ONCE UPON A TIME: A Trip to Neverland Uncovers Mermaids, Lost Boys and Creepy Dolls in Season 3 (2013)

"Once Upon A Time"
“Once Upon A Time”

When the fairytale series ONCE UPON A TIME first debuted it was lauded to be from LOST writers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis.  Surprisingly, by season 3, there is a lot more in common between the two shows than one would have initially suspected.  In Season 1, there was Regina’s Storybrooke curse which at first glance seemed to resemble LOST’s smoke-monster as it was unleashed.  Then in Season 3, there is an actual mystical island filled with all kinds of supernatural and unexpected things.  There’s “lost boys” which remind us distinctly of LOST’s “the others,” lots of lush tropical foliage that seems to go in circles and is constantly rustling with foreboding danger, and but all accounts from everyone who goes there, it is equivalent to purgatory itself. Plus, there’s Peter Pan, who definitely feels very other-worldly.  Even Hook describes Peter Pan as, “He may look like a boy, but he’s a bloody demon.”  Peter Pan is Neverland’s a non-benevolent being that gives everyone nightmares; even Rumplestiltskin shudders at the thought of encountering him.

ONCE UPON A TIME’s journey to Neverland is anything but a peaceful journey to a world of constant delight. It is a place everyone seeks to avoid at all costs.  Thus, when Greg and Tamara kidnapped Henry and took him off to Neverland at the behest of Home Office, little did they suspect what was really going on.  Right away, they will see how naive they were to believe that this was a trip to eliminate magic.

Simultaneous to Greg, Tamara and Henry’s journey to Neverland, hot on their heels are wrathful and protective team of Regina, Emma, Snow, Charming, Gold and Hook.  With their magical powers restored, both Regina and Gold are itching for the chance to demonstrate their newfound abilities.  In addition, while their goals may be temporarily aligned in recovering Henry, none are too anxious to spend too much time together.  Though Hook seems only too happy to aid in Emma’s quest now that he thinks the path to heart may be clear with Neal out of the picture.

Yet no one should be so quick to dismiss Neal.  He is Rumplestiltskin’s son after all, and he quickly learns “that which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”  Learning he has a family to fight for and return to has inspired Neal to embrace a bit of his own destiny.

Season 3 of ONCE UPON A TIME is all about “belief.”  Who do we believe we are?  The season will take each of the characters on a journey through their own pasts to help shed light on who they each are and why.  Creators and executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz explain that only by remembering their pasts and learning from those experiences will each of the characters be saved from repeating it.  So in exploring the theme of “belief” we will see the impact it has on each character — whether they believe, what they believe and whether they should believe.  For Neverland runs on “belief.”

"Once Upon A Time"
“Once Upon A Time”

In a recent press Q&A, Eddy and Adam candidly shared a few teasers on what Season 3 holds in store for our Storybrooke heroes:


ADAM:  “Neverland is a prism through which we can see the characters hopefully more clearly, and as you saw in these first couple of episodes, we’re peeling back the layers for all of them — and hopefully that is what we’ll continue to do as we move forward.”

Peter Pan

EDDY:  “For us, our characters are all looking for a happy ending.  They’re looking for love.  It’s just what choices do you use to get them. ”
ADAM:  “What we said before on the show in Season 1 is that ‘evil isn’t born, it’s made’ and I think that applies to all the villains, including Peter Pan.”
EDDY:  “But he is a sick, twisted kid. You saw that Rumplestiltskin, who up until this point has been the nastiest of our villains and the most clever, when he says it’s someone he’s frightened of — I’m frightened of him. . . He gets in your head and says, ‘Oh, what are you most insecure about? I’m really going to exploit that.’  . . For us, it came from a character place which is somebody who refuses to grow has to have a lot of problems.”

Lost Boys

EDDY:  “The Lost Boys kind of have a Lord of the Flies situation going on.”


ADAM:  “Henry is a very resourceful and independent boy who his now going to be thrown into a situation where that will not only be tested, but not just deal with as we have seen him deal with before in finding a way to escape, he’s now dealing with a psychological test — ’cause Pan as we’ve seen likes to mess with your head. What’s going to happen when Henry is face to face with the ultimate manipulator?”
EDDY:  “The thing that makes Henry so great is his belief.  He believed enough in a book to get on a bus, to go to Boston and convince this woman who gave him up for adoption in a prison in Phoenix, to come back because Snow White and Charming needed to remember who they were — and it worked.  So this is a world where belief is going to be used against him.”

Colin O'Donoghue (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)
Colin O’Donoghue (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)

Captain Swan: Hook and Emma

ADAM:  “The whole relationship ‘ship’ thing is an awesome thing that the fans bring to the experience in the show, but the story we’re telling encompasses both the relationships between all the characters and potential romances, and the bigger emotional story as well.”
EDDY:  “Obviously, they think Neal is dead. Obviously, Hook is a man that likes ladies, and as we saw last year when they climbed the bean stalk, Emma certainly has captured his heart a little bit. But at the same respect, Neal is fighting like hell to get a second chance with her. And right now Emma is focused on getting Henry. She’s not somebody who likes to let her walls down. Her heart has been broken too many times to be worried about dating right now.”


EDDY:  “We’re not going to see it for awhile.”
ADAM:  “It’s going to be a little while before we’re actually in Storybrooke.  But in this first half of this season, it will be limited to flashbacks or (SPOILER) as we saw in the second episode.”


EDDY: “In the Peter Pan book they were only nice to Peter and they were saucy, and we like our mermaids saucy! When we were coming up with this, we just loved the idea that this was who they were attacked by and that was kind of symbolic of Neverland — it’s not what we think it is.”


Eddy describes her as, “the spirit of somebody who wants to see the world and wants to experience things outside of what they know.”  Look for Joanna Garcia to appear as Ariel in Episode 306 entitled “Ariel.”


ADAM:  “We’ll be seeing her very soon in Episode 303.”

The Darlings

ADAM:  “They are so integral to the Peter Pan story. We have not forgotten about them.  There is a connection and a tie in to what we’re doing that will catch up with them as well.”

The Charmings

ADAM:  “They are an unusual family in that there’s this odd age thing going on between them.  They are the same age and they have been separated for many, many years and now they’re thrown together on a mission and really for the first time in an enclosed kind of space they are able to deal with and sort out so many of these issues they really haven’t had a chance to address yet.”
EDDY:  “For Snow and Charming, they realize at this moment that their daughter doesn’t really look to them for parental guidance and that’s something that’s hard to get. They are realizing in a lot of ways that they need to earn it. . . What is hard for the Charmings is realizing that their daughter grew up without hope and that they have to instill it back in her — and how do you do that when her son is kidnapped and you’re in a place that is making you confront your past.  ‘Cause she has more in common with the Lost Boys than she does with Snow and Charming.”
ADAM:  “We tried to crystalize it at the start of the premiere with that scene where from Emma’s point of view, ‘Since I’ve been back, your lives have sucked,’ but from Mary-Margaret and David’s point of view, ‘No, it’s been great. We’re back and we’re a family.’  And now they have these challenges to overcome in order to be together and be a family.”


EDDY:  “Come hell or high water, Neal is going to find a way to get back to Neverland.”

Rumplestiltskin’s Father

ADAM:  “Whatever happened to Rumplestiltskin in his past is really kind of creating a lot of the problems he’s dealing with today.”
EDDY:  “It’s something we’re going to see this year… This is a man who wants to break the cycle of his past.  He wants to be a good father.  But it’s like that quote:  ‘I can resist everything but temptation.’  That’s also his weakness.”
ADAM:  “He keeps getting drawn into doing terrible things.”
EDDY:  “He’s a difficult man to love, as he said.  So when you begin to love him, he does something so awful that you go, ‘ah man.'”
ADAM:  That’s the think with Rumple, he may love his son or his grandson — yet like with (SPOILER), he still rips her heart out.”

Rumple’s Prophecy

EDDY:  “There was a prophecy and the prophecy said that the boy would be his undoing.  So it seems to me that [Rumple] left determined to do the right thing, but he was offered a deal — he is offered many temptations and now he doesn’t even have to kill the boy.  He just has to leave an island.”
ADAM:  “The little character posters we have been releasing and the Rumple one says:  ‘Believe you can change fate.’ Whether you can or can’t, that is kind of a core dilemma for him.  He is being whipped back and forth by this prophecy which tells that the boy will be his undoing and the fact that the boy is his blood.  What are his priorities? What’s he going to do?  How will he wiggle his way out of this?  Can he wiggle his way out of it?”


Lana Parrilla (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)
Lana Parrilla (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)

Robin Hood

EDDY:  “We’re very excited to have Sean [Maguire].  As you saw, he’s a great Robin Hood.  He has a great take on it, and Robin Hood’s story is just kind of beginning.  You’re going to get a little of him at the start of this year and we’re definitely going to get a lot of him in the second half. He’s a character we’re really excited about ’cause he’s a thief, but he’s a thief with honor.  Sean really just brings a great sense of honor and code to him, but a sense of playfulness which we think Robin Hood needs.”


EDDY:  “It’s a world that’s part of the ONCE UPON A TIME universe, but there’s no immediate plans to delve deep into it.”
ADAM:  “It’s not a world that we see as off-limits.  We have Merlin in our closet.”


ADAM:  “I would say that belief is really kind of the theme of the season so far and we’re seeing how belief impacts on each one of our characters.”
EDDY:  “For us, belief is so important in everything.  You need to believe in magic.  You need to believe in yourself.  You need to believe in family.  And Neverland runs on belief.  So for us that was the uber-theme.”
ADAM:  “We’ve tried to make a hopeful show about belief with all the obstacles that come from disbelievers and cynics in the world and all those things that tell you to not believe in magic and the world is a terrible, terrible place.  We want to try to find a way to find that light.”
EDDY:  “For us, this is a show for believers — and that is a show about hope.”

One final thought-provoking question is posed in Season 3 of ONCE UPON A TIME is posed by Regina when she asks Hook: “Villains don’t get happy endings?” and he says, “I hope that’s not true or what is the point of living.”  Everyone needs hope that they can change their fate — that they are not doomed to live their lives alone, without love and unredeemed.  It’s that power of belief and hope that compels them to try to be better and to seek out love.  These are things that Season 3 offers for heroes and villains alike.  A very curious quest and an adventure worth living!

ONCE UPON A TIME returns for its 3rd season on Sunday, September 29th at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.  All our favorite heroes and villains are back!

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"Once Upon A Time"
“Once Upon A Time”
"Once Upon A Time"
“Once Upon A Time”
Jennifer Morrison and Colin O'Donoghue (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)
Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)
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