The cast and creators of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” enchanted Comic-Con’s Ballroom 20 on Saturday morning, bringing exec producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz along with stars Josh Dallas, Jennifer Morrison, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared Gilmore, Lana Parrilla, Emilie de Ravin and Robert Carlyle.
The panel also gave fans a preview of the season four premiere, including the first look at “Frozen’s” Anna and Elsa. The clip showed Anna and Elsa joining hands and visiting their parents’ graves, laying flowers by the stones. “Anna, they would be so proud of you,” Elsa says.
“Both of us, Elsa,” Anna corrects. Elsa says she has a surprise for her sister, and Anna admits that “surprises tend to be hit and miss in this family.”
“You’ll like this one, I promise — it’s for your wedding,” Elsa smiles.
A second clip was shown of Regina going down into the hospital basement (where she once kept Belle) and freeing her Magic Mirror, Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito), telling him “I need my mirror … there’s someone standing in the way of my happiness — I need your help getting rid of them.”
Last season, Emma saved the life of Robin Hood’s former love, Maid Marion, and brought her back to Storybrooke, inadvertently ruining Regina’s relationship with her supposed soulmate. Judging by Regina’s reaction in the season two finale, the choice may cause another rift in the duo’s tumultuous relationship.
When asked whether Regina will regress to her darker instincts, Parrilla teased, “I think she’s a bit conflicted and she’s enjoyed being good — she’s enjoyed discovering this light magic that she possesses, but old habits die hard.”
“I can’t apologize for saving a life, but I’m horrified for getting in the way of Regina’s happiness,” Morrison admitted of her character’s decision. “Emma’s going to be very determined to keep her in the good place in her life and keep something positive between them. … It adds a nice element of conflict and concern and generosity between them.”
At the end of season three, Emma and Hook embraced their feelings for each other, but is the pirate her soulmate? The producers declined to answer that definitively, but did clarify the difference between true love and a soulmate, two themes that the show has been preoccupied with since its inception.
“True love is when you truly love somebody, and soulmate is the idea that there’s only one person for you. … On our show, we’ve learned that happy endings aren’t always what they expect. If you love somebody but it doesn’t work out, you should love again,” Kitsis said, perhaps hinting that Emma and Regina should pursue their new suitors despite having lost the men that could’ve been their soulmates.
But Emma’s quest for identity isn’t really about romance, said Kitsis. “It’s interesting, she’s on a journey and it’s not really about her relationships, it’s about her finding herself.”
Henry’s father, Neal, is truly dead this time, but the producers said “he will always live in flashbacks and in our hearts.” Neal may be gone, but his father, Rumplestiltskin, is still around, and won’t abandon his grandson in his hour of need.
“I think that Mr. Gold looks upon Henry and says ‘this is my son’s child’ and has a deep affection [for him],” said Kitsis. “He might be a difficult man to love, but when time came to save his grandson, he did the right thing and sacrificed his life.”
The producers teased that Henry will “go into the family business — the pawn business” next season and be doing inventory in Mr. Gold’s shop — which will facilitate some grandfather/grandson bonding time.
It was noted that Rumplestiltskin is once again hiding things from Belle (including switching out the dagger that controls The Dark One), and Carlyle noted that the character is “an addict — he’s addicted to power and addicted to magic … it’s very difficult to shake that.”
Still the wedding vows the couple shared in the finale “were genuine,” the producers promised. “He absolutely loves Belle … but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his weaknesses,” Kitsis admitted.
“There’s a dark side to him always, but his love for her is real,” Horowitz agreed.
“I think she’s the calm in his life,” de Ravin offered about Belle and Rumple’s relationship. “I think she does her best and gives him the benefit of the doubt whenever she can. She may be a little too trusting with this whole dagger thing… she’s going to be quite devastated [when she finds out he's lying to her].”
Another video clip showed Ginnifier Goodwin on set, and featured an appearance for Michael Socha’s Knave of Hearts, introduced in shortlived spinoff “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” implying that he’ll pay another visit to Storybrooke in season four.