Trees. There will apparently be lots of them this season.
Episode Summary: In Camelot, our heroes go to a ball where one of their lives is in severe danger due to Regina’s lie of being the savior. Although Emma succeeds in saving Robin, darkness creeps up on her. In Storybrooke, Emma tries to get Regina to take responsibility for her actions, and in the end, we learn that with the help of everyone, she could defeat the fury.
Review | Analysis: Tonight’s episode has left us with a lot of mixed feelings. There were some beautifully magical moments we’ll be gushing over for a very long time but there were also moments that made watching very difficult. Additionally, you all may have noticed that our style has changed, but due to the fact that Camelot memories need to be discussed in depth, we’re temporarily going to be using the same method we use for our other reviews.
And most importantly as you all have heard by now, the Once Upon A Time fandom has lost a very beloved member because of an awful illness. Adriane was a kind and wonderful soul who’d always supported our reviews and used her time on the internet to continuously spread love. We’re dedicating this review to her — just as this episode was for her. #WatchForAdri. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this devastating time of grief. Her absence is deeply felt. She would’ve loved the moments between Captain Swan (Killian and Emma) and Swan Believer (Emma and Henry) so much. Bonus: let’s talk about Emma Swan’s hair.
To begin with, we completely understand the intentions the series has but there have been moments throughout the episode where we’ve found ourselves incredibly disappointed. To be clear, we have a difficult time accepting anyone other than Emma Swan as Storybrooke’s savior — it’s her destiny. And while we’re okay with Regina stepping up and trying to make matters right, we’re not okay with her claiming the title even if it’s temporary. While we can see why she made the choice to stand up in Camelot, it was anything but fun to watch her get a kick out of being able to control Emma using the dagger. We agree with her choice to keep Emma’s identity concealed, but there’s a way to say things. The tone of voice in which she said ‘you should be thanking me was just flat-out rude. Emma’s in a very vulnerable place and watching Regina pretty much step on her was disheartening. Instead of saying “shut up and listen to me” she could’ve said, “let me explain.” There are ways to say things and while we understand she’s still trying to change, it’s baffling that even in times like this she can’t be a little more graceful. It’s nice of her to do anything she can in order to make sure Emma doesn’t use dark magic, but it’s her tone of voice that makes it very hard to empathize with her.
Emma Swan has taken a lot of crap (excuse the language) from Regina Mills. A lot. And again while we understand Regina is trying to change, her tone of voice and choice of words makes it very difficult to believe. Here’s the thing, there are a lot of things we love about Regina’s arc, but one of the things that have always bothered us is how she’s treated Emma because while her intentions are clear, her actions don’t always match up. It was beautiful to watch her sympathize and show genuine care in the alternate universe, but back in Storybrooke, we’re always watching her showcase disappointment. People don’t change overnight, that’s a given, but we’ve been waiting for a while for someone to tell Regina she needs to stop blaming others for her actions.
There’s no doubt that Rumplestilskin’s manipulation and her mother’s treatment have weighed heavily on her, but at the end of the day what Once Upon A Time always teaches us is that we’re fully capable of making our own choices. Regina chose to embrace dark magic — she chose to continue learning it because she was so persistent in making sure a ten-year-old paid for her mistake. It was great to see Emma finally tell her that she needs to stop looking for someone else to blame and start taking responsibility. The situation in front of her isn’t going to fix itself and if she wants to be known as a hero, she has to continuously make the honorable choice.
Here’s something we don’t understand: Emma used her powers to do something good — she brought Robin back from the dead so how exactly does that equate to darkness? It’s understandable that the forces within her are unbearably strong but shouldn’t they only be fired up when she’s about to use them for something bad? Alas, the dark one’s powers are a strange, strange thing.
King Arthur and Guinevere are appearing to be a bit too suspicious right now. If reuniting the dark one’s dagger with the Excalibur sword will result in there being no barriers between a person and darkness, what on earth could they possibly want it for? Also, how on earth did Merlin get trapped in a tree? Did he do it himself or did he know it was going to happen!? It doesn’t appear as though Emma will be able to remove Excalibur’s stone herself unless she’s completely ridden of the darkness and perhaps that’ll be what frees her from it all. Tonight’s episode taught us that Regina couldn’t be the savior alone — she needed the help of the other Guardians of Storybrooke, but what does that mean for Emma Swan who’s always been so good at saving herself? Again, if we go off Once Upon A Time’s theme of our choices defining us then we have to be certain that with the support of her loved ones, Emma Swan will save herself.
Essentially tonight’s episode arose a lot of questions for us and this season’s bound to get emotional before it gets better. It’s undoubtedly going to get darker before we see light, but if there’s one thing we’re certain of it’s that it’ll be worth it. The great moments always outweigh the bad. And while tonight’s episode moved quickly, there were so many stunning moments we’d been waiting so long to see. It’s always nice to see our favorites back at the Enchanted Forest because watching them live like royals is ultimately giving the Charming Family another chance to experience all that they’ve missed out on with Emma.
Snow is so sentimental when it comes to Emma — although she doesn’t say it often we know that not being able to watch her daughter grow up has destroyed her. She has a son now she’ll experience great moments with, but it’s not the same as having a daughter. The void in her heart that’s been left from the years that have passed without a doubt still pains her. And Ginnifer Goodwin always does an exemplary job of reminding viewers how much Snow wants to protect her daughter. It’s in her eyes and before we get into discussing their time at Camelot, we need to mention how much we loved the fact that she clarified the dark one’s name is Emma. It doesn’t matter if her daughter’s gone dark because it doesn’t change the fact that her love knows no bounds. She is still her daughter. It’s fascinating to watch little moments like this because they make us so excited for what’s to come with the Charming Family in the future.
We still don’t know what the meaning behind Emma’s flower tattoo is or what prompted her to get it, but it’s so lovely that instead of wearing a diamond crown, Emma was given a flower crown. While each flower has its own meaning, as a whole they represent growth. When Emma saves herself from the darkness within, much like a flower, the light within her will bloom again. She will bloom and rise. And during these dark times, we’re hoping to see her loved ones play the role of sunlight and water for without those two, flowers don’t bloom. It was gorgeous to see Snow live this moment she’s always dreamt of and it was lovely to see Emma hold her mother’s hand as she states she was glad she was experiencing it with her. The last time Emma was at a ball, her parents had no idea who she was, but this time, like the Royal family they are, they got ready together. And in a moment where Emma’s so vulnerable, it was beautiful to see her live the kind of life she was born into with all her loved ones by her side. Of course, we can’t end this little portion without talking about the stunning white dresses mother and daughter wore — the color of purity and goodness. It was a sight to see for us all especially Charming and Killian who looked at each other appreciating the fact that they were the luckiest men in the room.
Can we sign a petition to have some kind of ball at least once every season? It always leaves us so very happy with the little moments we get. Robin and Regina were also given the chance to share a dance they would’ve had in the past had they actually met back when Tinkerbell told Regina they were soul mates. It was sweet to see them lose themselves in each other’s embrace like two kids in love, and the moment when they realized their dance was off was a great one. Hey not everyone’s a natural-born dancer so if anyone’s going to be a little lost, it’ll be the outlaw and the evil queen. And we loved watching them giggle at the fact that they needed to watch Killian and Emma in order to keep up.
Nonetheless, it’s what made their dance so lovely to watch — it didn’t matter that they were perfect, what mattered is that they were together. It’s what then made Robin’s death so painful and watching Regina beg Emma to save him reminded us so much of “Operation Mongoose” when the roles were reversed. Regina begging Emma to bring back the man she loved was perhaps one of our favorite moments with her character because it showcases the fact that she’s really trying to do things the honorable way. Thankfully, she didn’t use the dagger this time, but much like Emma, she begged her to make a choice that’ll save another being from a fate they don’t deserve. Like step-grandmother and step-granddaughter, right? Both Emma and Regina had to take risks to save the other’s love from a gruesome faith and because their hearts were in the right place, they succeeded beautifully.
It’s always nice to see couples fighting for each other in love and it’s always nice to know that even when they give up on themselves, their partners never will. Robin’s a great example of a man who’d never let a woman believe she’s anything but wonderful.
Apparently, everyone’s heart skipped a beat this week, no matter how young or old. It was adorable to watch Charming give Henry advice on how to talk to a girl. The royal bloodline doesn’t ever give up — when they want something, they just go for it. It was nice to get a moment so light in such a heavy episode and as always, it’s so much fun to see people in the Enchanted Forest being exposed to modern-day things such as an iPod. Interestingly, Violet remembers hearing “Only You” back in Storybrooke as well and we’re wondering how this will play into her character’s role.
And now finally, it’s time to discuss Emma (Dark Swan) in Storybrooke. One of the things we keep stressing is that we cannot wait to see more scenes between Henry and Emma; therefore, we loved the fact that her expression immediately softened as he summoned her. Emma was so shocked when Henry moved his hand from her and it broke our hearts because of all people, Emma would never hurt Henry. It doesn’t matter that she’s chosen to embrace the darkness because her love for him is still the deepest affection within her and she’ll do anything to protect her son. Morrison’s newfound mannerisms are astounding. It’s so fascinating to watch her eyes soften one minute and then darken the next as Regina comes in. And it’s the mechanical resonance in her voice that continues to be both frightening and riveting because it’s ultimately what makes this arc seem so real. There are so many changes in Emma and it’s magnificent to see Morrison working with her body language and expressions in a whole new way.
Killian Jones is the embodiment of a man of honor — we’ve always had an outpouring of respect for him but it was multiplied by about a hundred in “The Price.” There were so many great moments solidifying just how true their love is, we don’t know where to begin. True love’s kiss is a tricky thing when Emma’s already embraced the darkness, but we were mostly floored by the fact that they are each other’s anchors. And plus, the third time’s a charm.
For a really long time, Emma hasn’t had anyone by her side. She’s done everything alone, but for once, she has an army around her and the leader of that army is the man she loves. Killian’s number one priority is getting the darkness out of Emma and protecting her heart just as he promised he would, thereby it’s so distressing to watch him so frazzled all the time. The man who’s always believed in living through the chaos is now battling a whirlwind of fears because the woman he loves is on a path towards losing herself. He knows how tempting darkness is and he knows that once you’re in, it’s very difficult to pull yourself out. And it’s interesting because even though Killian knows Emma loves him, he still doesn’t believe he’s worthy of being the light in her life. And that’s exactly what Killian is — the light, the anchor she needs in order to hold onto the goodness within her.
Emma’s choice to kiss Killian with so much desperation was so overwhelming because it was almost as though she was trying to stop herself from feeding the darkness within. She kisses Killian not to celebrate the success in saving Robin, but to latch onto the light and love he exudes. As we said in last week’s episode, there’s a desperation in Camelot Emma that’s almost hard to watch because it’s so painfully evident that the fight within her is close to unbearable and though she’s been vulnerable before, this is a kind of pain we’ve yet to see in her. She clings to Killian because his arms are a safe haven she’s found comfort and light in numerous times without even looking for it. And that’s the difference between then and now, she’s desperate for the serenity he’s brought into her life, and the war within her is too strong to bear alone. Morrison’s mannerisms while conveying this enervation within Emma is remarkably spot on — you don’t even have to look closely to see how broken the strongest woman now is.
Just as Morrison is incredible at selling Emma’s exhaustion and perplexity, O’Donoghue is doing a groundbreaking job of showing viewers that Killian’s about to explode. Killian’s furious that this is happening to Emma and he’s showing that rage threaded with adoration and fear marvelously. It’s easy to understand that his desperate quest to bring her back into the light is disheartening, but the fact of the matter is, he’s doing everything in his power not to fall apart even though his strength is wearing thin. No one in the world means more to Killian Jones than Emma Swan and he’ll stop at nothing to protect her.
It’s lovely, however, that this moment of pure heartbreak and perplexity has been another thing Killian and Belle could develop a friendship over. We could never have too many moments of Belle exhibiting her wisdom so it was to see her offer Killian advice based on experience. She loves the man behind the monster so dearly, but she knows deep within that Rumple’s hunger for power became the source of their problems. We’re hoping this is the start of a wonderful friendship that’ll give Killian the courage he needs to make sure the light within Emma wins. He’ll never give up trying to save the woman he loves, it’s a given, and it’s what makes these scenes so heartbreaking because even though, he’s deeply distraught, her well-being means more to him than his own. It’ll be nice to see Belle’s friendship potentially playing a role in helping him find ways to rid the darkness forever and all the while saving Rumple as well.
We need to acknowledge how much we appreciate the scene at Emma’s new house because it’s what effortlessly proves just how honorable Killian truly is. Let’s be real everyone’s wondering when these two will take things upstairs — but this isn’t the time. Killian’s choice not to let things go further solidifies the fact that Emma’s heart is far more important than any of the physical desires within them. He knows this isn’t how Emma would’ve wanted it because even though he knows she loves him and the kiss didn’t work because she’s embraced the darkness, he knows the real her is still inside. While he still pirating ways, he’s not the man he used to be and she means more to him than that. He wants each moment spent with her to be exquisitely beautiful because it’s what she deserves.
She deserves to be fought for and this is the greatest fight he’s ever fought. Emma as the dark one is more confident with her sensuality revealing that she desires the pirate within, but Killian refuses to be that guy when she’s not really herself. And it doesn’t matter how badly he wishes he could be with her because it’s inauthentic this way. O’Donoghue broke us through the sincerity and desperation in his voice as he tried to make Emma feel safe enough to tell him what really happened in Camelot. And it was at this moment that we could see Emma’s expression soften again because she did in fact want to reveal the truth to him. Morrison’s doing an impeccable job of delivering the right amount of emotions that convey Emma’s internal struggles, especially around Henry and Killian. She doesn’t want them to see the darkness and hatred within her but at the moment she also doesn’t want to change; thereby it’s going to be different to fight against them when they do an effortless job of momentarily restoring the humanity within her.
Emma has always been the light that’s anchored Killian home when darkness has tempted him, but now’s the time for the light within him to shine its way into her heart bringing her home to where she belongs — safe with her loved ones not alone with her horrifying thoughts. At the end of the day, no one will give up on Emma and that’s what matters. It’s interesting because while Charming is trying to encourage Snow, she says them winning would equate to Emma losing; however, that’s why we’re certain there won’t be any winners and losers here because Emma Swan will choose to save herself as the light around her will be stronger than the darkness within.
On a lighter note, it was adorable to watch Killian and Emma dance again mirroring their time in “There’s No Place Like Home.” This time they weren’t Leia and Charles, they were themselves. Not on a mission, but embracing a quiet moment in the midst of chaos. And as if that parallel wasn’t enough, we got to see an enamored Killian attempt to compliment Emma to which she replied with “I know” just as he did during their first date.
There’s so much mystery in this storyline and we can’t wait to see it unfold but most importantly we can’t wait to see where this leads Emma. In the final scene, as she’s walking down the streets of Storybrooke, there’s a longing in her eyes and it’s evident this isn’t the life she wants for herself — this loneliness and isolation isn’t what she’s dreamt of. It’s not what she wished for on her 28th birthday — she may have embraced the darkness, but she is still a light in this world. Emma liked being the savior and we know this because every time she restored someone’s happy ending, the elation in her expression was indescribable. She loved watching people find their happy endings because her heart’s desire has always been to help others.
We keep talking about but how can we not? It’s just so fascinating to watch the work Morrison’s doing with Emma — the meticulous facial expressions that alter at the right moments revealing the emotions within and the robotic voice that quickly breaks to showcase humanity weaved in with her anger. We may want the good Emma Swan back, but it’s wonderful to see Jennifer Morrison show the world what a truly astounding actress she is.
What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments below.