Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Once Upon a Time. Read at your own risk.
Snow White and Prince Charming got their happy ending after all.
During Once Upon a Time‘s season finale, the future looked grim for everyone. The Black Fairy had unleashed a curse that separated a now memory-wiped Emma (Jennifer Morrison) from her family, who were sent back to the Enchanted Forest as the realms began to crumble at Emma’s lack of belief in fairy tale characters.
As the curse overtook the Enchanted Forest, Charming (Josh Dallas) nearly died climbing back down a beanstalk with Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), but Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) found him and — in a scene echoing their true love’s kiss from the pilot — was able to revive him with a smooch.
Ultimately, Rumple (Robert Carlyle) killed the Black Fairy, while Emma sacrificed herself to prevent Gideon from turning dark. Echoing the climax of the season 1 finale, Henry’s kiss resurrected Emma, and the storybook ended, making the heroes realize they get their happily ever after. For Snow and Charming that meant living in Storybrooke, with Snow back to teaching and her family all together. Even though the heroes are missing in action when an adult Henry’s (Andrew J. West) daughter Lucy (Alison Fernandez) tracks him down 10 years in the future, for now, the Charmings have their happy ending.
The finale comes in the wake of the news that Goodwin, along with Dallas, Morrison, Emilie de Ravin, Jared Gilmore and Rebecca Mader, will not be returning to Once Upon a Time as series regulars next season. In an email interview, Goodwin exclusively tells EW about the impetus behind her — and real-life husband Dallas’ — exit.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What came with the decision to leave Once Upon a Time?
GINNIFER GOODWIN: What came with the bittersweet decision to give these characters a happy ending — and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for that — is room for a new story to grow and flourish as Snow and Charming’s did.
What was that conversation like with Josh when you guys were deciding this would be your final season?
“Hey, let’s call Eddy and Adam to talk about where our very special arc is headed.” — Ginny
“What a wonderful notion, Ginny. You have EXTRAORDINARY ideas! And have I told you lately that you’re ALWAYS right?” — Josh
How do you feel about how the story ends for Snow and Charming?
Selfishly, I’m pleased as punch. They got exactly what they wanted: dramatic, epic love balanced with normalcy (Snow’s word) and the space to indulge in both. Actually, it’s not an “end.” The final chapter of this story line is a continuation… which is kind of Snow’s own point in the finale.
Would you return in the future — either next season or for whatever ends up being the series finale?
In keeping with the aforementioned continuation-as-happy-ending, OF COURSE I (and we) will be back. It’s merely time for ONCE to focus on something new because ONCE does “new” extremely well.
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When you look back at your time playing Snow, is there anything in particular you’re proud of, a moment that will stick with you?
I’m most proud of taking the job in the first place. That pilot was so refreshing and inventive and not-done, which could have been a recipe for disaster. But I took the plunge and was rewarded immeasurably. And as for moments, everything about “Snow Falls,” in which the Charmings fell in love, will stick with me. And I won’t ever forget sitting on a Neverland log with Emma, who found herself by admitting to herself that she was a Lost Boy. I also won’t let go of the scene in which Regina first ripped out Mary Margaret’s heart and then put the thing back in again, all while standing at Regina’s front door.
Do you have any regrets? Anything you wish you had done differently? Anything you’re glad to give up?
I wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself when I had trouble concentrating at work after having my first baby and learning what it is to be up all night… forever. As for wishing I had made different ACTING choices: Oh yes, all the time, and that’ll probably never change.
How do you think Snow has changed over the years?
I think she let more and more of Mary Margaret in.
How do you think you’ve grown and changed during the run of the show?
I’ve learned and learned and learned as an actress and teammate. And, I mean, look at my life! Over the run of this show, I met Prince Charming, fell in love, got married, and had two babies. It doesn’t get better than that.
How did it feel returning to the pilot in many ways, shooting Snow and Charming’s true love’s kiss, but in reverse?
Since I’m so nostalgic about the pilot, it was a gift. And in true ONCE fashion, the narrative was twisty-turny, which was invigorating and fun. And after that many episodes, “fun” is an exception to the general rule.
What’s next for you?
I’m performing in the play Constellations at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. It’s one of, if not THE, most challenging, demanding role I’ve ever tackled and I’m doing it live, so I’m shaking in my freaking boots, which is AWESOME. I’m completely infatuated with the writing. I adore everyone involved — ridiculously talented Allen Leech costars — I try not to fangirl out over the Downton of it all— and I’m director-crushing on Giovanna Sardelli. I’d been obsessing over a homesickness for theatre when this came into my life (which is all very ONCE UPON A TIME.)
What would you like to say to the fans who have followed you on this journey?
Once Upon a Time is expected to return to ABC this fall.