Magic has come to Storybrooke — and ABC’s Once Upon a Time will conjure up even more fantastical drama as a result.
This Sunday at 8/7c, last year’s highest-rated new drama returns for Season 2, picking up right where it left off, with Mary Margaret, David et all fully aware of their remarkable identities, Emma a full-on believer and both Mr. Gold and Mayor Regina Mills – aka Rumplestiltskin and the Evil Queen — champing at the bit to use the restored magic to their advantage.
Series creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis gave TVLine a peek at the show’s wild, new reality and how it will affect everyone, from Emma and the reunited Charmings to Ruby, Belle and seven little guys.
TVLINE | Now that the residents of Storybrooke know their true identities, what will be the first question they have?
EDDY KITSIS | I think their very first question is going to be, “Why are we still here?” Everyone naturally would assume that when the curse is broken, they’d go back to where they were, and that’s not the case. And then it just becomes a free-for-all. All of the questions that you have, they probably have. What happens now? Can we leave the city? Who did this? Why did they do this?
TVLINE | So, everyone is fully cognizant of both their existences. Mary Margaret is now Snow White, but she can also teach grade-schoolers long division.
ADAM HOROWITZ | Exactly, which is to say that the 28 years of the curse remain as real to them as their prior lives in fairytale land. Hopefully that complicates things in an interesting way.
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TVLINE | If Emma’s now a believer and the curse is lifted, what is your narrative engine for Season 2? What will power you through the first batch of episodes?
HOROWITZ | Part of it’s going to be how Nucky retains power over the boardwalk.
KITSIS | We’re just going to borrow from other shows.
HOROWITZ | But that’s an excellent question, and in many ways the premiere this year is a new pilot, which is to say we take this show that hopefully you enjoyed last season and spin it in a direction that is both familiar and new. The show to us was never about breaking the curse and getting memories back. It was about larger conflicts – some of which were introduced last season, and some of which we’ll introduce very soon. They will center on all of our major players from last year, and yet there are some new people coming aboard. It’s all in service of this larger story we’ve been telling, centered on Snow White, Charming, their daughter Emma and their relationship with the Queen and Rumplestiltskin.
TVLINE | Is anyone in Storybrooke itching to get back to fairytale land more than others?
HOROWITZ | The reactions kind of run the gamut. Everybody is very interested in what their new circumstance means, and they also are very concerned about what the presence of magic will mean for all of their lives.
KITSIS | The seven dwarfs are a perfect example. Leroy realizes he doesn’t just have to be the loser anymore; he had a purpose [as Grumpy], to be a part of the queen’s guard. He is one of the characters who is excited to reclaim who he once was and act on that.
HOROWITZ | We’ve also got some stuff with Ruby that we’re very excited to show the audience.
KITSIS | She’s another example of a character who now realizes what she once was, and how that will affect her in the way she behaves in Storybrooke will be a lot of fun. You will see a different Ruby this year.
TVLINE | As Rumple unleashed the purple smoke, we saw a hint of a smirk on Regina. With magic in play, what does that rivalry look like?
KITSIS | Those two have a very complicated relationship, one that we are excited to get into. In fact, Episode 2 is going to be about how Regina met Rumple. What’s interesting is they have this weird thing where they keep f–king each other over, and yet they still seem to need each other. But Rumple knows that Belle is alive, and that Regina [imprisoned] her — and Regina enters the season not knowing that he has that piece of information. So whatever she was saving Belle for just went away, and now I have a feeling Rumple is gong to want revenge.
TVLINE | What does Belle make of this situation she just stumbled into? She hasn’t really known Storybrooke.
KITSIS | This will probably be a strange land to her. She’s never seen a telephone before, she’s never seen a television…. And her inner nature is still one of goodness. Rumple has this large agenda and whatever it is, it required him bringing magic to this land. He has always been a character who has had to chose between love and power, and he’s always chosen power, so now that Belle, this wild card, comes into his life, into this meticulous plan, how will it affect it? And which path will he now choose because of it?
TVLINE | The storytelling has always had one foot sort of planted in “reality” – Emma bonding with the son she gave up for adoption, Mary Margaret and David’s tortured romance. What is the Season 2 equivalent?
KITSIS | It’s going to be, “How does the real-world conflict with fairytale land? — in the sense that people have two lives in their head, and there may be things about who they once were they no longer want to be. In a weird way, the curse-breaking allows everyone to reevaluate themselves.
TVLINE | What is Emma’s journey now?
HOROWITZ | After experiencing the initial joy of finding her parents, Emma struggles as she learns how to be parented. She’s also going to have to come to grips with what it means to be the savior post-curse. She’ll have to reconcile what she thought she knew about the people in her life with who they’ve become, and then navigate a world turned on its head.
KITSIS | We’re also excited to finally get a good look at some of Emma’s backstory before she had Henry. We may even see the origins of her beloved yellow bug.
TVLINE | Characters such as Sebastian Stan’s Jefferson are set to return for an episode or more. Are they there just for a head count, or do they serve a larger purpose?
HOROWITZ | We’re trying to give everybody a pivotal role in the larger story. So Jefferson doesn’t just show up to say, “Hey, I’m still here.” He’s got a part in this story.
KITSIS | And he has his own story. He’s got a daughter out there. Look, people like Sebastian we would love to have in every episode, but that is not possible because of their schedule. But he is in three episodes in the first batch, and we’re excited for those because they’re not just a “head count.”
TVLINE | Can you tease the circumstances under which we’ll meet one of the new characters?
KITSIS | Once of the new characters we’re going to be meeting is Lancelot (Teen Wolf‘s Sinqua Walls), who has a, uh, very…
HOROWITZ | … “complicated” relationship with Snow and Charming. We’re going to explore how that happened, and what it means for the past and for the future.
KITSIS | He and Snow have a secret that I’m not sure Charming knows.
TVLINE | Which existing character would will surprise us most this season?
KITSIS | I would say Regina. Last year, all we ever showed her was making the wrong decision. Her father said, “Once you go down the revenge path you’ll never go back,” and she did it anyway, and she killed her father. She was told the curse will create a hole in her heart that can’t be filled, and she says voids can always be filled. And yet in the finale, she is faced with saving her son Henry or saving the curse, and she chose Henry and lost everything. So what happens now to Regina? Will this be a second chance? Will she redeem herself? Or will she revert to being the Evil Queen? And now, by the way, she doesn’t have to keep lying — I’m the Evil Queen, that’s right. And this is how it goes. The audience will be surprised by how she handles all this.
TVLINE | In closing, any message to the show’s fans?
KITSIS | Please watch.
HOROWITZ | We want to say “thank you” for all the support that we got, and we hope you join us for Season 2. We really are aware we’re only coming back because you watched, and we really want to continue to try to raise the bar.
TVLINE | And, Nucky’s not as bad a guy as we think.
HOROWITZ | Nucky is complicated, you know… He’s a product of this time.
KITSIS | You’re both missing the point, which is regardless of what Nucky does, he runs that city well. In today’s world of bad government, at least the trains are running on time in Atlantic City, as far as I can see.