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This Week’s Most Noteworthy Performance by an Actress

May 11-17
Jennifer Morrison | Once Upon A Time

Jennifer Morrison is one of those rare actresses whose work is always difficult to justifiably write about. We’ve always said that if someone other than Jennifer Morrison was playing Emma Swan, the character wouldn’t be as marvelously compelling and relatable. It’s not just about what the line reads, it’s about how the actor/actress brings the words to life with their tone of voice, expressions they hold on their face, and body language.

Normally performance reviews run a lot shorter than full length episode ones; however, with far too many beautiful scenes to choose one from, we’ve decided to give you all of our favorites.

One: When asked whether or not she cares about her parents and others in town, the “of course I do” Emma replies with is filled with such vulnerability that through Morrison’s portrayal, you could see the underlying fears that are overriding her innermost desires and ability to see what’s right in front of her.

Two: Morrison is excellent when Emma watches Snow die – often times on television series and films, such scenes fall short of being emotional because the acting doesn’t exactly do the loss justice. However, through Morrison’s performance you could see the fear of a child losing her mother, the inability to process what’s occurring, and the intense grief that comes from the death of a loved one. The pain she is feeling in the moment could be seen through the terrifying heartbreak Morrison brings to life with her expressions and physical reaction while she grips onto Killian as he armors her.

Three: The inexpressibly glorious smile on Emma’s face when she sees her mother is back had us in tears. Morrison was at her absolute best in this moment as she brings forth years of enclosed longings and love onto the screen. Emma’s a character who’s always dreamt of meeting her parents, but because of the distress she’s endured in her life, when she meets them, she’s incapable of expressing herself the way she wishes to. Thus, the feeling of permanently losing her mother forces her to internally confront herself, and the reasons she’s so closed off from the world. Morrison delivers the scene with such a wondrously childlike elation that viewers could feel the overpowering love a daughter has for her mother. It’s the type of indescribable moment that words truly cannot do justice – a faultless performance that deserves endless amounts of praise because of how exceptionally evocative it is. It is not just the overwhelmingly tearful delight in her expression, but the goosebumps invoking way in which her voice breaks reflecting her heart’s relieved cry. Morrison carries Emma so naturally that she brings the character’s passions to life in an utterly enthralling manner with every emotion she’s manifesting. And when her mother is unresponsive to her happiness, you could pinpoint the exact moment where Emma’s heart breaks with the comprehension of the pain Snow’s felt since she’s been reunited with Emma.

“I want this to work. I want to go back. I wanna stop running…Watching my mother die. Thinking she was dead, you saw what happened I was so relieved when she was okay and I hugged her and you know what I saw in her eyes? Nothing. She didn’t know who I was. I had saved her and lost her too. And that’s what I’ve been doing to her since I met her. It’s got to stop. When Henry brought me to Storybrooke, he told me I was the savior. I didn’t see what he was really doing, he was not bringing me back to break a curse – he was bringing me home. Neal was right…You don’t have a home, until you just miss it. And being with my parents the last few days but not really being with them, I’ve never missed them more. Storybrooke is my home.”

Four: Morrison’s delivery of the lines above are masterful – the childlike innocence and loneliness she projects through the expressions that justify her words break her free from the chains in her past as she chooses to fight for the people she loves most. And what makes the scene profoundly gorgeous, is the poignant smile she wears when Emma notices Killian’s pride in her. This is the moment where Emma truly sees just how proud he is of exactly who she is, and it’s the moment where she begins to see herself as he does. She makes sure the audience could see the lost girl’s walls tumble down with the statement that she wants to give in to everything that’s beautiful in her life.

Five: Emma calling her parents ‘mom and dad’ again is another moment we feel Morrison is at her best. What makes this scene vastly different than the one that occurs in season 2 is the sole fact that it’s not out of fear, but it’s out of acceptance. Emma accepts that her parents aren’t going to abandon her because she’s now finally feeling the kind of love they have for her with every part of her being. She loves them most ardently, and she’s ready to fully open her heart to them. She’s come long way since the moment she’s met them – and this is the beautiful moment where she wholeheartedly sees she’s no longer an orphan. She’s a daughter, a sister, and a woman with a home.

Six: Lastly, as Emma realizes there’s just one more thing missing from her life, the audience can see the moment she longingly searches for the man whose ceaseless love has become a vast significance in her life. Outside of Granny’s diner, Morrison depicts Emma’s sincere gratitude and appreciation for Killian notably in the brief moments before and after she chooses to kiss him as she welcomes his love into her life. Through the lighthearted banter, she makes sure the audience can see that her walls are down, and because she no longer feels like a lost girl, her heart’s open to all that’s good in her life. And through his unwavering adoration and faith in her, Killian’s proven to be good. The scene is the final puzzle piece which conveys that Emma Swan is home.

“Snow Drifts” and “There’s No Place Like Home” are undoubtedly the best episodes for Emma Swan’s character. Through her impeccable understanding of Emma Swan’s character, Jennifer Morrison has brought out every single side of her most believably. Morrison took viewers on an adventure with Emma, we watched her cry, laugh, struggle, fight, love, grieve, and more – we witnessed the beautiful journey from an orphan to a savior. Again, with far too many to scenes to commend, we’ll leave it at: Jennifer Morrison always plays Emma Swan exceptionally, but in these last two episodes, she surpasses all expectations – making them her most immaculate performances yet.

It’s also necessary to say that she isn’t merely the noteworthy actress of the week, but of the season. Her work on season three has exceeded the level of brilliance we’ve expected, and if we were capable of giving her every great award available, you best believe we would.

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