'Once Upon a Time' Postmortem: Patrick Fischler on the Author and Cruella's Heartbreaking Twist

Patrick Fischler talks with THR about Cruella and the Author's past, present and what's next.
ABC

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Once Upon a Time episode "Sympathy for the De Vil."]

ABC's Once Upon a Time revealed Cruella's (Victoria Smurfit) backstory during Sunday's "Sympathy for the De Vil" episode, and, as promised, it was nothing like viewers had seen before.

At first, it appeared that Cruella was the victim in the tale, as her mother kept her locked away in the attic — under the control of her dalmatians. But when the Author (Patrick Fischler) — aka Isaac — came to visit Cruella's mother (under the pretense of being a reporter looking for a story) and she threw him out, Cruella was able to get his attention, and she convinced him to get her out of the attic.

The Author took Cruella out for a dream night, complete with drinking, dancing and secret-telling. Cruella then claimed her mother killed her father — as well as subsequent husbands — and the Author proposed they run away together after confessing his magical abilities. Then, thanks to a special quill and ink, he gave her the power to exercise control over animals.

Unfortunately for the Author, Cruella's mother went to visit him and warned him that he'd been duped: Cruellaactually was the one to kill her father — and her mother's subsequent husbands. Her mother had kept her locked up to keep everyone safe. Indeed, when Cruella's mother returned home, Cruella killed her.

After the Author realized his quill and ink were missing, he went to visit Cruella, and she confessed to using him. The two fought over the ink, and it spilled onto Cruella, transforming her hair into its classic black-and-white look. But before she could kill the Author, he wrote down a new line in her story: She wouldn't be able to kill anyone again.

In the present day, meanwhile, the duo were reunited, and Cruella kidnapped Henry (Jared Gilmore) in order to make Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) kill the Author. Unaware Cruella could do no real harm to her son, Emma used her magic to free Henry and kill Cruella, which, thanks to Mr. Gold's (Robert Carlyle) secret manipulation, was a step in the direction of possibly turning her dark.

Fischler spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about learning more about the Author, if there could (still) be a chance of romance with Cruella and more.

Given the betrayal and her attempt to kill him (a few times), how do you think the Author felt about Cruella when they reunited in the present?

[He] 100 percent has feelings for her. Absolutely. Not even a doubt in the mind.

How did her actions help shape him into the man we see today?

It made him incredibly cynical and angry. He's a guy who didn't live his life, and when he finally chooses to, it burns him. So I think "disappointing" is not even nearly a strong enough word. I think it's saddening and maddening.

Cruella was messed up long before she crossed paths with the Author, but does he harbor any guilt about the destruction she's caused using powers he gave her?

I hadn't even thought about that. He gave her that power, but he also wrote it so she's unable to kill anyone. That was one of my favorite twists, when, [in] that end [of the flashback], she thinks she's won this battle, and then he pulls out that final thing. I think that made him feel better about the power he did give her, that she could control animals: Ultimately, he prevented her from hurting anyone, physically, herself. Not her mom, sadly, but that was before.

Read more 'Once Upon a Time's' Patrick Fischler on the Author's "Layers," History With Cruella

He was a few minutes too late with writing that "no killing" policy.

He's devastated. Even when he has that scene with the mom, he doesn't believe it. There's a part of him that's starting to question it, and then when he sees the quill is missing, he knows something is wrong. He doesn't think it's going to be what it is, until he gets there and sees what she's done. It's a classic Cinderella story. Here he was thinking the mom was the evil one, and she's really protecting the world from her daughter, at that point. But she doesn't know he has a quill [when they first meet] or these abilities, so Cruella just sees him as a way out of the attic. But there's something between them, and then he's stupid enough to open up this door to the quill and the power of it, and then it's all out the window.

There was the hint that Cruella was the first woman he loved. Do you think there was any other love post-Cruella, or was he too burned from this experience?

He completely shut himself down. This was devastating for him. When you don't open yourself up in life and [then] you choose to, and it just smacks you in the face, it makes you even more closed than before. He gave her a little bit of warmth, and she gave him a little bit of cold. They're such yin and yang that they meld well together.

Read more 'Once Upon a Time' Creators, Star Tease Queens of Darkness and What Makes a Hero

The Author has an extraordinary amount of power — he has no qualms about using it in questionable ways — does he have the ability to write someone back to life?

That question will be answered in other episodes. The power is very much in the quill, which is why she wants it. We learned so much about the quill in this episode. A lot of it, most of it, stems from the quill and the ink. One without the other works.

If he was able to write Cruella back to life, would he be willing to give her another chance?

I think he would always give her another chance.

What can you say about how he will be impacted by Cruella's death?

He really cares about her. Even after what she did to him … I think he loved her. I don't think Isaac has gotten a lot of love in his life. And I believe this was "The One" in his mind. Even though she betrayed him and wanted him dead, he has a certain amount of respect for her. I definitely think they respected each other; that's the irony here. They're a little more Romancing the Stone or couples who love-hated each other.

Something like Moonlighting?

Exactly. Moonlighting, with a bit of darker spin. They probably want to actually kill each other. I think they both had a love-hate relationship. You'll see next week the aftermath of her death for him. Next week is a big one for Emma, too. She goes on a road trip into the real world to help Maleficent and deal with the aftermath of what she's done, killing Cruella; that's big.

With Cruella gone and Gold manipulating Emma into possibly turning dark, where does the Author stand in the present day?

As of now, his mission is to stick with Gold. We still don't know his true intentions. We know everyone still wants to get their hands on him. But we know [Gold's] trying to keep Emma on her path toward darkness. It was a great manipulation by Gold.

Is his world any safer with Cruella gone?

At this point, he's still kind of screwed. But he's also in charge a little bit. They can't do anything without him, so ultimately, when you're needed is when you have the most power.

This was a bigger episode for you with flashbacks. Will the Author be popping up in any more flashbacks?

Yes! In a couple of weeks, you'll get sort of where Isaac comes from.

In what you've filmed, do we learn Isaac's last name?

You will learn his last name. We will get his last name by the end [of the season].

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC. What did you think of this week's episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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