My TV-viewing week got off to a great start on Sunday with another fantastic one-two punch of dramatic television, as game-changing secrets were revealed on Once Upon a Time and the tension continued to rise on The Good Wife. Monday gave us the pure entertainment of “Cher Night” on Dancing with the Stars and a Castle episode that began to pave the way for Beckett, Castle, and Alexis to form their own unique family. Tuesday featured the return of Coach on New Girl and another episode of The Mindy Project that had me screaming for Mindy and Danny to just get together already (and I mean that in the best possible way). Thursday’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland built on the great reveal of Anastasia’s identity, and Scandal forever endeared Lisa Kudrow’s Josie Marcus to me with a brilliant speech on sexism in the political world (and in the media in general).
This week featured many fantastic acting moments (Kudrow on Scandal, all of the men of New Girl, Christine Baranski on The Good Wife), but no one scene showcased the phenomenal talents of its cast the way the “Echo Cave” scene did on this week’s Once Upon a Time. The entire premise of the scene was brilliant, allowing some of the most emotionally complex and moving relationships on the show to take center stage in way that moved the plot along while being emotionally satisfying as well.
Each secret packed a huge emotional punch: Hook revealing that Emma is the reason he now has hope that he can love again after 300 years of living in the darkness he clung to after Milah’s death; Snow’s confession of wanting another baby because her relationship with Emma is unique but not what she wanted; Charming finally coming clean about not being able to leave Neverland; and Emma telling Neal that she’d hoped he was dead so she could finally move on from all of the pain associated with their relationship. But what made this scene so compelling and moving was the way each actor gave everything to make us feel the weight of those secrets as well as the impact each one had on every person in that cave.
Colin O’Donoghue made Hook’s vulnerability truly feel like it was coming from a man who hasn’t opened his heart like that in three lifetimes—from the way he was visibly steeling himself before sharing his secret to the way his eyes never left Emma throughout the rest of the scene. Ginnifer Goodwin made me believe Snow was gutted by having to share her secret in front of Emma, her voice strained with emotion as she struggled to come to terms with just how much the curse is still affecting her family. Josh Dallas’s warmth and earnest line delivery once again broke my heart. Even Michael Raymond-James made me emotional in his brief moments on screen; his “You can tell me anything,” was delivered with perfect sincerity.
And then there was Jennifer Morrison. Her work as Emma Swan this season has been nothing short of incredible, and this scene was another highlight. Each word of her secret hurt because you could feel how much it hurt Emma to have to look into the eyes of the man she will always love and tell him she is so broken by their relationship that she’d hoped he was dead. Emma Swan is such a beautifully human character, a fairytale princess whose life has been anything but a fairytale. And in this scene perhaps more than any other, Morrison made us feel the extent of the pain this broken woman has lived with every day since the day Neal let her go to jail. This scene needed to happen; it was cathartic, and every emotional beat it hit was earned.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?