After a three-month hiatus, season three of “Once Upon a Time” returned to airwaves Sunday night, princes, princesses and all. One main character, however, remained missing from the midseason premiere’s magical lineup: Rumpelstiltskin (Rumple) and his Storybooke alter ego, Mr. Gold.
Despite fans excitement over the introduction of the Wicked Witch, the series newest villain (wicked always wins!), OUAT fans haven’t been quiet in sharing their concerns that actor Robert Carlyle’s character may not return from the hit ABC program following his battle to the death (or so we thought) with Peter Pan during the midseason three finale in December. Fortunately for “Once Upon a Time” fans, co-creators/producers behind the ABC series, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, and series lead, Jennifer Morrison, have since stepped forward to discuss the villainous character’s noticeable absence.
So will Rumple come back from the dead? While Rumplestilskin’s main squeeze Belle (Emilie de Ravin) briefly mentioned the possibility of his return during Sunday's night episode, Horowitz and Kitsis were coy when recently discussing the Dark One’s fate on the series. “In episode 13 the Dark One’s fate will be heavily explored,” the duo told E! News last week. “You should never underestimate the tricks that are always up Rumpelstiltskin’s sleeves.”
Fortunately for fans, Morrison, who plays savior Emma Swan, was more forthcoming in spoiling the return of Carlyle’s character. “It’s always complicated on our show,” Morrison told Entertainment Weekly Sunday, later confirming that Rumple will make an unexpected comeback in OUAT. “I can say he returns in an unexpected way, and the way that he is still alive makes someone else a hero and also really impacts the mindset of Rumpelstilskin,” she said.
While Rumple fans may be excited about his impending return from the dead, Rumbelle fans, the "shippers" behind Rumple and his leady lady Belle’s romance, will most likely also be satisfied following the premiere of future episodes according to the show's producer's recent comments. “Just remember: Even after death, true love always wins. Always,” OUAT producers told E! News.
Even without Rumple in her life, OUAT producers have since shared that Belle will take on a more prominent role in the second half of season three. According to from the Hollywood Reporter, Belle's character arc will keep her close to Rumple’s estranged son Neal (Michael Raymond-James). “You're going to start seeing her come into her own by using her brain," added Kitisis.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.