By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated March 03, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST

Tonight’s tear-jerking episode of ABC’s Once Upon a Time was screened to an eager and enthusiastic crowd of fans this afternoon before the cast and creators took the stage at PaleyFest. The Q&A that followed touched on some of the themes brought up in the episode. So if you haven’t watched the episode, titled “The Queen is Dead,” we recommend waiting to read the story below until you check it out.

The rest of you, however, should proceed…

1. Dark Snow is coming

In tonight’s episode, Snow suffered a devastating loss when Johanna (Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol) — Snow’s childhood servant and the woman who looked after the young princess after her mother died — was pushed off the top of the clock tower during a showdown with Regina and Cora. (The scene will no doubt be detailed in our full recap of the episode, which will be posted later tonight. Update: The recap is live!) This massive loss weighed heavily on Snow, and in a chilling scene at the end, she vowed to kill Cora. That’s a dark declaration for a character who prides herself on being good and pure — but that’s the point, Ginnifer Goodwin told the Paley crowd. “What she’s going through is going to shake her self identity and self definition,” she said. “If she’s not the Snow White she read about in story books [while] in Storybrooke, then she doesn’t know who she is. But I think that does a lot for her. She can get in touch with a more involved way of protecting herself and her family.” For her part, Lana Parrilla is excited to see the darker Snow come out because, she said, “we’ve earned it.” But how dark can Snow go? Executive producer Edward Kitsis said that will be clear next week. “They’re pretty much letting us do what we want.”

2. A new land! A new character!

No details were revealed during the panel, but Kitsis and Horowitz did confirm we’ve visit a new realm this season. And when we do travel there, hints will be dropped about a new character that fans will soon meet. The problem? They’ll have to wait until season 3 to actually meet him or her.

3. A flashback!

Episode 17, “Welcome to Storybrooke,” will be a flashback to 1983, the first week of the curse. “We’re going to get more insight into what it was like that very first week in 1983 and what it was like for the Evil Queen to win and to figure out modern clothing,” says Kitsis. (This episode, airing March 17, will mark the return of Jamie Dornan as the town’s hottie sheriff (/The Huntsman). But this is more than a fun chance for viewers to see the town’s early days; Horowitz hinted that the episode will be important to the overall arc of the season as well.

4. Regina: No more Mrs. Nice Queen

Season 2 might have started out with Regina looking for a path to redemption but that is quest is a thing of the past, said Parrilla. “Being good didn’t quite work out for Regina,” she says. “She was really trying to get back to that place, but circumstances kind of [made her] turn in a different direction. …The evil queen is going to make a comeback in a different way.”

5. Spin-off on the way? Not quite

Rumors circulated earlier this week that OUAT‘s producers were looking to recast the very busy Sebastian Stan for a Mad Hatter spin-off, but Horowitz and Kitsis squashed those reports. “We have no plans to recast anyone,” said Kitsis. As for the spin-off, they are simply in the middle of brainstorming ideas, the pair told EW before the event.

6. Meet “Racy Lacey”

Belle’s not going to be stuck in the hospital much longer. An upcoming Belle-centric episode will explore the character’s cursed persona, jokingly called “Racy Lacey” during the panel. “Lacey’s very interesting,” said Emilie De Ravin. “She’s the opposite of Belle,” added Kitsis.

7. Is Rumple going after Henry?

In “Manhattan,” the Seer warned Rumple of a boy who would be responsible for his “undoing,” and as a result, Rumple vowed to kill that boy before it happened, leaving everyone to worry about Henry’s safety. Producers were cagey, but offered up this: “When Rumple was last given the choice between love and power, he let his own son go. So the question is has he learned anything and what chance does his grandson have now?” said Kitsis. Meanwhile, fellow EP Adam Horotwitz added: “[We also have to ask] is ‘undoing’ a bad thing?”

8. About that finale…

Kitsis and Horowitz came to the panel armed with scoop on season 2’s final episodes: They are titled “Second Star to the Right” and “And Straight On ‘Til Morning.”


Episode Recaps


Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

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