Tonight we had to bid farewell to one of the greatest characters Once Upon a Time ever created, and it was a beautiful, if kind of heartbreaking sendoff. No matter how long and happy a life she had, it was still painful to watch Belle (Emilie de Ravin) die, leaving the immortal Rumple (Robert Carlyle) to go on alone, desperate to be rid of his curse so he can one day join her in the afterlife.
Creators and executive producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis talked to TV Guide about the heavy decision to show Belle's death, the possibility she'll be back and to own up for all the tears you're surely crying.
This episode made me cry like five times, and I hold you both accountable for that.
Eddy Kitsis: We intended to make you cry, so the fact that we did — we're going to take satisfaction in it. Sorry... We all cried in the editing room repeatedly every time we saw it.
How did you guys come to the conclusion that Belle's life and eventual death was the direction you wanted to take this story?
Kitsis: We wanted to show them have this great life, and for us one of the things that we always talked about during the first six seasons was that the Dark One is immortal. It was always a benefit to him in that he couldn't die if he would be stabbed. But we started to think about the end of last year and we knew they were going to get their happy ending, and then all of the sudden it's a Benjamin Button situation in a weird sort of way, right? Not that he's reversing in age, but he's not going to get older. He's the vampire, who can't age. We loved the idea that Belle, though, is always pure of heart and understood that what made their lives special was the fact they only got one of them. And if Rumple keeps aging her down or they both live immortally, then one day isn't as special as any other because you have so many in an infinite number, it doesn't matter. She understood that, and watching Rumple come to that conclusion and being willing to give up everything to be with her and live that life, to us, was the greatest gesture he could make. This was a man we watched for six seasons always choosing power over love.
Was that sacrifice the last building block of his redemption?
Kitsis: For us it was the last step. We saw last year that he chose his son over power or getting infinite power, but I think this sacrifice for Belle really was genuine in the fact that that's what mattered to him now, his family. The montage was less about finding a way to get rid of the dagger and more of them just enjoying their lives. I think he understood that. For us, that was the great last romantic gesture for her. And that is truly what he wants.
Fans pointed out that their house kind of looked like the house from Up. It's even on a cliff side. Was that intentional?
Adam Horowitz: It was certainly an inspiration. We loved Up, and the emotionality of that felt very right for what we were doing here.
Kitsis: It is our shout out to Up. It was definitely inspired by that, and it just felt right for those two.
Should we expect to see more of Gideon in Season 7, since he's still alive at the end of that montage?
Horowitz: We may. Never say never. We love Giles [Matthey], and we love the character, and he is out there.
Is there a possibility for Belle to reappear in some way, shape or form one day?
Kitsis: Absolutely. On this show, even the dead people seem to come back all the time, so I wouldn't count it out.
Another heartbreaking moment was when Gideon offered to take the curse from Rumple so he could reunite with Belle. Why did you guys decide to have him make that offer?
Kitsis: Rumple was always haunted by what he did to Baelfire, and here we see, yes, he made up with Baelfire, but we see again with Gideon that he wasn't ever going to make that mistake again. He was a good father. And there is a Guardian, someone who can take on the burden of this. Honestly, it was kind of like the gangster mentality. He didn't want his son to follow him into a life of crime, he wanted him to be a professor, you know? His son seemed much more like Belle and interested in learning. He didn't want his son to be the Dark One. He didn't want him to be the Guardian. He wanted him to follow his own path.
We got to see so much of Belle and Rumple's life together in this episode. Did you guys feel like you owed it to fans to really show the whole span of their life together in this farewell episode?
Kitsis: I would say we felt like we owed it to us. It was something we wanted to see. We spent six years keeping them apart, bringing them together, having the drama, and so we just wanted to see the love story now. We feel like we earned it, so let's see it. I think that's really what it came down to, and obviously we knew that was something the fans wanted. One of the fears that the fans had when they realized we were doing this new reboot was we would be taking away the happy endings... the legacy of the first six years is very important to us. We're not taking away anything, hopefully, we're adding on a new story.
Horowitz: For us, it was very important that Rumple and Belle have a happy ending. These characters deserved it, and that was part of the reason for doing this episode; to show how they did have this ultimate happiness together.
What can you tease about this Guardian Rumple is looking for?
Kitsis: It's like the search for the new Dahli Llama. The Guardian is the person who can hold the knife and keep the power without letting it consume them and will allow [Rumple] to be free of being the Dark One. So that search is going to continue for the rest of the season.
And can we expect Alice to play into that?
Kitsis: We absolutely can expect Alice to play into that.
Are we going to find out how and when Rumple asked her to wake him up? And how her own story kind of collided with his?
Kitsis: We're going to see the scene where he does that in the winter finale. Rose Reynolds is phenomenal, and we are so lucky to have her. We just love the character of Alice and her portrayal. We're really excited about what we're going to do with her for the rest of the season. We're going to tell a great, epic love story with her. We are going to be telling her story throughout the year. She's just so interesting and fun to watch. The writers were all just really excited to keep writing for her.
Horowitz: She really pops.
Henry and Ivy also seem to have some chemistry, so how is that going to affect his relationship with Jacinda/Cinderella?
Kitsis: That's exactly what we want. They seem to have chemistry, and we kind of feel bad for Ivy in this moment, and yet at the same time his wife and child are out there. Ivy may have her sights set on Henry. Henry clearly has a huge crush on Jacina but feels very complicated. He's also dealing with this sense of — this curse has made him feel like he lost his child and his wife and even though Lucy keeps saying, "It's us!" Henry doesn't believe that. I think he's conflicted with his emotions. Ivy basically said, "I have less baggage," and I guess we'll just have to see whether Henry likes a complicated life or an easy one.
Once Upon a Time airs Friday nights at 8/7c on ABC.