Like The Lost Boys who call it home, Once Upon A Time has found new life in Neverland, transforming season three into a revelation-heavy year that's illuminated the darkest nooks and crannies inside each of our characters.
No one has grown more on this journey than Emma Swan, who was forced to confront her feelings of parental abandonment while fearing she could do the same to her son if this rescue mission fails. Along the way, Emma lowered her guard and opened her heart to Hook. But this is no time for love as the mission to #SaveHenry kicks into full swing in Sunday's all-new episode and ETonline spoke with star Jennifer Morrison to find out what that confrontation looks like. Additionally, she weighed in on Emma's feelings for Hook, the development of her magic and the spectacular end to this unique season.
ETonline: I've really enjoyed the themes OUAT's been able to explore in Neverland, how do you feel about this season?
Jennifer Morrison: I'm really happy with this season. I feel like we've spent two seasons getting to know these characters and now that we're all together on this journey to save Henry, we're able to experience all new sets of emotions and see their relationships come to life in a way in a way we've never seen before. It's really fun for the actors because we can explore the deeper, darker sides to all of the characters.
ETonline: I thought the revelation that Emma identifies more with the Lost Boys than her parents was particularly important.
Morrison: Yeah, the great thing about Neverland for me in terms of what it means for Emma is that she can't really be guarded there. The island kind of forces you to return to your childhood and confront your past. It gives Emma an opportunity to be much less guarded and much more emotional. The stakes are so high; obviously she wants to save her son and will do anything it takes, so when you mix really high stakes with the elements of vulnerability on this island, it gives me an opportunity to take the character further. In Storybrooke, I had to be true to her and the fact her guard was up, so she wouldn't show her emotions. But now, I'm in a situation where I get to make her more raw and emotional and it's been really fun!
ETonline: It's also allowed Emma to explore her magical abilities. What do you enjoy about the writers expanding upon her powers?
Morrison: I think it's a great place for magic to become part of her life more. She has to embrace that side of her to get to Henry, and she will do anything it takes to get to him, so this may be the only scenario where she would embrace that part of herself. It kind of sets up the perfect opportunity for her to be forced to deal with something she's been avoiding for a really long time and have it pay off in a way where it does benefit them to find what’s inside her in order to get closer to Henry.
ETonline: And while Emma's sole focus is getting Henry back, there is a looming love triangle that will have to be addressed eventually. First, what was your Twitter experience like the night of Hook and Emma's kiss?
Morrison: I definitely never had an on-screen kiss turn into that much of an event ... is that the right word? [laughs] You end up in all sorts of different on-screen relationships in this business but that topped the charts in terms of people's response.
ETonline: How do you view Emma's relationship with Hook?
Morrison: Hook's really taken her by surprise in positive ways, over and over again. She's so grateful he didn't lie, and overwhelmed with gratitude that he helped save David's life -- and now trying to save Henry. Hook has stepped up and is present in selflessly offering his help. She's not used to people showing up for her, Emma's used to people letting her down, so she has an overwhelming response to someone who doesn't let her down and is proving to be there for her. Hook is adding to her life and helpful to her life. It does have her attention and whether or not it turns into something more, it will always be meaningful to her that he's participating in her life in such a significant way.
ETonline: What would you have said if, five years ago, someone told you that you'd one day be talking about your love triangle with Captain Hook?
Morrison: [laughs] Well, I do tend to have a lot of captains in my life. I played the mother in The Miracle Worker on Broadway, and my husband's name was The Captain. Then, I was on How I Met Your Mother and my husband's name was The Captain. And now I am doing Once Upon A Time in a love triangle with Neal and Captain Hook. So I've gotten very used to having Captains in my life.
ETonline: What can you tease about Sunday's episode, Think Lovely Thoughts?
Morrison: We're getting close to the point where our heroes, as they call us in the stage directions, are seeing their plan come to fruition. It's also really redeeming for Emma that saving Neal is helping the situation with Henry. I think there was some confusion with the fans about why Emma would go to save Neal as if it were a distraction from saving Henry. But Neal had lived in Neverland before and she needed to make the next strategic move that would help them get Henry back because they were missing so much information. She saw Neal as the missing puzzle piece that would help them save Henry and that was the truth; he knows how to get them off the island, so it's been redeeming that Emma trusted her instincts in thinking they would need Neal to beat Pan because she was right.
ETonline: Looking ahead, what are you excited for people to see as the season plays out?
Morrison: It's exciting that they will see all the relationships grow and change and evolve as we go on this journey. Also, this season is really exciting season in that it's like two mini-seasons. People will get a full season finale at the end of 2013, a new season premiere in 2014 and then another season finale with episode 22. It's a year that's really packed with excitement and high-stakes and twists and turns that people won’t see coming. It's a very exciting year.
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.