Storybrooke's Savior is feeling the love!
When Once Upon a Time returns on Sunday (8/7c, ABC), six weeks have passed since the town's residents bid adieu to the Frozen crew and booted Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) over the town line, into our non-magical world. That's six weeks of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) fitting in real dating time. "They're getting pretty close," co-showrunnner Edward Kitsis told TVGuide.com. "For Emma we've seen that she has a tough time letting people in. It took Henry a year, it took her parents a few years. I think she's just starting to open up her heart and that she and Hook are seeing what happens."
Of course, no one gets a break for long in Storybrooke, not even The Savior. "She's about to find out some really bad information," Kitsis added at a premiere screening for reporters. "For Hook, we are going to realize that he has some things going on in his head that he's concerned about."
Then again, there may be bigger problems afoot with the Queens of Darkness hitting town. And what about that promo that hinted Emma may decide to join them on the "dark side"? "One of the big themes in the second half of the season that we want to deal with is what makes someone a hero and what makes someone a villain," co-showrunner Adam Horowitz said. "What the differences are and what the common ground is. Emma has spent a long time in the series being told she's a Savior, being told she's a hero. Now she's going to have to face that it's not as black and white as that. Going into the second half of the season, all of our characters are going to be wrestling with this idea of good and evil, not just in terms of what they're facing as an external threat, but internally within themselves."
Check out what else Kitsis and Horowitz have to say about Once Upon a Time's return:
How will Emma's friendship with Regina (Lana Parrilla) play out this year?
Edward Kitsis: [Emma] knocked on [Regina's] door and said, "I want to be your friend. I want to get your happy ending as well." And then she joined up with Operation Mongoose. Regina was kind of like, "That's great, but I like your mom more." Regina hasn't been that open to her friendship, but I think we're going to see that change in a little bit... whether or not they can be friends is kind of what we're going to see in the second half [of the season].
Will Emma help Regina get happy ending in the romantic sense?
Kitsis: Absolutely. I'd be so mad if we didn't.
When The Author is found, if that person really only wants to give heroes happy endings, then will that person be persuaded to help these villains like Rumple and Regina?
Adam Horowitz: That's a great question. What The Author he/she wants or doesn't want becomes very important. Whether or not our heroes and villains will be able to use The Author to get what they want will be one of the central conflicts that unfolds.
Kitsis: And taking a step back, it's not just about finding The Author to get a happy ending, it's finding out what happy endings are for each of our characters. What is Gold's happy ending? He seems to have had two of them and he blew them. And Regina seems to have an inability to be happy. So there's an exploration of happiness and what that means to somebody is something we're also exploring.
In contrast, Regina's last act of love was sacrifice when she let Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) go out of Storybrooke. Will her actions make her cause more sympathetic to The Author?
Kitsis: If there's anyone on the show who's kind of gotten the short end of the stick, it's Regina. She did horrible, horrible things but she has continually done the right thing. She's definitely somebody who's trying to redeem themselves. A big question that we're asking on the second half of the season is: If you do something bad, can you come back from it? Does it make you a villain or can you still be a hero? I think that is a realistic thing. Very few people are good all the time.
What can you say about seeing Robin Hood again?
Horowitz: That you will. Robin Hood returns to the world of Once Upon a Time and how he comes back and why and when and where we want to keep a secret for now. But needless to say, he may have left at the end of the winter finale, but he has not been forgotten. His presence is felt at the start before he's going to be reintroduced.
While Regina's been working to reunite with him, has he been doing the same? Or just surviving in our world?
Kitsis: We are going to answer that question with an entire episode devoted to what happened to Robin Hood when he goes to New York.
Why does everybody end up in New York?
Kitsis: It's between that and Boston. It's writer's pick that it's in New York. Adam's from Manhattan. And it's the same reason why Emma spent foster home time in Minnesota because that's where I'm from. So sometimes it's just giving a shout-out to those you love.
Gold wants his happy ending, but does he truly believe he deserves one?
Kitsis: Whether he deserves one or not, he's really going to grab it.
Will his betrayal be the last straw for Belle (Emilie de Ravin)? Or will she always be able to forgive him?
Kitsis: Well, I think she kicked out of town, so she kind of reached her last straw, and it looks like she's moved on a little bit. I would say he has his work cut out.
The Queens of Darkness will be joining Gold to invade Storybrooke. Why these three villains in particular?
Kitsis: Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten) was previously on the show, and we always wanted to get back to her, which is why we never fully killed her. Ursula (Merrin Dungey) we kind of set up a little bit and teased in the Ariel episode, and she is a lot of fun. And Cruella (Victoria Smurfit), we just liked her. There's a sass to her, and what we wanted was for Gold to take the lesson of the heroes who always worked together, and realized he needed to work together with the villains. So we just loved the idea of the team of evil.
Horowitz: And when you watch, you'll see that there's a connection between all of them and between our characters that will start to unfurl in those first two [episodes] that will hopefully make it clear why those three in particular.
Will we find out why Ursula and Cruella didn't end up in Storybrooke in the first place?
Horowitz: Yes. There's an upcoming episode where all the pieces on the chessboard are laid out — who wound up where and why. That will speak to also why these three and how they're connected and what they're after together.
In what capacity would Eion Bailey be back as August?
Horowitz: You'll see him in [the third episode back].
Kitsis: If you're searching for the Author, they're going to check in with the guy who rode into town with the typewriter.
Have you thought about introducing Henry's (Jared Gilmore) first love?
Kitsis: Yeah, I think there's a junior high dance for him at some point. I don't know if it will be this half of the season. We never know if he'll run into Gretel at the punch bowl.
Will we lose any major characters in this second half?
Kitsis: Major regulars? I mean, there's going to be some death.
Any chance of Jamie Dornan coming back?
Kitsis: Uh, no. I would love to have Christian Grey back. In fact, when we were up there filming 13 we got to hang out with him. But I don't know if you know this, but he's a huge movie star and... I can tell you that his schedule this year is non-stop. Jamie is a great friend of us and a family to the show. We love him. If the opportunity was right we'd always love to bring him back.
Horowitz: The plan with the Huntsman character was always to kill him in Episode 7 of that first season. A lot of that was really establishing the stakes of the show and setting the tone for what could or couldn't happen.
Have you given any thought about bringing Marvel characters on?
Kitsis: Marvel, no. We often have Henry reading Marvel. It kind of feels like Marvel is the domain of S.H.I.E.L.D. We love Marvel. Star Wars we would love. If there's a few things we've learned is what works on the show and what doesn't. A lot of times our audience will really respond to something that, like the Wicked Witch, which was not really technically a fairy tale per se in this way. I don't know if people want to see David Copperfield. But we have a lot of characters that haven't got to that we think are fun.
Once Upon a Time returns on Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.
VIDEO: Watch the Queens of Darkness meet for the first time!