"Once Upon a Time" returns with its midseason premiere on Sunday (Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC), and now that Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) have escaped the Enchanted Forest and reunited with their loved ones in Storybrooke, it's time for a whole new set of problems to arise.
Chief among them is the arrival of Cora (Barbara Hershey) and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) to our world, since the two fairytale foes have nothing but revenge on their minds. During HuffPost TV's recent visit to "Once Upon A Time's" Vancouver set, the cast gave us a few hints as to what was coming up in the second half of the season, including the midseason premiere, in which Regina is suspected of murdering one of Storybrooke's most beloved inhabitants.
As we saw in the midseason finale, Regina (Lana Parrilla) had a surprising change of heart, choosing to save Emma and Snow instead of allowing the portal to kill them both. It seems as though we'll see our former Evil Queen struggling with her darker impulses and trying to become a better person in the next few episodes. But will it last?
"We will discover that Snow has grappled with this question her entire life, whether or not the Queen is capable of change," Ginnifer Goodwin revealed on set. "And we do learn that Snow gives her chances time and time again and the exact answer to that question is in the episode, [as far as] where Snow ends up."
While Snow wrestles with her doubts about Regina, the villainess may find a surprising ally in Emma, who believes she's innocent of the crime in Storybrooke.
"I’ve now met Regina’s mother and so I have a very different perspective on who she is and why she is the way she is," Jennifer Morrison pointed out when asked about Emma's evolving relationship with her former rival. "I’ve just dealt with Cora for nine episodes and so there’s also a different reaction that Emma has to Regina, knowing that and knowing that Regina did choose to help them come back and not choose to hurt them."
Lana Parrilla said that Regina's positive reaction to Emma's return through the portal was a deliberate acting choice when playing the scene in the midseason finale. "I thought that, especially if she’s trying to do right by Henry and even to herself and everyone around her, why not start here with this tumultuous relationship that has never, ever worked out?" she admitted. "And so when I read that scene I thought, 'I want to be genuinely happy to see her and I want to genuinely welcome her back.'"
She added, "In the scene it’s sad because [the producers] said to me, 'Oh my God, the look on your face when Henry walked away from you,' ... It’s just when I think I’ve won Henry over and I have him as my son, he chooses [Emma] over me. And that’s a hard thing to feel as the mother of this child but ... [Regina] really just was happy she was back and I don’t know where it came from other than just trying to make this relationship work and knowing that if it doesn’t she’s going to lose Henry even more and he’s going to pull further and further away from her. So I really think she is trying. I think it’s genuine. I don’t think it’s manipulated or false on any level ... In these [upcoming] episodes, Regina is genuinely trying to get along with Emma and trying to make that relationship work so they can both have Henry."
As for whether that effort to change will improve Emma and Regina's relationship for good, Morrison wasn't so certain. "I don’t know that over the long-run it will," she said. "I think, momentarily, Emma wants to have hope that this person can change and that if they both really want the best for Henry, that there’s hope for that."
HuffPost TV also spoke to creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz earlier this week, and the pair shared a few hints about what's coming up for the rest of our characters. Since Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas) have been separated for half of the season, fans can certainly look forward to an enthusiastic reunion from the couple, among other things ...
"They are kind of figuring out their new role, being together, being in Storybrooke and being Emma’s parents even though they’re the same age," Kitsis said.
Horowitz agreed, "The first half of the season really was them coming to terms with 'the memories are back' and all that. Now going forward it’s, 'Well, what does this mean being a family? What does it mean being in this world with these memories and with this new strange familial relationship, and what do we want now?' What does that mean with all these circumstances that are completely different than anything they ever expected?"
And for admirers of the "RumBelle" relationship, the duo teased plenty of developments to come between the Imp and his Beauty. "We’re going to actually see a lot of Rumple and Belle coming up," Kitsis teased. "I think in the second half of the season, Rumple is going to collect that favor from Emma and he’s going to go in search of his son and he and Belle are going to face definite challenges. What’s interesting also is Rumple, in a way, is trying to change for her and as we all know, sometimes it’s hard to change."
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.
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