Once Upon a Time returns Sunday night with new episodes, beginning with “The Cricket Game.” With Cora (Barbara Hershey) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) in Storybrooke, the episode focuses on Regina (Lana Parrilla) who is trying to live without magic, to please Henry (Jared S. Gilmore). But how will that play out as she tries to deal with her mother? “I think,” says Once Upon a Time executive Producer Adam Horowitz, “this episode is going to test [Regina] in many ways.” I caught up with Horowitz and his Once Upon a Time co-creator Edward Kitsis by phone to talk about their hit ABC series and what’s in store during the weeks ahead.
As you may recall, when season two got underway last fall, Regina’s curse had been broken and the good townsfolk of Storybrooke had begun to remember their true identities as fairytale characters. Everyone is pretty upset with the Evil Queen, and out for her head. But no one is more vengeful than Mr. Gold, otherwise known as Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) after learning that Regina had kept Belle (Emilie de Ravin) captive for 28 years in Storybrooke and even longer than that in Fairytale Land. He is out for blood…or rather her soul.
“Now that magic’s back,” explained Kitsis, “and [Rumple] realizes what’s happened to Belle, he needs to get his revenge.” But Rumple had vowed to Belle that he wouldn’t kill Regina, so what to do?
“And so like always, [Rumple finds] the loophole. Belle would never want to kill someone, so he’s like, ‘All right, well, I’ll rip her soul from her,’” Kitsis said. He sends a very nasty soul-sucking wraith to deal with Regina and get his revenge. After all, it’s not killing her—at least not with his own hands…
But then, of course, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) intervenes when Henry pleads for the life of his adoptive mother. “We loved the idea of Emma sacrificing her own life to save Regina’s for Henry’s sake,” the showrunners told me. “And then [with Emma and Snow, Ginnifer Goodwin] ending up back in Fairytale Land,” Kitsis and Horowitz found they wanted to explore the character aspects of that journey.
On series television, sometimes plot drives the narrative, sometimes character. On Once Upon a Time, said Horowitz, “hopefully they’re all married together. Exploring the characters and telling their stories, getting into what makes them tick, entwines with the larger story we’re telling.”