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'Once Upon a Time' star Lana Parrilla on undercover risks, Robin Hood in danger

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Eike Schroter/ABC

Will the Evil Queen really rise again on Once Upon a Time?

Now that Regina (Lana Parrilla) has infiltrated the Queens of Darkness, she’ll face the very real possibility of being enticed back to the Dark Side. “Will Regina ever go back to being dark is really the question,” Parrilla tells EW. “Does she have the potential? Yes. Emma [Jennifer Morrison] has the potential. It’s like an alcoholic that’s been off the bottle for six months to a year. Maybe she can hold her own with these women. I think she can try her best not to cross over to the dark side again. She’s going to be very tempted.”

Seeking to track down the Author, the Queens of Darkness have now aged Pinocchio (Eion Bailey) in a bid to mine him for information, which they’ll do by any means necessary. “They’re going to torture him as much as they possibly can,” Parrilla teases. “They’re going to go as far as they can to get what they want. That’s always what the villains do. They’re working hand in hand with Gold [Robert Carlyle], so they have a powerful team.”

But by aligning with the Queens of Darkness, even under false pretenses, Regina is putting herself directly in the line of fire. “She’s taking a big chance here, especially with her life,” Parrilla says. “It’s worth it. She’s trying to find this Author and now she has to help Snow and protect this secret and help save Emma from going dark. That’s really what this is about, protecting Emma. She’s sacrificing herself in some ways, but that’s on par for Regina.”

Unfortunately, torturing August will pale in comparison to what the Queens of Darkness have in store next. It’s looking increasingly like they’ll set their sights on corrupting Emma. Could that be the moment Regina realizes this plan has gone too far?

Parrilla, of course, plays coy. “Emma is going to stop Regina from really taking it too far,” she says. “That’s what they end up doing for each other often. Regina’s coming from a place of, ‘Trust me, I know what I’m doing. We have to play by their rules.’ That’s not how Emma sees things.

“Regina is going to take it as far as she can possibly take it for herself without crossing her own boundaries,” she continues. “Regina has come to terms with both sides of her. The fact that she was this villainous character and still possesses this darkness, she can use this to her advantage. She’s working both sides. She’s going to try her hardest not to get too pulled into the darkness, but that’s a part of her—and it’s a part of her that she’s going to learn how to use in ways that she never has before.”

It sounds like it won’t be long before their plan to find the Author come to fruition; we’ll soon meet the mystery man capable of changing everything. “You will get a glimpse of him before knowing his identity as the Author. It’s a fun reveal,” Parrilla says. “He’s very unexpected. You can’t guess who the Author is. He’s unassuming. You’ll see him and meet him first without knowing that he’s the Author.”

Outside of her duties as a double agent, Regina will find herself with a new mission after fearing something is amiss with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), who left Storybrooke with his family in the midseason finale. “Regina has a dream that spooks her,” she says. “It’s like her subconscious is trying to tell her something. It’s almost like she has a premonition in a dream. She wakes up and instinctively feels like something is wrong and she’s worried about Robin Hood. You’ll see her taking the next step to make sure he’s safe, and if not, what’s going on and what needs to be done to help him.”

Naturally, Parrilla is shy to say whether that means Regina will leave Storybrooke to track Robin Hood down. But she does somewhat quell OUAT fan fears about whether Robin Hood was really the man in the bar fated to be Regina’s soul mate. Is this really true love? “I think so. That’s at least what I’ve been told, and that’s what the story has been saying for quite some time. But who knows; maybe he isn’t,” she says. “Maybe there is someone else out there.”

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.