‘Once Upon a Time’ Executive Producers: There Will Be a Death in the Finale

Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla in Once Upon a Time (ABC)

As Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) has cautioned numerous times, magic comes with a price in Storybrooke. In this weekend’s first season finale of ABC’s hit drama “Once Upon a Time,” that price is death.

“Stakes are very high in the season finale and prices are paid,” teases series co-executive producer Adam Horowitz. Edward Kitsis, “Once’s” other co-executive producer, takes it a step further. “There is one death,” he admits.

So whose fairy tale will be cut short? When we left off last weekend, Henry (Jared Gilmore) had eaten the poisoned apple turnover and collapsed; August (Eion Bailey) was rapidly reverting to his former wooden self; and Regina (Lana Parrilla) was plagued by odd nightmares of being offed by Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and a group of angry townsfolk. Needless to say, the possibilities are open-ended.

DVR the Season Finale of “Once Upon a Time”

In preparation for Sunday’s finale (8/7c on ABC), Kitnis and Horowitz walked XfinityTV.com through their approach to the season’s end, and what fans should look forward to next year.

One of the biggest questions — if not the biggest question — of the season is whether or not Emma will believe in the Curse. Will Henry’s decision to eat the poisoned turnover finally trigger that response in her?

Kitsis: This whole season has been a lot about Emma being thrust into a town where there’s a lot of crazy stuff going down, and the intensity around her does ratchet up in the finale. How she reacts to that is that it’s a very difficult thing for anyone, when you think about being a regular person being thrust into this situation.

Adam: But I would say that in the finale she is once again going to find herself having to confront the reality of it.

Sneak Peek: Will a Trip to the Hospital with Henry Get Emma to Finally Believe?

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With a bonafide hit on your hands, what kind of pressure did you feel going into the finale? What was your approach?

Kitsis: You always, I think, feel pressure.  Having done six “Lost” finales, [we know that] a lot of times the whole season hangs on that. For us, it was really important to continue to have a surprising ending yet leave room for next year. We’re happy with what we did and we hope people are as well.

What are your expectations for audience reaction to this episode? Do you think they’ll be incredibly shocked? Satisfied? Both?

Horowitz: Our hope is that the audience is incredibly satisfied and incredibly shocked and incredibly excited to come back and watch another season or more – and tell their friends. I think the lesson we’ve learned is that you can never really anticipate what an audience is going to respond to or how they’ll respond. Because of that we always try to keep the audience in mind and approach our writing as fans. [We ask ourselves], what would we want to see? We hope that that will connect with the audience.

Looking back at the season was there anything that stood out as a pivotal or game-changing moment?

Horowitz: I’ll say for me the pivotal moment was Episode 2. We’d done this pilot from an idea we’d had for nine years and we worked really hard and had incredible support from the studio and the network to put this together. But then we were faced with the blank page of now backing up everything we’d talked about with another episode and seeing if we could make it work as a series. On a personal level, being able to take these characters and these stories and wrap that first episode and get over that was I think a pivotal thing that says, Okay, we know in our minds how we want to tell the stories for this season and how we’re going to parse it out.

Kitsis: I think what Adam was saying is that the pivotal moment was when we realized all magic comes with a price. That sort of set up a big theme of the season and a rule to this world, and of course by enacting the curse, the price on Regina with the hole in her heart really affects everything she’s done since then. For us that was pivotal because it really thematically resonated with what we were trying to do.

Okay, curse-related specifics here: If Regina dies, then is everyone’s stuck in Storybrooke forever?

Horowitz: I would say that that is a question that we’d like to explore — perhaps not this season but it is definitely something we’re looking into.

What are some of the ideas you’ve mapped out for Season 2?

Horowitz: When you see the finale it will make much more sense, but next season, for us what’s exciting about this show is that we’re always trying to make it unique and push it forward. We feel like we have a good game plan for that in Season 2. Also, it is not so different that it will not be the show that people loved in Season 1.

Will everyone still be in Storybrooke?

Kitsis: Right now it’s still between Storybrooke and Cleveland.

 The season finale of “Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday, May 13 at 8/7c on ABC.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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