Those who thought breaking the curse on Once Upon a Time would restore happiness for our favorite fairy-tale characters will be in for a rude awakening when the magical ABC series returns Sunday (8/7c on ABC).
The curse being broken and magic coming to Storybrooke is, in fact, not a good thing — despite the smile on Regina's (Lana Parrilla) face. "The breaking of the curse is the beginning of the final battle," Jennifer Morrison warns TVGuide.com. Along the way, though, there will be some heartwarming, if not at times awkwardly hilarious reunions between the residents of Storybrooke, especially when it comes to the Charming family. But they'll quickly realize that the battle that once raged in fairy-tale land will continue in the real world.
To find out what the battle will entail, we turned to Morrison and executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis for an in-depth look at the second season of Once Upon a Time. Fair(y-tale) warning: Spoilers ahead!
What can you tell us about the Charming family reunion?
Adam Horowitz: That is a very unique situation to find oneself in, and the circumstances of that reunion and what that means for all of them is the subject matter of the first episode and something we explore as the season begins. We think it's a really interesting way to approach a family dynamic, to see a family reunited against the backdrop of this curse-breaking and the fact that they are, in age, almost contemporaries; but in terms of the experiences they've had, Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas) were parents for about five minutes before they sent their kid away. Emma spent 28 years without her parents and now suddenly has them.
Will there be some animosity there because they gave her up?
Horowitz: For us, it wouldn't be real if those thoughts weren't going through her head.
Jennifer Morrison: She spent her whole life looking for them. It's a very complicated thing for someone to have to accept, like, I really was given up. I really wasn't enough for them to keep around. Yet, she's gotten to know these people. She thinks they're good people, but they're good people that, in her mind, made a terrible decision. There's a part of her that is over-the-moon ecstatic to have found her parents alive and well, and there is a part of her that is still 5 years old trying to figure out how someone could give her up. She's going to be constantly battling those two sides of herself when she's dealing with these conversations with them.
Rumors have it that Emma and Snow might be in some far-off land this season. Is there anything you can say to that?
Edward Kitsis: All we can say about their relationship is that, as we said before, it's what we think is a unique mother-daughter relationship. The obstacles and forces of antagonism that they face are such that test this relationship and bring it to a new place.
Horowitz: We love that there's speculation, and we love that people are curious about what happens to them. What we would ask is patience and watching that first episode because a lot of these questions that you're asking are answered right off the bat. We're very excited about where those two characters find themselves and what they're going to be facing, but we can't be any more specific with that.
What about the reunion between father and daughter?
Kitsis: In the finale of Season 1, we showed what we thought was a really cool parallel between the two of them, which was dad placing the egg within the dragon and daughter retrieving it while using her father's sword. We think there is a lot of Charming in Emma, and he will see a lot of himself in her. There's something potentially cool about that while also challenging about being a dad to a woman your own age.
Horowitz: I think that's one of the interesting things. For the last year, Emma looked at David like an idiot for the way he treated her best friend who she looked at as this innocent schoolteacher who needed a big sister to help her. Well, now they're her parents, and they remembered who they were. Prince Charming and Snow White need no guidance. In fact, they want to be a parent. So what happens when roles are reversed but memories are intact?
Kitsis: Usually, the arc of a child-parent relationship is your parents are put on this high pedestal as these infallible beings, and as you grow up and you mature, you realize we're all human, and we all have our failings. It's reversed for Emma. She met her parents as fallible human beings with all those human qualities, and now is being forced to look at them as mythic characters on a pedestal, and how does she reconcile that? How do they reconcile that their daughter looks at her in this complicated way?
Regina is in some serious trouble! What can you tell us about her going up against the town now that they're all aware?
Horowitz: The thing is that when you place a big bet like casting a curse that rips away everyone's happiness, and it doesn't work out, you have to be prepared for the consequences. On the plus side, magic is back, and we saw her smile. On the minus side, everybody hates her.
How will the Charming family deal with confronting Regina?
Morrison: The Charming family really wants to try to take the high road with the situation. Obviously, they want her to pay for her actions and they want her to be held responsible, but not in a way that would stoop to her level. Whereas there's another mob in town that is just rash and angry and they want her to pay for what she's done.
In addition to that, which complicates things even more, is Rumpelstiltskin/Gold (Robert Carlyle) involved in all this? He is the one who's brought magic now. He's the one who seems to have been pulling the strings behind all this. Then there's the question of how involved was he with Regina and how responsible is she compared to him? It definitely raises a lot of unanswered questions very quickly.
How does them trying to confront Regina in a reasonable way change once magic returns?
Morrison: It's going to take some time. I mean, they really do establish over again that magic in reality isn't like magic in fairy-tale land. So, everyone's at ground zero in terms of trying to figure out what works. I mean, there is a point at which now that she knows magic has come, she does something that would have been a spell that would have worked immediately in fairy-tale land that doesn't work at all in reality.
How will Regina's battle be different now that magic is back?
Horowitz: Regina at this point is almost a little more broken, if you will, in the sense that her curse failed, and she lost Henry (Jared Gilmore).
Kitsis: She chose saving Henry's life over preserving the curse. As Gold said, if Henry dies and Emma leaves town, everything stays normal.
Horowitz: By doing that, we feel it probably filled the void in her heart. She's at a place now where everybody hates her. She's lost everything, and yet, when she said to Henry in the finale, "No matter what anyone says about me, I love you," that is true. I think she wants to be with her child. There is a world where, perhaps, this is a second chance for her to redeem herself. Maybe before she was the Evil Queen, she was in love with a stable boy and wore flowers in her hair. Maybe there's a chance of redemption for her.
Do you think she could ever actually have a real relationship with Henry?
Kitsis: I think that's an incredibly interesting question, and the question of whether or not she could have a real relationship with Henry is something that we intend to explore this year.
Emma's journey last season was from non-believer to savior of Storybrooke. What does that role mean now that the curse is broken?
Kitsis: She was the savior, and she broke the curse, but clearly there's more to that role than what we saw last season, and that's something the audience needs to discover as Emma does as well. It's like in last season, where she's told she's the savior in the pilot, but she doesn't really believe it, and she had to go on a journey to get to that belief. This season, while she knows she's the savior, and now she believes, what she has to do becomes clear very early on in terms of what she must accomplish on a practical level.
Morrison: It's interesting because what everyone realizes very quickly is that it was never about just breaking the curse. It was always about the final battle beginning. We now are launched into a whole other realm of problems and conflict that were brewing under the surface, but were never going to be able to be handled until the curse was broken. We spent the whole season thinking that that was the problem. Really, breaking the curse was the beginning of the next problem.
We've heard of the introductions of Mulan (Jamie Chung), Sleeping Beauty (Sarah Bolger), Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) and even Jack and the Beanstalk. Are there any other fairy-tale characters you can tease?
Horowitz: We can say that we are going to tell a back story of the character who, in a lot of ways, is like a new fairy-tale character because she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. We are going to give a little more backstory into Emma before she had Henry. Maybe go back and look at Comic-Con where we did a series of title cards. One of them had a yellow bug on it. That's Emma's car, and that was meant to signify a dip into her past.
Rumple and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) finally reunited, but it seems like he may have crossed a line by reintroducing magic. How does that affect their relationship?
Horowitz: Gold is a meticulous man, as is Rumplestiltskin, and he had a plan that he has been enacting. The wild card was Belle because he never, ever thought she was going to be coming back, and he is a man who has, in the past, always chosen power over love. He's on a mission, and here he has a second chance with the woman he always regretted letting go. We see that push-and-pull between what he wants to do and how to win her heart as well.
How will Ruby (Meghan Ory) deal with her wolf issue in the real world?
Kitsis: That is a concern because magic is a little unpredictable, and it's been a long time since she's been a wolf. We have an entire episode in the first run of episodes where we deal with that, in fact.
Horowitz: Meghan is a series regular, and we are very excited to show more of her this year because we loved the character of Red and Ruby last year. I think now that she remembers who she is, it's almost like she gets to really explore some new character depths this season.
Wondering about the fate of Pinocchio? Or how Snow and Charming will take back their kingdom? Stay tuned for more scoop from the executive producers next week! For now, hit the comments with your excitement about Once Upon a Time's return, airing this Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.