SPOILER ALERT! Stop reading if you have yet to watch Once Upon A Time's winter 2013 return episode entitled "The Cricket Game" in which one beloved Storybrooke resident was murdered, and Regina (Lana Parrilla) was framed for the job.
Because the thing of it is that the character you thought was getting killed actually didn't. Archie (Raphael Sbarge) was only made to look like the deceased thanks to manipulation by Cora's dark magic. After pulling into Storybrooke's dock on Hook's ship, Cora (Barbara Hershey) shrouded the boat with an invisibility spell and disguised herself as Regina to traipse around Storybrooke and turn the town against her daughter.
"I would look at it…as a commitment to excellence," Once showrunner Eddy Kitsis said to LA TV Insider Examiner during a special Q&A in Los Angeles.
"Cora is focused and committed. She saw her daughter upset but not broken, and she said she would come back and break her, and she did. And that’s love."
Showrunners Adam Horowitz and Kitsis confirmed that the now unknown deceased Storybrooke resident is not something audiences should really worry about. Cora's off-handed remark at not knowing who the person was signified that the person was not an important player. Certainly not as important as Archie-- who everyone loved and trusted in both lands.
For the producers, there was never any real question that they weren't going to lose Archie at this stage in the game:
"Killing off a main character-- it’s obviously something we’ve done with the Sheriff, which I still get death threats about…but for us, when we were coming up with this: what does Cora need? She needs information. If you come into this strange land, and you’ve never been there, a psychiatrist is perfect. He knows the secrets; he knows how they’ve run. Gold has gone to him, and Henry has gone to him. It’s more valuable to her to have him alive right now," Kitsis said.
Archie's dog Pongo being able to be a device that allowed Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to tap into the magic inside her was kind of an added bonus, it seems. Now that she has gotten over the initial shock of her parents being her age and surviving a land with ogres, she has a chance to realize her true potential.
"We wanted Emma to use magic, and we were like ‘Well, she should talk to the witness’—because we’ve been watching a lot of The Good Wife—and who better to talk to than the dog? Because Pongo was Archie’s dog," Kitsis said.
In much more serious ways very soon, though, Emma will be faced with using magic, even knowing that it comes with consequences. Per the producers, she will be "looking at herself and seeing who she is and what that means."
Kitsis drew a memorable comparison between season one of Once being like Prohibition and season two being the end of that era. "The town is lousy with drink!" He said, and clearly it is not just those who fell powerless to the allure in the past.
Even young Henry (Jared Gilmore), who has been so staunchly anti-magic in the past, may have to reconsider his stance when he sees those he loves needing it more than in the past with the emergence of Cora, whose presence in Storybrooke won't stay a mystery for a long back-end of season arc. The producers confirmed they definitely moving quickly in the next few episodes and coming to resolution there "that won't take seven [episodes]."
Of course, that means that Regina may be distraught right now over losing Henry's trust, but she's not sitting around and wallowing. Even though she doesn't know just what is setting her up, she's formulating a plan to get back on top nonetheless.
"She is kind of laying low and she has a next move!" Kitsis laughed over what's to come in the next few episodes.
"The real question is how persuasive is Cora, and we know she has a commitment to excellence, so the question is: for someone who has been off magic, will they return? And the town is lousy with drink!"
Once Upon A Time airs on ABC on Sunday nights at 8 p.m.
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