Once Upon a Time closed out its fourth season with several shocking moments: the reveal of Merlin as the mysterious “Sorcerer” (whose trademark hat from Fantasia has made more appearances than series regular Will Scarlet), the removal of Rumplestiltskin’s Dark One powers (via that same hat and some difficult leaps of story logic), and Emma’s status as the new Dark One when she absorbed the roiling cloud of Rumple’s “darkness.”
This leaves quite a few avenues for storytelling open for the upcoming fifth season, with only a few clues as to what the put-upon citizens of Storybrooke might be dealing with next. In the dreaded dead zone before filming begins, the latest casting news helps shed some light on the direction of the season.
According to TVLine, casting is underway for the roles of Merlin, Arthur, and Guinevere.
For Merlin, the casting call is aiming for “a black Brit in his early 30s to early 40s and boasting a natural British accent to play ‘a man with great wisdom and intelligence beyond his years,’ someone who has always put duty in front of his own desires, even at great personal cost.”
For Arthur, the casting call describes “a ‘good and just ruler’ who, beneath the surface, ‘is a master manipulator who can carry a grudge to the grave, and maybe beyond.’ He harbors an ‘eternal burning love’ for Guinevere that can lean toward being a bit… controlling. For this role, Once aims to cast a gent in his mid-30s to early 40s, and again a British accent is mandatory.”
Finally, for Guinevere, the casting call aims for “a Latina in her mid-20s to mid-30s to play a ‘headstrong queen’ who fell in love with her husband’s most trusted knight, the dashing Lancelot. She now must balance her own happiness with the well-being of Camelot.”
With this news, it appears that Once will be heading to Camelot in its fifth season. It’s not a surprise given the many mentions of Arthurian legend that have been sprinkled haphazardly through the first four seasons and especially after the huge reveal of Merlin as a major player in the Dark One saga. Now we have only to wait and see whether this season will make the most of such rich material…
In other news, Rebecca Mader (Zelena/The Wicked Witch) and Sean Maguire (Robin Hood) have both been promoted to series regular status for the upcoming season. This news will elicit groans and cheers depending on which corner of the fandom you poll. I am glad to hear that Robin Hood might get a decent amount of screen time and development; however, on a show that has promoted people to series regulars in the past only to exile them to the realm of no-screentime-whatsoever (Michael Socha’s bafflingly underused Will Scarlet) or, even worse, the realm of love-interest and/or plot-point-generator (Emilie de Ravin’s criminally underdeveloped Belle), I really have no idea what to expect.
As for Zelena, let’s just say that I was less than pleased to find out that not only had she avoided death in the most unbelievable way possible, but that she had gotten herself knocked up with Robin Hood’s baby while posing as his wife (friendly reminder that this is not a soap opera). More screen time for Zelena and her misconceived (in so many ways) baby? Oh joy.
Once Upon a Time will return to ABC to (hopefully) overcome my grave doubts about its fifth season in the fall of 2015.