Two familiar faces returned in the Once Upon a Time winter finale, but their appearances did more harm than good.
When Emma (Jennifer Morrison) discovers that the sword that’s fated to kill her can harm the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) without hurting Regina, the queen steals Aladdin’s (Deniz Akdeniz) lamp and wishes for Emma’s wish of never being the Savior to come true.
Emma then finds herself as a princess back in the Enchanted Forest, where the Dark Curse never happened, her parents have aged, and Henry (Jared Gilmore) is about to be knighted. Since Regina is also the master of the lamp, she uses a wish to follow Emma in a bid to convince her she’s the Savior, going so far as to kill Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas). But when newly knighted Henry arrives to kill the Evil Queen, Emma realizes this world is not real — well, technically, it is, but more on that later.
Back in Storybrooke, David tricks the Evil Queen, getting possession of the lamp and wishing that the villain gets everything she deserved. While it initially does nothing — and Aladdin and Jasmine (Karen David) leave for Agrabah — the prophetic hooded figure arrives in Storybrooke, turning the Evil Queen into a caged viper and revealing his identity to Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and Rumple (Robert Carlyle): It’s their son, Gideon (Giles Matthey), who the parents had discovered was stolen by the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray), and clearly raised evil since he’s prophesied to kill Emma.
As for Emma and Regina, the faux-Enchanted Forest version of Rumple delivers the magic bean that will open a portal back to Storybrooke, but before the pair can jump through, Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) appears with plans to rob them. With Regina distracted, the portal closes, trapping the duo in the wish realm. What does this mean for the duo? And who else will be returning to help them? EW turned to executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis to get the scoop.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Gideon is revealed to be the man under the hood. How did you decide on him?
ADAM HOROWITZ: Well, that was the plan from the get-go. It wasn’t a decision like, “Who are we going to put under the hood?” It was about designing the season to reach that point. And there’s more to the reveal than everything you see in the winter finale. It’s a story that is only just beginning, and becomes an important part of the second half of the season.
Why would Gideon want to kill the Savior?
HOROWITZ: That’s a great question and that’s exactly the question that we hope the audience is asking, is “Why would he want to kill the Savior?” And that becomes a launching off point for a lot of the storytelling in the second half.
Rumple reunites with Belle and mentions that there’s this dark realm, where the Black Fairy has taken their son. Time doesn’t work right there. What can you tease of this realm and are we going there in the back half of the season?
HOROWITZ: I think that what you just described is the tease for the realm. It sounds like it’s a dark place, it sounds like things work in a screwy way there, and it has the Black Fairy there.
EDWARD KITSIS: Any land where the Black Fairy, the Dark Fairy, the darkest soul we’ve been teasing for six years, runs can’t be fun.
HOROWITZ: We intend to explore what that realm is, and see a little bit more of it, and learn more about Black Fairy as we go forward. Without giving away too much, it’s a safe bet to say we will be seeing more of the Black Fairy, and more of where she came from, and why she is doing the things that she is doing.
Will working together bring Rumple and Belle closer, maybe lead to some understanding between them?
KITSIS: Yeah, I think the path for Rumple and Belle has been rocky, it has been tortuous, but sometimes things bring us together in unexpected ways. I’ve always rooted for those two and I hope for the best.
HOROWITZ: I’ll say this: In the episode that aired this past week, before the winter finale, I think you saw Rumple go right up to the line. And when he had the ability to speed up her pregnancy and do one of the worst things possible to Belle, he didn’t do it. He got to the line and he turned back from it, even though Belle doesn’t know that at the end of episode 9. But he did, and I think that was a really important moment and a really telling moment, which is that despite all of his love for power and addiction to magic, there is a deep abiding love for Belle in there as well, and he’s always in conflict because of that. That’s the glimmer of hope that has not died out and is kind of the root of that relationship.
Emma and Regina are now stuck in this alternate universe. What are we meant to call this land?
HOROWITZ: It’s the wish realm. It’s the realm that was created by the wish, so it’s an actual place that exists now. The wish has created it, so it’s not an alternate realm in the sense that it’s just imaginary and not real; this place actually now exists and is real.
Who will they turn to for help?
KITSIS: Well, they will be looking wherever they can.
HOROWITZ: Yeah, I mean, maybe a formerly wooden friend might be useful.
KITSIS: Yeah, he helped in season 1, so if I were Emma, I might go to Pinocchio.
So is August returning then?
KITSIS: August has returned.
HOROWITZ: We’ll be seeing some Eion Bailey coming up.
Talk about the decision to have Robin Hood return in this way and tease how Regina is going to deal with being around him again in the coming episodes?
KITSIS: This was a story that we’ve been excited about for a while. We love Sean and we thought that this is a fun way to continue to tell the story of Robin Hood, but from a slightly different angle, because this character that we’re meeting isn’t the same Robin Hood who we know. But because he also is sort of a version of that Robin Hood, it clearly has a deep impact on Regina. In the spring premiere, you’ll see that that becomes a huge part of her story, and in effect, Emma and everyone else as well. I don’t think we want to say too much about what happens, but it certainly allows us to explore the wounds that Regina has in regards to Robin, and it allows us to also explore this sort of new character in a fun way.
KITSIS: Since Robin died last year, she’s really kind of questioning. She cut the darkness from her self, only to have it come back. She is figuring some things out deeper than just, “Will I be good today or bad?” We’ve seen Regina have the ability to love and love other people, but somebody that she really actually needs to explore is herself.
Regina killed Snow and Charming in the wish realm. What danger does that pose for them being stuck there now? Will people like Henry be hunting them?
KITSIS: Oh, 100 percent.
HOROWITZ: One of our favorite shots cinematically on the show in a long time is something you get in the spring premiere of Henry on a horse in deep pursuit.
KITSIS: They are going to be on the run because everyone thinks that the Evil Queen has killed Snow and Charming and kidnapped Emma, so I would say that like The Warriors, she has make her way back to Coney before she gets killed.
HOROWITZ: That Warriors reference was a little old.
KITSIS: The millennials should love that. The Warriors is a reference from Stranger Things! [Laughs.]
HOROWITZ: It’s a Walter Hill movie.
Presumably all of the characters that we’ve come to know and love are in the wish realm, so what might that meeting of Emma and whatever version of Hook this is look like?
KITSIS: What I can tell you is that is 100 percent my favorite moment of the spring premiere and that’s all I’ll say. And it’s one of my top ten favorite moments of the series.
Might some of these other characters also be aged up like Snow and Charming?
HOROWITZ: There’s different changes for different characters for different reasons, and that’s the beauty of the wish realm — there’s a logic to a wish that isn’t necessarily the same as the real world, but it’s consistent within its own wish logic rules, and it’s allowed us to have a lot of fun with these characters, and play off what we’ve done for the last six seasons or so, and do new spins on them.
As you mentioned in the preview story, the threat of the prophecy coming true is still looming. How is that going to affect Emma and Hook (from Storybrooke) in the back half of the season?
HOROWITZ: Well, the actual Hook back in Storybrooke, I would say, is extremely activated and motivated to help Emma and do everything humanly possible from where he is. It’s fun to see him and Charming working together, and we would love putting David and Hook together and think the two of them have great chemistry together when they’re teamed up. There is no greater thing to team them up than David, whose daughter is in danger, and Hook, whose love is in danger.
What can you tease of how much longer Snow and Charming will be dealing with this sleeping curse and what new challenges are ahead for them?
KITSIS: It is not going to be something that they get out of the next episode. It’s going to be a little bit.
HOROWITZ: Snow and Charming have an epic love that’s dealt with curses before. This new curse that they’re dealing with is interesting in that it’s a challenge because they are separated in a way that they’ve never been separated before, but I think we see both of them rise to the heroic occasion as they deal with it. It’s something that has been an interesting thing to explore — it doesn’t just affect them because of their love, but their extended family and friends around them.
Aladdin leaves behind that scarab from Agrabah for Emma. What purpose does it serve and will it come in handy in the future?
HOROWITZ: In the second half of the season, we are going to be going to Agrabah and we’re going to be picking up that story — both the Aladdin/Jasmine story that we started to tell, and how it also continues to impact Emma, being that they are both Saviors and they have that tie between them. So when we saw that moment of giving the scarab to Henry, what it was symbolizing was the connection between Aladdin and Emma and the lineage of Saviors. That’s a story that becomes more important in the second half, plus it’s just fun to go to Agrabah.
Once Upon a Time will return in 2017. Stay tuned during the hiatus for more scoop, including a brand new Hot Seat!