Monday, November 14, 2011

Once Upon a Time Ep 4: The Price of Gold

Sorry this has taken so long to get up. I usually aim for Sunday nights, but with so many shows on Sunday, well… hm, I think this is the opening of just about every blog entry I have these days. ;)

This week on Once Upon a Time we move to Cinderella, and once again we see a twist on the traditional story. We all know the story of Cinderella (played by Jessy Schram, who I remember from Veronica Mars, the little girl whose daddy died and who had married a hideous woman with two ugly stepdaughters (similar to Snow White’s dad marrying a terrible woman before dying) and who wanted to go to the prince’s ball (the one he held so he could choose a wife) and who sewed her own dress but the stepsisters ripped it to shreds before boarding their carriage and riding away. In this version, Cinderella seems to have skipped the whole dress-making venture, as she’s still dressed in her rags when her fairy godmother shows up, but rather than get everything her heart desires, she has to negotiate with Rumpelstiltskin after he obliterates the fairy godmother and then decides to teach Cinderella a little lesson about how terrible magic is.

Switching to the well-trodden ground of the miller’s daughter in the “Rumpelstiltskin” story, who makes him a deal and then has to give him her first-born, or in “Rapunzel,” where the mother eats the lettuce and then has to give away her first-born, here Rumpel makes Cinderella sign a long contract stating she’ll have to give the baby to him. She marries the prince, becomes pregnant, and then with the help of the prince and magical creatures, she attempts to trick him by imprisoning him, but Rumpel isn’t the least bit fazed, and tells her the magic will backfire. Moments after the trick lands him in a barred vehicle destined for the prison, her husband goes missing.

Back in our world, Ashley Boyd is a young pregnant maid with two stepsisters who has signed away her child to Mr. Gold, the local pawnbroker and Rumpel in the other world. She has a conversation with Emma in the Laundromat and Emma tells her you can’t rely on some mythical fairy godmother to take away the pain, that if you want your life to change, you have to seize it and make a change yourself. (♪She’s talking to the man in the mirror!♪) So she breaks into Mr. Gold’s pawnshop, beaning him in the head and knocking him unconscious, to steal back their (admittedly illegal) contract and she tries to leave town. But, as Henry has theorized, the people in Storybrooke can’t leave, and her car crashes at the town sign (another wolf in the road, perhaps?) and Ella finds her in time to get her to the hospital, where she barters with Mr. Gold and tells him in exchange for owing him a favour in the future (ack!) he’ll let Ashley go.

Written by Fringe writer David H. Goodman, it’s not the best episode we’ve seen so far, but it was intriguing and had a lot of fun elements in it. And, I found some Lost elements in it!

• Robert Carlyle. He’s fantastic in both roles. “Every story needs a memorable detail!”

Lost moments (mostly unintentional by the writers, methinks):
• For everyone who missed the Geromino Jackson sticker in the first week, if you look at the rear of her car in the scene where Henry has been hiding in the back seat, you can clearly see it in the back window.
• When Regina is looking at Emma’s past, she says she’s jumped to different locations seven times in the past few years, and never stays long anywhere, except for Tallahassee, where she was for two years. “What did you enjoy so much in Tallahassee?” Hahahaha! All I could think of was either Ella was working with the Others and managed to push Anthony Cooper’s car off the highway when he was captured and brought to the island, or that time Sawyer said he met a girl in Tallahassee and that “something was burnin’ and it wasn’t the sunshine,” maybe that’s why Emma doesn’t want to say. ;)
• When Emma and Henry found Ashley’s car and she’s in labour by the side of the road, all I could think of was, “No, don’t give birth there, or he’ll turn into Ben Linus!”

Did You Notice:
• In the little voiceover that introduces the episode, the narrator says, “Only one knows the truth” and it shows Regina, not Mr. Gold, yet they’d been playing it until then that Regina actually didn’t remember, and that Gold did. So I guess this means she really does know exactly what she’s doing.
• The cars parked along the street when Emma and Henry are walking to the car all appear to be from the late 70s and early 80s.
• Mr. Gold’s job is as a pawnbroker, someone who usually makes a deal with you rather than selling you something outright.
• When Ashley’s walking through the pawnshop, she passes two dolls that actually look like two mummified people. Could they be from a fairytale? Someone who didn’t quite make it in the end of their story? (I immediately thought Hansel and Gretel if they hadn’t made it away from the witch, but their clothes look like they were adults, not children.)
• Prince Charming and Snow White were supposed to be meant for each other, yet all this time she’s been visiting him in the hospital and not finding a connection. And yet, Thomas and Cinderella managed to find each other, even if he dropped her because Daddy told him to.
• When Emma’s in the diner talking to Ruby, there’s a Black Forest cake on the counter. Many of Grimm’s fairytales were set in the Black Forest.
• The dwarfs work underground, but it’s not a diamond mine.
• Those who have read my Finding Lost books probably know my reaction to this already, but oh how I loved Emma’s comment to Ashley when she said she wanted to give birth in Boston: “We don’t have four hours. TRUST ME, I know.” They left out the rest of the dialogue. “I know because I’ve watched a LOT of movies and television over the years, and despite first births having an average of 18 hours of labour attached to them in the real world, these babies always come flying out after three contractions and one push on television. Besides, you’re a fairytale creature, so you’re going to give birth like they do in the movies anyway!”
• Rumpelstiltskin says to Ella, “A little birdie told me you wanted to see me” and in this case, he was being literal! Haha!
• I’m starting to notice a lot of star references. Perhaps we should be watching for those the same way we watched for Hurley’s numbers. There’s a big star emblazoned on the floor of the ballroom at Ella’s wedding to Thomas, and Emma’s keychain has a star on it. I’ve pointed them out in other episodes just as a lark because Emma wished upon a star in the first episode, but I’m thinking they’re a recurring trope.

• When are we going to see Ruby’s backstory? They play her as such a skank, which is in keeping with the versions of the story where the big bad wolf wasn’t actually preying on an innocent little girl, but an older girl who wanted to get caught, so to speak.
• Why oh why is the sheriff sleeping with Regina? I find him a very intriguing character, and I hope we get some more hints of who his storybook counterpart is.
• Is it possible Emma is based on a storybook character? Gold made a comment to her that she wasn’t ready to know who she was, yet Henry’s been telling her over and over again that she’s Snow’s daughter. Was she destined to stay in the fairytale world and grow up to be in one of the stories? Perhaps the princess who kissed the frog? Or, given her name, the ugly duckling who grew into a swan?


Page48 said...

Jessy Schram spent part of the summer on "Falling Skies", before the skitters took her away.

Fred said...

I must admit I am begining to have one problem with this show. I find myself from time to time rooting for Regina. Maybe that's a Lost carry-over, but it seems things are going too easy for Emma. I want to see Regina win one of these episodes, maybe just bean Emma in the head with an apple.

There is certainly a lot of woods imagery in wall paper everywhere. But it seems the towns folk don't see the forest, literally. It does convey a sense of being trapped, like bars everywhere. And they are as Henry points out, they can't leave the town. And if Mr. Gold's alterego is correct and every piece of magic has its costs, does that mean Regina paid a cost above the loss of her father Henry?

Nikki Stafford said...

Fred: I think in a way we're supposed to be partly rooting for Regina. She may be the Ben Linus of this one; she's supposed to be wicked, but they humanized her in the second episode when we saw what she had to do to her father, and how much she loved him.

On a surface level, I think what the repercussions are going to be is what is happening right now: she's going to lose Henry. And for as much as he makes her out to be evil, I think she truly loves him as a son. If Emma gets him, Regina will be crushed. You can already see how hurt she is when he calls Emma his mother. That scene where she confronted Emma in the first episode and reminded her that while Emma was off doing god knows what, she changed every diaper, soothed every fever, and dealt with every tantrum, was certainly one that reminded the audience that Regina really has been his mother up to this point. I think she has a terrible way of showing him how much she cares about him, but deep down I think she really does.

I'm hoping Kitsis and Horowitz can actually begin to bring even more sympathy to her character, just to make her a little more multi-layered than the Bad One that she appears to be right now.

Jojo said...

Nikki, very nice review. So glad you are writing about the show. This episode was not as interesting as the others. I missed Snow White and starting to get annoyed at Regina's repetitive evil dialogue. We need more from her. Too much the same. Hoping she'll turn into a likable meany like Ben Linus. Definitely thought of LOST when Ella went into labor on the side of the road. Wondering who her baby is going to be? Also Thomas was the same name as Claire's baby father in Lost that also left her. Wondering wassup with all the single mom's in the show? Emma, Regina, Ella? Absent father theme emerging.

JavaChick said...

@Nikki - do you really think Regina was humanized by what she "had to" do to her father? She chose to sacrifice her father so she could cast a curse. For me, that makes Regina less sympathetic rather than more. I could maybe feel sympathy for Regina if she displayed any warmth at all for Henry, but so far she doesn't seem to care that much beyond the fact that Henry belongs to her.

All of this makes Regina into a rather one-note evil character (from my viewpoint).

RE: the sheriff sleeping with Regina - I thought he didn't look too happy about it. Definitely wondering what's going on there.

Nikki Stafford said...

Java: Whoops, no, that's not what I meant to say. I said she was humanized in the episode where we saw what she had to do, but I didn't mean in that moment. I mean in the scene where she speaks to her father, and tears are rolling down her cheeks, and you can see she's filled with some sort of pain. I'm thinking Snow has done something to a child that the Evil Queen has had, either accidentally killing a child or making it impossible for her to have children. In that moment, she believes the only way she can have that child back, or the chance to have a child, is to kill the thing closest to her. Since Snow took the thing that was absolutely closest to her, she kills her father.

But if she were a one-note evil character, she'd stride into the room, say, "A-HA! There you are, daddy! Say good NIGHT" and thrust a sword into his gut, laughing all the while. That wasn't what happened. This was clearly a difficult situation. We see her mourning her father afterward, and she even named her child Henry in homage to him.

Am I saying that I would have done the same thing? Obviously not. But Ben Linus killed his own father and we were sympathetic to him. She is evil, yes. She did something terrible, yes. But she's not pure evil. There's a heart in there somewhere, and she's acting out of pain and mourning.

Regina is a hardened person, but again, I don't see her as evil. I actually watched the first episode again a week ago and tried to imagine myself in her shoes, raising a child for 10 years only for the birth mother to come back and him call her mommy. And when you watch it, you can see why this woman is doing everything she can to get Emma out of town. Does it make her actions right? No, but it shows that she can feel raw emotions.

So that's what I meant. I didn't mean, "By showing her killing her father, the writers made her sympathetic." ;)

Gillian Whitfield said...

We have to wait TWO WEEKS?! *moans in anger*

I really enjoyed this week's episode (as usual). Rumplestiltskin SERIOUSLY reminds me of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, especially when he says to Ella, "You need to promise me something . . . something precious."

As for Sheriff Graham, I'm agreeing with Java on this one, I don't think he looked too happy with it. My crazy out there theory is that Regina would take away his job if he didn't sleep with her. Either that or he's like Sawyer, in that he has a slew of bad relationships before he meets "the one." But I enjoy his character nonetheless. He's intriguing, and I love the accent. What can I say, I love me an Irish accent.

I can't wait for the next episode. I think I've found my new Lost, at long last!

Fred said...

Nikki, speaking of Emma as birth mother and Regina as adoptive mother, House wickedly played on this theme in this week's episode--more of less, it was Philip Larkin's poem about what parents do to us.

I agree with you that eventually Henry may be lost to Regina, which would only then bring out her really wicked side. And if she knows all that is going on, then she still has the power of magic. Or is that something she gave up to get everyone to our world?

Now, I'm just waiting to see who drives the school bus. The Pied Piper?

Gillian Whitfield said...

@Fred, So glad to see another House-ian on here!

Did anyone catch the Cinderella reference when Henry's shoe fell on the stairs? ;)

Also, the Tallahassee thing. I said to myself, "She's probably in cahoots with the Others." ;)

Fred said...

Gillian, yes on the shoes left on the stair by Henry. But will it remain there for the entire series until the very end, when Jack runs by it? Oh, wait, Regina picked it up.

Anonymous said...


Once Upon A Time podcast:

Anonymous said...

I recall someone saying about the Pilot episode that the sheriff could be the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood.
But because he said in episode 3 that he knows the woods very well, and from the way he tries to get along with everybody and do the right thing, I think he's the hunter who, in the Grimm version, was told to kill Snow White and give her lungs and liver to the Evil Queen so she could chow down!

Fred said...

Nikki, about who Emma could be, I was thinking "The ugliest Duckling", an orphan duckling which turns out to be a swan. Hence Emma's last name of Swan.

Anonymous said...

I also found this about Sheriff Graham:


3. The one thing that put the idea into my head, of Sheriff Graham being the real world version of the Huntsman, was the scene in which the Evil Queen, followed by her henchmen, sweeps into the room where Charming, cradled in the arms of Snow White, is lying injured on the floor and asks where the baby is. One of her henchmen replies that Charming placed her in the magical wardrobe and that she is gone. We don't see what this henchman looks like, being that, like all her other henchmen, he's head-to-toe in black, but his voice seemed oddly familiar, and after a moment I thought "That sounds like Sheriff Graham, only more guttural." That's when it flashed upon me that that henchman was the Huntsman, and that the Huntsman's real world counterpart was Sheriff Graham.

R.P. McMurphy said...

I had been DVR'ing the show and just got around to watching it. It absolutely pulled me right in and I watched all four episodes in one sitting. Haven't done that since I was given the LOST dvd's.

I am loving Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin and I am loving the oppotrunity to come back to Nik at Night for another show!

JavaChick said...

Nikki, thanks for the explanation and, fair enough. I am not there yet, I'll need more before I can feel sympathy for Regina but I'll agree that there is a bit of a mystery there. Looking forward to watching the answers unfold. :)

shobiz said...

I'm finally got caught up on Once Upon a Time, thanks to the New Year's Day marathon! And boy am I hooked. It's definitely my new LOST, and I'm so happy you're blogging on it, LOST-style, Nikki!

And btw, one more reference I caught in this episode: Did you notice that Ruby's car (being towed) is a vintage red Camaro, just like Hurley's?

Can't wait for tonight's new episode!