Stay with me here, guys. It's just a little over a month before the premiere of Once Upon A Time Season 5 and while we know quite a lot about what's ahead of us — Emma as the Dark One, a trip to Camelot, and the introduction of Brave heroine Merida, to name a few —there are way more questions than that still left unanswered. One of the big things on many people's minds is what's going on with Rumpelstiltskin (or Mister Gold, if you're nasty). Is he alive? Will he have any power left, and if so, how is that even possible? Is Belle seriously dropping Will for this guy? When it comes to storylines left up in the air, Rumpel comes at the top of the list. Unfortunately, Robert Carlyle's recent comments about his beloved character's current state have only made things even more confusing.
When last we left him, Gold had been placed in a magical coma, of sorts, while he attempted to recover from several centuries of being the Dark One and a complete tyrant. His innumerable dark deeds had taken their toll on his heart, which had turned nearly entirely black, and removing the Dark One from his being and tethering it elsewhere was the only possible way to save him. So that's what the Apprentice did, only it didn't turn out quite as planned, and now it's unclear what's going to happen to Gold/Rumple/whoever he is. If you're wondering about the ambiguity there, it's due to Carlyle's insistence that Rumple and Gold are actually two different people. Say what?
"Rumple’s not in a coma. Gold’s in a coma. Gold’s got a white heart, Rumple doesn’t. It’s a different thing."
Is it, though? Gold is Rumpel and vice versa. Gold only exists because that's his new name in Storybrooke, the world the Evil Queen created with her Dark Curse. The Evil Queen is, of course, Regina. They're the same person existing on a singular timeline, so it's difficult to put Carlyle's comments in perspective. Rumple is in a coma because Gold is, and they're the same person, just known by two different names. So what exactly is Carlyle getting at, and what can we take from such a seemingly innocuous statement?
Given some of the spoiler photos we've seen for Season 5, it seems Once might be playing with time travel again, though how they're going to manage the seemingly impossible feat for a second time remains to be seen. After all, when Emma and Hook fell through the portal in Season 3 and were transported back to the Enchanted Forest when Snow White was still on the run from the Evil Queen, it was because Zelena's spell had half-worked and made it possible. However, within the laws of magic as they exist on the show, time travel is strictly off limits and pretty difficult to accomplish, so we'll see.
Within this context, it's logical to infer that while Gold will be largely absent from Season 5, at least thus far, we'll still be seeing Rumpel if the Storybrooke crew travels back in time to the Enchanted Forest to look for Merlin. Of course, that's all just conjecture at this point, but isn't that the fun part of hiatus?