This review contains spoilers! Proceed with caution.
True to its title, this week’s episode centred on the Jones brothers and their relationship. Killian and Liam were both burdened with guilt over their past actions, and their shared struggle ultimately brought them closer together.
Even though Emma rescued Killian in last week’s episode, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Captain Swan. We’ve seen before that Killian has low self-worth, and this week brought that back to the surface. Even after his ordeal in the Underworld, Killian felt he should be punished further for his deeds as the Dark One. More than that, he believed that he didn’t deserve to return to Storybrooke. It was awful to see him keeping Emma at arms’ length; those two have gone through so much together, you’d think all that Dark One stuff would be small potatoes.
Their reunion was complicated by Liam’s arrival. He quickly assumed the role of protective older brother, and flat out told Emma that he blamed her for turning Killian into the Dark One. This put Killian in the tricky position of having to choose between his brother and his girlfriend – always an awkward moment. Flashbacks revealed that he felt indebted to Liam for taking care of him after their father sold them into servitude. It was obvious that Killian idolised Liam, but his brother wasn’t quite as heroic as he’d believed.
It turned out that Liam’s unfinished business was regret over trading his crewmates’ souls to Hades (he had a good reason, but it was still a jerk move). Similarly to Killian, his remorse prevented him from getting on with his life (or his afterlife, to be more accurate). Killian inevitably learned the truth, and everything came to a boiling point when Hades threatened to send one of them to Hell. This set up a long-overdue exchange between the brothers as they finally talked about their feelings instead of internalising everything. I’d just like to congratulate Colin O’Donoghue and Bernard Curry for how genuinely they conveyed the underlying emotions in this scene. Their performances were heart-wrenching in the best possible way.
My heart dropped when Liam sacrificed himself and fell into the Hell pit. It all worked out in the end, though, since this selfless act was what allowed him to move on. Discovering Liam’s secret actually helped Killian to work through his own issues, and by the end of the episode he was determined to defeat Hades and return to the living world. After a bumpy start, he and Emma are thankfully back on the same team.
‘The Brothers Jones’ was primarily about Killian and Liam, but the take-home message is one that applies to all fans of the show: forgiving yourself is equally as important as forgiving others.