This is a Cinderella ep, guys. You knew there had to be one, right? Basically, Cinderella's step-mother and step-sisters go to the ball, leaving poor, dressed-in-rags Ella all alone to clean. Her fairy godmother shows up, and begins her speech about what the magic wand can do for her.
But wait! Her fairy godmother is suddenly murdered in front of her by none other than Rumplestiltskin.
Ooh. Plot twist.
Rumple tells Ella the wand is evil and she's better off without it (he hates fairies, but you don't find out why until Season Six). But, Ella wants to get out of her circumstances more than anything. She tells Rumple she will do anything to use the wand.
To be fair, Rumple warns her that all magic comes with a price (another phrase for a drinking game for this show), and asks if she is prepared to pay it. He doesn't tell her the price, but she doesn't care, and signs his long-ass contract without reading it.
The contract states she owes him a favor.
With a poof, Ella is all princess-ready for the ball.
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma and Henry walk down Main Street to Henry's bus stop for school. Henry likes how brave Emma is, spending time with him in spite of Regina forbidding it.
Henry wants code names for Operation Cobra, and Emma tells him to just call her "Emma" for now. Henry tries out her name, then smiles at her and gets on his bus.
No sooner is he gone, than Sheriff Graham drives up and straight up offers her a job as his deputy.
"There's dental," he says, with hope.
Emma isn't sure, but Graham asks her to think about it, and to stay in town a while.
Later, at Granny's diner, Emma is drinking hot chocolate and reading a newspaper. Regina saunters in and says she knows Emma walked Henry to the bus stop, but it's all cool, because she checked into Emma's past and knows she has had seven different addresses in the past decade. Regina fully expects Emma to leave town.
"What DID you love so much about Tallahassee?" Regina asks, referencing the longest time Emma lived anywhere.
We'll get that answer in Season Two. :)
Emma spills the chocolate on her shirt as she's standing up, and Red offers her the use of the boarding house's washing machine. There, she finds Ella working as a washerwoman, and heavily pregnant.
Ella seems pretty hopeless about being a 19-year-old unwed pregnant woman, but Emma says she was 18 when she had Henry. Everyone told her she couldn't be a mother and she believed them. Emma warns Ella to listen to no one but herself. If Ella thinks she can be a mother, then she should be one.
Ella seems to get a confidence boost from this.
Later, Ella (who goes by Ashley under the curse) breaks into Rumplestiltskin's (Mr. Gold's) shop. When he catches her, she pepper sprays him, causing him to fall and hit his head, going temporarily unconscious. Ella steals what she needs, which is not shown to the audience.
At Regina's house, the Evil Queen lays down the law to Henry about what he is and is not supposed to do while she goes to a Saturday city council meeting.
"You mean don't see my mom," Henry accuses, when Regina tells him under no circumstances leave the house.
"She's not your mother," Regina retorts. "Just a woman passing through."
Henry, naturally, grabs his backpack and bails on the mayoral mansion as soon as Regina's car is out of the driveway.
Meanwhile, at Snow's apartment, Emma's things from Boston have arrived, and Snow is shocked at how little Emma owns.
"Makes it easier when you move, I guess," Snow mumbles with a shrug. She tries to be nice about it, but it's clear Snow thinks this is sad.
A knock on the door announces the arrival of Rumplestiltskin, who wants Emma's help in finding Ashley Boyd (Ella), a young woman who stole something precious from him the night before. Rumple does not want the police involved because he wants discretion, and does not want Ella's baby born in jail.
Emma is hip to this, because Henry was born when she was a teenager in jail.
As a bail bondsperson, Rumple trusts Emma to find Ella and bring her to him.
Henry arrives at Snow's apartment, and Rumple is happy to see him....well, as happy as he ever is to see anyone. Rumple is not the warm and fuzzy type, yo.
After Rumple leaves, Henry asks Emma if she knows who that was. Yes, she does. Only, that's not what Henry meant. He meant did she know who "Mr. Gold" was from the storybook, as he hasn't figured it out yet.
Henry doesn't know Mr. Gold is Rumplestiltskin. He'll find out. And, Rumple is a lot more than that to Henry, but again, that's Season Two information. ;)
Henry wants to hang out with Emma, but she's already agreed to do this job for Rumple.
He looks disappointed when she heads out the door, but ultimately follows her. Henry and Emma argue about whether Henry can come with her. He says he will look for Ella on his own if Emma won't let him come. Emma counters that she will find HIM and bring him home.
"I'm just trying to spend time with you," Henry guilt-trips her.
"Oh, that is NOT fair," Emma declares. But, she lets him get in her yellow VW bug with her, anyway. Henry knew JUST what to say. He is a clever boy.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--There is a ball celebrating Ella's recent wedding to Prince Thomas. Snow and Charming are there. Snow even tells Ella how proud of her she is for showing how anyone can change their life.
Only, it's not all happy for Ella, because Rumplestiltskin is there, too, and he's come to tell her what he wants to complete the deal that gave her a prince, kingdom, crown, and basically everything else she ever wanted.
He wants her first-born child.
Dropping this bomb on poor Ella, he leaves the ball.
Later that evening, Ella is packing her shit when Prince Thomas comes in. She tells him she's pregnant, and Thomas is elated. Dial it back a bit, Thomas, because Ella's not done. She also has to tell him about her deal with Rumple.
Thomas doesn't care. He says magic may have brought them together, but their love is real, and so is their baby.
Ella doesn't want to cross Rumple, because he is so powerful, but Thomas says they can make a new deal with Rumple.
Storybrooke, The Present--Red's car is being towed by a dude named Billy (aka Gus-Gus the mouse from the Cinderella cartoon). Red is concerned Billy may damage her glass wolf mirror charm.
After sorting things out with Billy, Emma gets the scoop on Ella from Red. Red tells her Ella is taking night classes, working, trying to better herself, and Red doesn't think she should be forced to do anything she doesn't want to do. It's sill not clear who is forcing Ella to do what.
When Red says Ella has an ex-boyfriend, a step-mother, and two step-sisters, Henry totally knows Ashley is Cinderella, but Emma doesn't want to hear it.
Emma goes to Prince Thomas's house (aka Shawn Reuben under the curse), but his dad won't let him talk to Emma. Thomas's dad tells Emma he doesn't want his son to suffer for one mistake in getting Ella pregnant, and that he went to a great deal of trouble to get Ella her deal.
The deal, it turns out, is selling her baby for a very high price.
Emma is horrified.
Talking to Red again, Emma discovers Ella is heading for Boston, and is using Red's newly freed car to get there. Emma heads out to go after her, only to find Henry tagging along in her back seat.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Charming shows Ella and Thomas a special dungeon he and Snow designed for Rumple. Grumpy the dwarf has a new contract and a quill dipped in squid ink. Squid ink is one of the few things that can temporarily disable a magical creature.
The scam they're going to pull on Rumple is to tell him Doc the dwarf heard two heartbeats, and Ella is pregnant with twins. She will say she wants to give them both to Rumple, but will require a new contract to cancel out the old one. When Rumple signs, he will temporarily be frozen, long enough to get him to the Rumple-proof dungeon.
It's a good scam, but, as this show gradually reveals, Rumple is smarter than pretty much everyone else. If they capture him, it's because he wanted them to.
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma chases Ella down the road. Henry is stressing about making Ella break a deal with Mr. Gold (Rumple), because no one in Storybrooke has EVER done that.
"Happy to be the first," Emma responds, looking steely-eyed at the road ahead of her.
Emma tells Henry if Ella wants to be a mom, she should sodding well be a mom. This makes Henry smile, because it's more proof to him that Emma really did want him.
Henry is also concerned because no one who came to Storybrooke with the curse can leave town except Regina. Henry and Emma can leave town as well, but only because they didn't come with the curse.
Sure enough, they find Red's car on the side of the road near the town line, and Ella in the grass beside it, in labor.
Henry and Emma take Ella back to town. On the way, Emma tells her she has to be SURE she wants this baby, in order to give it its best chance. Once she has it and decides to keep it, Emma warns, there will be no turning back from it, no running away. Ella will have to grow up and be responsible. Is Ella ready for that? Emma wants to know.
Ella, in the midst of labor pains, says she is.
That's all Emma needs to hear. She will do whatever it takes to make sure Ella gets to keep her baby.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumplestiltskin is waiting in the forest as Ella approaches him. She appears to be alone. Rumple received the message that Ella wants to speak to him. She says she is having twins and desires to alter the bargain. Rumple guesses she wants to give up both kids, and is intrigued.
Ella says their kingdom is poor and the people are starving. In exchange for the second child, Rumple will ensure the soil in her kingdom is fertile. Ella seems unconcerned about giving up both kids, because, as she says, she can always have more children.
Ella presents Rumple with the new contract and quill. With some over-the-top interest in the quill, and a reminder that if Ella were to try to squelch on the deal, her debt to him would only grow (and another reminder that only magic can stop him), Rumple signs. He is immediately frozen.
It's clear Rumple knew exactly what was going on, and what he was doing. He wanted Charming to capture him.
Though he can't move, he can still talk. Rumple gives Ella a chilling threat--wherever she is, no matter what land she finds herself in, he WILL take her baby.
Storybrooke, The Present--Henry and Emma are at the hospital, waiting while Ella gives birth. A nurse comes out to inform them it's a healthy six-pond girl, and mother and baby are doing fine.
Rumple arrives at that moment to thank Emma for finding and returning his "merchandise."
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Charming throws Rumple into an enchanted carriage to take him to the Rumple-proof dungeon.
Ella and Thomas have a moment where Thomas promises Ella that she will never have to go back to the wretched life she lived before they married. When Ella has a contraction, Thomas goes into the forest to a nearby well to get her water.
He hears a weird noise in the woods.
When Ella calls to him to say she's fine and the contraction has passed, he does not answer. She goes to the well to find Thomas gone, and only his cloak remaining.
She marches up to the enchanted carriage, but Rumple denies having anything to do with Thomas's disappearance. He DOES, however, remind her ALL MAGIC COMES WITH A PRICE (*drink), and that it looks like she just paid.
Charming pulls her away and tells her not to listen to Rumple.
Rumple, ignoring Charming, tells Ella that until the baby is his, she will never see Thomas again, in any land or realm.
Storybrooke, The Present--Rumple and Emma have it out about his deal with buying Ella's baby. He thinks Emma would understand Ella's reasons for giving up her baby, because Emma had similar circumstances when she gave birth to Henry.
Rumple threatens to involve the police if Ella doesn't hand over the baby. She broke into his shop, and he will press charges. Then, Rumple warns, Ella's baby will go into foster care and grow up there, like Emma did.
Emma is SURE no court will convict Ella for trying to keep her baby, and tells Rumple his contract with Ella won't hold up in court.
Rumple likes Emma, because she is not afraid of him. He offers to let Ella out of the deal if Emma makes a new one with him.
"What do you want?" Emma asks.
"I don't know," Rumple muses. "You'll owe me a favor."
"Deal," Emma agrees.
(He calls in that favor in Season Two.)
Emma lets Ella know she can keep her baby, who Ella names Alexandra.....incidentally the same name Thomas chose for the baby in the Enchanted Forest.
While Emma is taking Henry home, Regina isn't at a council meeting at all. She's having sex with Sheriff Graham at his house.
Emma tells Henry she wants her code name for Operation Cobra to be "Pumpkin." He doesn't like it, but says she's not ready for the code name he has in mind for her.
As she lets Henry out at his house, Emma assures him that she isn't leaving town, and will see him tomorrow.
Henry makes it into his room just as Regina gets home, and yells at him for leaving his shoes on the stairs. Henry doesn't care. He's had a pretty sweet day.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Thomas comes to visit Ella, and tells her he wants to be with her and be a father to their baby.
Emma gives Sheriff Graham a call and tells him she wants to put down some roots for the first time in her life. She accepts his job offer as Storybrooke's new deputy.
(*Interesting Note--Regina cast the Dark Curse that created Storybrooke 28 years ago, and time in Storybrooke has been frozen all that time. This means Ella was eight-plus months pregnant for nearly three decades.)
*All photos are Creative Commons.
Next: Season 1, Episode 5--"That Still, Small Voice"