Once Upon a Time capped its first season with a puff of purple smoke from a wishing well; it billowed like pixie dust until it swallowed up the town of Storybrooke and ushered magic back into the real world.
Until that moment, Storybrooke, Maine had been a quaint place where time stood still and whose residents, cursed with a collective amnesia brought on by an evil spell, had no inkling they were fairy tale beings. All that delightfully unravelled like gold spun from straw due to one boy’s desperate search, and his potent love, for his real mother.
This intricate and enchanting ABC series about parallel worlds – ours and the fairy-tale realm – now returns for its second season with the curse broken and its magical characters freshly empowered with knowledge of their past lives.
Of course, the first thing the newly enlightened townsfolk want to do is to thrash the Evil Queen/Regina (Lana Parrilla) who mucked up their lives through her psychotic hatred of Snow White/Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming/David (Josh Dallas) – but it’s much easier to slay a dragon than it is to dispatch an evil sorceress, as we witnessed in last season’s finale.
“We’re all going to be showing new sides of ourselves,” says Goodwin. “As the curse has been broken, there is now magic. We all remember our parallel lives – we’ll all be playing an amalgamation of the characters we were playing separately before.”
As well, in season two, the world of magic continues to collide with the modern day in this adventure spun by the executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis – who previously created Lost – and have a knack for taking what we think we know about a fairy-tale character and giving it a sharp storyteller’s twist.
But there’s a catch – in our world, magic doesn’t do the trick. It’s unpredictable. Wonky.
“Now that there’s magic in Storybrooke, everything changes,” adds Parrilla. “Magic doesn’t work the same as it did in fairy-tale land. Regina’s a bit rusty, I would say. She’s kind of like the Tin Man – she needs a little oil.”
One thing we do know for sure is that the tearful family reunion of Snow White and Prince Charming with their grown daughter Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and her son Henry (Jared S Gilmore) won’t stay rosy for long – the Evil Queen, who was raising Henry as the evil stepmother, literally, did love the boy she stole and wants him back.
In format, this series will continue to straddle both worlds – the real and the fairy tale. And like the roots of a giant beanstalk, expect the stories to become even more tangled with the introduction of new characters such as Aurora, Mulan, The Giant and Captain Hook.
“Peter Pan is my favourite fairy tale and for the past year we could not get the rights. So we’ve had Captain Hook on our shelf waiting to come out for a while. We’re really excited to get his story and see how he interacts with our characters,” says Kitsis.
One of the true thrills of Once Upon a Time is watching the measured, cunning performance of Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr Gold – who may be the only magic man in Storybrooke with the chops to bring down the Evil Queen.
But don’t bet on it, says Parrilla: “Everyone says [my Evil Queen] is so wicked and evil, yet I have to tap into my wicked side in a very delicate manner. Being half Puerto Rican and half Sicilian, I think it’s a dangerous combination.”
• Once Upon a Time is broadcast at 10pm on Mondays on OSN First HD