Still wondering about that portal that opened up on last week's episode of “Once Upon A Time”? Join the club. Co-creators Adam Horowitz and Ed Kitsis aren't telling, but one thing's for sure — that spooky green vapor that came swirling out of the Wicked Witch when Rumple stabbed her isn't going to earn her a spot in the season finale (Sun. May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET). I spoke to Horowitz and Kitsis briefly about how this season finale will be different, why they're happy with what transpired in Neverland (even if you're not) and why the two-hour end of the season will feel more like a movie than you might expect.
HitFix: So, the portal, this mysterious green smoke, a marriage proposal and the Wicked Witch turning into a statue when she's stabbed? So many questions, but what can you tell us?
Kitsis: For us, our plan for this two hours was that we wanted to write it like a movie, so it definitely has a beginning, middle and end. This is about the climax of characters arcs that began back in Neverland and continued in Oz.
Horowitz: We wanted a summation climax to the season, but one that happens in a surprising way.
Kitsis: I can confirm that the Wicked Witch will not be in the finale.
HitFix: It was a surprise to see you seemingly wrap things up with her in the penultimate episode.
Horowitz: We're doing something you'll think is surprising. We figured the expectation will be that the final confrontation with the antagonist takes place in finale, but we wanted it to be about these characters that we know and love coming to a new place. So, it's about the interaction with the first half of the season, and how it brings these characters to a new place.
HitFix: There was fan reaction to Neverland suggesting that it was too dark. Is that something you're taking with you in creating next season?
Kitsis: I would say that from your side the comments were negative, but we got a lot of positive feedback. We loved it. It's about going into “The Heart of Darkness.” Yes, it was dark, but I think if you look back our best episodes were in that part of the season. “Save Henry” was fantastic. With Peter Pan being Rumple's dad, we were really about to further the characters. I'm sorry some people didn't like it, but we loved Neverland. if we listened to every comment, there's no way we could do this.
Horowitz: The first half of the season was Pan, and it was a conscious decision to be dark. It was all about our characters discovering things about themselves. To go back to Pan himself, our conception of Pan was as an ageless being, so that took the weight off of him as a kid being an an antagonist, I think.
Kitsis: Every decision Rumple makes knowing who his father was becomes deeper, if you go back and watch those episodes again. It's hard to write a book ever week, but to me episode 11, “Coming Home,” was the best one we've ever done.
HitFix: Now it looks like we might be traveling through the portal to past worlds and/or new worlds. Has this always been part of your game plan?
Horowitz: We've got it mapped out season to season. When the show premiered, we started to plan how we would do the big picture of the show, but the reality of it is we have to take it season by season. We meet with the writers for a few weeks and sketch it out, figure out where we're going and what the themes are. We did it last year when we came up with Pan then the Wicked Witch for the last half of the season, but they're guideposts. It's an organic process. You have to allow yourself the space to see where the story leads you.
HitFix: The Wicked Witch may or may not be dead, but with magic being such an integral part of this series, does anyone have to truly be dead? Neal seems to be, but I'm hoping for a loophole here.
Kitsis: We have seen people can truly be dead on this show. We're seeing that with Neal and Sheriff Graham. Certain characters, like Peter Pan, have never come back, either.
Horowitz: I think the show pretty clearly delineates that you'll see the last of some characters except through flashbacks.
Kitsis: I can lie to you, but Neal will remain in flashbacks and in our hearts, but the character as we know him is dead. That's not to say we won't see him on the show. We love him and we love Michael Raymond-James, and it's not impossible to see these characters. Death can be really sad, but it doesn't have to mean we never see you again thanks to the way time works on the show.