I feel like I should warn you in advance: if you're an Outlaw Queen or a Captain Swan 'shipper, this article isn't for you. I have nothing against either of those relationships, at least in theory, but when it comes to the central relationship on Once Upon A Time , it's Emma and Regina — or Swan Queen, as they're known to their legions of supporters — for me, every time. The connection between these two women is deep-rooted indelible, and more so, it was hard-wrought and well-earned over the span of many years and many shared experiences. The ways in which they're constantly saving one another, both literally and figuratively, is profound and worth talking about, particularly because anyone with eyes can see the unresolved tension between the two of them. So why is Once wasting this golden opportunity?
At their core, Regina and Emma have become best friends in addition to co-parents. While they come from completely different realms, they are very similar people: smart, stubborn, determined and loyal, yet also closed off and cautious due to their past heartbreaks — qualities that have both helped and hurt them over the years before meeting one another, but which now form the basis of their interactions. The reluctance with which these two women have come together to find common ground despite everything has made their current relationship, which is complicated and intense, even more rewarding. The love it's clear they share is many-faceted; it's the love between parents, friends, and yes, I think it extends into the romantic realm, as well, even if neither of them have ever given voice to such a thing (at least not yet).
Swan Queen has become one of Once's most popular and active 'ships without even technically being canon largely because like much of Emma and Regina's relationship, it doesn't need words — actions speak much louder. Whether the moments between the Savior and the Evil Queen and the Savior are down to acting choices on behalf of Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla or they actually exist in the script (and frankly, I think it's a little of both), their relationship has developed so naturally and sincerely that it's hard to envision any hunk of the day holding a candle to it — fairy dust and ship sacrificing be damned.
After all, what makes a good partner? Someone who trusts you, supports you, who pushes you to be better; someone who pulls you back from the edge and reminds you of who you are when you're in danger of losing sight of it. Someone who doesn't judge you from your past mistakes but loves you in spite of them; someone who has faith in you, who reminds you every day that the world is a better place with you in it and who doesn't give up on you when you mess up but instead encourages you to try again. If you can't see that Emma and Regina match that description 150 percent, then I think we've been watching different shows.
It isn't that I believe that Robin and Hook are completely wrong for Regina and Emma, it's just that they're not quite right. No matter how much Once tries to convince us otherwise, True Love doesn't magically crop up from a fairy dust prediction or a pirate who follows you around until you give in. It might work for a while, and it might even be good while it lasts, but it's not meant to be a forever thing. Swan Queen is end game, and imagining the show going in any other direction and ending any other way is too maddening to even consider.
Allowing Emma and Regina to love one another fully, to realize the depth of their feelings and then express them to one another so that they have a shot at their real happy ending would be a risky move for a primetime TV show, but it's a brave one and one that, if Once's creators want to honor the characters they've created, is the only logical move. Lesbian couples and unconventional families might be few and far between on network television, but that doesn't mean they aren't plentiful in the real world. The Swan-Mills clan is one of the most beautiful, genuine representations of a loving family currently on our screens, so how is that not worth cherishing and allowing to flourish?
In case you need any more convincing that Emma and Regina belong together, allow me to illustrate in .gif form.
The Infamous Rom-Com Zoom
Yes, these are totally just two platonic friends who aren't at all falling in love as we watch. Definitely!
The Root Beer Flirt
Oh, you know, just two lady pals flirting over a bottle of root beer during the work day. Nothing to see here!
The "We Just Defeated Another Monster Together" Gaze
That's definitely a look of two bros celebrating being badasses and not at all two women realizing once again what an amazing team they make.
The Loving Family
No, I'm not misty-eyed... I was just... cutting onions...
The "I'd Sacrifice My Soul To Make You Happy" Move
Talk about a good friend. Way to do your BFF a solid, Emma. AND YOUR SOULMATE.
The Totally Not Jealous Look Away
I mean, Emma is totally thrilled that things are going well for Robin and Regina. She's not jealous at all!
I rest my case.