The “Once Upon a Time” panel usually gives the Oncers, who include hostess Yvette Nicole Brown, at least one or two future moments or new characters to look forward to in the coming season. This year, it was the reveal of the first scene from Season 6 that put a spotlight on Jafar (Oded Fehr) and Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) from Disney’s “Aladdin.”
They are characters that we’ve seen in the “Once” universe before — though with different actors — co-starring in the short-lived spinoff “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.” The more telling part is that Aladdin, like Emma Swan (played by Jennifer Morrison), is a savior, and Jafar tells Aladdin that saviors never live happily ever after.
It’s a goal, probably the biggest goal, of most of the characters in the show, and it’s interesting to hear that there could be a lineage of saviors. Jafar is a big liar, though, so the ever-after part could be a false prophecy.
That may have been the biggest, most revealing moment of the whole panel. The beginning had a cool promo for the show that was basically a highlight reel of the history of the Evil Queen/Regina, played by Lana Parrilla, leading up to the point where she split into two beings, one the semi-happy, sarcastic mayor of Storybrooke and the other a never-can-be-happy monarch of the Enchanted Kingdom with no conscious who is bent on revenge. It will definitely be the highlight of the season.
The show has many divergent story lines, even important ones among characters not part of the huge ensemble main cast — which, for the panel, included Morrison, Parrilla, Colin O’Donoghue, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Rebecca Mader and Jared Gilmore. Though questions were asked about actors’ motivations (“They’re all so close that it’s easy [to do difficult scenes],” O’Donoghue said), what they did when they found out they’d gotten their parts (“I freaked out!” said Gilmore, quickly followed by, “So did I!” from the ebullient Mader) and how Regina and Emma will weather this newest twin trouble (“They’ve become best friends. They help each other,” Parrilla said), nothing too revealing or new was revealed.
The more interesting problems for this multi-story line show are characters and situations that, from listening to the crowd leaving the Ballroom 20 venue, were left out in terms of updates. Some include:
— What’s going on with Dorothy and Red? The kiss by two beloved fairy-tale characters wasn’t expanded upon much, though we do know they’re together somewhere.
— Lily and Maleficent. The half-dragon, one-time best friend of Emma Swan was introduced as a potentially really bad villain. She seemed to calm down and met her mom, Maleficent, then ... just kind of dropped off.
— Mr. Hyde and his band of not very merry invaders. This will be, seemingly, the other big bad for the new season, with Mr. Hyde having separated himself from Dr. Jekyll, then hitching a ride to Storybrooke with other literary figures — we assume all bad guys — on a one-way trip provided by Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle). Hyde may have been mentioned one time, but the story line was not.
They did give Oncers a quick look into what was going on in the Underworld, though. With King Arthur ruling, Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smurfit, dah-ling) was sad and drinking, as usual. Bartender Mordred, a onetime knight of the roundtable played by “Buffy” alum James Marsters, serves up spirits to de Vil, who, after a pep talk, fancies herself a true hero because she allows heroes to see the light through her darkness. It’s a twisted interpretation of herself, which is exactly how “Once Upon a Time” thrives.