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Once Upon a Time: Is there hope for Belle and Rumple?

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ABC/Eike Schroter

Once Upon a Time may be a show known for hope, but hope was lacking in the premiere when it came to Belle and Rumple.

During the season opener, Rumple (Robert Carlyle) attempted to wake Belle (Emilie de Ravin), but further proved that the Dark One tends to repeat his past mistakes of deceiving his estranged wife. It was all the proof their unborn child, purporting to be Morpheus (Giles Matthey), needed to get his mother not to fall for Rumple’s ways once again — and she won’t. Belle will even turn to Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) to find a hideout from Rumple in Sunday’s episode.

“Belle really is in a place where she’s given up on Rumple, but they have a child, so that makes things messier,” executive producer Edward Kitsis says. “Once a child is involved, you actually have to put aside your own feelings and put the child first no matter how much you hate the other person. That is going to be tested.”

But executive producer Adam Horowitz is quick to say that Belle doesn’t necessarily hate Rumple. “When you love someone, the strongest reactions you can get verge on hate and terrible disappointment,” he says. “Because they’ve had that love between them, what’s happened to them is so terrible and has ripped them apart in such a difficult way. She’s really struggling now with how to move forward in life. Rumple has positioned himself where it appears to be an untenable relationship, so Belle has to really figure out: How do I give birth to this child, how do I raise it, what do I do about his father and the fact that I love this man and have these feelings?”

While Belle is struggling with finding her own path, this is also difficult for Rumple, who lost his first child to his dark ways, as well. “It’s clear that he truly loves Belle,” Kitis says. “He truly wants that child, he truly wants to be a good dad, but he is a gangster and he’s not giving that life up. As far as Rumple’s concerned, this is his art. These deals and screwing people is what he did best.”

“When they’re in the dream world and she asks if he’ll change for her, and he says, ‘For you, I’ll try. I’ll be the best man I can be,'” Horowitz points out. “It’s a very carefully chosen set of words. He’ll be the best man he can be, but he can’t quite get to that place of actually being a good man… That’s the push-pull of that relationship, because she does love him and sees the good and the bad in him and sees the potential and it’s that frustration that continues to grow.”

But Rumple’s choice to deceive Belle in the name of waking her up is not surprising. “Every year I always remind our fans that he warned us in ‘Skin Deep’ he was a difficult man to love,” Kitsis says. “Every year people fall for him. When he reminds you of that, they get upset. This year will be no different.”

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for an eventual happy ending. “I just saw Beauty and the Beast again [recently], and at the end of the movie, it really struck me — the movie is 82 minutes long, and then they’re together and it’s wonderful,” Horowitz says. “We’re on episode 115 right now, so they’ve got a journey to go on to see whether they get there or not. That’s the fun of it for us, and hopefully the audience, which is exploring these ups and downs. Yes, there are a lot of downs with this, but that’s because we have an incredibly good-hearted character who has fallen in love with one of the most flawed characters on the show. It’s never going to be easy, and that’s just the nature of what those characters are.”

As for their unborn child, we will see the adult version of him again this season. “We love [Giles] and we think he’s great,” Horowitz says. “Yes, we’re going to see him again. This was a taste of an introduction, but how we get to that — because she’s clearly still pregnant — is a surprise we want to keep.” Kitsis adds: “He won’t come out 20 [years old].”

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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