Imagine if all the heroes and villains on Once Upon a Time had to work together to save someone they all care about. That's exactly the premise of season three when the ABC series returns Sunday at 8 p.m. ET with a thrilling journey to Neverland to face a nasty Peter Pan and a world unlike anything good guys and bad guys have faced so far, said co-creators and executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis in an exclusive interview with Blastr.
“Finding Henry's not going to be easy, assuming they do find Henry,” said Horowitz.
“Surviving Neverland won't be easy,” added Kitsis.
“And discovering the mysteries of Neverland, and more importantly the mysteries of themselves, will be what we're really interested in exploring,” said Horowitz.
The very diverse heroes and villains, who have so far spent most of their time battling each other through the two previous seasons, will have to join forced to save young Henry who last season was kidnapped and taken to Neverland.
“We are very excited to go to Neverland and bring our viewers with us. We're hoping that people like our take, as always. We've done a Once twist on Neverland and, of course, as we hinted in the season two finale, Peter Pan doesn't seem to be the nicest of people,” said Kitsis.
The major characters on the show set out on Hook's boat to find Henry, and while they seem united in their efforts there will be plenty of challenges ahead, promise the executive producers, who also worked on Lost and co-created the new ABC series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
“What we've loved about Neverland is Peter Pan is one of our favorite fairy tales and Neverland just fits so well within our show and the characters in it. Our version of Neverland is much more dark and mysterious,” said Kitsis. “It is a place that runs on belief, and it is really magical.”
“That for us was one of the fun things about the season so far. How are these people going to work together? Of course, at the finale last year, they were bonded by the common purpose of getting Henry. But you'll find this season, you've got six people on a boat who all think they're leaders. So what happens when they face their first obstacle?” asked Kitsis.
“We're really focusing on the people in that boat. ... Neverland is a place where, because you have no future, because you never get old, you're forced to confront your past. So we're very excited to dig in deeper into the characters. What makes up Snow White and Prince Charming and the Evil Queen and Captain Hook and Rumpelstiltskin and Emma? We think that Neverland is the heart of darkness. We have a lot of surprises in store,” he added.
This season is all about putting those six characters together "in a new, dangerous, mysterious, exciting land and letting that show them and the audience who they really are. Making them face all their inner demons and overcome all these obstacles to get to Henry and to figure out, are they going to work together to do it or are they going to have to work against each other to do it? They don't know and we don't know. That's part of the fun,” said Kitsis.
While the disparate characters will agree that they must save Henry, “how they get him is what they have differences of opinion about,” said Horowitz.
“Ask the Evil Queen and ask Snow White. They're probably going to have different answers for how they're going to do different things,” said Kitsis.
As for the storytelling, “the structure of the show remains the same with a present day story and a flashback story. The difference is where we're telling both stories, meaning that for the most part we'll be in Neverland, and we'll be flashing back to characters' pasts, but those pasts can be in any number of places as we've seen throughout the run of the show,” said Horowitz.
As for Storybrook, we're not going to see it for a while "because of Neverland, but that's not to say that Storybrook characters, Belle in particular, are forgotten. Belle plays a pivotal role in the early parts of the season. What's happening in Storybrook is something that we eventually plan to get to and hopefully it will dovetail nicely with the adventures we're seeing in Neverland,” he said.
This season we'll also be meeting Tinker Bell and Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
“The challenge is the same as it's been since we got picked up for the first season. The challenge is trying to keep raising the bar and giving the audience stories that reveal characters that hopefully continue to intrigue and excite and enthrall,” said Horowitz.
Here's a sneak peek:
Will you watch?