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October 9, 2015

'Once Upon a Time' Season 1, Episode 4 Recap (VIDEO)

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 14th 2011 1:00AM
Cinderella - Once Upon a Time['Once Upon a Time' - 'The Price of Gold']

Hot on the glass heels of last week's excellent Snow/Charming (Snarming?) episode, 'Once Upon a Time' offered yet another compelling entry this week, this one courtesy of Cinderella.

As with Snow White and Prince Charming's unique backstory, the writers chose to mine new territory with the character instead of retreading the same old rags-to-riches tale we're already well acquainted with. It was no fairy godmother that sent Cindy to the ball this time around, but a malevolent Rumplestiltskin, who wanted something in return for his "generosity." Nothing important, anyway, just Cinderella's firstborn child ...

(Snow and Charming apparently got off relatively easily, since all they had to give Rumple was their baby's name.)

I've got to admit, I would happily watch a whole series set in fairytale land, since the world is utterly enthralling, from the gorgeous costumes and sweeping sets to the nostalgic nods to the stories we're all familiar with. Just as it was a Disneyphile's dream come true to see The Evil Queen and Maleficent interacting in the second episode, it was thrilling to see Snow and Cinderella giggling together like schoolgirls this week; that sense of whimsy is one of the show's strongest features, and I only hope we get to see a wider array of characters coming into contact in the magical realm, since the hint we got in the pilot during the council scenes was undeniably entertaining.

Despite that urge, it was nice to learn a little more about Mr. Gold and about Emma over the course of the Storybrooke narrative this week (though I was disappointed that we didn't get any continuation of Mary and David's storyline). The episode was ostensibly about Cinderella/Ashley, but it certainly gave us deeper insight into Emma's obvious regrets about giving up Henry.

Though she thought she wasn't ready for Henry when she gave him up, in hindsight, Emma's obviously starting to realize that she might've been stronger back then than she knew. She's been placing a lot of emphasis on wanting to give a child "its best chance," but after seeing Regina, I can't blame her for entertaining the notion that the boy would've had a much better chance at happiness with her, especially since we've learned that Mr. Gold was the one to procure Henry for the mayor. I can't wait to see Emma's reaction when she finds that out.

The real question is, how is the show going to deal with the potential stickiness of a birth mother stealing her son from his adoptive mother without completely abandoning the grounded elements of the story? If the laws of our world crumble and all of the fairytale characters revert to their former selves, that's one thing, but for now, it seems that the producers are determined to keep Emma rooted in reality, and if we're dealing with equally real-world legalities, she's not just going to be able to swipe her kid from another woman without consequences. Then again, that's a question for further down the road, not four episodes into the series.

We also delved a little deeper into Rumplestiltskin's motivations this week: he seems to have a disturbing fascination with babies, as in his original tale, but we still don't know why -- and perhaps it's better not to.

Ultimately, the real focus of this episode wasn't on wish-fulfillment or the price of magic, but on parenthood (with an emphasis on motherhood) -- what a parent is willing to do for their child. From Sean's overbearing father choosing to involve Mr. Gold in order to "save" his son from becoming a young father and throwing his life away with an unworthy girl, to Ashley struggling with the decision to give up her baby because no-one thought she was strong enough to handle the responsibility, the parental figures in this episode were willing to go to great lengths to protect their children, whether they were right or wrong. It's a struggle that we've been seeing play out for weeks between Emma and Regina; one is acting for selfish reasons and another has her child's best interests at heart, despite her own shortcomings.

'Once Upon a Time' doesn't always do subtlety well, but Henry's concern about Emma being able to leave town and Emma's parting "see you tomorrow" were touching moments and perfectly played by both actors. And no matter how many times Emma calls him "kid" instead of "Henry" (twice this week), she clearly can't deny the fact that she's invested now, and that to leave him would be the most damaging decision she could possibly make. Her insistence that Ashley had to grow up and could never run away again once she decided the baby was hers was as much for her own benefit as for the maid's, and it seems like she's finally realized that, as much as she might be capable of running away from her responsibilities, that's not who she is anymore. (Sorry, Regina!)

Besides, Emma has a highfalutin job as deputy sheriff now -- there's no bailing on that. Especially when your boss is an Irish dreamboat. True, said dreamboat is apparently having a torrid affair with the Evil Queen mayor, but he's clearly just confused. But did he offer her the deputy job to keep a closer eye on her, or is he searching for a way to break Regina's stranglehold over the town? Episode six is supposedly sheriff-centric, so hopefully, we'll get our answer then.

Other observations:

-- Cinderella = cinders, Ashley = ashes; I'm loving the symmetry of the names between fairytale land and Storybrooke.

-- Ruby/Red Riding Hood's big bad wolf car decoration was a nice visual callback to her past.

-- Although 'Tangled' is a recent addition to Disney canon, I hope I wasn't the only one who found Cinderella's appreciation of the fireworks slightly reminiscent of that movie's memorable lantern theme?

-- I adore the many ways the writers manage to tip their hats to the stories we love whilst acknowledging the inherent silliness in many of them; I found Rumple's tongue-in-cheek comment about Cinderella's glass slippers being a necessary memorable detail to be a great touch. Likewise Henry leaving one of his shoes on the staircase in his rush to beat Regina home.

-- Though Ursula didn't offer Ariel her back to lean on while she was signing her voice away, Rumple's enchanted contracts certainly reminded me of the unsavory deals the Sea Witch struck in 'The Little Mermaid.'

-- Mr. Gold's observation about Emma: "I like your confidence: charming." Like father, like daughter.

'Once Upon a Time' airs Sundays at 8PM ET on ABC. Next week's episode is preempted for the American Music Awards, new episodes resume Nov. 27.

What did you think of Cinderella's story? Did you spot any other fairytale easter eggs that I missed? Share your reactions below!

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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Utterly rubbish. Since when did they have a fireworks display like that in the middle ages? Enjoy the show now fans, because


November 14 2011 at 8:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to codemanz4's comment
Matt Marquissee

Fireworks would've existed back then. Magical contracts probably not.

It's a FANTASY world. It can have anything the writers choose.

November 14 2011 at 9:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Deej Barens

I will never understand people like you where a show's mere existence is such an affront to their lives. You don't like it you simply don't watch it. Is this show being on TV directly affecting your life in a negative way? it is causing your wife to die, to lose your job, to give you some fatal disease? No, it's just a TV show.

November 14 2011 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am loving OUAT and this week was particularly good. The chemistry between Emma and Henry is lovely. I am loving all the little touches and links between the worlds. Robert Carlisle is electrifying as Rumplestiltskin/ Gold. In fact all the acting is excellent.

The lack of age difference is slightly odd though. It seems that Cinder's and Snow's husbands are brothers in the fairy tale world. Not clear yet whether they are in Storybrooke. But that means Ashley is Emma's Aunt, Alexandra is her cousin, and (most oddly) Mary is Emma's mum and Henry's grandma. Clearly time has been stuck in Storybrooke, but that has some strange repercussions that should have been noticed. Eg Henry has grown from a baby to a 10 year old, and Ashley has been pregnant all that time? How do the people there explain the lack of time passing?

I'm just going to let it play out, becaus the journey is such fun.

November 14 2011 at 5:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Geordiegirl1967's comment

Initially, with the way Thomas' father was introduced alongside Snow and Charming, I assumed Charming and Thomas were brothers too, but later -- partially because of their interaction in Storybrooke and partially because I remembered that Charming's father is being played by Alan Dale and won't appear until episode five or six -- I dropped that theory. The set-up was obviously far too confusing, though. But yes, the rest of the oddness about time passing will definitely have to be explored over the course of the season.

November 14 2011 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wanted more James/David/Charming!! :( but other than that..good.

November 14 2011 at 2:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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