Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 7 premiere of ABC's Once Upon a Time. If you haven't caught the episode yet, feel free to check out some of our other articles until you get the chance to watch.
Fans of ABC's fantastical Once Upon a Time already knew ahead of Season 7 that the show would be very different when it returned. The Season 6 finale ended the stories of regulars Snow White, Prince Charming, Emma Swan, and many others, with an almost entirely new cast coming on board for Season 7. One of the few original actors who signed on for Season 7 was Robert Carlyle as the always-ambiguous Rumplestiltskin, and the Season 7 premiere finally gave us a look at his new life: as a cop.
In the first six seasons, Rumple went by "Mr. Gold" the pawn shop owner in Storybrooke. The action in Season 7 is set in the Seattle area known as Hyperion Heights, and Rumple is known as Detective Weaver. He didn't appear in much of the episode, but it was quite telling that he was no longer Mr. Gold and Rumple. Belle was nowhere to be seen, and actress Emilie de Ravin is not on board as a regular. The big question is what on earth happened that Rumple ended up as a detective in Hyperion Heights. Once Upon a Time creator Edward Kitsis has revealed when we can expect to learn about what has happened to Rumplestiltskin, saying this:
I think the thing with Rumple is he always presents one way, and then you find out he's got four layers beneath him. It's no different in this land. So we meet him as Detective Weaver, but episode four is [about] what happened with him and Belle post-the ending, and I think that is the episode where you'll understand what his new goal is.
We apparently only have to wait a few more episodes to get some info on what's going on with Rumple. Edward Kitsis' reveal that Episode 4 will give some answers means that the next couple of episodes will likely focus more on the stories of other characters rather than Rumple, although we can bet Rumple will still have a part to play now that he's working with the new version of Hook.
Once Upon a Time has always been a story about characters and happy endings, but Rumplestiltskin is one who always seemed unlikely to get one of his own after all of the less-than-lovely things he did to the people of Storybrooke. His love story with Belle did go a long way in humanizing the character once known as the Dark One; the events between the end of Season 6 and the beginning of Season 7 evidently cost him dearly. Emilie de Ravin will appear later in Season 7, although we'll have to wait and see if Belle appears in the past or the present.
Series co-creator Adam Horowitz went on in the chat with THR to tease that Rumple will be forming connections to new characters:
In the coming episodes, we're going to see that he has connections and relationships that go beyond just Hook/Rogers. We hint in the premiere that there's a bit of a connection between him and Alice, so all that stuff is going to further develop in the next few episodes.
Well, Once Upon a Time is clearly going to be a different kind of show moving forward, but Rumplestiltskin is clearly as mysterious as ever. To see what's next for him and all the other characters, tune in to ABC on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of Once Upon a Time, and don't forget to take a look at our fall TV premiere schedule.