A Fan Theory by Teresa Martin (@Teresa__Martin)
“Enter the Dragon” featured a beloved Once character working undercover as a Villain with the Queens of Darkness.
He seems to be successful in the deception so far.
Yes, he. I’m not talking about Regina, but rather Rumplestiltskin!
I believe that Rumplestiltskn is far from Team Villain in 4b.
Rather, what has appeared to be his treachery, are clever ruses to bring him back to redemption and a Happy Ending with Belle.
This idea first came to me when I considered a line of Rumplestiltskin’s which seemed a little out of place: “Sometimes you need to fall very far to finally see the light.”
That is what a recovering addict says, not one in full- throttle bender mode.
This points to the possibility that not only the audience realized Rumple hit rock bottom and needed a magic-addiction 12-Step Program in “Heroes and Villains”.
Rumple spent those “missing” six weeks “sobering up” and deciding to take control of his life: to no longer have power rule him, but love. He is ready to choose Belle and all that comes with it. This would include Henry. He will never have the chance to be a good father to his son, but he can be a good grandfather to his grandson.
So everything we have seen since the “Six Weeks Later” crossed our flat screens has been Rumple’s grand plan to get back into Storybrooke and his happy ending. A real one.
He needed Ursula and Cruella to get past the Town Line. So he played them like violins with great success.
The next step was to get back his dagger.
The reason was two-fold. He needed its magic to achieve his ends, but it also places Belle out of danger from the Queens of Darkness or others, even Belle herself (as shown in 4a, she is in peril so long as she is tempted to misuse it.)
The latter motivation is especially important because Rumplestiltskin is not about right or wrong, black or white. Not even grey.
But he has one absolute: no one messes with Belle.
And that is why he was able to turn around.
He realized HE messed with Belle.
For Rumple that was rock bottom. He could not fall any further.
This was the shock which caused him to begin again, and this time for good.
If this is what’s occurring, it explains why he was so shaken when in HookedRumple form he saw Belle suffering from severe anxiety. She was constantly on the verge of tears, even as she said that Will makes her smile.
“You’re so different,” he commented.
That line was delivered with pity and guilt.
Everything Belle is now, he brought her to.
And if more proof of a redeemed Rumple is needed, he said he was glad to hear that Will makes her smile.
This statement is quite possibly the most unselfish thing Rumpelstilskin has made in the entire series. And proof that True Love still blooms in him. We see a Rumple who has changed, who is really putting Belle first.
The old Rumple would have just said something non-committal and then grabbed his cane to play whack-a-mole with Will Scarlet’s head.
Moreover, even while he was tricking Belle to get the dagger, one could see flashes of remorse and hesitation.
But, as in any war—and Rumple has said it is war-- he had to choose the questionable method in order to gain the High Ground.
He needed that dagger.
Yet he did make a gesture of remorse by leaving the red rose for her.
For I think the rose was from Rumplestiltskin. Otherwise, it is a rather disturbing scene. Also note Belle only says it was left outside for her. Why would Rumple give Belle a rose after the dagger switch? To say he was sorry, and give him an opening to ask about her and Will.
Moreover, upon reflection, would Will really give Belle the single red rose of True Love?
We know that Anastasia is his True Love, and red is her color.
Will is heartbroken over whatever happened with Ana, and he’s no more over her than Belle is over Rumple.
Yes, we see her laughing with Will on the cell after, but we don’t see the conversation from the other end to observe if, as she thanks Will, he has a big “WTH” look.
Furthermore, this new start for Rumple was sealed when he and Belle renewed their “Skin Deep” vows, hands on each other’s hearts, with a red rose screaming the symbolism.
If Rumple is now on another team, it all works because it is the one way that Belle can later forgive him for anything he'll do in 4b. This will lead to the long-craved sophisticated conflict in Rumbelle. Rumple will admit he hurt her for many years, and she will see how much she hurt him by moving on too fast.
That is some awesome drama! Also, being the master of loopholes, any “Rumple” actions we’ve seen will be revealed as coming from ulterior, positive motives full of “safety valves”. This includes bringing Maleficent back to reunite with her child. He wants her happy ending too. All 12-steppers know that apologizing and making reparations is part of the recovery. And while we’re at it, how awesome would it be if Zelena also plays a part in this? He wronged her too when she was young and vulnerable.
More proof of Rumple turning over a new leaf? Let’s see who does the torturing and who does the talking in “Poor Unfortunate Soul.”
Lastly, the constant repetitions of phrases like “time to choose sides” and variations thereof lead not to exposition for those who may have missed the other ten times such lines have been said.
They are not exposition, but clues.
Clues about what is really going on right before our eyes!
The question this spring is not what makes one a hero or a villain.
But WHO is a hero or a villain.
And like Regina, Rumple is acting the role of villain while climbing towards being a hero.