I’ve been watching the anti-Belle comments add up on this transcript post ever since the night the episode aired, and didn’t respond till now b/c I considered those transcripts to be something I put out there for the fandom to use as they want, and people are allowed to have their opinions even if I disagree with them.

(That said, if I do the transcripts for 6B, I’ll be adding a request to each one that if people want to make anti comments about either character, not to do it on the transcript post. People are allowed to have their opinions, but I don’t want hateful opinions associated with my blog.)

But I’m finally speaking up on that particular scene, b/c I just don’t get it. What, exactly, did Belle say that was so awful?

She told him that she wouldn’t allow him to tamper with their son’s fate, like any mother defending their child would do. She reiterated that she believes him to be capable of love, and capable of being a good man. She asked him to be that good man and good father who earns his son’s love, rather than taking it by magical force.

She accused him of being afraid of failing, of being weak. That seems to be the point which really provoked many fans’ wrath. I saw that as her challenging him. She’s always challenged him, right from the beginning. She still thinks he can be a good, decent man…not a perfect one, just a good one. How is challenging him to be good, such an awful thing?

I just don’t understand where all the hate is coming from, based on that one short scene.

You said I could respond, so here’s my response 🙂 Obviously I can only speak for me. I come from the perspective that I support both Rumple and Belle, I don’t side with one over the other, I try and see both sides. That being said I had a real problem with this scene. Why is that?

Under the cut for length. Also in case this doesn’t get copied in the tags, warning for discussion of mental illness.

There are two parts to this answer. One part based on characters, another part based on just the writing and my personal reaction to it.

Writing issue: Afraid of failure – what kind of message does that send?
Leaving aside the show specific plot devices such as the shears, it was this line “Afraid of failing. That’s worse than being evil, that’s…that’s just being too weak to be good.” – I had a real visceral reaction to it and I would have no matter who said it. It could have been said by anyone and my jaw still would have dropped, and I still would have felt punched in the gut.

So this actually has nothing to do with characters, it has to do with me as a person. I’m afraid of failure, it dominates my life and I’ve screwed up my life repeatedly in part because of that fear. I’m sorry, I know I’m getting personal here but I’m just trying to explain. When I heard that line being said – perhaps especially by a favorite character – it felt like an attack on me, or anyone like me that lives with mental illness. Is that me projecting? Possibly, but it doesn’t make my feelings any less valid.

The show has a bit of a theme with this so I don’t know why I was surprised. Being afraid, being a so-called coward, has always been cast in a very negative light. However, Belle’s statement was so bold, so specific. Equating bravery with goodness, just feels so wrong to me. Somebody can be good and weak. A person shouldn’t be diminished because they struggle. Rumplestiltskin has always been a very relatable character for me because I can empathize with his self-doubt and his self-loathing.

If I’m anti anyone for this scene, then I’m anti-writers for making it clear that only the “brave” can be good. The episode was called ‘Heartless’ but it might as well have been called ‘Worthless’. Anyway, I reacted to this scene on a very personal basis. In some ways I reacted so strongly to that line, that I took it out of context. It wasn’t about who said it, or why they said it, it was just about what was said. I disliked the implications and the message it felt like it was sending. Anyway I’m going on a bit and I haven’t even got to the actual character stuff yet.

Character discussion
Setting aside my own personal reaction is hard because I had such strong feelings about it. This isn’t anti-Belle, more what I think is going on inside her head. This scene can’t be taken in abstract because a character is the result of all their experiences, feelings are complex and people feel more than one thing at a time.

The problem with Belle is the audience knows a lot more about the situation than she does. Our extra knowledge grants us a different perspective, but far more crucially we’re outside the whirlwind – we’re not caught up inside the twister. How much time has actually past on the show? Belle isn’t a robot, she needs time to process and that is something I don’t think she had. It’s something that I don’t think any of the characters have had.

I wrote about this in my fix-it fanfic actually. I picked up from after this scene and so I went into Belle’s head directly afterwards. She was so angry, and so confused, and utterly terrified. In simple terms, from her perspective Rumple broke her trust and we had the townline scene. Then we don’t know for certain I don’t think if Belle ever got her memories back from the six weeks in Camelot. Either way she resolved to trust him again when she returned at the end of 5A.

Meeting him in the underworld and getting hit with a series of revelations must have felt like the universe was laughing at her. She gave him a second chance, and whatever tatters of trust she had offered him, were just ripped away. She didn’t get a chance to deal with her anger, and feelings of betrayal over that before going under the sleeping curse. Next thing she knew she was hearing a dire warning supposedly from her son. Belle’s priority at that point was her son, and it must have felt like a sign. Plus she was still so angry because she hadn’t had time to deal with anything.

Watching 6A with an emotionless eye, Belle seemed to me in every scene to be angry. To be honest I think she’s more angry with herself because she feels like she opened herself up to this. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me kinda deal. Most of all – she doesn’t know what to do. She’s reacting, and she’s not thinking, and she’s not willing to listen, she needs time but nobody is giving her that.

When I first watched this scene in Heartless I was shouting at the TV for the two of them just to talk. Why didn’t Belle ask why he wanted the shears? There was so many assumptions going round. To this day I don’t think Rumple has actually confirmed what his plans were, or even if he had any intention of actually following through. He was floundering I think and I’ve written a lot of posts about Rumple’s state of mind already. Certainly especially in 6.04 he came across as classic acute anxiety. He wasn’t thinking anything through, he was just jumping to what seemed obvious and that is why he made so many mistakes in that episode. His first son died, he’s utterly terrified. Put that on top of all his other issues and well, I’m not surprised the state he’s in.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic slightly. Belle didn’t ask because she was angry and when people are angry they are unreasonable. They don’t want to know because they want to stay angry. While she’s angry, she feels righteous, she doesn’t have to face the fact that she made mistakes as well, or face the fact that she still has feelings for Rumple, or face the fact that she has no idea what to do and everything is a mess. It’s a perfectly natural response and I don’t blame Belle for it at all.

I can even understand Belle hitting Rumple where it hurt. She knows him better than almost anyone and the one thing Rumple has always lashed himself for is being a coward. I don’t think that consciously she wanted to hurt him, though it’s certainly possible that she was lashing out. I mean we always do hurt those we love the most. It’s just the way of it and given Belle’s own personal issues when it comes to heroism and bravery, it’s even more understandable.

Belle has this ideal of a perfect hero. She places great importance on being brave. In my opinion she places more importance than is healthy on it. Maybe because of how her mother died, it’s survivors guilt. She wants to be brave and make her mother proud. It could also be that she clings to this need to be a hero because it’s like her touchstone, it’s how she defines herself. How long was Belle locked up for in the queen’s dungeons? There’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy element to it. Belle was a hero and saved her people by going with Rumple, she saved Philip with the yao’gui. Has she ever failed?

There was that business with Anna of course, which perhaps had the opposite effect. Rather than making Belle realize that people are human, instead she’s determined to do better, creating a pathos of desperation of ‘I’m not even going to acknowledge failure is an option’. It could be that Belle is self-projecting with those words. I think I put that in the fanfic as well, that Belle clings to the idea that she is a good person so strongly, that she is almost phobic about her inner darkness. Lashing out at others, is how she lashes out at herself for qualities she doesn’t like about herself.

Anyway, wow I’ve really rambled sorry.

TLDR: This scene didn’t show Belle in her best light. It took me several rewatches before I was calm enough from my own personal reaction, to try and analyze what I thought was going on in Belle’s head. However, ultimately the conclusion I drew is that Belle is human. Yeah she wasn’t nice to Rumple in this scene but she is a character in her own right. She is half of Rumbelle and has her own feelings, mixed up as I think they are so much so that Belle doesn’t even know how she feels, over the whole mess of their relationship.

This scene hit me where I lived. However, if I take out the personal element, it was actually more realistic than I like to accept. There are two characters – Rumple and Belle – who love each other, but who are currently going through a really rough patch. It is messy and real and it sucks. It’s not comfortable viewing because it’s so complex. There isn’t a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side. Nobody is right or wrong. They both have feelings, and they have both hurt one another.

Really they should be made to actually talk, lock them in a room, make some tea and put everything on the table. They still love one another, it’s just so much has happened and so much has never been dealt with, even from before their marriage.

So where does all the hate come from?
I’ve just gone on about how I viewed the scene initially, and then what I came to see after I’d gained some distance, and tried to view it without having an emotional reaction. Now, obviously I can’t speak for anyone but me and I’m not really comfortable speculating. That being said I’m going to do so anyway. I might not be right, like I said I don’t know for certain what others think, I can only speak for me. I just want that to be stated.

Anyway, I suspect the hate came from the fact that Belle hit Rumple where it hurt and she knew that. It took me several viewings before I could see Belle’s side because I empathized with Rumple so strongly, I felt so bad for him, I wanted to protect him. It could also be because Belle just assumed, and she didn’t ask, so she was lashing out at Rumple for something that might not even be true which does feel very unfair. Injustice is something that makes me seethe. Yeah I’m going to admit it, I was initially very angry with Belle over this scene. It’s only now with time and distance that I can analyze why.

Honestly if only Belle and Rumple would just talk and be honest with one another, so many of their problems would be solved.