Once Upon a Time Q&A: Jane Espenson on Rumplestiltskin Relationship, Satisfying Season Finale

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I've been a fan of Jane Espenson's for a long time now. She's written for many of my favorite shows, going back to Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as the new Web series Husbands

Last year, when I heard she'd signed on as a writer and consulting producer for Once Upon a Time, I jumped at the chance to add it to my TV viewing list.

So I was thrilled to speak with her this week and pick her brain about what drew her to this unique show and what fans can expect from the rest of the season.

You've written for Once Upon a Time since the beginning. What attracted you to the series?
"This concept. I loved the idea of playing with fairy tale characters. I've gotten to do it a little bit on previous shows, on episodes of Buffy and Dollhouse that I wrote that had to do with fairy tales, so I knew there was a great deal of potential and richness there."

The show manages to be suspenseful, humorous and, sometimes, downright dark all in the same episode.
"This tone, where it could be very dark and also very funny, is just my favorite thing. You look at Bobby Carlyle (who plays Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold) who is like the embodiment of the subtle blending of talents. Is he hilarious or is he the scariest thing you've ever seen in your whole life?"

Since you've mentioned Rumplestiltskin, rumor has it the next episode reveals what happened to his son. What can you tell us about that?
(Spoiler Alert!) "I can say that Gold is going to be dealing with who August is at the same time we're seeing encounters with his son in fairy tale land. I will tell you that Mr. Gold is going to be genuinely, emotionally shaken... in a very deep way.

Going back to the fairy tale origins of Once Upon a Time, you must have had to research your fairy tales. Did you immerse yourself in the original versions, which can be quite violent, or in the more popular re-tellings?
"Oh my God, the originals are terrifying. I actually think it's important to stay with the more popular version because that's how most people have experienced these stories. If you start referencing arcane stuff you might be educating people but you're not reaching into their childhood memories. I think most of us grew up with the Disney movie interpretations of these characters. In our version of Beauty and the Beast you see Chip the Cup. Chip the Cup was not in the original French version of this story. We are definitely playing with the more modern, more popular versions of them and I think that's what resonates. That's what people know."

Speaking of the fans, many are a bit upset with the direction David has taken this season. They feel he's become a bit of a coward. Is that intentional? Is it the Storybrooke curse?
"One of the things that a curse can do is make you make some bad choices. I think Snow and David have a bit of a curse working against them. But you know what? David is Charming and that hero is going to come to the surface. Watch the season finale and I think people will be very satisfied."

Can you tell us any more about the finale?
"Expect the finale to deliver everything you've ever wanted, plus bonus gifts with purchase. Everything happens in this finale. It's one of the most satisfying hours of TV I've ever seen in my career."

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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