Sorry for the slight delay, dear readers! This one took longer to write than I’d anticipated.
Winter finale season is upon us! On Sunday, Once Upon a Time broke all our hearts with a stunning and surprising winter finale, but, thankfully, Brooklyn Nine-Nine spread lots of happiness with an episode focused on Jake and Rosa’s friendship. On Tuesday, the winter finale of The Muppets brought Mindy Kaling to the show to play (and sing!), and The Flash took us into the hiatus with the introduction of Wally West and about a million more reasons to care about Patty Spivot. Also on Tuesday, The Mindy Project gave us a look into the past to send a surprising sign about Mindy and Danny’s future. Wednesday’s Nashville ended this half-season with a proposal, a rare moment of joy amid a depressing start to the season. Finally, my Buffalo pride came out in full force during ESPN’s excellent 30 for 30 special “The Four Falls of Buffalo,” and Saturday Night Live gave us another thoroughly entertaining episode—this one featuring the return of Will Ferrell as George W. Bush and Chris Hemsworth as its charming host.
A lot of big things happened on television this week: Mindy took her apartment off the market, Joe West met his son, and Deacon and Rayna got engaged—just to name a few. But nothing has stayed with me like the events of Once Upon a Time‘s midseason finale, namely, the death of Killian Jones. It wasn’t just the most moving moment I saw on television this week; it was the most moving moment I’ve seen on television all season so far. And that was all because of the complete vulnerability displayed by Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison in that moment.
Once Upon a Time is a fairytale, and almost all fairytales have a moment like this one—the moment when the hero believes their love is lost to them forever. But the thing that’s always set Once Upon a Time apart is the fact that it’s a fairytale about a woman who didn’t grow up in a fairytale world. Emma Swan has always been and will always be the character who grounds this show in reality, and Morrison grounded this scene in the painful reality of grief. She held nothing back in her performance, and her fearlessness created a moment of raw emotion unlike anything we’ve ever seen on this show.
Killian’s death was a devastating moment of loss, but it was also a triumphant moment of love. It was this arc’s climactic reminder that love is stronger than darkness, that love can make us brave, and that love can bring out the best version of who we are. Knowing what this show was all about, it was easy to guess that Killian would ultimately find his way out of the darkness, but watching him break free of its hold on him was more powerful than I ever could have imagined. The way O’Donoghue showed—in just the smallest change in his facial expression—that Killian’s love for Emma once again lit a spark in the darkest corners of his heart was masterful.
I could write a million words about why Killian telling the darkness “That’s enough!” meant so much to me (and hopefully I will write all those words someday), but for now I’ll just say that moment was such a strong reminder that we all have the ability to choose how we’re defined. Even when we feel defined by our darkness, we can fight back. We can choose to be the kind of person we never felt brave enough to believe we could be. There’s still hope for us, even when the darkness in our own mind and heart feels overwhelming; we’re not a lost cause just because we feel like one. In that moment, Killian finally stopped letting his past define and control him, and that said so much about the ability we all have to acknowledge who we were but to choose to become who we want to be.
Killian Jones wanted to be a hero—the kind of man who is driven by love instead of hate, the kind of man who saves instead of destroys. And even though he didn’t save his own life, he saved his heart and the heart of the woman he loves from the grip of the darkness. The light of their love proved strong enough to destroy the darkness once again, as they changed from Dark Hook and Dark Swan to Killian and Emma before he died in her arms. That shot—with their foreheads touching like they have after so many intimate moments dating back to their first kiss—was such a powerful image: Killian and Emma taking one last moment to savor the love that helped them grow into the best versions of themselves. It was gut-wrenching to watch Emma lose him again, but this is how he wanted to die: in the arms of the woman he loves after knowing she was free of the darkness, looking one last time on the face of his Swan—not the Dark Swan.
While Killian’s death was brutal to watch, it was also beautiful (in no small way because we all know that Emma is going to march into the Underworld and get him back—that’s what this show is all about). It was a reminder of the strength we all have inside us, and it was a testament to the transformative power of love. It was a moment straight out of an epic fairytale, balanced with complex and realistic emotions—and I can think of no higher compliment to give a scene on Once Upon a Time.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?
And the fact that Killian took control of his own fate, echoing Emma’s words from season one, “People are going to tell you who you are your whole life. You just got to punch back and say, ‘no, this is who I am.’ You want people to look at you differently? Make them. If you want to change things, you’re going to have to go out there and change them yourself, because there are no fairy godmothers in this world.”
You know bringing up that quote in any context is the quickest way to my heart. 😉
Are you planning on writing about the Mindy Project? I think she is doing a masterful job on their story. For some reason, watching Mindy and Danny have problems has never bothered me or gave me any angst. I don’t exactly know why that is, since I have gotten so upset by how other shows have handled my favorite ships. Maybe because of previous burns, I’ve been more guarded? But I really think it’s because from the beginning, it was obvious that Mindy and Danny were not going to have an easy time of it. They are VERY different. And I really don’t think there was a lot of foreshadowing that they were MFEO in seasons 1-2. At least, not the kind of thing where it seemed like they were perfect for each other or anything. In any case, Mindy has consistently grown on this show. She is always moving forward. Danny, not so much. He has moved forward but it’s usually with her dragging him while he kicks and screams about it. As always, I loved the brilliant way Mindy Kaling shows us what is going on in a characters head without using words. As they showed the scene in the past with Danny telling her to NOT listen to what other people say, including him, and then brought us back to current time with her going to measure for Leo’s crib in her old apartment, you could see where it was heading. I have to be honest, I was really glad she wasn’t thinking of abandoning Leo. I didn’t really think she would totally, but I was concerned she would leave him to live at Danny’s for him and his mother to be the primary care givers. But I was really happe all season with how she worked so hard to balance her budding career and also doting all over her precious son (could they have found a cuter baby to play Leo? I think not).
In any case, as we’ve discussed, I don’t have anything to add to Once. It was heart-breaking but I am SO excited for the second half of the season. They bashed us over the head with the FACT that Killian and Emma are true love and end game, so now it’s just a matter of enjoying the ride. And if we get a snarky Hades as I hope, I will be the happiest person on earth!
What struck me on reading this was not so much Killian’s what-type-man-do-you-want-to-be moment, but Rumple’s. Have we ever seen him so blatantly choose power before? In the past, there was always some type of fear that drove him back to the power of the Dark One. But seriously, there’s really no need now — except that’s the man he wants to be.
You know how much I love the identity themes, so I loved the emphasis on that in this episode and in Killian’s death. While Killian can be quite decisive about wanting to be a better man, he’s never seemed comfortable identifying himself as a hero. Unlike other, similar deaths where the sacrifice was the character’s final chance to be heroic (I’m lookin’ at you Rumple), this was Killian’s chance to see himself as heroic — and more importantly, or at least more importantly to him, to truly know that Emma saw him that way. (We’ve never seen Emma grieve to this extent.) “That’s enough” shows his moment of decision about what type of man he wanted to be. “It’s ok” shows that he truly was that man.
And since Princess Bride was on this week, we can all just remember that “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” 🙂
‘“That’s enough” shows his moment of decision about what type of man he wanted to be. “It’s ok” shows that he truly was that man.’
I think you’re 100% right about Rumple. Maybe someone else could argue against this point, but this really did seem like a “final straw” type moment because there was no real fear motivating his actions. He chose power just because he saw the opportunity to have it, because he wants to be the Dark One—which is such a stark contrast to Killian wanting to die in Camelot rather than become the Dark One.
And I need to single out these two sentences for their beauty and truth:
““That’s enough” shows his moment of decision about what type of man he wanted to be. “It’s ok” shows that he truly was that man.”
BOOM. What a perfect pair of sentences. I still can’t think about him telling her “It’s okay” without wanting to sob for days. He’s the one staring death in the face, bracing himself for it, and he uses his last words to comfort her and reassure her. IT’S JUST STILL A LOT TO HANDLE.
I agree with Nerdy Girl that she described the best performance on television during mid-season finales….Emma and Killian. Also kudos to Henry for his facial expression as he witnesses Killian’s death and his mother’s grief….a look that displays a multitude of sorrows shared by fans of Once Upon A Time! A very powerful scene told with subtlefacial movements, volumes of tears, and characters holding on to what is most dear. Powerful!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! I agree with you about Henry—watching him in this scene broke my heart even more.
Once really was amazing… we are so lucky to have such talented people working on the show!
I have to mention that I actually watched The Muppets for the first time since it came back, and, for Mindy and Christmas, I was able to get past the little niggling issue I have with all the voices sounding wrong. It was a lovely little episode.
And it made my heart happy that Nashville pulled itself out of the awfully depressing slump it’s been in lately to give us some happiness and hope right near the end. Almost everybody ended the season on a positive, or at least potentially hopeful note. I was less excited about the proposal (mostly because the pre-surgical gurney scene was all the wedding I really needed) and more excited that Dr Caleb is going away and that Avery is going to give Juliette a chance. Mostly though I just needed some new music and a little bit of hope. (And it made me happy to think that you’d be happy about a little bit of positivity and hope too!).
I have been wanting to post since Monday!!
First, I really enjoyed The Flash last week. I am a firm believer that Joe West should be everyone’s Dad, so it was nice to see his family grow. And it was also great to get a little more character development for Patty, but the closer her and Barry get the more I just want to scream “Tell her!”.
And now for ‘Once’. While I had issues with the mid season finale as a whole, the moment you chose here was pretty close to perfect. When this season started, I thought we were going to get a very serious exploration of Emma’s role as the savior and how the rest of the town reacted to the absence of that savior. Thats not what we ended up getting (I still hold on hope we will get this theme eventually), but the story they chose to tell instead was satisfying. We got to see Emma face her biggest fear, losing the people she loves, and the temptation to control fate to avoid that fear in the form of the dark one curse. And then they went and threw in Killian facing his biggest fear at the same time – his fear of giving into the darkness he always felt was lurking just under the surface. I love the fact that they chose to have both Emma and Killian have to face these challenges at the same time, and its what I loved so much about this moment. Killian had to choose once and for all what kind of man he wanted to be, and Emma had to let him be that man, even though it meant losing him. It was a moment of mutual sacrifice, and that equality is what made this moment so powerful so powerful for me. The simple honesty of “I dont want to lose you/ And I dont want to lose you” is the part that hit me the hardest. It was just two people that wanted nothing more than more time to be together, and accepting that they couldnt. The moment of selfishness to save Killian let the darkness in, and the moment of selflessness to let him go forced the darkness out, and I really loved that visual (to hell with logistics).
So now there is the minor detail of Killian being dead, but they will overcome that too. I think there will still be a little bit more atonement and forgiveness on Killian’s side in the Underworld as well, but at this point I am just ready for the fun. I remember being promised fun. Give me the fun!
Yes! To Joe West. I love the sense of family on The Flash — that as far as Joe is concerned, Barry is his son, and that as far as Barry is concerned, Joe is his father . . . and that in no way minimizes Barry’s relationship with Henry. It’s nice to see a show get the fact that the Barry doesn’t have to choose one over the other. And I am sooooo with your on Barry telling Patty.
Like you I was also hoping that OUAT would explore the idea of saddling Emma with the savior label . . .perhaps they’ll pick that up later.
While I did love the angsty goodness of 5a, I am with you on wanting more fun. I miss the fun. Bring on the fun train!