After three thoroughly enjoyable episodes, Once Upon A Time missed its mark last night. Beginning with the second fairy godmother assassination I’ve seen this year (thanks, True Blood!) “The Price of Gold” went out of its way to butcher “Cinderella,” my favorite fairy tale.
Far from the unselfish and hardworking storybook character, Once Upon a Time’s Cinderella was a grasping domestic who welshed on more than one deal with Rumpelstiltskin and then maced him in his own pawn shop.
When I first saw her break in I decided to be patient with her; she was pregnant when time froze, so she’s been nine months along for 28 years, and that will take its toll on a woman. But then we learned she’d agreed to sell her unborn baby to Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin. I don’t care how 19-years-old she was—what a horrible decision! She was also a jerk in the fairy tale storyline: She contracted a magical makeover from Rumpelstiltskin mere moments after seeing him kill her fairy godmother, and when he eventually demanded her first born in return she lied to him about being pregnant with twins to lure him into a spell that would freeze all his powers. I thought this guy could see the future; isn’t that why Snow White went to him? Either he has one hell of an end plan (one that involves being locked away for several years) or telling him Cinderella was going to have twins when she wasn’t is a major plot hole we all just fell in.
After real-world Cinderella broke into Mr. Gold’s pawn shop and stole the bogus contract, Mr. Gold hired Emma to find her, a task made easier by Ashley/Cinderella going into labor on the highway. Emma assumed Cinderella’s debt by making a deal with Mr. Gold: If Ashley/Cinderella can keep her baby, then Emma will owe Mr. Gold a favor. That always turns out well, right? Except kind of? It’s not like Rumpels has enforced any of his deals so far, and he was beaten up by a pregnant teen. The show took pains to draw a parallel between pregnant-teen Cinderella trying to keep her kid and Emma’s pregnant-teen past and how she is now staying in town for Henry. I mean, it’s a wild guess, but Emma did say a couple things like “HAVING A KID MEANS YOU CAN’T LEAVE, EVER” and “IT’S TIME TO PUT DOWN ROOTS. I’LL TAKE THE JOB AND STAY IN TOWN” and “REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT ME LEAVING? I”LL SEE YOU TOMORROW.” Chill, Emma! We know you have nothing better to do, now stop stealing blouses and pick up a couple new outfits. The Goodwill has your back—all you need is $ 3.
Or take whatever they’ll let you carry off for free, a dull T-shirt and an Evel Knieval jacket, whatever.
Also, can we discuss the Cinderella costumes for a second? This is a fairy tale. You can get as creative as you want, costume people. I know Disney is branding this show, but that doesn’t mean you can just raid its Electric Light Parade wardrobe from 1994 and call it a day. Cinderella’s hair and dress didn’t remind me so much of a fairy tale princess as Little Miss Grand Supreme Swan Bronner from Living Dolls.
Part of my frustration with this episode stemmed from how much I enjoyed last week’s “Snow Falls.” I was so excited to see the newly awakened John Doe with Margaret Blanchard! Instead, we got about 20 minutes’ worth of shrill, screamy Henry and a bunch of strangers instead, plus the reinforcement of a no-brainer: Emma isn’t leaving Storybrook! Kind of knew that. However, there WERE some good moments last night. In fact, I can count them on three fingers.
1.) Emma got a proper job offer to work alongside the Sheriff. 2.) We learned that the Sheriff is totally boinking Regina which is hot, but is he evil? 3.) Ginnifer Goodwin showed up and danced in sync with Cinderella for two minutes. I missed you this episode, lady! Please be more of a main character. Unfortunately Once Upon a Time‘s next new episode (in two weeks!) will center on Henry getting trapped in a mine and, I fervently hope, blown to Kingdom Come. Or maybe he’ll wander into a curse bubble that will throw him ten years ahead in time and he’ll emerge as played by Zac Efron. Figure it out, writers, but don’t be rude and hint you’re going to kill him off when we know you can’t. Maybe they can hear our collective moments of yelling “Take a hike, kid! I’m trying to watch my fairy tales!”
So, too much Henry and the show’s first instance of leaving a fairy tale worse than they found it. But I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and trust that Rumpelstiltskin’s game plan ultimately justifies this nutty episode.
… The Sheriff, that sexy minx, what is he up to? Good guy, evil guy, or in between?
… So did Rumpelstiltskin intentionally get himself imprisoned? Is Emma his endgame, or are the writers just playing fast and loose with his future-reading abilities?
… What deal did the costume wrangler strike to get this job, and how many first-born children were involved?
… Did ABC find the actress playing Cinderella by calling up a party rental place and ordering her for the day along with a bounce house?
… Are you secretly hoping Henry falls straight into a mine?