Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Friday’s episode of Once Upon a Time. Read at your own risk.
Returning from its midseason hiatus, Once Upon a Time kicked off the final 12 episodes of the series with a pretty large sacrifice.
During the hour, Mother Gothel cut a deal with Zelena (Rebecca Mader) to use the resurrection amulet to save Lucy (Alison Fernandez), but Victoria (Gabrielle Anwar) stole it in hopes of getting Gothel to return her daughter Anastasia (Yael Yurman). Little did she know, Gothel planned to kill Ivy (Adelaide Kane) in order to save Lucy, so Victoria sacrificed herself, taking Ivy’s place in the ritual and ultimately dying as Lucy came back to life.
“The show is about how evil is made, it’s not born,” executive producer Edward Kitsis says of Victoria’s death. “We see that Gabrielle originally was trapped in the tower and became this villain, and yet in this moment what we wanted to do is [show that] the relationship between Ivy and her was a tough mother-daughter relationship, but when it really came down to it, she wasn’t willing to sacrifice it. At the end of the day, she was able to reclaim who she was. That’s always been a message on the show, which is, this is not a show where we expect you to be perfect, this is a show where we all say, ‘Everyday we make mistakes, but it’s how you come back from them,’ so we felt like that was a fitting ending.”
The move is somewhat surprising as Victoria, a.k.a. Lady Tremaine, was originally billed as the rebooted seventh season‘s big bad — though it was later revealed that mantle belongs to Mother Gothel, who achieved that with the unwitting help of Ivy. “We love the idea of the relationship between a mother and daughter, where from the audience’s perspective, we think for the first half of the season, you really feel that Gabrielle is the villain of the year and this terrible person,” executive producer Adam Horowitz says. “Hopefully we pulled the layers back enough to make you understand her a little more, and just as you do, the focus is going to shift. Part of it is seeing how this affects Ivy and where this pushes her next.”
Kitsis adds: “Ivy now has to deal with what happens when you spend your entire life hating someone and then you realize you shouldn’t have, they really liked you, and now where do you put that hate?”
But Victoria is not the only victim of the hour as a mysterious person kills the doctor who had only just discovered that Henry (Andrew J. West) is actually Lucy’s father. This episode-ending twist speaks to what EW previously revealed in Spoiler Room: There’s an awake fairy tale character that is out for revenge and starts killing people. “That is what the next few episodes are going to be about: Who is the killer?” Kitsis says, noting there will be much more death ahead. “Someone is, we will find out, killing witches. While Gothel is trying to assemble a coven, someone is trying to knock them off. That is what we’re going to be seeing for the next little bit.”
Horowitz adds: “The identity of the gloved perpetrator is a mystery. It’s not the mystery. It gets revealed probably sooner than you expect, but it’s opening a new story avenue.”
Once Upon a Time airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.