The following contains a spoiler — nay, the spoiler — from the series finale of ABC’s Once Upon a Time.
A funny thing happened on the way to Once Upon a Time‘s series-ending coronation ceremony.
As she and Regina zipped through the woods in their Mercedes, Zelena started this exchange when a dragon swooped overhead:
Is that Maleficent?
Yep. She found Lily’s father. Did you know it was Zorro?
Really. Zorro’s a dragon?
And just like that, a haunting paternity mystery was at long last laid to rest, four years after Emma’s childhood friend/Maleficent’s daughter Lily (played in Season 4 by Agnes Bruckner) said that she was going to stick around Storybrooke, hoping to use a shard of the egg from which she was hatched to identify and find her dad.
“We were going to shove that in, no matter what,” series co-creator Eddy Kitsis tells TVLine of the hysterically happenstance reveal. “We kept getting asked that question, so Adam [Horowitz] and I were hellbent on getting it in. We were like, ‘We are going to give that surprise.'”
The only question was exactly where in the series finale the name-drop would land, and how. “There’s an organic process to discovering how it’s going to fit on-screen, so there were a few different permutations…,” Horowitz says, “but it was always scripted, and it was always in the final act.”
In an ideal world, the Once Upon a Time creators would have actually worked Zorro — the masked vigilante created in 1919 by writer Johnston McCulley — into a storyline at some point, “but the truth was Zorro is not public domain and we couldn’t get the rights,” Kitsis explains. “So it’s up to the audience to imagine what could have been!”