While the logical assumption is that we'll be spending much of Once Upon A Time Season 5 concentrating on Emma's turn as the Dark One and the whole Camelot/Merlin/King Arthur/Merida world — and to be fair, we likely will dedicate most of the early episodes to exactly that — being an ensemble show means having a large cast of characters, each of which need some airtime of their own. Belle is one character that's been criminally underserved over the years, generally fading into the background or being used as a plot device to further Rumple's storylines, but that's about to change next season, and we're going to find out more about Belle's life before Rumple, which I think you'll agree is amazing news.
Asked if viewers would get to see any of Belle's old life via flashback in Season 5, executive producer Eddy Kitsis teased, "That might happen. I would say that the second half of the season is looking a lot like some of our past will come back to haunt us." If that's not promising, I don't know what is! After all, we were introduced to Belle when she willingly went to live with Rumple back in the Enchanted Forest in exchFoange for her father receiving the Dark One's help. But what was she like before then? That's the story we've never been privy to, and it's a shame.
For sure, Belle's relationship with Rumple is important and has very much informed who she is as a character now, but given that we have context for the present incarnations of most of the other main characters on the show, it seems almost criminal that we've been robbed of this when it comes to Belle. It may be safe to assume that some qualities Belle had in classic fairy tale form are still present — she's naturally curious and wants to see the world, she loves books — but what else? What was her childhood like, her relationship with her mother? All of it is worth showing, so I hope that's explored in Season 5.
We already know that Belle will get a bit more screen time in the form of a BFF-ship of epic proportions with Merida in Camelot, which is exciting on its own. But what will be even better is seeing Belle truly become part of the Storybrooke gang in her own right, not just as a second thought as "Rumple's True Love", because she's worth more than that.
Images: ABC; Giphy