Mr. Gold Versus August! Emma and Regina! Henry’s Book! Writer Jane Espenson Delves into the Strange and Mysterious World of ONCE UPON A TIME to Answer Our Burning Questions

Be it the true identity of the mysterious Mr. August or the real deal with the morally ambiguous Mr. Gold, ONCE UPON A TIME has a lot to answer for with a mere four episodes remaining in its fantastic freshman season. Luckily for us, writer and consulting producer Jane Espenson — who is responsible for penning tonight’s episode appropriately titled “The Return” — was only too happy to subject herself to a handful of our burning questions in an effort to get to the bottom of what fans can expect as the show hurdles towards what we can only imagine is a thrilling first season finale. See for yourself after the jump.

Having worked on so many different shows — some more successful than others — we’re curious if you had any idea based on your experiences that ONCE UPON A TIME would become so successful right out of the gate?
Jane Espenson: Oh I wish I’d be able to say I’ve got enough savvy now that I can tell what is going to be a hit, but I’m always surprised, in both directions. Sometimes I’m surprised with something that I think will be a hit and isn’t and sometimes when I feel like I don’t know if the public is going to hook into this — like say a genre show on Network sometimes doesn’t get the results— It’s amazing. My God what could be more gratifying than to be involved with a show that I love and to see the public immediately right out of the gate sort of make it a hit.

The synopsis for the episode you wrote tonight reads, “Mr. Gold attempts to uncover the true identity of August.” Which raises the question, just how successful will Mr. Gold be on Sunday?
What a great way to phrase it! Mr. Gold is going to make some progress. He’s going to be dealing with August, yes, trying to figure out who he is. He’s going to have a working theory and at the same time he’s going to be remembering and what we’re going to see is details of his past and his son. That is in itself significant I think.

We’ve already seen so many different shades of Mr. Gold’s personality, is it safe to assume that he is going to remain a very fluid character as the series continues?
He is a character akin to Spike was in BUFFY. He’s a villain, but you love him and what it is, is that he is driven by his own wants so he’s very hard to pin down in terms of camps. Is he in this camp? Is he in that camp? He will always be his own camp because he is driven by this his own singular need which you’re going to see start to come into focus in this episode. You’re going to learn a lot more about what Mr. Gold is about deep down in this episode and see him emotionally shaken in a way that you kind of haven’t before.

Are we going to learn a lot more about this mysterious book of Henrys? It’s always fascinating when a prop or set piece becomes so integral to any character or series.
There’s going to be a return to that book. Remember we saw August do something to that book — it looked to me like he was adding pages to it — so I would expect to see that book come back with some significance.

There has been a lot of theories floating around online about the true identity of August, do you have a particular favorite that you’ve read or someone has pointed out to you online?
Yes, I saw a great theory that says that August is actually Maleficent which is a fascinating theory. The case can be made.

Another aspect of the series that really sent shockwaves through the fandom was the death of Sheriff Graham. With co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis having already gone on record in revealing that actor Jamie Dormon will be back for the season finale is there anything you can tease?
We will see him again and I think people will be very happy to see him again, he looks good! Remember the Sheriff is dead but “The Huntsman” stories are in the past in fairytale land and he is still very much around.

And finally, you’ve been involved with so many projects that have done so much for LGBT visibility in the media — including your recent success surrounding your efforts to raise money to fund a second season of HUSBANDS, a popular web series that tells the story of two young men who inadvertently get married in Vegas. That being said, we’re curious if there has ever been any talk about possibly introducing an same-sex couple or LGBT element into ONCE UPON A TIME?
I’ve certainly have seen a lot of fan enthusiasm for the idea of Regina and Emma. I will say that is something that I agree is important and I would hope to see in the future that we would have that in the show.

ONCE UPON A TIME airs Sundays at 8PM on ABC (7PM on CTV in Canada) Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at

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