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‘Once Upon A Time’ EPs Talk Queens of Darkness’ Descent On Storybrooke

Ursula, Maleficent and Cruella De Vil are coming, and nobody is Storybrooke is safe

Ursula, Maleficent and Cruella De Vil are coming, and nobody is Storybrooke is safe

Poor Rumplestiltskin. Despite all of his manipulating, plotting and scheming, his master plan to free himself from a mystical dagger — the one object capable of controlling him — blew up in his face. Instead, his wife Belle used the dagger to banish Rumple from Storybrooke in “Once Upon A Time’s” season four winter finale. But as all the best storytellers know, it’s hard to keep a good villain down.

The show’s midseason premiere, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” finds Rumple recruiting three evil cohorts, who just so happen to also be three of the biggest Disney villains of all time: Ursula, Maleficent and Cruella De Vil. Sick and tired of always losing, their mission is to track down the mysterious Author of Henry’s story book and force him or her to write their version of a happy ending, whatever it may be.

Ahead of Sunday night’s episode, executive producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis spoke with SPINOFF about the Queens of Darkness, the essence of heroes and villains, Emma flirting with the dark side, and her complex relationships with Hook and Regina — not to mention the enigmatic Author and happy endings.

Spinoff Online: Having just wrapped up the “Frozen” storyline, what were some of your goals for “Once Upon A Time” going into this Queens of Darkness arc?

Eddy Kitsis: We really wanted to pick up our search for the Author, but really, the second half is exploring what makes a hero and what makes a villain. We’ve had Regina wonder, can villains have happy endings? That’s what we wanted to get into.

Why are three Queens of Darkness better than one or two?

Kitsis: In the winter finale, we realized that the one thing the heroes always do is they work together. The villains work alone. Rumple, realizing that his plan did not go the way he thought it would, decided to take a page from the heroes’ playbook. Obviously, the more on your side, the more people you have to wreak hell with.

Maleficent and Ursula are magical beings, with obvious power and strategic uses. How does a human like Cruella De Vil stack up against those powerhouses?

Adam Horowitz: We have taken some liberties with Cruella. We are going to see she has a little magic of her own that we will reveal in the premiere. She is not fully the Cruella we remember from the animated movies.

Cruella's true power will be revealed when "Once" returns

Cruella’s true power will be revealed when “Once” returns

The show’s villains tend to shine a light on many of the leading characters in some way, whether it is father issues, insecurities or other flaws. How will the Queens of Darkness open old wounds or expose new details about specific Storybrooke characters?

Kitsis: Right away, they are going to open some deep wounds. We’re going to realize a few of our heroes have crossed paths with them and perhaps left some of the details out. As we said before, the villains are really going to spotlight the theme of what makes a villain and what makes a hero. We’re going to find out, maybe not every villain is a villain and maybe not every hero is as heroic as we thought.

From the promos, it looks like Emma might be switching sides, at least temporarily. What’s the appeal for you about examining her darker urges and desires?

Horowitz: We’ve seen Emma all these seasons as the savior and the hero. We thought it would be an interesting thing to dig deep beneath that and explore the question, “What makes someone a hero?” Whether there is a darkness in all of us, and how do we handle that?

Both Regina and Rumple are determined to find the mysterious Author. What does a “happy ending” mean to them?

Horowitz: That’s a good question, because what a happy ending means to both of them is something that will really influence how they pursue the Author and what happens when they come across him/her. To get into the specifics of what their happy ending is, that is part of the journey of this half of the season.

Kitsis: Also, for Mr. Gold, for Rumple — he’s had a couple of happy endings, but they don’t seem to make him happy. What happiness is and how we achieve it is a theme we are exploring this half.

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Obviously, there’s unfinished business between Belle and Rumple. Does time really heal all wounds? Does Rumple feel betrayed by his wife? How do the two of them react when they come face-to-face again?

Kitsis: I don’t think he feels betrayed by Belle, because he betrayed her. They got married, and on their honeymoon, he immediately started lying to her. The person who has the most resentment is Belle. As she said, she used to see the man behind the beast. Now, she only sees the beast. Unfortunately, Rumple is a person who doesn’t really seem to appreciate anything until it is gone. He has a lot of making up to do, if he can at all.

Emma and Hook will continue to explore their relationship

Emma and Hook will continue to explore their relationship

Where do the Charmings fit into this half of the season? Mary and David were off on separate missions last year.

Horowitz: They are brought into the center of what’s going on with the Queens arrival and the search for the Author. We’re going to be exploring a secret from their past. By the end of the first couple of episodes, it’s going to place them at the center of this chaotic vortex.

How is Emma and Hook’s relationship going to evolve — or stumble?

Kitsis: It’s taken a long time for Emma to let anyone in. First, Henry, then her parents, and now, Hook. For us, there’s always that conflict with Emma. We are interested in them growing as a couple. How do they handle the adversity of life as a couple?

Emma and Regina seem to have buried the hatchet. What is their relationship moving forward?

Horowitz: In the first half of the season, we saw Emma tell Regina, “My job is to get everyone their happy ending — and that includes you.” Then, in the winter finale, she said, “I’m a part of Operation Mongoose.” She wants to be friends with Regina, but Regina tends to like Emma’s mom more. In the second half of the season, there’s going to be a lot of Emma and Regina together, as well as the exploration of their friendship. Emma is definitely going to be helping Regina, and Regina is going to be helping Snow White.

Ariel will reportedly be back in this half of the season, but what other characters will be making an appearance?

Kitsis: We’re going to see people from Robin Hood. We’re going to see the Sheriff of Nottingham again.

Horowitz: We’ll be diving into some of the Robin Hood mythology.

Kitsis: Barbara Hershey is coming back as Cora.

Finally, how much will we learn about the enigmatic Author by the end of the season?

Horowitz: Lots. You are going to meet he, or she, or it before the end of the season. We are going to explain the mythology behind the Author and the book.


  • Ally

    So I guess the writers just ‘forgot’ or want us to forget that Rumple by now should know what it is to be like without Belle, first from when he thought she was dead back in ftl, then when she lost her memories and turned into Lacey and when he left her for Neverland.
    This show needs a reboot and new showrunners. I loved Season 1, but is has been downhill since than.

  • Cameron

    Excited for Cora… Bored to tears by Robin Hood. His storyline is so irritating and he completely the opposite of the Robin Hood of lore. Even Doctor Who did a better job with Robin Hood than the OUAT writers. I hope he is gone by the end of the season or I’m done with this show.

  • Michu1945

    Dearie. Stop behaving like diva. “(…) I hope he is gone by the end of the season or I’m done with this show.”

  • JasonL

    I’m excited for Cruella De Vil. She looks like the one who’ll be the real surprise of the three. Plus from what I’ve been seeing she’s been stealing the scenes.

  • Oncer602

    Well spoken. ;)
    It’s not the first time Once changes lore. It’s what this show is about. Complaining about that makes no sense.

  • Edgar

    Did anyone see that Cora’s coming back!!!!!!

  • Samuel Lopes

    God damn it, not only do Adam and Eddy ALWAYS give the same answers regarding the general themes of the half-season (what makes a hero a hero and a villain a villain, not everything’s black-and-white, yadda yadda), they now get asked the exact same questions they’d been asked before, to make sure they repeat their points even more? I’m sorry but this is just sucky. The only new news we got from this post was the return of Barbara Hershey. Everything else is stuff we knew already. The very fact that whoever conducted the interview asked AGAIN how Cruella, who shouldn’t have magical powers, fits into the Queens of Darkness… UGH! We’ve known for months now she’d have magic, and we even saw it in that sneak peek. Prepare the interview better, SPINOFF. This was a frustrating read. I’m sorry, but after 10-15 articles on this show over the past 2 weeks that all say the basic crap I am kinda done with reading up on my favorite show. It gets saturating.

  • Jdg98

    Every single interview has the same questions pretty much, and the same answers, most of which we got like the day after the winter finale aired…. We already know Cruella will have magic, Regina and Emma will team up, Hook and Emma’s relationship has moved forward, how Snow and Charming will link in…. so why keep asking? Get with the goddamn programme, people.

  • John B

    “We have taken some liberties with Cruella. We are going to see she has a
    little magic of her own that we will reveal in the premiere. She is not
    fully the Cruella we remember from the animated movies.”

    Obviously, as her character and timeline doesn’t fit in one bit with the Disney-fied Grimm/Anderson universe of OUAT. I’d wager she was shoehorned into this story arch at the behest of Disney suits in order to promote the 101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition DVD/Blu.

  • Bryan

    If they’re bringing back Cora and Zelena, I hope they bring back Peter Pan as well. Wouldn’t it be cool if a knew trio of villains: Cora, Zelena, and Pan teamed up? Seems like Eddy and Adam still like to weave in the villains when they’re bushing up daisies.