[Note from Frolic: Today, we welcome Pip to the site! She’s talking all things Captain Swan, and counting down their top 10 moments.]
Throughout the course of the six seasons in which we were blessed with the epic tale of Emma Swan and Killian Jones, we saw a vast collection of amazing scenes and moments between them. There were big moments, and there were small snippets of moments, and all the things in between that every self-respecting shipper dreams of happening for their OTP. It’s an exciting and delightful (and sometimes heartbreaking) ride to go on, and below I have highlighted the moments that feel the most important when it comes to the story of Captain Swan.
1.Beanstalk Bonding, 2.06
Every truly spectacular tale of True Love has to start somewhere and at the very beginning of Captain Swan’s journey is a moment that really kicks off where they would be heading over the course of the series. From their first adventure to the top of a beanstalk, Emma and Killian had a connection that couldn’t be denied and the scene where they open up about their histories with love was the first real tie that started to bind them together. Here are two characters whose pasts have hardened their defenses and made their walls sky high and yet, in this moment, you see cracks in their respective exterior already starting to form. It doesn’t take long for Emma to seal said cracks right back up, but it’s telling that the reason she ultimately leaves Killian behind on that beanstalk is because she “can’t take a chance that she’s wrong” about him.
2. Kindred Spirits, 2.22
Emma’s not wrong about him. She’s very much right about just exactly who Killian Jones is and she lays it all on the line as the second season comes to a close. The town is in danger of being destroyed and at one point, the only thing stopping them from being able to escape is one seemingly selfish pirate. So Emma appeals to the part of him that she knows lives within herself – the part of her that has always yearned to belong. They “understand one another” – she gets why he is the way he is, and she gives him the opportunity to change it. To “be a part of something.” For a bit, it seems Killian hasn’t heard her. Much like she had on the beanstalk, it seems he has closed himself off the possibility of being something more. But he has heard her, and instead of taking the easy way out and running away, he comes back. When Emma confronts him about not caring about anyone but himself, Killian is straightforward when he answered that “maybe I just needed reminding that I could.” We see the beginning of her becoming his guiding compass on his path to heroism and the opening of the gate to the path that led them to be together.
3. Necking in Neverland, 3.05
‘All it takes is faith and trust…’ And a little bit of making out beneath the hot, humid jungle canopy of Neverland. There’s no denying that Captain Swan’s very first kiss of the series (going chronologically by episodes, at least) is one of the most significant moments of their relationship. Not only is it a very hot kiss to witness (seriously – it’s probably in the top three of hottest Captain Swan kisses), it packs a punch for the characters and audience alike. You can see the impact it has on the pair, especially Killian. He confirms it an episode later, but in the moments immediately following the kiss, you can see just what this means for him. He never expected to feel some sort of way about anyone again, and yet here he is having all the feels for Emma Swan. REAL FEELS. It’s intense. Emma was right – Killian “couldn’t handle it”. None of us really could.
4. A Simple Four Letter Word, 3.11
Even as things are just starting to get going with the Captain Swan relationship (the pining was really real in Season 3 – you could cut that UST with a knife!), a wrench is thrown in the works by a curse. One that is going to separate our lovers-to-be for what is presumably forever. Emma needs to stay behind for her son, and Killian has to go back to his own realm with all the fairytale folk. It’s a sad moment, like a pin is about to be put in this budding relationship. And yet, as these two are known to do, they throw a bit of hope (heh) into the whole scenario. There’s no “love” here – not yet, in the literal spoken sense at least, but a single reply from Emma to Killian saying he wouldn’t go a single day without thinking about her shows that her feelings towards him aren’t as one-sided as it may seem. “Good,” she tells him with a knowing smirk that he returns. Yes, it’s good. Very good indeed.
5. The Ship Sets Sail (without the ship), 3.22
This one’s a big one. Arguably the biggest moment on the entire list. The scene, the moment, everything changed and there would be no looking back for Captain Swan (or the fandom). Emma and Killian have just gone on a whirlwind adventure to the past, messing up and then fixing the timeline along the way. They are having a nice quiet moment outside of Granny’s, talking about what they’ve just been through, when the big moment comes – just how did Killian Jones get back to Emma following that curse that was supposed to have separated them for the rest of forever? Well, he traded for a magic bean to be able to cross back into her realm. What could have possibly been so valuable that it was worthy of a magic bean? Why, his ship – the beloved Jolly Roger – of course. Wait, what?! Captain Hook traded his ship, his home for centuries and his most prized possession, for Emma Swan?! Everything Killian had held most dear for most of his long life, and he’d so easily bartered it away for her? The look on Emma’s face at the revelation, as she utters to him in wonder “you traded your ship for me?” is the embodiment of how watching this scene feels. And Killian’s simple, no-nonsense, cuts right to the heart of everyone, “aye” in return sends the moment right over the edge. It’s sealed with a perfect kiss. And from that moment on, Captain Swan were together.
A great parallel to this scene comes later on in episode 4.15, when Killian reveals to Emma that she is his happy ending that he is so terrified of losing. The look on her face, once again, captures what’s at the heart of the moment – she never imagined she could be someone’s reason for happiness. And yet here he is, once again, putting her before all else
6. A Hero’s Sacrifice, 5.11
Where the scene from 3.22 was probably the biggest moment, this particular moment is without a doubt the saddest. But also one of the most beautiful and important moments in all of Captain Swan’s journey. We find out only two episodes before this that Emma had turned Killian into a Dark One in order to save his life. To say he hadn’t taken it well would be an understatement. He felt angry and betrayed, and now had the darkest magic in all the realms churning around inside him. His darker impulses, his desire for revenge, was too intoxicating of a pull for him to ignore. He was willing to let everything fall by the wayside to give the darkness what it wanted, as long as he finally got to slick his bloodlust and need for vengeance in the end. Everything except Emma Swan. For the entirety of the (sadly, only) two episodes we got Dark!Hook, there had been little moments where Killian was preventing Emma from being harmed (or doing things in her ‘defense’), even as he was telling her he hates her for putting the darkness inside him. This war within himself comes to a head when he has to watch the darkness restrain Emma (note the restrain there – she can’t be killed since she too is a Dark One) – and he chooses her. What follows it one of the most heroic moments on the show (both in general, and for Killian Jones specifically), and one of the most heartbreaking. Insisting she “let him die a hero”, Killian sacrifices himself for the good of all and gives his life (a life Emma is forced to take herself) to put an end to the Dark One magic for good. It is a beautifully acted (seriously, Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue should have won awards for their performances), and shows not only the true hero that Killian Jones is, but also how integral his connection to Emma Swan is.
7. “Only a heart filled with True Love…”, 5.20 and 6.17
Over the course of Once Upon a Time’s run, True Love’s Kiss was something that eluded Captain Swan. But that doesn’t mean that they went their entire story without knowing they shared the “rarest magic of all” between them. I kind of cheated a bit here and combined two different scenes, from two different episodes in separate seasons, into this top moment. I chose to condense these two into one because, at the heart of them, they confirm a quintessential detail in Emma and Killian’s story – they are True Love. The first moment came near the end of the fifth season where the pair went through a test literally designed by the gods to determine if your love was true or not. In an interesting parallel to all the times Killian had chosen Emma, the look on Killian’s face when he realizes she chose him over her own literal heart, thus passing the test and confirming what they have, speaks volumes. Nearly an entire season later, Captain Swan has a second confirmation when Emma uses the magic from a flower to find a stranded (and very much in danger) Killian – something that can only work if you share True Love with the person you’re searching for. So while these two may never have technically shared TLK, these unique tests that proved it set them apart from the other relationships on the show.
8. Where He Belongs, 5.21
Here we have another moment where things looked bleak in terms of Captain Swan getting their happy ending together, and then suddenly took a sharp 180 and the ship (no pun intended) righted itself in spectacular fashion. Killian is dead (no for reals, he’s dead – down in the Underworld, body now rotting in a grave in the world of the living, dead). We’ve watched Emma crying at his headstone. She thinks she’s alone in the cemetery until a blinding flash of light and the reverent calling of her name from behind her has her turning around and… there he is. Her pirate. Alive. Returned to her. A gift from Zeus, the king of the gods, himself. A reward for their assistance in defeating Hades. It is one of the most satisfying and poignant reunions for the pair, and the message for the moment was clear – Zeus had sent Killian Jones back to “where he belonged”. At Emma’s side. A pairing blessed by the gods themselves.
9. A Happy Beginning, 6.20
This moment honestly speaks for itself. Captain Swan gets married. CAPTAIN SWAN GETS MARRIED. They exchange beautiful vows, share a passionate kiss, and have a tear-jerker of a wedding song (they literally sing at their wedding and it’s truly perfect). It’s like winning the shipper lottery.
10. A Winning Fight, 6.21
I could have ended the list with the wedding because, as I said, it was truly perfect. Or skipped ahead to the series finale where it’s confirmed that Emma and Killian have a daughter (named Hope). But for the final moment on the list of scenes that feel to be the most integral to Captain Swan’s journey, it felt right to go with this one. Which is actually a scene between Killian and David. Thrown back to the Enchanted Forest, separated from his new wife (who doesn’t even remember him – yay curses!), Killian is desperate to save her. And David is determined to keep is new son(in-law) alive and level headed. And at the base of the beanstalk, the very same beanstalk we started with on this list, our beloved pirate gives an impassioned speech about his and Emma’s love. About how they had fought for their love and they had won and he’d be damned if he let another bitter witch take that from them. It’s intense and emotional and you feel the culmination of everything that Captain Swan has been throughout the entire series right here in Killian’s words. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t destiny – they made it work because they love each other and fought for each other and wanted it. They were the captains of their fates. They are meant to be because they made it so. And in one simple line, Killian lays out exactly how it’s been for them as a pair:
They made each other better.