Last week, we speculated what the Once Upon A Time Season 2 finale cliffhanger might be. One of our theories — that Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) will reset Storybrooke to a time when they first arrived — gained ground this week when Rumple made another subtle reference to the possibility. Here are the five clues we’ve gathered that this game-changing twist could become a reality:
1. Rumple tells Bae he can make him a boy again.
In Season 2, Episode 14: “Manhattan,” Rumple reunites with his long-lost son, Baelfire/Neal (Michael Raymond-James) who he hasn’t seen since a 14-year-old Bae left the Enchanted Forest in the hopes his corrupted-by-magic father would follow. As a way to make up for his abandonment, Rumple tells Bae he wants to make it up to him by turning back time:
“Come with me to Storybrooke,” Rumple says to Bae. “There’s magic there. I can turn the clock back. Make you 14 again. We can start over...I can’t make up for the lost time, but I can take away the memories.”
Despite Bae’s protests that he does not want to be 14 again (duh, Dad), we think Rumple is planning to do just that. If he turns back the clock, he might be able to finally get his son back.
2. Rumple wants to go back for Belle.
In Season 2, Episode 16: “The Miller’s Daughter,” Rumple calls Belle on his deathbed to let her know that she is a hero and that he loves her. In the speech to Belle, Rumple tells her: "You make me wanna go back — back to the best version of me."
Sure, it sounds like the sort of sweet sentiment that people say half-heartedly to each other from time to time, but we think Rumple may have meant it literally. If Rumple has the power to wind back time, it wouldn’t just be his son he would be getting back, but also Belle. She may not remember part of their romance, but she would remember the part of her that is Belle and not Lacey. Bae and Belle are the two people Rumple cares most about in the world, and he has proven time and time again that he will do anything for them.
3. Regina has reason for regret too.
Regina has spent the entire season (and arguably series) trying to get Henry back and to no avail. This week, she also lost her mother to Snow White’s attempt at securing her family’s safety. Regina has tried following the rules, and it has gotten her nowhere and without her mother, she has less hope of taking Storybrooke by magic and manipulation. She has reiterated again and again to Cora since her appearance in Storybrooke that Henry will never forgive her if she uses evil to get him back, but what if he can’t remember?
Regina has every reason to want to “turn the clock back” like Rumple suggested. It may be the only way to get back her son. It was the combined forces of Rumple and Regina that led to the initial spell on Storybrooke. If these two work together, there is little they cannot accomplish.
4. “Welcome to Storybrooke”
Since OUAT began, flashbacks have mostly been set in the Enchanted Forest. It has to take a pretty special plot twist (i.e. Henry’s father is Rumple’s son) to turn the show’s flashback focus to our world. Next week’s episode is doing just that, giving viewers a glimpse at the town of Storybrooke right after the spell was cast.
We’re sure Season 2, Episode 17: “Welcome to Storybrooke” will help add dimension to the characters we already know and love, but we can’t help think there is further motivation to this particular flashback episode — specifically that it is setting the stage for a new spell to be cast on Storybrooke and its citizens. Perhaps this episode won’t be the last time we see Storybrooke in 1983?
5. It happened on Lost.
Before creating OUAT together, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis were writers for a little show called Lost. Lost also employed flashbacks to explore character backstory and, in its Season 3 finale, pulled one over on the audience by revealing at the end of the episode that the “flashback” scenes they had been watching were actually “flashforwards.” Minds across the television universe were blown.
We wonder if OUAT will attempt to do something similar. Maybe not the same exact stunt, but give the viewers a mind-blowing, game-changing experience that will forever alter the momentum of the show.
Can you think of any other hints that Rumple and Regina may try to turn back time? Let us know in the comments below!
Catch the next episode of Once Upon a Time on Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.