Agree totally. I think subconsciously that’s part of my choosing of SF vs CS – while both realize that Emma and Henry come as a package deal, only one of them is SEEKING them as a package deal. Not to say that’s the only reason, and certainly, plenty of successful relationships have been launched when someone wants the parent but accepts the child. It just doesn’t have the same heartstring pull (for me) as a guy who is like, “That’s my family, and I want them back.” It trumps, “I have the hots for that girl, she seems like fun and I think maybe I could get over my 300-year-old broken heart. Her kid’s okay, too.”
I agree that at the core of Emma’s idea of a happy life is her son. She herself has made that her standard, and Hook knows it. Peter Pan’s offer to let Emma and Hook leave Neverland, without Henry, was awfully tempting to Hook. Yet, the only real reason he turned that offer down wasn’t out of any sense of nobility; it was because he knew Emma would never abandon her son the way that Milha did hers. Hook didn’t show any real scruples about whisking Milha off from Bae all those years ago, and I doubt Hook would’ve shown any had Emma herself not been so devoted to saving her son.
I’ve enjoyed Hook’s flirty pirate persona at times for what it is, but that’s never blinded me to his sins. I can understand the enjoyment of his bad-boy image, but that has always been tempered with annoyance at how he maligned a crippled man and seduced his man’s wife, thereby leaving a little boy motherless. Like Snow, I roll my eyes his self-absorption and his immature narcism (“I’m devilishly handsome”) and inappropriate remarks to married women like Snow. I’ve never tried to justify how Hook nearly killed an innocent woman named Belle had Regina not intervened and later shot her. I’ve never forgotten how Hook sided with Cora and left Emma, Snow, Mulan and Aurora to rot in an enchanted jail cell without provision, despite Emma’s pleas for mercy to return to her son Henry, all out of some sense of spite for Emma not trusting him atop the beanstalk. I can’t forget how Hook partnered with Greg and Tamara, whom he knew were set to kidnap Henry. Yes, Hook turned around his ship, but it would’ve been a little too late had Regina and Emma’s magic not counteracted the failsafe. I still think the primary reason Hook turned around that ship was his memory of how he’d previously failed Bae. Yet, S3 made it seem like it was all EMMA.
As far as mutual understanding goes, I think Regina understands Emma better than Hook does. As a fellow mother to Henry, Regina realizes that the most important person is their son. Regina finally made a selfless decision about Henry when she blessed Emma and Henry with memories of a good life, one in which they never had to be parted. That is why in the clip for 3×15 Emma is hesitant about giving Henry his real memories back. Yes, Emma wants to “protect” Henry from magic, but more fundamentally, she doesn’t want Henry to remember being placed for adoption. Perhaps Emma is being a bit selfish in wanting Henry all to herself the way Regina did for the first two seasons. All Emma wants right now is to hightail it out of SB and return to the safety of their abode in NYC. I think Emma even resents Hook for awakening her from what she called a really good dream. She didn’t seem at all pleased to see Hook, even when she got her memories back. She seemed resigned that the price of her being the savior means not getting what she really wants, which is a happy, normal life with his son in NYC. Incidentally, it’s no coincidence that what took Emma and Henry to NYC was a fire. Her subconscious took her to the hometown of Baelfire. Her idea of home matches Neal’s idea.
I think the ways in which Neal, Emma, and Hook have been written could have been handled a little bit more smoothly, but nonetheless, have remained true to the narrative which Adam and Eddy (otherwise known as A&E) have conceived since season 2. From an interview dated Jan. 2013:
@AdagioClockwork I’m probably in the minority here but I really hope you have something in petto for us Neal/Emma fans as well. D:
Emma is quite the popular gal, and it seems that she has a wide range of handsome men coming into play in the second half of season two. But the one that will always be No. 1 is Henry. Kitsis once again tackles the subject of Emma’s suitors saying, “I think what’s interesting is the love of Emma’s life last year was Henry and this year we actually met the one person that she has fallen in love with [Neal]. Hook is obviously eye candy. I don’t know if she would stare at him and think he would be a great father to Henry but he might be fun in Vegas.” However, it is looking like a strong possibility that Neal/Emma fans will see a reunion by the end of the season. When I asked the creators if Henry would be meeting his birthfather this season, Horowitz bluntly revealed, “I would be really disappointed if we went this season and we didn’t show that. That would suck.”
To me it’s pretty clear that Hook is indeed the eye candy of the show. He wants to appear like a man of honor to Emma, yet he continuously shows his own immaturity like picking fights with Neal out of jealousy, telling Neal he’ll fail miserably at his second chance, making druken passes at Tinkerbell, and then continuing to vie for Emma after he claimed he’d step back. Emma and Hook did share that little “dalliance” in Neverland, but to me, Neverland is Las Vegas. It’s the darkened, dangerous, adrenaline- fueled kind of hookup that happens but then Emma regrets come light of day. Emma has had a year now of being a mom to her son, plus a lifetime of implanted memories. She’s not going to look at Hook and think what a great dad he’d make to Henry. There was also this tidbit which I found interesting from the interview:
@captainswans Please please please ask the OUaT producers about a possible Hook/Emma romance. We’re all dying to know! Thank you!!!
Going off the same conversation, Kitsis was very light-hearted with his answer regarding a possible CaptainSwan connection. He joked, I think it’s hard to deny the handsomeness of Hook, and I think the real question is, is he going to loose the guy-liner in storybook? And the answer is no.” On a slightly more serious note, Kitsis explains that there are going to be quite a few men in her life this season. “Emma is going to find herself with a few choices this season and I think there are the people that are right for you, and there are the people that are wrong for, and then there are the people that you just choose and I think Emma is going to face all those things,” Kitsis said.
I think we saw that situation already play out in “Dark Hollow.” Hook = the guy who is wrong for Emma, Neal = the guy who is right for Emma, and Henry = the person whom Emma just chooses.
As far as Emma is concerned, I think her idea of a happy life is playing video games with her kid. She doesn’t want to climb beanstalks with a strange pirate to get back to her son or to trek through dark jungles with him to save Henry. All Emma knows of Hook is that he’s made some sketch alliances before but that he turned around his ship, she thinks, to help save Henry. Yet, Emma doesn’t yet even know what Hook’s real relationship is with Baelfire or that Hook handed him over to Peter Pan. What Emma really wants is to be there for her son and to keep him safe. Hook only appears somewhat tolerable to Emma for the help he gave her in getting to Neverland; yet she doesn’t know the full truth. Emma needs to hear from Neal exactly who Hook is, the man who helped destroy his family by running off with his mother, and then how Hook disregarded Bae, who was obviously young, upset and confused to learn Hook was the pirate responsible for taking his mother.
Now which man best partners with what Emma wants? The pirate who is enamored with his own good looks, who has a serious drinking problem, who prefers to wear his hook over a prothetic hand, who would rather wear his pirate costume than modern attire, who considers his ship to be his home, who loves his swashbuckling ways, who said Emma would make one heck of a pirate herself? Or the man who already has a home in New York City, who spent years trying to distance himself from “all that crap” of magic, who doesn’t really see his home in the Enchanted Forest and is more desperate to return to his family in NYC, his own hometown?
I would say Neal is the man who is the most natural fit for what Emma herself wants. She wants a loving family man who is going to love her yes, but most importantly to her, be a great dad to Henry. And hey, Neal actually is Henry’s dad, which is like icing on the cake because Emma herself has made Henry her criterion. In my opinion, the episode “Dark Hollow” wasn’t so much about which man, Hook or Neal, Emma would choose. It was about Emma choosing Henry. As she said, she only has room for one love in her life, and that is her son. The person whom Emma chooses has to put Henry first just like she does. And Neal is that guy. He said, “You’re right, about Henry. He is all that matters. If Henry is the only thing that came from our being together, then I say we did alright.” Emma, Neal and Regina have all said Henry is the most important thing, and in the end, that’s what matters: family. Emma and Neal wouldn’t choose to be together just because they mutually love their son, but it is a vital common ground to share. Without that mutual agreement, Emma wouldn’t have room to consider any man being right for her without him also being right for her son. So, Neal already has a natural “in” with Emma. He doesn’t have to fake concern for his son. He’s Henry’s loving father, and he’d do anything for his kid, without hesitation, even sacrifice his life so that Henry wouldn’t have to grow up alone.
"That’s how you know you’ve really got a home. When you leave it, there’s this feeling that you can’t shake. You just miss it." Neal Cassidy