Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Friday’s episode of Once Upon a Time. Read at your own risk.
Once Upon a Time bid farewell to Belle in an emotional hour that offered quite a few answers to old and new burning questions.
In flashback, the episode followed Rumple (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) as they set out to see the world, with Belle eventually uncovering a prophecy that would allow Rumple to become mortal and grow old with her. After moving to the edge of realms, where time moves differently, the duo live out their lives, with Belle growing old and eventually dying. But before she does, she reveals to Rumple that she purposefully misinterpreted the prophecy — it’s actually her death that will show Rumple the path that will eventually free him from being the Dark One. Rumple realizes that once he passes the dagger on to the mysterious Guardian, he will finally be able to rest and can be reunited with Belle.
Meanwhile, in Hyperion Heights, Rumple comes across Tilly (Rose Reynolds), who viewers not only learn is the LGBT character, but also find out that she’s awake from the curse. She takes pills to keep her under, but she’s off those pills and Victoria tasks Weaver with getting her back under. In a bid to get Weaver to remember who he is, an awake Alice shoots him, knowing that he’d survive since he’s immortal. But when he appears to die, Tilly takes her pills once again and goes back under. Weaver does survive, however, and it appears that he’s now awake. What’s next? EW turned to executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, this was definitely your take on Up, right?
EDWARD KITSIS: It’s definitely inspired by it. It really came from this place of the immortality. We said, “What if we did Up meets Benjamin Button with RumBelle?” What we really liked is at the end of last year, we wanted to feel like they lived a whole life. Yeah, that Up montage, very few things have inspired us like that.
Why did you guys decide to ultimately have Belle die? And is there any chance she could return in the future, considering the prophecy?
ADAM HOROWITZ: We don’t look at this as killing Belle, in the sense of what we really wanted to do was preserve their happy ending from last year and show that they lived the ultimate happy life together.
KITSIS: What it really comes down to is the reason we did this — it’s hard to say why we did this, but I can say in Rumple’s journey now we realize what he’s doing, he’s trying to get back to her and resist the darkness. Once again, he has to choose love over power to be with the person who was always there to guide him when that person is gone. That’s his struggle for the year. For us, we wanted to see Rumple’s battle. Also, it was like a man who spent hundreds and hundreds of years as an immortal and never wanting to age and get older, and he learned the lesson from Belle that life is only important because you only have one.
What does his hunt for the Guardian look like moving forward? Is there anything you can tease about who may be the Guardian?
KITSIS: We’re treating it like the search of a new Dalai Lama. There’s a few candidates and we’re just not quite sure which one it is yet.
HOROWITZ: We’re sure, but the audience isn’t sure. Now hopefully the audience feels invested in what Weaver’s driving force is for the rest of the season.
Rumple is doing this without the person who has been his guiding light, so will he struggle in walking that fine line of being good while finding the Guardian?
KITSIS: Yeah, he’s definitely going to be tested. He will be continually tested throughout the year.
When the prophecy says that the Dark One will finally be able to rest, does that mean Rumple has to die to be reunited with Belle?
KITSIS: That is what was said.
It looks like Rumple is awake, so what’s his next move?
KITSIS: It’s exactly that, which is Rumple is always clever and finds a loophole. Definitely at the end of this, he’s very much awake. He’s very much dedicated to his goal of finding the Guardian and reuniting with Belle, and that’s going to be driving him in every episode. In the same respect, I think he has great affection for Alice, as we saw in the episode. There’s a very father-figure-like relationship between the two of them.
It’s interesting that you bring that up because Wish Realm Hook had mentioned playing chess with his missing daughter, and now we see Rogers playing chess with Tilly. Is this your first clue to the viewers that Alice may be Hook’s daughter?
KITSIS: I can’t confirm or deny, but I’d say you certainly seem perceptive.
What’s next for the relationship between Tilly and Rogers?
KITSIS: What you’re going to see is that Rogers is going to be continually searching for this missing girl case that is haunting him, which we know is his daughter. Tilly is going to be a great informant for him going forward, but definitely there will be some surprises along the way.
Are we going to get more into Tilly/Alice’s backstory soon and why she was the first one to be awake?
KITSIS: We are going to be getting into her backstory. We are going to get a snippet of why she’s awake in this moment before the curse in the winter finale, and then we are going to be doing much more of her and her flashbacks in the second half of the season. We have a really fun arc planned coming up.
That maybe includes going to Wonderland?
KITSIS: It absolutely includes going to Wonderland for an episode, but in a different way than you think. We really are excited about Alice, and Rose Reynolds who plays her, so we have a lot of fun stuff for Alice coming up, both in backstory and in Hyperion Heights. There’s going to be a fun love story for her coming up.
Yes, you slid in the tiniest mention that Tilly has an ex-girlfriend, so presumably this is the reveal that she’s the LGBT character you guys hinted at. Can you talk about why you decided to go with Alice and how you’ll be exploring that side of her in coming episodes?
HOROWITZ: That’s just who she is, and there’s going to be a love story and also non-love stories for her, just as we would with any other character.
KITSIS: She said it as just exactly that, “I had an ex-girlfriend,” no different than anyone else who speaks of their exes, and the love story that is coming up is just as epic as anyone we’ve done before. True love is true love.
Should we be worried about Ivy having feelings for Henry?
KITSIS: Yeah, I would. Henry is a really great guy and Ivy clearly spoke to him. The Henry we’ve met believes he’s lost his family, things are weird with Jacinda, and I think that Ivy said she has less baggage. We’re just going to have to see what happens moving forward. Henry very much right now has a crush on Jacinda, but he’s not quite sure what that means and is dealing with these cursed memories. Ivy is there to try and exploit that.