The creators of ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME revealed new details about the revamped seventh season of their fairy tale drama at a 2017 Television Critics Association panel on Sunday, explaining why they decided to clean house and reboot the story.
Co-creator Edward Kitsis noted that he and writing partner Adam Horowitz had just come from their run on Lost, and plotted out a six-season story for OUAT.
“I think around season four we started to realize that we wanted to start writing towards our own endpoint and if the show was successful enough or if the network had interest enough to go on, that we would reboot it,” he said.
Season seven will follow a grown-up version of the character Henry, previously played by Jared Gilmore and now played by Andrew West, “in a new book with new characters,” said Kitsis. “He’s called on by some of his friends, like Captain Hook [Colin O’Donoghue] and Rumplestiltskin [Robert Carlyle] and, of course, his Mom, the Evil Queen [Lana Parilla], to come join them, so we’re going to have a new curse in a new town with new characters but we’ll still see some old faces.”
That new town is actually a big city, Seattle, where Hook and the Queen have entirely new personalities.
Parilla revealed that her character is so different from previous incarnations of the formerly evil Queen that her name isn’t even the same.
“I don’t think her name’s Regina, and that’s cool. I’m no longer in pantsuits; I’m in denim and rock T-shirts,” she said. “When we meet her, this other version of Regina, she’s working in a bar. She’s a bar owner. She’s a little rough around the edges. She has curly hair. … She looks very different. She feels different. … All the other versions were evolutions of the character. This one’s like—her name’s not even Regina, and she’s no longer in charge. We’ve only seen Regina in charge or trying to be in charge…this Regina is something else and I’m having a blast playing her.”
This season, O’Donoghue’s Hook will be a Seattle cop who doesn’t realize he’s cursed.
“There’s a sense of loss there in the guy and I think he just doesn’t know what it is that’s missing, so he’s striving in some way to find who he is still,” he said. “The Hook that we meet is trying to be the best uniformed cop he can be and do things the right way. As is always the case on Once Upon a Time, it’s more complicated than that.”
And Henry’s storyline will in part revolve around his relationship with Cinderella (Dania Ramirez), the mother of his newly discovered daughter.
“This season Henry and Cinderella are going to be the epic romance that we had season one with Snow and Charming,” Kitsis said. “All you saw last year was adult Henry with his daughter and they hinted at his mother. This year we’ll be actually showing you how [Henry and Cinderella] met, how they fell in love, how they were ripped apart, and wondering whether or not they’ll find each other in Seattle.”
As for the main characters who aren’t returning, “Episode two is going to answer what happened with Emma and Captain Hook, and episode four is going to answer that question for Belle,” Kitsis said. “We are not trying to take anything away, but we are moving forward and we think we have a way to achieve both things.”
Once Upon a Time season seven premieres Friday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. on ABC.