When Once Upon a Time returns for its rebooted seventh season, the trio of returning characters we’ve come to know and love will find themselves under a new curse from which it will be much harder to break free.

As revealed at Comic-Con, when adult Henry (Andrew J. West) leaves home and finds himself in trouble, Regina (Lana Parrilla), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and Rumple (Robert Carlyle) will come running. But somehow the quartet ends up under a new curse and it’s up to Henry’s daughter Lucy (Alison Fernandez) to get them all to believe once again. However, it won’t be easy as this new curse is quite different from the Dark Curse that started the whole show.

To understand the new curse, you must first understand the new main villain at the center of the story: Cinderella’s (Dania Ramirez) wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine (Gabrielle Anwar). “As often is the case on Once Upon a Time, there’s more than meets the eye to what we know about the character,” EP Adam Horowitz tells EW. “Lady Tremaine doesn’t like Cinderella very much and she’s got an agenda. But there is something broiling beneath that’s personal and painful that is driving all of this.”

“She’s somebody who wants to get to the top and will use any means necessary,” EP Edward Kitsis adds. “So why it’s important for her to be royal, why it’s important for her to crush everyone else, is the story of the year. In true Once Upon a Time fashion, evil isn’t born, it’s made, and we’ll see that with her as well.”

This all speaks to some of the twists within Hyperion Heights, the new Storybrooke-esque neighborhood in the Land Without Magic that the characters will call their home during the curse. “We’re going to see in Hyperion Heights that the role Lady Tremaine has taken is very similar in terms of getting to the top, in terms of being a developer, who is this character who is trying to push out the fairy tale characters who are living in Hyperion Heights, gentrifying the neighborhood and bringing other people in,” EP David H. Goodman says.

Yes, this does mean non-fairy tale folk also dwell in Hyperion Heights. “We’re in a city now,” Horowitz says. “Hyperion Heights is part of Seattle the way Brooklyn is part of New York. It’s more densely populated and it’s filled with fairy tale characters and non-fairy tale characters and that’s another interaction and vibe that we didn’t really have in Storybrooke, where it was all the cursed people.”

And here’s the kicker: “Lady Tremaine learned the lesson that Regina didn’t, which is don’t keep them all together where one day they can find themselves, push them the hell out!” Kitsis exclaims. “You push them the hell out and you gentrify the neighborhood and you bring in a cold press juicer and they can’t afford it anymore, then you won’t worry about the Pied Piper finding, you know, Alice.” (The new iteration of Alice, by the way, will be played by Rose Reynolds.)

“[Lady Tremaine] is sort of Regina-prime and she’s trying to figure out a way to scatter these fairy tale characters to the wind so they can’t be together, because as we’ve always seen, when these characters get together, they always figure out how to beat the bad guy,” Goodman adds. “Not giving anything away what the curse is, but she’s learning and standing on the backs of these other curses that have come before her to be as effective a villain as possible.”

Watch the Once Upon a Time season 7 Comic-Con trailer:

Another facet of this curse is new alter egos for our favorite characters. As spied in the season 7 trailer, Hook appears to be a cop, while Regina may be a bartender. “They’re different from the cursed personas we’ve seen before,” Horowitz explains. “While it’s Regina you’ve been with for six seasons, what she is now in Seattle is something different. What it’s allowing us to do is seeing these same characters in a new way. Also, Hook never had a cursed persona, so this allows us to do something we haven’t done before with Hook.”

Adds Kitsis: “And I would say Regina never had a cursed persona, because she was the Queen and the Mayor, but she was always awake.”

However, just because Lady Tremaine is the new big bad, doesn’t necessarily mean she actually cast the new curse. “We said very clearly in the pilot of Once Upon a Time that Regina cast the curse,” Kitsis says. “What you’ll see this season is we don’t necessarily say that in the premiere.” So, who cast the new curse? Our theory: Henry. Maybe he needed to cast the curse to escape the new Enchanted Forest — yup, we said new. More on that soon!

Once Upon a Time returns Friday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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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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