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Once Upon a Time is ready to reveal Emma’s (Jennifer Morrison) full dark plan, and Storybrooke is ill-prepared.
When the ABC drama airs its two-hour episode Sunday, questions surrounding the lost memories from Camelot and why Emma became the Dark One will finally be answered, with the ramifications for Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Emma’s relationship to follow.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with co-creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis to discuss Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Ruby’s (Meghan Ory) returns and reunions with the Storybrooke gang, their mission with Merida (Amy Manson) as well as the status of the Zelena (Rebecca Mader), Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Robin (Sean Maguire) baby conundrum. They also teased when to expect the LGBT storyline this season — including Aurora (Sarah Bolger) and Phillip’s (Julian Morris) role with Mulan in Sunday’s episode.
How will Mulan and Ruby’s returns be addressed? Will it focus on their journey with Merida?
Kitsis: We’ve been wanting to bring Ruby back forever … but we felt like we couldn’t just have Ruby show up at Granny’s like she’s been there the whole time. This will explain where she’s been and what Mulan has been up to. The two of them are going to be enlisted to help Merida with a problem at home. She has to pay back a debt her father has to the witch from Brave, and she needs the help of Mulan and Ruby to figure it out.
Will they interact with the rest of the Storybrooke gang, or are they only in Merida’s universe?
Kitsis: We’re going to get a Ruby and Mary Margaret scene.
Horowitz: There’s a touch of Storybrooke and a lot of our characters in DunBroch. We’re going to be seeing some of the Camelot characters interacting. It’s kind of a hodgepodge of things.
How long will they stick around this season?
Kitsis: We will absolutely see them in the second half of the season. This is kind of their reintroduction, where they’ve been and setting them up for the second half.
The last we saw Mulan, she was getting heartbroken by unrequited love with Aurora. Will we see Aurora and Philip come back now?
Kitsis: We are not going to be seeing them in this episode.
Horowitz: They are referred to, but …
Kitsis: This is more about Mulan’s journey moving forward.
With the gay storyline that you’re working on, was there any difficulty getting Disney to come on board for it, and did you know which characters it would involve?
Horowitz: The storyline that we’re planning to tell, everyone has been super supportive of. What we’re endeavoring to do is to not make a big deal of it because that’s how we see this world — it’s not a big deal. It should just be a love story that is as exciting, emotional and heartfelt as any other love story.
Kitsis: For us, we wanted to tell it no differently than we would with Robin and Regina or Snow and Charming. We just wanted to tell a love story. For us, it’s a love story like any other and it’s something we’re excited about. Everyone’s been supportive, and we’re going to tell it in the second half of the season.
Is the Aurora, Mulan and Phillip love triangle something you’re looking to explore?
Horowitz: We don’t want to comment on who the characters are and what the story is. It’s a funny thing — the more we’re asked about it, it kind of goes against what we’re trying to do with it, which is not to make it a “Very Special Episode of Once Upon a Time,” but to make it its own special story that just exists.
How will the events in these episodes lead up to the midseason finale?
Kitsis: The first episode really sets the tone, and you’re going to realize really sets up the end run of the first half. A lot of the mysteries and questions we’ve posed at the beginning of the season — Why is Emma doing what she’s doing? What does she want? Why did she do this? — will be absolutely answered this Sunday.
Emma faces a “gut-wrenching choice” in the first hour. Does this pertain to her and Hook working to overcome the darkness, and will this affect all of her relationships and the dark plan she has in the works?
Kitsis: I’m going to say “yes” to all of that. Going into this episode, Emma has all that she needs to get rid of the darkness. And then we see her in Storybrooke, six weeks later, and she is completely Dark One-d out. So the question we’re asking you this weekend is, “What happened?” and we’re going to answer that on Sunday night. We’re going to answer why she either rejected or could not get the darkness out of her.
Will her dark plans to be explored in the rest of the season?
Horowitz: The answer will be sooner than the midseason finale about what her dark plans are. Hopefully they will be sooner than you expect.
How will Emma and Hook’s relationship change as they overcome her darkness together?
Kitsis: They will be tested like they never have been tested before. We’ll have to see if true love can really conquer all.
With Robin trying to decide whether he will raise this baby with Zelena, will Regina keep interfering, or will she accept that they have to live in some dysfunctional family?
Kitsis: We’ve never played the whole Zelena, Robin, Regina thing as a love triangle, because obviously Zelena fooled Robin. It’s more about exploring how you deal with this crazy third member of the family. As always, Zelena’s going to test them, and what she’s going to test most in Regina is that she’s trying really, really hard to not revert back to being the Evil Queen, yet Zelena just makes her want to reach in, grab her heart and crush it.
Will Regina allow Robin to have this new family?
Kitsis: I don’t think Regina would ever want to prevent Robin from being with his child. I think that it’s really tough with her and she’s going to have a lot to deal with and juggle the next few episodes.
Gold and Belle are facing some hardships with his entanglement with Emma. What obstacles will they face in this half of the season?
Kitsis: I think Gold is trying his hardest to be a man who is worthy of her. The question is going to be, has he betrayed her too many times?
Once Upon a Time‘s two-hour episode airs Sunday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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