A VAGUE DISCLAIMER IS NOBODY'S FRIEND: Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a little girl named Cindy. Well, her given name was Cynthia, but everyone called her Cindy, which led to some calling her Cindy Brady. Taking the long view, that was probably for the best, as it prompted her to rush through her tattle-tale phase, more quickly than she would have otherwise been inclined. Others called her Cindy Lou Who, which she sort of enjoyed. But mostly? She was called Cinderella. (One uncle would greet her with "Cinderella, kissa fella," every time she saw him, and what she wouldn't give to hear him say that again...) So let's just say your recapper has Cinderella issues, for better and worse, even though Cinderella's real name is Ella.
Enchanted Forest: Ella's step-step sisters swan off to the ball leaving their cinder-covered abuse victim home alone, but not for long. Her fairy godmother appears, ready to magically right this wrongest of wrongs, when POOF... she is killed by Rumpelstiltskin! Rumpy convinces Ella that the fairy godmother's gifts wouldn't have been all that, because all magic comes with a price. He manipulates her into entering an agreement with him, so that she can attend the ball, and has her sign on the dotted line of a contract so long she doesn't even bother to read it. He magics up her beautiful blue ball gown and her glass slippers -- glass, because "...every story needs a memorable detail."
Prince Thomas falls in love with Ella. They marry. Snow and Charming attend a royal ball at Thomas's castle. Snow congratulates Ella on bettering her life, and I throw up a little in my mouth, because she did so over the ashes, not of her step-mother's hearth, but her slain fairy godmother. More on that in the full recap, I promise. Anyhow, Rumpy crashes the ball. He reminds Ella of their deal -- which will only be settled when she gives birth to the baby growing in her belly and surrenders the child to him.
Ella is going to run away, but when Thomas finds her packing, she confesses her situation and how she landed in it. His response? "Magic may have brought us together, but it didn't create this love." Aw. With Charming's help, the expectant parents scheme to trick Rumpy. Ella lies to Rumpy that she is expecting twins, and that she'll give both to him, provided he agrees to a new contract in which he will fix the problems in Thomas's kingdom (poverty, poor soil, dead crops, yada yada). Lies aside, the devil isn't in the contractual details; it's in the pen. Ella hands Rumpy a red quill with which to sign the contract -- an enchanted red quill. Once he uses it to sign the contract, he is magically imprisoned, but the magical price seems to be that Thomas disappears. Rumpy threatens that Ella won't get him back, until she surrenders her child. "In this world, or the next, Cinderella!"
Our World: Emma meets Ruby's friend and Cinderella's Our-World counterpart, a maid named Ashley (I love this show's name puns). She's 19, pregnant and everyone is telling her she can't possibly handle the situation, which is complicated by the fact that Ashley's baby daddy/Thomas's Our-World counterpart, Sean (okay, the can't all be winners), has abandoned her, largely because of pressure from his father.
Having been in Ashley's shoes at age 18, Emma can sympathize and does. She tells Ashley to take her fate into her own hands, and if she wants to keep her baby, she should damn well keep her baby. Inspired by Emma, Ashley breaks into Mr. Gold's pawn shop at night, to find something (which we later learn is an agreement Sean's father coerced her to sign, in which she will sell the baby to Mr. Gold for a handsome price). When Gold catches Ashley in the act, she douses his face with pepper spray. He falls, hits his head on a table and is knocked out. Ashley finds the agreement in his pants (!!!) -- takes it and hits the road.
Gold comes to Emma and asks her to find Ashley, claiming he doesn't want to involve the police and get her in further trouble, and admitting he doesn't want to reveal what Ashley stole, which he'd have to do were he to involve law enforcement. Emma agrees to help, not so much for Gold's sake, but for Ashley's.
When people leave Storybrooke, bad things happen to them, so Ashley totals the car before she gets too far. Emma and Henry find her, and in the course of rescuing her, they learn about the baby broker deal with Gold. Ashley is in labor, but doesn't want to go to the hospital, because she fears Gold. Emma promises she'll handle him.
When Emma meets up with Gold at the hospital, she tells him his deal will never hold up in court -- because it's an illegal deal. Gold says he'll let Ashley out of the deal if Emma will promise to do him a (non-specified) favor in the future (and Henry, our fairy tale expert, doesn't even squawk at this). A lot of the Our-World story this week involves Emma's growth, so putting Ashley's needs before her own, she agrees to Gold's terms, which seems patently stupid to me, since she already had him; he couldn't enforce a baby selling contract. Granted, since he owns the town, and Regina is an ally of sorts, he likely could have continued to make Ashley's life miserable, but still, I was disappointed to see Emma give him even one inch.
Anyhow, Sean comes to the hospital to see his new baby and Ashley. He apologizes and explains that he gave into his father's pressure. And I guess that makes everything immediately and totally better -- at least in Ashley's eyes. Blah.
A lot more happens in the episode, of course. Emma realizes she needs to leave town or commit to staying. Sheriff Graham is a busy boy, too. He offers Emma a job as deputy and knocks boots with Regina. I'll be back with the recap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then join us in the forum, where red quills are not allowed.
Because of my name, I have Cinderella issues, so I've already written a full disclaimer applying to this episode, which you can read in the recaplet. I'm now obsessing about something else. Because I covered Lost (and because I cut my teeth on The Chronicles of Narnia), I have a thing for time travel, eternity, parallel universes, the supernatural and magic. I'm no expert, but it's stuff I think about, a lot (even when it comes to my own understanding of the world).
I usually like to jump straight into the story, but this week, I'd like to offer some analysis first. It's easy to write off Once Upon A Time as wholesome fluff, but while there is plenty of that to go around, it's a pretty think-y show, if you're into that. I know not everyone is, so if you just want the story, please feel free to page ahead. I'll make it clear when the actual recapping begins. If you want to dig down deeper, follow me.
ANALYSIS: Although I don't get to spend much time reading about Once Upon A Time, I've noticed certain events in "The Price of Gold" have inspired/reignited discussion about how the denizens of Storybrooke have spent the past 28 years, and how they've accepted/ignored Henry aging, when none of the rest of them do. I've also noticed a lot of back and forth about the Enchanted Forest/the fairy tale world, versus "the real world." You can bet your dainty glass slipper I have opinions and theories. And sure, I state them as facts, but I'm all disclaimer-ed out this week. Here goes...
The most important thing to remember when sussing out Once Upon A Time is that, within the confines of Once Upon A Time, the Enchanted Forest is the real world. I am spelling that out, even though the concept is old hat to some of you, because Once Upon A Time is a new hit show, on a major network, and some audience members (and perhaps some of my readers) aren't your typical TWoP Sci-Fi or Fantasy genre buffs.
Storybrooke, Maine is nothing but a magical construct. What does that mean for Boston, Phoenix and other locations mentioned on/used in this show? Nothing. Boston, Phoenix and wherever else may and probably do exist in their own universe, but they matter little, unless and until there is interaction between Storybrooke and those other places. Most people in Storybrooke cannot leave. If they try to, bad things happen. And Emma aside, so far, it seems most people from Boston, Phoenix, or wherever don't go to Storybrooke. (If/when that changes, I reserve the right to refine and revise these opinions and theories.)