Those who dived headfirst into the charming series, Julie and the Phantoms were expecting an upbeat, musical sensation – and the show delivered! As the story progresses, the viewers learn more about our three friends, the Phantoms. And learn about what their lives were like pre ghosthood. Luke’s past came up in episode 8 when we discover that he had a falling out with his parents just before he died. Julie finds Luke haunting his childhood home. He’s longing to reach out to his mother and father and resolve their broken relationship. Luke writes a song titled Unsaid Emily, addressed to his mother, Emily. With the song, Luke hopes he can express his regret over their bitter last meeting.
As Luke sings “Unsaid Emily,” we see a scene play out. Luke and his mother fighting in a room decorated for Christmas. The fight intensifies as Luke storms out of the house and rides away on his bike. He leaves his distraught mother to be comforted by his father. The song’s lyrics are heavy with regret as Luke sings, “I should have turned around/but I had too much pride.”
Luke continues to the song’s chorus, singing about taking back his hurtful words and replacing them with words of love. He especially laments that the last time he saw his mother, they had a terrible argument. Unsaid Emily is even more heartbreaking as we know Luke soon dies after leaving his parents to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. Another layer of pain is added when band member Alex tells Julie that Luke’s mother was against that dream.
Luke’s singing takes us through his early days with his band Sunset Curve and practicing Unsaid Emily with his bandmates. Luke even tries to return home but never makes it to the door, only glimpsing his parents inside the house. A few scenes later, the police arrive on his parents’ doorstep to receive the heartbreaking news of their son’s passing.
The grief Luke holds in his heart is palpable in Unsaid Emily. It mirrors the sorrow we see when his parents discover their son is gone forever. Julie and the Phantoms sets up loss as a central theme in the series. Especially as Julie also deals with the death of her mother, her musical mentor and her inspiration. Luke and Julie bond over their shared pain as they finally find another person who understands what it means to be lost.
When Luke and the rest of the band, Ricky and Alex, suddenly appear in Julie’s life, Luke encourages Julie to find her voice again. He revives the joy she found in her music. Julie returns the favor to Luke by doing what he can’t. Julie delivers Luke’s lyrics to his parents, saying to his mother, “I think your son might have written this song for you.” The scene where Luke’s mother tentatively unfolds the paper and begins to cry while Luke’s father looks over her shoulder is made all the more poignant as Luke’s ghost watches over them from the corner of the room.
“Unsaid Emily” is a song that can moisten the eye of the hardest hearted viewer. The topic of loss isn’t easy to address. But Julie and the Phantoms beautifully demonstrates Luke’s arc of grief as he waited for 25 years until Julie was finally able to deliver closure to him and his parents. The lyrics in “Unsaid Emily” inspire those still tangled in anger and resentment to lay down their pride and mend a relationship. Luke’s last few lyrics say it all: “If you could only know/I never let you go/And the words I most regret/Are the ones I never meant to leave/Unsaid Emily.”
For anyone dealing with grief or loss, here are a few resources to check out: