The Great Once Upon a Time Rewatch | Episode 4: The Price of Gold

Cinderella makes a regrettable deal with Rumpelstiltskin and Emma tries to help a vulnerable young woman escape from Storybrooke.

Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Jamie Dornan and Robert Carlyle

Once Upon a Time

Season 1
Episode 4: The Price of Gold

The Enchanted Forest

Poor Cinderella (Jessy Schram) is just about to receive a wish from her fairy godmother, when Rumpelstiltskin destroys the fairy and steals the wand. In exchange for allowing Ella to escape her house, she must sign a contract: something he reminds her of at the ball celebrating her wedding to Prince Thomas (Tim Phillipps). Rumple makes it very clear that the suitable payment is her firstborn child.

Ella immediately confesses the deal that she has made with Rumple to her husband, and they enlist the help of Charming, Grumpy and The Blue Fairy to capture Rumple using a special quill that will immobilise him. Ella summons him, on the pretence of signing another deal. Pretending that she is, in fact, pregnant with twins, she assures him that, in exchange for the other child, the crops and wealth of the kingdom need to be improved. Sure enough, Rumple is frozen upon signing the contract, allowing him to be captured (which helps explain why he was in Charming and Snow’s dungeon in previous episodes). However, Thomas disappears, in line with Rumple’s dire warning that he cannot be crossed, though Rumple himself claims not to have done anything. He merely explains that magic has a price, and that she will not see Thomas until that debt is paid.


Graham offers Emma the opportunity to become his deputy, before Emma encounters 19-year-old Ashley Boyd (Schram), who is lamenting the future for her and her baby. Emma sympathises, as she understand what it is like to have a baby at a young age, and impresses upon Ashley the importance of taking charge of her own life, instead of listening to the thoughts and opinions of others. Seemingly inspired, that night Ashley breaks into Mr. Gold’s pawnshop and steals a contract from his safe. Mr. Gold catches her, but she manages to escape.

Mr. Gold enlists Emma’s help to track Ashley down. From Ruby, Emma discovers that Ashley had an ex-boyfriend, Sean, who she should probably visit. Emma discovers that Sean’s father is preventing the pair from being together, as he does not want his son with a pregnant teenager. Emma learns that Ruby has lent her car to Ashley, to allow her to leave Storybrooke for Boston, but they find the car crashed just past the city, and Ashley starts to give birth.

Ashley gives birth in the hospital to a baby girl, which Mr. Gold arrives to collect. Mr. Gold agrees to give up his claim to the baby provided that Emma owe him a favour, which Emma acquiesces to. Sean arrives and reunites with Ashley, naming their child Alexandra. Emma agrees to become Graham’s deputy, and we discover that Graham is having sex with Regina.


  • Even though ostensibly the backstory in this episode is of little consequence to the overall narrative concerning the Dark Curse, it is obvious that the writers are drawing parallels between Ashley/Ella and Emma, since Emma is one of the few characters who does not have an Enchanted Forest storyline to expand her own story.
  • Poor Ashley has been pregnant for 28 years. Her back must really hurt.
  • The fact that Ashley and Sean get together, avoiding the whole “happy endings don’t happen here” promise, is merely more evidence that Emma’s presence in Storybrooke, aside from advancing the timeline, is weakening the curse’s hold on its inhabitants.
  • To this end, how has Regina not noticed these things happening? Of 28 years of everybody living in a dreamlike state, surely she must notice something weird happening to the inhabitants. I mean, she tried to get rid of Emma at first, but she appears to have stopped that, at least temporarily. I suppose having Henry in the picture, whose feelings Regina cares about, makes it somewhat difficult for Regina to dispose of Emma successfully, especially in a world without magic.
  • A star turn is pulled by Robert Carlyle here, as he delights in the mischievous and wicked nature of Rumpelstiltskin. The makeup design on him is also delightfully creepy, transforming him into this creature that seems to have crawled out of the ground almost. He definitely appears more sinister than the Evil Queen does, operating in more tricky and confusing ways compared to the Evil Queen’s machinations.
  • Emma’s favour to Gold fills me with dread. Considering it is fairly obvious that Gold retains his past memories, I can only imagine that he wants to twist the curse to his advantage somehow.
  • It’s a shame that we don’t really see very much from Ashley/Ella after this point. She has a really well developed backstory, and Jessy Schram carries an awful lot of this episode on her shoulders. It’s a shame that she had this character development before, say, Ruby/Red Riding Hood has, as she is still very much on the periphery of proceedings.
  • Speaking of periphery, this is the second episode in a row that series regular Raphael Sbarge, who plays Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket, is absent. While he has more of a role in the following episode, I have the sense that the writers aren’t quite sure what to do with a therapist character. He isn’t always easy to write into a scene in the same way that Mary Margaret or David are.
  • I am unsurprised that Graham and Regina are sleeping together, as essentially Regina has the entire town under her thumb, and it is her curse, so why wouldn’t you be banging the attractive sheriff? I am slightly disappointed in Graham though, and anxious to know how Emma’s going to react to this revelation.

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