Oh, Rumple. We could have had it all. You could have had it all.
But then again, that’s always been the case, and if Once Upon A Time has done one thing right as it attempts to close out some storylines and give some characters closure is tie it all back to the beginning.
Yes – Rumple could have been the hero of this tale. At more than one point during the show, we thought he might still get to be. But that wasn’t to be, and not because he was fated to be the villain, no, but because he choose to be the villain.
Being the savior, you see, is not about fate, it’s about choice. Emma has made the right choices again and again, even when it’s been hard, even when she’s had to sacrifice people she cared about. And sure, she’s made mistakes, but never, not once, has Emma Swan put personal gain above the well-being of someone else.
Never has Emma Swan chosen power over love.
And that is, once again, where we are with Rumple, where we’ve always been. How does this story end? Common sense says only one way – and with the not-at-all subtle foreshadowing we’ve gotten this season, it all points to not being a happy ending for the man who could have been the hero of this tale and instead, ended up being its big bad.
So, let’s go into the choices, the parallels and the prelude to the big musical wedding event as we discuss “The Black Fairy.”
THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
If you’d asked me what I wanted of the Black Fairy I would have told you I wanted the Black Fairy to be evil – really, really evil. And I don’t mean misguided, as she turned out to be, but evil for the sake of evil, evil because she liked it.
But, that’s just me projecting my issues about the lack of female villains in general on Once Upon A Time, because it turns out that what she is – was – not only made perfect sense, it tied perfectly into what her son ended up being, because of her.
She was only evil, after all, because she chose to be evil. And yes, she chose out of love, as Rumple has always claimed to do, but even Rumple, at the end, knew the hypocrisy of that choice and was able to point it out to her. You don’t choose power 100% out of love – you chose power because you want power. And yes, once you have it, you may use it to keep your loved ones safe, but that doesn’t mean your loved ones are the only reason.
Is it all worth it? For the Black Fairy, it all was if she could save her son. For Rumple, it all was if he could do the same. Problem is – and Rumple should know this – life never quite turns out the way you want it to – or expect it to. He’s now made his move – it’s time for the heroes to make theirs.
It’s just all so ironic, isn’t it? Rumple always choose power over love and, in a way, the reason why he did, the reason why he was so damaged is that, a long time ago, his mother did exactly the same thing.
This is also, in a way, what makes it so heartbreaking. I’m anything but Rumple’s biggest fan, but I found myself rooting for him this episode, hoping not only that he could make the right decision at last, but that he could save his son, and maybe, just maybe, have a chance at happiness.
But that’s the thing about Rumple – every time you want that for him, he makes the wrong decision, just like his mother did. For all my wishing to the contrary, Rumple making the right decision know would have been contrary to his character, because he’s proven time and time again that he doesn’t care for the greater good, he isn’t a savior. All he cares about is Belle, and now Gideon, and yes, when there’s an outside force he will do anything to protect them, but when it’s just him, living his life? That’s when the fear consumes him, that’s when he can’t let go of his power, good intentions or not.
And, at some point, good intentions stop mattering, only facts do. And the fact is that, for all that he could have been a hero, Rumple is a villain – the villain of this tale. Now, that doesn’t mean he can’t be redeemed, but considering how many opportunities he’s squandered, it probably does mean there’s no happy ending waiting for him.
In the end, this episode is all about choice. The Black Fairy wasn’t born evil; she became evil because she, like Rumple, was so scared of losing her son that she reached for power – for a good reason, yes – but then let that power consume her. Rumple was destined to be a hero, but his mother’s decisions made it so he wasn’t tied to his destiny, and then, his own decisions took him down the same path she’d traveled before, the path of holding onto power because you’re too scared of what life will be like without.
The question still remains, though – can Rumple be more than this series big bad? Can he also be its savior? Is all the foreshadowing leading to a final sacrifice? The answer right now seems clear – yes. Love him or hate him, Rumplestiltskin has always been too good a character to end this way.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE. AND THE GROOM. AND THE SONGS
The musical wedding extravaganza is next, and I don’t think I’ll be able to talk about anything all week long, so don’t come raining on my parade.
We got very little of it this week – just Hook asking Henry (who else?) to be his best man and acting like the three-hundred year old pirate that he is by refusing to stay the last night before the wedding with Emma, because, that’s just not the way it’s done, not for him. We also got to witness his quiet and determined desperation while looking for the wand and trying to save Emma, and her complete and utter happiness with the choice that she’s made – a life with Hook.
This is a moment five years in the making – the moment the writers were always planning to give us, ever since that first meeting, ever since the beanstalk, through the ups and downs of season 2 (thanks for the pain, Colin’s broken foot!) and the passion of season 3 – a couple that loves each other, a couple that respects each other, a couple that wants each other and one who’s going to spend the rest of their lives making new memories, together.
Cheers to the bride and groom!
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
- Why is there always a sob story behind every villain? Why can’t people just be evil because they want power or because they like it?
- A SAFE WORD? There’s an idea that would have saved you all a lot of pain like five seasons ago!
- How is it possible that they’re going to get married the next day when last episode Snow and Charming were still arguing about venues? Is there magic involved here I don’t know about?
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE
- You say Fiona, I think Shrek. I just can’t help it.
- Tiger Lily is, quite possibly, the worst Fairy Godmother EVER.
- Everyone played the bad smell really convincingly. I wonder what it smelled like.
- Hook’s like – I don’t have a minute! The love of my life is in mortal peril here. FOCUS.
- Why was Regina babysitting Zelena instead of helping Team Heroes?
- “You trust me, Belle?” – Well, to be honest, no, I don’t, Rumple. You’ve given me no reason to. But – yeah, Belle couldn’t really say that.
- Yes, Emma, I also dream of food, though in my dream the food doesn’t talk.
- I would watch Lana Parilla and Rebecca Mader play sisters in a sitcom.
- Regina trusting Zelena with Henry is HUGE – Henry is the most important thing in Regina’s life.
- I’d care more about your supposed pain if I’d actually seen the Black Fairy hurt you, Gideon.
- Emma and Rumple bonding. Never thought I’d see the day.
- “Thank you for fighting for me.” GIDEON, STOP GIVING ME FEELS.
- Zelena and the car is one of the highlights of the entire year.
- No, for real, I’ve already rewatched the scene like 17 times.
- Here’s a gif for you:
- “All these years I’ve known there was a good man behind the beast. Now you know it too.” – Except, he never chose to be that man, Belle. Not once.
- Rumple calling the Black Fairy out on her bullshit by bringing up HIS bullshit was everything.
- It’s an universal truth of television, if you don’t see a death, that death didn’t happen.
- Operation Best Man.
- I’m fine. I just have something in my eye – like a tree or a branch or something.
- I don’t even want to know how they put everything together in one day.
- Common sense is NOT going to ruin the Captain Swan wedding for me.
- Hook being old-fashioned is the least surprising thing ever.
NEXT, ON ONCE UPON A TIME
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.