ONCE UPON A TIME: Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis on Going to Neverland and Having a Split Season. Plus, Teases for the First Two Episodes of Season 3!
September 28, 2013 by Marisa Roffman
ONCE UPON A TIME has shifted its storytelling with every season so far (year one introduced us to Storybrooke, season 2 had several characters in present-day fairytale land), and season 3 will be no different: the new season has many of the show’s main characters are on their way to Neverland to save Henry.
“We always wanted to go to Neverland, and we really wanted to focus on the core characters,” ONCE UPON A TIME co-creator Eddy Kitsis told reporters last week. “And Neverland is a place where you don’t grow up and you have to confront your past…so what we did was these characters will return to who they were before the curse in order to kind of achieve this. And at the same time, we wanted to have them dig deeper into what everything means.”
“So we wanted to have time to reflect on what happened and what it means,” ONCE UPON A TIME co-creator Adam Horowitz added. “Yeah, Emma looks at Mary Margaret as her mom, but does she actually think of her as her mom? In the first two episodes we were really trying to use Neverland [for things like that,] and we continue to do this as the season progresses: [use Neverland] as a prism for which we can see these characters more clearly.”
And Neverland isn’t the only new thing in store for ONCE UPON A TIME fans this season — the drama is one of the shows ABC will run on a split schedule, with the first 11 episodes airing this fall, and the second 11 episodes airing this spring.
“It is impacting [the show], we hope, in a really positive way,” Horowitz said. “In addition to two 11-episode arcs, the scheduling of running them more or less uninterrupted allows us to gain story momentum and really look at them as two mini-seasons that are hopefully thematically connected and building to one big finish. But it allows us to tell what we’re calling the ‘Neverland arc’ in the first half and the second half tell the ‘blank arc’ — no spoilers yet [as to what we're calling it] — that can grow out of where you see the first one end. As writers it has been both challenging and really kind of freeing in a way, which has allowed us to give a complete experience in the fall and a complete experience in the spring.”
“It’s also really hard as a writer to do 22 episodes of one story in today’s world, you know?” Kitsis added. “I think television is changing, habits change, and things do 10 to 12 episode seasons. And for us, we get to do [essentially] two seasons this year; we’re trying to do all killer, no filler, and so I think for us, personally, it’s fun, because it allows us to tell contained stories that we want to tell without being like, ‘How are we going to stretch this one idea [to fill an entire season]?’”
After watching the first two episodes of the season, it seems the creators weren’t wrong that getting to craft more condensed arcs will lead to stronger stories. So how about a few teases for the first two episodes?
- Viewers knew Peter Pan wasn’t a good guy, but his manipulation of several key characters is just brutal.
- At least one character we know won’t survive long in Neverland.
- Emma, Regina, Hook, Mary Margaret, David, and Gold may start off the journey together, but one of them quickly decides splitting up would be more beneficial.
- There’s a long-overdue knock-down, drag-out fight. It’s so elaborate that one character has to take very drastic measures to try and stop it.
- The Emma/Neal/Hook triangle takes an interesting turn as Hook and Emma mourn the loss of Neal (together), while Neal (in the present-day fairytale land) makes it clear on where he stands with his feelings towards Emma.
- There is a very important (and possibly foreshadowing?) Hook and Regina talk.
- Belle might not be with them in Neverland, but she is certainly not far from Gold’s mind.
- We see Emma at her most vulnerable. (In more ways than one.)
ONCE UPON A TIME returns Sunday, September 29th at 8 PM on ABC.
- ONCE UPON A TIME Season 3 Premiere: ‘Heart of the Truest Believer’ Photos
- ONCE UPON A TIME: SUPERNATURAL’s Gil McKinney Cast as Prince Eric
- ONCE UPON A TIME: Season 3 Promo