The final battle is approaching on Once Upon a Time as Emma’s (Jennifer Morrison) story will come to a close–and, hopefully, a happy ending. Of course, before that can happen, she’ll have to deal with a pesky curse cast by the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) just after Emma said her “I do” with Hook (Colin O’Donoghue).
As with anything in Storybrooke, it’s not just Emma’s happiness on the line. Belle’s (Emilie de Ravin) reunion with her son Gideon (Giles Matthey) has been cut short by the curse, and just after the Black Fairy gained a powerful ally in Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), in a bid to become a family once again.
Heading into the two-hour finale, it has officially been confirmed Once Upon a Time will be getting a Season 7, though it will be without its star, as Morrison has confirmed she won’t be renewing her contract. Still, the creators have promised a satisfying conclusion, regardless of what happens next.
We spoke with de Ravin about Belle’s journey so far, whether fans will be satisfied with the finale, and what she thinks a happy ending for Belle really looks like.
This interview has been edited and condensed
The TV Junkies: In many ways it feels like the main storyline is wrapping up this season. In your years portraying Belle, what has been the most interesting thing about playing her?
Emilie de Ravin: I don’t think there’s one thing I can really pinpoint except that it’s been a lovely, unique experience of bringing to life a really well known character, whether it be fictitious or not. It’s always interesting because people always have pre-conceived notions, so it’s fun for me to do the opposite. I didn’t know anything about Belle except the Beauty and the Beast storyline, but I hadn’t seen the movie when I started this job. I was not a child brought up on Disney, I was much more drawn to live action movies and TV. It was a lot of fun to learn about this world, and I like a lot of attributes about her. I love her honesty, her ease of getting through situations without pre-judging people, and being very generous—sometimes to her detriment. She could maybe do with a little more street smarts, but she’s one of the most open, honest and non-judgemental characters I’ve played, and that’s been very lovely. Non-convoluted in her attitude towards the things she deals with.
TTVJ: In terms of her generosity, she’s given Rumplestiltskin so many chances to redeem himself, even in the last few episodes with his relationship with the Black Fairy. In spite of his recent actions, do you think she still has faith in him?
EDR: I think so and I think it’s more than faith too. It’s really easy to look at it and say, “oh god, he’s so awful, why does she stay with him.” And look, of course there’s that part, but everything he’s done that has been inherently bad, for lack of a better word, he’s never done anything to directly hurt her. Everything has been to protect her, save her or make sure things go in the right direction for her. Belle needs to take responsibility too for the fact that, which I don’t think she’s really denying, that she could leave at any time. There’s a part of her that’s connected to his darkness and enjoys having a project to try and fix.
That’s a really common thing in real life relationships, isn’t it? Obviously not in all relationships, but sometimes you’ve got the person that desperately wants to fix the other person that’s broken and, in Rumple’s case, he’s not broken as much as he’s got this massively dangerous addiction to power, and can he let it go? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, so that’s a massive struggle for him. Belle’s seeing that that’s not who he really is, and she’s always there. Can she help him let that go or is it always going to be there? Either way, I think she needs him just as much as he needs her.
TTVJ: Now that they’ve liberated Gideon from the Black Fairy, how does that dynamic change with their son in the mix?
EDR: I mean, everything changes with a kid, you know. It’s no longer about Belle being first, Rumple being first, or them as a couple being first. It’s Gideon and what they can do to help him, or save him, and what’s best for him. Starting off with Belle asking Blue (Keegan Connor Tracy) to take him away to make sure he was okay, which backfired, unbeknownst to her for a long time. It’s always brought them together in probably the most unselfish way that they’ve ever been able to look at each other instead of looking at their relationship as number one, it’s him.
TTVJ: Right now we don’t know if Once Upon a Time will be back for Season 7 (Editor’s Note: The series has now been renewed for Season 7), but the creators have said that the Season 6 finale will have a satisfying conclusion. Do you think fans will be happy with it?
EDR: I think so. I hope so, but you’re not ever going to please everyone. If you asked someone what their perfect ending would be and they wrote it, they might have a different opinion and say, “aw, no, that’s not what I want.” [laughs] There’s a lot to be said about having something that leaves things up to the viewer’s imagination. Not that you don’t know what happens, but to let your mind wander as to what the possibilities are for these people afterwards. I like that.
TTVJ: As a fan, I would love an ending like that, where you get to believe what you’d like, rather than it be so concrete.
EDR: There’s a definitely lovely ending to this, but is it an ending or is it an in-between? I’m sure it’s quite a challenge for the writers to not know if you’re actually ending or not. The last show I did, we had an ending for Lost three years before we ended, and had plenty of time to know when they were wrapping it up.
TTVJ: Though, of course, even knowing they were ending in advance, that ending still had a bit of controversy.
EDR: Yeah, I don’t think you could have not had controversy in that finale. [laughs] It was fantastic, everyone was so opinionated from the get-go and so involved. There are still people coming up with new theories about, you know, “what did that really mean” and it’s kind of cool. I’ve never been involved in something that had so many theories, questions, ideas and outcomes that are still being written about.
I’m very lucky to have been a part of that and [Once Upon a Time] as well. It’s wonderful to be able to be a part of stuff that have such a cult following. There’s a lot of really passionate fans, and that’s why we do it, so it’s so nice to hear about that and meet the fans, hear how the shows affected their life.
TTVJ: Obviously you’ve already filmed the finale, but in your own opinion, what would you consider a happy ending for Belle?
EDR: At this point, a satisfying ending for Belle would be, however this may look, age-wise or time-wise, with or without Rumple, is to be happy and content with herself and be with her child in some respect, after all that she’s gone through with him.
TTVJ: The big news this week has been Jennifer Morrison’s exit from the series. When you were wrapping up did you get a sense this was a bit of a goodbye this time?
EDR: Well, yeah, because you don’t know. Last season we were renewed before we finished filming, I think. Is that right? [laughs] We were renewed pretty early, but most seasons on most shows you don’t know until you’re on your hiatus. I suppose there was a little bit more for this one in a sense because it was six years up and people’s contracts are up, but we’ll see.
What are your predictions for the Once Upon a Time season finale? Sound off in the comments below.
Once Upon a Time‘s Season 6 finale begins with a 1 hour special at 7 p.m. ET on ABC and CTV Two, followed by the two-hour season finale at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and CTV.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.