[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season premiere of Once Upon a Time. Read at your own risk!]
A hero, a villain, a pirate and a mother. That's what it's going to take to save Henry.
During Sunday's Once Upon a Time premiere, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) learned the hard way that it will take a group effort to save her son, even if that means teaming with the parents she can't forgive and the villains who have made her life hell. After surviving a storm literally brought on by their excessive fighting, Emma decided that it was time to take a leadership role in the group that will combine both the best of being pure of heart and dastardly evil.
Elsewhere, Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) quickly abandoned the group on his own rescue mission, only to discover that Greg (Ethan Embry) and Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) were quickly dispatched by the Home Office, otherwise known as Peter Pan's Lost Boys. Henry (Jared Gilmore) was able to escape with the help of a former Lost Boy (Robbie Kay). Unfortunately, after Henry uses the boy's stolen pixie dust to help them escape the other Lost Boys, he's shocked to find it was all a test: That the Lost Boy was none other than Pan himself, hoping to prove that Henry is the owner of the heart of the truest believer. What does it all mean? Executive producers Adam Horowitzand Edward Kitsis tease what's in store below:
How will the Charmings be trying to come together as a family?
Adam Horowitz: It's complicated, and hopefully in a good way, which is that they're an unusual family in that there's this odd age thing going on between them. They're the same age. They've also been separated for many, many years and now they're thrown together on a mission. Really, for the first time, in an enclosed space, they're able to start to deal with and sort out some of these issues that they haven't really had a chance to address yet.
Edward Kitsis: For Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas), they realize in this moment that their daughter doesn't really look to them for parental guidance. That's something hard to get, so they're realizing, in a lot of ways, that they need to earn it. When they see Emma thinking, "If I took that bean last year and threw it on the ground and just took Henry when we had the chance, none of this would have happened. Maybe being good doesn't work. Maybe it works in the Enchanted Forest, but it didn't work in Portland and it certainly didn't work when I grew up." What is hard for the Charmings is they realize that their daughter grew up without hope and they have to instill it back in her. How do you do that when her son is kidnapped and you're in a place that is making you confront your past because she has more in common with the Lost Boys than she does Snow and Charming.
Horowitz: We tried to crystalize it at the start of the premiere in that scene where it's from Emma's point of view. It's, "Since I've been back, your lives have sucked." But for Mary Margaret and David's point of view, "No, it's been great because we're back and we're a family." They have these challenges to overcome to be together and be a family and not have life suck.
Can Emma ever forgive her parents?
Horowitz: That is certainly a big part of her journey, but there are many tests that she's going to go through and as a family unit, all of them are going to be tested. It's not just about forgiveness, but it's about how they can come to terms with each other and hopefully be stronger together.
Why the decision to show Henry's birth in the opening moments?
Horowitz: In that premiere, she says, "I can't be a mother," and then we show a woman who is now fighting to be a mother.
Kitsis: In a lot of ways, it showed her growth and how far she came. It showed what a hard decision it was for her.
Horowitz: Seeing baby Henry, which is so important to what we're doing in this first 11 [episodes], was exciting for us, but it's not the last we're going to see of baby Henry.
Kitsis: I've always wondered how he got adopted. If I were betting, it would be around Episode 9.
Will we see more flashbacks to Emma's past?
Horowitz: Not in the first 11 episodes. While we don't tell a traditional flashback like we did with "Tallahassee" in the first 11 episodes, her past hangs over the first 11 in hopefully a profound way. She's still an important protagonist of the show and what happened before deeply impacts what's happening now.
Will Regina (Lana Parrilla) actually be able to work with the Charmings?
Kitsis: She doesn't care for Emma saying she's the leader. She certainly doesn't care to go camping with the Charmings. Rumple said right away, "I'm out," and I think she's mad that she wasn't like, "What? Why am I at the kid's table?"
Horowitz: In Episode 3, we get more into Regina and what it's like for her to be on this trip with people she detests.
Will Rumplestiltskin actually survive the trip to Neverland since the prophecy said Henry would be his undoing?
Kitsis: There was a prophecy and the prophecy said the boy would be his undoing. He left very determined to do the right thing, but he was offered a deal and he's offered many temptations. Now he doesn't even have to kill the boy. He just has to leave an island. He believes he has nothing left to live for. He holds himself responsible for the death of his son. What he doesn't realize is that his son is in his house with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire). So Neal is very important to many characters on this show right now, who are behaving in certain ways based on the knowledge that he is dead.
Are you trying to set up a love triangle with Emma, Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) and Neal (Michael Raymond-James)?
Kitsis: They think Neal is dead. Obviously, Hook is a man who likes ladies. As we saw last year when they climbed the beanstalk, Emma has probably captured his heart a little bit. At the same respect, we see that Neal is fighting like hell to get a second chance with her. Right now, I think that Emma is focused on getting Henry. She's not somebody who likes to let her walls down and her heart has been broken too many times for her to be worried about dating right now, but we'll see. She's got two handsome guys.
Can you tease Peter Pan's motivations for wanting Henry?
Kitsis: That is the 11 episodes.
Horowitz: That's the journey we're on. What we didn't want to do is do a villain who just wants world domination and wants to do something terrible. What we wanted was someone who had a really character-based motivation for why belief was important to him and why the truest believer is important to him. That's the story that we're going to unfurl in these first 11.
Is Pan trying to prove that even he can break the trust believer?
Kitsis: He definitely wants that heart.
Horowitz: He wants that heart and there's something in these games that he seems to be playing that's all tying into what his ultimate goal is for both Henry and for everyone else.
Speaking of hearts, how will Snow be trying to fix her darkened one?
Kitsis: When she said in the finale last year, "I took the easy way and I'm going to do the hard way," she realizes that from here on out, she's going to return the goodness to herself. In a lot of ways, when she looks over and sees her daughter hopeless and negative, she realizes that her daughter needs hope. When she said that line about, "The minute I stopped believing in happy endings is the minute that it won't happen," it's not that she's over what she's done, but she knows she has to redeem herself and the best way to redeem herself is to return to what she was.
Horowitz: It changed her at the end of last season and we're seeing the after effects of that, which is that Snow is no longer going to take the easy way. She now knows that she has to stay true to her heart and what she believes is good and hopeful and follow that path no matter how difficult it is.
What did you think of the Once Upon a Time premiere? Do you hope Emma reunites with Neal? Does Peter Pan totally scare you? Hit the comments!
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.