'Once Upon A Time' Will See The Return Of The Old Rumple, But When & Where Will Emma Find Him?

It's official, everyone: the season premiere of Once Upon A Time Season 5 is just around the corner — 25 days away, to be precise — and it's officially time to get excited. After all, we've got some amazing stuff ahead of us, from Dark Swan and the long-awaited trip to Camelot to some new friendships (Charming and King Arthur, Belle and Merida) and more. It's going to be amazing, but also really intense. Take, for instance, the whole Rumpelstiltskin/Gold situation. When last we saw Gold, he was placed in a magical coma after the Apprentice removed the Dark One from him to save his life. That basically left his status up in the air, but given the fact that we know Rumpel will be Dark Swan's mentor next season, it's clear he's still alive. How is that possible? Did Emma Swan go back in time after becoming the new Dark One? Was Rumpel expecting her? Turns out, things might be a bit more complicated than that.

According to executive producer Edward Kitsis, Emma definitely "did not travel time, but she did travel realms." So how is Rumple in Camelot when he's actually in Storybrooke in a coma? "Why Rumple’s there will be immediately explained within the first act of the premiere," Kitsis promised, which is a pretty big tease — especially when you consider the fact that Robert Carlyle recently claimed that Rumple and Gold are two different people. Is this actually the case? At this point, it's the only theory that actually makes sense.

After all, time travel is all but impossible in the Once universe (even Zelena's evil and extensive plan had only ever been attempted once in magical history — that we know of, anyway), so the idea that Emma taking on the Dark One title somehow shot her back into time and across realms to the old, pre-Evil Queen curse Enchanted Forest was somewhat far-fetched, even for a show about storybook characters in real life. So the question is, how on earth is Rumple (who still looks very much like the Dark One in the promo photos) end up in current-day Camelot, as well?

If the idea that Rumple and Gold are two different people is to be believed, I suppose it's possible that having the Dark One removed from him may have shot Rumple back in time and realm to the place he once was, which, as we know, was in the Enchanted Forest. Theoretically, this isn't impossible and would certainly explain a lot, but it also leaves a lot of stones unturned. For instance, if Rumple has reverted to his pre-Dark One self, why does he still look like he did after becoming the Dark One with the reptilian skin tone and all? And how can he mentor Emma if his powers are gone, as well they should be given the fact that the only reason he had magic to begin with was because he was the Dark One?

Of course, this is Once we're talking about, so there's a possibility that, as I suggested, Rumple knew all along that all of this would happen — that he would eventually no longer be the Dark One and that Emma would be his eventual replacement — and was planning on this. There's also the chance that he's still somehow got magic. After all, Rumple always was a planner, so he won't have got himself into this position without preparation. I guess we'll have to tune in on September 27 to find out.

Images: ABC