Emma Swan is destined to die — at least that’s what the visions are telling her — and she’s not handling the possibility of a less-than-happy ending very well on Once Upon a Time.
When season 6 kicked off, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) began to have visions of a hooded figure running her through with a sword, coupled with an uncontrollable shake in her hand. At New York Comic Con on Friday, Morrison joined executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis to talk about Emma’s long journey as the Savior in light of this recent discovery.
“It’s almost like the PTSD of going from being a normal person to being in these life-or-death situations all the time and never having time to deal with it or process it or have a normal day,” Morrison said. “I think she’s unraveling a little bit trying to figure out how to find herself and who she really is.”
Emma isn’t the only one trying to find her way — and the EPs aren’t just talking about the characters from the Land of Untold Stories. “That’s one of the themes we’re starting to explore this episode and this season: What is normal?” Horowitz said after the screening of Sunday’s Cinderella-themed episode. “These characters also need to find a way to have lives, normal lives, and that’s one of the challenges, because they are people despite also being fairies and dragons and stuff.”
But despite everything Emma has gone through, Horowitz noted she’s always stayed strong. “Life isn’t always easy, and what I love most about Emma is, no matter what happens, she keeps persevering,” he said. “We keep giving her obstacles, and she keeps beating them, and that’s kind of what we like doing.”
Her next obstacle is what will happen when Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) eventually discovers the truth about her fate. “The thing we love about Hook and Emma is showing the real relationship,” Kitsis said. “We all know that right now she’s keeping something from him, a secret, and we what we like to explore with them is how they deal with the real life stuff in a real way. We’ve seen them deal with the fantastic stuff, but the relationship stuff, we’re going to continue to see that play out for a little bit.”
Horowitz added: “It’s like anything with this show: A happy ending isn’t an end point; it’s a continuing process, and there’s new challenges along the way.”
But dealing with prophesied doom and gloom isn’t the only threat this season, as the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) has very much made her presence known in Storybrooke. “Part of the fun of six seasons later is, once again, the Evil Queen is standing in the way of people getting their happy endings, but now Emma doesn’t have to fight the fight alone,” Kitsis said. “She has Regina by her side. So for us, it’s that growth in their friendship, and really, in a weird way, Regina seems closer to Snow [Ginnifer Goodwin], even though she tried to kill her.”
“The relationship between Regina and Snow is complicated — there’s a lot to clean up,” Horowitz added. “Whereas with Emma and Regina, what is so interesting to write is the evolution: Watching the pure hatred in the first couple of episodes to watching the friendship and how it’s a complicated friendship.”
Morrison pointed out that the dynamic between Emma, Regina, and Snow is crucial to the success of the ABC fairy tale drama. “Instead of having them have cat fights and trying to pull each other down, they’re fighting for each other and fighting to build each other up and make each other better,” she said. “That makes me proud to be part of show, because it think that’s something we need more of that in the world. Yes, we want gender equality, but we also need to take care of each other, we need to build each other up. This is an example we can be very inspired by. I’m inspired by the way they write these women to be a better woman every day.”
Now the question remains: Who’s the person under the hood who will apparently slay Emma? We’ll find out sooner than you think. “Keep watching, there’s more from the Oracle coming soon,” Kitsis said. “The cloaked figure—”
“You will have that answer by Christmas,” Horowitz said.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Reporting by Ruth Kinane.