- Yes, Hook and Ursula have a past: According to this sneak peek, Hook and Ursula have a secret past that he isn’t keen on sharing. However, Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis revealed to Zap2it and a few other journalists that there will be an entire episode dedicated to explaining Ursula’s backstory and what it is Hook did to her.
- Emma has potential for evil: It was revealed in the Spring premiere that the Chernabog (the winged creature that came out of the Sorcerer’s Hat) was after Emma, not Regina — meaning that Emma is the one with the greatest potential for evil. Learning that her parents may not be the valiant heroes she’s always thought them to be may be the thing that tempts her to the dark side.
- Villains want happy endings too: Rumple has returned to Storybrooke with two of the Queens of Darkness and hope to resurrect the third. Read what they’re after in Zap2it‘s “Once” spring premiere recap
- Cruella isn’t a magicless villain: Zap2it got a preview of the first two episodes of Season 4b. While we can’t tell you much of what’s coming, we can reveal that “Once’s” version of Cruella has some magic tricks up her sleeve, so don’t think that a fur coat and a cigarette holder are her only weapons.
- There’s new love in Storybrooke: Love is in the air for two Storybrooke citizens you wouldn’t expect — and not everyone is going to be happy about it.
- Lily will be returning in a big way: It’s been expected that Emma’s childhood friend Lily (Nicole Munoz) will be returning in the second half of the season in a major way. Horowitz tweeted another script tease on Feb. 18 that an episode in the back half of the season is titled “Lily.” So Emma’s old friend won’t just be making a cameo, she’ll be at the center of an episode. Fans are theorizing that Lily might be the author — but only time will tell how and when Lily will make her appearance in Storybrooke.
- Something wicked this way comes: The wicked witch is back! Well, sort of. Reports on Feb. 2 say that Rebecca Mader is making a return to the “Once” set but Zelena, the wicked witch, will only appear in flashbacks in the second half of Season 4. Last we saw of Zelena, Rumple had left her as a pile of ashes that swept into a portal to the past. Considering that Zelena was bent on changing the past for a better future, but Rumple and Regina might want to pick her brain about finding the storybook author to do the exact same thing.
- Robin Hood will be in present day: Pictures surfaced from The Daily Mail on Jan. 28 that show Robin Hood, Marian and Roland in present day clothes and apparently in a “dramatic situation.” While fans know there will be flashbacks to the Season 1 era, the fact that the three are together implies that the show will Robin and his family outside Storybrooke — which increases hopes he’ll be returning back to town for Regina or that chapter isn’t finished.
- A Heart of Gold: On Jan. 27 Horowitz tweeted another script tease, this time with a full episode title, “Heart of Gold.” The most popular guess is that this episode will focus on Rumpelstiltskin since his real world alter ego is Mr. Gold. Perhaps he’ll be ready to offer his whole heart to Belle? However, it could also refer to King Midas or a number of other Disney characters.
- New casting alert: On Jan. 15 TVLine reported that “Mad Men’s” Patrick Fischler is joining the “Once” cast as a peddler who “comes across as well-intentioned but is actually a quick-witted, arrogant man with reckless impulses.” His character will appear in both Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest, meaning he’ll be a key part in someone’s backstory — perhaps one of the villains?
- Something big is brewing: On Dec. 26 Horowitz tweeted a “frustratingly tiny script tease” with a mysterious voice “O.S” (off screen, in laymen terms) saying “That means it’s ready.” Could this be the first hint of the author or sorcerer?
- The new villains: Rumpelstiltskin’s (Robert Carlyle) new partners in crime are a trio of fierce Disney lady villains referred to as the “Queens of Darkness”: Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Ursula (Merrin Dungey) and Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smurfit)
- Archie (Jiminy Cricket) should be worried that Cruella is coming to town: The only Dalmatian currently in Storybrooke is Archie’s dog Pongo. Horowitz and Kitsis revealed in the Entertainment Weekly hot seat on Dec. 26 that this should be a source of anxiety for Archie when Cruella gets to town.
- The fairies haven’t been forgotten: Horowitz and Kitsis also revealed that fans will soon find out what’s happened to the fairies who Hook trapped in the sorcerer’s hat. They have not been forgotten and hopefully they’ll be returned back to their normal lives and homes.
- Aurora will return, with her father: On Dec. 22 Entertainment Weekly reported that Sebastian Roche (“The Originals”) has been cast as Aurora’s (Sarah Bolger, Sleeping Beauty) father. According to the article he will play an intricate part in Aurora’s past with Maleficent.
- Heroes vs. villains: The theme of the latter half of the season will be “What makes a hero or a villain?,” and the core characters will have to make decisions about which team they fight for. Surprisingly, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) will have the most trouble figuring out where they stand on the moral spectrum — and their secret history with the Queens of Darkness will undoubtedly have something to do with that.
- Ursula isn’t the biggest name of the sea: It was announced on Dec. 18 that Ernie Hudson has been cast as Ursula’s father, Poseidon (via Deadline). JoAnna Garcia will also be coming back as Ariel for the Ursula-centric episode.
- New villains, new backstories: Poseidon being Ursula’s father isn’t the only canon twist. Kitsis and Horowitz inf
orm Zap2it that unlike the characters of “Frozen,” the new villains will follow “OUAT” mythology rather than their Disney canon.
“Our Cruella may have a different backstory than the one that people may remember from the movie. Maleficent, who has already been introduced in this world, will continue to be from our mythology and not the movie that just came out,” Horowitz explains.
- Flashbacks will focus on pre-curse Storybrooke: The “OUAT” bosses also say that a lot of the flashbacks will occur in the Enchanted Forest and in Storybrooke during a Season 1 timeframe, before Emma (Jennifer Morrison) came to town and the curse was broken. This means more Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parrilla) and some familiar faces returning.
- Prepare for Maleficent and Regina meeting: Maleficent is the villain we’re most familiar with, but Season 4b will explain her and Regina’s complicated past — including when the two sorceress queens first met.
- Eion Bailey returns as August/Pinocchio: While the details of Bailey’s return have been kept under wraps, it has been reported that grown-up Pinocchio will be showing up in episode 14. The last time we saw August, he was returned to his pre-curse state as a 7-year-old boy. He could show up again as part of the flashbacks, or considering August’s initial interest in the storybook, he could somehow provide clues for finding the author.
- Yes, there will be more Knave: Robin Hood will probably also be appearing in the Knave (Michael Socha) backstories, considering the amount of time the two spent together before the curse and the Knave went off to Wonderland. Kitsis and Horowitz promise that an explanation for why the Knave is in Storybrooke instead of with his wife the Red Queen is coming.
“We will give you more Will Scarlett, more of his background and play a larger part in the story,” Horowitz promises.
“For us, we wanted to introduce him in the first half and slowly integrate him into our world so that the audience would start asking these questions and demand to see more of him,” Kitsis explains. “He’s one of our favorite characters.”
- Emma and Hook are going to be OK: Smooth relationships aren’t really a thing in Storybrooke, but Emma and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) will have a chance to really grow as a couple in the second half of Season 4b. O’Donoghue explained during a recent Zap2it set visit that Hook will help fill the void left by Elsa (Georgina Haig) going back to Arendelle. However, he will be seeking revenge against Rumple.
- Hook also has a past with the Queens of Darkness: Colin O’Donoghue revealed to Zap2it that Hook will also have a past with one of the Queens. He didn’t tell us who, but considering his time on the ocean the best guess is that he crossed paths with Ursula. (He also says he hasn’t filmed anything with Dalmatians yet so that makes Cruella unlikely).
“Once Upon a Time” Season 4a ended Dec. 14, and the excitement for what’s coming to Storybrooke is mounting. The fall finale left more than one character’s fate in question and introduced three new(-ish) villains that will be serving up a lot of trouble.
Now that the Queens of Darkness have descended upon Storybrooke for Season 4b, there’s still more secrets to be discovered.With so many things going on and so many storylines to keep track of, Zap2it thought it was time to put together a compendium of what’s been released and what you can expect to be coming up (at least so far).
“Once Upon a Time” returns March 1 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/PT.