Once Upon a Time Bosses Tease a 'Severely Intense' Finale (Featuring a Lost-Style 'Reset'?)

“All magic has a price,” a certain imperious imp has oft told us — but has Once Upon a Time‘s young Henry paid the ultimate one?

The Season 1 finale of ABC’s fantastical freshman drama airs this Sunday at 8/7c, presumably tackling the questions of the headstrong lad’s fate, his birth mom Emma’s belief in her role as the “savior” of a Maine burg where fairytale characters have been banished sans memories, and whether the dark curse levied by the Evil Queen aka Mayor Regina Mills will ever be lifted.

Here is what Once co-creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz shared with TVLine about the undoubtedly magical season-ender.

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TVLINE | What’s going on as the finale starts up? Are we in crisis mode?
EDWARD KITSIS | We are at DEFCON 1. Henry has fallen, and everything is culminating…. The entire finale is severely intense.
ADAM HOROWITZ | We hit the ground running and then pick up even more speed.

TVLINE | With Henry’s poisoning, does Emma’s belief level spike?
KITSIS | We’ve tried everything. We tried to show her a man turning into wood, we tried to show her weird anomalies in the town… Henry has taken the most extreme action he could, so she is definitely going to be faced with believing or not, because his life hangs in the balance.
HOROWITZ | The stakes have never been higher for her, in terms of her belief.

TVLINE | But obviously you’re not killing Henry. I mean, Jared Gilmore just won a Young Artist Award!
KITSIS | He did just win an award – and congrats, it’s much deserved. But you never know what might happen….

PHOTOS | Once Upon a Time Finale Sneak Peek: Will [Spoiler] Save Henry?

TVLINE | Tell me about your choice in “poison apple delivery system.” I have to imagine there was some debate in the writers room over turnover versus fritter versus….
HOROWITZ | We actually did have a bit of a debate about that.
KITSIS | I think we went with a turnover because we liked the shape, and it felt contained. With a pie, what do you do with the extra pieces?
HOROWITZ | Also, it didn’t feel like there was enough apple to make a pie.
KITSIS | True, we had to be realistic about what you could make out of an apple with a bite out of it.

TVLINE | What other drama is going on in Storybrooke outside of the Henry thing?
KITSIS | All of the stories in Storybrooke are going to be stemming from Henry falling.
HOROWITZ | They all kind of converge around that pivot point. And the intensity does grow.

TVLINE | How is August doing? Is he flipping through termite control ads?
HOROWITZ | We do check in on August and his condition, and that does play a part in the finale. Everybody’s agendas – Regina’s, Gold’s, August’s – all sort of intertwine around this crisis point.

TVLINE | What is Mr. Gold’s particular take on the Henry situation?
KITSIS | We got his take in the last episode, where Regina says she came up with a sleeping curse, and he says, “All magic has a price.” So… magic has a price! It’s just a question of who pays it.

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TVLINE | We’ve kind of come full circle on the Snow White story – she’s bitten the apple, and in the pilot Prince Charming rescued her. Or will the fairytale land be subject to a finale twist of its own?
KITSIS | The finale will kind of tie up some loose ends to their story, and at the same time present a new avenue for Season 2. But…. Well….
HOROWITZ | “We don’t want to tell you,” is what it is. [Laughs]

TVLINE | I guess my bigger question here is: Should we prepare for some Lost-style “reset”? Will this be an instance of the playing field changing Sunday at 8:59 pm?
HOROWITZ | How the audience perceives it, we can’t anticipate, but for us it does change the playing field. We like to think what we’re doing is evolving the show so that it remains true to what it’s been this year, but it takes a step forward into something new.
KITSIS | I feel like the best way to experience the finale is to say, “What the hell are they going to do?”
HOROWITZ | And one of our other goals with the finale – you’ll tell us whether we succeed or not – is that at the end of it you say, “What the hell are they going to do next?”

TVLINE | Will the finale introduce any new players to the canvas?
KITSIS | It will introduce some new… story ideas. But as far as new characters, if you’re talking, like, Michelle Rodriguez showing up at the end of a Lost finale, no. That’s not to say there won’t be new characters next year; but this finale is about the characters we’ve introduced.
HOROWITZ | And there may be some old characters seen in a new way.

TVLINE | What gamut of emotions will viewers be going through during, say, the final 60 seconds?
KITSIS | All of them.
HOROWITZ | Our hope is that in those final moments, there is a combination of satisfaction and also intense surprise.
KITSIS | The emotion you’ll be feeling is, “Holy, holy, holy s—t.”

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Ed says:

    As always, an excellent interview. I cannot WAIT until the finale. I am getting the “holy, holy holy s–t” feeling just reading the interview. LOL

    • Ed says:

      Adding on, What is a Lost ‘reset’ ? I watched the show until mid way through the 2nd season and have no clue what that means. Any ideas?

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        LOST would famously add a massive new wrinkle at the close of every season finale — tailies, Others, freighter folk, have Juliet [spoiler] a [spoiler]….

        • “a Maine berg where fairytale charcters have been banished sans”

          characters is mispelled and I believe a “to” should be added between “been” and “banished”.

        • I wouldn’t call those resets. They were more like turns in the narrative. A reset implies a restart of the plot.

          • scoboot says:

            I think reset meaning we have to start thinking about everything in a new way, we have to “reset” the way we analyze it when we view it.

          • Joe says:

            It only became a completely different show every year. Yeah I wouldn’t call those resets.

          • Doc says:

            Interesting that you would say that Michael. It’s always been my belief that before Emma’s arrival and the starting of time, which was about “Intent”, Storybrooke was frozen in time, upon it’s inception, in the Fall of 1983 and repeated itself, or “reset” itself every Fall in order for that claim (frozen in time) to remain true. I believe Storybrooke, except of course for those living outside of the Curse’s general rules, Regina, Gold, Henry and Emma, simply relived the same year over again and again, 28 times, or 28 of our years until Emma arrived and started time. The full year, from Fall to Fall would allow Henry to receive the uninterrupted education he would need and allow him to keep track of his own age and still keep within the true statement of “Frozen in time”…… as well as explaining how Ashley could carry a full term pregnancy for 28 years or David laying in a hospital bed for 28 years. This annual Fall “reset” would mean ALL in Storybrooke would have only been here, in actuality, for 1 year. Except, of course, for Regina and Gold who don’t repeat the year and have experienced all 28 repeats and years!, ouch!.
            It didn’t occur to me until reading your comment…. “A reset implies a restart of the plot”. Holy Cow!. You don’t think that, that’s what these two plan on doing for the next 8 seasons or so? I mean it would be a brilliant way stop progress of these past stories at this point,…. reset the timetable back to the pilot in order to start a whole new season involving all new FairyTale characters, their stories and how they all tie into what has happened to this point in this season??
            Matt Mitovich ask the question himself… “We,ve kinda come full circle on the Snow White story-”
            It also gives them(K&H) a chance to go back and give Henry’s back story as well as Storybrooke’s
            And after about 8 seasons and ALL of the other fairytales have been told… we return to this Sunday night’s story(season 1) and find out what Emma’s decision will be….. or, not to be? 8^)P
            Hee heeee!
            Thanks Michael….

          • Interesting observations… they do shed some light on some inherit problems with the premise.

            Basically, we have a town under the same spell as Phil in Groundhog Day. Like in GD, no one ages and they repeat the same day or same season again and again, albeit unlike GD they don’t repeat the same actions every time.

            Henry is a problem, however, since, unlike everyone else, he DID age, from a baby to however old he is now.

            For instance, while Henry aged, Cinderella was permanently pregnant while Hanzel and Gretel did NOT age at all.

            Didn’t anyone ever question how it was that the mayor’s son aged while Ashley’s baby was never born? What about the other children in town?

            SPEAKING of the other children, WHERE did they come from? Are they the sons and daughters of the woman in the shoe? are they sons and daughters of other fairy tale characters?

            I don’t think that the show will reset, though, since now that Emma is there that particular aspect of the curse has been broken.

        • Ed says:

          Ahh Ok Thanks Matt and everyone for explaining that to me.

      • scoboot says:

        For example, the flashback in the season three finale (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU ARE GOING TO GO WATCH IT) was revealed in the last 60 seconds to not be a flashback, but a flashforward of after Jack got off the island!

        • I’d still consider them twists and turns in the narrative. The inference of a reset is that things start anew, like in a video game. What you’re saying would be comparable to finding a hidden room on a level you’ve played a million times in.

          • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

            We’ll agree to disagree. By my book, “reset” = give us cause to revisit views/opinions/context. And the full question above (re: playing field) I believe made clear what I was getting at.

      • Ben says:

        At the end of season 5, there was a question as to whether or not the last 5 seasons had been completely wiped out and the whole story reset (which wasn’t true). But I think that was the extreme end of a Lost ‘reset’. Really, with Lost, each season had a different feel and a different story to tell, and that story was usually determined/set up in the finale of the season before. By the way, you should finish watching Lost. The second half of season two picks up; and although the start of season 3 is a misstep, its a great ride the rest of the way home (whatever you may think of the finale).

      • I actually used to like this show(OUAT) for the first few episodes. But it got eventually boring. And I don’t even feel like watching when they are linking this show too much Lost. That’s the show, which I was never satisfied with. If they want to make this show, just following foot steps of Lost, this is not my cup of tea-I am never ever going to watch it again. I will give one last try to this season finale.
        I would like to suggest something to both the writers:

        1.You better write a good ‘straight-forward story-line’ rather than fragmenting it into million pieces and giving us a ‘jig-saw puzzle’. This might be attractive, but that doesn’t mean they are enjoying the show. There are a few things in our life we really enjoy like music, nature, rain etc and few others we are attracted to like that of unresolved mysteries of space, mysteries of human biology or quantum physics. Your show falls exclusively in the second category – which I don’t really think is good for a TV show/movie to have more of mystery and less of story-line.
        2.Creating the mystery is quite an easy job and doesn’t really require a creative writer. Solving a mystery in an astonishing way is the biggest challenge to writer. I am sorry to say, you were never really successful in the solving the mysteries of Lost. There are a lot of loopholes yet to be filled even after its series finale. Make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen in OUAT.
        3.There’s no point trying to surprise the viewers, every 5 minutes. So, I suggest you to quit trying to pull out some mystery literally out of everything on the show and concentrate on writing a good straight forward story-line. For instance, finding the lost wedding ring was also portrayed as a mystery and surprise on an episode of Lost.

    • Stranger says:

      Like they would ever kill Henry: this is Once Upon a Time, not Game of Thrones! It sure is nice that they have some twists and shocks for the finale, but what happens to Henry is definitely not one of them.

    • hartleymom1 says:

      I really enjoyed this season and look forward to the next. We have been watching it every week as a family show and we have all loved it my husband included. So thank you and well done we can’t wait.

  2. Valentina says:

    How to do an interview without saying anything, by Kitsis and Horowitz. Just wait and do a “post mortem” one.

    • It’s a skill that was beaten into everyone associated with LOST. Writers, actors, directors, the food services people… anyone who had anything to do with that show was drilled on how to give a 20 minute interview and say nothing at all.

      • Templar says:

        Which gives them a leg up if they’re considering a political career.

        • songbyrd86 says:

          There are no abbreviations to express how much I laughed at this comment. Way too true.

          • Doc says:

            Look people!… they were hired hands on LOST! not the creators!! Kitsis and Horowitz are the creators this time around and will not repeat those LOST mistakes! So far I’ve found only one! and it was ABC not giving them the Premier launch date they wanted, so they were forced to go with a very late 10/23/2011 and then fumbled around with voice overs and script add’s to make up the time diff’s. But, non of you noticed right? Only Geeks like me!…. Give ’em a chance!…

  3. Melissa says:

    Cannot wait!!! One of my favorites shows!

  4. JoshJacksononOnceuponatimefan says:

    I am so excited for this episode and already can’t wait for season 2.

  5. Bravo to the writers for going to extremes to make a skeptic believe in fantasy. Doing that is not easy.

  6. Heather says:

    Thanks for the interview here. I absolutely love this show. It’s my favorite show right now and while I was excited to see Once when it debuted last year, I had NO CLUE I was going to love it this much. They really have created a fantastic story for all of us to enjoy. I can’t wait for the season finale and to find out what they have in store for us in season two! =D

  7. Shannon says:

    Our hope is that in those final moments, there is a combination of satisfaction and also intense surprise. – I like this.

    The emotion you’ll be feeling is, “Holy, holy, holy s—t.” – This? Not so much.

    The first sounds like something good is happening, but surprising. The last sounds like something bad.

    • scoboot says:

      To me it sounds more like the first is a surprising yet satisfying conclusion, and the second is the snake in the mailbox that no one is expecting, but will be so good we won’t be able to contain our shock and awe.

  8. They’re talking it up big time, so they better deliver. Thus far the show has been a bit light on unexpected twists, so I hope they’ve really got something juicy up their sleeves.

    • scoboot says:

      You think its been light, or were they just easy for you to see? I have loved all their twists, even the slightly predictable ones!

    • Gavin says:

      I’m a bit worried about this. I hope it can live up to the hype. A few twists have been revealed already or can be guessed based on the material ABC has released for the finale. Let’s hope they saved some stuff for when the episode finally airs.

  9. Kelly says:

    I love this show just the way it is so reset makes me nervous. I got so sick of Lost’s resets and them adding more and more characters that took away from the originals. OUAT is great the way it is but movement forward can/should be good.

    • Ben says:

      With both Lost and OUAT, I can’t see any way to drive the story forward for another season without new regular characters. There is only so much of certain stories you can tell. I regret the loss of Gioncarlo Esposito, as I would have liked to have seen him as a regular next season with more focus on the backstory of Agrabah. But there are other fairy tales to explore, and to explore how they fit into the world of current characters.

      • JoshJacksononOnceuponatimefan says:

        They can add a fairytale character for an episode or two but not leave the core characters. Lost never ever stopped focusing on Kate,Jack,Sawyer,Locke,etc. It was the season one originals who got little attention to begin with that got thrown out with the addition of new characters Michael, Walt, Claire, Shannon, Boone, Charlie replaced by Desmond,etc.

        • ben says:

          I agree. We need to retain the bulk of the existing cast, which is not as large as Lost’s so can handle an added regular or two without having to chop one. It could be the kind of show where bringing in a regular for one season would work.

      • Jared Kroto says:

        i think Emma will kiss henry as he is dying and break part of the curse- the people will wake up and remember but…. it will not completely break the curse- the writers have hinted at a tornado/storm in the finally- charming and snow will remember- but i think the tornado will rip half the town back to fairytale world or OZ- and emma and snow and regina will be sent out of this world and next season will be them finding a way back to henry and charming- emma/snow will bond on their fight back & we will learn more of emmas past- also mr gold said he is planning a trip- i think now the curse is broken- he can leave storybrook-and search the world looking for Bae his son- (whio i think is henrys father- Golds search for Bae in our world will mirror Emma&Snows travels in FTW as they meet new characters trying to get home- i thing when the show ends they will have to decide which world to remain…. what do you think?

  10. Templar says:

    I just posted this elsewhere, it’s kind of where my imagination is taking me. Next season will we find out that Regina’s mother [Cora] is the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland? Will we further discover that Emma is Rapunzel? She was fostered, imprisoned and her hair keeps growing since the clock in Storybrooke started working again. Could one of her foster mothers have confined her, she got away and met a guy who abandoned her when she got PG with Henry? Let me know if I should seek counseling.

    • Kelly says:

      I think the only way Emma and/or Henry are storybook characters is if say the show says that story hasn’t been written yet, like Emma being Rapunzel but what made her Rapunzel happens in the present/storybrooke. I don’t think she had a past life as Rapunzel.

      • Templar says:

        Right. If she went to Fairytale it would be to be with her real parents. Rapunzel was taken in infancy. So she wouldn’t be Rapunzel yet. As for Cora [Regina’s mother], in keeping with the name similarities [Cinderella/Ashley, White/Blanchard] Cora means heart, and when Regina and Jefferson went to Wonderland, they didn’t show the Queen of Hearts’ face.

      • Tara says:

        Uh. Emma was born in Fairytale. Helloooo!

    • Jared Kroto says:

      i think Bell is the Queen of Hearts- there were red roses everywhere in wonderland just like Rump gave bell- and the Queen of hearts wanted to know how Jefferson got there-she wanted a way back to FTW- she needed his hat- to get out- regina had Bell locked up somewhere- why not wonderland?- away from Rump- we will find out in the future im sure…

    • xav says:

      The only fairytale character Emma is is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. I don’t know how many times they can say that.

    • An-G says:

      I 100% agree about regina’s mother being the queen of hearts.

      But I think Emma is Odette from Swan Lake/Swan Princess, not Rapunzel.

  11. Kelly says:

    This is either going to be the best season finale ever or a major let down. I hope the tying of loose ends means this is the end of Snow and Charming stories. I like the characters of this season and while there are more tales out there, I don’t want to lose the focus of the season one characters. “Old Characters seen in a new way” I wonder what that means, could there memories collide and they remember both lifes, is there a character reset or are they referring to maybe reveals about Malificent and others like Cora?

  12. JoshJacksononOnceuponatimefan says:

    All the action,hype and guest stars makes it sound like it should have been a two hour season finale not a one hour finale.

  13. Claire says:

    Well, the curse needs to be broken this season. Jennifer Morrison is great but she’s already not convincing as a 28 year old anymore.
    Other than that I wouldn’t cry over Henry’s death, I find him pretty annoying.

    • @ Val says:

      Wow shallow Much? perhaps a change in attitude like not looking superficially at others might be good for you.
      No only bashing JMo but bashing a Kid too. Very classy of you uh ……Not.

    • Templar says:

      Did you also have problems with almost the entire cast of Grease being more ready for a ten year reunion rather than being in high school?

    • Grace says:

      Jennifer Morrison is great, she is a perfect lead. And she is totally beautiful.

      • Claire says:

        I agree with you, she’s great ! I never said otherwise, just that she’s not 28. It’s not an insult, it’s a fact. It was more of a way for me to support the fact that the curse needed to be broken this year… I don’t know why they established as part of the curse that the “savior” would be 28.
        She turned 28 in the first episode and Henri will obviously age so they really can’t drag this for too long.

        • Doc says:

          Actually, This series will not suffer the mistakes of LOST… at least not in timeline. Time will move forward and has been since Emma started time in SB. Rumple’ said The Savior would return, (obviously meaning present day FTL which is now Storybrooke) and the final battle would “begin”. That’s pretty much open ended as to when the Curse will be broken. As far as time goes…SB is following us and have been since day one, side by side, just 28 years apart…. Check Your Calendars!! Today is Wed, May, 9th 2012… well it’s also Wed., May, 9th in 1984!… where Storybrooke is and they will match us day for day until series end. K&H will not repeat the mistakes of LOST, they’re too smart and had too much time,(7+ years!) to get this right. If you do some homework you’ll find out what they’re doing time wise and in what centuries all of the FTL events took place. Hint: You’ll need the Lunar cycles to match our present cycle to narrow down the exact centuries, but, all has been worked out! You’ll also discover why Emma’s 28th bday! It has to do with this calendar anomaly that has only occurred 10 times so far since the 18th century! This is also a rare Leap Year which was the reason K&H had to wait so long to launch their Master Piece!…. Summer’s coming, you have time! ;-)

          • Jared Kroto says:

            not all true- the apple with the bite taken out in the past dropped thru the hole into the hat of present time- a bit of time travel there

  14. matt says:

    Claire, seriously? You wouldn’t cry over Henry’s death?

    • Claire says:

      I wouldn’t laugh either but I really don’t miss him in the episodes he’s not in, on the contrary even.
      And about Jennifer Morrison, I really like her, I wasn’t being mean, just stating a fact I know many people share : when you hire an actress older to play a key part once she’s supposed to be 28, you don’t plan to make that event the series finale. If they choose not to break the curse this season I wouldn’t scream imposture and would continue to watch, it would just be a little less convincing…

  15. Astrat911 says:

    Going on record with my theory that they break the curse and everyone gets whisked off to Fairy Tale Land, leaving Emma and Henry (who have no place in FTL) to try to find a way back home. It would definitely change the way we look at characters. It would be ever crazier if they got taken back to FTL still without their FTL memories. Just sayin…

    • JoshJacksononOnceuponatimefan says:

      I don’t think they would get whisked by to FTL. Rumpel created the curse to come to our world to find his son and he seems to want the curse broken, possible to leave town and find Bae. So I don’t see them going back to FTL but more likely stuck in our world without magic.

    • Mary Ann says:

      I really thought this at first too. The more I think of it, the more I think being transported back to FTL is the way to go…it would open new possibilities where Regina would regain her power as Evil Queen along with everyone else falling back into their roles. The conflicts would continue, but with the added dimension of two non-storybook people as heroine and a half!

    • Dreamer says:

      Astrat911 – Emma n Henry do have a place in Fairy Tale Land. Emma is Snow White’s daughter n Henry is her grandson…that’s very much a place. Emma may not have spent much time there, but she is a fairy tale character just the same. Personally I think Henry is Baelfire’s son. Although he wasn’t born yet, he is still a character also…What’s a joke is that the writers r probably going to let Henry die to cause Emma to have the vendetta she needs 4 the the final battle w/the queen. That would make me want 2 throw things @ my tv….

  16. Grace says:

    Can’t wait, it’s my fav show. I love all of them.

  17. JoshJacksononOnceuponatimefan says:

    “How is August doing? Is he flipping through termite control ads” – that made me laugh so hard.

  18. FairyTaleLover says:

    On one hand, I absolutely cannot WAIT for the finale but on the other I’m sad to wait allll freaking summer for season 2.

  19. tvdiva says:

    I am so glad I bought a season pass for this show on ITUNES. I wonder if some characters in Storybrooke who have never been to Fairy Land end up there? Or does the story move ahead a couple of years? I cannot wait for the finale!

  20. Ann says:

    I believe that the curse will be broken but that this might mean something completely different than what everyone expects it to mean or that it may have some unforeseen consequence. Let’s not forget who created this curse: Rumpelstilskin, and he really seems to want the curse “broken” or at the very least he wants the breaking of the curse to begin. I can’t believe that he would create a curse and help the Evil Queen along with it unless he had an ulterior motive as well as a way out of it. He did somehow manage to protect himself from it’s effects. The ulterior motive may have been that he wanted to find his son.

  21. misty says:

    The reason it took so long for K&H to ‘launch their master piece…’ is because they brought OUAT to ABC 2 years before LOST ever aired and ABC turned it down. It was due to the success of LOST (thanks to all us loyal LOST fans who made it a cult classic) that ABC reconsidered and wanted to give OUAT a chance. As far as ‘reset’- that was tvline’s phrase…I prefer the phrase- course correction -just sayin’

  22. Val says:

    Thank you

  23. jen says:

    agree with all who think gold/rumpel is packing up to return to fairyland. don’t feel he’s given up on getting bae back. he has another agenda. unfortunately,i’m afraid that might involve august. that statement gold/rumpel made when he didn’t kill august was too weird.

  24. Dreamer says:

    Jen – that statement Rumple made 2 August kinda alludes 2 ‘Emma trusting him’ in order 2 break the curse. Sounds like Emma needs 2 trust someone a little more intimately in order 4 her fairy tale story 2 break this curse n 2 have a happy ending…ultimately Emma finds true love as well as our other fairy tale characters. We r watching her fairy tale story unfold b4 our eyes n its one of her saving the kingdom n possibly finding love. I kind of think Baelfire is tied 2 all that as well. Rumple is a master planner…

  25. Dreamer says:

    We’ve been told repeatedly that true love can break any curse, so I think Emma has 2 find true love (not just the motherly kind) for her story 2 get its happy ending n 2 ultimately break this curse. Rumple probably isn’t ruling out that she may fall in love w/August. Quite frankly, it would be a great match cuz her ‘super power’ is being able 2 tell when people lie. So, why not couple her w/Pinnochio – the guy who needs 2 stay honest in order 2 keep his human body(?)…that’s what I think any way…

  26. hartleymom1 says:

    Thank you and we’ll done! We’ve been watching this weekly as a family show and all of us our teen our younger ones n my husband all love it. I also have it on good authority their grandparents watch and love it also. So we are very thrilled it will continue with a second season. Thanks again and I can’t say iit enough we’ll done.