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Once Upon a Time Casts Heroes Reborn Baddie as Emma's Badass Mentor

ABC’s Once Upon a Time will flash back an uncharted period in Emma Swan’s past, with the help of Heroes Reborn actress Rya Kihlstedt.

TVLine has learned exclusively that Kihlstedt will guest-star in Season 5, Episode 20 — titled “Firebird” and written by Jane Espenson — as Cleo, a bail bondsperson and no-nonsense woman who has pulled herself out of a rough early life and trusts her instincts above all else. The character is described as having “a tough exterior hides a strong nurturing side that isn’t often given a chance to come out.”

If that sounds a lot like a certain Savior when we first met her, that is because Cleo was a mentor of sorts to pre-Storybrooke Emma and thus embodies what she might have been had a storybook-toting tyke named Henry not come knocking.

“We are going to get a period in time in Emma’s life we’ve never explored before, which is before she became a bail bondsperson,” Once co-creator Eddy Kitsis told TVLine at the 100th-episode party. “And it’s about time!”

Kihlstedt’s previous TV credits also include arcs on Nashville and Dexter.

ABC’s Once Upon a Time resumes Season 5 on Sunday, March 6.

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