We're only about a week away from the premiere of Once Upon A Time Season 5, and after a more than four month hiatus, I think we're all more than ready to get back to Storybrooke. Since we've got so much to look forward to, though — between Dark Swan, the addition of Brave's Merida, and a trip to Camelot — I sort of figured there wasn't much room left for any more excitement. However, I was wrong, clearly, since it's been announced that Once will explore an LGBT relationship in Season 5, and honestly, I couldn't be more thrilled. The question is, which same sex couple will be in the spotlight?
Executive producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis confirmed the news to Entertainment Weekly following a screening of the premiere on Friday, and while they wouldn't give details on which characters will take their relationship to the next level, the fact that it's happening at all is an accomplishment in and of itself. "We know that community have been big supporters of the show and we would love to be able to tell a love story that reflects that," Kitsis explained. Horowitz added that they "want the show to reflect the world as it is now" and that it's "something [they] think is due and important to do on the show. It's the world we live in." Agreed!
There's been much speculation — given that Jamie Chung was recently confirmed to reprise her role as Mulan for a multi-episode arc during Season 5 — that the LGBT relationship we'll explore on Once could be between Mulan and Aurora. Such a relationship was merely hinted at when we last saw the warrior, though her feelings remained unrequited given that Aurora was rather happily with Prince Philip and expecting his baby. That's not to say that circumstances can't change at all, or that people in heterosexual relationships can't or don't later embark on same-sex relationships — but to pin all our romantic hopes on these two women simply because it's the only direct mention we've seen of LGBT attraction thus far is selling the most obvious choice short. I think that Horowitz and Kitsis should consider making Emma and Regina a couple.
The Swan Queen fandom is alive and active — arguably more active than any other "canon" pairings, in fact, aside from Captain Swan — and full of viewers of all sexual orientations and genders who have picked up on the increasingly unsubtle attraction blooming between the two women. Emma and Regina's relationship has grown immensely in the last four years, from sworn enemies to reluctant allies and now to close friends occasionally in denial of just how deep their connection truly goes. The intense moments they've shared over the seasons, particularly during Season 4, are clearly intentional — Horowitz and Kitsis themselves have made a point of saying that every single choice is deliberate — and indicative of bigger things to come between the two, I'd say.
What's been such a joy to watch in terms of Emma and Regina's bond has been how naturally it's happened. Once may be a show about fairy tales, but for the former Evil Queen and the Savior, it seems their happy endings have been right in front of them the whole time. The writers have done us the service of allowing Emma and Regina's individual complexities and contradictions not only to exist, but to be explored, accepted, and valued by the other in a completely organic way. Their original stalemate was reached only for the sake of their son; their eventual move into friendship was a deliberate choice by each of them and a sign that, despite the endless disappointments and betrayals in their past, there was finally something worth trusting in again, and that's a beautiful thing.
As the old saying goes, actions do indeed speak louder than words. I don't imagine either of them could ever come out and say how they truly feel, and at this point, that hardly matters. True love means choosing someone over all others through the good and the bad. It means believing so much in another human being that you'd bet the farm on her, no matter who warns you that you'll lose everything in the gamble — you know better, and she's worth it. I can't think of anything that better fits that description than when Emma sacrificed herself for Regina and became the new Dark One.
Deniers will say that Emma "did it for the town" and that, as the savior, she'd have done the same for anyone else. That's all fine and well, but one fact remains: she didn't do it for anyone else, she did it for Regina — the one person no one else in that town would have cared too much about being consumed by the darkness. This means something; in fact, it means everything. Emma cares so much about Regina's happiness, in a way that no one else in her life ever has, that she was willing to hand over her very soul for the other woman. The gravity of the gesture won't be lost on Regina, and it certainly shouldn't be lost on the audience.
To avoid the obvious bond that has grown between Emma and Regina would be to squander Once's greatest gift: true love. Not love that was pre-written in some book or predicted by fairy dust, but love that happened by choice and against all odds. Love that is rooted in friendship, understanding, and acceptance. I don't even necessarily think that Swan Queen is the only LGBT relationship that can or does exist within the Once world, but it's certainly the one that gets the closest to the heart of what the series is all about and to ignore that would be an absolute sin.
Images: Jack Rowand/ABC (2); Giphy (3)