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ONCE UPON A TIME Review: Picking Up the Pieces in “The Broken Heart”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 8 years ago

ONCE UPON A TIME Review: Picking Up the Pieces in “The Broken Heart”

By Meredith Loftus

Well, there was a reason this episode was called “Broken Heart.”

Killian broke Emma’s heart, Belle broke Rumple’s heart, Henry broke Emma’s heart briefly, and Nimue literally broke Merlin’s heart. The episode leaves the audience in a low position, hoping for some kind of hopeful redemption to look forward to in the mid-season finale next week.

Dark Hook Rises

Killian Jones is a man plagued by pain in his life. Yes, he has come a long way since we were initially introduced to his character, much of it due to his love for Emma but he still carries that hurt with him. He told Emma before he died that he is not as strong as her in his ability to overcome the darkness. In one of the opening scenes we see Killian forced to relive the loss he has experienced all over again.

Remember, the darkness amplifies everything a person has felt, so all that pain he’s carried is magnified to a grand new level. Then in his vulnerable state, Darkness pays him a visit. It does not take much for the Darkness to make a convincing case for Killian to finally enact his revenge on Rumpelstiltskin. Rumple has caused so much pain in his life: he crushed Milah’s heart, cut off Killian’s hand, ripped out his heart and controlled him, and played a part in Emma taking on the Darkness. These past transgressions can now be dealt with in using his newfound magic.

Killian also succumbs to the darkness out of the aftermath of betrayal by the woman he loves. Emma Swan saved his life, but she turned him into the thing that he spent centuries of his life trying to destroy, and right back into his own darkness. She is able to help him briefly keep the darkness away until Excalibur calls to him and he finds out that she lied to him about not knowing Excalibur’s whereabouts. Killian never wavered in his trust of Emma, even in her darkest state. He constantly chose to see the best in her, even when she could not see it herself. To not have that kind of trust and belief reciprocated now is a deep cut to the goodness still alive in him. It’s that enlarged hurt that is heard over rational thought and truth and lets the Darkness take control over Killian’s deep-rooted hate for Rumple and do whatever it takes to get his revenge.

The scene in Granny’s in Camelot made it clear that the Darkness had won this battle for the soul of Killian Jones, which is played out in the Storybrooke events of this episode. After remembering his fate and his other dark actions, Killian Jones quickly transforms into Dark Hook, eager to make others hurt around him while letting the Darkness lead the way to their plan all along: snuffing out all the light. What will be enough to draw him back into the light?

Love Found in the Darkness

If there was anything clear in this episode, it’s that Emma Swan’s love for Killian Jones runs deep. She saved his life because she couldn’t bear the thought of living without him. The look of pure joy on her face when she reunited with Killian after he became the Dark One is a reflection of the overflow of love she has for this man. She hid Excalibur from him because she knew that he couldn’t face it the darkness alone. Emma helps Killian keep the darkness at bay by doing what he did for her weeks ago: getting him to focus on their love and future together. She constantly kept reminding him in Camelot why she loves him and all that he’s done for her. Killian has seen past her walls, valiantly pursued her, and loves her for the woman she is. Emma shows Killian how much she believes in him by giving him Excalibur; her faith in his goodness is strong, but he has to believe it for himself. After Killian casts the dark curse, Emma erases his memories to give him a chance to be the man she loves, the man who loves her and can choose to act on his goodness over the darkness within. Love is a good help if you can find it, and Emma’s love for Killian does indeed help.

It is that love that makes Emma’s betrayal all the more harder for Killian. She acted out of her selfish desire to save his life and gave him a fate he never wanted. Then to him, it appeared that she did not trust him the same level that he trusts her. It’s a pain that he can’t simply ignore and chooses to let Darkness lead him to cast the new curse at the expense of Merlin’s life. Dark Hook viciously remarks that the love-struck puppy that was Killian Jones died when she denied him his death as the reformed man he had become. Once he has his memories restored in Storybrooke, Darkness consumes him and he chooses to act on his anger.

The people who can break us the most are the people closest to us, the ones who know us better than we know ourselves. From their adventure up the beanstalk together, Killian saw through Emma’s walls and knew she was an orphan. He knows how much she constantly struggles with abandonment and an understanding of home. Over the course of their relationship, he has given her a new hope in a happy future with a family, a home, and love. So when he told Emma that she is the reason she will always be an orphan, it was a punch to the gut for her.

Killian also makes the claim that Emma is an anchor to him, one that holds him back from killing Rumple. He is right: Emma is Killian’s anchor. However, not in the way he might be thinking, since darkness is currently clouding his mind. Emma has been a light in Killian’s dark life. Experiencing that kind of goodness changes a person. She has inspired him to become a better man, one who is no longer vengeful and ready to love again. Emma has grounded him in that goodness and kept him on the straight and narrow. Even now, Emma’s love for him has not wavered, much like an anchor holds a ship steady through rough waters. Killian Jones, in his darkest state, loves Emma Swan, and it will be her love, an anchor to him, that will bring him back to her.

Worth Mentioning

  • Honestly, if I were Killian Jones as the Dark One, the very first thing I would do is give myself my hand back. Just saying!
  • Not sure if you caught this, but Snow revealed to the audience that the Lady of the Lake, from way back in Season 1, is Sir Lancelot’s mother. This is actually accurate. According to Arthurian legend, Lancelot, along with his cousin Sir Morgan, was raised by the Lady of the Lake. Arthurian legend also talks about how Nimue was one of the ladies of the lake. Lancelot being the child of Nimue on the show would just add to the already crazy family tree!
  • The other notable heartbreak of this episode was the fallout between Rumple and Belle. Rumple has turned into the hero and man Belle always believed him to be. He finally wants to do right by her and try again for an honest relationship. However, the ledger of broken trust is too long, and Belle chooses to protect her heart and say no. On one hand, this is true to the strong woman Belle has always been, but it still doesn’t lessen the pain of watching her reject Rumple at the place where they exchanged their vows.
  • After news broke that Zelena was pregnant, two major questions were asked: how will Regina respond to this and can Zelena be redeemed? This episode gave us those answers. Instead of depriving Zelena of a relationship with her daughter, Regina is giving her a chance to let a mother’s love transform her. If a mother’s love could save the Evil Queen, then surely the Wicked Witch of the West is also capable of that redemption. This supervised custody stays true to the noble character traits of Robin and Regina while also moving their complicated relationship with Zelena forward.
  • Another heartbreak in this emotional episode that managed to be healed was that between Emma and her son Henry. At the beginning, Henry did not trust her because she reverted back to her days of trying to do things alone instead of asking for his help. Operation Cobra is the heart behind that first season of Once Upon A Time. After listening to him, Emma came to Henry for help to find the dreamcatchers and save the day. Trust is restored after they found the dreamcatchers in the clock tower and Henry frees Emma from the cuff. Operation Cobra Part 2 is a success!
  • At the end of the day, Rumple beat Dark Hook without the use of magic, or maybe Dark Hook let him win in order to get his blood. Either way, Rumple fought with honor and continues to have bragging rights over Killian.
  • Up until this episode, I was holding on to hope that Merlin was still around in Storybrooke. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Rest in peace Merlin!
  • In other news, King Arthur is royally confused by Excalibur being returned to the stone; he does not have much time to think on this because he and the rest of Camelot are swept up in Dark Hook’s curse.
  • A recurring theme of “Broken Heart” was Emma’s issue of isolating herself. Time and time again, Emma chooses to go about doing things on her own instead of allowing others to share in her burdens. We are not meant to do life alone. Emma starts to allow others back in after she asks for Henry’s help in Operation Cobra Part 2. Her greatest battle is yet to come, and she will need the help of her family and friends to face the darkness. Her swan song will be sung next week for the mid-season finale. Get ready!
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