'Once Upon a Time' Preview: 7 Things to Expect From the Winter Cliffhanger

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ABC 's Once Upon A Time is gearing up to a major cliffhanger for their winter finale episode, “Queen of Hearts.” We don’t like to throw around the word “game-changer” too often, but, well, there really is no other way to describe this one.

On “Queen of Hearts,” Cora (Barbara Hershey) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) face off with Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) in a race to secure the compass, which will point its holder to the portal into Storybrooke.

Back on the other side, though, Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), desperate to keep Cora out, put a plan into action that would kill anyone entering the portal-- placing Mary Margaret's and Emma's lives in danger as well.

Celebuzz was on-set with the cast of Once Upon A Time to talk about what to expect from this episode and beyond.

1. Emma may have some ‘splaining to do with Hook after leaving him on the beanstalk, but she can more than hold her own! “They come face-to-face, and I think it’s very honest,” Morrison said of Emma and Hook.

“I think it’s what it would be," she says. "Unfortunately Emma’s put into a situation where she now needs something, and he has the upper hand, and there’s a constant ping-pong back and forth of a power shift between them. He needs something and uses her, and she needs something and uses him, and they’re always trying to rely on their abilities to charm and manipulate to get each other to do things.”

these mother/daughter scenes. And they weren’t at all what I expected because I didn’t know that we were going to thrust into a fairytale world and therefore our bonding would have to occur while dealing with magical obstacles. But, I think actually that’s the best way to learn who someone is — to discover how it is that they navigate adversary. These two women learn a lot about each other and themselves at the same time,” Goodwin said.

“The dynamic between Emma and Snow shifts a bit because of that experience, and Snow needs a bit of care-taking after coming face-to-face with Charming and thinking they were going to be able to be together, even if it was in some sort of hallucinatory dream state [where] clearly, they’re not even able to touch,” Morrison added.

3. Hook will prove to be able to hold his own as a villain, even though Cora is the flashier, more in-everyone’s-face enemy right now. “You have to remember that he is as old as Rumplestiltskin; he’s seen his fair share of stuff, and I think he’s the type of guy who’s not scared of anything at all,” O’Donoghue said.

“I think he’s as ruthless as her -- and why I think that is because there is no love. His love his dead," he continued. "Cora still has a daughter and still has that stuff. He is literally completely motivated by revenge, and that’s a really dangerous thing because if anything gets in the way of that, he has no problem chopping somebody down. It’s literally all about him.”

4. Regina will find redemption by helping those with whom she generally wants nothing to do.“This entire second season, up until Episode 12, probably, she will do the right thing. Not everyone will believe her-- not everyone will believe her efforts—but she is genuinely trying to do the right thing, and I love her for that,” Parrilla said.

5. What will the new portal be!? Though the potential portal between worlds in Jefferson's hat was destroyed, a new one is thisclose to being found. But, will it be powerful enough to bring Emma and Mary Margaret across -- all while keeping Cora and Hook out? And if anyone manages to survive getting through it, where will it leave them this time?

"We don’t know what’s going on on the Storybrooke side, and they don’t know what’s going on on the fairytale side because of the way Gold and Regina have sort of plotted against them initially and then changed their minds," Morrison said. "So, the last thing [Emma] expects is that [anyone] will be there if [she] comes through."

6. Even the couples who are physically together will undergo obstacles and stressors that keep them from their happily ever after. “For people who want Belle and Rumple together, you’re not necessarily going to get that. You’re going to get a better that: a real relationship with peaks and troughs…She wants him to be a certain way; he’s trying to be a better man—he actually says that—but whether he’s successful, we’ll see,” Carlyle said.

," said show producer Steve Pearlman. "They’ve got to go find Prince Phillip, and that’s where we leave them at the end of Episode 9 because they’ve heard you can get the soul back out of the wraith after the wraith has eaten them."

Once Upon A Time airs on Sundays at 8 PM on ABC.

How do you hope to see the portal storyline play out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

-- Danielle Turchiano

Note: Travel and accommodations provided by ABC.

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