The first half of “Once Upon a Time’s” Season 4 may have just ended Dec. 14, but the excitement for what’s coming to Storybrooke is already mounting. The fall finale left more than one character’s fate in question and introduced three new(-ish) villains that will be serving up a lot of trouble when the show returns on March 1.
With so many things going on and so many storylines to keep track of, Zap2it thought it was time to put together a compendium of what’s been released and what you can expect to be coming up (at least so far).
- The new villains: Rumpelstiltskin’s (Robert Carlyle) new partners in crime are a trio of fierce Disney lady villains referred to as the “Queens of Darkness”: Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Ursula (Merrin Dungey) and Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smurfit)
- Heroes vs. villains: The theme of the latter half of the season will be “What makes a hero or a villain?,” and the core characters will have to make decisions about which team they fight for. Surprisingly, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Lucas) will have the most trouble figuring out where they stand on the moral spectrum — and their secret history with the Queens of Darkness will undoubtedly have something to do with that.
- Ursula isn’t the biggest name of the sea: It was announced on Friday (Dec. 18) that Ernie Hudson has been cast as Ursula’s father, Poseidon (Deadline). JoAnna Garcia will also be coming back as Ariel for the Ursula-centric episode.
- New villains, new backstories: Yes, Poseidon was Ariel’s father in the original Disney movie, but executive producers Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz inform Zap2it that unlike the characters of “Frozen,” the new villains will follow “OUAT” mythology rather than their Disney canon.
“Our Cruella may have a different backstory than the one that people may remember from the movie. Maleficent, who has already been introduced in this world, will continue to be from our mythology and not the movie that just came out,” Horowitz explains.
- Flashbacks will focus on pre-curse Storybrooke: The “OUAT” bosses also say that a lot of the flashbacks will occur in the Enchanted Forest and in Storybrooke during a Season 1 timeframe, before Emma (Jennifer Morrison) came to town and the curse was broken. This means more Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parrilla) and some familiar faces returning.
- Prepare for Maleficent and Regina meeting: Maleficent is the villain we’re most familiar with, but Season 4b will explain her and Regina’s complicated past — including when the two sorceress queens first met.
- Eion Bailey returns as August/Pinocchio: While the details of Bailey’s return have been kept under wraps, it has been reported that grown-up Pinocchio will be showing up in episode 14. The last time we saw August, he was returned to his pre-curse state as a 7-year-old boy. He could show up again as part of the flashbacks, or considering August’s initial interest in the storybook, he could somehow provide clues for finding the author.
- You haven’t seen the last of Robin Hood: “We’re only halfway through the book!” Kitsis says, which means that Regina’s goodbye to Robin (Sean Maguire) in the fall finale doesn’t have to be their final one. With the Swans and Charmings agreeing to help her find the author to find her happy ending, Regina could have her true love back sooner than anyone thought. Or he could be coming back in another way…
- Yes, there will be more Knave: More likely, Robin Hood will be reappearing in the Knave (Michael Socha) backstories, considering the amount of time the two spent together before the curse and the Knave went off to Wonderland. Kitsis and Horowitz promise that an explanation for why the Knave is in Storybrooke instead of with his wife the Red Queen is coming.
“We will give you more Will Scarlett, more of his background and play a larger part in the story,” Horowitz promises.
“For us, we wanted to introduce him in the first half and slowly integrate him into our world so that the audience would start asking these questions and demand to see more of him,” Kitsis explains. “He’s one of our favorite characters.”
- Emma and Hook are going to be OK: Smooth relationships aren’t really a thing in Storybrooke, but Emma and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) will have a chance to really grow as a couple in the second half of Season 4b. O’Donoghue explained during a recent Zap2it set visit that Hook will help fill the void left by Elsa (Georgina Haig) going back to Arendelle.
- Hook also has a past with the Queens of Darkness: Well, at least one of them. More on that coming Monday (Dec. 22), so stay tuned.
“Once Upon a Time” returns March 1 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/PT.