The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales, that were transported to the "real world" town by a powerful curse. This episode centers on Emma (Jennifer Morrison) coming to the aid of a young pregnant woman (Jessy Schram) who is trying to escape from Storybrooke and Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), which parallels with Cinderella's (Schram) regrettable deal she made with Rumplestiltskin (Carlyle).
It was written by David H. Goodman, while being directed by David Solomon.
In the Characters' Pasts
In the Enchanted Forest, Cinderella is about to receive a wish from her Fairy Godmother when the godmother is magically killed by Rumplestiltskin, who then takes her wand. He grants Ella her wish to escape her home, but in return requires her to sign a contract. Rumplestiltskin then transforms Ella into an elegant woman complete with glass slippers, warning her that all magic has a price. Several months later at a gala wedding ball for Ella and her new husband, Prince Thomas, Snow White and Prince Charming congratulate the couple on their wedding, as does Rumplestiltskin who tells Ella that he does not care for her riches or baubles, but instead shall claim her firstborn child.
Ella later tells Thomas how she was tricked into making a deal with Rumplestiltskin in which she had to give up the child to him. Thomas, upon hearing this, decides that he is not going to let Rumplestiltskin take away what is rightfully theirs, so with the help of Charming, Grumpy, and the Blue Fairy, they come up with a plot to capture Rumplestiltskin by luring him into signing another contract. Hours later, at a neutral location, Ella and Rumplestiltskin meet to sign the deal. Ella lies to him and says she is expecting twins and will give him both of the babies in exchange for improving the crops and wealth of the kingdom. A skeptical Rumplestiltskin agrees, but as he signs the contract, he is rendered powerless thanks to a special red quill pen, that was created by The Blue Fairy. He is captured by Charming and Thomas, but Thomas disappears soon after. She demands that Rumplestiltskin tell her what has happened, but he claims not to have done anything. He reminds her that all magic has a price, and that until his debt is paid she will never see Thomas again.
In the present day, Sheriff Graham gives Emma an offer to become his deputy, but Emma turns down the offer. Once at Granny's Diner, Emma gets a surprise visit from Regina, who says that she is no longer afraid of Emma; she says that Emma has lived in seven cities in the past decade, never staying in one place for more than two years, and that Emma has no roots. Emma spills her cocoa on her blouse and asks Ruby if she can use the laundromat. There she encounters a 19-year-old pregnant maid named Ashley Boyd, trying to wash clothes while crying about not having a future for both her and her baby. As Emma hears this, she tells Ashley that she knows how it feels to have a baby at a young age and believes Ashley should notsuffer through this. She encourages Ashley to take charge and change her life. Later that evening, Ashley breaks into Mr. Gold's pawn shop and steals a contract from a safe. While there, she is confronted by Mr. Gold. Mr. Gold attempts to stop her, but she attacks him, leaving him unconscious on the floor of his shop.
The next day, Mr. Gold asks Emma to track down Ashley. He claims that she has something that belongs to him and that Ashley is unstable and troubled. Emma reluctantly agrees to this but is skeptical as to why he did not go to the police. Mr. Gold cites a need for discretion, and Emma accepts. Henry, who was told by Regina to stay home while she went to a council meeting, tags along with Emma to help find the young woman. While Emma notices Ruby's car being towed, she asks Ruby about where to find her, but she tells Emma that she would have to stop by the home of her ex-boyfriend Sean. Emma goes there and speaks to them, finding out that it is the boy's father that has told him not to get involved with the pregnant teenager.
Emma discovers that Ruby has given her car to Ashley so that she can leave Storybrooke and head to Boston. Emma and Henry find the vehicle has crashed just short of the city's limits, with Ashley about to deliver. Back at the hospital, she gives birth to a baby girl, just in time for Mr. Gold to pick up his "merchandise." Emma questions the reason why Mr. Gold wants this child. Emma tells Mr. Gold that even if he was to take the child away, he could face legal troubles that could cost him dearly. Mr. Gold then offers a deal for Emma in which he'll give up his questionable claim to the child and in return, Emma will owe him a favor. Emma takes the deal. Emma then tells Ashley that she can keep her daughter. After she leaves, Ashley's boyfriend, Sean, shows up to see his child and gives the newborn a pair of perfectly fitted slippers. They name the daughter Alexandra, which was a name that they had decided upon back in the fairy tale realm.
Emma races back to the Mayor's home to drop Henry off before Regina can return home. Emma decides to call Sheriff Graham to take that offer of being a deputy. While on the phone, it is revealed that the sheriff had just gotten out of the shower at his home, just moments after he had a presumed sexual tryst with Regina.
- A future story "It's Not Easy Being Green" would suggest Rumplestiltskin intended to use Cinderella's baby for spell ingredients. "The number of spells that include baby parts would shock you." However, as that is no longer an option in Storybrooke, the deal was altered to better fit with the cursed memories.
The episode was written by co-executive producer David H. Goodman, while being directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer veteran David Solomon. The episode was included in Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale – a novelization of the first season – which was published by Hyperion Books in 2013.
Emma is stated to have lived in Tallahassee for two years, which is a reference to the Lost episode "The Man from Tallahassee". Ruby's car contains a wolf charm, a reference to her character Red Riding Hood's traditional enemy the Big Bad Wolf.