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Matt's Inside Line: Scoop on Once Upon a Time, Castle, The Mentalist, S.H.I.E.L.D. and More

For Once Upon a Time‘s Prince Charming, what’s in a name? Has The Mentalist‘s Lisbon met her match? Is Castle‘s Christmas episode a gift to fans? Which two Sons (barely) endured a faux fight? Read on for answers to those questions plus teases from other shows.

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Once Upon a Time | The bad news for fans of Prince Charming is that, of course, he is now trapped in a sleeping spell, since Snow wasn’t able to physically connect with him in the netherworld for a reviving smooch. But as he lingers in that limbo, I have this good news to share: New flashbacks to The Fairytale Land That Was are on the horizon, filling some blanks in the prince’s backstory. “There’s a lot more to explore,” Josh Dallas assured me during my visit to Vancouver, where Once films. For example, “Charming had a twin that was never fully realized – we only had a glimpse of him — so maybe there’ll be a chance to explore more of who that brother was.” Of course, it was actually said sibling who was named James, and to date we have yet to learn Charming’s own name. So…? “We will find out. We will find out,” Dallas promises. And in the way of hints, he says, “It’s surprising… and it’s obvious.” (Once‘s midseason finale airs Sunday.)

The Mentalist | Dipping into the reader mailbag, Charlie asked for “something about Henry Ian Cusick’s character on The Mentalist. His first appearance was fantastic, and he has been so evil!” Not surprisingly, series boss Bruno Heller shares your enthusiasm for Lisbon’s own Red John. “It’s fun to take Lisbon down a path that Jane knows so well,” Heller shares with us. “She’s usually the voice of reason, keeping Jane in check when his Red John obsession goes too far, but in this case Lisbon is the one with the obsession. She feels responsible for the death of a woman that Volker killed and she’s determined to bring him down.” As for giving Cusick the choice role, Heller says the Lost alum has been “a revelation as Volker. He plays a titan of industry, a powerful figure who fancies himself untouchable due to his wealth and connections. Cusick has found a nice balance with the character, playing both the charm and the darkness underneath.”

PHOTOS | Holiday Hot Shots: It’s a Very Castle Christmas

Castle | Ausiello in recent weeks has been taunting you with one of his patented asterisk quizzes, about a four-letter word that threatens to keep Rick and Kate apart on Christmas. Now that I have screened Monday’s episode – aka the ABC drama’s first such Yuletide outing – I can say that although many (OK, most?) of you have since solved the asterisk quiz, you do not know the very interesting reason why Beckett’s “*ork” comes into play. I can also tell you the episode features one of the (faint praise alert!) more amusing subplots for Captain Gates; you won’t ever guess with whom Javy spends the holiday; Beckett has very specific instructions about her gift from Castle; and, yes, a “sexy Santa” costume is part of someone’s itinerary. There’s also a fun line where Rick invites Kate over for “a Christmas movie marathon… or some other kind of marathon that makes life wonderful.” The “dead’ Santa” case itself is a bit clunky, but the close of the hour IMO makes up for it. P.S. Did we know that Leslie Hope was a guest star?

Sons of Anarchy | You may know, from a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, that Charlie Hunnam this season gave castmate Ron Perlman the big chill off camera as well as on, to help get into Jax’s mindset. Thing is, he didn’t alert Perlman to his Method-y madness. “I don’t mind saying it was a bit uncomfortable,” Clay’s portrayer tells us with a laugh. “I’ve loved him since we first started working together five years ago, so it was weird [wondering] if I pissed him off.” Especially since the two men have other projects they’re working on together and had to promote at this summer’s Comic-Con. “I was on my way there when I realized, ‘Holy s–t! I’m not just going to be with Charlie on the Sons of Anarchy panel; I’m going to be with him talking about Pacific Rim and Frankie Go Boom…. I’m going to have to manufacture some sort of bon ami.’ So when we were immediately thrown into a panel [for Pacific Rim], I just threw my arms around him and gave him a kiss and all this love.” And that thawed things… a little. “For the rest of the season after that, it was never as light and loose as it used to be,” Perlman reports, “but a lot of the tension had gotten removed — which was fine with me.”

Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. | It’s early yet, as this Marvel-ous pilot continues with casting, but four words out of ABC president Paul Lee’s mouth are perhaps all you need to hear. “It’s very Joss Whedon,” Lee told TVLine at the Saban Free Clinic Gala (at which he was honored). As such, “We’re optimistic, because Joss is a genius and we love the idea and we love what we’ve seen,” Lee added. “But it’s early days, and it’s a long way to go between now and a successful series. But we are very excited about it.”

If there’s a show you’d like the Inside Line on, email mattmtvguy@gmail.com, and maybe it’ll get some love the next time around! (With reporting by Meg Masters and Vlada Gelman)