“Sometimes you can change the past by changing the present. […] “We’re talking about redemption, not time travel.” ~A&E (x)
When the “find the author/Operation Mongoose” plot was first introduced I had reservations. The show’s premise has always been that people are responsible for creating their own Happy Endings. That it’s the choices we make that dictate our fate. My concern with the book plot was that it seemingly removed all character agency and violated that central thesis. However, in 4x15, instead of breaking that thesis, the conclusion to the Ursula storyline actually reaffirmed it. Ursula got her Happy Ending–but not through the author’s aid. Instead, Killian (with the help of Ariel) helped her attain it. When Killian returned Ursula’s voice, she decided to walk away from the darkness. To disassociate herself from the villains. These actions proved once again, that it’s our choices that determine our fate. Not some overarching, mysterious force.
We know that in 4x20 Maleficent and her daughter will be reunited and spoilers suggest that she will exit similarly to Ursula. That having her daughter returned will motivate her to turn toward the light. To choose a better option, thus ensuring her own Happy Ending. Once again, the author won’t be needed. Cruella’s departure is scheduled soon after and I surmise will be similar in tone.
What does this all have to do with Killian? In 4x15 we witnessed Killian confess to being concerned that his status as a former villain means that his Happy Ending’s in jeopardy. He currently subscribes to the notion that “villains can’t get happy endings,” which also implies a belief that fate controls our destiny rather than our own choices.
Despite aligning himself with the Heroes for this past season and a half, Killian clearly does not view himself as truly heroic. He still contains a high degree of self-loathing & that self-loathing is linked to perceiving himself as villainous. He firmly believes that his past actions will always dictate who he is and what his fate will be.
What this all boils down to is that Killian’s struggling with two things in 4B: 1) his persistent self-loathing associated with his inability to view himself as heroic. 2) belief that his past actions will always define both him and his future.