Ginnifer Goodwin had an easy week, huh? This week's Once Upon A Time took us away from the Snow versus Queen arc in favor of some plot-of-the-week fun, so we didn't spend too much time with our sweet-faced heroine. Instead, we focused on Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin and our sour-faced heroine (Jennifer Morrison), along with her many leather jackets. I wish I could say that we're closer to understanding the walking freakshow that is Rumpelstiltskin, but we're not. All we know at this point is that he values baby theft and drawing up contracts above all else. Don't ever try to rip him off! Seriously, don't. Let the tragic tale of Cinderella serve as your warning.
We began in Fairy Tale. There was an epic party going down at Prince Thomas' castle, but the Brittany Snow look-alike Cinderella wasn't on the list. Instead, she had to stay home and sweep -- poorly. Not much sweeping got done that night. But despite Cinderella's lack of work ethic, her fabulous Fairy Godmother arrived to promise a better, wealthier life. "This wand has the power to take you to your ball, to your prince, and to a..." KABOOM! She exploded into a ball of fire. Actually, it was more like "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boom." (Sorry.) Between this and True Blood, this was a really bad year for fairies on TV.
Of course this was all Rumpelstiltskin's doing, because the Queen was far too busy hating Snow White to meddle in Cinderella's mess. Rumpel showed up looking like a cross between the Lucky Charms leprechaun and Gollum from Lord of the Rings, supposedly to help Cinderella. He promised her the same life her Fairy Godmother was offering, but with a disclaimer attached: "All magic comes with a price." A fairly ominous warning, no? Also, this was a person who had just committed murder. But Cinderella didn't care -- she was just a naive social climber who really wanted to go to the ball. This scene made me really appreciate our bold and bright Snow White, who would have made a much wiser decision in this situation. Cinderella signed his shady magical contract without even reading it, and morphed into the beautiful young princess she'd always wanted to be. She was confused about the glass slipper thing, but Rumpel insisted that "every story needs a memorable detail."
Over in Storybrooke, Emma had to choose between a life of noncommittal leisure and a long-term relationship with Henry. I would stay in Storybrooke just for the chance to crash in Mary Margaret's sweet exposed-brick pad, but Emma wasn't so sure. That Henry can be a lot, you know? Sheriff Graham enticed her with a deputy job -- dental included, and totally behind Regina's back -- but that still wasn't enough to sway her. No, it would take Emma's number one pet peeve, a taunt from Regina, to reverse her ambivalence. Seriously, when is evil genius Regina going to realize that threatening Emma and/or telling her she won't do something will always yield the opposite of her intended result? Regina's actions lately have led me to believe that she too has forgotten her identity in Fairy Tale. She isn't playing the game as well as she could. Leaving Henry alone all of the time with Emma in town? Bad plan. If she can pay for the Benz, she can afford a babysitter.
Anyway, Regina found out that Emma had moved seven times in 10 years. This clearly means that she is flighty and irresponsible, giving Regina nothing to worry about. Smirk. "You carry on your transient life," she said. Yikes! I just counted and I've moved 11 times in 10 years, so what does that make me? Emma encountered Cinderella in the laundry room, but in our universe she's a sad 19-year-old pregnant maid named Ashley Boyd.
When Ashley complained that nobody thought she could handle her baby, a newly inspired Emma suddenly and unexpectedly launched into a motivational speech."There are no fairy godmothers in this world," she insisted. She would know -- she was pregnant at 18. Ashley should and could take her life into her own hands. If she wanted to be a mother, then dammit, she would be. Like John Locke, no one could tell her what she couldn't do. See what I mean about Regina's words having the opposite intended effect? Emma was talking as much to herself as she was to Ashley, all because Regina confronted her with her own faults.
NEXT: A deal's a deal, baby