Tue
Oct 15 2013 9:30am

Once Upon A Time Creators and Cast Vote for Every Kind of Love… and Probably Ship Mulan/Aurora

Mulan, Aurora, Once Upon A Time

The Once Upon A Time panel at NYCC was a perfectly lovely time on Saturday, with previews of this week’s episode and the Wonderland spin-off, talks with creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and a surprise appearance from Ms. Swan herself, Jennifer Morrison. And while Once has lacked in certain areas of the diversity department, questions from fans prompted some real heartwarming responses from the panel, and some musings on where the latest episode might lead us…

Kitsis, Horowitz, and Morrison were all keen to discuss fan involvement in the show, particularly the contributions made in fan fiction and fan art. They admitted bringing art to the writer’s room, and Morrison talked about the primary pairings for Emma that fans often ask her about: Swan Fire (Emma and Neal), Captain Swan (Emma and Hook), and Swan Queen (Emma and Regina).

Morrison was supportive of all ships and combinations of characters—she reported to be thrilled that fans were seeing themselves in the show, relating to the characters and casting the relationships in ways that were meaningful to them. And that included slash pairings with Henry’s gloriously evil (most of the time, it’s complicated) adoptive mother, Regina. Because Once is built on fairy tales, she pointed out, the goal is to get people to relate to them. That is where these stories exist in our consciousness. It was a refreshingly sharp response, when most actors simply laugh it off, or balk at why fans want to “make their character gay.”

“This is your show,” Horowitz said to the audience. “We are creating it, but it belongs to you.”

The trio gave us teases of what we could expect from the upcoming season: we will find out how Regina came to adopt Henry, we will see Ariel(!), and Ursula was brought up as well. “The question is—who is she?” teased Kitsis, with a grin.

But a fan with a serious question brought an important discussion to the forefront: As a queer woman, she felt the need to point out that she was not represented in the show thus far. Kitsis and Horowitz were quick to say that starting from the fairy tales gave them an older framework to begin in, but that they were supportive of all types of love, and wanted to represent them all within Once Upon A Time. They hinted that this representation would be coming up sooner rather than later...

(The following contains spoilers for the most recent episode.)

Then in this Sunday’s episode, Mulan came to terms with her romantic feelings for Aurora and went to blurt them all out as warriors are wont to do. Just as she was about to spill, Aurora told her that she and Philip were expecting a child. Mulan fled to join Robin Hood’s merry men. (Wouldn’t you at that point?)

The move was startling in part because the show had never indicated that Aurora and Philip were back together this season (more awkward for the fact that Philip had declared his love for Mulan before he “died” last season). It must make viewers curious about the future for Mulan and Aurora; with a pledge from the show’s creators to represent different types of love, is this simply the beginning of a long journey toward Mulan and Aurora coming together? Or is their intent to represent the unrequited love that can and occasionally does take place between people of different sexual orientations?

For the record, everyone on the panel was all smiles when the mention of Mulan/Aurora came up. So even if they’re planning on torturing the characters on screen, it’s pretty clear that they’re supportive of the pairing. Happy endings do take time. Whether they end up together or not will probably have much more to do with where the story goes in the next few years.

Guess I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the next however-many seasons.... Come on, they are such a great couple!

Mulan, Aurora, Once Upon A Time


Emily Asher-Perrin really was shipping it last season, back when she thought there was no chance, so Sunday’s episode was all kinds of vindicating. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

8 comments
Wendy Collard
1. bnibbler
I ship Mulan/Aurora, and totally forgot Phillip was, like, alive at all. Whoops. When Aurora made her elated announcement, I kinda was just wondering where the other guy had popped up from. 'Cause previous scenes of their world seemed to be the 'Mulan-Aurora trip of friendship and love and survival against evil and magic, and sometimes with other people'.

But, you know, kudos to the writers and actors for their support of all kinds of romances and loves.
Rusty Patti
2. Rusty Patti
I think the ship is called "Sleeping Warrior"

I loved the reveal of Mulan in the episode and continue to be amused by the "but wait, no really; she was just going to tell Aurora that she was in love with Phillip and was it OK if she went for it?" comments on other sites.
Emily Asher-Perrin
3. EmilyAP
@Rusty Patti - Sleeping Warrior is an awesome ship name--YES.

The denial is nine kinds of amusing, but at least the creator commentary on that panel was free on confusion!
Shelly wb
4. shellywb
I tend to end up disliking a show when the creators listen to the fans too much. Pandering to fans ended up ruining Supernatural and Community. They need to make the best show they can think of, one that leaves them as creators satisfied, then the fans will follow.
Rusty Patti
5. Dr. Thanatos
It's 2013. Swangina. Just sayin'...
Rusty Patti
6. JessNYC
Regina/Hook. I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned on here. I rarely ship, let alone get involved in 'shipping wars'. Still, these two have just really stood out to me. They both constantly straddle the line between 'good' and 'evil', plus there is definite chemistry.
Rusty Patti
7. the captain
Last week the show was all of the sudden hinting that Mulan was in love with somebody, and I was wondering if I'd missed something; I was really hoping it'd be Aurora but I wasn't sure if they had the balls/ovaries for it! I'm very happy about it being a story line. I want to see a lot more of Mulan.

And yeah, JessNYC, I really thought something would happen there. But they seem set on setting up an Emma triangle instead.
Rusty Patti
8. Korri
If they end up handling this well I will be happy. Yeah, I was kind of surprised by the pregancy reveal, especially because I sort of forget all about Philip since he was written out pretty quick at the start of season two. I don't remember Philip confessing to Mulan but I haven't re-watched that in a while.

Anyway, I am happy about the reveal of Mulan's feelings. At the same time, I'm still cautiously optimistic about how everything will be handled. I would be really bummed out if the one queer character on the show turned out to be the only one not to get a happy ending. Because, queer love being unrequited and the one LGBT+ character not getting a happy ending? Yeah, that hasn't been done a million times before. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with romances ending in tradgedy or being unrequited but there's already a limited representation of queer romances/queer characters as it is and queer romances are disproprotionately likely to end in tragedgy/be unrequited and ending up being the thing that doesn't work out while at the same time the work is saturated in happy heterosexual relationships.

That was a bit of rambling, but if it's handled well then I would LOVE for Sleeping Warrior to have a happy ending and if that can't work out for Mulan to be able to find happiness with a girl who isn't attached to anyone. (Still though, Sleeping Warrior is the best.)

One last thing, I would recommend avoiding reading the comments sections of most mainstream articles about Mulan in this episodes because there's so many comments that are outright attempts at erasure (despite what the creators said about this storyline) or just the usual blantant homophobia.

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