Okay, really now, people. If you’re going to sign a contract, READ IT FIRST!!!!! It’s one of the first rules of common sense! If you don’t, this is the sort of crap you might end up dealing with! Anyway, this episode plays around with the fairy tale of Cinderella, and it’s also the one that really introduces Rumpelstiltskin’s mantra of ‘magic always comes at a price.’ I remember the first time I saw this episode, I had a real mind-blown moment when Rumpelstiltskin kills the fairy godmother. Really wasn’t expecting that to happen. On the other hand, I was reminded strongly of the original tale of Rumpelstiltskin I heard as a child; specifically the whole firstborn-child-as-payment thing. But… why did he want Ella’s kid to begin with? Especially since we learn later on that there was already someone else’s child he was trying to find (i.e. his own.) Or was it because he knew somehow that threatening to take away Ashley/Ella’s daughter would be what ultimately leads Emma to agree to do him a favor at a time of his choosing? If that’s the case, that was a bit too premeditated, don’t you think? Yeah, I know that this is a guy who is supposed to be an expert at planning things out, but it still seems a bit too much, even for Rumpelstiltskin. I also do wonder how Snow White and Ella knew each other to begin with. Their interaction at the wedding reception, not to mention Prince Charming and Grumpy’s attempts at helping Ella save her unborn child, suggests they had a nice little friendship beforehand. Will we ever see how they met?
One of the underlying themes in this episode was taking a stand and proving to others that they are wrong about you. When meeting the pregnant 19-year-old Ashley, who is having severe doubts that she can handle taking care of her baby, Emma is very quick to reach out to her, telling her that even though everyone is telling her that she won’t succeed, it will be her choice, and hers alone, that will determine if they’re right. It’s a really poignant scene, especially when we realize Emma was also talking about herself here. She’d just been confronted by Regina, who was rubbing it in that Emma has never stayed in one place for longer than two weeks, insinuating that it’s only a matter of time before she does the same thing and leaves Storybrooke. Also, it’s rather interesting how Emma comments to Ashley that there are no fairy godmothers in this world, considering who Ashley's fairy tale counterpart is. (It’s also in these opening scenes that we learn Emma was 18 when she gave birth to Henry, and that she’d spent a period of time in Tallahassee. Those facts will be important once we get into the midpoint of season 2. Have I mentioned I love continuity? Because I do.)
Speaking of undertones, I can’t be the only one who noticed the undertone to Henry and Emma’s conversation in the beginning of this episode. The part when Henry was telling Emma he needed something to call her for Operation Cobra? Was it just me, or was that his subtle way of asking Emma if he could start calling her ‘Mom?’ If so, that really brings new meaning to Emma saying ‘you can just call me Emma, for now.’ Not to mention Henry’s ‘I’m not sure you’re ready yet,’ which further indicates that’s exactly what he was thinking. Yeah, this whole episode was really about Emma starting to take up the mantle of Henry’s mother, and nothing will convince me otherwise.
Can we all talk about Mr. Gold’s comment to Emma, about how he doesn’t want to see Ashley's baby being born in jail? Um…guy? Were you aware about how such a statement might strike a chord with Emma? Or was that just a coincidence? I never can be too sure with you. Although, his later comments to Emma in the hospital make me think he did know, in which case….you sneaky, manipulative little…UGH!
It’s also in this episode where we first learn of Regina’s secret flings with Sheriff Graham, which is a bit disturbing to begin with. Although, that whole relationship will get even more disturbing/uncomfortable in a later episode, particularly once we see who Sheriff Graham’s Enchanted Forest identity is. I’ll elaborate on that a little later on.