Watch: Jennifer Morrison talks about ‘darker side’ of ‘Once Upon A Time’

Last season on “Once Upon A Time,” we learned that the dreaded curse of the evil queen/Regina (Lana Parrilla) had finally been broken. So, of course we eagerly awaited last week’s premiere, when Regina would get her comeuppance, right? Not exactly. Regina slips off the hook, and a wraith drags Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Snow White/Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) into post-curse fairytale land — where Mulan (Jamie Chung) is none too pleased to see either of them. I spoke to Morrison about what’s next for unlucky Emma, the “final battle” ahead, and why she won’t be getting into a corset anytime soon.

We learn that the curse has made a wasteland of fairytale land — should we be worried for Emma?

The Curse is truly affected everyone, and we’re going to see very quickly, you kind of see it in the first episode but especially in the second episode we’re gonna start to see how ravaged fairytale land is because of the curse, and you’re gonna see that Mulan and Aurora have real good reason for being skeptical and suspicious of anyone who shows up where a wraith showed up. 

Any chance someone is going to force Emma into a dress?
No, no, Emma is stuck in her one outfit because she’s come through without any luggage, so you will be seeing a lot of that burgundy jacket.

It seems like fairytale land is a pretty bleak place now. Is the show going much darker?

It definitely is the darker side of the show, for sure. The show still is what it is, it’s still true to its roots, its foundation. It is definitely the darker side of it. We’ve been calling it post-apocalyptic fairytale land, it’s post curse and the land has been ravaged and the leaders have been ripped away, so you’re left with this society with no leaders, so its definitely a very dangerous land now. Where it was once a land of hope and dreams and happy endings, it’s now a land that’s very dangerous.
So, in adding this new element — post-curse fairytale land — the show is entering uncharted territory.
I feel like we are. We’ve added a time to be seeing. We used to have the fairytale flashbacks of happy ending fairytale land, and then we had reality, and those were the two time frames we could see. Now we can see flashbacks in fairytale land, pre-curse, we can see fairytale land, post curse, and we can see reality post curse. So we’re adding a time we can see, and I think everyone was hoping, and I mean from a character’s perspective, that meant they would all go back to fairytale land and all would be restored, but in reality what’s happened is the final battle has begun, which we talked about even in the pilot, when Henry mentioned that Emma Swan was supposed to come back and break the curse so the final battle could begin. So now we’re sort of seeing all the adventures of that final battle, and it’s going to take a long time for them to work their way through these adventures so the fairy tale happy endings can be restored.
It seems a little early for the show to be entering a final battle!
The curse being broken was just the tip of the iceberg. It wasn’t what we were working toward, it was just the beginning of sort of starting everything. Now that the curse is broken everyone remembers who they are and now everyone can fight for what they want, which is their happy ending.
Is there any hope for Regina to become at least a little nicer?
I don’t know. What I do know is she does truly love Henry. So it’s so interesting to see someone who is so capable of evil and so sort of consumed by evil and darkness still capable of some form of love. It’s the only way she makes concessions ever is because Henry asks her to, or Henry begs her to, because she’s so terrified of losing him in her life. So he really is the most powerful force in her life, and it is a real testament to… the show runners who’ve really kept all these charactres really well-rounded. Noone is entirely good and no one is entirely bad, every character is flawed and every character is heroic in certain ways. They’re certainly not balanced fifty fifty, REgina is obviously mostly evil and has moments of evil, while Snow White is mostly good and has moments of darkness, they’re not calibrated the same way, but I think it makes all the characters very human and relatable, because no one’s perfect and no one’s entirely imperfect. It’s cool to see these characters where you identify with them and feel for them, and then can turn around the next moment and hate them. It’s really a testament to the writing. 

Watch a clip from Sunday’s episode below.