It’s a dark, dark world out there.
Episode Summary: In Camelot, we see an upset Killian enact the curse through Nimue which then forces Emma to wipe everyone’s memories in order to take care of everything on her own. In Storybrooke Killian takes away Emma’s memories and resumes his revenge while the heroes attempt to figure out his plot.
Review | Analysis: The episode left a good majority of viewers puzzled, but in a way, that’s a good thing — a “penultimate” episode is supposed to be a massive conundrum. And while we’re on the edge of our seats as well, we have to believe that this is a series about hope. We have to believe that at the end of the day, true love always wins and darkness can never come close to being as powerful.
“Broken Heart” was meant to break viewers. It was meant to make us feel angry and hurt, but thankfully, this isn’t where it ends, and with a climax this intense, we’re bound to see a lovely resolution. Once Upon A Time is a series that’ll always remind us of the importance of families, friends, forgiveness, and love — it’s the series where good always wins. It always comes down to the power of choices and they are what define us. As much as this series is a fantasy, the flawed characters add the realism we all need in order to connect with them, and in this story, even the heroes make mistakes.
If this were any other show, we’d without a doubt be addressing the episode differently, but for five seasons Once Upon A Time has taught us to have hope, and it’s what we’ll choose to do. That said, this review features theories and we normally hate writing without valid context, so please take things with a grain of salt.
First things first, we need to address the fact that the word choices in this episode are essentially the most upsetting. And again, while we’re choosing to believe it’s what the series was aiming to do, it still doesn’t change the fact that some lines felt incredibly out of character. We completely understand Henry’s anger and we’re also taking into consideration the fact that he’s a teenager thereby understanding they can be in certain “moods.” However, Henry’s a wise child, he’s perhaps one of the wisest kids on TV, and for him to insult Emma by comparing her actions to Rumple and Regina was arguably the worst thing we’ve heard all this season.
The bottom line is it broke our hearts, and it’s so painful to see him willing to give others chance after chance, but Emma’s one mistake is untrustworthy. Again, we understand the betrayal he must feel as Emma’s the one person he’s always known to trust, but it didn’t feel right to see him put her in the same category as people who’ve murdered and enjoyed it. It didn’t feel right that he couldn’t just have the same faith in her he often has in people. And while the resolution was good, it’s a bit unsettling for us to see this because we’re such huge fans of the Swan Believer relationship. The mother/son bond between Henry and Emma has been one of the sweetest familial relationships we’ve ever seen so this fallout was uncalled for.
We can completely see that parents and children fight all the time, it’s not like we don’t argue with our mothers, but it’s the dialogue that was too heavy to take. That said, it was beautiful to see it resolved as Henry chose to trust that Emma was not going to hide her plans this time. It’s real. And the fact that she chose to get Henry’s help even though he rejected her showcases just how much she’s grown as a person. Emma’s walls would’ve normally gone up after rejection like this, in that way, she still holds back like a child. She isolates herself and breaks down alone, but Emma isn’t giving up now.
She’ll continue proving to Henry that she’s trustworthy and Operation Cobra Part II will bring back everyone’s memories — it’ll restore the broken relationships and bring back the happy endings in a heroic fashion. Jennifer Morrison did an exemplary job of showcasing how broken Emma truly is over the lack of trust in her, but her smile and genuine happiness were restored in her moments with Henry. It felt right that the two of them were working on this together. There couldn’t be anyone else who’d fight so hard to bring back happy endings than these two, and this is the start of what’ll hopefully be an amazing conclusion.
Furthermore, the scene between Henry and Emma wasn’t the only gorgeous representation of mother/child scenes, we never in a million years would’ve imagined that Zelena would make us actually feel bad for her, but here we are. We can’t seem to get past the fact that the series refuses to acknowledge she’s sexually assaulted Robin, but we also cannot deny that it’s clear Zelena would never do anything to hurt this child. It was wise of Robin and Regina to allow her into the child’s life because no matter how wrongfully conceived, at the end of the day, she’s Baby Hood’s mother. Rebecca Mader was genius in this scene, for while her twisted version of Zelena is ridiculously delightful, it’s the subtly in her heartbreak this week that’s left us wanting to see her redemption. Mader made you feel just how quickly the baby captivated Zelena’s heart — you could feel her heart breaking and the authentic desire to do right by her daughter. And it’ll be incredibly interesting to see how she grows as a character now that she’s no longer only responsible for her own life.
Rumplestilskin’s character is one we’ve had loads of problems with, but tonight’s episode is what’s left us believing that maybe just maybe, he’ll finally keep his word. We were never okay with the idea of them just wiping his heart clean, but we are definitely okay with the fact that he’s chosen to acknowledge his mistakes. And the first step towards redemption is the realization of one’s own faults. In a conversation with Belle, he states: “For me, I’ve spent an entire life running away from burdens. Time to stop. . .That doesn’t erase a lifetime of cowardice, nothing can. I know that I’ve hurt you in unforgiveable ways.” If Rumple’s going to change, the first thing he needs to do is acknowledge how wrong he’s been in the past. And he knows he’s been a coward. He knows that everything he’s done stemmed from fear and loving power too much, but it seems he finally understands that redemption doesn’t come easy. It’s not just about wiping the slate clean; it’s about working hard every day to remain a hero. It’s about growing as a person.
And the first sign of that growth was his choice not to murder Killian when he had the chance up on the Jolly Roger. Both these men have come so far in their twisted affairs, but it’s interesting, to say the least, that it all comes down to Rumple’s cowardice. The first thing we hear Killian Jones says — the line that defines his character is: “a man unwilling to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets.” And from that moment on, all we’ve seen Killian do is fight. It’s in his bones. It’s the core of who he is — with or without true love, Killian Jones is a fighter. Killian admits that if Rumple were to fight for Milah, he would’ve actually let her go and parts of us do believe he’s right. He loved Milah, but deep down he was also a man of honor, and if Rumple proved that he was worthy of being this woman’s husband, Killian would’ve convinced her to go back to her husband. And Milah admitted to wishing Rumple would have fought. It’s possible for marriages to lose the spark they once had, but if Rumple was a different man back then, if he had fought, it could’ve been restored.
Nevertheless, though Rumple is showing real signs of growth, so is Belle, and we are so unbelievably proud of her for standing up for herself. Rumple has indeed hurt her far too many times to count, and any person in the right state of mind would refuse to be in a relationship with him. However, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost for Rumbelle fans. It’s no surprise that since the duo is the beauty and beast of our show, they’ll find a way to be together again. But Rumple needs to prove he’s truly changed.
He needs to work hard every single day to show that she’s more important to him than power. He needs to stop giving in to the hunger within that craves darkness and fight for love. It’s the only way his character can be fully redeemed. Love isn’t everything, but it’s a massive part of a person’s being and Rumple especially, he needs to fight for love. It’s what damaged his first relationship in the first place. The fact that he’s constantly chosen power over love and family has weakened his character. He was never brave enough to live a life without magic, and he was never brave enough to take chances, but a hero chooses to be courageous even when it makes them completely vulnerable. And in order for the two of them to ever have a healthy relationship, it needs to be based on a solid foundation. True love is two people who are whole on their own but better together, and Rumple isn’t whole. Skin deep, he’s a damaged, cowardly man who’s made one bad decision after another, and in order to grow, he needs to walk alone — completely stripped of all good things because it’s the only way he’ll find the light within himself. While true love has the power to do wonderful things in this series, at the end of the day, it’s only a starting point in a hero’s journey to save himself. We’re a little optimistic, but we’re hoping Belle’s refusal to put her heart on the line again will be the spark that finally pushes Rumple over the edge to fight the hardest he’s ever fought.
Every character has an “enemy” they need to conquer in order to grow, but each character is also his/her own worst enemy. As much as Rumple’s father was a pivotal character in his journey, he is his own worst enemy. He’s the one villain he needs to fight against in order to rightfully become the best version of himself. He needs to fight the coward that’s craved power more than love.
And for Killian Jones as much as Rumple has been the person he’s hated most, this fight against the darkness is ultimately the fight against himself. It’s the fight against a self-loathing man who’s allowed years of abandonment and isolation to destroy his love for himself.
Killian Jones is a hero — he’s been one from the moment he began choosing the right path despite how difficult it may have been. Emma was his hope, but even without her presence, we’ve seen him make good decisions. True love brings out the best in people, but at the end of the day, we are defined by the choices we make. The person that inspires them is immensely significant, but they aren’t the core of who we are. They are rather a strong guiding light. At the end of the day, while Emma’s been a colossal part of his choice to take the heroic road, she hasn’t been the only one. His choice to turn the ship around in “And Straight On Til Morning” was derived from his memories of Baelfire. He’s befriended Belle even though she’s his enemy’s, true love. He’s given Ursula her happiness back purely because taking it destroyed him. He’s also made the choice to tell the Charmings about Neal’s fate in Neverland despite the fact that it’d get in the way of him and Emma. (Special thanks to Ann and Kate for the specific moments.)
There’s no character on the series who hates himself as much as Killian Jones does. We’ve seen his constant self-loathing be his very own anchor for three seasons now. He’s time and time again shown that he has a genuinely difficult time forgiving himself for his past mistakes and this game he’s now playing, this will plague him the most. It’s taken him an entire season to accept that he’s a hero despite the number of times he was told to believe in himself — there’s no demon quite like self-doubt. There’s a clear distinction between being humble and unconfident. And Killian’s broken. He’s a damaged man who’s unable to forgive himself for anything he’s done. He’s unable to see himself as anything but worthy of a heroic title. On the surface, he appears collected, but it’s always been more evident that it’s a facade to mask his demons. Killian was introduced to us as a villain, we’ve seen him do terrible things, and even prior to that it was safe to assume he’s done some terrible things we may not have even seen. He was a pirate after all and by legend, they’re not exactly princes. And that is why we personally refuse to believe that the series would take his redemption arc and throw it all away in one episode — this doesn’t even include the way O’Donoghue’s playing the character. He’s worked too hard.
Nevertheless, we understand his anger, but we also know that if the roles were reversed, he would’ve done the exact same thing to Emma. As Snow beautifully puts it: “She chose love, David. And we would’ve done the same thing. We share a heart because we took the same kind of risk that Emma took. We save each other. That is what our family does.” Sometimes love is selfish. It’s the refusal to live without one another even if it goes against the other’s wishes, but at the end of the day, what matters most is that it comes from honorable intentions. Emma and Snow chose to keep the men they love alive because they believe their love is powerful enough to overcome all obstacles. They believe that growing old together is the better choice than tragically dying at a young age. They cannot live without each other and call us hopeless romantics, but you best believe we’d do the same if we were in their shows.
This is what we’re hoping Killian’s plan is — something that benefits both of them. It wouldn’t be wise of the series to build his character up along with the love story between him and Emma just to throw it into hell. Their story is the only one we’ve seen so much development towards and that can only mean that it’s going to thrive.
Before we go into why we believe it’s all going to be good, we must first take a moment to praise Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison for the gut-wrenching full range of emotions they’ve both delivered in this episode — followed by their meticulous mannerisms as the Dark Ones. O’Donoghue’s playing Killian so dramatically, that it’s clear we’re meant to be taken aback by how much his mannerisms mock Rumple’s. In a sense, it’s pretty funny. And we’re not entirely sure if we’re meant to laugh it at or not, but we found the scene at Gold’s shop anything but threatening. And when Killian’s telling Emma all about how he’s a free man now, the theatrics don’t stop — O’Donoghue’s an outstanding actor, he knows what he’s doing; thereby, the fact that he continues to play Dark Hook in such a radical manner forces us believe that Killian’s trying way too hard to sell the act. Plus, let’s just say for a moment that his entire goal was to get Rumple’s blood, is he really that stupid to leave the one weapon that can control him in the hands of his mortal enemy? No “villain” is that ridiculous. He essentially gave himself to the heroes and that tells us that his plan is much bigger than what we’re seeing.
Another thing we’d like to point out is the fact that Killian’s a smart man. Emma may have lied about having Excalibur, but she didn’t intentionally use it on him. And this all essentially goes back to him hating himself more than anything. He believes he’s so susceptible to the darkness that there’s no way he can fight it, but the idea that Emma’s afraid of it too is something that understandably drives him over the edge. He can’t bear the thought of her losing hope in him because he has none, and what’s most heartbreaking is that you can clearly see how torn Emma is with her actions. She knows he’s angry, but she’s also hopeful in the fact that they can through it together, and while lying wasn’t the wise choice, her intentions were in the right place. We’re seeing an obvious difference between blatantly using the dagger to control and what’s now a desire to do the right thing. Emma did not enjoy using the dagger on Killian, even when it was accidentally done, you can see how heartbroken and frustrated she was over the situation. And plus, is using the dagger to summon the person really that bad? Killian did it in the 5×01. It’s all about a person’s intentions. They both want to be heard in the field, but there’s so much standing in between them that it’s almost too difficult to have a quiet moment. But even though he’s angry, Killian’s wise, he can see the distress in her because she’s hurt him. Deep down, beyond the darkness, there’s a part of him that understands Emma — he of all people always has and always will. She’s hurt him in the past, but this is a moment where her remorse is painted most evidently. Surely he sees it and feels it even though he’s breaking.
When Emma fought against the darkness, she proved that without it, a person is more than just nothing. She’s fought darkness before, we all do with the voices in our heads and the heartaches that wound us, but so has Killian Jones. If Emma’s just a pretty blond distraction, he could’ve been a downright awful person and taken advantage of that, but instead, he’s loved her. He’s remained patient with her. He’s fought for her, given up his home for her, and crossed realms for her even when he had no hope she’d reciprocate the same feelings. Well then, dude if you do that for a distraction what on earth would you actually do for someone you loved? Time travel? Die for? Oh right, he’s done those things for Emma too. It’s honestly a little funny how much the episode is playing with elements that we’ve all been astounded within past episodes. This series has proven that opening your heart takes more bravery than fighting against some evil dark spirit.
And because of that, we can believe that the Killian we’ve seen in the last two years is a man who not only aches deeply, but feels just as much, and emotions like that can’t be shut off this easily. He’s fought against the darkness for nearly 300 years and though it’s stronger now, it’s not impossible. He has hope and love now — they’ve got to be more than enough. We’ve spent 2.5 seasons watching Killian bring Emma’s walls down, and though we wrote this in our review for “Dark Hollow,” we dug it up because it felt relevant to the point we’re about to make: “By ceaselessly putting her happiness above everything else, we have Killian Jones bestowing chivalry at its finest as he valorizes the fact that he will not give up fighting for Emma Swan’s heart. The rare understanding that exquisitely binds them together continues to serve as an emblem in their promising romance. With his unwavering persistence, he continues to crystallize her hope by wholeheartedly believing in her.”
From their first adventure on the beanstalk, Killian saw himself in Emma — he saw a scared, lost little kid with no hope of happiness, but falling for her reminded him of the light that’s within. Loving Emma Swan gave him hope for a future, and the kind of unparalleled happiness true adoration can bring is far more powerful than revenge. He knows what wounds Emma the most, he’s suffered with her because anyone who loves anyone knows that it’s so difficult watching people you adore suffer. You ache with them. He’s felt her pain. He’s embraced her burdens because he’d rather die than see her suffer, and that very man is now throwing all this in her face. Here’s the thing, for once, we genuinely don’t know how it’s going to play out, but what we’re gathering is that Killian desperately needs her to believe he hates her.
Now, while O’Donoghue’s saying all this in a weirdly dramatic tone, there’s a moment where his voice clearly breaks with pain and it’s when he utters the words “I want to hurt you”. If you go back and watch the scene again you can hear the change in his voice so evidently, it’s as though it’s screaming to be heard. Trust us, watch it again. You can hear the agony and heartbreak in O’Donoghue’s voice because these are words Killian Jones would never say to Emma Swan. And this quickly changes again which is seemingly an attempt to conceal what he really feels.
Again, we don’t doubt that he’s angry, and while he’s filled with the darkest spirit, love, in every way, is more powerful. This is a show about good versus evil and we’ve seen light conquer too many times to believe that it’s been completely snuffed out of him. But even if this isn’t all an act, if Killian’s truly succumbed so deep to the darkness, it’s still okay. It’s okay because arguments are messy, they’re downright horrible and while terrible things are often said, they’re not unforgivable. Anger is an emotion that when we act upon it, brings out the absolute worst in us, but it’s not who we are deep down. It’s not all that defines us.
We are all sorts of emotions. Kudos to anyone who’s ever fought with someone they loved and only ever said nice things because that’s quite an accomplishment. We’ve had some drastic arguments with our siblings, but you best believe that if anyone even looks at them funny, we’d be the first to defend them. Arguments don’t alter love. We may say we hate someone one minute, but the reality is, we can’t imagine our lives without that person. It’s life. And this series, though a fantasy, plays with real, thought-provoking elements. Killian’s rage is completely understandable — if he truly believes Emma doesn’t believe in him, then how can he believe in himself when he’s got the darkest spirit in him?
Emma needed to have someone continuously believe in her in order to fight through these spirits, and even though she did believe in him, a small moment of choosing to protect him instead of trusting him altered their fate. To repeat, Emma is still under the curse of the darkness, it lies and it manipulates, but even though she’s mainly got it under control, these decisions are not made through a long thought process — they’re stemmed from instincts solely to protect and though her intentions are in the right place, it doesn’t mean her decisions are. It’s why everything’s so messy. It’s quick and raw and jumbled.
Although they’re both able to temporarily help each other lose the voices in their heads, they’re still tethered to darkness which means they’re susceptible to hearing them again. It’s why Emma chose to wipe everyone’s memories instead. Her first instinct was to protect and take care of everything, but if Rumple wasn’t there telling her no one would understand her, if time wasn’t an issue, and she had a moment to rationally calculate her decisions, something tells us she’d indeed confide in her parents. She’d take the risk and we know now that her mother of all people would understand her. They’d help her. But she wasn’t able to do that — this wasn’t just an uncalculated decision, but rather a moment of desperation where fears, love, and her natural instinct to protect took hold of her better judgment. She gave in to the dark voices because in this frenzied state, it’s what spoke the loudest.
Morrison is astounding at the moment when Emma holds Killian the same way Snow holds Charming during the first curse. This is a moment where Emma’s completely stripped from her walls — an unconventional quiet moment where she’s choosing to trust in their love. She’s choosing to cherish him even though it means her actions will undoubtedly hurt him. She may lose him. It’s an apology. It’s a cry for help. It’s a desperate moment to hold on to the one man who’s never abandoned her as he’s the person she’ll never give up on as well. She treasures every part of him and plainly, simply, it’s a beautifully vulnerable scene which emanates love.
Although it was difficult to find a quiet moment, with Killian and Emma, we know that it isn’t impossible — their love is still powerful enough to shed some light. Morrison and O’Donoghue bare it all in this scene with a full range of emotions — these actors have always been phenomenal scene partners, but we’ve never seen anything this evocative. They’re able to embody their characters in ways that allow the audience to actually feel things they aren’t personally going through. You could feel the sincere vulnerability, the poignancy, the rage, the frustration, and the unparalleled love that’s a force all on its own. Morrison and O’Donoghue poured a whirlwind of emotions into a two-minute scene reminding us of how powerful the love between Killian and Emma is. And when “I love you” is exchanged again, judging by Killian’s surprise, the same surprise the both of them continuously wear when they realize just how treasured they are, is the flame of hope we can all hold onto.
We’d said in our review for “Broken Kingdom” — “Killian and Emma’s kiss was the pristine reminder of the fact that true love heals. Even for a moment, love has the ability to make a person feel as though they’re engulfed by light, wonder, and beauty. A feeling that authenticates the fact that though darkness may come for a night, light will be there to chase away the nightmares in the morning. In this case, Killian is Emma’s light, just as he’s her person, and the anchor who’ll always ground her heart back home.”
And now we’d like to rephrase that by saying Killian and Emma are each other’s light, just as they are each other’s person and the anchor who’ll always ground their hearts back home.
In conclusion, the one thing we’re extremely confused about is how on earth it’s possible for Nimue to be of any help? She’s the darkest of them all judging by what we’re seeing where is Merlin’s hope in her coming from? How are the past dark ones able to cast a curse when the portal to Underworld hadn’t been opened yet? How does it work to have Killian crush Merlin’s heart as Nimue? It’s a bit confusing, if you’ve got answers, we’re listening. We don’t know what Killian’s plan is, but we’re certain next week is going to be exceptional. What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Let’s talk.
Also, judging by the fact that most of our shows are on hiatus, we’re fairly certain we’ll have a lot to say at the end of the week on Morrison and O’Donoghue’s performances. Stay tuned.
Please note, we are not trying to tell anyone how to feel. This episode was meant to make viewers all sorts of emotions — we’re merely trying to sprinkle some hope into the picture.