To the delight of some TV viewers and the chagrin of others, Frozen is the latest Disney film that ABC’s Once Upon a Time is cribbing from for season 4. They ended last season with a shot of Elsa’s retreating back, signaling that winter was indeed coming (sorry, had to) in Storybrooke. A recent paparazzi shot gave us a clearer look at Elsa in her signature dress; OUAT has also cast Anna and Kristoff.
But what will compel the royal sisters and ice harvester to leave Arendelle? And, more importantly, are we going to see some sort of twist on their recent-but-by-now-very-familiar story? OUAT’s creators sat down with Entertainment Weekly to hint at what to expect. (We’re gonna break the news to you now—no Olaf.)
Interestingly, it was creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz who approached Disney with their wacky idea of incorporating Frozen. The Mouse House, likely eager to keep the movie’s momentum going, were all too happy to oblige.
Those of you hoping to see some sort of major character reversal should continue seeking that out in fanfiction, because the showrunners are looking to play in Frozen’s universe rather than subvert any of the characters:
Horowitz: In Once Upon a Time, we’ve approached these stories in different ways. Sometimes it’s like the Peter Pan way, where there’s a complete flip on the character and that’s our twist on it. And other times it’s about how these characters that we know fit in this world on this show—and that’s more what we’re doing with Frozen. We want to be true to the characters, we don’t want to change what they were in the movie, we want to be true to what we love about them and what everybody loves about them. Instead, we want the twist to be how they fit into our universe.
Kitsis: The entire writing staff was so inspired by this film. And thematically it’s very much within what we do—the [Frozen] curse was broken with true love’s kiss, but between sisters. And if you remember, [in] season one, we did [the curse breaking with the love] between a mother and a son. And the idea of a villain who is not actually a villain—one of the things we loved about Elsa is she went away not because she was a villain, but because she didn’t want to hurt anyone and felt different. All those themes are very related to some of our characters like Emma, and Regina and Rumpelstiltskin. It was like seeing two toys on a shelf we wanted to take off and play with.
It makes sense, since OUAT’s biggest success has been in subverting archetypal characters. And Frozen’s characters, while crazy-popular, are not archetypes.
In fact, it sounds as if the showrunners really want to stick to the status quo: They clarified that Elsa will not be getting a love story of her own:
Kitsis: What’s interesting to us about Elsa is not who she falls in love with. Our show has always been about family. Love is our franchise, but most of our love has been about families coming together. What we love about Elsa is that she is uncomfortable with her power, she’s lonely, but wasn’t quite sure how to break that loneliness—it took the love of her sister. So we’re not interested in Elsa meeting someone, we’re interested in exploring her as a person, like we have with Regina the past few years.
Horowitz: We’re not planning to put Elsa on Match.com. We’re more interested in what the movie explored, the relationship between sisters, and that relationship will be central to the story.
We’re torn, since obviously this upholds part of what made Frozen so special—that it values familial love over a Prince Charming and happy ending—but at the same time, it would’ve been fun to see Elsa hook up (heh) with Hook or another roguish character. Also, “do you want to build a snowman” could make a great online dating pickup line.
Bear in mind that all of this plot will also take place within a finite period of time. Kitsis compared their plans for the Frozen arc to the Storybrooke citizens’ romps in Neverland and the recent face-off against the Wicked Witch; Horowitz stressed that it’s “closed-ended.”
What do you think—are you content with OUAT continuin Frozen’s story arc, or would you have liked to see some subversion?
Photos: ABC, Disney