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It's not possible to pull up on the "Late Freight" when it comes to reanalyzing quite a few of the best fairy tales that you grew up on as a child.
This new replay of "tales as old as time" was already played out by the time I caught onto it, but while watching and re-watching episode after episode of the Netflix series Once Upon A Time, it occurred to me that no matter who they called "The Savior," it was Belle French who ultimately saved everybody.
Emma Swan, Regina Mills, Henry Mills with his newfound authorial powers, and even Rumpel Stiltskin, when it was done, were called the "saviors," but the only true savior throughout the duration of each season was Belle French.
Belle was the only character who never once darkened her heart with any kind of black magic, never once gave in to the darkness even when her husband kept pushing the needle and insisting she "accept him for who he is," and no matter what people did to her that could have caused her to turn just as evil as her husband, "Mr. Gold" (played by my now favorite all-time actor, Robert Carlyle)—she still could never bring herself to do anything except forgive them and move on.
Everyone, even Snow White, carried at least one dark spot on their hearts, but never Belle.
Had it not been for her over-arching, almost spotless love for Rumpel (i.e., Storybrooke's Mr. Gold), he would never have found out that he was something other than he believed himself to be.
Mr. Gold was the common "golden strand" that brought all evil and good, dark and light, to the same table eating from the same trays in spite of themselves—he was the puppetmaster, the circus master, and the dark whisperer all in one. Belle was his polite nemesis, and ultimately the one who brought him to his knees in despair of whether or not she or "it" was going to be the most important thing in his life.
I used to think that the marriage of Luke & Laura on General Hospital back in the day was one of the most beautiful television "faked nuptials" ever, but Belle & Gold topped that one in one of the most beautiful ways anyone would want to imagine a wedding could be on this side of reality. Wedding vows written by couples are usually kind of cheesy and lame, but those two... wow. You'd have to KNOW their stories and how they ended up falling in love to know that those were the best and most overwhelming "faked wedding vows" ever written in the history of Hollywood.
Gold was not, by any means, what Hollywood would call a handsome or good-looking man, but he still had some mean, sexy "swag" going on whether he was Rumpel or Gold. Women dropped for him, but once he fell in love with Belle, he was like that one egg out of hundreds when it gets hit by that one target sperm out of 500 million. The rest of his heart hardened over and no other woman could get any play, fore or aft, out of him, no matter how many times temptresses came to sway him.
Gold's presence in a room made heads turn and helped even me over here in the real world sorting out numerous mixtures of storylines understand why "bad boys" turn women's heads.
Like Belle, it isn't the "bad" that is the turn-on, it's the fact that they are so staunch and strong and determined; they don't play games, don't indulge in unnecessary conversations, and hardly ever take NO for an answer. They hold their own, are proud and hardcore about being true alpha males, and they "do what they gotta do" even when many people doth protest, and protest loudly and even if it means someone gets hurt. They are always confident and pretentious and certain of themselves to a fault, and though they don't like being vulnerable, they are at least willing to admit it when they are wrong.
Rumpel/Gold was all that, and a bag of chips; and he was a pretty doggone snazzy dresser in Storybrooke, as well.
There's not much of anything sexier than a well-dressed man, especially when he looks better with his clothes on than off; so that three-quarter-length cashmere coat-gold-tiepin-expensive-leather-shoe-well-fitting-shirts-and-pants-wearing Idget, who was by no means effeminate even when he was being the Dark One's "Rumpel," ended up being the sexiest character of them all. Ad he had to compete with chisel-chinned "Prince Charming" and "dashing rapscallion" Capt. Hook. All those good-looking guys in the series of all races and ethnicities, and Gold was actually the one with the best "man swagger" of them all. The rest were Pretty Boys, Gold was ALL MAN.
Yet and still, Belle Gold was the true savior of Storybrooke, though she was too modest to have admitted it even if the writers of these fractured fairy tales had given her proper credit.
Had he (Gold) not been thrust into the passionate heat of redemption and reconciliation and even unrequited love by Belle's undying devotion to Rumpel in spite of the many moments when she truly wanted to hate his power-grubbing guts, the people of Storybrooke (i.e., the Enchanted Forest, Neverland, the Land of the Untold Stories, Hades, and all of those numerous other places where fairy tales go to be born, to live, and to die) none of them would ever have had any true "Happy Endings." The Dark One (Mr. Gold) was the main driving force behind everyone's stories and if they had some underlying or overarching issues of any magnitude or tender, he was somewhere in it or he was the cause of it.
In the end, episode after episode, it was really and truly Belle French and her love for Rumpel (and her undying belief that all people, even the thoroughly evil or bad, had some redeeming quality within) that saved everybody--all of the characters and their strangely mixed confabulations and merged identities, their pasts, present circumstances, and their futures.
Gold, though he didn't really deserve it, was the man who got the real prize.