Once Upon A Time 5×04 “The Broken Kingdom” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

Darkness is getting stronger and alliances are being tested.

Episode Summary: In flashbacks, we watch Arthur’s obsession with becoming King overrule his rightful thinking while in present-day Snow and Charming showcase what it truly means to be in a partnership with your spouse. Killian tries to take Emma’s mind away from the voices inside her head. Sands of Avalon is used for all the wrong reasons. And the Dark Swan’s got a new puppet.

Review | Analysis: Tonight’s episode did a wonderful job of contrasting real love and forced. It reminded viewers of the fact that selfishness ultimately leads to nowhere and once again, our choices dictate whether we are a true hero or not. Real happiness and strength aren’t a kingdom or an object — it’s choosing love above all things. “The Broken Kingdom” reveals that true completion is a status achieved when you’re surrounded by people with unwavering faith in you. The greatest measurement of strength comes from the ability to trust, love, and believe in someone when all else is lost. At the end of the day, however, we’ve still got tons of mysteries ahead of us waiting to be solved.

It’s never fun to watch mom and dad fight or betray one another, but it’s damn near incredible to see that the partnership between them is the strongest in all the realms. Prior to the reveal that they’re actually working together, for a moment, it appears as though Charming’s gone against his wife’s wishes and is choosing to trust a stranger just because they’ve bonded. Although this was nowhere near enjoyable to watch, it’s great to see that even when Snow and Charming get into a real fight, they can put it all aside for the sake of their children. They know that their children are the most important people in their lives and when it comes to them, they don’t know selfishness.

At the end of the day, all they can and will do is help. They’ll give everything they have and that includes putting their anger aside even though that’s a difficult choice to make. Snow and Charming were so wonderful back in season one when the series focused heavily on them, and it’s always great to have scenes that remind us of the Once Upon A Time we fell in love with. It’s always marvelous to be reminded of the partnership that serves as a paradigm for all. Plus, it’s always fantastic to watch Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin during moments where it’s easy to tell they’ve had an absolute ball filming. Goodwin’s tone of voice as she said “well I was wondering when you’d show up” was adorable. Snow White is such a badass lady and it’s a thrill to be able to watch her shine. It’s a thrill to see Goodwin go from gentle and sweet to fierce because she does it so effortlessly, it’s a lovely treat to viewers. And what makes scenes like this so great to watch is how real their fight appeared. It was real. They were both so keen on following their own judgments, as viewers, you weren’t sure where it’d take them, but the fact that they came up stronger than before in the eyes of Arthur is remarkable.

Obligatory commentary on Josh Dallas’ performance in this scene because watching him stand up for his daughter was exceptional. Dallas did a remarkable job of accentuating the fact that he’s a man to be feared because there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his family. It doesn’t matter if there’s a fancy throne or a noble title waiting for him, he’ll do anything and everything to make sure his family is safe. Dallas’ tone of voice is one we’ve seen in the series before, and it was nice to see it resurface cobbled with the expression that made him appear truly frightening.

In an episode that does a splendid job of authenticating how love is supposed to be, it was heartbreaking to watch Arthur constantly choose Excalibur over Guinevere. It was an unfortunate reminder of what Rumple’s been doing with Belle only he wasn’t dumb enough to actually use the Sands of Avalon to keep her with him. It’s a downright shame that he became so obsessed over the throne that he completely lost himself. No one’s born good or evil. It’s a proven fact in the series, and while it’s so unfortunate not many had faith in Arthur when he was younger, he chose to essentially betray the one woman who always did. Although Guinevere loved Lancelot as well, had Arthur loved her properly she would’ve never loved another man. Lancelot chose to make her birthday special while Arthur chose to lock himself up in a room. It’s a pity really.

Just as we were given the opportunity to watch Snow and Charming showcase what it truly means to be a team, Killian and Henry did their best to get Emma out of her own head.

As Emma’s making dream catchers, the darkness “calls” her to the dagger where she accidentally almost attacks Killian. It’s so fitting that Emma’s nighttime hobby is making dream catchers because it’s a significant trinket from her past, but we’re really hoping to hear her talk about them more in upcoming episodes. While they’re meant to take away the bad spirits proving she doesn’t want the darkness in her life, it’ll be interesting to hear it from her. It’s incredibly heartbreaking to see Emma so weak in mind, body, and soul, but it’s so beautiful that Killian Jones still sees his swan when he looks at her.

It doesn’t matter that she almost harmed him because he’ll still embrace her with the most heartfelt expression on his face and adoration in his voice. O’Donoghue does such a great job of reminding the audience that Killian too is literally distraught over what’s happening to Emma. You can see it all in the despair he wears in his eyes even when he’s speaking words of hope and faith. And Morrison is doing such an excellent job delivering Emma’s fears and exhaustion that it’s legitimately heartbreaking to watch.

Prior to them riding off on a horse, Henry takes them to Violet’s family’s barn where they awkwardly and sneakily watch the two of them “flirt”. In an episode that would’ve otherwise been dark and dramatic, it was so sweet to be given this moment that felt much needed. An innocent one with no expectations. Killian’s face as Henry told him there was a girl was an absolute joy to witness. The man loves love so much, he literally gets a thrill out of everyone finding it. And while he was the more supportive figure in the relationship, it was sweet of Emma to question Henry lying about falling for someone. Let’s be real, though. Killian’s right. Moms are scarier than dark ones when they’re mad. (Ha!) It was ridiculously adorable to watch them poke their heads out to watch what was happening between Henry and Violet for it ultimately just made for an incredibly light scene. It was also a beautiful reminder of what life could be like if they weren’t constantly battling dark ones, curses, and magical villains.

It was distressing to see Emma so hopeless over getting better, but Killian reminds her of what really matters — putting her faith in something unwavering — like their love. He promises that he’s never going to stop fighting for their future and excuse us while we cry in a corner as she’s wished a life with a white picket fence. And what a shame is it that it’s the exact kind of house the dark one has bought, but she doesn’t have a family to share it with. Someday. Soon.

There is a moment, a brief, blink and you’ll miss it where Morrison’s expression legitimately crushed us. After Emma tries to get near the horse and it rejects her, there’s so much childlike heartbreak in her expressiveness. Emma looks terribly petrified and Morrison does an astounding job of conveying that fear and sadness. She hates being the dark one, but there’s nothing she can do. All she can do is trust someone else whose ceaseless faith in her has been an anchor to her soul.

In the end, Killian was able to take away the haunting voices in her — through patience and understanding, he was able to bring her mind, body, and soul to ease. And though they were embraced by a field of pink roses as they kissed, it’s the place of comfort they went to within that made the moment that much more immaculate. Aesthetically, it’s a gorgeous representation of what unwavering adoration truly is — “love, gentleness, admiration, and gratitude” |x|. When you love someone, you don’t threaten them or abandon them. You don’t buy their love or force it with magical spells. You stick behind them and steadfastly remind them of the greatness within. You cherish them and hold them. You remind them of their strengths. Hope is the greatest power of all. Killian knows what consuming darkness feels like, but he also remembers that meeting Emma is the first time he’s ever seen a glimmer of hope in his life. It’s the first time he’s ever understood that somewhere in the world, light is stronger. It’s now her turn to trust the hope she finds in him.

Emma’s controlling Merida with her heart because she needs Rumplestilskin to be braver than he is. And while we absolutely hate watching people controlled with hearts, it’ll be interesting to see how this will actually work on Rumple.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments section below.

One comment

  1. I’ve only just discovered your website & review and although I’m a week late I think you did the episode justice – I enjoyed your review & thoughts. Being a Captain Swan shipper I especially loved your take on the fantastically wonderful Captain Swan – those moments between them I still haven’t recovered! I loved your take on what love is and particularly the way Killian loves Emma, I look forward to your next review. Thanks

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