Once Upon a Time's Showrunners Know How to Keep a Secret

OnceUponaTimeCast
Once Upon a Time Season 3 promotional poster. Courtesy of Disney/ABC.

The following post will include a discussion of the big tease from the last few minutes of Sunday night’s Once Upon a Time season finale. The reveal in question has been all over social media since the show aired, but just in case you somehow missed it, be warned that there will be spoilers ahead.

Last month at WonderCon in Anaheim, I had the chance to participate in a round-table interview with Once Upon a Time showrunners and executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. We talked about the remaining episodes of the third season and what was in store for the characters. We also asked them about their plans for season four. Little did I know, I happened throw out a question that could have spoiled this season’s biggest surprise.

Just for fun, and because I’m a fan, I figured I’d ask the guys about whether they had any plans to bring the characters from Frozen to Storybrooke. I didn’t expect it would be soon (certainly not this season), but I thought it might be a possibility in the future, given the massive success of the film. Their answers were full of the telltale stammering and awkward pauses that I should have recognized right away as a sign I’d hit on something big. I should have, but didn’t. Elsa’s brief cameo at the end of the finale was as much of a shock to me as it was to everyone else watching.

So I went back and listened to the interview again. While stopping short of outright denying that they had any plans to include Anna and Elsa on the show, they did make it sound like the possibility was a long way off. Bear in mind that during the interview, they mentioned that they’d just come from the editing room after finishing the final cut of the finale, so it was fresh in their mind when they were talking to us.

“It is our favorite movie of the year,” Kitsis said of Frozen. “It is in our wheelhouse–a frozen heart and two sisters having to get together. So, of course. We would … I mean … [stammers]. It’s like the genius of our job is we get to play with all these great toys like Snow White and the dwarves and Peter Pan and the Wicked Witch. So Frozen, we would love to someday to be able to get into that.”

And by “someday,” what he really meant was “three weeks from now.”

Horowitz’s tactic was to widen the scope and avoid the question entirely.

“I think with a lot of these Disney movies like Frozen or any of the Pixar movies, they draw on many different source materials that we love and that provide a really rich opportunity for adding characters to our world,” he said. “And maybe we’ll get there, maybe we won’t.”

Turns out, they did.

OnceUponaTimeElsa
This teaser poster appeared on ABC’s official site within moments of the show’s final twist.

With all the hype already surrounding the reveal and speculation about who will play her, it’s worth pointing out that Kitsis hasn’t forgotten who the show is really about. He said that the writers constantly debate the best way to introduce new faces while remaining true to the old ones.

“The debates always kind of come out of the story we’re trying to tell with our core characters that are in the show and have been there pretty much from the start and what can kind of fit into the bandwidth of the story we’re telling,” he said. “So it’s never done just for the sake of, ‘Oh, we’ve got to bring in this realm or this world.’ We’re trying very hard to kind of weave a coherent tale that can go between many, many different worlds and characters.”

I may have been duped, but that doesn’t mean I’m not enthusiastic about the possibility of seeing a live-action Elsa let it go in Storybrooke. The excitement may be tempered somewhat with concern that they do the Frozen sisters justice (I’m assuming Anna will make an appearance as well, though that has yet to be confirmed), but for now I’ll just keep rewatching that final scene with a smile on my face.

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