As "Once Upon a Time" nears its first season finale, it seems like Evil is kind of kicking Good's ass in the fairytale drama. The final moments of this week's episode, "Red Handed," saw Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) implicated in Kathryn's apparent murder, leaving Emma (Jennifer Morrison) in the unenviable position of having to arrest her roommate.
Times are tough for Storybrooke's new sheriff, so HuffPost TV caught up with Jennifer Morrison for an exclusive phone interview to find out how her character is handling her sudden lack of allies, her ongoing rivalry with Regina and the growing proof that all isn't quite as normal as it appears in the tiny town.
Proceed with caution, there are spoilers ahead.
In this week's episode, we again saw Emma placing a lot of faith in her "super-power" of being able to tell when someone's lying to her, but Sidney's been playing her for weeks now. Is she going to get a rude awakening in terms of her alliances any time soon?
Yeah, I think eventually, for sure. I feel like she's always been a little bit skeptical of Sidney only because he did come from being so deep in Regina's pocket that it's hard for Emma to believe that someone could really make that much of a turnaround. But she's also in a town where she doesn't have a lot of people who are on her side. So, sometimes I think she feels that she has to take the best-worst option. It’s like she knows that there may be something to be skeptical about with Sidney, and yet, he seems like the best possible option at this point. She almost has to force herself to believe that he's going to be trustworthy because she has no other choice. He's really the only person she has access to that can get her the information that she needs and to help her try to solve this case. But yes, at some point, she will definitely have a rude awakening in terms of how deeply he's not supporting her.
The promo for next week reveals that Emma actually arrests Mary Margaret for Kathryn's murder. Obviously, Mary Margaret has been Emma's closest friend in Storybrooke up to this point, so what does this new development mean for their friendship?
It’s a really upsetting situation for Emma because clearly, she doesn't think that Mary Margaret is guilty. And yet, there are seemingly tangible pieces of evidence that point to her. Emma's sort of left with no option because if she doesn’t go where the evidence leads and actually make the arrest, then she looks like she's offering some sort of favoritism to Mary Margaret, which then makes Emma look like she's not doing her job properly, which then gives Regina a reason to fire Emma. So, there's this domino effect of problems that would happen if Emma doesn't follow through with what actually seems to be going on. In Emma's mind, even though it's a horrible thing to have to arrest this person who she truly does consider a friend and truly does believe in, she feels like she can protect her better by doing this than she can if she doesn't do it, because then she could be fired and then someone else be put in that would really take her down.
I think you've said in the past that you guys want to avoid playing the parent/daughter dynamic in Emma's scenes with Mary Margaret or David because you don't want to be winking at the audience like any of them are really aware of something, correct?
Yeah, I think that she really doesn't believe any of this at all. I mean, there's no little part of her that thinks that what Henry has suggested to her with these fairytales being true could possibly be real. So, I can't ever go into a scene thinking that she believes that. So her entire dealings with David or with Mary Margaret are always from the perspective of two people that she just met and treating them as two people that she just met. I do believe that she does feel drawn to both of them in some way. There's some sort of underlying magnetism that she feels to them. But I think she just thinks that that's because she thinks they're good people and that she believes that they're telling the truth, not because she thinks that there's any deeper meaning of them being related.
In next week's episode, we'll also see Mr. Gold as Mary Margaret's attorney. What are Emma's feelings towards him at this point?
I think initially she's very opposed to [Mary hiring him] because obviously she doesn't trust him, for good reason. Ultimately, the dilemma that Emma always ends up having with Mr. Gold, sort of from this point on, is that she does not agree with his methods and she does not agree with the way that he goes about doing things, but she does agree with his results, oftentimes. She suspects that he has ulterior motives that are serving him, but those ulterior motives that are serving him are also serving Emma sometimes. So she, once again, has to sort of choose the lesser of two evils and decide if she's going to go along with what he's doing in order to get the results that she needs in order to protect the people that she wants to protect, or shy away from all of it and try to do all of it by herself.
I think the producers have indicated in previous interviews that there will be a resolution to the Kathryn storyline fairly soon. So in terms of where you're filming now, has the balance shifted between Emma and Regina at all, or has Regina still got the upper hand?
By the point we're at right now, it does start to balance out a little bit. There's more and more building against Regina in terms of proof for other people in town to realize that maybe, she isn't just a good mayor. Part of the curse has been that people have not questioned things; they’re sort of in this haze where they don’t really think outside of what's been the norm from day to day for the last 28 years. Now, all of the things that have been set in motion because of Emma being in town are forcing people to sort of wake up a little bit at a time and go, "Wait a second, why would she do this?" So, Regina is starting to lose her footing in terms of her hold over everyone in town. There does start to be a little bit of a power shift -- or at least some sort of a power balance -- because once you plant those seeds of doubt then she's definitely not as all powerful as she once was.
The March 25 episode will see Emma kidnapped by the Storybrooke version of the Mad Hatter. What can you reveal about that episode and what he wants from Emma?
It was probably the most fun I've had so far shooting episodes. It's one of my favorite scripts. I had such an amazing time. Sebastian Stan, who plays the Mad Hatter, he’s such an extraordinary actor. It was so great coming to work with him every day. He did such cool stuff with his character. I mean, there was not a second I didn't believe he really was this guy. So, from that perspective it was just such a good time.
It does start to plant some interesting seeds in Emma, because it's another person saying to her some of the things that Henry has been saying. She can still justify it away in the sense that, "Well, maybe he read the book. Maybe there's another copy of the book. Maybe he heard about the book." But it is really the first time that there are little chips in Emma's armor in terms of her thinking; not necessarily that there really is a curse and that everybody really is a fairytale, but I think it’s really that turning point for her to realize that there is something very dark and possibly dangerous going on that she needs to try to figure out.
We now know August's name and that he's a writer, but we don't know much more than that. How are things developing between him and Emma?
Very slowly, but surely. I mean, she’s clearly very suspicious of him. He's a stranger who's come to town [and] he doesn't offer a lot of information about himself. Emma relates to that -- she’s someone who keeps to herself and doesn’t like to offer a lot of information about herself because she feels like she has a lot to hide. Because she’s aware of her own reasons for doing that, I think that makes her especially suspicious of him. So, I think the next several episodes you sort of start to see her test whether or not she can trust him. She allows him in, in little bits, and then pushes him away in other ways and sort of starts to kind of test the waters to see how trustworthy he is, where he really stands on things, and if he is safe or not for her or for Henry or for anyone. There’s definitely a bit of a dance that goes on there. You will find out by the end of the season who he is. But it's going to be a little while.
Can you tease anything else about the story lines you're currently filming?
I feel like the whole season -- the way I’ve put it metaphorically is -- we’ve been sort of climbing up the roller coaster. It’s been sort of like one notch at a time. Climbing, climbing, climbing, climbing. By the time we get to episode 20, we're hanging at the top. At 21 and 22, we're just flying down. So, all these little pieces of things that have been set up, all these little puzzle pieces that have been planted all along the way for the whole season, a lot happens really fast. All of it starts to come together very quickly. It's going to be a whirlwind at the end.
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.
Do you think Emma will start believing the truth about the curse? Who do you think August truly is? Are you looking forward to seeing Sebastian Stan as The Mad Hatter? Share your thoughts below.