it’s been a week and i’m still not over this scene omg i’m so sorry but look. we talk a lot about the ‘home’ bit which is like…the overall thematic thing of swanfire and i haven’t stopped crying about it but what they’re both doing in the conversation leading up to literally sets up the foundation of how they relate to each other from here on out and shows why they worked, why they were always going to work.
Emma’s trying to figure him out in this scene. She stole this guy’s car, and he’s completely cavalier about it—just laughs and asks her out for drinks. And ‘drinks’ isn’t trying to get her drunk in a bar, it’s coffee on a carousel in an abandoned amusement park he lit up for her. He sort of seems like he’s alone on the streets like her, but he’s so laidback and easygoing and childlike about it, and Emma’s never really gotten to be a child. Neal’s confusing. And there’s moment of…well, if you had something, why the hell did you leave, because Emma doesn’t have anything to go back to and I don’t think she’d be able to imagine leaving home. And he explains, and he’s so open and sincere, and I think that’s jarring for her, but Emma’s good at reading people— she’s got that thing with lies— and the way he talks: he’s like her. he’s lonely and missing something like she is, he ended up in that car for the same reasons she did. so this moment is the start of why her walls come down with him.
and Neal here fucking hell. besides the ridiculously obvious references to Rumplestilskin lmao, had this moment been in Tallahassee, there’d have been no question who this guy was, because this is Neal Cassidy when he was still mostly lonely Baelfire looking for a friend. he just met this girl and he’s spilling this completely raw, honest story— all this really personal shit, this is incredibly open— like he’s been waiting centuries to tell it to someone. (which. he literally has been.) he’s starved for human connection as much as she is, so the second she asks, the second someone’s trying to figure it out, he’s like OKAY HERE YOU GO HERE’S ALL I HAVE TO OFFER because it’s been so fucking long.
and like…this moment is a crossroads for the curse, this moment where they meet and connect was always going to happen: the reason for the curse and the savior, the son of the dark one and the daughter of the purest true love, the boy who started it all by leaving home and the girl who will end it by finding home. it’s bigger and more symbolic than them in terms of the curse mythology but what’s so fucking appealing about their story to me is that it’s more than that: the curse, destiny, whatever, created the circumstances that would always lead them here. but that human connection? emma needing someone she could let her walls down for, neal needing someone who would let him in? the genuine understanding between two people who have never ever ever found that? that’s more than the curse. that’s more than a means to an end. there’s a poetry and tragic beauty in the orchestration of how they met in a grand sense, but that understanding is so real and grounds it and makes them so much more than any plan could have accounted for.