Once upon a time, there was an unlikely show on ABC that seemed designed to sell Disney merchandise. As the years passed, however, the show proved itself to be a charming retelling of the fairy tales that inspired some of the most memorable Disney movies of all time. That show is, of course, Once Upon a Time. Although there have been hits and misses with the characters that Once has brought in, it’s hard not to be excited about the latest casting announcements: Jonathan Whitesell will play none other than Hercules himself, and Kacey Rohl will play adventurous Meg.
The young actors will make their debuts on Once Upon a Time in the thirteenth episode of the fifth season, entitled “Labor of Love,” according to TVLine. Hercules will be a strapping, dashing youth with a single-minded pursuit of a destiny that involves becoming the greatest hero that has ever lived. Meg will be a young adventurer whose sly sense of humor and no-nonsense spirit have not been diminished by a lengthy stay in a dungeon. The two will find love in one another.
If the descriptions seem a bit spoiler-y for the characters' debuts, that would be because the duo are currently slated to only appear in one episode of Once Upon a Time. Still, characters rarely die and stay dead on Once; there’s no saying what that single appearance could turn into for Jonathan Whitesell and Kacey Rohl as Hercules and Meg.
Both Hercules and Meg have their names taken from Greek mythology, but it’s likely that their roles on the show will have more in common with the Hercules and Meg of the 1997 animated Disney film Hercules than with anything written by the ancient Greeks. As the film ended with Hercules going the distance and saving the day to get a happily-ever-after with Meg, Once may not pick up on where the movie left off in the same way that it did with Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff during magical shenanigans of the Frozen arc.
The title of the episode does hint that some classic Hercules mythology might be coming into play. The Hercules of myth had to undergo twelve labors to prove his worth as a good man. “Labor of Love” may well see him having to fight to prove his love for Meg, undoubtedly imparting a lesson to Emma and Co. in the process.
Once Upon a Time has in recent years departed from the fairy tale structure of the earlier seasons. Where the show originally stuck with stories of such characters as Snow White and Cinderella, dabbling in The Wizard of Oz, Frozen, and now the story of King Arthur have opened the universe of Once up to different chapters of fiction and mythology. Jonathan Whitesell and Kacey Rohl coming on board as Hercules and Meg should be a fun new exploration of the Greek branch of Disney lore.
Once Upon a Time airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.