When Once Upon A Time’s 28th episode “Tallahassee” aired, it was easy to imagine that we’d end up here today, but in some senses, it was still very surreal. For five years we’ve dedicated time, tears, and happiness to this exquisitely beautiful couple’s journey in love. We’ve been captivated over and over again by their innately gorgeous, profoundly moving love story as we watched them effortlessly heal one another through love and selfless devotion. And today, we watched them embark on a new beginning to forever. Today, we watched them become husband and wife. And episodes like this deserve a special kind of treatment. “Weddings are beautiful, but marriages between two people who’d take every opportunity they get to do whatever is necessary to express their love are immaculate.”
I wish it was longer. And I’d be lying if I said I loved the wedding entirely because my initial concern with it being in the midst of the final battle was the fact that we’d give minimal time to the preparations. The choices that were made were justifiable, and I’m satisfied with what we got, but I wanted more. And perhaps that’s selfish of me to say, but hey, what can I say. My version of perfection is Parks and Recreation’s “Leslie and Ben” or The Office’s “Niagara.”
That said, I appreciated Snow realizing she’s found her wedding dress and Emma’s excitement about wanting to wear it. I would’ve given anything to see this, but I also appreciated that the flowers she held were snowbells. But I didn’t appreciate not knowing where she got her actual dress. It’s a small detail — a detail I could probably imagine if I sit here and think about it long enough, but still. But I laughed way too hard at Killian’s suspicions coming out about not wanting to see her before the wedding. There there, honey — it’s only bad luck if you see the dress. Plus Jim saw Pam’s and they turned out perfectly fine.
Once upon a time, the Blue Fairy made a wish that music would fill the Enchanted Forest with song. And after a number of confusing performances, the Charmings learn that the purpose of these songs was an attempt to ensure that Emma would never be alone. As it turns out, a lost little girl always had a song in her heart that she’d continuously hum to — unsure of where it came from, but no doubt something that brought her comfort. (And to have the melody she’s humming be the opening theme was an immaculate decision on behalf of all writers.) I wasn’t sure how weaving a musical into the wedding would work out, but this little detail brought out way too many waterworks. And perhaps, the most moving aspect of the storyline was Henry’s part in bringing hope back into Emma’s life. (Look, there’s a lot of good here, but the fact remains, this shouldn’t have been the musical episode.)
Emma’s relationship with Henry has always been the heart of the series. Thereby, to have it be front and center prior to the wedding was a gorgeous transition into their new future. Henry believed in Emma during her darkest hours, and to have Henry’s book play a crucial role in bringing her back to reality was all that I needed. The parallel to Charming’s frustration in season four when he couldn’t help Emma to Henry’s in the Sheriff’s Station was the perfect showcase of the support system in our savior’s life. She may be the one who’s meant to bring back happiness, but it doesn’t mean she’ll ever be alone.
A person with Emma’s characteristics is always going to do everything in her power to ensure the safety of those she loves. And after expressing that she still feels as though she wasn’t brave enough in the past, it made sense for her to come to the decision that she’d sacrifice her heart in order to make sure that at least Henry wouldn’t be alone. We’ve always known that giving up Henry was the hardest thing Emma’s had to do but to understand that she believes it was lack of bravery as opposed to her inability to give him a proper life at the time, broke my heart. (It would help if Morrison wasn’t such a fantastic actress. I might feel less if her tearful performances weren’t so evocative.) That’s why it’s easy to see why she’d harbor a surplus of compelling guilt to this day. Morrison makes it clear at that moment that this entire battle is no longer for her own survival, but it’s having the courage to put those she loves first. She can take on whatever obstacle presents itself, but watching her loved ones suffer is impossible, and she’d rather secure their happiness and safety even if it means losing her life.
And on this adventure, it felt right for Henry to be the one who encouraged her to use her voice to save their loved ones. He needed to be there to tell her that today, there are plenty of people who care to see the little things in her life. In the same way that Killian revealed that he’d be honored to know every part of her in “Breaking Glass,” through his encouragement Henry showcased that he cares about knowing the song in her heart. And to go from being told that no one wants to listen to her, to being pushed to sing because the power within the song is breaking the course, would undoubtedly be everything to her.
On another note, I appreciated the series remembering that Emma’s heart isn’t easy to tarnish. Cora tried once and failed. The darkness attempted to consume it but failed. And today, the Black Fairy tried to crush it, but the song within fought back reminding everyone of the immense strength that resides within her because of the love that’s bestowed upon her. Emma learns that her parents have been with her even while she was orphaned and alone was perhaps the most poignantly potent moment in the Charming family’s history. Jennifer Morrison’s delivery of that line had me astounded. In her darkest, loneliest moments, Emma Swan has had a song strengthen her heart with an unceasing form of love.
“The Song in Your Heart” was more than a wedding. It was a showcase of unity. Once Upon A Time has always been Emma Swan’s story — the creation of a new fairytale through her. And “The Song in Your Heart” was a gorgeous exhibition of the fact that love will always win. Where there’s love, there is always hope. Storybrooke was created through a dark curse, but the love that’s been carried into it from the Enchanted Forest filled it with light. Where the Evil Queen once interrupted a wedding to threaten man and wife, today, she’s dancing in celebration of a union with the sister she’s found through forgiveness. Where there stood a villain who had once believed revenge was the key to happiness, now stands a man promising that the love he has for his wife cannot be measured — not even by the depths of the ocean. Hand in hand, this group of lonely kids whose lives have been filled with terror stood with hope in their eyes.
The Wedding and The Vows
Snow White and Prince Charming walking their daughter down the aisle was as close to perfect as anything can get. And while I’m normally into the traditional father/daughter walk, for the Charming family, nothing could have been more perfect. It was a small detail I did know I needed and it fueled my heart with the kind of bliss only this ridiculously cheesy family is able to do. Snow and Charming have missed out on so much that giving away their daughter together seemed fitting. They both needed to walk in with her together representing the True Love that flows through their family’s veins. And as Killian stood at the end of the altar in complete wonderment of the beauty, grace, and happiness that walked towards him, you could see all the pain in his heart leave him. At that moment, it was easy to get lost in the profound happiness, from which their expressions emanated — the thousands of promises that were exchanged in silence.
The vows were absolute magic, pure poetry. Colin O’Donoghue has mastered Killian’s sincerity in a way that’s bound to always leave viewers in tears, and when he uttered his vows, I lost it. “They say that a captain’s heart belongs to his ship, but with this ring, it now belongs to you.” From the moment they met, Killian Jones knew that something was different about the woman who stood in front of him. He knew that he was encompassed with emotions he hadn’t felt before, and in his desire to learn her story, he realized that he’d found the ultimate treasure in her. He’d found someone he’d give his all for. Killian Jones found someone who would effortlessly fill the void and heartaches in his heart with unshakeable, ardent adoration.
And with Emma Swan’s vows, she finally, once and for all, broke free from the chains that bound her as a lost, lonely girl. When we break up with the demons from our past, sometimes, no matter how much progress we make, they don’t seem to leave us for good. But there comes a day when the battle is won. Emma hasn’t been alone for six years, but as she states, just because you learn you’re born from True Love, it doesn’t make it any easier to believe in its existence. And much like Henry, Killian Jones is the reason for Emma’s belief. In him, she has not only found an eternal form of True Love but she’s found profound strength, an equal, a best friend, a kindred spirit.
And the kiss that promised forever may have been the most gorgeous wedding kiss to exist.
I’ve always believed that music and melodies tell encompassing, remarkably moving stories. They sail into the uncharted depths of a person’s soul forcing them to bare the things that aren’t on the surface. And to have these characters express their dedication to one another through songs that feel as though they belong in Disney parks feels right.
Performed by: Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas
To have the musical open up with Snow White and Prince Charming, the couple that drew us into Once Upon A Time in the first place was a great decision. And to have the song express that love is the most powerful magic of all? It is all the hope that’s needed coming from the ultimate power couple. “Powerful Magic” exudes the kind of pristine hope Charming and Snow excel at. And while Snow’s surprise to singing was adorable, I can’t help but laugh and truthfully, swoon at Charming’s thrilling grand entrance. Don’t try to imagine Goodwin and Dallas singing to their little boys in real life, your heart may combust from glee. I mean seriously, have this music play during a Disney parade. And the triumphant melody is delightful.
But personally, the change in harmonization is what gets to me. Dallas and Goodwin’s voices complement one another beautifully. And at that moment, they’re indescribable. “Feel the song inside our hearts, that is where the magic starts, oh it grows with every note. Souring sweetly from my throat.” Adorable. Through their performances, the melody, and the lyrics, it’s easy to feel the emotions they’re working through. As cheesy as this sounds, in the same way that Disney songs can evoke a sense of happiness within listeners, “Powerful Magic” succeeds as well.
“Revenge is Gonna Be Mine”
Performed by: Colin O’Donoghue and Pirates
This is definitely the song that’s more Hookless Killian, but it’s the one I’ve had on replay the longest. It’s just … a lot of fun. And it’s clear that in spite of his broken foot, O’Donoghue relished in putting on the performance. Kudos for that because while watching, you can’t even tell. Now, that’s an actor, ladies, and gentlemen. Here’s the thing, if you are me and you’ve been fascinated with pirates since the beginning of time, this is the kind of song that you’ll love. It’s catchy. It’s easy to memorize. And it’s that ridiculous perfect karaoke song you’ll force your friends into. I’m obsessed.
On a serious note, it does a great job of showcasing just how far Killian has come.
Performed by: Jennifer Morrison
Jennifer Morrison’s voice is angelic, and in essentially retelling Emma Swan’s story, in her astounding little number, she’s effortlessly able to evoke chills and tears through the gorgeous ranges, which allows us to feel the captivating journey her heart has lived through. There’s colossal warmth and fervor in the revelation that today, she knows what she’s living for, and the purpose of the darkness she’s had to endure since her birth.
“Emma’s Theme” is a powerful showcase of the strength our heroine carries through her vulnerability and openness. Emma’s been vulnerable before, but there’s a different kind of openness that’s needed in the song. The emotions must be completely felt. Where words fail, music speaks, and “Emma’s Theme” allows her to be engulfed in a whirlwind of emotions in order to compile the strength that’s needed to stand tall. Through “Emma’s Theme,” Emma brought everything to the surface: the bruises, the darkness, the loneliness, and the love. And by releasing the emotions that have been within her, through perfect harmony, Emma’s strength returns.
“A New Beginning”
Performed by: Jennifer Morrison, Colin O’Donoghue, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Rebecca Mader, Lana Parrilla, and Jared Gilmore.
The lyrics to “A New Beginning” are perhaps the sweetest and the most memorable. Tomorrow may be uncertain, but as long as Killian and Emma have each other, they have everything. And coming to the realization that their lives are a happy beginning as opposed to an ending is a magical melodic gem. From their very first adventure, Emma and Killian have uncovered profound truths in one another, and in their journey to an eternal union, they’ve risen as equals. Their scars have withered and their hearts have found a perfect rhythm to beat in — through loving one another, they’ve effortlessly transformed into the best, happiest versions of themselves.
Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison have always had enamoring chemistry, and unsurprisingly, their singing voices complement one another’s gorgeously. In allowing themselves to be vulnerable, visual performances aside, their strength, devotion, and unparalleled elation are heard boldly through their voices. In order for a song to evoke a hurricane of emotions, the performers need to bring their all and unsurprisingly, they have. In what appeared to be perfectly rehearsed dance numbers, O’Donoghue and Morrison embodied their characters masterfully. No longer lost little souls but partners — equals who have promised forever to one another.
The transparent bliss in their eyes cobbled with their 100-watt smiles told the story of True Love presenting us with images of forever — together, they will be entranced by perpetual laughter, sincere communication, innate treasuring, unparalleled serenity, and only ephemeral sadness. Where they are together, their hearts will always be incandescent with strength.
There’s a moment when Emma twirls with utmost happiness and grace, and Killian watches her with the most infectious smile. But it’s the story that smile tells that has sent me spiraling into ugly sobs. From the moment Killian met Emma, he knew that behind the armor, a broken lost girl was aching to find a home, happiness, and serenity. And because he had made it his objective to make sure she finds all that she was looking for, this moment is a crystallization of the fact that loving her has brought him incandescent bliss. In every sense of the word, she is his everything, and from the very beginning, her happiness has been the greatest treasure in his life. And today, her happiness is a result of their marriage — the song in her heart is for him.
From the very beginning, Killian Jones was destined to be the one to bring Emma home. And in his journey of bringing her home, he’s found an everlasting form of serenity in breathing for another soul. They’ve loved with a fervency so profound, that when one falls, the other crumbles right after, intertwined with their emotions perfectly in sync, they have made it evident that their spouse’s happiness means everything and more to them.
To have their loved ones join in reiterating the magical message of a new beginning was a beautiful blessing. And to watch them all dance and embrace one another melted my heart way more than I expected. This is it, their happy beginning with their loved ones by their side.
While I didn’t discuss all the songs in order to keep them strictly focused on the Charming Family, performances in “The Song in Your Heart” were top-notch. I found myself tearing up over too many moments, and frankly, in my book, that’s always a good thing.
And then there’s our heroine, Jennifer Morrison in the masterful display of a woman who’s seen too much. A woman whose strength isn’t measured by the power in her magic, but by the colossal, unwavering amount of love in her heart. In its penultimate episode, Once Upon A Time gave Morrison ample opportunities to showcase her character’s spectacle. “The Song in Your Heart” demanded she deliver a full range of emotions, and Morrison did so superlatively reminding us of who Emma’s been and where she is today. From heart-wrenching vulnerability to encompassing elation, Morrison’s means of embodying Emma Swan have easily resulted in the most enthralling performances.
But we can’t forget Colin O’Donoghue whose sincerity is often the most immaculate paradigm of a compelling performance. O’Donoghue’s ability to project the emotions that reside deep within Killian is unparalleled. When you look into his eyes, you’ll find a thousand ways in which Emma means the world to him. When you look into his eyes, his soul is perpetually conversing with hers. And the man can SING! When the show ends, can we have him take on music for a tad bit? I’m going to need a full-length album and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
But we can’t forget Ginnifer Goodwin whose innate ability to make me cry in a split second is unlike anything else on this show. Whether it was Snow’s tearful elation in learning that Emma was willing to wear her dress or the musical numbers, Goodwin brought her A game. Did anyone else choke up at Josh Dallas’ expressions as Charming watched his daughter say I do? The faint, natural sadness was interwoven beautifully with a kind of contentment that allowed us to see that if anyone’s worthy of his daughter, he’s glad it’s Killian. These two — Goodwin and Dallas. They’re something else.
The Prelude to the Final Battle
Curses aren’t foreign to the residence in Storybrooke, but for a moment, they’re stumped. And going into the final battle won’t be easy, but their togetherness is enough. As they stood on the rooftop united, you knew everything would be okay. And to have Emma utter the final words to her new husband felt right. “Doesn’t matter, wherever we end up, we’re gonna win.” To finally be filled with the kind of hope that uplifts her instead of breaking her down is character development at its finest. To finally come to a place where she knows with a fire in her heart and no doubt in her soul that they’ll win is the ultimate showcase of what love can do. It can evoke hope into the saddest corridors of a person’s world, and in Emma Swan, the love she knows today is more than enough. And naturally, Grumpy had to point out the obvious but to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He is the town’s newspaper after all.
Once Upon A Time isn’t a show about happy endings, it’s about happy beginnings. And even after they defeat the Black Fairy, there will always be obstacles in their way, but together, they’ve proven that they can fight through anything. Together, they’re all unstoppable.
- My heart is so full with the amount of development we’ve gotten with the Mills sisters. Every time they danced together at the wedding, angels would sing. And that’s the kind of relationship I’ve wanted from them. It’s also beautiful that while both of them have lost their partners, they’ve gained each other and their sisterhood is enough. It was gorgeous to see them sing together and it’s gorgeous to see them at peace with their lives.
- But also, can we talk about Rebecca Mader’s voice!? Oh my God, that was the most pleasant surprise. Although I wish her song was related to present-day Zelena as opposed to the past, it’s still super catchy and her voice is just outstanding!
- It’s good to know baby Charming was at his sister’s wedding. I was beginning to wonder a little.
- I understand that everything leaves Belle in an awkward position, but I really wish she was at the wedding. It didn’t feel complete without her and I feel as though she deserved to have a place in it. I think that’s part of the reason I wish the wedding didn’t occur prior to the Final Battle because there are so many characters I would’ve loved to see present during it.
- I loved the touch of red in Emma’s wedding ensemble with the lipstick — she and I, we understand each other well in this area.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this episode. I’ve been bingeing the series and I’ve watched this episode twice. Love it!