The rolling purple smoke, classic storybook characters with murky pasts, dark arts and crafts — it’s just part of what I heart about ABC’s Once Upon A Time.
For the uninitiated, OUAT, as it’s known around the internets, is a fairy tale drama series created by Lost and Tron: Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Set in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, its residents are characters from assorted fairy tales who were transported to the “real world” town and robbed of their memories by a powerful curse unleashed by a very evil queen.
Spoilers abound from here. Just so you know.
Through subsequent seasons, memories have been returned, love triangles formed, alliances forged, enemies made, tangled family trees discovered (Peter Pan is actually Rumplestiltskin’s father, one-time Lost Boy Baelfire’s grandfather, and Henry’s great-grandfather), and hijinks — ranging from innocent to nefarious — have ensued.
On Sunday’s spellbinding winter finale, danger will be lurking at every turn, thanks to a conniving Peter Pan who takes Disney’s carefree flying hero and turns him into something evil and intensely twisted. Mainly because of his dark penchant for body snatching, heart ripping and shadow stealing.
And the darkness will only continue to grow, since Pan is dead set on rebooting Storybrooke into Neverland 2.0 by loosing the curse anew. As for whether or not he succeeds in defeating the townsfolk in his quest for ultimate domination? #PanNeverFails. Or does he…
I sat down with Robbie Kay, who plays Neverland’s most dangerous resident, to talk about what it’s like to play such a villainous Pan, and whether or not things will end up happily ever after.
Who’s afraid of the big bad … Pan? 1 of 8
"It been very interesting to see everyone's expectations of the character since he's the big bad of Season 3," Kay says of taking on a decidedly dark Peter Pan.
"Big bad" is just the tip of the pixie-dusted iceberg, people.
His darkness lights up a room. 2 of 8
"He obviously is a very, very dark character and has undergone an awful lot of twists from the original fairy tale," Kay says of playing the iconic Peter Pan. "The original did have dark undertones that were often overlooked, and OUAT has really gone back to that and intensified it."
His smile is sort of handsome, too. In an unnerving kind of way. So confused inside!
He’s brilliantly unexpected. 3 of 8
"Going into it, I knew the spin OUAT had on the character, and I knew that it was going to be a dark take," Kay says of his play on Pan.
"I think it's brilliant," he continues. "I love what the writing team has done with the character. This spin in particular has been very striking, so it's been great to develop it."
Don't let his boyish good looks fool you, though. He never wants to grow up for all the wrong reasons.
He thinks big. 4 of 8
"I think that this curse is very... optimistic for Pan," Kay says of Pan's plan to unleash the devastating curse all over again. "It's a very interesting prospect - having to migrate Neverland to somewhere new. Pan does like to take things to the extreme, and he's trying to create the new Neverland."
"You've seen him in his own environment for the majority of the season so far," Kay adds. "It'll be cool to see how he adapts."
Or ... how Pan makes the environment adapt to him. Because that's how he rolls.
He plays for keeps. 5 of 8
"I don't know the full effect of the curse," Kay says of the potential repercussions of hexing the entire town. "But, I am confident in saying that the curse has the potential to completely annihilate the Storybrooke residents, given its nature."
And given Pan's nature, he's not one to resist a deal, should any quick-thinking townsfolk come up with a plan. Hmm ... like father, like son, like grandson, like great-grandson. You see where I'm going with this.
He loves our hate. 6 of 8
"In Episode 9, there was that moment when Pan was being sucked into Pandora's box, and there was that little connection in his eyes," Kay says of swapping bodies with the main saver-of-magic, Henry. "He used magic to transfer souls between the two characters."
"You see a change in Pan's face for just a moment, the struggle and complete and utter fear, and that's I think when you realize that it was actually Henry in Pan's body," he adds.
"I've spent a lot of time with Jared [Gilmore] over the last 11 episodes, and have seen how he plays his character, so it wasn't too difficult to make that transition," Kay says of playing Pan in Henry's body. "We're so used to each other. That story line was sprung upon us relatively quickly, so we didn't sit down and have much of a chat about it. It was a lot of fun and very refreshing to delve into another character that not everyone despises."
Yet does, because of the whole must-save-magic shenanigans at Skull Rock.
He always has tricks up his sleeves. 7 of 8
As for Pan's need to stage a Neverland redux in Storybrooke, Kay says: "The character hasn't necessarily been trapped in Neverland, but he's been there trying to achieve immortality, and after hundreds of years in one place, to go to a new land and see new things and meet new people is fascinating for him."
"But obviously with Pan, there's always that ulterior motive," he adds. "I think he's willing to exploit and manipulate the situation to his advantage. He's very much a selfish character."
Yes, but what's in it for Felix?
He’s conflicted. 8 of 8
Fans will also watch the highly anticipated showdown/throwdown between Pan and Rumplestiltskin. "It will reach a climax and you're going to see more interaction with Rumple once Pan returns to his own body," Kay reveals.
"The character has always had a huge amount of conflict within himself," he adds. "He obviously emanates a lot of confidence, as though he knows exactly what he's up to, which he often does, but when he gets to the conflict with his son, it becomes a different story. You're going to see an interesting dynamic between father and son, and you will see something very different from what you expected."
We hardly expect the two to hug it out, but lest we forget, Bae did ultimately forgive Gold. Perhaps Rumple can do the same for his dear old twisted dad?
Once Upon a Time‘s midseason finale airs this Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC, and picks up again on Sunday, March 9.
Photo credits: ABC
Travelhound Pilar wouldn’t mind being at Walt Disney World eating the ears off a Mickey ice cream bar right about now. But, since she can’t be at her “second home” year round, she curates happy thoughts on Disney Social Media Magic, a virtual springboard where breaking news and other Disneyfied thingamabobs are shared. For more mouse-minded geekery, join Pilar on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and personal site, One Mom Media.