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The upcoming season finds the ABC drama’s heroes and villains traveling from Storybrooke to Neverland to retrieve Henry (Jared S. Gilmore). The clip featured Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) being given an ominous warning from one of Peter Pan’s lost boys, showing viewers that this is not going to be same Pan from children’s bedtime stories.
“When Rumplestiltskin lets us know he is someone to be frightened of, I am frightened,” co-creator Edward Kitsis told D23 attendees during the panel. “Neverland is the heart of darkness, but they’re going into it to save Henry.”
Added co-creator Adam Horowitz: “We’re putting our own spin on it. It’s a little different than what’s been seen before.”
Season three will be split into two batches of 11 episodes, with the first half focusing primarily on Neverland. Of the season three overarching theme, Horowitz said that while season one was about the characters not knowing their real identites and season two was about them remembering, season three will be about them getting “back to their true selves. What better place than Neverland, where everything is stripped away, for them to confront who they are?”
Meanwhile, the creators also teased romantic sparks between Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and insight, via flashbacks, into how Hook became a pirate.
Belle (Emilie de Ravin) also will return, and the show will introduce Ariel. The creators added that Ursula also is likely to appear — “but you never know because on the show you never know who is the real Ursula,” said Kitsis — and there is also “a good chance of seeing a guy named Eric,” added Horowitz, referring to Ariel’s prince beau.
Horowitz and Kitsis also revealed that on their wish list of characters to incorporate into the show is Rapunzel.
“The key is when and how to honor the character and bring something new,” Horowitz said.
Meanwhile, D23 attendees also got a look at the 19-minute pilot presentation for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the OUAT spinoff that debuts in October. (It’s the same one that was screened at Comic-Con in July.)
Wonderland follows a young Alice (Sophie Lowe) in Victorian London who tells of a strange new land that exists on the other side of a rabbit hole. Like OUAT, Wonderland will feature flashbacks that give more insight into the characters. Unlike OUAT, the first season will feature a complete story arc.
“It will be much like a movie, or like how they went on one mission in Star Trek, and another year it was another mission,” Kitsis said.
As for their decision to create an entirely new character — Alice’s love interest, the genie Cyrus (Peter Gadiot) — the creators likened it to OUAT’s Emma, who also was an entirely new creation.
“Alice was curious enough to follow a rabbit into a hole,” Kitsis said. “Naturally, she would fall in love with a genie — he’s seen many lives, worlds and places. People ruin their lives for wishes. So they’re kindred spirits.”
While Wonderland is meant to stand on its own — meaning people new to OUAT need not have seen that show — OUAT fans will be treated to “crumbs sprinkled” throughout the series, teased Horowitz.
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