Who will save the Savior? That's the question at hand after Once Upon a Time's season five premiere.
In the episode's jaw-dropping final moments, our world was rocked as we learned that Storybrooke's finest failed in their attempt to rescue Emma (Jennifer Morrison) from the clutches of the darkness, leading her to go full-on Dark Swan.
But what exactly happened in those six weeks in Camelot that brought us to this darkest timeline? We have questions and, at a recent screening of the premiere, showrunners Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis had answers.
Emma's Season-Long Struggle
While the mystery of what exactly happened in Camelot that Dark Swan wants to punish our heroes for will be resolved sooner rather than later, don't expect a speedy resolution to Emma's personal crisis. "The darkness, whether it's taken from her or she gives in to it completely, it's going to effect her and the ramifications of what happened in this premiere are felt throughout the entire season," Horowitz revealed. "So, while a lot of the story in the first half we intend to wrap up by midseason, there's bigger issues that are being introduced…that will carry over through the whole season. Emma's journey is going to encompass the whole season."
"Going forward, on the Storybrooke side, our characters are really wrestling with the mystery of what could they have possibly done to Emma to make her this way," Kitsis added. "And Emma plays her cards very close to the vest, but that does not prevent her from interacting in very close and direct ways with characters like Hook, Regina, and Henry, so while there is this mystery going on about what may or may not have happened, we're going to see the relationships move forward in a new way in the present, which is where we have a very dark Emma."
A Flurry of Familiar Faces
Grumpy's (Lee Arenberg) demand to step off the sidelines and be taken along for the ride to Camelot is just the beginning of the show's plan to refocus on old faces who've been pushed aside in seasons past. "In the storytelling in the fifth season, there are new characters, there are these Camelot people," Kitsis said, "but what we really wanted to do was, as much as we could, focus the show back on the characters the audience has been living with for five years now and find ways to have the Camelot stuff be exciting and fun, but really informing the journeys of these characters."
Beyond including Granny (Beverley Elliott) and the dwarves in the Camelot adventure, the show also has big plans for bringing Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Ruby (Meghan Ory) back into the fold. "I would say that, first, we're not just planning to drop them back in the show with no explanation and say, ‘Oh, we were over in the corner,'" Horowitz joked. "We do want to give a taste of where Mulan's been and what she's been up to and what she's been going through, and the same with Red. There are other characters who may return, as well, and we want to do that, as well. We want to honor the idea that their lives have been going on…and we want to give you a taste of where they've been and now see how they can reconnect with everybody else."
Plus, A Few New Friends, Too
Of course, this wouldn't be the Once Upon a Time we know and love if we didn't meet a few new characters, as well. Get ready for origin stories for King Arthur (Liam Garrigan), Guinevere (Joana Metrass), and Lancelot (Sinqua Walls), as well as that red-headed warrior princess Merida (Amy Manson). "Merida has been a lot of fun to introduce to the show. She's the first Pixar character we've brought in. I think you see she fits in," Kitsis gushed, before later adding, "We're going full on. She's going to get her own hour. We're going to go to Dunbroch and see the dad and the mom and everything."
A New Role for Regina
Regina (Lana Parilla) may have lost possession of the Dark One's dagger upon returning to Storybrooke, but, with the town in crisis, she'll be forced to step up. "I also think that you're going to see in Storybrooke, as we saw as good as Sneezy was as sheriff, he went down pretty quick," Kitsis said. "So, it's going to be everyone looking to the mayor, so it is one thing to ask everyone's forgiveness, it's another thing to lead people. So, we've seen Regina on our side helping out the heroes, but she is going to be thrust into a leadership position and saving the town, a town where quite honestly a lot of people are still frightened of her."
Henry, All Grown Up
We've watched young Jared Gilmore mature as Henry over the past four seasons, something the show plans to take full advantage of this year. "What we love with Henry is that he's growing up and that he can take a more active part in the adventures now, and I think you're gonna see that he takes a more pivotal role in some of the things that are coming up," Horowitz said, with Kitsis adding, "Episode five is Henry's episode, and it's one of my favorites."
But, we won't have to wait until then for a major Henry moment. "I would watch the second episode where we might meet Henry's first crush," Kitsis teased.
Camelot Comings and Goings
While we learn what exactly happened during this mysterious six weeks in Camelot, we can look forward to "a bromance unlike any other" between Arthur and David (Josh Dallas), Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) reconnecting with Lancelot, and answers about Merlin's past (Elliot Knight) and just why Excalibur looked so familiar, Kitsis spilled. "We realize that the Dark One dagger and Excalibur were meant to be whole, so we are going to explain to you why that is, why Merlin is where Merlin is," he added.
Horowitz interjected: "Why he was warning Emma all those years ago…It's not something we're going to make you wait the whole half-season for."
The Dark One, Revealed
As we saw in the premiere, Emma will battle the personification of the Dark One itself, first in the form of Rumple (Robert Carlyle). "That is the very darkness itself. It is a combination of all the Dark Ones," Kitsis explained. Horowitz added: "And that's something else we explore this season, which is kind of that mythology of the Dark Ones. Who they are and who they were."
"You're going to meet the first one," Kitsis teased...or warned.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.