Much to the chagrin of Sheriff Graham fans, Once Upon a Time ended with its first major death when it signed off for a short break in December with the demise of the show’s vest-wearing lawman. To no one’s surprise, the casualty came at the hands of Once‘s Evil Queen, played by Lana Parrilla.
And when the show returns tonight, we will find Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) in the running against Sydney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito) for the dearly departed’s vacant position in office. Not surprisingly, this is less than pleasing to the town’s ruthless leader. “We will be seeing some dirty politics between Regina and Mr. Gold,” Parrilla says. “You’re going to see how threatening that is to Regina, and, as you know, she really takes on these challenges full force.”
But in the course of her quest to keep Emma out of a powerful spot, Parrilla said fans might also get a glimpse into the more earnest side of the Evil Queen, who finds herself feeling the loss of Graham, with whom she had a sexual relationship. “I always try to keep her as human as possible, even though she’s the Evil Queen,” she said. “You will see how there is a genuine love and care for Graham…There was a physical connection to the character. He did become sort of a boy toy in both worlds. But, you know, at the end of the day, in Storybrooke, she’s still trying to fill this void that Maleficent warned her about.” To some degree, she adds, the Queen has always thought of Henry as the missing piece in her life, but Graham, though she was the one responsible for his death, had grown into another person to fill the void. “Losing him was not easy for her. That’s why, when she crushes his heart, there’s a tear coming out of her eye,” she says. “She didn’t want to do it, but she had no choice — almost like how she had no choice to kill her father. I’m not saying I agree with it [laughs], but for the character, it’s what she had to do. But she will say something to Emma about Graham and there’s a level of emotion that’s present that will reveal her true feelings for him.”
Looking ahead, it could be a while until fans see the Queen’s chamber of hearts, which was revealed in the last episode. But the greater implications will continued to play out, says Parrilla. “It was the first time you saw how the two worlds collided,” she said. “But you’ll just have to stay tuned. There are so many stories to tell, and these writers love to drag it out. You may see the chamber by the end of the season or in an upcoming season — cross our fingers that we get those seasons!”
After the show airs, return to talk about the new episode of Once Upon a Time. And later, come back for a full recap of the episode!