The episode was penned by Once Upon a Time writer/producer Jane Espenson, who wrote last November’s “Still, Small Voice” and the recently aired “Desperate Souls,” another episode diving into Rumple’s backstory. Jane told me that the episode “tackles a classic story that we haven’t touched on before, crossing that story with Rumplestiltskin in an unexpected way. And it will reveal a little something about Gold in Storybrooke — just how much does he know?”
Jane will be joining us here at Blogcritics’ Once Upon a Time feature next Sunday evening after the episode airs on the East Coast (9:00 p.m. ET) for a LiveChat.
Want to participate in the Live Chat? You can do so -HERE-. It will be well worth it, I promise you! :)
Season 1 finale being written now, according to Jane Espenson! *crosses fingers for a second season*
Uhm, excuse me while I spazz out in excitement for a minute…
Nice interview with one of the show’s writers, Jane Espenson, at Wondercon! :)
Once Upon a Time | I just got off the horn with Jane Espenson, who wrote this Sunday’s episode, “The Return,” and used the opportunity to pick her brain about those photos from the Mad Hatter episode showing August talking to Jefferson – even though no such scenes aired. She shrugged and explained, “Sometimes episodes come in long,” and maybe that is why the intriguing encounter was left on the cutting room floor. As for Sebastian Stan reprising his role later this season, I’ve got many of you asking if that’ll lead to any new Emma/Jefferson moments. In response, Espenson only teased that Jefferson “is a character who has tremendous romantic potential.” Hey, I tried!
Caution: Spoilers ahead. I added the spoilers tag for those who blacklist spoilers, but if you don’t blacklist stuff and don’t want to see this: skip ahead. ;)
The mystery of who the Stranger is will soon be revealed on Once Upon a Time!
August W. Booth (Eion Bailey), a writer only initially known as “the Stranger,” made his way to Storybrooke earlier this season. His very presence is significant since the curse prevents people in the town from leaving, and apparently Emma (Jennifer Morrison) was the only outsider to come there before him.
His arrival - especially after he added pages to Henry’s fairy tale book - has sparked many debates as to who he actually is. Theories range from suggesting that he’s Rumplestiltskin’s son or perhaps Henry’s father to even his being an older version of Henry, which would be awkward since the Stranger is seemingly attracted to Emma, Henry’s mom. To get the scoop on who the Stranger is, TVGuide.com turned to writer and consulting producer Jane Espenson, who penned this upcoming Sunday’s episode “The Return” (8/7c, ABC) and also offers up some juicy teases for the Season 1 finale.
There are many theories out there about the Stranger. Our best guess is that he’s Pinocchio, based on the lemurs in Nepal clue - which proved he was a liar - and the sudden lockup of his (possibly wooden) leg. What can you say about the clues? Were they too obvious or are we assuming too much?
Jane Espenson: Those are definitely clues, but are they clues that we put in there so that you would later go, “Oh my God, it was Pinocchio!” or are those clues we put in there to make you think he’s Pinocchio when in fact, we’re planning an elaborate mislead. It’s very hard to say at this moment. I’ve seen the theory that he’s Maleficent (Kristin Bauer), which is fascinating! There’s more than one way to [give a] clue.
You’re going to see Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) have his own theory about who he is, which raises questions of its own. If he were Rumplestiltskin’s son, wouldn’t the son recognize him, for example? But wait! Memories are gone! It gets very complicated. It’s a complicated mystery and we’re going to go a good way’s down the path towards solving it this Sunday.
Are there clues that you guys planted that fans have missed?
Espenson: I don’t think so, but sometimes people see clues that we didn’t intend. There’s a very interesting one that you see very early on in “The Return” episode. Look to see what August’s paperweight is. Keep an eye out for that.
Could he have been the young boy who found her by the side of the road?
Espenson: That’s a very interesting question. We know from the newspaper headline that a 7-year-old found her on the side of the road. The age seems to work out; It could’ve been him, but we’ve got more than one character who’s about the right age for that to have been him.
What can you tell us about this Sunday’s episode?
Espenson: The main drive is Rumplestiltskin trying to figure out who August is. At the same time, we’re seeing events of him in fairy tale land with his son, where the son doesn’t really approve of how his father is changing and is trying to make him take a different path. The cool thing is that really both of these memories exist at the same time in Mr. Gold’s head; he knows that he is pursuing August and he knows he is remembering his son because, unlike many of our characters, he actually remembers his previous life in fairy tale land. You’re actually going to see Mr. Gold go to Archie (Raphael Sbarge) the therapist, because he’s going to be quite shaken by what he’s learning. It’s going to shake him up a bit.
A recent promo for upcoming episodes showed the town rallying against Regina (Lana Parrilla), who was tied to a tree, and it looked like her head was going to be taken off with a sword. What can you tell us about Storybrooke’s drive to figure out who they are and finally get out from under Regina’s reign?
Espenson: If this town ever figures out who they are, Regina is in trouble, and that’s exactly what you saw there, is the sort of trouble that might be in Regina’s future. As we head towards these last few episodes, the dominoes are going to start falling. This season finale is one of the best hours of TV I’ve ever seen. It blows the doors off. Garments of people’s clothing are going to fly off from the sheer force of their delight and surprise at what’s going to be revealed in the season finale. Nothing is held back. The next couple episodes are going to be carefully laying some groundwork for a big, big metaphorical explosion at the end of the year.
How will August help the town in that regard?
Espenson: Whoever August is, he came from outside, which is fascinating, and he’s come with information. We saw him messing with Henry’s book. It sure looked to me like he was adding pages to Henry’s book, so I would look to Henry’s book for the way that he helps the town.
What about the giant green wormhole that we also saw in an earlier version of that same promo? Where does that lead?
Espenson: Generally, portals on our show lead between lands. They lead between fairy tale land and our land, or between, as we saw, fairy tale land and Wonderland. There were a lot of doors down there, so it looks like there’s a lot of different lands you can get to.
Now that we know Kathryn (Anastasia Griffith) is actually alive, how will that play out since Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) had been accused killing her, but David (Josh Dallas) didn’t stand by her side?
Espenson: Returning Kathryn solves a lot of problems for David and Mary Margaret, in that Mary Margaret is not going to be subject to capital punishment, so that helps them. Your relationship is a lot better when one of you has not been executed for crimes they didn’t commit. But it doesn’t solve the big problem, which is that he did not stand behind her. This curse is making David make some pretty bad choices, if you ask me. They still have a lot to overcome. I would not expect them to tie it up all neatly in a single scene. I think they’re going to need a couple scenes to get through this, but I would suggest that by the end of the season, as a romantic, I like to think that true love tends to win on our show.
There may be spoilers in the article, so read accordingly.
Genre-TV go-to gal Jane Espenson, who penned this week’s hour, spoke with TVLine about Mr. Gold’s unique dilemma (being aware of his own past and all), what’s ahead for Mary Margaret and David, and the sneak peek we’re about to get at a grand finale showdown.
TVLINE | So, this is the episode where Mr. Gold (played by Robert Carlyle) gets on the couch, as a new patient of Archie’s?
[Laughs] Yes, Mr. Gold is going to talk to our friendly neighborhood cricket.
TVLINE | Is he genuinely seeking personal betterment, or is he working an angle?
Before he knocks on the door of Archie’s office, watch carefully, because there’s an interesting shot that will answer that question. But he’s going through real stuff in this episode.
TVLINE | Why?
He’s trying to figure out who August is, and at the same time the fairytale story has him dealing with his beloved son Baelfire. Questions will be raised about August that push his buttons in a genuine way. Because Mr. Gold has all those memories, unlike most characters when we flash back, we see things he actually remembers, so he’ll be thinking about his son.
TVLINE | This episode features Baelfire, and next week’s has Geppetto and Pinocchio…. It would seem that somewhere in there lies the answer to August’s identity.
Unless they’re both misleads. [Laughs] Sometimes you’re like, “Well, that’s definitely a clue,” and then you go, “Wait, is this a clue to the real answer or is it to mislead me?” We’re very good at the misleads.
TVLINE | If August reveals a Louisville Slugger tattoo on his arm, I’m going to take that as a sign.
[Laughs] Could be!
TVLINE | What in particular sets Mr. Gold on this mission to crack the August mystery?
August is going to do something that catches his attention. August is a great character and Mr. Gold just could not be more fascinating. You talk about peeling back the layers of an onion, but if you do that you end up with nothing in the middle. But with Mr. Gold you keep hitting more substance. It’s more like there’s candy inside the onion!
TVLINE | Do I understand correctly that if Baelfire can find a way to have his father’s powers safely taken away, Rumpel is open to it…?
That very question is what Rumpelstiltskin is wrestling with. The answering of that question drives the episode.
TVLINE | Where do things stand with Mary Margaret and David now that Kathryn has been found? Is she still cheesed off that he briefly seemed to suspect her?
That’s not a thing you get over quickly. I have a good feeling about them making it work in the long-term, but they’ve got a lot of obstacles to get through. Hang tight for the season finale (airing May 13), where you’ll get some resolution.
TVLINE | This week Emma confronts Regina about her involvement in Kathryn’s vanishing. What sort of evidence does she present?
She’s going to have some concrete evidence, but the problem with Regina is you can ever really get enough evidence — she’s so good at this, and she’s got people working with her and for her – so this is more about how Regina reacts to the reemergence of Kathryn. This confrontation between Emma and Regina is a prequel to a later confrontation that’s going to absolutely thrill and delight. This season finale is go to be one of the best hours of television you’re ever going to see in your life. I am blown away by it. Absolutely everything happens. The confrontations, relationship resolution…. There’s a lot going down!
Things are about to get real up in Storybrooke.
Once Upon a Time's consulting producer, Jane Espenson, dishes on Rumplestiltskin's (Robert Carlyle) deepest desires, his hunt to expose August (Eion Bailey) and what’s coming up in the show’s mind-blowing finale.
For someone who is so powerful in fairy-tale land and retains all his memories in Storybrooke, we can’t help but feel that Mr. Gold got the short end of the stick with happily ever afters. “There’s something that Mr. Gold wants very much,” Espenson explains. “That is what Sunday night’s episode is going to be about—what does Gold want and why?” Could it be his son or his true love, Belle? But remember, there is that whole creepy obsession with babies.
Mr. Gold will also be trying to figure out August’s real identity, so what’s your favorite theory? The most intriguing one we’ve seen that August is Baelfire and Pinocchio but Espenson says, “I think it would be hard for him to be both, although that’s fascinating.” Not to fear Once theorists, Espenson says she’s seen people guess correctly, “But you’ve got to be careful of clues, because one is a clue, a real clue and one is a mislead.” But she assures us, “Questions will be answered. And answers will be questioned.”
Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is one lucky lady surrounded by some handsome and mysterious men, but if there aren’t enough hotties, Once Upon a Time is bringing back some more good-looking favorites. Yes, people, Sebastian Stan will be back. But Espenson played coy on just how he’d appear: “I can’t say if it will be as the Mad Hatter or as Jefferson or as another guy with all his memories.” What? Why you trying to blow our minds?
If you love Emma and Jefferson, you weren’t the only one. “Oh we were so excited,” Espenson gushes. “When we saw the dailies—sitting here in the writers’ room we look at the dailies everyday—and when we saw him we just all gasped and clutched our pearls because he is so, if I may say, hot. And the chemistry is so good.” What’s the perfect formula for a leading man? Pearl-clutching? Check. Swooning? Naturally.
Speaking of swoon-worthy men,if you have missed the dearly departed hot hipster sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) he’s on his way back too mostly like as his alive flashback counterpart, the Huntsman.
The finale episodes are leading up to a crazy showdown in the freshman series’ finale. “We have been holding our breath waiting for a Regina-Emma showdown—I would say just expect everything. Nothing’s held back,” Espenson promises. “The doors fly off, your socks and then your shoes, everything’s going to fly off of you.”
Uh, does that sounds like a Dorthothy-esque tornado or just crazy drama? “It is one hell of a finale. We watched it in the room yesterday and, oh my god, one of the best hours of TV I’ve ever seen.”
That’s good enough endorsement for us.
Do you have a theory for August’s identity? Excited for the crazy finale? Hit the comments and be sure to tune in on Sunday for “The Return.”
Amy: Got any more Once Upon a Time scoop?
We see a lot of magic on Once but the most powerful is true love. Consulting producer Jane Espenson explains that the one person that Emma truly loves is Henry, so why in an upcoming episode might she be leaving Storybrooke and Henry behind? “It would take a lot to make her do that,” Espenson explains. “The important thing to her in this town is Henry. If Emma decided to do anything drastic then it would be because she felt it was in Henry’s best interests.”