Once Upon a Time tackles another iconic princess fairytale this week, giving Cinderella a new backstory with far-reaching consequences.
In the fairy tale world, Cinderella (Jessy Schram) is desperate to leave her existence as slave to her stepmother and stepsisters. She’s so desperate that when Rumplestiltskin destroys her godmother and steals her wand, she barely hesitates to accept his offer to send her to ball in exchange for “a favor”.
Fast forward to Cinderella’s (now Ella) wedding day where she’s glowing with happiness, and oh look! Snow White and James are guests at the wedding! Ella’s joy is spoiled when Rumplestiltskin arrives to call in his favor – her first child. When Ella finds out she’s pregnant, she decides to run away but her prince, Thomas, discovers her before she can leave. She confesses what’s going on, thank goodness. I’m so tired of characters keeping these huge secrets from each other out of some misguided sense of honor. Ella, Thomas, James and Grumpy decide on a plan to trick Rumplestiltskin into giving up his ability to cast spells, thus providing the opportunity for them to imprison him in a special dungeon built in The Mines.
Ella proposes a new deal, claiming that she’s having twins and agreeing to give Rumplestiltskin both in exchange for healthy croplands and prosperity for the kingdom. He’s suspicious, of course, but Ella stands firm and he signs the contract, instantly freezing him and his magic. He can still talk, though. “No matter where you are, I assure you, I will have your baby.” Creeper.
Ella is worried, but Thomas assures her that as long as he is alive, she won’t have to go back to her old life. Famous last words. When she experiences contractions due to the stress of the situation, Thomas goes to get her some water, and disappears. Rumplestiltskin has exacted his revenge, promising Ella that she won’t see Thomas again until her debt is paid, “in this world or the next.”
In Storybrook, Emma finds herself becoming more entrenched in Henry’s life and in the town after Sheriff Graham offers her a job as a deputy. Her daily showdown with Regina ends in hot chocolate down Emma’s front (I love how in Storybrook, the drink of choice is hot chocolate instead of coffee). Ruby points the way to the laundry room where Emma steals someone’s shirt and meets Ashley (aka Cinderella), very pregnant and very scared. Emma gives her a pep talk which leads to Leslie breaking into Gold’s Pawnbroker where she’s confronted by Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. “Ashley, what are you doing?” “Changing my life.” You go, Ashley!
As Emma unpacks her newly arrived boxes in Mary Margaret’s shabby chic loft, Mr. Gold arrives with yet another job for her – tracking down Leslie and whatever she took from him. He plays to her sympathy, saying he doesn’t want to go to the police because he doesn’t want to get Leslie in trouble. Emma’s not buying it, but takes the job. Henry, having sneaked out the house yet again, insists on going with Emma to find Leslie, playing the old “I just want to spend time with you” card.
Emma’s search for Ashley leads to her ex, Sean, who still lives with his father. It’s quickly apparent that the father is the reason the couple broke up, and soon he reveals that he negotiated a deal with Mr. Gold for Ashley to sell her unborn baby to him so he could then find it a good home, for a profit, of course. That’s the real reason Mr. Gold hired Emma, to get the baby. Ruby proves to be a source of information, and provided Ashley’s getaway vehicle, giving us a little more insight in to Ruby. The crystal wolf ornament she has hanging from her mirror is nice reminder of her fairy tale identity as well.
Emma and Henry go after Ashley, finding her by the side of the road, giving birth. Emma loads her up in the car and takes her back to Storybrook, telling her on the way that if she chooses to keep the baby, she’ll have to “grow up. You can’t ever leave.” Henry hears this and gains some insight into what it was like for her to give birth at 18. I thought he would be hurt, but instead he put it together that Emma is the only one who can leave Storybrook and do whatever she wants. That ought to come in handy as they strategize Operation Cobra.
Mr. Gold arrives at the hospital in time to hear that Ashley has delivered a healthy baby girl. Emma confronts him, he plays on her desire to keep Ashley and the baby out of the system, and before you can say Rumplestiltskin, Emma has made a deal with Mr. Gold for a favor to be named later. Is the fact that Emma isn’t bound by Storybrook’s laws/curse going to keep her from having to fulfill that deal?
Emma rushes Henry home before Regina can return from her council meeting…which turns out to be an assignation with an unseen individual. He barely makes it in time, aptly losing a shoe on the stairs in his haste. Meanwhile, Sean disobeys his father and reunites with Ashley, bringing along a teeny tiny pair of slippers for his new daughter. Emma calls Graham to accept his job offer, committing herself to staying longer in Storybrook and revealing Graham as the man Regina is sleeping with in one fell swoop. Oh boy.
New characters this week: Cinderella/Ashley; Thomas/Sean
In two weeks: we learn more about Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket as something under Storybrook tries to break free.