Once Upon a Time: Unhappy Ending
That's it. We're done. We're leaving this show behind the way Lot left Sodom. We're throwing our keys inside the window of a broken down car and never looking back. This show is terrible, and they literally can't pay us to watch another episode.
Funny thing was, we didn't think that when it started out this week. The credits showed us we could expect another appearance by Lee Arenberg as Grumpy, and as usual he does wonders with nothing at all. We knew the episode was heavy on Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold, and he remains one of the few characters who have more depth than a freshman's first Dungeons and Dragons attempt.
The beginning was promising. We opened at the whole fairy godmother portion of the Cinderella story... with the rather abrupt change of having Rumpelstiltskin kill the fairy godmother for her wand. Though Cinderella begs him to help her with the whole gown, ball and prince thing, he tells her that a) the wand is pure evil and b) that all magic comes with a price. He advises her to change her own life rather than relying on sorcery.
That, friends and enemies, is the last good thing that happens besides some impressive line delivery by Carlyle. Cinderella disregards Rumpelstiltskin's advice and offers anything for the quick and easy way out of her life. He complies by requesting a favor down the line, she agrees, and later down the line Rumpelstiltskin tells her he wants to claim her first born child as payment. She refuses, and attempts to best him with magic. Her actions lead to his imprisonment, but also the loss of her prince.
In Storybrooke, Cinderella is a pregnant maid named Ashley. A chance encounter with Emma in which Emma advises her to take control of her life prompts Ashley to break into Mr. Gold's pawn shop, steal something, assault him, then run for the border. Gold hires Emma to bring her back, and she discovers in the course of her investigation that Emma had struck a deal with Ashley for a large payment in return for custody of her child once born.
Look, we don't know which of the show's writers is adopted and working through his rage in the scenes of Once Upon a Time, and we no longer care. The insultingly heavy-handed treatment of Henry reuniting with his birth mother, who will solve all his problems with the woman who raised him, was bad enough. However, since we already know that she literally is evil, we can let that slide.
This though... it's just too much. One thing we can praise Glee for was having the balls to go through with Quinn giving up her baby. Any other show on network TV would've tried sucking up to the crowd that seems to believe that if a teenage mother just loves her baby enough it will all work out fine. Once Upon a Time not only doesn't have those balls, it's as anatomically useless as a Barbie Doll.
Emma makes a deal with Gold to let Ashley keep her baby. Not only do we end with this wonderful shot of Ashley in bed cradling her new daughter, she's joined by the sorry son of wealth who completely abandoned her throughout her pregnancy, during which she worked full time and went to night school. He literally shows up with an apology, a pair of shoes for the baby and a kiss, and suddenly everything is better. This despite the fact that a visit from Emma to this jackass earlier in the episode made it clear that even though he still loved Ashley, he kept away from her because his daddy said so.
Look, we're not saying that every unwed teenage mother should have an abortion or give up her baby for adoption. There are lots and lots of young, strong mothers, and a slightly lower number of young, strong fathers who take the bull by the horns and still make a nice life for themselves. Those people are amazing people.
But that is not always the best choice, and speaking as someone who was one more failed fertility treatment away from giving up and trying adoption, we find this whole jihad against the very concept of adoption in the show to be vulgar and needlessly cruel to the millions of families out there who are making that practice work with love and care.
Ashley, this guy is a tool. He helped create a life with you, then couldn't even find the strength to stand up to his father scolding him to help you though a hard and frightening process. You are a maid, and if you had health insurance we'll eat our three favorite hats. Someone offered you money to place your child directly into the care of a childless couple, and as far as we know there was no agreement to prevent any future contact.
Once Upon a Time is about restoring "happy endings." Personally, we wouldn't hire the people who created this fairy-tale world to costume a high school production of A Midsummer's Night's Dream. We fail to see how whoever was promised Ashley's baby after striking a deal already made difficult by coming to terms with the failure of a basic human capability just so she could get a pair of baby booties from her worthless baby daddy constitutes everything working out fine. Somewhere a man and a woman are in tears because yet another attempt at having a baby fails.
This show is to happy endings what Judge Adams is to responsible childhood discipline, and we are not watching another episode. You're on your own.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Houston.