Once Upon a Time Preview: Mr. Gold's 'Stranger' Agenda, Plus a Finale That Will Blow You Away

This Sunday on Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8/7c), Mr. Gold is out to unravel the mystery that is the true identity of Storybrooke newcomer August W. Booth aka “The Stranger.” Meanwhile – and perhaps not coincidentally? — in the fairytale land that was, Rumpelstiltskin and his son struggle to come to terms with the former’s new powers.

Genre-TV go-to gal Jane Espenson, who penned this week’s hour, spoke with TVLine about Mr. Gold’s unique dilemma (being aware of his own past and all), what’s ahead for Mary Margaret and David, and the sneak peek we’re about to get at a grand finale showdown.

Spoiler Alert! Episode 12: Terrifying Once Upon a Time First Look, Ugly Revenge Twist and More!

TVLINE | So, this is the episode where Mr. Gold (played by Robert Carlyle) gets on the couch, as a new patient of Archie’s?
[Laughs] Yes, Mr. Gold is going to talk to our friendly neighborhood cricket.

TVLINE | Is he genuinely seeking personal betterment, or is he working an angle?
Before he knocks on the door of Archie’s office, watch carefully, because there’s an interesting shot that will answer that question. But he’s going through real stuff in this episode.

TVLINE | Why?
He’s trying to figure out who August is, and at the same time the fairytale story has him dealing with his beloved son Baelfire. Questions will be raised about August that push his buttons in a genuine way. Because Mr. Gold has all those memories, unlike most characters when we flash back, we see things he actually remembers, so he’ll be thinking about his son.

Once Upon a Time Shockers: Regina Makes a Play for David! And [Spoiler]’s Identity Revealed?

TVLINE | This episode features Baelfire, and next week’s has Geppetto and Pinocchio…. It would seem that somewhere in there lies the answer to August’s identity.
Unless they’re both misleads. [Laughs] Sometimes you’re like, “Well, that’s definitely a clue,” and then you go, “Wait, is this a clue to the real answer or is it to mislead me?” We’re very good at the misleads.

TVLINE | If August reveals a Louisville Slugger tattoo on his arm, I’m going to take that as a sign.
[Laughs] Could be!

TVLINE | What in particular sets Mr. Gold on this mission to crack the August mystery?
August is going to do something that catches his attention. August is a great character and Mr. Gold just could not be more fascinating. You talk about peeling back the layers of an onion, but if you do that you end up with nothing in the middle. But with Mr. Gold you keep hitting more substance. It’s more like there’s candy inside the onion!

TVLINE | Do I understand correctly that if Baelfire can find a way to have his father’s powers safely taken away, Rumpel is open to it…?
That very question is what Rumpelstiltskin is wrestling with. The answering of that question drives the episode.

Once Upon a Time Sneak Peek: Mr. Gold Investigates August in a Rumpel-Heavy Episode

TVLINE | Where do things stand with Mary Margaret and David now that Kathryn has been found? Is she still cheesed off that he briefly seemed to suspect her?
That’s not a thing you get over quickly. I have a good feeling about them making it work in the long-term, but they’ve got a lot of obstacles to get through. Hang tight for the season finale (airing May 13), where you’ll get some resolution.

TVLINE | This week Emma confronts Regina about her involvement in Kathryn’s vanishing. What sort of evidence does she present?
She’s going to have some concrete evidence, but the problem with Regina is you can ever really get enough evidence — she’s so good at this, and she’s got people working with her and for her – so this is more about how Regina reacts to the reemergence of Kathryn. This confrontation between Emma and Regina is a prequel to a later confrontation that’s going to absolutely thrill and delight. This season finale is go to be one of the best hours of television you’re ever going to see in your life. I am blown away by it. Absolutely everything happens. The confrontations, relationship resolution…. There’s a lot going down!