[Warning: Spoilers ahead from the season three premiere.]
Once Upon a Time got dark fast.
With the show’s main heroes stuck in a mysterious new world many of them have never set foot in, all in a desperate search to save Henry, things aren’t looking promising as Henry finds himself the key piece to the villainous Peter Pan and the Lost Boys’ scrupulous plans. Will Emma reunite with Henry? What does Peter Pan want with Henry? Are Snow and Charming on an uphill battle with Emma?
THR compiled some of co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz‘s teases following the season-three premiere:
1. Is Peter Pan beyond redemption? “Our characters are all looking for a happy ending. They’re all looking for love. It’s just what choices you use to get them,” Kitsis said. “Some people are OK playing hard ball, some people want to do it the right way. Peter Pan is an interesting story.” Horowitz reiterated a series mantra: “Evil isn’t born it’s made. That applies to all the villains, including Peter Pan.” For the producers, Peter Pan’s desire to stay a child was fascinating. “Someone who refuses to grow up has to have a lot of problems,” Kitsis said, crediting Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness as key inspiration. “It sounds great when you’re 16 but when you hit 25 or older, you start to go, ‘Oh god I would hate to be 16 again. I’m missing out on the things of life.’ You can’t just hit the pause button.” Expect flashbacks to Peter Pan’s origins and how he became this way.
2. How far can they go with the Lost Boys? Because the villains are essentially children and young teenagers, how evil can they truly go? “That is a really interesting dilemma to have villains that just by looking at them you can’t gauge in a real way,” Horowitz said. “The Lost Boys have a bit of the Lord of the Flies situation going on but it is tough and no one wants to kill children but they want to get Henry back and this is the villain,” Kitsis said.
3. Why does Peter Pan desperately want to use Henry’s belief against him? It’s a question that will be uncovered as the season unfolds, producers promise. “This is a world [Neverland] where that belief is going to be used against him and I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before, so that’s what we’re excited about,” Kitsis said.
4. More Robin Hood: Sean Maguire made his debut in the premiere as the iconic character (“he’s a thief with honor,” Kitsis said), and as the producers hinted, it won’t be the last you’ll see of him. “Robin Hood’s story is just kind of beginning. We’re airing in two 11-episode pods and I think you’re going to get into him at the beginning of this year and we’re definitely going to get a lot of him in the second half,” Kitsis hinted.
5. Charming family problems: Emma, Snow and Charming are forced to face their unlikely familial issues, that have — up until now — been swept under the rug. “Really for the first time, in an enclosed space, they’re able to sort out some of these issues that they haven’t had a chance to address,” Horowitz said. “For Snow and Charming, they realize their daughter [Emma] doesn’t really look to them for parental guidance, and that’s something hard to get. They’re realizing in a lot of ways they need to earn it,” Kitsis added. “What is hard for the Charmings is that their daughter grew up without hope and that they have to instill that back in her when her son is kidnapped and you’re in a place that makes you confront your past because she has more in common with the Lost Boys than she does Snow and Charming.”
6. Will Ariel be similar to the mermaids in the premiere? “Most people think of Ariel when they think of mermaids. What they don’t know is that she’s surrounded by hot-tempered mermaids,” Kitsis said of the Little Mermaid’s upcoming appearance. But don’t expect Ariel to be mean-natured as the ones the Once heroes encounter on the ship. “She’s going to be different from what we saw in the mermaids in this premiere,” Horowitz said. “The spirit of Ariel is the spirit of somebody who wants to see the world, who wants to experience things outside of what they know and we have our own take on it. The thing that makes Ariel such a great character, the spirit within her definitely is similar to our Ariel,” added Kitsis. There is also an “excellent chance” Ursula will be part of Ariel’s story, while the depiction of Prince Eric will be “slightly different than what you saw in the [Disney] movie,” Horowitz said.
7. Henry’s early years: It was crucial for producers to include the flashback scene of Emma giving birth to Henry 11 years ago. If for any reason than that it “showed her growth,” Kitsis said. “It showed how far she came. It showed what a hard decision it was for her.” Horowitz added that seeing baby Henry was significant for the first half of season three: “It’s not the last we’re going to see of baby Henry.” Added Kitsis: “I’ve always wondered how he got adopted,” which happens around episode nine.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.