Credit: ABC/Jack Rowand

“Be careful what you wish for” has never been more pertinent on Once Upon a Time than in the upcoming winter finale.

When the heroes of Storybrooke uncover a weapon than can harm the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), she in turn charges new genie Aladdin with granting Emma’s (Jennifer Morrison) wish to never have become the Savior.

“One thing that people have always wondered is what would happen if the curse was never enacted and Emma grew up in a fairy tale, and that’s what we’re going to show,” executive producer Edward Kitsis tells EW of the winter finale.

This alternate reality, of sorts, is very different from what viewers know happened in the Enchanted Forest. “It is a world where there’s no villains,” Kitsis notes. “The big villain was defeated, there was no curse, and peace and joy got to flourish.”

The episode therefore runs like a blast from the past — familiar faces and locales included. “Some of the fun of this first half of this season is we’ve really tried to do that season 1 vibe,” Kitsis says. “What’s fun about when we do the alt-realities is they are that wish fulfillment. For the people who always ask what would Emma’s life be like, it’s fun to see what the characters are like, what would happen.”

“For us, we always wanted the show to be the kind of show that wasn’t just rigid in what we did,” Kitsis continues. “You could go to Oz, you could go to the Underworld, you could stay in Storybrooke, you could go to New York, or you could create an entirely different world where Snow White is the biggest villain in the world. This really follows in that line.”

This new challenge aside, Emma is still faced with a grim prophecy that apparently cannot be stopped. “Emma is fated to die and that is the destiny that we learned all Saviors face,” Kitsis reminds. “That is going to be coming to a head — it is going to resonate in the finale and it will definitely come to a head in the next half of the season when we return.”

Once Upon a Time‘s winter finale airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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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