My relationship with Rumbelle has always been significantly conflicted and mixed, to say the least. During season one I could considerably appreciate it for being a darker, more honest, non-sugarcoated and refreshingly challenging take on Beauty and the Beast story. The narrative didn’t unreasonably romanticize the problematic elements of Rumple/Belle dynamic but rather presented and displayed them in a blunt, direct, unambiguous manner while letting the audience form their own consistent opinions on it without imposing any type of judgement on the viewers.
Problematic romantic arcs that are framed in upfront manner without being glamorized typically come across as intriguing, captivating, complex, layered and have a potential to interestingly develop & contribute to remarkable character evolution eventually. Rumple and Belle’s relationship in season one functioned well because the premise of this arc was about Rumple being a literal monster which the narrative never intended to whitewash or disguise as something more flattering. It was a storyline featuring one of the established villains on the show - a mass murderer, exploiter, power abusing oppressor and sadist. This arc was molded around him being deceptive, backstabbing, aggressive and ruthless and doing precisely what oppressors do: exploiting power AND people. With Belle being one of those people.
She was fully aware of his malicious tendencies and the narrative made us, the viewers, aware of how unsettling, dubious and twisted Rumple’s perception of a relationship was (hence the horrific instance of turning Gaston into a rose and presenting Belle with it while lying to her about a non-existent flower selling woman). It was fascinating to watch an empowered, murderous, oppressive manipulator exploring his intensely blooming feelings towards one of the people whose position of disadvantage he shamelessly used for personal benefit. There was some form of poignancy to it because it could have been a way for Rumple to actually learn a lesson and recognize how his privilege abuse affects individuals. Something he clearly was unwilling to do when his relentless pursuit of unlimited control destroyed his son psychologically to the point where he was desperate to get away, vainly hoping that his father follows and ends up valuing his well being over privilege.
The problem with oppressive mindset is it’s perpetrators gaining a sadistic pleasure out of the fact that they are absolved from responsibility due to their place of privilege. Learning to sympathize, empathize and relate to Belle on emotional level could have prompted Rumple to RECONSIDER this mindset - something, as we know by now, has not only never happened within the show’s canon but the narrative has come to glorify said mindset which is a whole new level of repulsive.
Season 1 Rumbelle, essentially, was about framing this dynamic as an unhealthy commitment between an empowered oppressor and their disadvantaged (psychologically, authoritatively and socially) slave who ended up being liberated and pursuing her initial goals of seeking out adventures & building herself up while leaving Rumple process and reflect on his life choices.
Alas, he didn’t actually reflect on anything. Because Rumple/Rumbelle’s season 2 arc ended up being constructed in atrociously insulting manner. Rumple was revealed to be not just an oppressor - but a misogynistic wife murderer who slaughtered a woman in cold blood for having the audacity to leave him for someone else and for defying a conventionally feminine role of a wife and mother he confined her to. Woman whose “worst” crime was leaving their mutual son in Rumple’s custody whereas he had mentally traumatized and abandoned said son to a life of despair, loneliness and hunger.
The audience was exposed to a grossly appalling wet dream of an unremarkable unacknowledged non-genius who couldn’t wait to get back at the meanies who hurt his feelings and rightly placed a label of a coward on him because he was a deserter and a deceiver of his country who ditched his army peers to die at a war for their families while considering HIMSELF a self sacrificing, heroic and exemplary family man who is entitled to his wife’s unswerving loyalty as well as to his son (season 2 is where we also find out that Rumple reduces people to objects he supposedly has a claim on, not human beings with agency and needs. The fact that they DO have agency is an alien and decidedly incomprehensible concept for Rumple to grasp). Rumple preserved his initial privileges, maintained his house, job and source of income whereas his wife was negatively affected by his self destructive and problematic choices and sank further and further into depression, seeking out escape in alcohol.
Rumple - having a complete control in that marriage since that’s how social dynamics in medieval environment functioned - continually disregarded her emotional well being and scolded her on responsibilities despite already having failed to perform that of his, as a man and a husband. He neglected his wife’s progressing misery and used his privilege/position of control to deny her outward and desperate pleas to start a fresh together somewhere else where they could have potentially built a healthier life for themselves and where she would not have been that miserable. Not only did Rumple dismiss Milah’s needs and wishes - he advised Milah to repress her depression/emotional anguish, if not on his then on Bae’s behalf (therefore, again, using his son as a justification for his selfish and egotistical behaviors and unwillingness to make an effort). Because as I have mentioned numerous times in my reviews/analyses of this issue to Rumple Milah was not a person and a human being with emotions, longings and ambitions: she was a social construct designed specifically for his convenience and to fulfill a motherly/wife role. Her well being did not EXIST for Rumple outside of said role. Hence why Milah went for someone for whom it DID exist, who agreed to endorse her agency and aspirations and gave her unconditional control over her life.
It is thoroughly ironic how - as it becomes evident later on during Killian centric episodes - Milah basically left her entitled coward of a husband for his direct antithesis. Rumple was a deceiver of his government who maintained and benefited from his privileges that by all accounts should have been revoked (seeing as being a deserter should have ranked him among criminals) and who betrayed his army friends & abandoned them to die. On the other hand, Killian was deceived by HIS government after loyally serving it with his brother, chose to actively and openly defy it once their authority turned out to be oppressive and committed a political crime against the only family he had - depriving him of it - and rebelled against the system in order to not reinforce it’s corruptness (and reinforcing corruptness is what Rumple has been doing ever since running away from war and exploiting his position of social/institutional power over Milah; whom he continually degraded for not efficiently fulfilling her obligations despite failing his military duties in far worse ways, not to mention his parental ones). Killian gave his crew a choice and expressively stated that those who didn’t share his radical defiant stance could flee. Thus, again, doing the opposite of what Rumple did to his peers since he ran off alone and didn’t even TRY to rebel or oppose whatever injustice he believed he was facing together with others (and he was facing none because fighting at a war was mandatory for all men in medieval times).
As a contrast to Rumple, Killian agreed to assist Milah in starting a new life after Rumple had dismissed her pleas, supported her decision to not face her husband because she was aware of how entitled he was (and we are now also aware that Rumple is prone to killing women when they reject him) and took responsibility entirely on himself (again, contrasting with how Rumple let his toxic decisions affect Milah to the point where she became depressed, investing not a semblance of effort into her emotional well being). Killian challenged Rumple, the latter declined - thus, again, placing his own well being over that of Milah. As the result, Killian didn’t lay a finger on Rumple and let him walk freely. Whereas Milah was finally liberated from a failing marriage, planning to come back to her son later on when she mentally recovers.
We see how Killian gives Milah an extensive power and control aboard his ship because he was not in any way affected by medieval sexism, how HE takes the challenge he knows he has zero chances to win when the Dark One Rumple confronts him because HE values Milah’s safety and happiness above his life. Whilst Rumple favors his swollen ego over her life as he makes her beg AGAIN, plead AGAIN, makes HER apologize in hopes that HE forgives her. Even though Rumple was the one who should have apologized for making her miserable and then should have revealed the truth about how HE had failed his duties towards his and Milah’s mutual son.
None of it happens, Rumple keeps being a patronizing misogynist who lectures Milah on her far less drastic parental failures and brutally slaughters her the second she says she never loved him & renders her partner permanently disabled.
The outcome of peasant Rumple’s encounter with Killian were hurt feelings and damaged pride on Rumple’s part.
The outcome of the second encounter between a MORE empowered Rumple and Killian & Milah was the murder of the latter and maiming of the former. Milah is dead, Hook is disabled, Rumple’s ego is ruined.
That was when it became impossible - at least for me - to root for Rumple and advocate for his romantic relationship with any woman. Let alone Belle. Because Belle was literally framed as a REWARD Rumple got for murdering his “disloyal” wife. He murdered an assertive woman for reclaiming her agency and proceeded to engage in a relationship with a woman whom he had ROBBED of agency by taking advantage of her family’s life threatening situation and coercing her into slavery and into performing those duties he verbally abused his wife for not faring with. THAT was when the appeal of Rumbelle was destroyed for me almost irrevocably although I did hold out hope that maybe the show addresses the Milah issue constructively and has Belle confronting Rumple on it.
Alas, Rumple gets to objectify his slain wife both in front of his new female partner - Belle - and her grief stricken lover - Hook - and revels in the fact that he is ABSOLVED from responsibility for her murder (hence his condescending “are you done trying to kill me” directed at Hook. This line is particularly sickening because not only does Rumple KNOW that his place of privilege and power makes him immune to consequences but he gains a sadistic satisfaction out of the fact that his disadvantageous victims will never have the justice done no matter how much effort they make. Until they completely destroy themselves psychologically and emotionally like Hook had been doing for three centuries before realizing that Rumple was too pitiful to keep resorting to harmful and disgraceful methods to target him. The lack of alternatives offered to Hook in regards to subjecting Rumple to responsibility is another reason why this show - or Rumple/Rumbelle for the matter - has become hardly redeemable in my eyes because the mentality it promotes is a textbook oppressor worshiping. Disadvantageous people have to destroy themselves, succumb to ultimate decline, earnestly reconsider their methods, move on from them, rebuild their life from the shreds it has been reduced to by their oppressors while pardoning said oppressors who, again, get away with their crimes).
Belle’s concise and repulsive summation of her boyfriend’s misogynistic murder of the mother of his child? His heart is TWU!!!111!!! Which was the death of Rumbelle for me. Still enjoy some of their scenes purely because Bobbie and Emilie are outstanding actors though.
As far as fandom goes it’s infinitely pointless to engage in such debates. If that person is going to waste their time reblogging from me like it has already happened in past I’m not going to - as I did during a previous argument with the same user - spend two days exchanging the same points over and over because neither party’s outlook on the issue is going to align with that of the other in the end.
Hook + please learn from my mistakes, Emma
#fucking tell me this man isnt getting a decent redemption #because it’s the only character who learns things the hard way and understand the lessons #and who better #doesn’t blame anyone else for his mistakes or his fate #this man isnt asking people for redemption #barely for respect #his own redemption #he got it alone #by working on it without asking people to give him credit #he didnt cry for it #he didnt beg for it #he fought for himself #without asking for people to applaud #this man had a hard life and blamed the one respnsible for it #and yet he lived and he still found hope tell me he’s a bad character with a shitty redemption i will slap you because not only he found redemption by himself by falling in love and seeing further than his own life but he also tries to help Emma Swan to make a better life to be a better person to improve herself not by being a moralist but by being a friend a confident a kindred spirit that is redemption this is serious and good redemption by doing it on your own #the resilience
Did you always intended to have Hook in love with Emma? Was that something you planned out or was it something that developed because of the actor’s chemistry onscreen?
Adam: Always. I mean, listen… You go into these things with the best intentions. That is to say we loved…