We open tonight’s episode with that old, tried and true tale of (yawn) Cinderella, given a fun spin by the appearance of Rumplestiltskin as her replacement fairy Godmother. He agrees to help her to her happily-ever-after as long as she promises him a favor. Rumple is so delightfully creepy. He absolutely makes the scene because Cinderella is sweet, but forgettable.
Emma ends up in a confrontation with Regina, who reminds her that Emma is a rolling stone, never staying in one place too long (well, except Tallahassee, but we’ll revisit that at a later date) and therefore, she’s no real threat to her. Emma gets so flustered she slops cocoa on herself, then makes her way to Granny’s laundry room where she runs into Ashley Boyd, our very own Storybrooke version of Cinderella. She’s knocked up, she’s young, she’s alone, and she cries on Emma’s shoulder about it. Emma tells her to grow a pair in that soft, nurturing way that Emma has about her.
We flash back to Cinderella’s gooey story, where we see her at her wedding ball, dancing and hanging with Snow and Charming, who are apparently her BFF’s.
The costumes at the ball do not disappoint, and the glamour and fripperies are a startling contrast to the hideous face of Rumplestiltskin when he suddenly appears among them.
Rumple demands his favor: her firstborn child. Ella tearfully tells her prince, and they decide to find a way to outwit Rumplestiltskin.
Emma finds out from Red and her mile-long legs and gorgeous abs that Ashley’s guy knocked her up and ran, and oh, by the way, Ashley’s got a step-mom and two step-sisters (DUH). Emma tracks down Ashley’s boyfriend (and other-realm prince) Sean, whose balls are firmly in the steel grip of his Daddy, who brokered the deal between Ashley and Mr. Gold. Emma realizes that she’s been played, and Henry cautions Emma about double-crossing Mr. Gold.
Ashley tries to leave town, but ends up crashing her car and going into labor, because – as Henry has pointed out again and again – bad things happen to people who try to leave town.
Meanwhile, back in the Enchanted Forest, Cinderella and her prince enlist the help of Prince Charming and Grumpy (guess Snow was getting her nails done or something) to help her imprison Rumpletstiltskin by means of a magic quill that will immobilize him. From there, he’ll be transported to a special cell that he’ll be unable to break out of – the very cell that he was inhabiting in episode one – so we can only assume this is all part of his larger plan. Once the plan is enacted, we here Rumple remind Ella of one of the series’ most pervasive catch-phrases: “All magic comes with a price.” Ella gets slammed with an early labor pain, and her prince mysteriously vanishes down a well.
Back in Storybrook, Ashley is getting lectured by Emma about parenting and how you can’t ever leave your kid (like her parents did to her, or she did to Henry). You get a real sense that Emma is talking to herself as much as she is to Ashley. They rush off to the hospital, where Emma (who is rocking an awesome blue and white leather jacket) promises Mr. Gold an as-yet undetermined favor, in return for him letting Ashley out of her contract. And ooooh, Gold is deliciously saucy in agreeing to do so.
Oh, Emma, Emma, Emma…way to get played, girlfriend.
Ashley keeps her baby, naming her Alexandra, Sean shows up to the hospital, wanting to reconcile and bearing the baby’s first gift: a pair of baby shoes. Awwwww. Excuse me as I make a distasteful mouth-smacking sound. The saccharin gets a bit heavy in this show sometimes.
Emma then rushes Henry home so he won’t get caught by Regina, who’s all done getting Sheriffed in every orifice of her body and on her way back. He makes it just in the nick of time (leaving behind a shoe on the stairs, of course), and we get to see Sheriff Mancandy shirtless and all steamed up from the shower.
I’ll give this episode four blue wishing stars out of five.
I love a shirtless sheriff, but Cinderella was pretty ho-hum for being such an icon.