Among the many online groups dedicated to Emma's love life — Swan Queen, Wooden Swan, Mad Swan, and Swan Thief to name a few — it was the Captain Swan fans who nearly blew up the Internet this week when photos and video surfaced showing Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) and Emma kissing in Sunday's episode (8/7c, ABC). But some fans griped about Emma opening herself up to Hook just days after Neal's (Michael Raymond-James) death, and while she is still on her mission to save Henry (Jared Gilmore),
"Of course it's flattering that someone is interested in whatever, but it's not even registering with her because she's concerned about saving her child," Morrison says. "It just heightens the dynamic of everything going on that Hook is the one that's helping her right now, and Hook is the one that's present, and he's the one who's surprising her by following through with what he promises to do, and seems to be doing this very selflessly instead of selfishly. She's definitely taken aback by how different he is than what she expected and definitely still thinks that Neal's dead, but in her mind, all of its irrelevant because she's just trying to get to Henry."
But Emma's potential relationships with Neal and Hook aren't the only ones she needs to work on. In Neverland, Emma was forced to face the truth about herself: She's not just the savior, she's also an orphan. When Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas) sent her through the portal to save their people, Emma was left to fend for herself as a child, leading her to put up barriers to prevent herself from ever really making a connection. But this trip, should Charming survive it after his Dreamshade poisoning, may actually bring her closer to her parents.
"I think Emma does forgive her parents," Morrison says. "She understands logically why they did it and I think she could probably could put herself in their shoes and imagine herself making the same decision. But that doesn't change [the fact] that she spent 28 years without a family and without loved ones and having to survive on her own in some way. Finding them doesn't eliminate everything she's gone through up until that point. They need time with each other to create a true bond and a true relationship. Her hurt feelings and her emotions don't mean that she doesn't forgive them, it means that they have a lot of work to do."
With her walls coming down, we'll also see Emma's relationship with Regina (Lana Parrilla) evolve since they are both mothers determined to find their son. "Emma and Regina's relationship this season is interesting because they have to sweep so much under the rug in order to save Henry," Morrison says. "She's tried to kill my family and me and she has killed other people, so she's not forgetting that that is a part of who this woman is, but she definitely identified with the part of Regina that loves Henry and wants the best for him. She's looking to connect with that part of her. Emma really is searching to see the human side of Regina in order to be her partner in getting Henry back."
It's these relationships that have pushed Emma to explore a new side of herself since the show's debut. Emma has certainly come a long way to getting her own happy ending in just roughly a year since Henry showed up on her doorstep. "She's had an incredible journey," Morrison says. "She went from having nothing to having parents and a child and a community and enemies and all sorts of thing overnight and it's been a huge adjustment for her. I do feel like she has grown past a lot of her exterior barriers that she initially had. She's certainly grown past her fear of being a bad mother. She definitely wants to be Henry's mother and be present in his life and to figure out how to be the best mom she can possibly be. She definitely wants to participate in her parents' lives, she just hasn't figured out how yet."
Do you think Emma should be with Neal or Hook? Or should Emma spend more time on her own? Hit the comments!
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.
Additional reporting by Sadie Gennis.