1. More teamwork.
Enough with all the back and forth. I dig moral ambiguity, but I’m ready for some of these characters to pick a side. And while I’m sure Regina, Hook, and Gold will always have some darkness in them, it’s kind of nice to see them working with the good guys toward a common goal. There is enough conflict on this show without characters switching allegiances every week.
2. Evil Peter Pan and his creepy Lost Boys.
It was a little strange when they revealed that Peter Pan is the Big Bad — wasn’t that obvious from the moment his horrifying shadow tried to steal boys from the Darling bedroom? Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to a villain who is more evil and less shades of gray. Again, I appreciate the in-between, but one thing we haven’t really seen on Once Upon a Time is an unabashed bad guy. Even Cora got her redemption in the end.
3. Bae’s backstory.
We got a lot of it toward the end of Season 2, but there are still a lot of loose ends to tie up. Peter Pan rejected young Bae when the Lost Boys delivered him, but how did he escape Neverland? It’s also pretty clear that Neil (or Bae) will survive his gunshot wound — did anyone think he was actually dead? — which means we’ll hopefully see even more of him next season. Michael Raymond-James is the best.
4. Belle in charge.
For too long now, Belle has been a pawn — locked away, manipulated, lied to, generally treated like crap. While it’s unclear how much of Season 3 will take place in Storybrooke (at least initially), it’s at least likely that Belle will be the unofficial town leader. She’s the one putting the protection spell into place, which makes her the most obvious choice now that just about every major character is gone.
I’m ready to get off this damn boat already! So far, we’ve only seen glimpses of Neverland, but we know it’s a land full of magic. While I’d love to see Once Upon a Time embrace the darkness — Peter Pan is so creepy — there are other aspects of Neverland to explore. In the original novel, Neverland is ever-changing based on children’s imaginations, which would be fun to see. Also: mermaids.
6. The return of familiar faces.
Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Prince Phillip — these are all characters who will likely figure into the third season in some way. Yes, Once Upon a Time is a bit overstuffed, but with all this world expansion, it makes sense to follow different fairy tale characters in different fairy tale places. Hopefully the show will follow Game of Thrones’ example and not try to shove it all into every week’s episode; instead, why not shift the focus between lands as the season progresses.