"Once Upon a Time" returns with Season 2 this Sunday (Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC), and while much of the show's plot is still shrouded in secrecy, HuffPost TV caught up with star Jennifer Morrison (who plays self-reliant bail bondswoman and curse-breaker extraordinaire, Emma Swan) to talk about what's coming up for her character and the direction the magical show is taking in its sophomore season.
After interviewing Morrison, we were able to watch the first episode of Season 2, and while we're not able to reveal anything about the plot for fear of being hunted down and cursed by Regina (Lana Parrilla), we can say that the show confidently catches many of the balls it left in the air during the Season 1 finale, while setting up a number of new mysteries and character dynamics to drive the show forward. Compelling new characters are introduced, tears are shed, and there are a couple of surprisingly hilarious moments courtesy of Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas). In short, "Once Upon A Time" is firing on all cylinders and is still the most enchanting show of the fall.
But until you can feast your eyes on the episode yourself, read on for Morrison's perspective on Emma's reunion with her long-lost parents, whether there will be any flashbacks to her past, and the likelihood of seeing the enigmatic August (a.k.a. Pinocchio) again in Season 2. Caution: Light spoilers ahead.
We've seen from the various "Once Upon A Time" Season 2 trailers and clips that have been released that Snow and Charming are very eager to start parenting Emma again, but she's less eager to be parented. Can you talk about how the dynamic has shifted between them?
It’s one of those things where Emma has spent her whole life looking for her parents, and some part of her believed she was never going to find them. I think oddly, to be completely honest, if she doesn’t find them then she doesn’t have to believe that they gave her up. She could then believe -- not that she’d wish that upon anyone -- that something terrible happened to them and maybe they weren’t around anymore and maybe that’s why she was given up so she doesn’t have to consider herself “abandoned.” When the reality of what you’ve been searching for all these years suddenly comes to light, there’s a tremendous amount of emotion and confusion that comes rushing in, and Emma is not an emotionally advanced person! [Laughs.] She’s definitely someone who has shut herself down in a lot of ways and wears her armor very thick, and doesn’t really have experience with handling emotions. So when she’s got a rush of feelings going on, her immediate response is to shut down or make a joke because she can’t handle it.
Snow and Charming are far more advanced emotionally -- they weren’t raised in the foster system, they weren’t abandoned, they didn’t have to survive on their own, barely able to eat or function and do whatever they had to do to survive and end up in jail and all of these things that have happened to Emma! [Laughs.] They have a different capacity for handling emotion and she doesn’t have that. So it’s just going to be a process and it’s going to be a bit complicated for Emma to learn how to handle emotions, handle accepting that this is true, because it’s still an outrageous idea that your parents are Snow White and Prince Charming. She's really trying, since she has all the proof that this is true, but even with all the proof, it’s still crazy. It’s definitely going to be a complicated process that’s going to be mixed with all sorts of things -- sometimes her shutting down, sometimes her being super emotional, sometimes making a joke out of it. It really is the beginning of a journey with Emma learning to be a healthy person emotionally.
Emma and Mary Margaret were already very close, so how is their relationship going to evolve?
There’s a lot of fun in that, because they’ve been friends first, they’re the same age, and all of a sudden Mary Margaret wants to act like her mom, so Emma’s like “Woah, woah, woah -- I'm the one who’s been taking care of you here, you need to chill out.” There’s definitely a lot of fun to be had there; we deal with some very serious stuff, but there’s also a sense of humor about the fact that Emma’s the one who’s been taking care of everyone in Storybrooke for the past few months, and she’s used to being the go-to person and suddenly Mary Margaret is all, “Oh no, I’m badass Snow White, I can handle it and I can take care of you,” and I’m like “Wait, what?” So there’s definitely some very fun conflict that goes on there.
Likewise, she and David didn't spend much time together last season. Are we going to see more of a focus on her getting to know her father?
To be honest, the whole family unit is put into very particular circumstances where one person at a time starts reestablishing a relationship, including Henry getting to know his grandparents. It's funny -- there’s a line in the premiere where Henry’s like, “I guess you’re my grandpa,” and it’s so crazy to call a 28-year-old Josh Dallas “grandpa.” [Laughs.]
Recent episode descriptions talk about Emma and Snow ending up transported somewhere else. Can you say anything about their journey or what’s set up in the premiere?
What I can say is that we open the show with everyone picking up exactly where they left off, which is them being hit with memories of their existence in fairytale land. We immediately launch into a tremendous amount of conflict within the town because a certain faction of people want to make Regina pay for what she’s done to them, and then another faction is saying. “Yes, we’re angry, but don’t stoop to their level.” So now we’ve got everyone pitted against each other and out of that conflict, that sort of ends up leaving Emma and Mary Margaret on the run. I can just say that it is the result of the conflict that starts immediately in Episode 1, and they are in a position where they need to be found.
Are we going to see any Emma flashbacks or looks into her past the way we saw with the fairytale characters last year?
Yes, and actually it was so funny because at Comic-Con, we teased those opening sequences with those characters in the mist, and we showed a yellow bug and people thought that meant that the bug was a character, but it was actually that they were implying that we were going to flash back to Emma’s life. It was their way of symbolizing that. It’s been really exciting and it’s really fun because we’ve now done an episode where we really do get to see Emma 10 years ago and see the differences between what was going on in her life then and what’s going on in her life now and what’s changed for her physically and emotionally. We sort of see the roots of where this all came from for her.
We know that Sebastian Stan is back as Jefferson and "Hat Trick" was such a great episode last year -- has Emma had any interaction with him again since then?
We have not, actually. I thought based on the way that they ended it that that would happen. But he’s back and he definitely has an important part in the first two episodes in terms of all the conflict and some of the capacity that they have magic-wise right away, but he has not had any interaction with Emma yet.
The last time we saw August [Eion Bailey], he had turned back to wood. Now that the curse has been broken, will we see him again?
I can tell you that we will see him again, but I can’t tell you under what circumstances.
"Once Upon a Time" premieres Sunday, September 30 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
What are you most looking forward to in "Once Upon a Time" Season 2? Weigh in below!