"Once Upon a Time" returns this Sunday (Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC), and after seeing the first two episodes of Season 3, it's safe to say that the fantasy series has confidently recaptured the magic that first enchanted us when it premiered.
HuffPost TV caught up with star Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White/Mary Margaret) to find out what she could preview about the new season, which finds our heroes -- Snow, Charming (Josh Dallas) and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) -- trapped on a boat with the show's villains, Regina (Lana Parrilla), Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) on a desperate quest to rescue Henry (Jared Gilmore) from the clutches of a not-so-friendly Peter Pan.
Read on for Goodwin's thoughts on Snow and Regina's tumultuous relationship, her attempts to mend her relationship with daughter Emma, and whether she'll find herself tempted by her darker side in Neverland.
What is Snow's reaction to being trapped in close quarters with Regina after everything they've been through?
The truth is -- Lana and I have talked about this a billion times -- clearly, deep down these women love each other, because they could've done away with each other a million times. I know that the Evil Queen has technically tried to kill Snow before, and as an audience member I find it incredibly annoying that Snow has given the Evil Queen like four hundred chances, and to me, in some ways Snow defines crazy; it's that whole 'what is the definition of crazy? Repeating the same actions and expecting different results.' But we've talked about the fact that there have been so many times since the poisoned apple episode where The Evil Queen could've actually killed Snow and has decided not to up to this point. But they do absolutely hate each other; over that tiny little nugget of love, there are layers of hate, so sticking them on a boat together and knowing that they need each other in order to achieve their goal -- which is saving Henry -- is going to lead to chaos.
How is Snow's relationship with Emma when the season kicks off?
What I find is such a relief this year -- and it's one thing I've talked about with Jennifer Morrison a lot -- is we're so relieved that we get to address the relationship between these characters this season. Last season, we felt that the story was so exciting and there was so much adventure that we were distracted from each other and from this relationship. Every time we went to address this dynamic in our past and where we are now, something would interfere -- there would be some obstacle that would keep us from finishing that conversation. And so now that we are stuck together, there is gonna be ample opportunity to really face ourselves, and therefore face each other. I think that given the fact that Emma would clearly have abandonment issues, and that Snow would carry around an immense amount of guilt, there's a lot there to play.
Hook is clearly pretty interested in Emma; how's Snow feeling about him this season?
Hook's a little slick for Snow, he's the king of innuendo. She's someone who does clearly have an achilles heel in empathy, and she forgives people again and again and again and again. But with Hook, I think there are definitely some trust issues given what happened last season. But he has been, since the very end of last season, proving himself, which does bode well for him in Snow's eyes.
Everyone's obviously focused on getting Henry back, but judging by the episodes you've shot so far, what would you say Snow's personal journey is in the first half of Season 3?
Right, everyone's first priority is to get Henry, and to hold the family together -- and everyone thinks their family is defined by very different family members from the next character, but we do all have the same goal. [Laughs.] And as for Snow's personal journey ... The first season she was clearly two completely different human beings, because she had different memories, which makes for a different life experience. The second season I thought was going to be about reconciling these disparate characters, but what really ended up happening was that Snow and Mary Margaret ended up sort of being smushed together in a mash-up, and you would have Snow's faults and Mary Margaret's weaknesses really interfering with things and the two different parts of her were holding her back -- the negative qualities from each of the characters. And she would also fluctuate between being Mary Margaret and being Snow, even in the present, as opposed to being one fully-formed person. And so to me, this season is about creating one fully-formed person, who of course is still going to have faults and weaknesses, but is gonna be able to navigate them, whereas last season she had no idea how to navigate those things and the darkness would clearly take over.
Speaking of that darkness: Snow clearly struggled with her dark heart last season -- do you think this quest to Neverland will tempt her back into doing some not-so-heroic things in the name of getting Henry back?
I think that it's about asking that question, for sure, I can't say whether or not she's going to follow through with things, because maybe she will and maybe she won't, but she absolutely has to face that part of herself and face the darkness she sees in others. I think a big part of this season is about where you can put your ego aside, for all of us: Where do you let go of your self-definition and integrity? Where do you compromise to get what you think you need and want? When do you put yourself aside for the greater good? It's really juicy.
What can you preview about Episode 2?
I loved that episode. Talking about putting qualities of yourself aside in order to achieve the greater good ... there's an incredible opportunity for Prince Charming to maybe compromise one of his own qualities, compromise some of his own integrity to help Snow find her integrity. And ultimately, he clearly feels that it's in an effort to achieve a greater good.
Can you tease anything about Episode 6, which will introduce Ariel?
I can say that Snow and Ariel cross paths, and I'm very excited about it. [Laughs.]
"Once Upon a Time" Season 3 premieres Sun., Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.