Beyond flogging a dead horse and sending it to the glue factory, Once Upon a Time has felt more like a glue stick thrown in the bin and sent to the incinerator since season four. Season six had reached that point where it felt like I was watching it out of blind necessity rather than enjoyment. But then out of the blue, season seven had been announced by ABC. Not only that, it would also be a requel (sequel/reboot)' and be moved to the dreaded Friday Night Death Slot. Not the best move when the ratings had already plummeted faster than Usain Bolt winning a 100m track in its traditional Sunday slot and some plot points still needed answers (Lily's father, anyone?).

So without further ado, let's dive into the news we've received so far in season seven.

Hyperion Heights

Taking place in the fictional Hyperion Heights (named after Hollywood's Hyperion Avenue where two of the first Disney studios were built) Seattle, now Uber driver Henry Mills (now played by Andrew J. West) will have to step into his mother's shoes as his daughter Lucy (Alison Fernandez) finds and tells him that their family is in trouble. A new curse (how original) seems to have hit the town she lives in as everyone has new identities, including three of Henry's family members: his adoptive mother Regina (Lana Parrilla) is now barmaid Roni, his stepfather Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) is now Officer Rogers, and his grandfather Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) is now Detective Weaver, who has been called "menacing" by the show's creator's Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis.

Glass Slippers, Frogs and 70ft Hair

This time round, the story seems to have shifted to Cinderella in the vain of the Snow White story being the focus of season one. Instead of Jessy Schram's take on the character through seasons one to six, this Cinderella story is set in an alternative version of the Enchanted Forest. The titular character is now played by Dania Ramirez, with her cursed name being Jacinda and playing Henry's love interest and Lucy's mother.

Her stepmother Lady Tremaine/Victoria Belfrey (Gabrielle Anwar) seems to have taken over the cursed role as the matriarch of Hyperion Heights a'la Regina in season one. Reign's Adelaide Kaine will be playing stepsister Drizella/Ivy. No word has been found yet if a new Anastasia will join the proceedings or if Emma Rigby's Anastasia from the 2013 spin-off Once Upon Upon a Time in Wonderland will return, but given how close season seven is, this seems very unlikely.

Mekia Cox (initially cast as a guest star but now upgraded to regular) will also be joining to play Princess Tiana/Sabine from The Princess and the Frog along with Robin Givens as her mother Eudora. Given that they reside in the new Enchanted Forest and Eudora will now be a noblewoman, it certainly looks to be a different take on the story compared to living in 1920's New Orleans. Rose Reynolds will be playing Alice/Tilly from Alice in Wonderland (the first version played by Sophie Lowe in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland), but not much has been said of her role yet. Judging by recent set photos with Carlyle's Detective Weaver, could she possibly be baby number 2 for Belle and Rumplestiltskin...?

Emma Booth has also been announced as an unspecified Witch initially described as "as wicked as they come" before quickly being deleted after fans were not happy over the implications of her description. However, Horowitz reassured fans via Twitter that Booth's witch is not intended to replace fan-favourite Rebecca Mader's Zelena. Meegan Warner will also have a recurring role as Rapunzel, which will hopefully be a better take on her than the underwhelming one-off appearance in season 3. Continuum star Vladimir Ruzich has been spotted around the set recently, but his role has been kept under wraps by the cast and creators.

Returning Faces

Not only are Parrilla, Carlyle and O'Donoghue returning to their iconic roles, but so are some other familiar faces from the past six seasons.

Jared Gillmore will return to play young Henry in the season premiere as we see why he decided to leave Storybrooke four years after the season six finale. Former protagonist Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) will return for her final episode in episode 2 as we see how she and her husband Hook are separated via a curse. Rumplestiltskin's love interest Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and son Gideon (Giles Matthey/Anton Starkman) will return for episode 4. Regina's half-sister Zelena/Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader) has been reported to return for multiple episodes. No news has been released yet if Ginnifer Goodwin and spouse/co-star Josh Dallas will be reprising Snow White and Prince Charming, but let's keep our fingers crossed.

Episode List

Adam Horowitz has revealed the names of eight out of the twenty-two episodes so far:

1) Hyperion Heights

2) A Pirate's Life

3) The Garden of Forking Paths

4) Beauty

5) Greenbacks

6) Wake Up Call

7) Eloise Gardener

8) Pretty in Blue

Once Upon a Time returns on October 6 8/7c on ABC and October 7 on Netflix.