By Meredith Loftus
ONCE Sings a New Tune in “The Song in Your Heart”
It was the musical event of the decade, potentially the century. In the penultimate episode of Once Upon A Time, Emma Swan and Killian Jones prepare to get married, but not without a couple obstacles in the way. The Black Fairy comes in and offers Emma a chance to surrender and save everyone by letting her rip out Emma’s heart. In a flashback in the Enchanted Forest, Snow White makes a wish to help her and Charming defeat the Evil Queen, but it makes everyone in the realm sing everything. Zelena may help Regina break the singing spell, however the songs of the realm go to an unborn Emma, which will help remind her that she is not alone when she goes into the final battle. Present day, Henry reminds his mother that she isn’t alone and through the power of song, Emma breaks the curse the Black Fairy puts on her family and friends. Emma and Killian get married and enjoy most of the reception before the Black Fairy’s curse is released and spreads over the town of Storybrooke. The final battle has begun!
The Songs of Our Hearts
When Once Upon A Time announced that they were doing a musical episode this season, the primary questions were 1) would it actually be good? and 2) how would it fit into the current narrative?
Let’s address the first question: were the musical aspects of the episode actually good? The answer is a resounding yes. Once Upon A Time had the Disney background on its side to really lean into the fun, lighthearted tone that Disney properties have, which many of the characters on the show are from. Plus, most of the actors have a musical theater background which allowed this talented cast to let loose and ultimately shine. The original songs played to strengths of the actors as well as effortlessly fit to their characters. For instance, “Emma’s Theme” perfectly ties into Emma’s story of loneliness and the realization that she’s never been alone, even during her darkest hour. Also, “Powerful Magic” feels like the quintessential Disney anthem as it is sung by some of the original Disney characters, Snow White and Prince Charming, while conveying the hope and optimism that carry them through the trials they face.
Next, do the musical elements play into the plot of the season? Surprisingly, yes. Emma Swan grew up alone and didn’t believe there was anyone in her back corner. Her parents gave her the best chance by helping her escape the curse through the portal and, in this episode, equip her with the tools she needs to have assurance that she isn’t alone and she can conquer any obstacle she faces. A simple song can light up a dark room and bring people from all walks of life together. It’s a universal language that crosses languages and national borders. They allow us to express truth when simple words seem to fail. Emma has carried a song inside her whole life, and now she is able to give lyrics to a tune she’s hummed as child. Her first true love, Henry, reminds her that she is not alone and the only way to combat the fear is to face it head on, even if that means through a melodic tune. As mentioned earlier, “Emma’s Theme” is match with her story. She is a daughter who is loved, a mother who has a wonderful son, friends who believe in her, and a man who will stand by her side to endure the darkest of days with her. It’s the culmination of Emma’s journey from when we first met her in the pilot to this where we are today. As cheesy as it may sound, bringing her song to life is power to face her darkest opponent, the Black Fairy. It completely works into the heart and essence of the series, and it made for a magical hour of television that we will not be getting over any time soon.
A Happy Beginning
Once upon a time, there was a princess and a pirate who met in a faraway realm. Although the two did not initially get along, something sparked between them which ignited into a flame that could never be tamed. Kindred spirits, the two saw each other in themselves, breaking down the walls around their hearts brick by brick. Across five seasons and multiple realms, the pair persevered through obstacles, time, and even death. The Savior saved this man of honor, and in return, he saved her too. No longer enemies of love, together they fight for the goodness in each other and the chance to create a happy beginning of their own. During this season, the final barriers between these two have been laid aside: her fear of her story ending and his doubt of his own worthiness. No more wasting time on the “what ifs” or running away. This is their time: Emma Swan marries Killian Jones.
The journey to get to this momentous day was handled with such depth and love, so it’s fitting that this wedding was treated with the same level of care and dedication. In a musical episode filled with big numbers and temporarily defeating the Black Fairy, leaving the singing out of the actual ceremony gave this moment more impact. In the quiet of the storm, Emma and Killian are able to have their quiet moment to exchange their vows and promises to each other. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Killian thanks Emma for teaching him that love in his heart is the most precious treasure of them all. This is man who let revenge drive him even though it never filled the emptiness he had in his heart. Love renews, restores, and remains when the storm tries to destroy everything in its path. His heart no longer belongs to sea; it belongs to his Swan. Then to bring more waterworks, Emma goes on to tell Killian that even though she found out she is the product of true love, she never believed she would find that for herself. Thanks to him, she has. This orphan and man of honor pursued her, took the time to bring down the fortress she kept around her heart, and won the love of the lost girl who never believed a happy ending was possible for her. With their families and friends to bear witness, Emma Swan and Killian Jones are bound in marriage, a physical representation of their love and equal partnership they’ve established and fought for. It took so long to get to this point, and it was completely worth the wait. Killian Jones and Emma Swan are husband and wife. Congratulations to the happy newlyweds!
During the reception, Emma and Killian share their first dance as the two embark on a new chapter of their lives together: a happy beginning, not an ending. Their marriage is not the end of the story; it’s a new adventure. Only now, there’s a partner in crime to embark on this adventure with. Also, the beauty of love is how it grows and matures over time. Emma and Killian are now in the stage where their love for each other can develop even more — through the mundane, everyday interactions with each other, discovering more about the little quirks and details about the other. Maturity also happens through the trials that life brings. True love is never easy but it must be fought for daily. It just so happens that their first major trial begins only minutes after they are married. After everything they have endured together, they are prepared for what they are about to face and they have something to fight for on the other side: their future that they’ve only just begun. Because this is Emma and Killian, we are confident in the knowledge that they will defeat the Black Fairy together, like the model example of true love that they are and always been.
- If you didn’t already know, all of the songs from this episode are available on iTunes and Spotify. Do yourself a favor and go add these delightful tunes to your playlists and you can thank me later!
- There are many wonderful moments in this episode, but a quick one that deserves a mention is the dwarves starting a conga line at Emma and Killian’s reception. Where can I hire them to bring life to all my parties?
- With all the nods that have been made to The Princess Bride in the past, you would think Archie should’ve thrown in a quick “mawwiage” before announcing Emma and Killian as husband and wife. I feel slightly cheated.
- Baby Neal made it to the wedding. THIS. IS. NOT. A DRILL!
- Considering this was short notice for the wedding of the century, there were quite a few people who couldn’t make it to the big ceremony. Personally, I would have loved for Ruby, Ariel, Elsa and Anna to have dropped in for the nuptials, but it was still a happy occasion nonetheless.
- This review was purposely kept light in order to take a moment and celebrate the fun and the love that this episode emphasized. However, next episode is the two-hour finale of the final battle. There is a new curse to be broken, a quest to be journeyed, and above all, a final battle to be fought. Will the Savior defeat the darkness once and for all? Who will make it out of the final battle alive? Is there any hope for the happy beginnings? Tune in next week to find out!