That’s When the Fun Begins: The Best of Captain Swan

good form

Is there anything more magical than a wedding? On Sunday, Emma Swan and Killian Jones are finally tying the knot during Once Upon a Time’s musical episode extravaganza, and to prepare for their walk down the aisle, I thought it was the perfect occasion to take a walk down memory lane, reliving our favorite moments in their fairytale romance.

There’s never been a love story on television like Emma and Killian’s. From the very start, it’s been the perfect blend of sweeping fairytale and relatable realism. This pirate and princess have taken us on a journey that’s spanned years and realms; have found each other through lost memories, alternate realities, and a ridiculous number of curses; and have gone to the Underworld and back again for each other. Along the way, they’ve struggled with their own demons, fears, and emotional walls—forces of darkness just as strong as any villain they’ve ever faced—but they’ve emerged from those battles stronger as individuals and as partners.

Killian and Emma have proven their True Love many times—sacrificing for each other, choosing each other, fighting for each other, supporting each other, and making each other happy when they thought happiness might not be in the cards for them anymore. They’ve given each other hope, and in the process, they’ve given hope to so many people watching.

So before the next chapter in this love story begins, let’s take a look back at my 10 favorite moments along the way—from Never Land to the Underworld and from time-traveling adventures to breakfast table kisses. Don’t forget to share your favorites in the comments!

1. “Perhaps I would…” (3.02: Lost Girl)
There’s a moment in every “shipper’s” life when you go from liking the idea of a pairing and thinking they have good chemistry to being completely sold on what this relationship could be, and this moment of startling sincerity from Killian Jones was that moment for me. I appreciated Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison’s chemistry and could see the potential in pairing their two character together as far back as “Tallahassee,” but this was the moment I went all in. The way the scene shifted from playful and flirtatious to suddenly sincere stopped me in my tracks, and it made me realize that what Emma Swan truly deserved in a partner was exactly what Killian Jones was offering her in that moment (and would continue to offer her from them on): someone who would love her for everything she is and would patiently wait for her to let him see the true Emma behind her armor.

2. The first kiss (3.05: Good Form)
The week the spoilers for this kiss came out is still one of my favorite weeks I’ve ever experienced as a fangirl. The excitement I shared with my fellow fans that week makes this a very special moment for me, but even without those memories, the kiss itself was a game-changer for Emma and Killian. I loved that this scene—like every major moment between them—was all about Emma taking charge. And when she took charge, she grabbed what she wanted with both hands and gave us a steamy moment that neither the audience nor Killian would soon forget. While the kiss itself was wonderful, it was his reaction to it that sold the moment. O’Donoghue allowed us to see Killian’s entire life change in the aftermath of that kiss—he looked like a man who’d seen the sun after 200 years of darkness, and that look said everything we needed to know about the light and hope that kiss brought into his life. He couldn’t handle it, and neither could we.

3. “When I win your heart…” (3.07: Dark Hollow)
If you need someone to deliver a romantic speech, call Colin O’Donoghue. This moment was the perfect balance of sexy confidence and supportive sincerity, making for one of the most romantic speeches in Once Upon a Time history. If “a man unwilling to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets,” this was Killian Jones fighting for what he wanted—Emma’s heart. But as he so correctly stated, that heart needed to be freely, and that kind of respect for Emma’s choices has always been one of the ways this character stood apart from the pack. And by following up his profession of his intentions with the perfect statement of belief in her ability to find Henry, he cemented his place as one of the cornerstones of her support system, a place he’s held with honor ever since.

4. A “good” goodbye (3.11: Going Home)
For much of the beginning of Season Three, we were very aware of Killian’s feelings toward Emma but less sure of her feelings toward him. We knew she was physically attracted to him and sought out his support and advice, but the extent of her feelings were still very much left up to interpretation—until she had to say goodbye. Faced with the prospect of not only being separated from him forever but also losing her memories of knowing him, he once again reassured her that his feelings would remain unchanged by telling her that not a day would go by that he wouldn’t think of her. And then Emma responded with one word that said so much: “Good.” With that one word, Emma told Killian that she wanted him to think of her, which was a major revelation for a woman who typically pushed away people’s expressions of affection and ran away from emotional attachments. By accepting his devotion and giving him that affirmation (which meant a lot because Emma hates giving false hope), Emma ignited a spark of hope that eventually brought Killian back to her in New York City and brought her home to Storybrooke and her true self.

5. The end of the “Captain Swan Movie” (3.22: There’s No Place Like Home)
The entire Season Three finale was basically a movie that could have been titled “Emma and Killian’s Time-Traveling Adventure.” So many moments from that episode could have made this list—dancing at Emma’s first ball, comforting hugs, promises to go to the end of the world for her, or tears wiped gently from faces. But my all-time favorite moment between these two characters is their conversation and kiss at the end of the episode, because that’s when their romantic relationship truly began. That’s when Emma made the conscious choice—played beautifully by Morrison throughout the scene—to allow herself to hope that this love that Killian was freely offering wouldn’t leave her broken. Their banter in this scene was warmer and more affectionate than it had been before, and it added a lovely layer of tenderness to the moment. And when they finally kissed, you knew there was no going back. The gentle intimacy of the kiss spoke to the idea that these two people knew to treat this love as something precious, two people who knew that love could bring pain but were trusting that this time they could be happy. I think of this moment as the true start of their Happy Beginning.

6. Emma tells the truth about her fears (4.03: Rocky Road)
Vulnerability is hard for Emma Swan, and that’s what made this scene so special. By finally opening up to Killian about her fears of losing him after losing everyone else she’d ever loved, she let down her guard in a way we’d never seen before. And it foreshadowed the struggles she would later face letting him go because she couldn’t lose him—not didn’t want to, couldn’t. But Killian’s sweet reassurance that he’s a survivor allowed Emma to hope in that moment—for perhaps the first time since Neal left her—that she had someone by her side who wouldn’t disappear. It was yet another reminder of the care the writers took to make Killian the right partner for her, and it was sealed with one of their best and most passionate kisses.

7. Killian looks into Emma’s past (4.05: Breaking Glass)
I like to think of this scene as an extension of the “Perhaps I would” moment in “Lost Girl.” In this moment, Emma finally let Killian see exactly what made her who she is; she shared her box of trinkets from her past, the few things she kept from her hard and lonely childhood. I will always believe this is one of the bravest things Emma has ever done. To let someone see and hold the remnants of your messy past takes incredible courage and strength, and I loved that this moment was played by Morrison with just the right amount of nervous hesitation and by O’Donoghue with just the right sense that Killian sees this as a great honor that he doesn’t take lightly. It was the perfect way to bring Emma’s walls down just a little bit farther and to show that she chose the right person to let those walls down with.

8. The Underworld goodbye (5.20: Firebird)
Killian and Emma have had more than their share of tragic goodbyes, but none were more painful than their farewell in the Underworld. Earlier in the episode, a test proved that their love was True, but this felt like their true “True Love” moment. This was Emma finally loving Killian enough to let him go, and it was Killian loving Emma enough to help her do that. Love is sacrifice, but it’s also strength. And their love helped them both find the strength to sacrifice for each other as they said goodbye. The quiet intimacy of the moment and the powerfully vulnerable performances by the actors made this a powerfully poignant scene. Even knowing that they find their way back to each other, it’s hard to watch Killian kiss her hand before it slips out of his grasp without crying.

9. Proposing the right way (6.17: Awake)
I knew that if Killian Jones was given a second chance at a proposal—a real chance—he’d do it the right way, and he didn’t disappoint. From calling Emma “Swan” to promising to always be by her side, it was a proposal only Killian could give, and that’s what made it so beautiful. Killian has always stood by Emma’s side—his devotion is his defining character trait, which has made him the perfect partner for a woman who has been abandoned so many times in her life. Instead of leaving Emma to fend for herself because of her destiny, Killian promised to always be by her side. It was the ideal promise for Emma, who has spent her whole life dealing with the fear that she was always meant to be alone because of a destiny she didn’t choose. And by accepting his proposal, Emma finally chose to let herself believe she could be happy even with the future being uncertain.

10. Making pancakes (6.18: Where Bluebirds Fly)
Love should make you happy. Yes, it should support you in hard times, and it may even give you cause to shed a tear or two. But it should bring joy and fun into your life. And finally, FINALLY, we got to see the fun begin for Killian and Emma after he proposed. It was nice to be able to watch them have some time alone to enjoy being happy together after so much angst. Watching them kiss all over their kitchen, bask in their mutual happiness, and be comically interrupted by Snow just as things started to get heated was like a breath of fresh air. This scene was what I’d always imagined their life would look like together without any monsters or curses (or even just in between dealing with those), and it was nice to get such a blissful peek into what “Happily Ever After” looks like for them.

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17 thoughts on “That’s When the Fun Begins: The Best of Captain Swan

  1. Oh Katie I adore this post! I was actually so excited for it I was thinking of my favorite moments in the shower and I actually forgot to wash my hair. I had to go back into the shower. This is what these two idiots do to a normally level-headed adult in her thirties.

    All of these moments are fabulous, but you know that the “good” moment holds such a special place in my heart. ‘Going Home’ is not only one of my favorite episodes of this show, its one of my favorite finales of all time. And reading your recap of that moment brought all of those fond memories flooding back. I have watched that two second clip of both of them smiling at each other way more than is probably healthy, and that single gif set pretty much validates in entire existence of Tumblr (and all of its nonsense) in my eyes.

    Its funny, when I sat down earlier tonight and picked the first episode I wanted to watch leading up to their wedding this Sunday, I didnt even pick an episode with anything romantic between the two of them. I chose ‘Straight on Till Morning’. There is something about that scene in Granny’s where Emma makes her plea for him to “stay a be a part of something” that is really hitting me hard this week. As you mentioned in your review of this week’s episode, Killian’s initial decision to stay had less to do with Emma, and more to do with honoring Baelfire and not leaving Henry to go through the world alone. Emma gave him that olive branch and he took it, at least in the end. And because of that choice we got one hell of a season 3. Emma was a season behind in her attempt to run, but I love that they both had to go through that same journey of wanting to run and deciding to stay in Storybrooke before they were able to move forward with each other. And thats why, as much as I find the idea of them eloping incredibly romantic and suited to them, I am just as happy to see them get married in Storybrooke. Its tied to their story, and I cant wait to see them get married in the place they both chose to call home, surrounded by friends and family they never thought they would have.

    I think my mini pre-wedding marathon will be ‘Straight on Till Morning’, ‘Going Home’, and ‘Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home’. A little celebration of those first steps. Gonna keep it simple and ignore all the angst thats come in-between 🙂

    • Watching a gif more than is probably healthy? — No such thing . . . 🙂

      I also heartily approve of your marathon.

    • I love that you were so preoccupied that you forgot to wash your hair!

      I think Going Home is one of the best finales on the show! It’s one episode that makes me emotional, but then the very end is a great surprise when Hook shows up in New York, and you can’t wait to see what’s next. Nothing tops the season 3 finale in my eyes, though. Great choices!

  2. Lovely, lovely job, sweets. I am also exceedingly impressed by your ability to limit yourself to just 10 . . . 🙂

    More later after I’ve had a chance to wallow in Captain Swan thoughts . . .

  3. I love your list! It’s wonderful to remember those moments that sort of “sealed the deal” for us as fans on the idea of a relationship between two characters. These two have been one of my favorite all-time couples. I’ve loved the combination of the fantasy and the realism of their journey together. Killian gets props from me for knowing what he wants and patiently and confidently pursuing it. And he is just the man for dogged patience and steadfastness when he’s made up his mind. He gave up his seafaring ways to stay near Emma and her family and gradually let her see that she wasn’t just a conquest for him. I think the moment that I realized his sincerity was one of my favorite scenes: Echo Caves in Season 3’s Neverland arc. It was a mixture of fantasy and reality in that because of the magical qualities of the Caves, Hook chose to admit that his greatest secret was that he realized that Emma made him want to love again. And, he made that admission in order to save Emma’s first love, Neal. In doing so, he was giving up any advantage he might have gained with Emma by Neal’s death and facing the reality that Emma might not choose him. However, he was willing to gamble on fact that he could prove himself to her regardless of the risks and show her that he would stay where Neal had abandoned her and broke her trust.

    Echo Caves gave us such an undeniably romantic declaration, and at that moment I was all in for the ride! I’m beyond excited to see these two make a permanent commitment to each other and I’m thrilled that Emma has finally decided to embrace the happy future that Killian wants to give her.

    • I love that you brought up the Echo cave scene!! The echo caves “darkest secret” plot is probably one of my favorites on the whole show. That one-two punch of ‘Good Form’ and ‘Ariel’ was really what pushed me into obsessive CS shipping territory. The way you could see after their first kiss that he was done for, followed by that honest admission that for the first time in centuries He saw the possibility of happiness again with her had me all in. Emma deserves the world, and in that moment I felt like Hook proved he was ready to give it to her.

      • Thank you! I absolutely loved that moment, and Season 2 and 3 are where I really got invested in the show. I usually hang back a bit in the first season of a show until I can see whether it’s going to be continuing. Shows are yanked so quickly these days. (I’m still heartbroken over Time After Time from this season).

  4. hi Katie,

    i’ve continued reading (and loving) your reviews but I haven’t posted any comments in a long time but I just had to say something this time! I love all your top 10 moments, and i would include the scene in 6×07 when Killian reminded Emma of her parents story and that as she is the product of true love she can break any curse. I love how Killian knows exactly what to say to Emma to calm her down, and during the scene you can see how much Emma adores him as well.

    Another scene I love is in 4×04 at the end of their date when they’re outside of the Charmings apartment. I love when Killian asked Emma on a second date, but probably my favourite part of the scene is after Killian leaves and Emma walks back into the apartment and when she leans against the door she just has this stunned look on her face – this to me is the moment Emma realised she was falling head over heals in love with this guy!

    There are just so many amazing CaptainSwan moments to choose from it is nearly impossible to pick a top 10 but I have a feeling I’m going to have more great CS scenes to pick from after Sunday!

    • Great to see you again Joan! I love that moment from 6×07 too. Killian always has had a way with words!

      And a big yes to the first date, although I think my favorite part is when they first see each other all dressed up and they just stare dumbfounded for a moment. I hope we get some of those same looks at the wedding!!

    • See, this is why I couldn’t pick a top ten. I LOVED the first date, too. (I also adored the Charmings’ reaction.)

  5. This list is fantastic! I don’t know how you managed to pick only 10 moments, because if I had to make a list of my favorite moments it would be a long, rambling mess. Your list is, as always, beautiful and eloquent and captures the beauty of their relationship. Wonderful choices. I’m glad you included the “When I win your heart” speech from 3×07 because that one remains an all time favorite of mine. I would add that I also really love the scene in 5×04 when Killian takes Emma horseback riding in order to help her free her mind of Rumple. I also love their reunion in the cemetery in 5×21. We are very lucky shippers!

  6. Hi, my name is Tempest . . . and I’m a mess of CaptainSwan feels.

    Honestly, I’ve had the hardest time responding to this post — not because it’s not awesome, because it is awesome. And not because I disagree with the choices. I don’t. Great, great choices. Which I have watched. Multiple times, you know, to be sure that I was truly understanding Katie’s points. 🙂

    I would just add more. In fact, when I hit the end of the post my initial reaction was, “I thought there were supposed to be 10. Where are the . . . oh, look, there are 10 . . . in fact, they’re numbered . . . all the numbers between 1 and 10 are there . . . huh, how ’bout that.” It was just over too quickly. So what would I add? I don’t know . . . because as much as I love these moments, I have also loved the journey, all the small hand-holding moments, the looks, the sexy jaw clench, etc.

    So, then my response turned into “What Captain Swan Means to Me.” *headdesk*

    Ok, so let’s go with that.

    As a prickly-pear myself, I have loved seeing the slow burn on this romance, watching someone have the patience and desire to chip away at those walls and not give up. I have loved all the small moments, but also seeing all the times that Killian supports and understands Emma. (Small aside: Menfolk, support and understanding are sexy.) Seeing how he “is a fan of every part” of her. The fact that he didn’t tell her about trading the Jolly Roger until she asked (and the fact that he NEVER held that over her. NEVER.) Seeing her acknowledge that he is something to keep her grounded (“You have Henry; “And you.” “Aye.”) Watching her reassure him that he is a hero. Seeing her go get her pirate back. Seeing their love and trust.

    And this is the point where I turn into a blubbery mess.

    I think I’ll just go have some hot chocolate with cinnamon in my captain swan mug . . .

    • ❤ We can be a mess of feels together. I also dont know how Katie can make top 10 lists of anything let alone these two, because I am pretty sure I would also just want to pick every moment (ok we can leave out the secret keeping ones. That first proposal? That never happened right? :P)

      HE GAVE UP HIS SHIP. And he didnt regret it for a second, even completely unsure if they would ever be together. If thats not love I dont know what is.

      I love that you call yourself a prickly-pear…I am the same way. People always look at me like I am crazy when they find out I didnt tell my partner (of over 9 years now) I loved him until over a year after we were together. And it wasnt that I didnt care or was unsure about him, it was that I was flat out terrified by it. And it was just so damn satisfying to see a female character on TV that was also terrified of being vulnerable, who found someone patient and dedicated to make her feel safe and loved beyond measure. Killian always managed to say the perfect thing to her (and me, he was talking to me too right?). I get that not everyone would find their journey romantic or satisfying, but it struck the perfect cord with me. Gah I am so excited for this wedding (and that is coming from someone that doesnt even care about getting married herself, lol)

      • Ohhh, just had to add — as a prickly pear — I also loved:

        “I liked your walls. I liked being the one to break them down.”

    • Sooo, will you be able to sing all the words by the time it airs? 🙂

      I am also proud to be your puddle-buddy.

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