Just like back in 2014 and 2015, I had the privilege of attending the Once Upon a Time panel at New York Comic Con. The panel entailed a screening of this Sunday’s episode, “The Other Shoe,” followed by a Q&A with showrunners Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, and lead actress Jennifer Morrison. Here are some highlights from the Q&A.
Highlights from the Q&A
On Emma and Hook moving in together, Jennifer Morrison responded with “It’s about time!”.
On how Emma’s long journey as the savior has weighed down on her and effected her outlook on life, Jennifer Morrison said “I think she’s not quite sure yet. That’s kinda what we’re exploring with Emma this Season. Is almost the post traumatic stress of going from being a sorta normal person to having these life or death situations all the time, and never really having time to process it, or figure out what that means, or have a normal day. So I think she’s unraveling a little bit, trying to figure out how to find herself within that and who she really is.”
When Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis were asked why they seem to enjoy torturing Emma’s character so much, Adam responded with “I think she tortures herself!” Jennifer Morrison laughed, asking “So it’s my fault?!” Eddy Kitsis further explained that “life isn’t always easy, and you know what I love most about Emma is her strength. No matter what happens, she keeps persevering. We keep giving her obstacles, so she keeps beating them. I think that’s kind of what we like.”
Adam Horowitz said that one of the themes this Season is this idea of “what is normal? You’re always fighting bad guys, and doing all of this stuff, but these characters need to find a way to have normal lives, and that’s one of the challenges. We want to explore them as people.”
⁃ On teasing Emma and Hook’s relationship, Eddy Kitsis said “I think the thing we love about Hook and Emma is that we’re trying to show a real relationship, and we all know that right now she’s keeping something from him, a secret. I think that what we like to explore with the two of them is how they deal with the real life stuff in a real way. They’re fantastical together, but the little relationship stuff, I think we’re gonna continue to see kinda play out for a little.” Adam Horowitz added “It’s like anything with this show. A happy ending isn’t an end point. It’s a continuing process. I think as Emma and Hook reach new levels, and new milestones, we’ll see that there’s new challenges along the way.” Jennifer Morrison chimed in that “that’s something I’ve really enjoyed about what they’ve done with Hook and Emma in general is that a lot of times on TV, when you have two characters that come together and they try to find ways to keep them apart all the time. On this show they’ve actually let these characters be together, and now they’re exploring the intricacies of it, and the nuances of it. Now eventually them living in the same house, and what does that mean? The daily ins and outs of things. How does Henry fit into that? Emma has a secret, and what does Hook do about it when he finds out? Then if Hook has a secret, what does she do? It’s stuff that I feel like, even though we’re dealing with fairy tale characters n a metaphorical level, it starts to feel more connected to real life, and the stuff that we all go through in real life. It’s been fun.”
On Emma and Regina’s relationship, Eddy Kitsis said “When we started the show, the very first thing Regina wanted was for Emma to leave town. She wanted sole control of Henry, and she didn’t want anyone to know about the curse. I think part of the fun of six seasons later is once again, the Evil Queen is standing in the way of people getting their happy endings, but now Emma doesn’t have to fight alone. She has Regina at her side. For us it is kinda that growth and their friendship. Really in a weird way, Regina seems to me closer to Snow, even though she tried to kill her for all those years. I think that the one with Emma is, I think that they’re friends, but she always runs to her mom first.” Adam Horowitz added that “I think the relationship between Regina and Snow is a complicated one as well, and as we saw in the premiere, and there’s more of that kinda stuff coming up. As for Emma and Regina, it’s been so interesting to write and see brought to life. The evolution of the pure hatred in the first couple of episodes turn into pure friendship, and how it’s complicated friendship and not an easy friendship.” Jennifer Morrison added “I think that’s really important in general. Just because you have, really three, well all the women on the show are strong in different ways. When you look at Snow, and you look at Regina, and you look at Emma, you have three strong women who are prominent on the show. Instead of having them in catfights, and having them against each other, and having them try to tear each other down, you have three strong women who are fighting for each other, and fighting to build each other up, and fighting to make each other better. That makes me proud to be a part of this show, because I think that’s something we need more of in the world.”
Next week (October 16th), we’re gonna get the origin story of Jekyll and Hyde. Eddy Kitsis mentioned “We’re gonna see how Rumple effected their lives. You can imagine not in a positive way.” Episode 5 will be about Aladdin and Jasmine, and episode 6 will be about Hook. “We’re gonna get people coming from the Land of Untold Stories, we’re gonna get some origin stories, but you know like always, they’re there to kinda further our main characters, and we’re gonna see some interesting growth from everyone”, Eddy Kitsis added.
Jennifer Morrison thinks the Dark Swan was really critical to Emma’s development. “When you’re someone who’s compelled to do the right thing all of the time, at least at the level Emma is, there’s something limiting about that, in terms of your own self discovery. I think for her to be shoved into this circumstance, where she didn’t have the same limits and same boundaries, and she explored the darker parts of herself, and she sorta almost exercised certain things in herself. I think she learned a lot about herself, but I think she was very humbled by that. I think she has a different kind of respect when she’s dealing with Regina, or she’s dealing with Gold, or when she’s dealing with someone who is struggling with the darkness in a different way than she ever understood before, because now she actually knows what that means in a more tangible way. So I think she’s a more humbled hero because of it.”
A fan asked for clarification regarding the long popular theory that Anastasia is Cinderella’s stepsister, which was supported by several possible hints back on Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Adam Horowitz stated that “I’m not sure it was definitively explained that way by the Jabberwocky in Wonderland,” and then directed the fan to contact him on Twitter to discuss this matter further.
On Emma’s growth as a character, Jennifer Morrison mentioned “part of my favorite part of being on this show is I get to play a character who’s truly evolving and changing, and that’s so rare on television. When you’re really serving a purpose. And you serve that same purpose over and over again, so creatively it’s a wonderful challenge to be able to keep growing as Emma. She started off so closed off, and so hurt, and so kinda barricaded. I always pictured her just literally barricaded, and I don’t think she ever had hope that she was gonna love or have a family. I think that she had ideas of it, or fantasies of it, but it just never seemed like it could be a reality for her. Once it became a possibility, there was the fear of how much pain could come in if she opened herself up to that. Then there was that whole journey, and what that meant, and then she became evil for a little while. I think that right now what you’re seeing is a woman who, for six years, has really grown and changed. She’s been open to grow and she’s been open to become a strong, better version of herself. She still makes mistakes, and she still has to pay the repercussions for those mistakes, but she gets backup now. Instead of doing it by herself, she has her family now by her side, and she has Hook by her side, and she has friends. For me, I look at it personally how important it is to keep the people close that you love, and the people that you trust, and you care about, and know that we do all make mistakes and how important it is sort of see past that, and really see the love.”
On the cloaked figure and the Oracle, Adam Horowitz said that “there’s more Oracle coming soon, and the answers to the cloaked figure coming.” Eddy Kitsis added “you’ll know that answer by Christmas.”
Watch Once Upon a Time each Sunday at 8/7 Central on ABC!