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Once Upon a Time - "The Price of Gold"

Written by Tricia Long on Monday, November 14 2011 and posted in Reviews

Every pregnancy test comes with a price!

Perhaps one of the best things Once Upon a Time has done so far is present old fairy tales in new ways, with a small twist that makes everything a little less saccharine and a little more kickass. This week, things started off with a bang, literally, when Ella (Jessy Schram) is visited by her fairy godmother on the night of the ball. The godmother offers to help Ella, and then promptly explodes into a shower of fairy dust. Why the pyrotechnics? Oh, just because Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) decided he wanted the fairy godmother's wand.

Good ol' Rumplestiltskin tells Ella she's better off without some fairy help; she needs to make her life better on her own. Ella begs for his help, promising to give him one favor at a future time – whatever it might be. Ella signs on the dotted line, I marvel that a servant knows how to write, and then the classic Cinderella story takes place, down to the impractical glass shoes.

In Storybrooke, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) continues her evolution into a responsible adult by walking Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) to the bus stop. They talk about codenames; Emma proves unimaginative, then Sexy Sheriff (Jamie Dornan) shows up to offer Emma a job. He convincingly reminds her "there's dental", but she still needs time to think about it. She takes his card and incongruously romantic music starts playing. To be fair, I would go for Sexy Sheriff in a heartbeat if he wasn't already wrapped around Regina's finger – more on that later.

After seeing Henry off to school, Emma pops into the diner for a quick breakfast. Regina (Lana Parilla) shows up to once again cryptically undermine Emma's good intentions while simultaneously providing a solid direction for this week's character development: responsibility and putting down roots. Regina confesses that she isn't worried about Emma's relationship with Henry because Emma likely won't be in town too long, given her transient past. Have I mentioned what a bitch Regina is? She just shows up, says something awful, and then goes off to apply more lipstick. Even with the character development in "The Thing You Love Most" she's still terrible.

Thankfully, Regina saunters out after her decree. Emma spills coffee on her shirt and uses the diner's convenient laundry room to wash her clothes. I have to note that the men in our watching group were incredibly appreciative of this opportunity to see Jennifer Morrison in her bra, but I don't see what the big deal is – you can see her bra in every episode. Morrison's breasts are not the most important thing in this scene, however: what is important is our run-in with the Storybrooke version of Cinderella, Ashley, who is an expectant single mother trying to make ends meet. Emma gives her an inspirational speech about how you can't listen to what other people tell you about yourself and you have to make your life yours. Fist pump in the air for FEMINISM! Although I do think "Screw them" was a poor choice of phrasing given Ashley's situation.

Later that night, Mr. Gold (Storybrooke Rumplestiltskin) is locking up his pawn shop. Ashley breaks into the door with the daintiest window smashing I've ever seen, but Mr. Gold catches her in the act. He confronts her, she pepper sprays him and he gashes his head open in the fall. She takes his keys to remove something from the safe – possibly a contract? – But we don't see what it is.

The next day, we see Regina leaving Henry alone for the day. Of course Henry isn't going to stay home by himself, so you just know there will be hijinks today. At Mary Margaret's apartment, where Emma is unpacking her whole two boxes of belongings, Gold shows up to ask for Emma's help in finding Ashley. He intimates that Ashley stole some property from his store, but also appeals to Emma's sense of decency and concern for Ashley's well-being. Henry shows up and also comments on how few things Emma has (because this episode is about putting down ROOTS if you haven't gotten that yet) and offers to help find Ashley. Emma tells him it's too dangerous, saying "I'm just trying to be responsible here." He retorts, "And I'm just trying to spend time with you." My reaction: AWWWW THAT IS SO NOT FAIR. Emma's reaction: "That is so unfair." Glad we're on the same page, Once upon a Time writers. As they head off to find Ashley, Henry wonders what her story is.

Cut to Ella's wedding to the other Prince Charming, Thomas (Tim Phillipps). Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince James (Josh Dallas) are there, married and adorable (yay!), and everything seems to be going swimmingly. Ella dances first with her father-in-law, who not-so-subtly urges her to get pregnant right away, and then with Snow, who tells her what an inspiration she is to those who want to better their situation. Because everything is going well, this would be the perfect time for Rumplestiltskin to show up and reveal what his favor will be: Ella and Thomas' first baby. For those of you who don't know, Rumplestiltskin eats babies. He doesn't raise them and go on merry adventures with them: he straight up eats them to remain living.

In Storybrooke, the slutty waitress with the Amy Winehouse hair informs Emma that Ashley has a boyfriend who "left her in the lurch" and lives with his rich dad. Emma and Henry visit the boyfriend, Sean (who is Prince Thomas in the fairy tale world), and try to get him to help out with finding Ashley. Sean's father will have none of it, though, and tells them that Sean and Ashley weren't ready to have this baby. Which is why they signed it away to Gold, surprise! Emma is slightly horrified but mostly indignant at Sean's father's high-handed ways, but he insists it was the best thing for all concerned. He even has the balls to tell Emma that she was hired to make sure Gold gets that baby. Emma is pissed, and decides to double cross Gold anyway she can.

In the fairy tale world, Ella is packing. She confesses to her husband that she is pregnant, and when he asks why that isn't a good thing she spills the whole story of the night they met. Proving that he is truly Charming, Thomas says essentially that magic brought them together but didn't make them love each other. He promises they will find a way to make things right.

Emma confronts Ruby about Ashley's whereabouts and situation, but Ruby won't talk in front of Henry. Emma sends Henry home, and finds out that Ashley took Ruby's car and hightailed it for Boston. When she gets into the car, Emma finds that Henry is hiding in the back seat. She wants to take him home, but he tells her that Ashley won't be able to leave Storybrooke – none of the fairy-tale based characters can. This proves accurate – they find her in labor at the city limit and drive her to the hospital. Ashley begs to be taken to Boston so Gold can't get the baby, and Emma shows her emotional progress by giving a speech about what being a parent will mean for Ashley (and simultaneously, for herself). Emma promises to keep Gold from getting Ashley's baby.

It turns out that Thomas and James have come up with a plan to trick Rumplestiltskin into a prison from which he can never escape – the same one where Regina, as the Queen, finds him in "The Thing You Love the Most" – by getting him to sign a contract with an enchanted quill. There's a cameo here from my favorite dwarf, Grumpy, who clearly has settled into working for the Man. Ella summons Rumplestiltskin and tells him she is pregnant with twins. In exchange for both babies, Ella asks for prosperity in their kingdom. Rumplestiltskin agrees, signs the contract, and is immediately surrounded by a blue force field. He warns Ella again that all magic comes with a price before being taken away by the Charmings and some guards. Later, Ella feels that something is wrong with the baby. Thomas leaves to fetch her water from the well, and then disappears. This is taken to be the price of magic, I guess? I'll be interested to know what happened to Thomas in the fairy tale world, since in Storybrooke he just was forced by his overbearing father to break up with Ashley.

At the hospital, Emma confronts Gold about the baby. She threatens to expose his disproportionate amount of power, while he tries to bring up any of her past indiscretions. Emma wins, sort of, by getting Gold to relinquish his claim on Ashley and Sean's baby; but Gold really wins because he gets Emma to take one of his famous deals. She will owe him one favor at some future moment – as my boyfriend said, "There's no possible way this will come back to bite her on the ass." So, look forward to that.

Sean shows up at the hospital with a present for the baby, who Ashley has named Alexandra, and they are reunited. But the question still remains, what happened to Thomas in the fairy tale world? All we see is his cloak left on the well.

Emma manages to get Henry home on time, but not before returning to the question of codenames. She suggests "Pumpkin" in light of all the Cinderella craziness, but Henry says it isn't right. He doesn't tell her what he thinks it should be, though, and he rushes upstairs before Regina knows he's been gone. And where was she all day? Not at the council meeting, but banging Sexy Sheriff! No! Sexy Sheriff, you are better than that! This is just how I felt when Batman and Catwoman got together...

So that's it for the next two weeks, folks. We still have plenty of burning questions to answer, but you'll have to wait 'til we deal with the Jiminy Cricket/Art Garfunkel storyline first. I really hope the next few episodes have more Ginnifer Goodwin in them – she's amazing and there was far too little of her in this episode.


Written or Contributed by: Tricia Long

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