Once Upon a Time: The Most Romantic Captain Swan Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reader Favorites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016 Year in Review: Best Televison Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7. Lucifer Morningstar and Chloe Decker (Lucifer)deckerstardeckerstar1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2016 Year in Review: Best Television Characters/Performances

Top 5 Female Characters/Performances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 5 Male Characters/Performances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Tyler Knott Gregson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“I Will Always Find You, You Will Always Come Back to Me:” The Journeys Of Captain Swan, Snowing and the Charming Family

“I will always find you.” It’s a quote that has become synonymous with Once Upon a Time. A beautiful sentiment that encompasses love stories both romantic and familial and one that is the very heart of the series. Before the second half of Season 5 began, I wrote about this as Emma echoing the line was a moving way of bringing the theme for circle. I wrote:

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What is beautiful is that while this may have began with Snow White awakened by Prince Charming, the concept of finding each other is undeniably part of the Charming family as a whole.

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It always has been and always will be something the characters reiterate time and time again, so that when Emma says the iconic line vowing to find Killian, it not only solidifies Emma’s love for Killian as the type of strong and steadfast affection that she shares with her parents and her son, but also that Killian is now included as part of this family.

When examining the series as a whole, it’s clear that the “I will always find you” concept is abundant and strong. But what is remarkable is that this is not the only concept that is reiterated time and time again with the romantic and family stories of Emma and Killian, Snow and David, Henry and Emma, and the Charming Family as a whole. “I will always find you” could continue with “you will always come back to me.” And what is also remarkable is not only the consistency in which these two concepts are employed, but also that they are linked and share a similar pattern. Although there are some exceptions, it is usually David who finds Snow, Henry who finds Emma, and Emma who finds Killian. While it does vary, they all come back to each other, often demonstrating striking parallels. Importantly, the concepts are both physical and emotional, while the number of times we see these motifs are astounding, showcasing a clear inherent trait to these characters and their journeys with Snow and Charming initiating, Henry and the family continuing and finally Emma and Killian solidifying these exquisite themes transcending and propelling them to new heights, giving, unsurprisingly, the Savior the most remarkable love story of all  in terms of just how much this patterns is showcased . But make no mistake these are all connected, meant to be so, each story building upon the other and written as such to express what the true love you find with a lover and with your family can and should encompass. Let’s explore each and every journey and the ways these characters will always find and come back to each other.

Snow White and Prince Charming:

1×1 Pilot:
The very first scene of the series is Charming finding Snow. Her gives her a True Love’s Kiss and she comes back to him and he says the iconic line is “I Will Always Find You.”

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1×3 Snow Falls:
In the Enchanted Forest, the first meeting of Snow and Charming was a memorable one and Charming vows and makes good on his promise to always find her– at first meant in a non romantic way- but establishing the concept from the very beginning of their relationship.

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Later, their journey took a romantic turn when the two are battling trolls. As they try to escape Snow realizes he is not with her, comes back to Charming and saves his life (Something that is repeated even when the timeline is altered in 3×22).

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At the ending of the episode, the iconic line then changes to a romantic one and the rest is history.

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In Storybrooke, Mary Margaret finds David, nearly drowned, saying “No, no no I found you!” She performs CPR and a bit of a kiss, and asks him to come back to her (Something that is later paralleled to Emma and Killian).

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It’s important to note that with the exception of the next episode, Snow (Mary Margaret) pleading for Charming (David) to come back to her established the pattern and he is the one who does so multiple times, something that is later paralleled with Emma and Killian’s relationship, but on a grander scale.

1×16 Heart of Darkness:
Charming finds Snow, who has no memory of him. He tries True Love’s Kiss, but is knocked out by the princess. But after he risks his own like to protect her heart, she kisses him and she comes back to him. As Regina’s guards approach they take Charming away and Snow now echoes the line he first said.

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1×21 An Apple Red as Blood:
Snow thinks she finds Charming, but only finds his reflection, as he is in another castle. Wondering is this will always be their life, Charming assures her that they will truly find each other again.

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1×22 A Land Without Magic:
After the curse is broken Snow and Charming find each other and echo the same lines they said in the Pilot.

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2×8 Into the Deep:
Putting himself under a sleeping curse, Charming finds Snow in the Netherworld and gives Snow the hope she needs that they will always find each other.

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2×9 The Queen of Hearts:
After a separation Snow and Charming both come back to each other, she returning to Storybrooke, he after she awakens him with True Love’s Kiss.

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3×5 Good Form:
After Charming had left Snow for what he thought would be the last time, he comes back to her, cured from the dreamshade poisoning, thanks to Hook (A situation later very much akin to Emma and Killian in Season 4 when he has his heart returned).

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3×19 A Curious Thing:
After sacrificing his heart to enact the dark curse, Charming comes back to Snow when gives shes him half of her heart.

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3×21/22 Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home:
Much like Snow Falls, despite the timeline being altered Snow and Charming’s story plays out in a very similar way, with the same lines being echoed and their story arriving back at the same place.

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Emma and Henry and The Charming Family:
Although the frequency of the pattern is less so with Emma and her son, the important thing is that in the first season we see the first and last episode employ both concepts and from that moment on the entire family begins to work more as a unit, slowly but surely encompassing the finding and coming back to each other. We see this verbally and physically and eventually it becomes part of Emma in a more substantial way most especially in her romantic journey with Killian. But first let’s look at Emma’s family.

1×1 Pilot:
Henry finds Emma in Boston and she comes back with him to Storybrooke.

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Charming places a newborn Emma into the wardrobe and whispers “Find Us” sending her into the Land Without Magic.

1×22 A Land Without Magic:
After willingly falling under a sleeping curse, Henry comes back to Emma when she gives him True Love’s Kiss and breaks the curse on Storybrooke.

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2×1 Broken:
Seeing their daughter for the first time since the curse is broken, Snow and Charming embrace Emma, Snow saying “You Found Us” a moving line as Charming’s last words spoken to her as a baby were for her to find them.

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2×2 We Are Both:
Charming assures Henry that he knows Emma and Snow are okay and that he will find them, as he always does.

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3×8/9 Think Lovely Thoughts/Save Henry:
After finally finding Henry in Neverland and battling Pan, Henry’s heart is returned to him and he comes back to his entire family.

4×2 White Out:
Giving Elsa hope, Charming says what their family does is find people– importantly with family surrounding him: Snow, Emma. Henry and Killian.

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4×22/23 Operation Mongoose:
One by one Henry finds members of his family (Regina, Killian and Emma) in the alternate universe to try to set things right. Significantly Henry finds Emma with Killian’s help and she not only remembers her son but with a bright smile of pride and love relays that beautiful hopeful line that her family has come to embody “I knew you’d find me” because that’s what their family always does.

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Captain Swan and The Charming Family:

The pattern of “I will always find you” and “you will always come back to me” was firmly established by Snow and Charming, Henry and the Charming family, so that when Emma was ready to open her heart romantically, she would find someone who fits into this so mold perfectly. And that is by design – Killian was meant to be her romantic true love and the ways in which they not only follow this, but propel these themes to new depths and intensity are significant and beautiful. And it’s also by design that it is simply intrinsically part of their characters individually. Since the beginning Emma has inherently followed in the genetic footsteps of her family mentality. It’s a part of the her make up and importantly was in her without her ever having known her parents growing up – only a whisper from her father when she was minutes old of “find us.” But as we have seen since day one and something that has continued as more pieces of her past have been revealed, finding people is what she does. Mary Margaret asks her about this in Episode 3 Snow Falls.

Mary Margaret: It’s an interesting job- finding people. How’d you fall into it?
Emma: Looking for people is just what I’ve done- for as long as I can remember.
Mary Margaret: What made you start? You’re parents? Henry told me that you were from a similar situation to his own.
Did you ever find them?
Emma: Depends who you ask.

And we later learn in 5×20 Firebird that as a young adult she was trying to find her parents, shifting that desire to her new job as a bail bonds person. This was always a part of her. As for Killian, something inherently part of his character is that he is a survivor, having lived for over 300 years thanks to Neverland, curses and a lucky ring (and perhaps even more that we don’t know). His ability to survive is in no small part to his tenacity, and it makes him someone who could always come back. But it’s more than being a survivor. It’s the fierceness and the brevity with which he feels that makes Killian someone who fits the mold of the Charming family so perfectly. The romantic journey of Emma and Killian starts out in the same steady progression as its predecessors.

2×5 The Doctor:
Emma finds Hook laying among Cora’s deceased victims (now a foreshadow to Emma finding Killian among the dead in the Underworld). It’s important to note that despite 3 other characters bring there, Emma is the one to find him, with the camera making a deliberate shot of Killian turning his head to look up at Emma. This was only the beginning.

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2×12 In the Name of the Brother:
Both a case of finding and coming back, Emma is the one to find Killian on the side of the road, he coming back to her in a way after she left him via a portal in the Enchanted Forest, thinking he had no way to follow.

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2×22 And Straight On Til Morning:
After taking the last magic bean, planning to leave Storybrooke to its fate, Killian comes back to Emma and the rest of the Charming Family. Importantly, this is after Emma offers him a chance to be a part of something- essentially to be part of the town. That, combined with him offering his ship to help follow Henry to Neverland, is the first step of Killian becoming part of this family. And you cannot help but notice the deliberate way the camera pans onto to Emma specifically as she sees that it is he who is coming back.

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3×1 The Heart of the Truest Believer
After nearly drowning, Emma comes back to her family, the camera panning to Killian multiple times as he looks on relieved.

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3×11 Going Home:
After a tearful but heartfelt goodbye in Storybrooke for what they believed would be forever, Killian does both things in a sense. He finds and comes back to Emma in New York one year later, trying True Love’s Kiss to restore her memories.

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3×12 New York City Serenade:
Determined to help restore her memories, Killian finds Emma at a restaurant on her date with Walsh. Later, she finds him in the park and then the police station and after an impassioned speech Emma takes a leap of faith and drinks the memory potion Killian gives to her. Emma’s memory is restored and her true self comes back to Killian. Later, over a shared drink Killian admits that he came back to save her.

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3×13 Witch Hunt:
As she said at the end of the previous episode, Emma once again relates how “Hook found me.”

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3×20 Kansas:
In a beautiful parallel to Snow and Charming, Killian nearly drowns and Emma saves his life pleading for him to come back to her. And he does. Also interesting is the way Zelena phrases her remark to them, “Instead of of looking for each other.” Shouldn’t it be looking at each other? This is obviously a commentary by the writers of the way they are always looking for and finding each other.

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3×21 Snow Drifts:
In Storybrooke Killian finds Emma on a bench and the two have a heart to heart about what home truly is.

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3×22 There’s No Place Like Home:
When Emma and Killian return from their trip to the past the first thing Emma does is run to find her parents and embraces them when she finds them in Granny’s. She had found her family and her home and missed them terribly.

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But minutes later Emma turns and looks wistful because someone is not there- the one missing person. You don’t have a home until you miss it. Well, Emma missed Killian’s presence so she goes in search of him and found him sitting alone outside of Granny’s. He finally reveals that he was able to find her with the use of a magic bean that he traded his ship for. And she kisses him- letting down her walls and opening her heart. She had found her home with her parents, her son, and now with Killian. Of course this was just the official beginning of their relationship and there was more to come.

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4×2 White Out:
After being trapped in an ice cave with Elsa, Emma’s new friend frees them both and Emma comes back to a relieved Killian, falling into his embrace as they cling tightly to each other.

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4×8 Smash the Mirror:
After deciding to keep her magic Killian finds Emma in the Sorcerer’s Mansion, hugging her fiercely.

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4×9/11 Fall/Heroes and Villians:
A heartless Killian says goodbye to Emma for what he believes will be the last time. Kissing her passionately, she can sense something is not right with him. After discovering Gold’s deception Emma finds Killian, whose heart was just saved by Belle. When they are alone Emma places Killian’s heart back into his chest and Killian comes back to her, once again kissing her passionately, but now as his complete self.

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4×15 Poor Unfortunate Soul:
Once again Killian comes back to Emma after nearly drowning, this time revealing to her that she is his happy ending.

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By the time we reach the end of Season 4 and head into Season 5 there is no doubt that Emma and Killian are deeply in love, but the ways in which the relationship follows the pattern is not only beautiful but remarkable in the ways they continually find and come back to each other. In season 5 we often have Emma’s soul and Killian’s life in danger, as well as both so often asking them to come back to them in other words. It takes a while and it is an emotional concept but in 5A this is prevalent. In 5B, it is more of a physical concept as the finding and coming back continues in a significant way not only for them as a couple but for each of them as a family. Emma and Killian not only parallel Emma’s parents, but take it to a new level, and eventually reaching a point where Killian is undeniably part of Emma’s family.

4×22 Operation Mongoose:
This is the episode that began to propel the pattern between Killian, Emma and her family to a new level with the number of times each concept was both emphasized and employed. In the alternate universe, Henry finds Killian and then the two venture to rescue Emma and find her locked away in a tower. In a deleted scene Henry emphasizes that he was able to find her with the help of Hook, and when they retreat down the tower Emma runs right into Killian’s arms.

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To save Emma and Henry, Killian sacrifices himself, leaving Emma devastated. When things are restored and they return to Storybrooke, Emma finds Killian in the loft who has come back to her, happily embracing him. This is the first time Killian dies and then comes back to Emma, and the second time he does after a near death experience, the first being when she saves him from drowning in Kansas.

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Season 4 ends on a dramatic note setting up the repeated and combined pattern for Emma and Killian as she saves everyone by becoming the Dark One, disappearing and leaving only the dagger with her name now inscribed on it behind. As the camera pans to Killian we are left knowing that Emma not only must be found, but her true self will have to come back to her family.

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5×1 The Dark Swan:
When Emma is transported to the Enchanted Forest her family does everything they can to reach her. They all find her, but importantly it is Killian who calls out “Swan!” and approaches her first. As Emma is struggling with the dark voice inside her head and nearly crushes Merida’s heart, Killian is able to break through and she comes back to him, returning Merida’s heart and falling into Killian’s arms.

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5×2 The Price:
In Storybroooke, Emma finds Killian after he summons her and she takes him to her house. He tries to get the real Emma to come back to him by attempting True Love’s Kiss. This is one of the many times throughout 5A Killian tries to bring the real Emma back. In this case he’s unaware TLK could not work because they are both Dark Ones.

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5×3 Siege Perilous:
In Storybrooke, Emma once again finds Killian, this time on the Jolly Roger, asking him to meet her as she tries to recreate their first date. And once again Killian wants to real Emma to come back to him telling her that the Emma he loves isn’t here. As Emma isn’t ready to reveal the truth and Killian tells her he loved her, Emma leaves. This is the second occurrence of the frequent pattern of finding and an attempt for Emma to come back to Killian in an emotional regard. In Storybrooke these instances are very different than Camelot, and we slowly learn why.

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5×4 The Broken Kingdom:
In Camelot, Killian finds Emma late at night struggling with the voice of Rumplestlskin taunting her in her head. He approaches her slowly and holds her tenderly trying to once again bring the real Emma back, but still unaware of her plight.

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Later when she tells him about this voice, he devises a way to help her- to quiet the darkness so the real Emma, at least in some sense, can come back to him. He takes her for a horse ride and then leads her in to a field of flowers, and it works. The voice is gone and Emma feels less burdened because she can share it will Killian. The two then share a passionate and romantic kiss, with the darkness, for now, kept at bay.

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5×7 Nimue:
Before Emma departs with Merlin to obtain the Promethean flame, Killian reminds Emma that only “The Dark One” is immortal, asking her to bring the real Emma home – to come back to him– giving her a ring that has kept him safe as a reminder of his love for her.

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5×8 Birth:
In Storybrooke, Emma continually finds Killian when he was in “danger” in order to gain his trust, finally reveal the truth and destroy the darkness. In Camelot, after refusing to admit why she is scared to give up the darkness whilst Regina uses the dagger to force her to, Killian finds Emma in the forest, upset, with the Promethean flame still not lit. With understanding, Emma tells him the truth and once again he is able to get the real Emma to come back to him, as she lets go of her fears of the future. Kissing Killian, the Promethean flame alights as she is ready to rid herself of the darkness and start her future with Killian.

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At the end of the episode, Killian’s wound opens and to save his life Emma tether’s him to Excalibur, setting up the next episode for the pattern to continue.

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5×10 Broken Heart:
After tethering him to Excalibur, Emma finds the new Dark One Killian in the Camelot forest. Angry, with the unrelenting the voice of Rumple in his head, it is now Emma who is able to break through the darkness and get the real Killian to come back to her, quieting he darkness and then sharing a kiss, paralleling their moment in 5×4.

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After Killian’s learns Emma lied to him about Excalibur, he feels betrayed and lets the darkness overtake him. Nimue, through him, is able to kill Merlin to enact the Dark Curse, so Emma puts all her loved ones to sleep and erases their memories. Before the curse sends them back home, Emma cradles Killian’s face and says when they wake up he will be his true self- the man she loves, the man who loves her. She is asking him once again to come back to her.

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5×11 Swan Song:
A pivotal and emotional chapter in their journey, this episode not only has Emma and Killian’s true selves coming back to each other, but the monumental and moving moment of Emma uttering her family’s steadfast motto. In Storybrooke, Nimue and all the other Dark One’s have taken over as Killian’s allows the darkness to consume him. But when Nimue chokes Emma and he sees he in pain, Killian fights back. He comes back to Emma, absorbing all of the darkness into Excalibur and sacrificing his life to save Emma and everyone else. His sacrifice allows the real Emma to come back to Killian as she magically transforms back into the Savior. True Love proved stronger than darkness, but Killian loses his life.

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Heartbroken and numb as to what to do next, Emma learns Killian’s sacrifice did not destroy the darkness but instead channeled it back into Rumplestlskin, so Emma vows to got to the Underworld to get him back. Ready to save the man she loves and fight for her happy ending, Emma speaks those iconic words “I Will Always Find You,” for the first time expressing in words what she and Killian have been doing since they first met, but now fully committed. These words not only demonstrate Emma’s love and that she undeniably has embraced her family’s intrinsic motto, but it also sets up the continued pattern and places Killian firmly into the Charming Family.

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In the second half of Season 5, Emma and Killian’s journey not only continues to be prevalent with these beautiful concepts, but also with Henry even more than he once did, and Snow and Charming. They include Killian as part of their family in the way they continually emphasize finding him. Even though they must leave him behind in the end, the season ends in a VERY significant way with all of the family members.

5×12 Souls of the Departed:
Entering the Underworld, Emma and her loved ones try to find Killian and use the ale of Dunbroch to communicate with him. Severely injured the connection with Killian  is unsteady, leaving Emma devastated. But Snow and Charming implore they will find him and not leave until they so. Together.

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5×14 Devil’s Due:
In the depths of the Underworld Emma finds Killian and saves him from the River of Lost Souls. Although he says she should have let him go, in this moment he comes back to Emma as they cling to each other.

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5×15 The Brothers Jones:
Feeling unworthy of saving and unable to forgive himself of his sins, Killian tells Emma he does not plan to return home to Storybrooke with her. But after an emotional and illuminating reunion with his brother Liam, Killian learns to do just that. In the end he comes back to Emma, passionately kissing her, ready for their future together.

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5×20/21 Firebird/Last Rites:
After confirming what they already knew in their hearts, Emma and Killian pass a test of True Love. But they are unable to find a way to restore his life, so Emma and Killian must let each other go. Tearful goodbyes and selfless promises made, they kiss each other one last time, and grasp hands for as long as possible. Both are heartbroken, but this sets up the continued pattern in the next episode in a truly dramatic way. In Last Rites, Killian and Emma sense what each other is feeling and Killian is able to help get Emma the crucial information they need to defeat Hades. Once he knows Emma is safe, the light to move on finally appears to Killian. He is then greeted by Zues with gratitude who escorts him onward, sending him to where he belongs- with Emma. Killian’s life is restored as he appears on his grave and finds Emma in the cemetery. He comes back to Emma in the most miraculous way possible, back to where he truly belongs- the arms of his True Love Emma.

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5×22/23 Only You and An Untold Story:
With Killian’s life restored he was able to come back to Emma, but he also came back to the family he is now a part of. Dialogue and actions are always deliberate, so as he says “Now I’m back” accepting a hug from Charming, they are not only welcoming home their friend, and the man their daughter loves, but someone who is also another member of their family.

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In these meaningful final moments of Season 5 we see that this repeated pattern of the series of always finding and coming back to each other is not only a staple with Emma, Killian, Snow, Charming, Henry and the Charmings, but also a way showcasing that all of these characters are indeed family. When Emma and Henry were living in New York with false memories, Henry could tell Emma was lonely (despite being in a relationship). So he threw a coin in a fountain and made a wish for his family to be complete. And a few days later Killian showed up on Emma’s doorstep, and the three returned to Storybrooke and were reunited with their family. But even more so this showed that Killian was the final missing piece of the puzzle. He not only found and came back to Emma through his own determination to save Emma, but also with a bit of magic and a wish from a boy who wished for his family to be complete.

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So when they are faced with another separation from their family they made wishes once again, and with Henry’s faith and ability to make the world believe, their family came back them. And whether by blood, step relations, adoption, and creating and choosing they are all one crazy extended unconventional family (Snow, Charming, Emma, Henry, Killian, Regina, Zelena, Rumple, Belle). But it remains the ones that repeatedly follow these beautiful patterns that also do so here. And when Killian hugs Emma saying “I Knew You’d Find Us” with Emma relaying that this time it was Henry who did, it is pristinely clear that the boy who started it all by finding his mother in Boston once again, thanks to a heartfelt wish, found his family- each and every one of them.

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When the family return home to Storybrooke and Emma and Killian take a moment for themselves, Emma takes the chance to express her love in a moment of peace and normalcy. After everything they went through- darkness, Hades, and being separated by realms, it was clear that not even death could part them with a love now confirmed as true. But all of these obstacles they went through demonstrated so profoundly that no matter what trials and tribulations they face- just like Snow and Charming, just like Henry and Emma, just like the entire Charming family- these words will always spoken, felt and showcased- “I will always find you. You will always come back to me.”