Once Upon a Time: Broken Heart Review

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By: Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)

The penultimate episode of the first half of Season 5 has one of the most apropos titles ever. “Broken Heart” left many a heart crushed: Emma, Killian, Rumpelstiltskin, and Merlin (literally), as well as leaving the audience with broken hearts. But as is always the case with Once Upon a Time, there is a sense of hope amidst the darkness. Dealing with the aftermath of Emma turning Killian into a Dark One to save his life, almost all of our questions from Camelot were answered. Struggling with being thrust into the darkness he spent centuries trying to overcome, Emma tries to give him hope, but when she lies about having Excalibur, he succumbs to the darkness, using Nimue’s spirit that resides in all Dark Ones to crush Merlin’s heart and cast a curse to bring them back to Storybrooke so he can finally get his revenge on Rumpelstiltskin. But Emma refuses to give up their happy ending so she puts him and everyone to sleep, erasing their memories as the curse brings them back home. In Storybrooke, our heroes try to figure out what Killian has planned. While he challenges Rumple to a duel on his ship and says he wants to hurt Emma as she hurt him, she is determined to fix her mistakes. But it’s only when she realizes that she needs help from her family and to stop trying to do things alone (thanks to a much-needed push from Henry), she recruits her son for another mission – Operation Cobra Part 2, where they find the dreamcatchers Killian had hidden and they have their memories restored, including Emma’s, which brings to light the Darkness’s ultimate plan. It seems the real goal of Killian’s duel with the Crocodile was to get some of his blood. Because Rumple died and was resurrected, his blood can open up a portal to the underworld. Now all of the Dark Ones have arrived in town, in the flesh, hell-bent on snuffing out the light. As bleak as things seem, all hope is not lost. And are things really as they seem?

What I loved about “Broken Heart” was that in a very dark episode, many of the characters or situations were still infused with that sense of hope. Despite their better instincts, Regina and Robin agree that Zelena can see her daughter as long as one of them is present, choosing to believe that she can showcase the same kind of redemption that Regina displayed. The love of Henry turned Regina’s life around for the better, so perhaps Zelena can indeed follow suit. You can see the justified trepidation on their faces as they placed the baby into her arms and Zelena does know how to push her sister’s buttons. But what was nice in the scene was Regina’s recognition that despite them both doing some very bad things, the Evil Queen’s crimes do exceed the Wicked Witch’s, and yet she was able to change and find happiness. It may be complicated now, but with maturity and understanding, it is not so bleak. And seeing Zelena smile with genuine affection at her little girl and not poof away when you know she’s capable of such was a sign in a positive direction. For Rumple and Belle, things may seem sad at the moment, but I actually found this stage in their relationship very hopeful. Rumple expresses desire to be the man she deserves to try to make up for his wrongs, so plans to duel Killian with honor. He asked her to meet him at the well if he succeeds which would mean they could move on together. But when she arrives, instead of ready to be with him, she leaves him heartbroken saying she has been hurt so much, she needs to protect her heart for once if she is to decide whether they can ever be together again. As devastating as this may be for fans of the couple, this is a necessary and wonderful sign of growth. When Belle had banished him, she told him that while trying to help him she lost herself along the way. And once again Belle is showing tremendous strength realizing that she must find herself now. And even though Rumple is on the path of good, he needs to demonstrate that he can continue down that road time and time again, live a life without wanting power, and overcome always feeling like a coward. The strongest couples must have two people with a real sense of self-identity that is separate from their partner. When Belle and Rumple achieve this, they can find their way back to each other. The love is still there, so even in this sad chapter, faith remains. Lastly, for Snow and David, I was pleased to see Snow recognize and understand why Emma saved Killian’s life even if it was an extreme method. She expressed what I hoped she would, making up for the hypocrisy she demonstrated before. She expresses that they would have done the same in Emma’s situation. She and David share a heart because they were willing to take a risk because that is what this family does, they say to each other. This was a lovely way of having faith in her daughter (and maybe even including Killian as part of their family) that was very much needed. David said he hopes Emma’s faith in Killian was justified, which was disappointing considering he’s witnessed how much he has done for Emma and their family. Has he forgotten that Killian saved his life in Neverland, traded his ship to bring her home, and just hours ago took down Arthur, which caused the mortal wound? We can only hope that David will express faith as well and he can demonstrate that kind of steadfast belief in others we know he is capable of.

Before discussing the heart of the episode and the ways in which the scenes for Killian and Emma ran the gambit of emotions, I must first mention the brilliance displayed by Colin O’Donoghue as Dark Hook. Just like Robert Carlyle has displayed wonderful shades as both the inner darkness and newly heroic Mr. Gold, and Jennifer Morrison has been equally captivating as the Dark Swan, O’Donoghue displays new levels of brilliance with this darker persona. This is much different than the villainous Captain Hook we’ve seen. In Camelot, we see the anger, struggle, pain, and descent into darkness, while in Storybrooke, he appears almost manic and at times glassy-eyed, with mannerisms and speech patterns so different than the Killian Jones we know. It just proves what a tremendous talent O’Donoghue truly is, and this was his time to shine. The scene in which he imitates Rumple saying, “Get your affairs in order, Dearie,” echoing the first interaction between Hook and the Dark One was particularly fantastic. Moreover, similar to Emma, but even more so, we bore witness to what the darkness truly does to a person. I found it interesting and heart-wrenching that they chose to show what happens when the darkness takes a hold of a person for the first time with Killian’s character. Seeing him relive all that pain that has been associated with the Dark One was agonizing, but you see that is what the evil latches onto and then torments a soul with. The darkness twists and manipulates, and it amplifies your weaknesses, pain, and insecurities, so as difficult as it was to watch, it is only natural to see Killian so angry and lash out at Emma in both Camelot and Storybrooke. Having felt unworthy of her in the past, doubting his own strength, two moments in particular were quite heart-wrenching. When he realizes Emma lied about having Excalibur, he feels as if she doesn’t trust him, which stings especially because he was the one person who always put Emma first and believed she needed to be in charge of her choices. Thinking she does not believe in him after all they’ve been through hurt him greatly, allowing the darkness to consume him more. In Storybrooke, when he tells Emma she will always be an orphan and that he wants to hurt her, the pain is quite potent for both of them. You can hear his voice tremble and crack, and the tears running down her face were devastating to watch. Despite the harshness of his words, there was a truth at the heart of them. Emma does isolate herself and puts up walls, pushing the people she loves away. She has grown so much but still struggles with this. It may have been heartbreaking but their intense conversations may be exactly what they needed. One of the things that is so special about their dynamic is that they demonstrate so much raw emotion and intensity, showcasing deep and real complexities. And as deeply, truly, and passionately as they love each other, what we witnessed was discussion of imperative things that were a long time coming. And these powerful scenes were brought to life with beautiful authenticity thanks to the dynamic and visceral chemistry of Morrison and O’Donoghue. Hearing Emma on the verge of tears and in so much pain, reminding him that when she gets scared she puts up walls, that she knows he understands that perfectly, that she wants to protect him, and that she does trust him was powerfully matched by Killian expressing that he has never abandoned her and went through Hell when he was controlled by Rumple, forced to watch Emma nearly die, and nearly being killed himself, completely powerless to stop it. So much of what they have gone through both individually and together is finally laid out between them with harshness but also honesty and still a sense of hope that no matter what, they love each other. This is the most beautifully developed relationship on the show and these moments further exemplify that.

As heart-wrenching as this episode was for Emma and Killian, hope remains and was showcased with moving beauty in two very significant moments. Just as he was able to quiet the darkness in her head, when she reminds him of the future they can have, so too does the darkness disappear, and with great ease, deep down he wants that life more than anything. This was a poignant way of showcasing that believing in love can overcome anything. And when they are once again in the field of Middlemist flowers and they exchange their first, “I love you. I love you too,” and share a passionate kiss, we see that beautiful truth with exquisite brevity. No matter what Dark Hook says, there is no life where the real Killian Jones doesn’t love Emma Swan and wouldn’t do anything for her. The vast range of emotions and the ways in which Emma is now demonstrating how she will not abandon him when she needs him the most are quite telling of the depth of this love story. We must remember that true love is never easy and must always be fought for. Whether Killian is simply trying to push Emma away to hurt her or to save her, what matters is that all relationships have moments of darkness and struggles. How often do we say things that are truly hurtful to the ones we love most? They can cut the deepest because they know us better than anyone. But real love is not simply smiles and handholding, kisses and constant bliss. As Will Scarlett said, “Love is messy. It means arguing and making up and laughing and crying and struggling. And sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it. But it is. And at the end, when you’re in love, no matter what happens, you forgive each other.” And we must remember that Emma’s own parents have struggled in their relationship. While under the spell of Shattered Sight, they said very hurtful things, and when they were simply cursed with no memories of their true selves, David actually believed Mary Margaret may have murdered his wife. He didn’t believe in her. Killian may be on a dark path but he is cursed with the darkest evil of all time – a darkness that consumes and twists the soul. As Emma cradled him as the curse enveloped everyone, another poignant parallel with Snow and Charming, we see an exquisite demonstration of that unfailing belief. She is in tears and the future that she dreams of is uncertain, but just as Killian promised to never stop fighting for them, now Emma is going to do everything to fight for her true love. She knows she is his happy ending despite what his words say. The Killian she loves is still there and she must fight for him. In the greatest stories, things are always darkest before the dawn. Frodo was consumed by darkness and did not destroy the ring, Luke was almost killed by the Emperor before his father saved him, Snape killed Dumbledore, and Harry “died.” But if Once Upon a Time has taught us anything, it’s that darkness will never prevail over light, and that true love is more powerful than any curse. “Love doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13) And I truly believe that no matter what is to come, the love between Emma and Killian will persevere. 
With the winter finale quickly approaching, we have to wonder – is Killian truly and totally consumed by the darkness, or is he doing what he must to save Emma? Why did Merlin already have a dark curse prepared before Killian crushed his heart? Was this part of a plan of his? And can true love conquer all? With all my heart I believe it can. Light will be restored, good will triumph over evil, and love will endure.

Favorite Moments:
When Emma and Killian express their love and kiss in the field of Middlemist flowers, we see how much they truly love and understand each other, while seeing Emma softly kiss Killian and rest her head on his cheek was a moving and touching moment of deep affection and vulnerability. It was gentle and profound and so beautiful. Colin O’Donoghue’s performance as Dark Hook was also a great highlight, especially the duel between him and Rumple. O’Donoghue and Carlyle’s dynamic is always so fantastic! Lastly, Snow finally expressing and understanding of Emma’s motivations was most welcome. She has faith in her daughter and I was so happy to hear her say what has been a constant in the series since the beginning – their family will always save each other.

Favorite Lines:
Emma: That future you told me not to be afraid of – we can have it. The house in Storybrooke. I’m not afraid anymore. I want it, with you. It’s ours. You just have to want it, too.
Killian: Aye, love, I do. More than anything.

Snow: She chose love, David. And we would have done the same. We share one heart because we took the same kind of risk that Emma took. That is what our family does.

Emma: When you wake up, you’ll be the man you were. The man I love. The man who loves me.

Zelena: Once you go green, you’ll never go queen.


    One Comment

  1. MonicaDecember 5th, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Best review among great ones. Thank you.

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