25 Inimitable Men 2/25
Killian Jones (Once Upon A Time)
There are very few characters that have had a redemption arc as fascinating and as brilliant as Once Upon A Time’s Killian Jones — characters who stumble and fall in ways that are so realistic, we’re able to understand the human psyche remarkably through them. From the moment Killian Jones appeared on screen, it was clear that he’d be one of the most compelling characters on the series. It was clear that his journey would encompass a vast array of life lessons written to inflict hope into viewers. Killian Jones wasn’t always a villain, and that’s part of the massive reason as to why his growth’s been so superlative. He’s gone from a Navy kid with great innocence to a broken man on a quest for vengeance, and through persistence, that broken man found his way onto the hero column. Killian Jones is, in every sense of the word, a man of honor — his choices to better himself out of the sheer desire to be worthy of the heroic title strengthened his character profoundly. In his journey to self discovery, the mistakes he’s made and the temporary setback in his iability to forgive himself have showcased true bravery in the form of self-awareness. Imperfections and superbly honorable traits have made Killian Jones a character to be empathized with — a character to be cared for, and without a single doubt, a character that’s truly inimitable.
Killian Jones isn’t honorable because he’s some do-gooder, he is honorable because of the choices he’s made. And on a show like Once Upon A Time, we’ve consistently been reminded of the fact that our choices make us who we are. People aren’t born good or evil, but rather innocent, and up until the death of his brother Liam Jones, Killian’s innocence was a staple in his personality — the blue-eyed boy who’d follow his older brother to the depths of the seven seas if need be. A boy who believed that rum would turn even the most noble of men into repulsive, weakened versions of themselves. And that innocence cobbled with Killian’s choices to believe in something bigger than the life of abandonment he’s endured allowed for him to serve in a selfless position. And while that innocent was temporarily tarnished through life’s curveballs, upon the realization that Emma Swan could see the lost boy within him, the heart that was filled with much more than vengeance, Killian made the choice to rise above his hatred towards the world.
Killian’s rise to heroism wasn’t without mishaps, but the realization alone was an authentic first step in becoming a better version of himself. Perhaps my favorite part of Killian’s journey has been the fact that no one demanded this out of him; no one told him he needed to change — the fact that it was his choice allows for viewers to understand that we are in control of our own destiny, the outcome of our lives. (Yes Emma asked him to be a part of something bigger, but she didn’t hold it down his throat. She gave him to platform to choose a side where he wouldn’t have to be the villain.) Killian needed to let go of the burdens that engulfed and forced him into a life filled with darkness, but as human beings, we have full control of what we do and Killian’s arc allows for viewers to understand the profound impact of both our choices and temptations. There were times, even when his heart was filled with more love than hatred where Killian’s rage won. But it is through the constant fights against darkness where control is found. Upon realizing that he is in fact capable of finding his way back into the light, his temptations with darkness were in the form of temporary traps as opposed to the imprisonment he’d faced in the past. And that’s how it is for human beings, no matter how much growth we experience, there will be temporary episodes that take through different paths. However, those temporary episodes don’t control us in the way they once could — we learn how to take ahold of them before things get ugly. As his storyline progressed and season three evolved, Killian’s persistence took center stage in illuminating the strength that’s unfolded in vulnerability. And Killian’s choices to rise above the darkness opened up parts of his heart that he’d put walls around as a result of the heartaches he’s endured.
As a man who’d lost everything that he’s loved, finding someone to care for more than himself allowed him to live for someone other than himself. And letting his guard down enough to live for another almost always made him question the decisions that weren’t honorable. In our #25LoveStories portion of #100DaysofFanFavorites, for Captain Swan we stated that: “From the moment they met, Killian and Emma have effortlessly inspired one another to grow as happier, more admirable individuals. And true love doesn’t just inspire one to be good only to their partner, but to the rest of the world. When the heart is filled with the kind of unparalleled bliss only love can bring, it’s a natural desire to be good to the world for it exudes out of someone as light shines off the sun. It’s easy to be heroes and even when it’s not, darkness isn’t as powerful.” Now while love inspires goodness, the choice to allow yourself to fall for someone in spite of the fact that they may not feel the same way takes immense courage and vulnerability. And the most fascinating aspect of Killian’s love for Emma is that if she never returned the feelings, because of the light she saw in him, he made the choice to always do good because of her. If she never loved him back, he wouldn’t resort to his old self because he’d already consciously made the choice that a woman like her, a woman who’s experienced abandonment and heartaches worse than his, deserves to have good in her life. And when when you start to do good not for your selfish gain but for the livelihood of others, then you’re already a hero.
On another note, Killian’s persistence in every area of his life has made him indescribably admirable. In “The Crocodile” (s2e4), Killian states that “a man willing to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets” illuminating the fact that he’s established a clear understanding of the fact that nothing in life is meant to be easy. On a show like Once Upon A Time where there are all sorts of magical concoctions for things, Killian Jones believed that everything needed to be earned. And while women for instance aren’t a prize by any means, the idea of being worthy of one’s love deserves the fight to prove that one is deserving. Now whether that’s fighting for someone’s love or rank, Killian knew that if the effort wasn’t strong enough, the outcome wouldn’t be either allowing viewers to understand that everything in life deserves a fight. (Obviously not a physical duel, this goes without saying but just in case, let’s clarify that.)
For five seasons, Killian Jones has proven to viewers that the honorary road requires the conscious choice to better oneself. It requires choosing the hard path. It requires putting anger and pride aside even when the person in front of you doesn’t deserve forgivenenss. And when it came to Killian’s reactions with other members of Storybrooke, he’s handled it with an admirable grace in spite of the momentary quarrels with Rumple and on occasion, Regina. Where Killian was presented with the choice to give into the darkness, in his journey as the dark one, after the temporary setback, he chose to listen to the faint voice within him to sacrifice himself for the sake of Emma and his loved ones. It was no longer about himself but the greater good and though he played with the darkness for a while, it wasn’t long before he chose the hard path that’d bring back the honorary man within — the one whose heart was filled with more love than hatred.
Every moment in life human beings are presented with choices that’ll drastically pave their road. When it comes to Killian Jones, he’s made a number of life altering decisions, some worse than the others, but when the time came to truly atone for them, he did. And atonmenet meant understanding, apologizing, and working towards a true change. Human beings are all imperfect, but what makes them noble is self-awareness, kindness, and the willingness to strive towards greatness even in hardships. Killian Jones is tremendously flawed, but he tries more than any character on TV today and that’s made him indescribably inimitable. And there’s no denying the fact the character would be as brilliantly captivating with Colin O’Donoghue’s unparalleled embodiment of him. O’Donoghue has layered Killian Jones masterfully through immaculate sincerity, innate vulnerability, and charm. O’Donoghue has brought him to life with such fire in his performances, whatever Killian has felt, O’Donoghue has exhibited with such raw energy it’s left us stunned. His ability to speak a thousand words through his expressions have marvelously illuminated parts of Killian’s characters we would’ve otherwise never known thereby, making him authentic, relatable, and captivating to watch. A hearty roud of applause is in order.