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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “The Crocodile”

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There has never been any doubt that Robert Carlyle is a gifted actor, arguably one of the best actors of his generation. He’s gone from film to television and back again both here and in the U.K. He’s done tiny budget independent films that allow him to create characters and give voice to films with great social or political weight and bigger projects that undoubtedly allow him to support small-budget worthwhile cinema. But there is also no doubt that whatever role he chooses to do, he has an ability to transform himself completely, making the character unforgettable.

Carlyle’s role on Once Upon a Time is a difficult one. His Storybrooke and Fairytale Land personas are in many ways reflections of each other, but each is so distinct in manner, voice and appearance, it takes a true sorcerer of an actor to make us comprehend that they are indeed one character. All of the main cast of Once play dual roles, but Rumple’s personas are so distinct from the other, coming from such distant times in his long life, that his is not like any other character on the series.

And that each persona: from terrified peasant to trickster to cuckolded husband to cool businessman to the courtly enchanted prince we seem to get glimpses of from time to time all inform and loop back on each other, often simultaneously. It’s just brilliant.

Rumple is child-like as much as he is demonic. He is graceful and flamboyant; he uses his voice to terrify: an enraged shriek or a chilling calm. But it can also take on an affected elegance that is cover for the impoverished, frightened, lonely, and powerless peasant he left behind when was cursed by killing the Dark One.

Mr. Gold’s icy calm is equally unnerving as it can turn to dark rage in an instant when he feels betrayed or threatened. Gold remembers what it was like; cursed not only as the Dark One, he is cursed with a memory that despite the distance of centuries, is still too raw and too painful. 

In tonight’s Once Upon a Time episode “The Crocodile” we begin to understand why Rumple clings to power; he knows what it is to have none. He knows what it means to be so powerless that he must suffer the humiliation of watching his wife become whore to a pirate. 

It is a testament to the power of Carlyle’s considerable acting ability that despite the terrible things Rumplestiltskin does in “Crocodile” he can still break our hearts. Carlyle’s range of emotional beats in this week’s episode is astonishing. He took us deep within Rumple’s heart: to the source of the loss, pain, loneliness and anger that coexist within him. But he also showed us as Rumple shows Belle, the love and yearning that also dwells within his ravaged soul. Wrapped around the anguish, however is Rumple’s armor of steel: blind rage, quick temper, even cruelty, and Carlyle’s performance made us fear him as much as we fear for him. It was simply brilliant.

We see the origin of the terrible losses Rumple has suffered. It is when his wife Milah (Rachel Shelly) leaves him and their son Baelfire that Rumple’s downward spiral begins. Everything that follows: from becoming the Dark One to the loss of Baelfire, to the curse and the breaking of it: all of it originates from this one point in time.

I have to wonder if Rumple had always been a coward. He says it is so, but are there memories beyond his remembering to the time of the Ogre War, when, as we know, he left the battlefield? What exactly happened during the war to make him leave?

What had he not disclosed to Milah? She tells him that this isn’t the life she imagined. What life might she have imagined, I wonder? How would it have been different if Rumple had not at one time been different?

Rumple tells her that there are reasons they cannot leave their village. Is it simply his cowardice that prevents them from going elsewhere? Is the Ogre War where Rumple injured his leg? This episode isn’t the first time mention has been made of Rumple in the Ogre War, and that can’t be a coincidence. I suspect we’ll learn more about that in the months to come (at least I hope so).

I loved the story of Rumple and Belle as it plays out in “The Crocodile.” She cannot understand his reasons for continuing to develop magic potions secretly in his basement laboratory. And he is no help by refusing to tell her. Even as the Dark One, beneath that cloak of power there still stands a terrified and powerless man, and to relinquish any of it means a return to the man he was; the man he hates; the man he cannot face. 

But in the end, he finally trusts her enough to disclose the truths of his bitter losses. Ironically the considerable courage he needs is to appear vulnerable and weak before her, telling her how it had all been to find Baelfire, and how it had backfired. Only by exposing himself to her in this way, can he begin to win back a small amount of her trust. And perhaps, at some point, her love. I can see him little by little try to regain her love. Gold can be very courtly (as can Rumple), and I imagine that his courtliness will manifest in small gestures and unexpected moments of sweetness as the months go by.

I loved the episode as a whole, but there are a few scenes and beats that were so perfect that they require special mention. First, I love swashbuckling, and the sword fight between the dashing, Killian (Colin O’Donoghue) and Rumple wonderful. Then there was the library scene towards the end. How perfect. “We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth,” says Rumple quoting 19th Century British naturalist John Lubbock.

He knows what books mean to Belle (as do we) and his gesture, no strings attached, to connect Belle to the world is beautiful and subtle. He knows that he had denied Belle the opportunity to explore the world back in Fairytale Land; something she had regretted. And now here in Storybrooke, she, like everyone else, is stuck, unable to cross the threshold between their village and the rest of the world. It is a poignant moment that for all his power, the only thing he can do is to grant her the world vicariously. 

And of course the scene in which Rumple speaks to Belle from his heart, honestly and sincerely, struck a chord in her. It is a poignant moment, and his words so stirring and so heartfelt it leaves her in tears. A perfect moment.

But all of those moments of real poignancy are counterbalanced by some pretty stark cruelty on Rumple’s part, not the least of which is tearing out his wife’s heart. (Shades of Regina?) But his treatment of Smee, Moe French and even Killian are snippets of extreme violence in Rumple, motivations aside. Despite his considerable romanticism, Rumple has a real demonic streak, as we know. 

Did I hear anyone say “Byronic hero?” 

Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC. 

Note to my readers: Jane Espenson will be my guest November 5 on my BlogTalk Radio show Let’s Talk TV. Gareth Hughes of the U.K. Once Upon a Time fansite will be my guest October 29. 


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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • WML

    I wonder if Wendy’s great great granddaughter shows up in Storybrooke?

    I think the best way to get rid of Rumples curse if for Hook to find the cursed dagger and challenge Mr. Gold to a fight. Bell watches in dismay while Gold, finally understanding how much Belle really loves the man that is inside him, fights Hook, but gets stabbed by the dagger. The curse breaks, but because Rumple was a cursed man before (before being cursed to be the Rumple we know), the two curses destroy each other and Rumple’s life is saved (by the hospital, of course). Hook, as the curses explode, is thrown back to a portal to Neverland. And after this, can Belle and Rumple leave happily ever after?

    One question. In all of OUAT, how many people has Rumple asked what his name is? And how many people have answered the question? Rumple asked her that question in the mines and she said his name.

    One over the top prediction. Since so many different tales are interwoven in OUAT, would it surprise anyone that another backstory in the whole yarn will be about the plight of the cowardly lion, who somehow lost his courage? The produces could portray a Rumple as a noble soldier whose courage is ripped from him, as a curse. The lion reduced to being a coward. And as in Oz, it was love that restored that courage.

  • I agree with John – I want Rumple to stay the villain for a while at least. I like him the way he is – conniving, dastardly, with the little glimpses of humanity. I like that his story is about loss and redemption, but I’m not ready for him to have it yet! They can stretch that out for a while as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m assuming Bae will be an adult like Emma and Pinocchio/August are. I was think of who he could be the same as has been hinted at….

    I really liked this episode as well, but some of the big picture problems (show seems unfocused to me) still need some work.

  • Kelly

    Rewatching the episode again, I really looked at Milah and how she talked about adventure and being brave. She may have looked kickbutt in the pirate outfit and giving instructions on the boat, but she was by no means strong or brave. Strong and brave would be able to listen to your husband being called a coward and either not caring or standing by him/standing up for him and strong and brave would be to either stay or take your son with you. She was by no means a strong women like Snow,Red,Emma and Belle have proven to be. She was a coward to. Also found the Hook/Milah chemistry to be flat and meaningless cause if he loved her he would have welcomed and took Bae on the boat too and left Rumple in the dust.

  • John

    I thought Belle was great in the episode and her motivations and reasoning human and understandable. Neither of the two people she loves trusted her to either let her in or to make her own choices. The men had the power and control and did not listen to her so yeah I can see her after trying to think the events in the kitchen out getting taken and then forced to lose her memories and only remember the aslyum, her being really pissed and lashing out. Like we can understand Rumple destroying every family in a curse or excuse him unleashing a wraith or killing, her lashing out to both is understandable. the never wanting to see you again is lashing out, the rest was very intelligent and ballsy. I really applaud how they’ve handled Belle. She’s not blind,naive,a doormat or whining nag. She’s pretty badass herself.

  • Betsy

    I do have some issues with the writing for Belle in this episode and I hope it’s not just because Jane didn’t write it.

    I thought the scenes in Broken, written by Adam and Eddy, were brilliantly done. Howevr, I CAN see how some people would get confused as to how Belle, even as disappointed as she was with Gold in the kitchen scene, would go from that to outright fury in “I never want to see you again”. If she were really THAT furious about Gold not being honest, then why didn’t she just lose it in the kitchen rather than later at the rescue? If it had to do with Mo and the idea she knew that Gold had prevented her from seeing her father, then that wasn’t made clear at all. IF that were the case, the writers are leaving an awful lot to the imagination…….I don’t think it was, though. Assuming it wasn’t, then: Belle seemed disappointed in the iced tea scene, NOT furious. To her father, she also seemed a bit sad about the relationship perhaps ending……not furious. I think it’s a bit disjointed, to be honest – not very consistent.

  • Patti

    I would love love for Bae to still be a kid. I really liked the actor who played him in season one. It would be a great second chance for Rumple but the show would really shock me with that. It would be a true surprise because Rumple thought August was him and I fully expect whether he’s the white rabbit,jack from the beanstalk or peter pan that Bae will be an adult and henry’s dad making the charmings,regina and rumple tv’s most twisted family.

    Oh with the heart ripping happening again I fully expect when they do Oz that Cora,Regina or Rumple will have taken the Tin Man’s heart.

  • Patti

    I love slow burn romances. It’s the slow build up, the little moments,little looks and longing,and little moments that really add up. I love that this pairing and it adds to that deep connection that was started in skin deep and adds to the strenght of the emotional connection/love.

  • Pixie Michele

    Agreed Barbara and all. Absolutely brilliant performances and writing. Loved the twist to the fairy tale of how Hook lost his hand to the Crocodile.
    My two favorite stories are Peter Pan and Beauty and the Beast. Seeing them crossed here through Rumple is sheer delight. Crocodile skin deep is tough to work through; definitely demands time, but worth it to get to the good stuff underneath.
    I thought about Baelfire’s age difference too, but there’s many possibilities if he’s realm jumping (now becoming more prevalent.) Who’s to say Bae stopped at the first place without magic? What if the bean goes with you? Hook got back to FTLand somehow by the end.
    What if Bae became a lost boy/Peter Pan and didn’t age? What if, before the Dark Curse hit, Bae jumped to the far part of FTLand that was spared (he’d be a good reason why it survived) and time froze for 28 years? So many “what if’s” we haven’t even seen hints of yet I’m sure. Such fun to play with, and watch. I can’t wait to see Neverland.
    To Barbara, and all who appreciate the darker side, enjoy the Halloween episode!

  • Betsy

    I’m sure I will!

    Aww. Someone I post with on a message board raised a good point: the reason why we did not see Rumbelle lovey dovey scenes in the house (or even him comforting her) was because they want to wait until the time is right between the two to show them.

    I’m not a romantic person in the slightest -not at all. However, Rumbelle has brought out that side of me – after the show ends, I suppose it will go back into hiding, lol

  • Betsy–see? I think that’s what I said originally. A slow burn romance 🙂

    I think you will like this article!

  • Betsy

    Barbara, I hope you redeem yourself!

    I am not watching this show to get my unhappily ever afters, lol. Belle and Gold and Bae and many babies will all live in peace and harmony – and a few dogs and horses, lol.

    Thanks for the heads up! It’s funny, but she and Adam get LOADS of tweets about Belle and Rumbelle. Adam reassured some distraught Rumbelle fans (yay) that Crocodile wasn’t the end for them, but the beginning.

    My take NOW is that they are giving us the romance between them that they were not able to give us in Skin Deep (can’t possibly show the development of a relationship in one episode). This will make Rumbelle stronger in the long run.

  • Betsy

    John, We are the lucky ones that Bobby and Emilie have such remarkable chemistry. I honestly could go on and on all day about this – it’s my favorite thing to talk about, lol.

    There’s so much going on with Bobby and Emilie that is remarkable. They physically match up very well for one; he’s short and slender and she’s just so petite. In Skin Deep, I couldn’t help but notice that as Rumple, he looked tiny in that throne and so small compared to everyone else; in fact, his crazy outfit seemed to swallow him whole. Yet with Emilie, the height differential is perfect. For another and I think this probably has a lot to do with why they look so good together, they really just seem to be on the same page. I know nothing about acting, but it just appears like they respond to each other so naturally, like it comes so easy to them, so effortlessly; they are natural partners for each other. Then, the biggie – that zing, bam, zowie chemistry, lol. Sometimes there is just something between two people and whether they are married or not, no matter. It helps that they get along so well….it’s sort of inexplicable, but I think we and the show should thank our lucky stars because this kind of thing does not come around very often

  • Ahhh. You shall find out when you read the article 🙂 I’m evil that way! Jane will be on my radio broadcast November 5 to talk Once. She’ll be taking calls from the fans as well.

  • Betsy

    Jane answered my tweet:

    @JaneEspenson Do you believe Rumple completely crossed the line when he killed Milha and that he can never have a HEA? That made me so sad.

    Details Expand Collapse Reply
    Delete FavoritedFavorite
    33m Jane Espenson ?@JaneEspenson
    @Betsypaige24 I believe rehabilitation is always possible.

    I think so as well, Barbara. I believe they did that to show just how powerful a hold the curse had on Rumple, but I think by the time of Skin Deep, he truly regretted that.

    I don’t look at Gold as a villain; whatI do is separate the man from the curse. his real self, the one he lived as for 30 something or 40 years, was a good man. I don’t believe he was a real coward. He was timid and weak, but who isn’t at times? He cared for his wife (whether love or not) and he adored his son. Rumple raised Bae into a kind and selfless boy. How did he do that unless by the example he set? I think we must never forget this.

    There’s no changing the past, but Gold becoming the good man I believe and Belle believes he is inside is still very possible. I believe he wants that very much …and he can still make the future a better place as a way to atone for his past.

    The library scene was a monumental moment for me because for the first time, we’ve seen into the heart and soul of Rumplestiltskin/Gold; he will never be the same again, he can never be the same again. He has crossed the Rubicon, passed the point of no return. By taking that leap of faith, by revealing his innermost personal feelings to the woman he so deeply loves and cherishes, he is repudiating his former self, the self that put up a mask of bravado, the self that refused to acknowledge that he had feelings, emotions. Gold wants to love, he does love, he’s in love with being in love – that romantic, gallant part of him is coming out. Does he do things correctly all the time? No he does not, but he genuinely loves to make Belle happy and he cares very much about her well-being. That scene in the kitchen on Sunday didn’t turn out well, but still…..he was going to make her breakfast, he was concerned about her not eating. Later, it was apparent that he was concerned about her being cold. He swallowed his pride and went to Charming for help and advice; his love and worry over her superceded everything and he didn’t care that he appeared to be vulnerable to Charming and Red. Pre-Belle Gold would have thought of vulnerabilities as weaknesses and would never have demonstrated them to anyone; post-Belle Gold is simply different.

    Of course this is a process and Gold isn’t going to change overnight. Frankly, I don’t want him to change completely; he’s a marvelous character with some wonderful qualities and, as I’ve always felt, a good and decent man at his very core. We all have dark sides, everyone in SB has one, so there will always be some part of that inside of him. It’s also complicated because his past as Rumple is always coming back to haunt him – or it will haunt him. What I’m hoping is that by the end of the season, by which time the storylines for season 3 will probably be set up, Gold and Belle will be firmly together, a REAL partnership in love. I would be disappointed if this weren’t the case. If it is the case, they can deal with anything together – they will be an incredibly strong unit.

    I love literature – was an English major in college – but never read much Byron. What’s a Byronic hero? Thanks!

    HEA for Gold? Bae and Belle….He and Belle would have children and be truly happy for as long as they live.

  • John

    I am guessing there is a time difference between various worlds or that he designed the curse to go to a time when bae was still around but guess he couldn’t design it to say the process time bae crossed over.

    As for HEA I kinda hope the show doesnt go with the predictable redemption/hea in the death/afterlie. Since it’s a tv show I had no sympathy for her. I think Rumple having a HEA depends on what he does in the now cause the writers have hinted at regina getting redemption and hea and she killed her own dad too.

  • Action Kate

    HEA=Happily Ever After

    My question is, if Rumple is hundreds of years old, as several people have noted here, how can Bae still be alive for Rumple to find him? Bae doesn’t have eternal life like the Dark One does.

    I love Belle. I love how strong she is and how she does not put up with anyone’s garbage, be he lover or father. She is just. not. interested. And when she chooses to reach out to Rumple with the offer of dinner, it is an adult fully aware of her own choices and their consequences. She’s not swooning back into his arms; she’s offering him an opportunity to earn her trust and her heart again. Brava.

  • John

    HEA is happily ever after

  • John

    I have to give the actors and writers major props for how great this episode was and how they handled the couple. Rumplestiltskin and Belle are a very tricky couple to do. Rumple is very much like a junky when it comes to magic. A lot of it comes from his fears but he knows a lot of what he is doing is wrong and he has chosen power of bae and belle before. He has lied to both of them and known it was wrong but chose to do it anyone. he so quickly brought magic to storybrooke (and he didn’t know he needed it to cross the town border) after reuniting with belle, and how quickly he broke his promise.it gets harder to justify the character when he does “dark one”/evil things in the present. Why do them when it’s the reason he lost bae and belle in the first place. That’s no way to prove to bae that he has changed and he choses love. Maybe there saving that to the end where the beast will break his own curses by chosing belle and bae over magic. It’s clear that he is redeemable but the show wants to use him as the villain or questionable shady character possibly to the end which is what makes this version of beauty and the beast so tricky.

    I know most fans are female or should I say assume that and swoon for Rumple/give him more of a break. Many would run to him at the library scene where in real life it would be the strong and smart thing to run for the hills and some will either say belle doesn’t love him unconditionally/as much as he loves her or call her weak/doormat if she gives him another chance. Haters are gonna hate and some characters are darned if they do and darned if they don’t.

    They need to keep rumple the villain but Belle is also a heroine. So how do they do that balancing act. How do you keep the love pure and true love. How do you keep it as love unconditional and accepting as is without making belle an idiot, naïve, a nag, weak, or like an abused wife. Loving unconditional does not mean you stand there and remove the body and clean the blood or just stand there and let someone do evil. You know it can’t be Oh well he hit someone,cursed them oh well I love them. It’s a balancing act to keep Belle from being a doormat. I was so unsure and worried that the show would not be able to do it. That it would be either Belle’s not strong/is a doormat or Belle doesn’t love him as much/unconditional.. Episode 4 for me proved that the show can do it. It showed Belle being spunky,strong and smart. It had her wanting to know him and loving him unconditionally while not being a doormat. Belle in the beginning of the episode did not simply leave before he returned from the basement lab or start yelling. She wanted to know the reasoning and her courage speech was intelligent/read him like a book and echoed skin deep. The episode had her meeting new people and wanting to support herself which is great for character strength and independence. Belle was a modern women in olden time fairytale land and now she gets to do those things/seeing a new world(new food- loved her excitement there). Her speech in the mines echoed skin deep as well. It showed her intelligence and independent brave spirit. The part about listening was great because no relationship can work unless you listen and also let people in and work as a team. In the library scene Belle again proved her love unconditional by not giving up on him. She by then clearly has seen rumple the dark one/ monster and rumple the coward and she loves him and is very intelligent in not rushing or forcing it. Taking it slow is good and then rumple proved there is hope by telling her the truth (and admitting his cowardness and that magic is his drug/crutch) and when lost his first wife for being a coward and bae for being the monster, belle heard the truth and kept the door open. It was clear as day the monster and the coward and she didn’t leave him/give up. She accepted him as is. Also given his really poor self image and his overwhelming lack of self worthiness. Knowing his fears and him letting her see the things people left him for, she proved she is not like others. She saw him:monster and coward and didn’t leave him like others. It’s going to take a lot to get over his dependence on magic and also his views on himself (that he can’t be loved). The end had Belle proving he can be loved and accepted. She keeps proving him wrong and has great patience. Taking it slow is smart and it was a new beginning.
    The writers did a great job with a tricky situation and the actors conveyed the characters’ strengths and vulnerability so well. The chemistry between them is the best in television and awesome job by Emilie de Ravin who is a underappreciated talent. Given his experience and talent, you would likely say Miss de Ravin is lucky to work with such a great but he’s lucky to be partnered with a great like de Ravin too.

  • That, Betsy, was an unbelievably cruel thing to do. The power of the curse, his rage, whatever he’d had to deal with all those years with and without Baelfire I think all crashed together and was too much for him. It’s very sad. But what’s an HEA?

    I’m in the middle of a piece on Rumple as a Byronic hero. Halfway done and should be up tonight sometime.

  • Betsy

    Barbara, Do you believe Rumple completely crossed the line when he killed Milha and that he can never have a HEA? That made me so sad…….

  • Patti

    I really love pre dark one. Rumplestilstkin. You can just see how the world and magic/power changed him. He was such a good man. I just want to hug that guy and wish that Rumple could have met and been friends with Charming and meet Belle. That guy so needed them and deserved them

  • Patti

    I have to say I was not impressed by Hook at all and didn’t care at all for Rumple’s first wife. I can understand not loving her husband but if you look at what Rumple did to keep bae safe and what snow&charming did with emma and emma for henry, i don’t even know if she loved her son. leave her husband sure but her kid and then not even ask of him when you see the dark one. she left me cold. also didn’t get the sense that rumple loved her either but was lonely because he easily ripped her heart out but didn’t with belle in skin deep when he thought she worked for regina.

    rumple reminds me of tragic character too. I hope his redemption isn’t in death. But he reminds me of Lost’s Locke or Buffy’s Angel/Angelus.

    I agree on the chemistry between Carlyle and de Ravin. They can convey with just a few looks what it takes many other pairings pages&pages of dialogue to convey or what it takes a sex scene to convey.

  • WML

    So far in this series, Belle is the only person that Rumple has not showered with rage. And she seems to be the one person that has never feared him.

  • Betsy

    Barbara, absolutely. He has lived many lifetimes, and because of how miserable he’s been, it probably seems twice as long.

    He desperately wanted this relationship to work, to the point where he asked Charming for help and advice. To have Belle tell him, after he saved her life, that she never wanted to see him again, was like a dagger in his heart. If Belle hadn’t called out to him after he said goodbye, I have no idea how he would have survived. There’s only so much one can take and her rejection of him would have sent him into a downward spiral that I don’t think he could have recovered from.

    Gold has no idea that he doesn’t need magic as a crutch. He’s so brilliant and clever, but has no faith in any of his abilities. I hope as Rumbelle rebuilds their relationship that Belle will be able to make him see that, while magic is not bad in and of itself, he doesn’t need it.

    This is the 4th character Bobby is playing. I love Gold and this version most of all. When it comes to Belle, he’s soft and vulnerable – and I love how he doesn’t care that he’s allowing others to see a different side of him; he just needs to find Belle. I think this man is who he would like to be and I believe he can get there. He could do so much with his wealth and smarts. No he can’t do anything about the past, but he can make the future a better place. Opening the library again is a good start, but how about suppplying the school with updated textbooks or opening a clinic? I think he would feel better about himself by doing good things.

    After having thought about the episode again, I realize that the writers are giving fans a gift. We didn’t get to really see a Rumbelle romance in Skin Deep – how could we when the entire show is only 42 minutes? Showing it over the course of much of the rest of the season will allow them to show us real romance in greater depth.

  • Betsy, I think his expression and body language in that entire scene spoke volumes about what he was feeling. I think it had to have been a combination or extreme self-loathing for what he had become, regret, love for Belle, and grief over his losses.

  • You know, it’s interesting. If you go back to my earliest articles on Once (back even before the show officially premiere, but after I’d seen the pilot), I’ve always thought of Rumple/Gold as a tragic hero, perhaps a Byronic hero, even then.

  • Betsy

    This is the 3rd time that Gold (or Rumple) has let Belle go and it breaks his heart each time. His love for her is epically deep and strong; there is nothing he wouldn’t do for her. He reached out to touch her in a final gesture and I think that he would remember the feel of her skin for the rest of his life, however long he should live. As he walked away, he looked haggard and old……..frankly, he looked ill.

  • Betsy

    Bobby and Emilie have exquisite chemistry no matter what scene they are playing. There is obviously an incredible trust/comfort level between them because they feed off of each other like few I’ve ever seen. Bobby is such a brilliant actor and yet he is matched by Emilie – which is astounding. I am hoping that she will finally get the credit that is due her. They somehow bring out the best in each other and continue to raise the bar with each performance.

    They act together like they’ve been acting together all their lives; they are true partners in their scenes.

    I could watch that library scene a hundred times and I would cry each time. We really got a glimpse into the inside of this man’s heart and everything he was feeling even as he was the Dark One. I thought it was honestly was a genuinely remarkable scene. We have Gold looking back to centuries past to himself as the DO and telling Belle, telling the viewers also, in essence what he was thinking and feeling at the time. To me, Gold humanizes Rumple of the past as he’s humanizing himself now. Yes, he was still the beast, but it’s clear from Gold’s tone and words that he was miserably cursed. He had grown to need and depend on that power, to the point that he couldn’t give it up even for his son…that’s how bad it was for him. My heart just broke……….he lost Bae and how he was going to lose Belle. When he reached out and touched her……….god, that goodbye was tragic.

  • WML

    I just watched the scene between Carlyle and de Ravin in the library. The acting was truly exquisite. The unsaid longing on each of their faces was moving and palpable. You know that giving up Belle was hard for Rumple. And yet he was willing to do it. This is the second time he’s done this with her. It’s that love that he has for her, hopefully, that brings redemption. After all, love is not the lavishment of gifts on another but the ability to put another’s life above your own. He was unable to do that with Bae. And yet he is willing to do it for Belle. Watching Carlyle, you could see the conflict within him in his actions, his demeanor – the way he looked at Belle, the way he gestured, the way he walked… An acting masterclass.

    And de Ravin was up to it. She mirrored the loneliness in Rumple that was also in Belle. Marvelously. You can see that she still had doubt, but she also has hope and love.

    A most tender scene. Who needs people under the sheets when these two, fully clothed, shows the truth about love, the sorrows and joys, the hopes that come with it. Great writing abetted by great acting. And the variation of the Once Upon a Time theme, with the sonorous strings, the piano, an adagio of unspoken passion.

  • WML–Rumple is definitely Byronic. I love your scenario. The romantic in me does to 🙂 It would make his journey a rather classical heroic quest. Love it.

    That’s a great question. FTL is destroyed with only that small area really habitable. So they really can’t go back.

    BTW–I love that Rumple is working on something that would break this new (aspect) of the curse.

  • WML

    If this is a season of redemption, let’s say that Hook and Rumple have a fight of some sort and Belle is somehow in the middle of it. In defending Belle, Rumple manages to use the dagger on himself (to save Belle). Instead of ending Rumple’s life, however, the curse breaks and Rumple is transformed to the prince he once was. Of course, this will leave Regina or Cora (or both) as the only ones in Stonybrooke with magical powers. Rumple will then have to work with the powerless beings in Storybrooke to defeat the remaining evil. And this would make sense if Henry is also Rumple’s grandson – the redemption would have much more significance if Rumple’s son and grandson witness what he is now able to do for love. The romantic in a lot of people can always root for the Byronic hero.

    My question though is this. Would the poeple in Storybrooke really prefer to go back to Fairytale land to live out the rest of their days.

  • Yes, Kelly, of course! With Rumple being in nearly every scene it’s also so important to recognize Emilie, who goes very easily toe-to-toe with Mr. Carlyle. Their chemistry is wonderful. I have to think that that library scene in particular—those emotions that both of them played came unforced and so natural. That can only come from real trust and being so in the moment that it is (even within the realm of a fantasy show) completely honest and real. Bravo to both of them.

  • Kelly

    It was a great episode. As always Rumplestiltskin/Gold is one of tv’s most interesting characters and as we all know RC is a phenomenal actor. So much range. I have to say Emilie de Ravin as an actress is very talented. She deserves more credit and is such a great acting partner for Robert Carlyle. She more than holds her own. I love that Belle was fierce in this episode. She’s brave and intelligent and she stood up for herself. I like that she tried not to change but understand Rumple and that she wasn’t a doormat for him either.She was very smart in taking it slow with him. I love how this show ties in some many characters. I love love Red/Belle and Charming/Gold interactions. Hope they interact more.

  • WML–Me likey your theory(ies). Ronnie–yes, I love the idea that Rumple has had a hand in yet another tale. How Hook got his hook. Extremely clever. I think as the story weaves ever more complex, the fantasy=scape they’ve created is getting more and more textured. I love it.

  • Ronnie

    I like how they have combined two faery stories with once charactor, that Rumple is part of the Beauty and the Beast story and also part of the Neverland Story. Very clever indeed.

  • WML

    I loved this episode. Robert Carlyle is a fantastic actor. Mr. Gold/Rumple and Belle are the most intriguing couple in FTL and in Storybrooke. I hope that the backstory of Rumple becomes even more complicated.

    That he is somehow a prince that went to war, made a mistake and is transformed to a beast. After all, to be branded a coward, treated as a nothing, be the dregs of the earth – how beastly a burden is that to be placed ony anyone. What if Milah saw the Rumple cursed, be told that true love will restore him, and being the selfish girl that she is went for Rumple. Her mistake was that she never truly loved him, and the curse was not broken. Thus, her saying that “it was not the life she imagined” would have a real meaning.

    And so Rumple becomes an even greater beast when he gains power as the dark one. And now comes Belle. Here’s hoping at the end that he sacrices his power by the use of the evil dagger to save Belle. And….

    But that’s just my version of the story. And as another conjecture, would it not be a game changer if Henry ends up being Emma and Baelfire’s son. This has been discussed before but this will bring new dynamics to the show. Rumple as grandad, Regina as stepmom, et. al. The possibilities can only grow.

  • Betsy

    I’m not sure I see the difference. Well if he can’t share his life with her, then they have no future. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure they have one anyway.

    Gold kidnapped Smee and was going to pull another Maurice beating act on him -I mean this is the kind of thing that makes you wonder about how Belle could ever be happy with him. Even if he’s honest with her, even if he shares his feelings, there’s no way Belle would cotton to this kind of behavior.

    I LOVE him – I LOVE LOVE LOVE Gold. He breaks my heart with his vulnerabilty to Belle and his epically deep love for her, but that is always tempered by his rage. I almost feel like there’s no way he can ever even contemplate a relationship until either all his foes are dead or he’s near death- when there’s nothing left to hate anymore. He has to deal with his foes – and he always will. In order for him to do that, he’s probably going to have to do some nasty things. I’m not sure that I see these two getting together for a long time, if ever.

    I still see Belle wondering about her feelings for Gold. IMO, she could have every reason to believe that she “fell” for him simply based on the fact that she was accomodating to her circumstances. After all, she was never going to be able to see another man or any person period again……..so why not give him a chance? If she doesn’t know herself, how can she possibly know that she loves him?

    I guess I didn’t get the idea from her at all that she wants to be courted…their issues run much much deeper than that. Plus, I don’t think it’s good for Gold to need Belle so much. It’s unhealthy. Their relationship is completely unequal now. Belle does not need him, but he needs her.

    I didn’t even see the burger thing as a date. It’s sort of like saying to someone “hey, maybe we can do lunch sometime” when you don’t really mean it. That burger date if it happens will not be anytime soon.

  • He hasn’t shared his life. He was honest with her, but that’s not the same thing. A burger and fries is a lovely little olive branch. She wants to be courted. Burger and fries is a date. I think she wants to step back and take this thing a little at a time, cautiously. I think Rumple will allow that, give her space, but never let her forget that he loves her. She is all he has left.

  • Betsy

    I’m not sure what to expect, to be honest. I feel like what Belle needs from him can’t be gained by having a burger and fries. It’s nearly impossible to regain trust in someone. I’m not sure how Gold can prove himself to her now that he’s basically opened up to her. She’s not really looking to be romanced, she was looking for him to share his life. But….now he did, so what’s next?

  • I don’t think Belle has stopped loving. He believes that (which makes sense for his character). I think the courtship will be very, very subtle. Like the keys to the library–a beautiful sweet gesture borne of love.

  • Betsy

    I will say that I disagree that Belle stopped loving him……it’s not true love if she just stopped that quickly. I personally think Gold should not try to romance her at all, that he should just leave her be and deal with the stuff going on in his life. If she wants to see him, she’ll make it known.

  • Betsy

    Short form: loved the episode and am mystified how I could be spoiled so much and yet shocked so much. Very sad about Rumbelle. Mo is a monster and now I Regina’s “lies” in Skin Deep almost seem truthful. Loved Belle being honest at the beginning and insisting on taking charge of her life

    The very best part? Bobby. His performance is always wonderful. His library scene was Emmy-worthy; how is it that he keeps breaking my heart? I felt SOOO sorry for Gold, who obviously believed (and rightly so) that Belle didn’t want anything to do with him. In that reunion scene, she called him by his full name as a parent calls a naughty child by his full name – and she pushed away his hug. So, of course he went to the library to say goodbye, to let her live the life she has never had the chance to…..and he gave her the best gift of all. He finally told her the truth – I can’t say enough how often that man breaks my heart. He can make the stroke of a cheek seem like the most loving thing in the world.

    Words can not express how deeply Gold loves Belle – He loves her to the very depths of his soul and living without her will be tough. Imagine him going home to his house now, with her scent and presence still there. I imagine he’s having a good cry now.

    Bobby and Emilie are phenomenal together. Good lord, this show struck gold with these two. HE’s a master, yet Emilie is able to go toe to toe with him. Remarkable. I miss them when they aren’t in scenes together.