When “Once Upon A Time” returns this Sunday, somebody will need to save the Savior.
In the Season 4 finale, the Darkness was extracted from Rumpelstiltskin’s soul by Emma, Charming, Snow, Regina, Belle, Hook and the Apprentice, who trapped it in the Sorcerer’s hat. Too powerful to contain, the Darkness swiftly broke free from its imprisonment, and immediately sought out a new host. In order to prevent it from consuming Regina, Emma sacrificed herself, allowing the Darkness to inhabit her body. The episode ended as Emma disappeared in a cloud of smoke, the Dark One’s dagger falling to the ground, revealing the name “Emma Swan” now engraved in it.
With the hit ABC series’ Season 5 premiere just days away, Executive Producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz spoke with SPINOFF about the rise of the Dark Swan as Emma continues to battle the Darkness now within her. The pair also discuss how Emma’s parents react to their daughter’s distress, Henry finding romance of his own, “Brave’s” Merida arriving on the scene and the subsequent ass kicking that will follow.
Spinoff Online: Season 4 culminated with Emma absorbing this dark force to save Regina. Are all Dark Ones created equal? How do Emma’s attitude, agenda and power level differ from Rumple’s?
Edward Kitsis: Everyone becomes the Dark One for a different reason. We saw that Rumple did it to protect his son, and Emma did it to protect the town and Regina. When someone takes on power for a noble reason, what happens is you either fight the Darkness or you let it consume you. Rumple always loved Belle, he always loved his son — but the Darkness creates selfishness and selfishness leads to bad choices. Emma did it for a noble reason. She’s on a search to find Merlin to get the Darkness out of her, but there wasn’t enough time.
Adam Horowitz: One of the things that the Dark One’s dagger does is allow you to have freedom — freedom to feel no guilt. Imagine how you would live your life if you had no guilt, no compassion, no morals, and the freedom to do what you wanted, when you wanted.
Does being the Dark One automatically make you evil? How much of the old Emma remains?
Kitsis: The old Emma is still there completely, just as the old Rumplestiltskin was still there completely when he became the Dark One. It’s not like a light switch that makes you immediately evil. What it does is imbues you with the Darkness and you start to make the bad choices. You start to give into your darker impulses. Of course, you have the great power to enact those impulses.
Horowitz: She’ll struggle quite a bit. It’s going to be one of the big themes for the season: “How much does she struggle? Can she overcome the Darkness? What can the people who care about her really do to help Emma, if anything?” We’re going to see that, interestingly, the two people who will have the most insight into what she’s going through are the people who have flirted with the Darkness the most: Hook and Regina. The two of them have their dark pasts, which will inform how they handle Emma and what she’s going through.
How are Charming and Snow dealing with this turn of events?
Kitsis: They are not dealing with it well. Their daughter is in crisis, is in trouble, and they don’t know how to help her. That is going to cause a strain in the relationship. We’re going to see in Camelot that they are pulled in many different directions. It’s really going to cause some friction between them that they are not used to having.
How does this crisis force Henry to examine what it means to be the Author?
Kitsis: I would say in this case, for Henry, who broke the quill last year, he realizes the easiest thing to do would be just to do a rewrite. “My mom is no longer…” But, he realizes that can’t be. His job is to sit back and record. He wants to save his mom, but he’s more than just a writer. Henry is going to get sidetracked like a lot of 13-year-olds with a lady he meets. Maybe he has his first crush.
Does anyone consider returning this Darkness to Rumple?
Horowitz: The process is not as easy as that. Many avenues are explored. The situation Emma finds herself in is not as simple as they hoped it would be.
In addition to Camelot, which you already mentioned, viewers will be introduced to “Brave’s” Merida. How did you decide to incorporate those mythologies into the show, and how do they serve the bigger picture?
Horowitz: Ever since we saw “Brave” when it came out in 2011, we loved the movie and loved the character. It was always someone we thought had a place on “Once Upon A Time,” where we saw we could fit her in. The time seemed right and the story seemed right, so we brought her on board. We have stories we’re excited about that connect her to the mythology of our world and our characters. She fit right into the tradition of what we’re trying to create on “Once Upon A Time,” which is strong women.
Kitsis: That can really kick ass.
How long has Camelot been on your radar?
Kitsis: We met Lancelot in Season 2, and we know last year Rumple got a gauntlet from Camelot. King Arthur, Robin Hood — those were always in the wheelhouse of fairy tales for us. We didn’t want to just stick to the Snow Whites and Sleeping Beauties. We always wanted to expand the world. It was just a matter of, when was the right time to go to Camelot? We knew last year that the sorcerer would be revealed as Merlin.
With Merlin around, could Morgan le Fay be far behind?
Horowitz: You’ll have to wait and see. We’re definitely going to be telling Merlin’s origin story.
With so much of a focus on Emma, will Regina even have time to worry about Zelena, her pregnancy and Robin Hood?
Horowitz: Zelena is the Hannibal Lecter of the show. She’s a wild card. You can’t trust her. She’s wicked as hell, and she’s scary. Regina is going to have her hands full this year.
Kitsis: This baby is going to have an effect on her. That is not to say that is going to make her soft and cuddly, but it is going to change her point of view on life. We’re going to see her act on that right away. From the premiere, you’re going to understand what she wants.
Last time we saw Rumple, he was comatose. What can we expect from him once he wakes up?
Kitsis: If he wakes up would be the first thing. He could always die. We’re going to see Gold faced with a new dilemma he’s never really had to face. He’s going to have to fight some past demons to become a better man.
It feels like last season was a turning point for Rumple and Belle.
Horowitz: It’s certainly taking their relationship to a new place. Given Rumple/Gold’s current condition, and given where they were last season, they have to grow and evolve. They have to find a way to have happiness together. There’s a deep love between the two of them that we saw born early on in the series. That love is super-strong, and something they are both going to want to fight for. Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen.
Where does Lily fit into what’s going on?
Horowitz: That storyline is one we want to get to. We’re not going to immediately address it.
Kitsis: We won’t really be seeing Lily for the first half of the season. We do have answers in mind and we are excited to give them.
Do you consider Emma the main villain this season, or are there other players in the mix?
Kitsis: I would say both. Camelot is a place that on the surface seems beautiful and romantic and exciting. But sometimes we find out things aren’t always what they appear to be. I would say that is one of the themes for the first half of the season.
What are some of the other themes you want to explore this year?
Kitsis: We want to explore, “Things aren’t what they appear to be.” We want to explore the idea of using love as a weapon. And we want to explore the idea of “What does the Darkness mean? How do we fight it? How do we face it? What happens when we are faced with choices in our lives? Do we always do the right things?” That’s something we want to dive into.
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