Done staring at that gif? No? Me neither. Too beautiful. Too pure.
Any who, Sunday’s Once Upon A Time “Broken Kingdom” took us inside the love triangle of Camelot, reminded us that the Charmings should not be f’d with and that Killian Jones is perfect.
It was a bit of filler episode, right? It happens with network shows: 24 episodes, at least 3 of them are going to be loaded with bland backstory or a series of events that move the story forward though keep our heart rates at a steady rhythm. That was the case with “The Broken Kingdom” as about 75% of the episode delved into the legendary love triangle of King Arthur, Guinivere, and Lancelot. Sure it was interesting but lets put it this way: I can summarize it entirely in a single paragraph. And I’m going to so we can talk about what we really want to talk about.
Five years ago, Arthur became a bit mad trying to solve the mystery that was the Dark One Dagger that he failed as a husband, leaving poor Guinevere forgotten and resentful on her birthday. Fortunately, the noble Knight Lancelot cheered her up with a dance and accompanied her on her mission to find the Dagger to regain her husband’s attention. Wait, noble? More like smitten actually. They were led straight to Rumplestiltskin who gave them a bottle of Sands of Avalon which can basically “fix” anything. Where was this potion last season when we needed it, Gold? Guine and Lancelot return to Camelot, with Arthur catching them kissing each other goodbye. Guine decides not to use the Sands on the Excalibur however Arthur grabs the bottle and casts the spell on her – she forgets about her man troubles and becomes his conventional, compliant Queen. Side note: Charming would NEVER do this to Snow, he knows better. Shame on you Arthur, shame! With her spellbound he then throws the rest of the Sands over the desolate Camelot and poof there’s a whole Royal Kingdom.
NOW on to the good stuff, our ships!
We all know the classic tale of Snow White and Prince Charming (I know he’s not actually Charming in the real story but whatever). Their love story has become the apotheosis of a fairytale romance, one that warms hearts and inspires hope. From the first seconds of the show with their True Love’s Kiss, Once Upon A Time has gracefully told this story through Mary Margaret and David over the course of 5 seasons. They not only brought to life this iconic couple but with each episode remind us of the power of love and hope that only fairytales speak of.
Snow and Charming continue to amaze me as their unsinkable ship sails steadily through thick and thin, for better or worse. Their relationship may have been near perfect from the very beginning but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have room for growth. Over 4 1/8 seasons they have become an unbeatable team and the definition of relationship goals. They support and trust each other entirely. Together they are a force to be reckoned with (especially if you mess with their daughter). This alone is enough to create a great couple, but along with the performance by real life spouses Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin the relationship between Snow and Charming reaches new heights. They become relatable, genuine, honest, even amid this fantastical world with magical plotlines.
“The Broken Kingdom” added a new depth to the relationship while also reinforcing their unbreakable bond. Nine out ten verbal fights on Once Upon A Time are over a curse, Henry, or Emma. Mary Margaret and David however managed to fall into that rare 10%, arguing over where their trust and loyalties should lay in Camelot. Mary Margaret informs David that Lancelot is alive and that Arthur should not be trusted. David disregards the declaration, saying that Arthur can can help them with the Dagger, Mary Margaret is set off, offended that he just ignored her. It all becomes a well known to many, married couple fight. Spouse 1 says this – Spouse 2 ignores that – 1 gets emotional in some way – 2 gets emotional in some way – everyone is upset – everyone storms off. Regina in this situation played the role of the child who should be minding their own business yet is still in the room. Regina, who by the way is visibly confused by this argument, acting almost as us, the viewer, surprised by this powerhouse couple with the same beating heart having a fight. Just a weird, yet exciting, sight to see. David makes it clear he doesn’t trust Lancelot – “Cora said Lancelot was dead, you can’t believe everything you hear.” Mary Margaret takes a firm stand with Team Lancelot – “He married us. He’s our friend.” But David’s true reason for not trusting him become perfectly clear with this exchange…
D: Where has been all these years?
MM: He did’t say.
D: Where is he now?
MM: Hiding. It’s not like he’s welcome in Camelot.
D: Because he went after Arthur’s wife and he’s back, why? Why’s he back?
MM: I don’t know David, I don’t have all the answers!
The way Josh Dallas says “wife” speaks volumes to the character. After 4 seasons, Dallas undoubtably knows Charming better than any of us so his emphasis on the word “wife” was unquestionably an informed decision. Just three episodes in and it is already clear that Charming’s dilemma this season is not only his daughter but also his feelings of inadequacy as a hero, as a husband, a father. While I doubt David is worried about Mary Margaret getting into bed with Lancelot, the way he goes about this argument reveals his true fear of losing everything he loves. David has felt powerless lately not being able to quickly save Emma (in Camelot AND present day Storybrooke), watching her struggle right in front of his eyes. Lancelot appears to be yet another problem to add to his shopping list of issues so defensiveness and impatience has become his only natural response. Mary Margaret however only sees this as him having trust issues which understandably riles her up (angry Snow is seriously intense, I like it). Before the lover’s quarrel volcano erupts, the two realize Regina is still in the room. Mary Margaret settles and asks her to leave – she does in her fabulous cloud of purple smoke (girl knows how to make an exit). They take a breath then the argument turns on David with Mary Margaret putting some pieces together…
“So thats what this is about. You haven’t met a King in awhile and you’re starstruck.”
He denies this, insisting he is doing this all for Emma. Mary Margaret gets a bit harsh…
“So why become a Knight of the Roundtable? How does that help her? Or is it that you need to feel like a hero again?”
This line brings things full circle. Just last week, though 6 weeks in the future, Mary Margaret happily commended him for finding the Crimson Crown in Storybrook – “David, you did it.” There was pride and joy in her eyes as her Prince saved the day yet in “The Broken Kingdom” she is full of doubt, and David clearly picked up on it.
Mary Margaret gets the last word (atta’ girl!) then there is an uncomfortable silence. It’s palpably tense: an odd feeling since it never happens with scenes involving these two.
Fear not, the single hearted Charmings are basically incapable of staying mad at each other for more than 2 segments. The unbeatable and untrickable duo plays both Lancelot and Arthur in order to figure out who they should trust. When Arthur demands he have the dagger, Mary Margaret gives it to him. He angrily attempts to summon the Dark One, and fails, so she quickly confesses that the dagger he holds is a fake. Enter Charming, who was waiting for the exact moment to pop out from nowhere to divulge their plan. While the Charmings fight was intense and bit hurtful, they reverted back to their old selves: the most badass Royals in all the lands. Sure they’re still pist, but things need to get done, marital issues need to be put aside for the sake of their children. 10000 Points to House Charming for being great parents…
“The darkness is in my daughter. So every choice I make is for the good of my family”
Also points for this…
Gotta love the Charmings!
Once Upon A Time excels each season by reimagining classic fairytale characters and challenging the many troupes that come along with them. This is made evident each episode through Hook and Emma’s unconventional love story. Before this show, when you thought of Captain Hook you most likely pictured a hairy, Peter Pan-hating pirate. When you thought of fairytale romance and true love you likely pictured a damsel in distress being saved by a gallant knight who then lived happily ever after. Hook and Emma have a fairytale romance and true love but their road here never cooperated with any of these classical troupes or gave into expectations as to who these characters are and should be.
Killian Jones and Emma Swan have been through a lot. There was Pan then the second Curse, then the Author, now this Dark Swan business. Through all of of it though, one thing has remained constant: Killian’s undying love for Emma. He may not have actually admitted his love for her until late in the 3rd season (3×17 “The Jolly Roger”) to Ariel but the truth is he has loved her since their adventures the Enchanted Forest. Hook has been wholeheartedly in love with Emma much longer than she with him. For obvious reasons Emma has trust issues and while she is the courageous Savior, she is chalk full of fear when it comes to the ones she loves. It took time for her to truly open her heart to love another man after her history of dying boyfriends. Hook understood this but never wavered from proving to Emma that he was a survivor, that he was worth exposing her heart to.
On many occasions Hook has declared his feelings for Emma and his belief in their future. She is his happy ending, nothing else, nothing more, just her. After 200+ years of villainous behavior across multiple realms, with the loss of his first love and penchant for taking down the Crocodile, Killian Jones was a lost soul, misguided and in need of a anchor. Emma is that anchor. She is a part of him, she has taken his heart and inhabited a part of his soul. This isn’t just speculation. Hook has been featured in 73 episodes of this show and with each appearance he has proved his loyalty to Emma. In the beginning there was mere flirting, then he began protecting her, then there was their first kiss. That kiss was the spark that ignited the love in Killian’s heart. Every preceding appearance of Hook was relative to Emma. As I previously mentioned, OUAT strays from the typical fairytale troupes. In the case of Hook and Emma, it is the man who is weakened by his love. It is the man whose thoughts are consumed by his love. Sure he has saved the day like a typical knight and shining armor, but his true role in the relationship is not the protector but the believer. He gives his whole mind, body, and soul to this relationship because he has infinite belief that it will end happily. It has to.
“Broken Kingdom” added another beautiful page to the Captain Swan love story. But more importantly it proved without a doubt that Killian Jones will NEVER stop fighting for Emma, he will NEVER give up on her. The Rumpelstilskin that has been toying with Emma’s mind this season nearly caused her to accidentally hurt Hook with a simple flick of the wrist. Missing him by thaaaaat much Hook reassures her that no one is there before pulling her in for warm embrace. In shock, Emma lays down with Hook watching over her with tired eyes, clearly in pain seeing the woman he loves in such distress. Henry takes them to the stables where she can recharge her batteries in solitude. There, we got to see a side of Hook, that I for one cannot get enough of. Henry tells Mama Bear Emma and Quasi-Step-Father Hook about Violet. While Emma looks a bit bothered by it, Hook was full of pride for wee little Henry having a girlfriend. It was such an honest moment, so authentic and also so hopeful. Henry’s father died, so seeing Hook playing the proud paternal figure was utterly heartwarming, not to mention hilarious.
Bonus: Hook and Emma being nosy parents, creepin’ behind the saddles
After the young love birds left, Emma admits to Hook that she has been seeing Rumple in her head ever since they arrived in Camelot. He explains to her that he too had demons in his head and that sailing the seas on the Jolly Roger silenced them. He proposes they take a horse ride to clear her mind, to get her heart racing like the treacherous waters did for him. Before they hop on Hook insists Emma introduce herself to the horse in order for it to trust her. It doesn’t work and Rumple shows up. Hook cuts into her vision “Swan, stop talking to the demon in your head and get on the horse.” He is so nonchalant in this scene, as to not appear worried or affected at all by Emma’s Dark One troubles. He isn’t ignoring it but rather consciously maintaining the normalcy. The next part of this exchange is immensely important and a significant moment for not only Hook, but for the viewer. If anyone wasn’t convinced that Hook’s is the most in-love and devoted man on this show, they are now.
This is about you putting your faith in me, in our future…I’ll never stop fighting for us, all you have to do is trust me.
Much like how David said “wife” earlier, here, so much is communicated through the inflection of Hook’s voice. It is said in such a way that not only does he want Emma to believe it, but also that he believes it himself. It’s the tone of man telling the honest truth. It’s not a game, not a persuasion, just him telling Emma his truth: he will never give up, never stop fighting. And I just think that is beautiful. Killian Jones, you sir, are perfect.
Speaking of perfection, the two finally rode that horse, their hearts racing and smiles sprawled across both of their faces (so sweet!). They end up in a field of blooming flowers where visions of Rumple are no more and are finally alone at last. This scene was absolutely stunning, thank you, Alrick Riley (the director). The sun gently broke through the surrounding trees, warming Killian and Emma’s complexions, bringing out the innocence of this moment. As they stared into each others eyes the two looked ethereal – they kiss so delicately yet full of the passion and [true] love we know they have for each other. Riley truly captures the beauty and importance of this kiss. The camera pulls back revealing the vast field of flowers as we watch Hook and Emma enjoy this moment of pure bliss.
The whole (beautiful) scene: