With its Season 4A finale, ABC’s Once Upon a Time sent the Frozen folks back to Arendelle while welcoming to the canvas three famously wicked women: Maleficent (played again by True Blood’s Kristin Bauer), sea witch Ursula (Alias‘ Merrin Dungey) and Cruella de Vil (Dracula’s Victoria Smurfit). The winter finale also found the beast’s beauty playing hero, while Regina lost a lover but gained a helper for Operation Mongoose.
TVLine invited series creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis to talk about the show’s magical take on Cruella, Rumple’s “collision course” with Regina, dismiss one fan theory and confirm a most logical return.
TVLINE | So I’m looking at the Queens of Darkness — and keep in mind, Victoria Smurfit seemed to get a great reception from our readers — and yet there’s a sense of “One of these things is not like the other.” Suffice to say you’re taking some liberties with Cruella de Vil?
ADAM HOROWITZ | Yes. The traditional Cruella from the classic animated movie has been a jumping off point for our own rendition. If viewers watch what we have in store, you’ll see that while honoring some of the history behind the character, we’re putting a twist on Cruella’s background that involves the Enchanted Forest and a dollop of magic.
TVLINE | Can you give a hint as to how her magic leans?
EDDY KITSIS | It leans towards what she wears on her back. It deals with animals.
HOROWITZ | And it’s dark.
TVLINE | Regarding Rumple’s pitch to Ursula: How might their mission, and how it involves The Author, differ from what Regina and Henry are up to?
KITSIS | It’s not that it’s different. It’s setting them on a collision course. As we saw in that [car] scene last night, Regina laid out to him, “Villains don’t get a happy ending, so I’m going to find this author,” and he said, “That’s bulls–t. Watch me take one.” Well, that blew up in his face, and now he is a man without magic in a land where he is very much not in control, so he’s beginning to see what she said. He has reached a point in his life where he is now asking for help — he can’t do it alone — and he thinks that Regina is on to something.
TVLINE | Would you call Rumple the Big Bad for Season 4B, with the Queens of Darkness almost as his “backup singers”?
KITSIS | Rumple is absolutely the Big Bad. And I would also say that the three women can more than hold their own. It’s a very formidable team of evil coming our way.
TVLINE | I wanted to get some clarity about the lakeside mansion — it belongs to the Sorcerer…?
HOROWITZ | Well, it sure seems that way….
TVLINE | But the Sorcerer is not necessarily the Author.
HOROWITZ | Well, there are some assumptions that characters are making, and that stuff will be cleared up very quickly in 4B. But yes, everyone is assuming that that’s the Sorcerer’s mansion. And some are wondering if he is or isn’t the Author….
TVLINE | Would you want to rule out one fan theory, that the Sorcerer will turn out to be Yen Sid?
KITSIS | The sorcerer from Fantasia? Yeah, we can rule that out.
HOROWITZ | The Fantasia story is a jumping off point. We have something else in mind for the Sorcerer’s background.
TVLINE | Some thought the Emma/Hook reunion felt a bit rushed, especially for someone carrying such a fear about losing the men she loves. Was that a time issue? That you had other story masters to serve?
KITSIS | [With what we thought was an obvious element of sarcasm, but we will denote it anyway] We would have loved to do 40 minutes of them kissing, but we had a lot to get in.
HOROWITZ | We felt like it was a sweet moment between the two of them, her returning his heart and then the kiss. Could there have been a lot more? Yeah. But there’s still plenty of episodes left in the season.
KITSIS | We thought the kiss and the way she put his heart back said [a lot]…. But the truth is they’re a couple that is continuing, so we’d rather watch them grow together and see what happens.
TVLINE | I very much enjoyed the moment where Regina welcomed Emma to Operation Mongoose.
KITSIS | Even though Regina did the right thing and she let Robin Hood go, we loved the idea of everyone rallying around to help her — which is a lot different from two years ago, when they all went to get dinner and left her on the side of the road.
TVLINE | Sean Maguire hinted on Twitter that he’ll be back as Robin Hood…?
HOROWITZ | I don’t know what he did or didn’t hint, but I would be sorely disappointed if we did not see more of Robin Hood this season.
TVLINE | And Ginny Goodwin indicated to me that Mary Margaret will be more active in 4B — perhaps with regard to the Queens of Darkness arc.
KITSIS | Absolutely. Snow and Charming have a very interesting connection to the Queens of Darkness. There’s a backstory that we’re very excited to reveal. We’re going to see a lot more of the Charmings in the second half.
TVLINE | Any returns to confirm, Ariel or otherwise?
HOROWITZ | Yeah, we can for the first time tell you that Ariel is coming back (played by JoAnna Garcia Swisher). You will see her within the first half of 4B. There may be some other returns that we’re not ready to confirm yet, from our past years.
KITSIS | We can’t wait for everybody to get to know the Queens of Darkness. But really, what we’re excited about is to continue on with the characters that we know and love, putting them together in interesting ways.
TVLINE | “Interesting” like Regina and Emma doing shots together. I would have loved to see them let loose after, like, five each. But pesky Henry….
KITSIS | I know! Henry’s always ruining Happy Hour.