Kitsis and Horowitz reveal what’s next on ‘Once Upon A Time’ season 3

Not everyone cares for spoilers, but “Once Upon A Time” creators Adam Horowitz and Ed Kitsis know that fans of the show sometime can’t wait. Though the show makes its third season premiere on Sunday (Sept. 29 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC), they invited a few journalists to drop by Disney to watch the first two episodes of the season, then answered questions we had. If you’re wondering, yes, spoilers ahead. I’ll even say it loud: SPOILERS AHEAD. No complaining that you weren’t warned, people.

First off, you might have gotten an inkling last season that Peter Pan isn’t the cuddly creature we recall from the animated movie. Let’s just say that this dark and unexpected Neverland will rock your socks — and it’s set to rock the worlds of Emma, Hook, Regina, Snow, Charming and even Gold. “We’ve always wanted to go to Neverland,” Kitsis said. “It’s where you have to confront your past, and we wanted to have [the core characters] dig deeper.”

As for Peter Pan, Kitsis said, “He is a sick and twisted kid. When Rumpelstiltskin says he’s someone he’s frightened of, you know he’s scary.” The decision to make him dark was an easy one, according to the creators. “It came from a character place. Someone who refuses to grow up has to have problems. We started thinking of ‘Heart of Darkness,’ and he became our Kurtz.”

The Lost Boys have reason to be cranky, too. “Can you imagine for hundreds of years still getting carded?” Horowitz joked. 

Still, like all villains on the show, Pan isn’t all bad. “They’re all looking for love, and I think you’ll see that as his story slowly unfolds,” said Kitsis. 

“Evil isn’t born; it’s made,” added Horowitz. 

Pan isn’t the only fairy tale character we’re set to meet. In episode three, expect Tinkerbell, and in episode six, Ariel. In the season premiere we meet other mermaids, but they’re not anyone you’d remember from “The Little Mermaid.” “Remember, mermaids were only nice to Peter Pan in the Peter Pan book,” says Kitsis. Still, Ariel will still have familiar elements. “[Star] Joanna Garcia is playing someone who wants to see the world. And there’s a fork. Remember when you watch, there’s a fork.” The Darling family will also be “integral” to the story overall and to Tinkerbell’s specifically, while Ursula and Prince Eric will also show up. 

Though Kitsis and Horowitz say the theme for the season is belief, they also promise to dig deep into the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Episode four will be the first time we’ll dig into his backstory — and the episode is called “Nasty Habits.” The show creators were mum as to whether or not his bleak prophecy will play out. “He’s a man who wants to break the cycle and be a good father, but temptation keeps getting in the way,” Kitsis said.

What’s less clear is whether we’ll see sparks fly between Emma and Hook. “Hook is a man who likes the ladies, but right now, Emma is focused on getting Henry,” Kitsis said. “But we’ll see.”

It will also be a “while before we return to Storybrooke,” Kitsis said. Instead, we’ll see struggles within the Charming family, as Snow and Charming realize how difficult life has been for their daughter Emma, who “has more in common with the Lost Boys than with Snow and Charming,” according to Kitsis. They will have the difficult task of giving their daughter a reason to have hope again. 

There is, of course, one thing we won’t be seeing — the Rufio character from “Hook.” Though he’s mentioned briefly in an episode, Horowitz says, “He’s property of Columbia Pictures, so no Rufio.” Well, that was easy!

Will you be watching “Once Upon A Time”?