[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the midseason premiere of ABC’s Once Upon a Time.]
Rumple’s (Robert Carlyle) expulsion from Storybrooke didn’t last long: Just one episode after being banished from the town, he was able to maneuver his way back in — secretly, with the help of Ursula (Merrin Dungey) and Cruella (Victoria Smurfit) — during the midseason premiere of ABC’s Once Upon a Time.
But because of Rumple’s maneuvering, a new light was shed on Emma (Jennifer Morrison): She has the potential to be bad. Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis spoke with reporters after a recent screening of the episode and broke down some of the biggest questions from the midseason premiere.
Could Emma’s savior status be in jeopardy?
Thanks to Rumple’s manipulation, a Chernabog invaded Storybrooke, and Cruella and Ursula were able to “prove” their redemption to the townspeople by sharing how to defeat it. And while Storybrooke successfully defeated the creature and allowed the women to join their town, before they stopped the Chernabog, it went searching for the person with the potentially darkest heart, and the natural assumption was it would be after Regina (Lana Parrilla). But not so fast. … It was actually looking for Emma.
But could Emma actually turn? “For us, what we really wanted to explore was: If you’ve done a bad thing, can you come back from it?” said Kitsis. “Can you become the person you want to be, even if you didn’t start out that way? And vice versa. What makes a hero and what makes a villain, from that point of view? That, to us, was really interesting, instead of black and white, I’m good, you’re bad [or] I’m a villain and I’m coming here to do villain stuff. That’s what we liked.”
If Emma does end up struggling with potentially turning to the dark side, she might have a semiunexpected ally: Regina.
“What I think is fun is … [Emma] knocked on the door and said, ‘I want to be your friend’ … and then she joined Operation Mongoose,” said Kitsis. “I think Regina was like, ‘That’s great, but I like your mom more.’ Regina hasn’t been that open to that friendship, but I think that’s going to change. I think the natural evolution is fun for us because I think [in terms of the show] Regina and Emma is a huge part of it. It started with [Regina] trying to get her out of town, and they’ve fought together, they’ve fought against each other and now whether they can be friends, I think we’re going to see in the second half.”
“I think also, given what Emma is starting to go through and given what Regina has gone through … in addition to Henry (Jared Gilmore), they’ll have something else they share,” added Horowitz.
Cruella has powers — with a catch.
After Cruella was introduced in Once Upon a Time‘s midseason finale, Kitsis told THR the villainess would have powers. Unfortunately for Cruella, there’s a limit to what those powers can do.
“[She has] the power of persuasion, [which] unfortunately for her, only seems to work with animals,” shared Kitsis. “When we reimagined Cruella, we wanted her to be Zelda Fitzgerald. We wanted her to be more jazz age than ’50s England. And we thought she should have a power so she feels part of the show. We loved the idea that she can speak to animals — not like Dr. Dolittle, but in a more cruel way. And her back story is coming up toward the middle of the second half, and that’s probably our favorite one … Where with [Frozen‘s] Anna (Elizabeth Lail) and Elsa (Georgina Haig), we tried our best not to damage [that story], with Cruella, we’ve taken a whole new spin on it.”
The author of it all.
The mysterious author has been teased — a lot — but while the sorcerer and the author aren’t the same person, answers are coming … and soon.
“What’s going on with the sorcerer and the author is something that should be clear pretty quickly,” teased Horowitz.
“In the second half, that question will be answered, as well as we will meet the author,” added Kitsis.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC. What was your favorite part of the midseason premiere?