Thorns In the Garden of Roses

October 27th’s episode of ABC’s Once Upon A Time, entitled Beauty brought the series-long back and forth that is Rumbelle’s relationship to its ‘final conclusion.’ We saw them live out their life together, happily, blissfully peaceful and so obviously deeply, truly in love with one another, with – at last – nothing to get in their way. Nothing, that is, save old age and the natural progression of life. Belle aged, and Rumple didn’t, because he is immortal, thanks to being the Dark One, and the associated power of the dagger that bears his name.

The acting was superb, as we have come to expect from Robert Carlyle and Emilie deRavin, the episode itself was very sweet and loving, showing Rumple and Belle happier together than they have ever been, and in that respect was somewhat of a comfort for those rooting for the Rumbelle ‘ship that we’ve come to love, thanks in no small part to the onscreen chemistry between Carlyle and deRavin, who cannot be faulted at all, for anything in this episode. This is to be stressed, because in the end, Belle succumbs to her mortality, passing peacefully, and happy to have spent a life with the man she loves eternally, telling him, “You see? You let me go once before and we found our way back to each other. You will find your way back to me again. I promise.”

And therein lies the problem.

Many viewer, and certainly many within the Rumbelle communities have expressed their deep concern that, having let Belle go, Rumple is left alone and grieving, with a new quest – one which Once Upon A Time showrunners have described as, ‘The most important quest of his entire life,’ – to rid himself of the dagger in order to become mortal again and be reunited with Belle in the afterlife.  In other words, Rumple is now on a quest to find a way to end his life.

Are the writers and producers of the show trying to say that it’s all right to take your own life in order to be with someone you love? If they are, that’s definitely not okay. Did they simply not see that this is the message that they are giving to viewers who might be in similar and vulnerable emotional states, and now find justification for their suicidal thoughts in the events at the end of, (and presumably after), Beauty – That it’s okay, because that’s what Rumple’s going to do now, right?  That’s how he gets his part of Rumbelle’s ‘happy ending.’

I want to stress – to really make it clear here – that in no way is the responsibility for that message being given anything to do with the actors whose superb work gave us all the warmth and happiness that we shared with Belle and Rumple during the course of the series and this episode specifically.  No, the blame, the ones truly responsible for such a message are the writers, producers and showrunners, and the network executives who paid no attention to the subtext left by that scene and reinforced at the ending of the episode.

As an educator, I must be 100 percent aware of the message and influence that my words and actions could have on the impressionable minds for which I have a duty of care. Should we not hope for the same thoughtfulness from those who create our arts and contribute to our culture? In a society where ten year olds can steal their parent’s car and take it for a joy ride because that is what they do on their favorite video game; where those accused and convicted of committing crimes of violence and terror are reported as having among their possessions – and presumably therefore had played – violent first person shooter games, and where what we watch is rated according to content to warn against something we might not wish to see, should we not expect a certain degree of sensitivity and forethought from the writers and producers of a primetime, family show that is presented as being about hope?  Is the message then that we should hope to die in order to join our lost loved ones, as is Rumple’s only hope now of reunion with the woman he loves who is ‘waiting for him’?

As I write this, I have reached out to ABC for clarification. I will be surprised if I receive a response in a timely manner, if at all. The best ‘solution’ to this problem that we can hope for, as it stands, is that Rumple will find a way to become mortal, but will live for Belle, according to how she would have wanted him to live until the natural ending of his life – an ending that is not hastened in any way, but it is not up to us to correct the problem of the highly inappropriate message.

If you are reading this, and feeling the kind of hopelessness that leads you to feel the only course left to you is to end your life, or if you know someone who is suffering from extreme depression and having thoughts of suicide, please know you are NOT alone. Please reach out to someone for help.

The numbers for the Suicide Prevention hotlines around the world can be found on this web page

Contacts for the USA and UK are listed here:

USA: 1-800-273-8255

UK: 0845-7909090

About Eirian Houpe

Writer and Teacher. Published works: Eternal Dance (as Linden S Barclay) and articles for Wigston Magna Dog Training Club, and SFX Magazine.
This entry was posted in Television, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Thorns In the Garden of Roses

  1. Oh my God… I’m watching OUAT for almost three years now, it’ve had a huge impact on me and I’m feeling like I have to share my thoughts with somebody.

    Firstly, thank you very much for this text ❤ It opened my eyes and made me feel a little better and a bit angry instead of only sad, so it's a small progress.

    When I started watching OUAT for the first time I was expecting a light, funny series about fairytales characters. Although, I quickly found out that it's a drama, I had already loved Rumbelle so much that I continued watching. I really didn't care about other characters and I found them very annoying, but this two was making it all up to me.
    Then sudenly Rumple died. I think one of the reasons why I got so involved in his story was that I wasn't sure if he's a hero (although I believed that) or a villain so I wasn't sure if he's gonna get his happy ending or not- and it isn't something that happen often when you watch movies. According to magic rules resurrection wasn't possible and moreover, I read at some forum that Belle's gonna be with somebody named Will. I thought that this was the end, so I stopped binge-watching (I really didn't want to see Belle with no one else) and I cried waiting for my recovery. But when after two weeks (which is my record in length of mourning after a ficional character; the worst thing was that I was almost sure that he was in hell) I was feeling even worse, I decided that I need to see at least Belle. And when she said that they will find a way to bring Rumple back I cried from happiness. And I was happy till the end of season 5th. After that I was trying to dropp this series a few times but it's never worked. All I was able to do was to skip a lot of episodes in season 6th, but I came back to the finale.

    Sometimes I'm thinking that it would be better for me if I would've never watched this show, but then I'm starting to think that then I wouldn't be the same person. Cause it really changed the way I look at the world. It allowed me to understand the christian truths, became a pacifist, who don't accept killing and revenge under no circumstances, who tries to understand, forgive and give a second chance to anyone, who believes that everyone deserves to be loved, that there's always a third option and it's never too late. And although I know this belefies've always been in me, it's this story that helped me to see them, build my opinions on them and put them into words and, in spite of all, I'm grateful for that.

    When i've first heard that season 7 is going to be a reboot I thought that all my dreams are finally coming true after years of crying. That finally, I will be able to watch good Rumple having adventures and helping others with his family, without giving screentime to these hypocrites Charmings, pitiful CaptainSwan and annoying Zelena. I was so naive. Like really, what the hell were I thinking?! Since I've watched episode 4th I'm in pieces. I was always a little scared that Belle may die, but I was convincing myself that they won't do this. That Rumbelle has already overcame death of one of it's half (I prefer to pretend that accident with WishBelle has never happened), that Rumple was already thinking that she's dead for some time, that he would never let Belle die, that he just can't live without her. Yeah, so naive.
    But watching this episode wasn't the worst. Of course I was upset but I quicly came to the conclusion that Belle is going to come back. Come on, she's Belle. She's the only good (not just nice) person in the whole series, she made flowers grow in Hades and just one her wish was enough to reset Gideon's life (and she's probably an angel sent to save Rumple's soul 🙂 ). After all, she promised and I trust her more than any other character. Every time in the past when she said that something will happen- it happened. This is why for example I was sure that Rumple won't die in Neverland (I was guessing that it's gonna happen later but that's another story) and why I was so irritated that she's never said this classic line "everything's gonna be alright".
    She would't just leave Rumple, she must have known that after he gets rid of the darkness she will come back. That it's literal, not just metaphoric. And it would make sense with her story about her coming back to him more than a few times and with all of the events in the previous seasons, too. Cause although I can complain a lot, I must admit that everytime after our suffering plot was ending even better than I expected. For example Rumple was resurgent and they were given a chance to raise Gideon.
    But then I've heard that it's the last season with Rumple. And now I don't know what to think, what to feel, what to do. Everything is different than it suposed to be, as always.

    In addition, this episode was so ironic that it's almost laughing under my sorrow. Cause actually it is a fulfil of all my dreams but in this OUAT's distorted way:
    -reunification after death- was my small last hope after Rumple's death when I didn't know well this show yet and i was thinking that bringing him back is impossible
    -ending in 7th season- when I was afraid that this series isn't very popular and it won't last long, I was hoping that it will last at least to my 18th birthday (so it could "raise" me and let me go to my adult life)- I will be 18 in the summer next year
    -Belle being the sun- when I was commenting the casting of 2017 Beauty and the Beast (I think that choosing Emma was a total mistcast) I was wondering how to describe what I think the acress playing her should be like and I came up with an idea that she should has a little sun inside of her and after that I was calling Belle alternately an angel or the sun
    -Belle growing old- in my opinion Emilie is truly the most beautiful actress and once or twice it crossed my mind that she's always gonna be beautiful and I'm a little curious how she will look like when she's old, but of course I wasn't willing to see it so soon.

    And I read on twitter that cause they had a happy life together maybe it was all we could ever hoped for. But it's bullshit. Maybe it was all that they could hoped for, but we could hoped to see more than 13 minutes of it and to not watch Belle freaking dying.
    Yesterday I also read on twitter that some time ago at least one Rumbeller has already comitted suicide. And it really hit me. Cause one, I wasn't expecting that someone else will get even more emotional than me about it and two, I totally don't understand how could anyone write an episode like this knowing about what happend.

    This episode was a one step too far and I think many fans can now say after Rumple: "there's nothing you can do to hurt us anymore" to the writers.
    I can't believe I'm writing this, but a little part of me is satisfied that it's going to end soon, so I can get over it and move on (but the other part knows how much I'm going to miss this and it's awful).
    What also frustrates me is that although this show actually made me a better person I can't recommend it to anyone cause I don't want to condemn someone to watch such a heart-breaking story.

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