OUAT – Rumpelstiltskin Character Study

By Sarah Dean

Everyone wants something. This goal should, by no means be easy to obtain. There should be opposition. Through these goals they become easier to identify with more like us. When you first saw Rumpelstiltskin in Once what did you think? When he crawls down from the ceiling cackling, and predicting the future, with sparkly skin and horrible teeth, what was your first impression? Mine was, “I hope he’s in every episode for the rest of the season.” When I saw Mr.Gold I was flailing. From the pilot! He seems like such like a theatrical over the top villain that you’re automatically drawn to him. He’s a different than characters like or Emma (And don’t get me wrong I love her)where we can guess if not relate to their backstory. We don’t guess him having a semblance of a normal life at any point, which is NOT something you can say for most characters. Of course this is just so Jane Espensen can completely blindside us and cackle evilly at how unprepared we are for this show. In Desperate Souls, we see him as a father. He doesn’t have any goals. All he wants is to provide a good life for his son. But that all changes when he has to turn his son over to the very same war he ran from. His opposition is impossible for him, because he has no power. He sees himself as a coward and that’s what he believes he is. As he says the only option for him is what corner to hide in. When the beggar tells him about the Dark One’s power, his motivations are clear. The power isn’t what he wants, he just wants to have control in his life. He doesn’t even consider the repercussions it could have on his life or relationship with his son. His compassion and love for his son overshadows anything else. When he kills the Dark One it still comes as a shock. During the course of one episode we’re attached to this human man that he was before his curse, even though we’ve seen him make some (very) questionable choices and even more morally grey decisions we can’t quite fathom the depth of his darkness. And neither can Baelfire. He doesn’t like this version of his father and though we’ve seen the much darker,horrible teeth, “dearie” version of Rumple we find ourselves cheering for both of them, torn between the compelling darkness of him yet wanting the light and goodness to shine through and become the timid spinner once again. However, his curse prevents him seeing the damage he’s inflicted on people. He doesn’t seem to notice that he’s the cause of his son’s unhappiness. He’s scared an entire town into frightened submission, something he wouldn’t have dreamed or wanted pre-curse.

He tells Baelfire if he could give up his powers he would and we see a glimpse of the before Rumple. When Baelfire tells him that he got the magical beans from the Blue Fairy, Rumpelstiltskin is completely skeptical. He doesn’t believe that true power can come from the good side of the force, for lack of a better term. Which is a interesting question, is good magic more powerful than dark magic? However, he still goes with Baelfire but only because he promised. But when the moment arises and the mysterious green tornado opens up he can’t go. He’s scared. He’s still a coward and he’s terrified to lose the power and only control he’s gained in his life. He immediately regrets his decision. He blames the Blue Fairy for being the reason his son left, but realizes there might still be a way. Th Blue Fairy is right when she says he of all people would think of a curse instead of a blessing. He vows to love nothing else and while it is a serious and moving scene, as Skin Deep aired before this episode us Rumbelle shippers can’t help but give a little smile at that bit. Skin Deep begins, and we see a man whose goals are more easy to to obtain this time around. He just wants a maid. Can that really be it? From the get go, Belle is strong, leaving her family and all she has ever known to be with a strange man just because it means she can save her kingdom. Belle is probably the bravest female character we’ve seen on the show and it makes her chemistry with Rumpelstiltskin all the more interesting, him being someone so cowardly. The first thing she does when she gets to the ~Dark Castle~ is go to her “room”. Well, dungeon. Yep, Rumple sure knows how to make the ladies feel loved. At first she seems understandably scared to death of him. She’s worried that one slip of a cup and she’ll be turned into a flower. But he’s fairly laid-back (and I mean that very, very loosely) and after awhile she seems to warm up to him. They’re both lonely hearts and the only person in each others life who’s there and cares about the other. She starts to ask about his son, and seems truly concerned about him. He doesn’t want to open up despite her persistence. Rumpelstiltskin seems like he actually had forgotten some of what he had lost, and maybe time might have had a effect on that. Since it would appear he doesn’t age it could’ve happened centuries ago. He gradually starts to trust her, telling her snippets of his life and of his son. They become closer, months pass and it becomes hard to remember when captivity was something between them. Rumple sees it as well and realizing that he loves her, cannot keep her there at the cost of her happiness. He lets her go not expecting her to return but stays up waiting for her nonetheless. He is overjoyed to see her again and wonders why she would come back when she could have freedom instead? She kisses him, he hesitantly reciprocates and sure enough his curse starts to break. He’s confused but once she tells him that “Any curse can be broken,” Rumple flips out. He believes this was all a ploy for him to lose his magic, becoming weak and powerless so she could slay the beast. He can’t fathom someone truly loving him. He locks her away in her “room” furious with her. He orders her to leave. Belle starts to go, but before she leaves tells him that because he couldn’t believe she could love him he is a coward and will always regret it. She is gone and he is just a lonely man. At long last Regina, sashays into his castle, casually informing him Belle committed suicide to escape the horrors of her life inflicted by her father. Something that was all his doing. He demands she go. Heartbroken he replaces a chalice with the teacup realizing once and for all that he values their love over wealth and power. He’s not such a far cry from the creature we see in the pilot, a shell of a person, crawling down from a ceiling cackling. It’s all we can do to hope that finding Belle in the S1 finale will set him on the road to redemption and to Baelfire 🙂

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