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.
Once Upon a Time airs Friday nights at 8/7c on ABC.