The ABC series Once Upon A Time is back for Season 5, and this time the fairytale characters fans have come to know and love must cope with Emma Swan’s (Jennifer Morrison) new role as the The Dark One. This season, their journey from the Enchanted Forest to Camelot, in search of Merlin, will lead them to cross paths with King Arthur and his Knights, as well as the brave and headstrong Scottish princess Merida, and we will also get to see some returning faces, including Mulan and Ruby, and learn what they have been up to.
Following a press screening of the season premiere, show creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz talked about the evolution of Emma into the Dark Swan, the adventure and romance of Camelot, the introduction of King Arthur and Merida, Merlin’s origin story, Regina’s own continuing battle between good and evil, the teaming up of Captain Hook and Henry, what’s next for Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, Zelena being the Hannibal Lecter of Storybrooke, and the return of Mulan and Ruby. Here is a list of 18 things that you should know about Season 5 of Once Upon A Time, but be aware that there are some spoilers.
The adventure and romance that’s inherent to Camelot, as a mythological story that we all know, affects all of the characters, but the season is about the core group of characters and what they’re going through in Camelot, in regard to Emma. You’re also going to get the origin stories for Merlin, as well as King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. They want the Camelot stuff to be exciting and fun, but also really inform the journeys of the core characters.
- King Arthur and David will have a bromance unlike any other. Said Edward Kitsis, “We feel like David, now that his daughter has magic, is like, ‘I was the guy that used to slay dragons! What’s going on?!’”
- When it comes to whether King Arthur and his Knights could have an ulterior motive, Adam Horowitz said, “Well, yeah. There’s more going on than what we’ve seen, so far. In the next few episodes, you’ll see some more of that explained and explored.”
- In the premiere, Emma is given a warning by someone who will turn out to be very important. That warning will also come back into play again and will be an important part of the story.
- They very intentionally wanted to get back to many of the characters that had been previously sidelined, and it was a conscious decision to bring them along for the ride to Camelot. Said Kitsis, “Being the fifth season, we’re going to hopefully see as many old faces as we can, this year.”
They will be bouncing between Dark Swan and Emma Swan, showing what happened in Camelot and what’s going on in Storybrooke, much like Season 3b. Said Horowitz, “The darkness, whether it’s taken from her or she gives into it completely is going to affect her. The ramifications of what happens in the premiere are felt throughout the entire season. So, while we intend to wrap up a lot of the story in the first half by the mid-season, there are bigger issues that are being introduced as early as the premiere, that will carry through the whole season. We’re telling two separate pods of episodes that are connected, and Emma’s journey will encompass the entire season.”
- In regard to how Emma becomes Dark Swan, they’ll be exploring what makes someone succumb to the darkness. Her relationships with everyone will be tested, and Hook, Regina and her family will have to fight for her. Choices will have to be made, and some of the choices that seem like the right thing to do might turn out to be the absolute worst thing to do. And Snow and Charming will be fighting in a way that we haven’t seen before, all because of the emotion of trying to save their daughter.
- For the Captain Swan fans, who might be crushed at what Dark Swan will do to that relationship, Horowitz said, “We don’t refer to them as Captain Swan. We don’t talk about them that way in the writers’ room. We talk about Hook and Emma and Regina and Henry, and the characters, and what’s going to happen with them. The relationships that form and that have obstacles or not are a part of their journeys. There is no agenda for each ‘ship. It’s about the story that we’re telling that season.” Added Kitsis, “He’s very much fighting for her, and as we do the split seasons, the whys will reveal themselves by the end. Their relationship is a big part of this first half of the season, so it’s going to take 11 episodes to get there.”
Regina is a character who has grown a lot, over the years, and who has tried to put her evil behind her and do good, but that evil and darkness is a part of her. She is struggling with how to do the right thing and help Emma. Said Kitsis, “Everyone is going to be looking [to Regina], and it’s one thing to ask for everyone’s forgiveness, but it’s another thing to lead people. We’ve seen Regina on our side, helping out the heroes, but she’s going to be thrust into a leadership position to save the town, when a lot of people are still frightened with her.” Add Horowitz, “That also impacts Regina’s relationship with Snow, who has been a leader and who people turn to. It hopefully becomes very complicated and messy, in a good way.”
- On whether Henry could get girlfriend this season, Kitsis said, “He can try. I would watch the second episode where we might meet Henry’s first crush. You can’t go to Camelot and not fall in love.”
- Hook and Henry have a lot of stuff coming up because it’s so much fun to watch them, as a team. Because Henry is growing up, he can take a more active part in the adventures now, and he takes a more pivotal role in some of what’s to come. Episode 5 is Henry’s episode.
- Rumplestiltskin and Mr. Gold are two different characters, this season. The spirit guide version of Rumplestiltskin is a combination of all of the Dark Ones, or darkness itself. They will be exploring who all of the Dark Ones were, and you will get to meet the first one. And as Emma is the Dark Swan, she can call on all of the knowledge of the previous Dark Ones. At the same time, Mr. Gold’s arc in Storybrooke is one that we haven’t seen before and it goes into his very essence as a character.
They decided to introduce the iconic rose from Beauty and the Beast, so that Belle doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines. With it, she knows how Mr. Gold is doing and can go on the adventure to Camelot. Said Horowitz, “It’s important to know that Belle cares about what’s happening to Gold/Rumple, but that doesn’t mean that all is forgiven and that everything that’s gone before doesn’t need to be dealt with. It does.”
- Zelena has become the Hannibal Lecter of Storybrooke. Said Horowitz, “Pregnancy has changed her, but not necessarily for the better. And if that’s the case, than it’s pretty scary.” They will be exploring her pregnancy and what happens with it. Added Kitsis, “I would be very disappointed, if we didn’t see a baby.”
- Viewers will be meeting Merida, this season. She is a character with a little bit of a chip on her shoulder, is feisty, and is willing to fight, and she’s the first Pixar character they’ve brought in. Said Kitsis, “If you watch the movie Brave, Merida’s problem is that she punches first and asks questions second, and that’s what we’re seeing here. We’re going to find her in the middle of a very intense situation, and we’re definitely going to explore her story more.”
- In regard to some returning faces, they’re very excited to have Mulan and Ruby back, for multiple episodes this season, and they’re not going to just drop them back in the show without explanation. They will give a taste of where Mulan has been, what she’s been up to and what she’s been going through, and the same with Ruby and other characters who will return. They want to honor the idea that all of these characters’ lives have been going on and show how they will reconnect with everybody else.
- On whether they’ll finally be addressing the LGBT aspect of the Mulan and Aurora relationship, Kitsis said, “We know that community have been big supporters of this show, and we would love to be able to tell a love story that reflects that.” Added Horowitz, “We want the show to reflect the world, as it is now. Whether that will be with any particular character, we’re not going to say, but it’s something we want to do this year and it’s something we think is important to do on the show.”
- When it comes to seeing any wolves this season, especially with the return of Ruby, Kitsis said, “You can’t bring Ruby back and not have a wolf.”
Once Upon A Time returns for Season 5 on Sunday nights on ABC, starting on September 27th.