The emotional distress has subsided, my tears have dried up, dozens of gifsets have been reblogged and yet my heart still lays broken in millions of pieces below my TV screen. It will take me at least 3 months to put the pieces back together, should be done…I don’t know…MARCH 6TH. It’s going to be a long winter for us Oncers, especially for my fellow Shipmates of the SS Captain Swan. The midseason finale was a real punch in the stomach – nay – a fatal stab to the stomach with the most powerful sword in all the lands. There were twists, turns, reunions, patricide, a ferry to the Underworld and one ultimate sacrifice. All of this together made one compelling, heartbreaking hour that will never be forgotten.
Remember whenever you feel scared, all you have to do is look inside. We’re all braver than we think if we just look deep enough. Before you know it, you’ll be a man so I’m just trying to prepare you because then you’re going to have to answer the much bigger questions: What kind of man are you going to be?
-Papa Jones to Young Killian
“Swan Song” was all about Killian Jones. Not Captain Hook but the man behind the nickname, the hero shrouded by a villainous monicker. We were introduced to Hook in season 2 as Cora’s one handed henchman and nothing more than a pretty, brunette distraction in the way of Emma’s hero’s journey. Captain Hook wasn’t some bushy haired childish swashbuckler anymore but a complex human with layers of emotion and depth. This is largely thanks to Colin O’Donoghue who brought the character to life like never before. At first it seemed he would be merely a variable in Once Upon A Time’s formula of half season storylines but his simply irresistible
guyliner charisma and talent for scene stealing quickly made him a fan favorite no one wanted to let go of.
As Emma and Hook began crossing paths more, gaining each others trust and eventually falling in love, we the viewers learned quite a lot about Hook. On the surface he’s a devilishly handsome pirate thirsty for rum and revenge but beneath that lies a loving, thoughtful man named Killian. Having been abandoned by his father and his brother, Liam, having died in his arms, Killian led a life on the seven seas to pillage plunder, rifle and loot (YoHo! sorry I had to). As we learned in this season’s “Birth”, he truly was a villain. Each of his rings represents a dark moment in his life; one from a man he drowned, another from a man whom he killed in front of his family.
An awful man was Hook, but through the darkness we got glimpses of Killian. These glimpses started out as his honest love for Milah and heartache following her death. But when he met Emma, these glimpses turned into moments, into events. Hook slowly withered with each utterance of “Killian” by his true love, Miss Swan. Killian confessed his darkest secret, crossed realms, traveled to the past to save the future, traded his most cherished possession and had a loyal, devoted heart all for himself. Oh did you think I was going to say Emma? Well sure Emma played a big part in all of it, but in the end she was just a catalyst. The man Killian Jones wanted to be was a Hero who loved and was loved. And in his very last moments he became just that.
But before we get to the excruciating final moments lets back up a little bit (and it really is a “little bit” because I’m almost certain this episode only spanned about 2 hours SBT¹). One of the major themes Once Upon A Time deals with is redemption; the human capacity to learn and grow from past mistakes and misfortunes. We have seen this with nearly every character, each given their own personal hour to delve into their origin story. Tonight we finally saw Killian’s. Yes, technically this is his second spotlight episode (the first: 3×05 “Good Form”). We met big brother Liam and were introduced to the real (though noticeably less traveled and seductive) Killian Jones. But that wasn’t a true origin story as there was already so much history we had yet to see.
Unsurprisingly, Killian and Liam were raised at sea. We finally saw the pivotal moment in Killian’s life that single handily² set his future ablaze. His father (who was interestingly unnamed so my Davy Jones theory still holds water) calms a sweet young Killian who fearfully wakes up amid a storm. (How they sleep at all is beyond me, I mean those treacherous waves, I’d not only be awake but vom- nevermind.) Killian wakes up soon after with a creepy old man telling him that his father was a fugitive and abandoned him and Liam. Father of the year, Papa Jones, traded his children’s servitude for a row boat to escape capture. Sweet little innocent Killian, I wanted to give that kid a hug so bad.
After a trip down Jones lane we returned to Storybrooke with Hook once again toying with Rumple. Even though he was bested on the Jolly Roger it had no effect at all on his dark ego. I must say as head spinning and emotionally straining these past 2 episodes have been, they have also been extremely entertaining thanks to Colin’s grandiose portrayal of Dark Hook. It is the ONLY thing I will miss about this storyline. In his last hurrah as the over confident smart ass flavor of Dark One, Hook declares that revenge is coming. After Rumple tries to attack him though, Hook says something that after watching the episode in its entirety (twice), not only foreshadowed the future but also subtly revealed Hook’s true feelings….
“There’s the Rumpelstiltskin we know and love! That is why Belle’s left you isn’t it? She knows just what kind of man you really are. The kind who loves his power more than anything, more than her, more than your dead son. Which is why its so bloody satisfying to take it away from you!”
If you turn this on Hook, it’s a confession of inner shame.
“There’s the Hook we know and love! That is why Emma’s left you isn’t it? She knows just what kind of man you really are. The kind who loves the darkness more than anything, more than her…”
He looked in the mirror and saw the man he was centuries ago and the darkness told him he loved it. That is why he and Emma are broken, because the man she knows he really is, Killian Jones, is completely overcome with darkness.
His revenge play was already in action and Emma knew it. Emma Swan was alone her entire life before Henry showed up at her door. She led a lonely life full of pain and abandonment but Storybrooke changed that. There she found her family, found her home, found a life she would do anything not to lose. Hook was about to destroy all of it, leaving Emma back to square one, alone. As much as Emma loved Killian, she realized (as many fans also held onto through these trying times), that Hook was not Killian. The man she loved died in Camelot. This man trying to take away her family, her home, her life was not him.
The gang of Dark Ones quickly ascended onto the town, running through everyone, marking them with a brand. This brand, the Mark of Charon, makes each of them a vessel for the DOs to trade places with and in turn send our beloved Storybrookers straight to the Underworld. Rumple advises everyone to give up and to spend their last moments around family. While the Charmings agree to this, Emma obviously wasn’t going to just let her family die. Dark One or not Emma Swan is the Savior.
I mentioned in a past review how I found the interactions between Regina and Hook to be odd (totally awesome, but odd) this season. We had the guyliner line in the premiere and then in “Dreamcatcher” with Killian aggressively calling her Your Majesty. Tonight we saw the pair alone together for the first time in a long while (possibly the first time ever in Storybrooke). We have seen a new warmer side of Regina lately that is an undoubtable side effect of her new found heroism. She approaches Hook at the docks with a countenance only a worried mother can make. I would like to believe that she sees herself in him and her coming to him with genuine concern is her hoping save him. She appeals to Killian, not this Dark version of Hook, but Killian, a man who has known her longer than anyone else in town. She is the only person who has seen each shade of Killian Jones and with this knowledge she has figured out who he really is, who he wants to be…
“You may be the Dark One but we both know you aren’t the man you were when I recruited you to kill my mother…”
There was glimmer of Killian Jones in his eyes for just a second but the unfiltered darkness soon took over. Hook puts Regina in a Force Choke before she can finish her sentence. His actions seemed to come from a place of fear. Have you ever had an argument with someone and you know you’re wrong but you won’t dare admit it? Then you find yourself escalating the argument just to divert attention from your wrongdoings? This is what Regina and Hook’s conversation felt like. Hook could see her trying to get him to admit that this wasn’t him so he responds with unreasonable anger to assert that he is who he is….
“Whoever you think I am, I’m not. You’ve got no idea the kind of man I truly am.”
Once again the foreshadowing was strong here. “…the kind of man I truly am” at first seems like threat but in reality it is more Hook’s desperate measure to prove he can be just as unspeakably dark as the Evil Queen.
In another flashback, though this time it is circa ‘that period Emma and Killian traveled back in time. Killian was post Neverland and pre Emma Swan, in the Enchanted Forest pre Dark Curse #1. If anyone who didn’t watch OUAT saw that sentence they would think I was crazy. Killian has agreed to kill Cora, but the Evil Queen (man I missed those outfits!) needs this pirate to prove his worth first with a test.
She takes him to tavern where he learns the man he must kill is his father. Killian waits until he is that last man there before confronting dear ol’ Daddy. Papa Jones (played by Adam Croasdell, anyone remember him as this?) realizes it is his son and is visibly shaken, in disbelief that he is looking at his son not only grown up, but still alive. Killian unleashes his centuries old aggression and much like his argument with Rumple earlier, his words provide deeply emotional subtext….
“You once told me I have to decide what kind of man I wanted to be. Well Father, this is who I became!”
His anger filled declaration once again comes from a place of shame. This Killian, pre Emma, hasn’t found his happy ending, hasn’t figured out the man he wants to be so he directs that frustration onto his father (as many often do). He blames his father for everything, basically. Sure, if his father didn’t abandon him his life would have turned out much different but at some point your mistakes become your own and only your own, but Killian has yet to realize this.
Colin O’Donoghue and Adam Croasdell quickly prove to be exceptional scene partners. We have only just met Papa Jones and yet the emotion and fatherly connection Croasdell has with Killian is so believable and touching I felt as though he has been on the show much longer than what – 2 minutes? Papa Jones explains how he is still alive (to summarize: sleeping curse→true loves kiss→rise and shine ) and with gentle tears in his eyes he tells his son about his True Love.
“She changed me.”
(a woman changing a Jones man for the better? Sounds familiar…)
He continues, revealing however that she passed away a few years prior. With this Killian, to my personal surprise, seems to let the grudge go as he sees before him a man not too different from himself. He refrains from eye contact, tearing up as he looks away “We’ve lost too much.” This is the action and words of a good man, of the man Killian Jones truly is. His father sees this and looks to him with pride. The two share a breathtaking moment as Killian briefly tells his father about Milah. I can’t say it enough, but Colin O’Donoghue and Adam Croasdell were truly great in this scene. Bravo. Killian tells him that he will get him a letter of transit to escape the Royal Guard to which his father responds asking for 2 – he has another son.
In Storybrooke Emma and Regina head to Gold’s where Rumple tells them the only way to solve this massive Dark One problem is to tether all of the darkness to Excalibur. If killed by Excalibur, the darkness will be released into that body and destroyed once the person dies.
“You’re a brave woman, Emma Swan.”
And so begins the tally for tears shed. Such a sweet, unexpected moment.
Emma heads to her house to retrieve Excalibur where Hook awaits her. He doesn’t want to hurt her, but not because he cares for her but rather he admits he should be thanking her for giving him all this power – he can finally get him revenge.
“This is not the man Killian wanted to be”
In scenes last week, Emma appeared emotionally stunned when speaking with Hook. She was guilty for what she had done to Killian and was truly hurt by each and every one of his words. But now she recognizes that this is not Killian, this is not the man she loves. This is an evil villain threatening her family. She still cries for Killian at first, apologizing “I couldn’t watch one more person I love die.” But with one Dark threat “Now you’re going to have to watch everyone you love die” she goes after him with Excalibur. Henry appears and takes the sword from her – poof – it was Killian (Honestly though..how did he become a master of magic so fast?). She tearfully pleads for him to not go on with his plan. “It’s too late for that, Swan.” Emma, who has fought and defeated nearly every villain in a fairytale book, is rendered hopeless.
The Charmings, Robin, Regina, Henry and Rumple are taken by the slew of Dark Ones to the lake where their ferry to the Underworld awaits. The man of the hour, Hook, arrives as Emma follows, rushing into the arms of her parents. She cries “I’m sorry I tried” and my tears shed tally has reached the double digits. It was an honest moment in a family when the child realizes they just need their parents love to make it all better. Mary Margaret gently says “We know. It’s okay” in only a way a mother can. In a scene filled with magic and mythology it manages to bring such true human moments you forget you’re watching a show about fairytales.
Regina confronts Hook echoing what his father said to him as a child…
“You have to ask yourself the same question you did that night: What kind of man do you want to be?”
Cue the flashback! Killian arrives at his father’s cottage and watches as he puts his young half-brother to sleep. The boy’s name is Liam which understandably leaves Killian livid. His father comes out and tries to prove he is a better man but revenge driven Hook rejects it all. He throws the transit papers in the fire and declares he’s decided “what kind of man [he] wants to be.” This Hook, the man with a damaged heart, abandoned by everyone he ever cared for with nothing to lose embraces his inner villain and murders his father.
Meanwhile Dark Hook stares with cold remorseful eyes as Nimue begins to choke Emma. Colin O’Donoghue truly portrays such a wide spectrum of emotion in this scene beginning here as we can honestly see the expression of man questioning his entire life, every choice, re-living every moment. Beneath the facade of Dark Hook lies Killian Jones a man with a heart full of love, a family, a home and everything to lose. The sight of Emma Swan’s life being taken pulled Killian out of the darkness. The woman who loved and changed him was not only about to die but he realized that with her death he would be back to square one. Much like the reasons why Emma turned him into the Dark One, the thought of devolving and returning to a sorrowful life, haphazardly living out their lives alone was horrifying and something needed to be done to avoid it no matter the price. For Emma it was Dark Hook, but for Killian it was his life.
Killian demands Nimue stops and decides once and for all the man he truly wants to be: A HERO. He lifts up Excalibur and pulls the darkness from all of the Dark Ones into the sword. The Darkness surrounds him and he looks down to the heavy sword with heroically brave eyes. Emma stunned begs Killian to not do this. He turns to her and she realizes this is the man she loves, he is back and ready to sacrifice his life for her.
This season has heavily featured Killian’s ability to change, to both devolve and ultimately evolve. We watched as he remained wholeheartedly by Emma’s side through thick and thin, planned his future, planned his happy ending with his True Love. He recognized his darkest hours and confessed that he was at fault for all of his villainous behavior. He fell prey to the darkness, reeked havoc in Storybrooke and now we watched (with tear filled eyes if you’re anything like me) as he arrived at a place where he had the opportunity to prove all the good he did was worthwhile and all his wrongdoings could be atoned. He chose to seize this opportunity and finally answer that big question of who he was going to be.
“You have to help me, Swan – take it! Your family needs you. If anyone deserves to go to the Underworld it’s me. You were right I was weak, so let me make up for it now by being strong…I dont want to lose you but you have to let me go. Let me die a hero. That’s the man I want you to remember, please!”
His plea left me sobbing barely able to see the TV screen through my tears. Killian Jones is a hero. Emma was right there along with me crying for him to not do this. But as much as it hurts, Emma knows what she must do. Jennifer Morrison capped off her stellar half season with a heartbreaking performance in this moment. She dragged her feet toward Killian to take Excalibur, her entire being drenched in fear and grief. She takes it and the two share their final kiss and I love you’s. This was their first true exchange of I Love You as the one in the field of flowers was all a charade for Hook. The Captain Swan love story has been an honor to watch each week from Neverland to this their Swan Song.
Emma steps back to prepare to stab Killian and the two exchange looks that had me ugly crying. Emma, with tear soaked cheeks peers up at Killian, scared, while he responds with a gentle smile. Even on the brink of death, Killian tries to make Emma feel better, to reassure her with one look that that everything will be okay. Tears shed tally has now filled an entire notebook.
Emma Swan and Killian Jones stare into each others eyes as they prepare to take part in the single worst moment in their lives. Emma thrusts Excalibur into him, he screams as Regina and Henry look on in horror. His body falls into hers, he lifts his head, pressing his forehead against hers as Emma’s darkness is extracted, returning her back to her blonde red-jacketed self.
She pulls out the knife and FYI this is moment where I was officially KO’d: Killian grabs on to Emma gasping for his final breaths. The two fall to the ground, Emma looking over him as she did weeks ago, overcome with pain and heartache watching the man she loves die in her arms. This is the third time Emma has watched Killian die. Three times she has been tortured with the sight of of seeing the light in her True Love’s eyes dim.
Her parents, Robin, Regina, Henry and even Rumple watch in mournful silence. Henry I need to mention looked frozen in shock. Killian, as we have seen throughout the past two seasons, has become a Father figure to Henry. They laughed together, plotted escapes, taught each other to sail and picked out a house for them all to live in. Henry has already lost one father and losing another was just unspeakable.
A lifeless Killian is covered in a sheet as Emma holds his hand tight, inconsolable. Mary Margaret and David hold her back as paramedics wheel him away and I weep endlessly. Rest In Peace Killian Jones, I love you…I mean Emma loves you. We both love you.
Even on the worst day of her life Emma Swan is still the Savior. Back at her apartment she vows to bring Killian back by going to the Underworld. She plans on taking a page from her parent’s fairytale and sharing a heart with him so they can both return to the land of the living, together.
The gang returns to the lake along with Rumple who drops his blood into its waters, summoning Charon and his ghostly row boat to the Underworld. Everyone enters the billowing fog and the final words we hear before the oh so far away mid season premiere? The most iconic Once Upon A Time line, with a Captain Swan twist…
“Hook, I will find you. I will always find you.”
March 6th seems like centuries away. If you need me I’ll be rewatching the show from the beginning…twice…and mentally preparing myself for 5B…
¹Storybrooke Time ²that pun was unintentional but made me giggle like an idiot
Some Extra Thoughts…
- I am emotionally compromised.
- MARCH IS SO FAR AWAY GOD HELP US ALL
- Killian is dead. *sobs violently*
- Okay, what is with David and Mary Margaret being so lame this season? I mean MM was easily subdued by Zelena a couple of weeks ago and David has had an average of 3 lines per episode. This is not the badass/kickass fairytale power couple we know and love!! WTF A&E !!
- Slay Regina Slay
- “Gina! Robbie!” Thank you Zelena for making me laugh (the only laugh of the night
- I kinda feel bad that Zelena was taken from her daughter…
- This all just sucks really it just sucks BUT BUT BUT Hercules and Meg are coming!!! cue THIS
- After 5 episodes my BIGGEST question was finally answered!!! ROLAND IS WITH THE FAIRIES!!!