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

'Once Upon a Time' co-creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis and returning guest-star Kristin Bauer van Straten preview six things to know about the second half of season four.
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Once Upon a Time is about to give the "good" side a run for its money.

After 3 1/2 seasons of the good characters of the ABC drama banding together to take down whatever foe came their way, Rumple/Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) took that lesson and will adapt it during the upcoming "Queens of Darkness" arc, as he sets out to get his own happy ending. "What we wanted was [for] Gold to take a lesson from the heroes who always worked together and realize he needed to work together with the villains," co-creator Eddy Kitsis told reporters after a recent screening. "And so we loved the idea of the Team of Evil."

See more 'Once Upon a Time's' Disney Characters

But will they be successful? That remains to be seen.

As the second half of Once Upon a Time's fourth season kicks off, series co-creators Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, as well as returning guest-star Kristin Bauer van Straten (Maleficent) tackled some of the biggest questions about what's to come.

1. That Oscar tease wasn't false advertising.

Once Upon a Time fans may have been shocked by that Oscar-night promo that hinted that Emma (Jennifer Morrison aka the Savior and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming's (Josh Dallas) daughter could be going to the dark side. And viewers will find out fairly soon into the second half of the season what that could mean for her (and the show).

"One of the big themes for the second half of the season is what makes someone a hero and what makes someone a villain and what the differences are and what the common ground is," teased Horowitz. "Emma has spent a long time in the series being told she's a savior and a hero. And now she's going to have to face that it's not as black and white as that. And I think 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."

2. Is there hope for Rumple and Belle (Emilie de Ravin)?

Once Upon a Time is a show where even the most seemingly doomed couples have found their way back to each other, but at least for now, Belle and Rumple are fractured beyond repair.

"I think she kicked him out of town, so he kind of reached his last straw [after lying about the dagger]," said Kitsis. "I would say he has his work cut out [for any potential reunion]."

After all, after the midseason finale, Kitsis told THR that "Rumple puts himself first. And the fun thing about Rumple is that he warned us in season one that he was a difficult man to love. And every time we remind the audience of that, they get upset."

Read more 'Once Upon a Time' Bosses Tease Queens of Darkness' Ties to the 'Core Characters'

3. Can the Queens of Darkness actually work together?

The villains have spent so much time working solo toward their own goals that there might be some growing pains as the Queens of Darkness adapt to the notion of "teamwork."

"I think there's always, in my mind, with these types of people, [someone] looking to be top dog," Bauer van Straten told THR. "There may appear at moments they're working together and allowing someone else to take point [on something] and switching positions, but I don't imagine that's ever possible with any power player, or in this realm. I think they're keeping score, and I think they're constantly focused on what they want, and to hell with anyone else."

The dynamic was considerably lighter on set, though. "Oh my gosh, the Queens of Darkness are amazing," gushed Bauer van Straten. "Merrin Dungey (Ursula) and Victoria Smurfit (Cruella ) I got so lucky these people were cast to play with me. We had so much fun. It's a fascinating dynamic on your first day [together]. At least I had done scenes before as Maleficent [though] it had been a while. Merrin's trying to be a large squid/sea witch. And Victoria is wearing a coat that weighs 80 pounds and trying to find the voice, and she has this crazy wig. And I'm in this new getup. We just absolutely relished the evilness every bit of it we could milk out if you put three powerful women in a room together in any dimension. It's just so much more fun than playing good. There's more possibilities."

4. How will August (Eion Bailey) play into this arc of the season?

Despite August being restored to his child self (aka Pinocchio) in season two, Eion Bailey will return to the show (and stay for multiple episodes) in episode 4.14.

The co-creators didn't want to elaborate too much about what his return might mean, but Kitsis allowed: "If you're searching for the author, they're going [to want to] check with the guy who rode into town with a typewriter."

Read more 'Once Upon a Time' Sets Pinocchio's Return

5. Why weren't Ursula and Cruella in Storybrooke when the curse occurred?

Rumple had to go to New York to find Ursula and viewers will learn where Cruella is in the midseason premiere but since everyone who was impacted by Regina's (Lana Parrilla) original curse three decades ago ended up in Storybrooke, the question remains why these two people were outside of the city which housed all the other fairy tale land characters.

The good news? There's an answer coming: "There's an upcoming episode where all of the pieces on the chess board are laid out and who wound up where and why," shared Horowitz. "That will speak to why these three [villains were right for this arc] and how are they connected and what they're all after together."

6. How will Maleficent and Regina's reunion play out?

"[Maleficent] was a very dear friend," Parrilla told THR late last year. "So you'll see there's an episode [in the second half of the season] where we'll learn about Maleficent and Regina's relationship and how they met. We'll see a bit of that. We'll see they were real friends, which goes back to the second episode of the first season, where she said to Maleficent, 'You're my only true friend.' And that was genuine. So it'll be interesting to see Maleficent coming back, especially having been trapped by Regina for 28 years in the form of a dragon, living in the tunnels."

And while Bauer van Straten didn't want to reveal too much about what the frenemies' reunion would be like, she shared, "I can tell you every time I get to work with Lana Parrilla, it is so much fun because she is so adept at playing all the way evil and now to good. The history with these two characters as it's been written on this show is so deep, and I imagine from the first scene in the first season when I met Lana, we started to play. And I find we just find depths and layers [to that relationship]. In my mind, there is actually a bond there. Not that there isn't always a present danger and [our characters] wouldn't kill the other one if we needed to. But ultimately, Maleficent is a reptile; she shows no remorse, she is cold-blooded. The writing informs it to a degree, but when I'm standing in front of Lana, I like her so much that I put that into Maleficent. There's a respect."

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC. And check back with The Live Feed after the episode for more from the creators about what went down. In the meantime, check out a gallery of Once's Disney characters brought to life here.

Twitter: @marisaroffman

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