No one plays a better long game than Rumplestiltskin. Or Rumbelle, for that matter.
On Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 9 we discovered that Belle and Rumple have had a baby in the house before, way back when she was his prisoner and he brought home a tiny lil' guy that he stole.
As it turns out, Belle is a natural mom and Rumple... he's got mommy issues.
Major mommy issues.
This was one Rumbelle heavy hour — let's get into it!
Belle: I know you want me back Rumple, but its never gonna happen.
Rumple: I know. But I cannot lose another son Belle. I won't. Not if I can stop it.
In the present day, we can only imagine that she'll be just as sweet with her own baby — that is, if she can get that far.
When that "Beating the Dark One for Dummies" book showed up magically at the library, I knew there was something fishy happening. I mean, come on.
But fortunately, it was only just a dream.
Baby Rumbelle keeps doing his best to ensure that his destiny stays intact, sending his momma the answer: squid ink that will stun Gold just long enough to steal the shears.
This plan has bad idea written all over it. For starters, Rumple is way too powerful to be stopped by anything other than, well, Rumplestiltskin. Of course it was going to fail.
But the interesting news is that Rumple's plan to speed up Belle's pregnancy is thwarted by his own conscience.
It's easy to look a the laundry list of awful things that he's done as the Dark One and assume that there can't possibly be a shred of human decency left in Rumplestiltskin. But there is — and it's still, after all this time, his ties to Belle.
Rumple: When we met, I told you I was a difficult man to love. But more than that, I think I'm a man no one can love. This son, William - I can start over. Maybe he can love me.
Belle: Not like this. Don't give up, Rumple. I never wanted you to be perfect. I just wanted you to try.
Rumple: I did! And look what's happened. I've only ever pushed you away. Now I'm afraid all I really have is this - magic.
Belle only needs to remind her husband that she doesn't expect perfection of him, only that he tries. (You know, and like, doesn't hold her prisoner and lie to her and make deals behind her back — basically, the normal Once Upon a Time relationship stuff.)
I want to love this scene between the fractured Rumbelle, but I'm also astounded at why Belle is opening a window. She fights so hard to save their son by keeping him away from his father, and then is a little fair weather about it, giving Rumple the "well, maybe" signal with her words to him.
Those words are enough to get him to leave her alone, but Belle's sincere optimism is incredibly worrisome.
Listen, I want Beauty and the Beast to have a happy ending as much as the next person, because I love the fairytale.
But I don't want Belle and Rumple to have a happy ending, because frankly, they haven't earned it. And when I say "they" I really mean Rumple. He hasn't earned it. And watching this watered-down version of Belle give him chance after chance has run its course.
Belle: Will you be his Fairy Godmother, and will you take him somewhere safe? Somewhere far away from all this.
Emma: Belle, what are you doing?
Belle: Rumple won't ever stop. This is our son's only chance. Please take him. Just, until this is all over.
Blue Fairy: But you don't know when or if that will come to pass.
Belle: I believe it will. I have to believe it will.
After the cleanest television birth ever (is there no blood during magical births?) Belle sends Gideon away with the Blue Fairy, so that he'll have a chance to grow up apart from his father.
But she's still optimistic.
She still believes there's a chance that things will end up alright, because, as she puts it, she "has to."
I don't know what it is that she thinks will end up alright. Is it her relationship with Rumple? Does she still think she can fix him? Or am I reading it totally wrong, and she wants to kill him? I mean, that's still a possibility, I suppose.
I'll be honest. While watching that final dream sequence between Belle and her son, and she realizes what she has to do, I legitimately thought for a moment that she'd kill her son after he was born, or that by some happenstance he would die.
Imagine it: Belle going TOTALLY dark, in a crazy downward spiral that would pit her against her husband because he forced her to believe she had no other choices, or that there was no way for her son to live?
But that's not a story that this show would ever tell. They'd never tell a truly dark story.
Instead, they give us a big reveal about the Dark One.
Rumple: Why did you abandon me?
Black Fairy: Funny that the Dark One should ask such a thing. Sometimes you have to choose power over love.
So Rumplestiltskin was abandoned as a baby by the Black Fairy - his mother.
His mother, who steals babies, didn't want him.
Rumple has made a career of taking children — was it all for this? All part of some desperate attempt to earn his mother's love?
You know, there are a lot of reasons for me to feel sorry for Rumple as a human, before he ever became the Dark One — toss this one onto that pile.
Maybe this is why so many folks hang on to hope for Rumbelle.
Because Belle knows all of this about her husband, maybe she considers it when she thinks about his actions. Maybe she understands why he does the things he does, and while she doesn't like it, she knows what a struggle it is for him to do them.
Or maybe the show is running out of ways to make us feel sorry for Rumple so they're really hoping this mother thing does the trick.
I play a very long game and you, you're nothing more than one of my pawns.Rumple
The Rumple and Evil Queen romance seems officially dead, thank goodness.
When she failed to kill her sister for her almost-boyfriend, she made an enemy out of the Dark One.
But when she revealed that it was her that sped up Belle's labor and forced such a fast choice to be made, giving Rumple no shot at reconciling with his wife, the Queen basically put a price on her head.
Because there's no way that Rumple isn't going to be after the Evil Queen with everything he's got now. Every ounce of energy that isn't expended trying to find his son will be spent planning his revenge on her.
That temper tantrum was just the beginning, it seems.
Zelena: Why even bother saving me then?
Regina: Because that's what heroes do, Zelena. They save people. Even the people who have hurt them in unimaginable ways.
Zelena: So this is about Robin Hood. You still blame me for his death?
Regina: Yes, that's exactly right.
Regina and Zelena are finally talking about that elephant in their relationship, Robin Hood.
It's interesting that Regina is heroic enough to save her sister, but still won't forgive her. Zelena isn't wrong; Regina received a lot of forgiveness from a lot of people. Why can't she extend that same olive branch to her own sister?
Elsewhere in the hour, Jasmine enlisted Snow and Aladdin's help in getting a genie from the lamp to grant a wish for her, a way back to Agrabah.
Long story short: it didn't work. Aladdin's a genie now. Okay, great.
But the thing that bugged me most was that Snow seemed completely unaffected by the epic sleeping curse she's a part of. How quickly something that feels so huge one week is deemed to be so small the next! There was no David this week, no kisses, wake ups, or notes left behind.
Just Snow, helping Jasmine. I guess it's cool to just leave Charming asleep.
Emma's visions are back, including a new one that clearly shows her the sword that does the job of killing her — and now she's in possession of said pointy object.
Maybe now that Aladdin is a genie, Emma can just wish to not get killed. That's a thing that genies can do, right?
We're headed for the Winter Finale next week, and from the looks of it, Emma is making a wish — one that might turn Storybrooke upside down.
Did "Changelings" change the way you look at Rumple? Will he find Gideon and the Blue Fairy? Who does that sword belong to, and can Emma and Killian figure it out before it ends up back in the hands of the hooded figure? Will we see the Black Fairy again?
Sound off below!
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