equally brilliant scene partner with much of the story, Jennifer Morrison, 2015 was a truly exceptional year for the character Captain Hook brought to the screen with a brilliant performance by Colin O’Donoghue as the character went through a very moving journey. Killian Jones is more than the pirate Hook. He is a hero and a good man who overcame his demons and continued to prove to be devoted, supportive, and loving towards his one true love Emma. Despite dark circumstances, the true heart of Killian always shined through, especially when he sacrificed himself twice to save Emma and her family. The latter came after he became the one thing he hated the most that he had been battling for centuries. Becoming the Dark One threw him right back into that darkness he took so long to overcome and feeling betrayed by Emma he let it consume him in the name of revenge. But the sight of her pain woke him up from the darkness as he decided once and for all to be man he wanted to be- the man he truly is. A man of honor. Asking Emma to kill him with Excalibur, he destroyed his metaphorical demons and the physical ones that threatened everyone he held dear, restoring Emma back to her true self. His noble sacrifice was the mark of age of true heroism and proved that love is not only stronger than greatest Darkness but also that Killian Jones is. This was a paramount moment for his character and the show and one that will never be forgotten While tragic and heartbreaking, it led Emma to vow to go to Hell and back and find and save him willing to share her heart with him. He once said he would to go to the end of the world for Emma and now she will do the same for him. Of course the journey would not hold as much poignancy if not for the stunning performance by a O’Donoghue who was given a multitude of opportunities to show his range and the many layers to his character. From Rumple posing as him with O’Donoghue brilliantly delivering nuances that mirrored Robert Carlyle, to the beautiful vulnerability of revealing his happy ending is Emma, and the sweet earnestness of the meek deckhand of the Alternate Universe, to the chilling ways in which the darkness took hold which also caused a change in demeanor and speech unlike anything we’ve seen, not even in his darker pirate days, O’Donoghe showcased moments of warmth anger, love, and strength with vigor and beauty. But it was the moments that Emma had to watch him die that O’Donoghue moved us to tears; we felt every breath of his struggles and emphasis on comfort believing that all that mattered was Emma’s future. His performance was nothing short of remarkable and truly, truly poignant. If anyone deserves to be rescued from the Underworld it is Killian Jones.

Memorable Quote: “I was weak. Now let me make up for it now by being strong. Let me die a hero. That’s the man I want you to remember, please.”

2. “Henry Morgan” portrayed by Ioan Gruffudd (Forever)

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Dr. Henry Morgan is such a special character and 2015 concluded Forever’s brilliant and beautiful one and only season with moving results for him in his varied relationships and incomparably unique, everlasting life. Intelligent, charming, resourceful and brave, Henry had to keep the truth about himself a secret but that did not alter his integrity as a doctor. In fact, living such a long life made him both realize how precious life is and not be afraid of death, especially if it meant protecting his son and his friend and partner Jo especially from the nefarious fellow immortal Adam. Perhaps the most touching moments came when Henry discovered the truth about his late wife Abigail, who died to protect the truth about him, and when he was prepared to die for his family at the hands of Adam himself. Throughout these moments Gruffudd proved to be deeply moving, charismatic and thoroughly gripping. Moments of pain, of realization, courage, humor, love, grief, and honesty, Henry is the type man that we all long to find in our real lives that have a time table. Gruffudd has played many wonderful characters but Henry Morgan may be the very best.

Memorable Quote: “What kills you, is not what causes your heart to stop beating. It’s what prevents you from living.”

3. “Ross Poldark” portrayed by Aidan Turner (Poldark)

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Perhaps the greatest thing about stalwart Captain Poldark is that all of his fine qualities (bravery, kindness, willingness to work hard and make his way in the world honestly, and be an honorable man) is mirrored with the very the human and realistic struggles and mistakes he makes. He married Demelza to do the right thing and while his feelings for her were true, the brevity of those took time making the moment he fell deeply in love with her feel so real and moving, finally moving past pining for his first love Elizabeth who married his cousin Francis. Speaking of which, his rashness and competitiveness came to the surface with this cousin, but what was admirable was his awareness of his faults and flaws and willingness to work to be a better man. Throughout all Turner, handsome and roguish, gave Ross a heartbeat and breadth of real feeling and poignancy. You would follow Ross Poldark into battle whether on the battlefield of war, or the drudgery of life, believing him, trusting him, admiring him. And we would all be better people because if it.

Memorable Quote: “I would rather fail fighting than throw up my hands and wait for the end.”

4. “Ron Swanson” portrayed by Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation)

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While the entire cast of Parks and Recreation was exceptional in its final season, there was something special about the final journey of Ron Swanson, the curmudgeonly libertarian who does what he wants and as he pleases, and always says he doesn’t like to talk to people. But in the end, he showcased a profound vulnerability and well earned sense of peace. When you discover the real reason for his falling out with Leslie one could not help but be touched. Deep down Ron loves his friends as if they were his family, even if he can’t always openly express it, and even when they have vastly different opinions on life and politics. When his final job allows him to be one with nature, you could see a man strong in his love of the natural world. Finding solace and fulfillment it was beautiful and Offerman gave Swanson a sense of sweetness paralleled with a hilarious, grumpy exterior – like a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt that we cannot help but love and were very sad to say goodbye to.

Memorable Quote: “Rangers, my name is Ronald Ulysses Swanson, your job and mine is to walk this land and make sure no one harms it. If you show up on time, speak honestly, and treat everyone with fairness we will get along just fine. Though hopefully not too fine as I’m not looking for any new friends. End of speech.”

5.”Rumpelstiltskin” portrayed by Robert Carlyle (Once Upon a Time)

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In 2015, Rumpelstiltskin continued to be a fascinating character with both new and familiar dynamics and as wonderful a performance by Carlyle as we always expect him to give. We saw him descend into darkness so far that his blackened heart was literally killing him, saved and spared and given a blank slate, and forced into finding his courage so he can pull Excalibur from the stone for Emma. And while he did find that courage and was heroic for Belle, and in the end, selfless as he sent her out of Storybrooke for her safety, his heroism still felt rushed and we discover there was a very distinct reason for that. When the opportunity presented itself he could not resist getting his power back willing to let Emma sacrifice herself and stood idly by while Killian instead made that choice to destroy the darkness, or so he thought. Rumple betrayed everyone and while it was shocking at first, in hindsight it revealed a truth about his character we never should have forgotten. He is the main villain of the series, addicted to power, capable of goodness but unable or unwilling to maintain it. Because of the impeccable performance (which also included the brilliant move to have him appear in the mind of the new Dark Ones as a flamboyant, funny, cheeky but still sinister version of Rumpelstiltskin), we could feel both empathy for him such as when he revealed how undeserving he felt of Belle’s love and forgiveness, and frustration and disappointment when he once again chose power and himself over doing the right thing. You hate what he does but love to watch him do it, because as always Rumpelstiltskin is a fascinating villain and I’m glad he is the Dark One again from a storytelling and acting standpoint. For only in the end should the Dark One be destroyed; whether Rumple will be as well or he finally redeems himself will be very dramatic to witness.

Memorable Quote: Emma: “You found a loophole, betrayed us all again.”

Rumple: “It’s what I do. It’s the man I am.”

Honorable Mentions:

“Edwin Jarvis” portrayed by James D’arcy (Agent Carter)

“Barry Goldberg” portrayed by Troy Gentile (The Goldbergs)

 

2015 Year in Review: Best Television Relationships

First of all, I wanted to thank all of you for making the first year at The Girly Nerd so special. Granted it has not been around for a year, but I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my fellow wonderful writers and venture into discussing what were some of the Bests of 2015. To begin with are the Best Relationships of the year. Because I do not watch quite as many shows as some, and because I think many different kinds of relationships deserve to be praised, this list not only features romantic couples, but also friendships and familial relationships. I also decided to just do one per show, but I make up for it in the Honorable Mentions. So without further ado, here are the relationships that made 2015 enthralling, beautiful and moving.

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

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Emma and Killian’s relationship has always been beautiful, captivating and relatable, having developed naturally and steadily over the past 4 seasons. But 2015 brought their relationship to a deeply profound level as we saw two people who were once so lost and broken find a love so true that their wounded hearts are now willing to be completely open and vulnerable. It has been evident for quite some time how much Killian loves Emma, and this year we saw in abundance just how much she truly loves him.  Kindred spirits in every way, they have a deep understanding of one another and the ability to provide comfort, unfailing support, and passionate affection to each other. In this year alone we witnessed Killian telling Emma she is his happy ending, romantic walks, heartfelt promises, adventures in an alternate reality, first declarations of love, the bestowing of a precious ring, and the choosing of a house that represents their future together, as well kisses amongst hundreds of flowers, their names residing next to each other on a blade that was once the Holy Grail, and a love that literally ignited the first spark of mankind. Contrasted with romantic and light moments were also ones of tragedy, heartbreak and sacrifice, bringing their love story this year to epic proportions. With darkness thrust upon them, they both became Dark Ones, and we saw how they are able to chase away that darkness when reminded of  their love, trust and belief in each other. And even when they faltered with Emma nearly crushing a heart, saving Killian’s life by turning him into a Dark One and then not being honest with him, and Killian letting the darkness consume him in a quest for revenge, they were able to be brought back to the light, solidifying moving truths about their characters individually and as couple. Emma was able to let him go and vow to save him with love, not darkness, and Killian nobly sacrificed himself to save Emma and her family, destroying the darkness within themselves, and believing they were vanquishing that evil forever. Even though that latter was in vain, the sacrifice was not because it epitomized what makes their story so beautiful.  Through love they have been able to overcome their metaphorically demons, and now they were able to overcome physical ones- and they did so together. Tragic as this was, doesn’t that make it all the more special? Emma is now marching into the Underworld to save his life. Willing to go to Hell and back and share her heart with him, their story is as romantically epic as one can be. In 2015, Emma and Killian literally defeated a dragon together, and overcame the greatest darkness that ever was. Killian sacrificed himself twice for Emma and her future, and Emma is marching into the Underworld to save him proclaiming her family’s motto “I will always find you.” There are many moving and beautiful love stories, but the one between Emma Swan and Killian Jones is the kind of story that fairy tale dreams are made of.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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2. Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis (Agent Carter)

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From the moment these two characters met I knew I would love their relationship. From the mutual respect and witty banter, to the way they make a perfect team, Peggy and Jarvis are the indeed heart of the Marvel series. What I love most is that it is a relationship that is completely platonic. They obviously have a great connection, ability to work well together, and affection for each other, but prove that not every relationship is meant to be romantic. Instead we see the importance and beauty that friendship can have. Every scene between these two is golden, whether they be serious or light, and help to bring a real sense of gravity to the show.  They spent this first season in a variant of situations: suspended in the air, handcuffed together, in car chases, preparing to break through a window with a table (a classic one) and countless intrigues and moments of hilarious subterfuge, each utterly engaging, exciting and even moving. For a character that felt invisible at work, Jarvis gives Peggy the respect and sense of equal footing she deserves, and there is no greater sense of respect and trust on the series than between these two characters. Perhaps the most touching moment was when Jarvis revealed that he lied to his boss Howard Stark about the whereabouts of Steve Rogers’ blood, bestowing the vile to Peggy because she is one person in the world who knows what to do which such a gift. It was a beautiful moment and epitomized the loveliness of a friendship based on sincere kindness, esteem and integrity.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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3. Ross Poldark and Demelza Carne (Poldark)

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There is something so special about period drama romance and couples, especially unlikely ones between people of different stations in life. Nowadays we are used to these kinds of relationships, so there needs to be something that makes them stand apart from the others. Ross and Demelza surely fit the bill. They are beautiful, sexy, and truly touching as their story developed over the first season of this stunning series. He rescued her from abuse and she became his kitchen maid but it was not long before we could see how much she adored him, and the growing attraction between them culminated in one of the sexiest scenes of the year as they succumb to that attraction as he helps her out of a gown. Beyond that attraction their love grew into something very deep and profound. On Christmas she sings a song and in that moment we saw the moment Ross realized how much he had fallen in love with her. It was sweet and tear inducing and laid the foundation for the love that grew deeper and deeper from that moment on with such swoon worthy lines such as “Come back to me my love.” She helped him to be a better man and he helped her come of her shell and become more confident, as they dealt with joys and blessings, hardships and tragedies. Their season ends with heartbreak as they lose their first child and Ross is arrested for a crime for which he is innocent, but we are still left with a sense of hope that they can overcome anything together.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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4. Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito (Castle)

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The partnership between detectives Ryan and Esposito has always been one of the best things about Castle and in 2015 we saw how much this relationship means to them, and indeed everyone on the show. It has always been the case with these characters, but this year especially solidified the importance of this type of relationship. They are more than just friends. They are partners. They are brothers. I don’t pretend to be an expert on police proceedings and dynamics but I do know that the relationship between partners is one of utmost importance. The best not only get along but know each other as well as spouses and family members. They always have each other’s back and are willing to risk their life for the other. Ryan and Esposito most definitely fall under all of these categories and what was special this year was that as they were struggling with feelings of resentment and anger, they were able to work through these conflicts and realize how much they mean to each other. When they both took the sergeants exam only Esposito passed, and then Ryan accidentally shot his partner. Of course things were tense after these events but when Ryan saved Esposito’s life, taking a bullet for his partner, they could see how petty they were being. You know things are serious when they use each other’s first names and in these moments that concluded 2015, we Javier is so grateful for his partner Kevin who took a bullet for him even though Kevin has a wife, a child, and another on the way. They are family and nothing will ever change that. And of course I would be remiss if I failed to mention how many laugh out loud moments these detectives also provided the show in 2015 especially a dance routine choreographed to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” resulting in one of the best moments of the series. In truth we are the lucky ones whenever these two grace our screens!

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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5. Henry and Abraham Morgan (Forever)

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Even though this wonderful, enthralling show is no longer on the air, it did conclude its first and only season in 2015, and this relationship just had to be included. Certainly one of the most unique shows ever, this relationship is unlike any we have ever seen. It is a father and a son relationship between an immortal man and a son who is now much older than his Dad. Adopted by Henry and his wife as a baby and survivor of the Holocaust, Abraham is the only living person (besides the show’s nefarious villain and other immortal) that knew Henry’s secret and their dynamic provided much of the lightness and humor but also very moving moments of the series. The relationship between father and son is always complex and complicated and indeed giving their circumstances Henry and Abraham’s certainly is, but what was lovely was that despite this you never once doubt how much they love each other and will do anything to protect one another. When Abraham began looking into his heritage it was moving to hear him say that he “does not need a family tree to know who is Pops is.” Of course when they found out that they are in truth distantly related, they were elated and began seeing a family resemblance between them. It was a moment that expressed that some people are truly meant to be a part of our lives. For a man that lives forever, the love between Henry and his son Abraham is more precious that those countless years without him.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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6. Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt (Parks and Recreation)

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From the moment these two adorable, intelligent nerds came together, our hearts and our television screens were made brighter. It is a privilege to watch comedy at its finest as well as a story that presents two people who love and respect each other as much as Leslie and Ben do. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to this delightful show, but in its 7th and final season, this couple continued to shine as one of the best on television. From their hilarious banter and ways they find each other sexy, to them breaking down gender and workplace stereotypes with absolute and refreshing truths, to the ways they continue to show each other unfailing support in their political careers, Leslie and Ben showcased a relationship we all can aspire to. In the final episode of the series they both planned to run for office and decided to flip and coin to see who would do so. Ben won but as they announce the news to their friends Ben proclaims that Leslie is running and the knowing look between them was beautiful. He knew how much it meant to her and so it was an easy decision. As they fast forward many years into the future it is alluded that one of them is President. Which one was uncertain, but it does not matter because we know that whoever it is, the love, high esteem and support for each other has not faltered one bit. Who wouldn’t want a love like Leslie and Ben.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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7. Patrick Jane and Teresa Lisbon (The Mentalist)

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It took 7 seasons, but in the crime drama’s final bow, the unlikely partners of Jane and Lisbon finally became an official couple and we could not have been happier. Having gone through so much together, the best part of the final moments of the series were the ones that showed how two people who were very guarded and lost so much could find a sense of solace and peace with each other. They will always protect each other, and we now know they will always love each other. With the threat of Red John no longer plaguing them, there were still those who threatened their new relationship. An even though they struggled with moments of trust, in the end it was clear that they belong together. Patrick and Teresa finally learned to let go of their pasts and vowed to always look on the bright side of things. Smiles were rare for them but in the last episode we saw them happier than we ever had. As the two were wed and Lisbon revealed that she was pregnant in a quiet moment alone together, their expressions of pure joy were incredibly touching. The show’s final image was of Jane hugging his bride with a smile unlike any we have ever seen from his character. It was a beautiful showcase of the beautiful way that finding that one special person who can make your life better. Cue many, many tears.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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8. Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes (Downton Abbey)

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As this wonderful period drama prepares to take its final bow, we must revisit it’s next to last season, also known as the one whether the two very proper head servants to Downtown Abbey finally came together. It was clear they always held in each in high regard, but when the two began looking into buying a cottage together to rent out to travelers and tenants, I could not help but see and hope that these two would finally realize they have true feelings for each other. In the final episode of the season we see the normally all too proper and serious Mr. Carson show a real moment of vulnerability as he assures Mrs. Hughes that he wants to be stuck with her. He proposes marriage and after her initial shock she happily accepts saying she thought he would never ask. We don’t often see love stories from characters like this, but if they are all as realistic and sweet as this one, I say there should be more. But of course Carson and Mrs. Hughes would remain steadfast in our hearts as one of the best relationships from this lovely and captivating series.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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9. Scarlett O’Connor and Gunnar Scott (Nashville)

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I will openly admit that I have not seen every episode of Nashville (although I would love to one day when I can). I came into the series late and one of the first big draws for me was relationship and chemistry between Scarlett and Gunnar. It was clear to me they still cared deeply for each other and frankly belonged together. Although they have spent 2015 in other relationships, two things remain true: their ability to be friends, and the musical magic they make together. Even if it was frustrating when we saw them with other people all was forgiven when they would take the stage together. Moreover, we saw that despite Gunnar’s feelings he was able to let them go for her sake and just be her friend as she was grieving the loss of her mother. He even helped her boyfriend write a song to help her with her sorrow and took no credit  for it. That kind of selflessness was echoed in the year’s final episode when he said they could make the band work even if she wanted to move to Seattle. All that mattered to him was her happiness. We can see that Scarlett wants to find that kind of selflessness in a relationship, and clearly she did not have that with her doctor boyfriend. This was a sign of hope that 2016 may being these crazy kids back together again.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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10. Danny Wheeler and Riley Perrin (Baby Daddy)

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If there was one word to describe the relationship between these two best friends in 2015 it would be “finally!” It was always clear that despite Danny’s unrequited feelings for Riley and her pining for his younger brother Ben that these two were meant to be. Although it took a long time to get them to this place, when the truths were finally laid out on the table they came together in both a funny and lovely ways. As they both cried watching The Princess Bride claiming this was their favorite movie, Riley watching in tears while boyfriend Ben was asleep and Danny unbeknownst to them a few rows back, also in tears, it was so obvious that this was the fairy tale that was meant to be. Danny always said he wanted to be her Prince Charming and her hero. When they met as children she said he was as he carried her home after she sprained her ankle. It only took 20 years for her to realize that his love was not unrequited. She loved him too and they showed us just how lovely it is when you fall in love with your best friend.

Memorable Moments in Gifs

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Honorable Mentions:

Killian Jones and Henry Mills (Once Upon a Time)

I could not adore the relationship between Killian and Henry more. This year we saw glimpses of what the step dad and son dynamic would be like for them and it as absolutely delightful. Their adventures together in the Alternate reality warmed my heart as Henry told him he has a great sailing teacher in him and it was so sweet seeing the playful teasing Killian gave the lad when Henry was experiencing his first crush. But the sweetest and most tear inducing moment happened off screen. They two developed a mission together- Operation Light Swan- a project which included finding a house in Storybrooke for Emma and Killian to live in together. It was a promise for the future- a future of love and family that would of course include Henry. This was truly touching as we see just how much Henry has grown to care for her mother’s beau. He looked devastated when Killian sacrificed himself, so it is only natural that he too joins his family in the quest to rescue him. I look forward to 2016 bringing many more Captain Cobra moments as Henrys as already developed a new mission to find and save Killian! Two missions planned and two that will surely succeed because Henry’s operations never fail.

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Regina Mills and Robin Hood (Once Upon a Time)

The outlaw and the queen have had to deal with some rough and unusual circumstances this year when she found him in New York City and he realized his wife was actually Regina’s wicked sister Zelena in disguise, now pregnant with his child. Less than ideal circumstances to say the least it did not deter them from wanting to be together nor alter their feelings for each other. In fact they only grew stronger as they dealt with these hard times with maturity and understanding. It was lovely to see light moments together as they shared dances and kisses in Camelot contrasted with a very profound moments when Robin’s life was on the line and Regina offered her own in his place. These soul mates clearly would do anything for each other , solidifying them as another beautiful couple on the show about true love and happy endings.

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Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson (Parks and Recreation)

Besides Leslie and Ben without a doubt my favorite relationship on Parks has always been between Leslie and Ron. They could not be more different in political views and personality, but they proved that people who are complete and total opposites can actually be good and true fiends. In this show’s final season it began with a great rift between them. They refused to speak to each other. It wasn’t until their friends locked them in the Parks Department that they were able to work through their differences. It was not only the best episode of the season, but was the epitome of what made their dynamic so wonderful. Of course Leslie was all gun ho from the start and Ron tried his best to resist but in the end we learned why he was so angry. Their lives had changed and people were taken away and it hurt him greatly. It took a great deal to admit it and be vulnerable but that was beauty in it. They show us that not only those with differing opinions can respect each other but also be lifelong friends. It is a fine lesson that is deeply felt.

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And so concludes the first list in the “Best of 2015” Stay tuned for more of the Best of the Best very soon…

Once Upon a Time: “Broken Heart” Further Thoughts

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

Moments of Truth:

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

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

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Moments of Vulnerability:

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

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

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

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The Cutest Dark Ones Ever!

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

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The Field of Middle Mist Flowers:

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

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“I Love You–I Love You, Too”:

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

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What love stories are made of:

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

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

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

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

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

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Endless Wedding Foreshadowing:

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

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Hands Entwined:

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

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Killian vs. Rumplestiltskin:

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

Team Plan vs. Team Flip:

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

Killian’s heroics & good deeds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Helped Emma forgive her parents for lying to her.

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

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

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

– Helped Emma quiet the darkness inside her.

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

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

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