Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The "Once Upon a Time" spec


                                                         

Hi everyone! So, this entry is taking a slightly different form. A few months ago I submitted a spec script to ABC for their wonderful show "Once Upon a Time." I've gotten several requests from fellow "Once" fans to read the script - which is based on "The Little Mermaid." So, I've decided to post it. There's really no artistic pontification here, but it might be somewhat interesting to see a spec draft, and learn a little about the TV writing process. In the theater community - "spec" isn't nearly as well known a word as it is in Hollywood. IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN ACTUAL SCRIPT FROM THE SHOW. And please note, this script IS COPYRIGHTED.

For those of you who don't know, writing "on spec" means you're writing, in essence, as an audition, not for money. The producers are basically trying you out. In film, as one example, this may mean writing a draft (or rewriting someone else's draft) to see if you're the writer they want to go with. In television, this means writing an episode of a well known, currently running TV show. Occasionally, more in comedy than drama, your script may be bought, or "picked up" and actually filmed and put on the air. This is also more likely with shows like "Law and Order" which, while they have some through line plots typically have episodes that stand alone. (Basically, if you can tune in for a single episode and follow the show - having a spec picked up is a possibility. For a show with a complex, multi episode arc (think "Lost") this is VERY rare.) However, studios like to see if you can write for established characters, work within the world of a show, etc. So many TV writers have several spec scripts they can send to studios as their "audition" - the ultimate goal being to be hired as a member of a writing team for an established, or new show. Yes, while every TV show has principle "show runners" (the people/person who created the show, and serves as primary writer, and all around authority on a given show) there are also a whole team of writers who alternate writing episodes. When I heard ABC was accepting scripts, well, I couldn't resist messing with my favorite fairy tale, in one of my favorite shows.  Even just for fun.

Some screenplay vocab:

INT. = Interior (i.e. the interior of a bookstore)
EXT. = Exterior
O.S. = Off screen (i.e. voice over)
Lines in italics are "stage directions"

There are different screenplay formats - this is the one I prefer. Characters and important props are in all caps so as to best keep track of what props/actors will be needed in the episode, and in any given scene.

So, here is my spec script for "Once Upon a Time." AGAIN, THIS IS NOT AN ACTUAL SCRIPT FROM THE SHOW, and it IS COPYRIGHTED. It was written shortly after the episode "Skin Deep" aired - and thus is in the world of the first season. SPOILER ALERT - there are spoilers from season 1 contained in the script.

Enjoy.















ONCE UPON A TIME spec script

"Poor Child"

by: Ashley Griffin
(c) 2011
































EXT. COUNTRY SIDE – MID DAY – FAIRYTALE LAND

Thousands of miles in the air, we see a section of a BEANSTALK rising parallel to the enormous mountains that surround it. After a moment a FOOT suddenly thrusts down onto a branch, quickly followed by another. A lanky BOY of about eighteen comes down into frame. This is JACK. He is laden with a squawking GOOSE sticking out of a large SACK, and an enormous GOLDEN HARP. He is racing down the beanstalk as fast as he can.

Suddenly we hear a giant THUD like an earthquake. Or a thunderbolt. JACK looks up. He is running out of time.

Finally, Jack reaches the ground. We see a small COTTAGE in the distance. He throws the harp and goose to one side, and finds a SAW. Quickly, he starts trying to saw the base of the beanstalk, but the saw breaks. He looks around for any tool he might use to fell the stalk. Finally, desperate, he pulls out a SLINGSHOT and tries to hit the quickly approaching giant with ROCKS lying about. Again, to no avail.

JACK
He’s too high…  

He throws down his slingshot in despair.

JACK
Man! Rumple…Rumplestiltskin! Can you hear me? Help me! Where are you? Please! Help me!

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
(Appearing out of nowhere) Come, come. Carrying on like that! People will think there are giants falling from the sky. (A beat. Then a maniacal, crazy giggle.)

JACK
I want what you promised. When you gave me those beans you promised me…

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Wealth beyond your wildest dreams.

JACK
Yes. A happy ending.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Not quite.
JACK
What?

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
I gave you precisely what you asked for. My part of the deal has already been fulfilled. Deal with the…consequences on your own.

JACK
I’ll make another deal. Please? PLEASE! He’ll kill me! Don’t you understand? He’s going to kill me!

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Oh! So scared. So what do you want from me now?

JACK
Give me something to chop down this beanstalk with. Give me a way to kill him. Please, except my harp, and the goose, I’ll give you anything.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Anything?

JACK
Yes.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
That’s all you need to truly have your “happy ending?”

JACK
Yes!

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You sure? I’m not in the habit of making addendums to my deals. Or to being summoned so rudely. Until I am paid this is the last deal you’ll get from me. Be careful what you ask for. Make it count. You’ll owe me greatly.

JACK
Give me a way to kill him. I’ll owe you anything.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
As you wish.

He pulls out a magic AX, and hands it to Jack who begins feverishly chopping at the base of the beanstalk. Finally, it begins to sway, and fall. In the distance we hear a low GROAN as the giant falls, and is killed. Jack smiles in triumph.

JACK
Thank you!

He turns, but Rumpilstiltskin is gone.
JACK
Finally. I have everything I’ve ever wanted.

Suddenly, he hears a voice, a FEMALE GIANT high above him. His face turns ashen.


GIANTESS o.s
Thief! Murderer! My poor husband! I will find, and kill that boy if it’s the last thing I do.

JACK
Wait, I thought she was dead…

GIANTESS o.s
Jack! JAAAAACK!

JACK
Rumplestiltskin!!!!

MR. GOLD o.s
Emma?

Jack’s head wheels around as we cut to:

INT. GRANNY’S DINER – DAY. STORYBROOKE.

EMMA sits reading Henry’s FAIRY TALE BOOK. It’s opened to “Jack and the Beanstalk.” She has a large cup of coffee next to her.  

MR. GOLD
Good afternoon. Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you. (He looks down at the book.) Fairy tales. Thought that was more Henry’s thing.  (He looks at the page more closely. The character of Rumplestiltskin is not present.) Ah. Jack and the Beanstalk. Always found that one fascinating. A young boy is rewarded for grand larceny, and murder. All in the name of a happy ending.

EMMA
They’re a little darker than I remember.

MR. GOLD
Fairy stories give us hope. There’s no denying that. But they can also be…cautionary tales? Be careful what you put your hope in. Make sure you’re going after the right happily ever after.  Yes?

EMMA
Can I help you with something?

MR. GOLD
I’m actually here for an appointment. Just thought I’d say hello.

RUBY, hesitantly walks by and places the check down next to Emma.

MR. GOLD
Oh, here. Let me get that.

He takes out his WALLET, pulls some MONEY out, and puts it down on the table.

EMMA
No, you don’t have to…

MR. GOLD
Please. (A beat.) How’s everything down at the station?

EMMA
Fine.

MR. GOLD
Good.

He sees GRANNY walk out from the back of the shop.

MR. GOLD
Excuse me.

He makes his way to where Granny is anxiously waiting. She hands him a large ROLL OF MONEY. Mr. Gold smiles, and goes to leave.

EMMA
Is everyone in this town indebted to you?

MR. GOLD
You have a lovely day.  Enjoy your coffee.

Emma looks down and sees his wallet on the table. She picks it up, and quickly goes outside.

EXT. – GRANNY’S DINER – DAY.

EMMA
Mr. Gold! You left your…

But he’s vanished.

EMMA
Wallet.

CUT TO:

EXT. STORYBROOKE – TWILIGHT. EMMA walks with HENRY

EMMA
I’ve been reading your book. Having trouble figuring out Mr. Gold too.


HENRY
Yeah. He’s tricky. I just think it would make things easier if we knew everyone’s stories. Easier to figure out how to help them remember. And who we should be careful of.

EMMA
Henry, if everyone did remember, what do you think would happen? We’d all be back in the fairy tale world?

HENRY
Yeah. Everyone would finally be able to go home.

EMMA
Everyone?

HENRY
Yeah. (A beat.) We’re part of the story too, you know. (A beat.) So, what do you want to do?

EMMA
Well, I have to stop by Mr. Gold’s shop. He left his wallet at the diner.

HENRY
Oh.

EMMA
Yeah. Just have to return it, and then…

She looks down at Henry. It’s clear that he’s highly apprehensive about going to see Mr. Gold.

EMMA
What?

HENRY
It’s just…his shop is creepy. He’s creepy.

EMMA
Come on. I’ve been in there before. It’s…well, actually it is a little weird. But there’s nothing to be scared of.

HENRY
I’m not scared. I’ve been there too. I just…

EMMA
Ok. Want to meet me at Granny’s then? I’ll just be a couple minutes.

HENRY
I’ll get us some hot chocolate!

EMMA
Extra cinnamon?

HENRY
Extra cinnamon.

With a big smile, he runs across the street to GRANNY’S.


CUT TO:

INT – MR. GOLD’S PAWN SHOP – EVENING. It’s dark. No sign of life.

EMMA
Mr. Gold?

No answer.

Mr. Gold?

We hear a back door close. After a moment, a young girl in her late teens hurries behind the counter. She’s pretty, with intelligent, kind, twinkling eyes, but she looks sad, as if she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. She has deep auburn hair. Her clothes have been well worn. This is MIRANDA.

Emma is caught off guard. She’s never seen anyone besides Mr. Gold working in the shop.

EMMA
Hi. Is Mr. Gold around?

Miranda nods her head “no.”

EMMA
Do you…do you work here?

Miranda nods “yes.”

EMMA
Didn’t know he had a staff.

Miranda smiles, and makes a gesture as if to say: “just me.”

EMMA
Haven’t seen you around town.  I’m Emma.

They shake hands. Emma waits for Miranda to introduce herself. She doesn’t.

EMMA
Um…ok… anyways, I’m just bringing back Mr. Gold’s wallet. He left it at Granny’s.

She holds out the WALLET. Miranda lets out a sigh of relief, then reaches out and takes it from Emma. In sign language she signs “thank you.”

EMMA
Oh! Are you deaf? (A thought:) Do you read lips?

Miranda nods “no”, but before she can try to communicate further, we hear a voice from behind her:

MR. GOLD o.s
Miranda is mute.

And as he comes into frame:

MR. GOLD
She can’t speak.

Mr. Gold leans over her, and picks up his wallet from the counter.

MR. GOLD
That’s all for today Miranda.

But instead of getting her things, and walking out the front door, Miranda heads for the back room of the shop.

EMMA
Hey, do you need a ride? I was just going to stop at Granny’s and then…

Miranda stops, about to respond.

MR. GOLD
That wont be necessary. She lives with me. (To Miranda:) Thank you.

And Miranda goes.

EMMA
Is she…do you have a daughter?

Mr. Gold laughs.

MR. GOLD
No.

EMMA
No? (A beat.) She’s what then? Your…

MR. GOLD
Hostage? (Laughing) It’s what you’re thinking. You’ve been spending too much time reading those fairy tale books Ms. Swan.

EMMA
Then enlighten me.

MR. GOLD
Miranda is my…how do you say…my ward, as it were. She lost her family, and the poor child had nowhere to turn. She needed a job, and a place to live. I offered her both. I guarantee you she’s quite well looked after. As much as if she were my own daughter. (A beat.) You’re the sheriff. Check it out for yourself. (Referring to the wallet) Thank you for returning this. I was getting quite worried. If you’ll excuse me, I have to close up.

Emma warily makes her way out of the shop. Mr. Gold locks the door.

CUT TO: INT. MR. GOLD’S HOUSE – EVENING

Mr. Gold walks into his house, and goes to the living room where Miranda is sitting. She quickly gets up, and tries to leave, but Mr. Gold stops her.

MR. GOLD
It’s a good thing she brought that back. (No response.) So, what do you think of our illustrious Sheriff? Nice to finally meet her? (No response.) What? Cat got your tongue?

CUT TO:

INT. GRANNY’S – NIGHT.

HENRY sits with two cups of hot chocolate. His is almost gone. EMMA enters, and sits down across from him.

HENRY
(Referring to his all but empty glass:) Sorry, I tried to wait. So…how was Mr. Gold?

EMMA
Creepy.

HENRY
I told you.

EMMA
Henry, do you know a girl named Miranda? Auburn hair? Doesn’t talk? Works at the pawnshop?


HENRY
For Mr. Gold?

EMMA
Yeah.

HENRY
Uh. I’d rather die than work for Mr. Gold.

EMMA
Have you seen her around?

HENRY
Not really. I think I might have seen her once or twice near his store…why? Is something up? This has something to do with Operation Cobra, doesn’t it!?

EMMA
No. I just…I think she might need help.  

HENRY
This is why I wanted you to read the book. We could help her better if we knew what her story is. Lets see…trapped working for Mr. Gold…Rapunzel? You did mention her hair…that was the one where the witch made her not be able to speak, right? No, that was the one where the witch blinded her prince and she had magical healing tears…

REGINA o.s
Henry?

HENRY
Ah oh. (Under his breath) Speaking of witches…

EMMA
Henry!

Henry lets out a sigh. REGINA makes her way to the table. She debates whether it’s worth it to confront Emma about being found with her son. Again.

REGINA
So. How long should I ground you for this time?

EMMA
He wasn’t doing anything.

REGINA
He was supposed to be home at three o’clock.

EMMA
You told me you didn’t have to be home until six!

REGINA
He just knew I wouldn’t be home until six. But my meeting ended early. Is it so hard to follow some simple rules? What is it with sneaking out of the house all the time?

EMMA
Henry?

HENRY
But…

EMMA
She’s right.

REGINA
(Taken aback, but sincerely to Emma:) Thank you.

HENRY
I’m sorry.

He gets up, and starts to leave with Regina.

EMMA
Oh, Mayor Mills?

REGINA
Yes?

EMMA
Is it true Mr. Gold has a…ward?

REGINA
Yes. Miranda.

EMMA
Do you know anything about her?

REGINA
Poor girl. Sure got handed a rough deal.

EMMA
She used to have family?

REGINA
On the edge of town. Father, and sisters if I remember correctly.

EMMA
What happened?

REGINA
Not sure. I do know she’s all alone in the world now. Trust me Ms. Swan, everyone in town feels badly for her. Nobody wants to be in thrall to Mr. Gold. And she hardly ever leaves his sight. But she is taken care of.

EMMA
How did she loose her voice? Was she born mute?

REGINA
No idea. Tragic really. (A beat.) Let me guess. You want to try and help her?

EMMA
Yes.

REGINA
Take my advice, don’t waste your time.

EMMA
But…

REGINA
I’m not as cruel as you think Ms. Swan. I don’t mean you shouldn’t want to. The girl won’t let you.

EMMA
She looked...

REGINA
Given the choice, she’d stay right where she is. It’s sad, but true. For once, please, leave it alone. For the girl’s sake. Come on Henry.

And she sweeps out of the shop.

HENRY
(Whispering) She could be a more obscure story. I’ll start looking. It might help.

He gives her a quick, intense hug, and runs after Regina.

EMMA
What happened to you, Miranda?

CUT TO:

EXT – THE OCEAN – NIGHT – FAIRYTALE LAND

A beautiful, calm night. Moonlight floods the water.

CLOSE UP ON: A pair of big, bright eyes emerging from the water, followed by a lovely face, long, shimmering red hair, and an impish smile. She looks around, and then stares up at a large SHIP. This is ARIEL – the Little Mermaid.

ARIEL
Oh! Have you ever seen anything so wonderful in your entire life?

She swims towards the ship, her long green tail flipping up through the water. There’s a celebration on board. Fireworks, dancing, music. PRINCE ERIC dances with the rest of his crew. GRIMSBY – Eric’s man-servant tries to engage Eric in conversation.

GRIMSBY
Eric, have you given any thought to our discussion?

ERIC
Oh, not now Grimsby!

GRIMSBY
Eric, I promised your father that you would be married by the time you turned…

ERIC
Not tonight!

ARIEL
I’ve never seen a human this close before.

A SEAGULL flaps down near her on the edge of the ship.

ARIEL
He’s so handsome…

Eric moves towards the edge of the ship. Ariel could almost touch him…

ERIC
Believe me Grimsby, when I find her I’ll know. It’ll just…bam! Hit me. Like lightning.

Suddenly we hear a loud THUNDERBOLT followed by LIGHTNING cracking across the sky. The WAVES become choppy, and the CREW springs into action. Chaos. Suddenly, Eric is thrown overboard. Ariel dives into the water after him. She frantically looks around, then sees him, lifeless sinking down into the depths. She races after him, grabs his arm, and with all her force pulls him back to the surface.

FADE TO:

EXT. BEACH – DAY

Ariel has dragged an unconscious Eric onto the shore, praying he’s still alive. She smoothes his hair, and sings softly to him. She has a beautiful voice. Finally, after a long, tense moment, his head moves, and his eyes groggily start to open. The moment their eyes connect, Ariel belongs to him heart and soul.

ARIEL
So this must be what love is…

Suddenly we hear a DOG BARKING. Quickly, Ariel turns, and dives into the sea.

FADE TO:

Several days later.

UNDERWATER – TRITON’S PALACE - TWILIGHT

Ariel looks sadly at her SISTERS and her father – KING TRITON through one of the windows in the palace. They are frantically looking for her.

KING TRITON
After what happened with that ship, if she’s gone to the surface again…Moping around here for weeks, talking about “love.” Then she vanishes! Just find her! She can’t be that good at hiding. Just find Ariel.

Then, plucking up her courage, she swims away.

CUT TO:

UNDERWATER – EXT - URSULA’S LAIR – TWILIGHT

Ariel swims through a dark, foreboding kelp forest, finally reaching the opening of an immense cave. Now that she’s here, she isn’t sure if she can go through with this. She starts to turn back, but can’t bring herself to leave. She turns back towards the cave’s entrance.

ARIEL
(Repeating an adage she knows all too well:) No one returns from the Sea Witch unchanged…

A flickering light appears from the depths of the cave. And we hear a terrifying voice from deep within:

SEA WITCH o.s
Come in. Come in my child. Don’t be shy. I know what it is you seek. Are you willing to pay the price? How much do you love him?

If she were on land, a tear would be falling down her cheek. She steels herself, and swims into the cave. A long, tense moment. Will she return? Then, suddenly, a sharp, blood curdling SCREAM, followed by a maniacal CACKLE. We fade up through the water to reveal:

EXT. OCEAN – NIGHT. The EVIL QUEEN stands looking over the water. We hear a faint echo of the scream. The Evil Queen smiles.


CUT TO: INT. MIRANDA’S BEDROOM – DAY - STORYBROOKE

Miranda stares out the window of her room, which seems as if it might have been the maid’s quarters of the large house at one time. Mr. Gold walks in, carrying a bag of take out food.

MR. GOLD
You hungry?

No response.

MR. GOLD
You have to eat.

He turns and sees that Miranda is looking at EMMA through the window, who seems to be on some sort of official business across the street.

MR. GOLD
You know it doesn’t change anything.

Miranda looks up at him.

MR. GOLD
You already made your choice. She can’t do anything about that.

Miranda goes back to looking out the window. Mr. Gold sits next to her.

MR. GOLD
It could be a lot worse you know.

A beat. Then, almost kindly:

MR. GOLD
I take care of you, don’t I? We get along all right.

Miranda looks at him – the first time we’ve seen anyone look at Mr. Gold with out a hint of fear. She nods “yes.”

MR. GOLD
You should eat.

He gets up, and goes to the food he brought. Miranda signs: “No, thank you.”

MR. GOLD
I told you…

Miranda signs: “I’m not hungry.”

MR. GOLD
(A realization.) You went walking by that house again.

Miranda signs: “I wasn’t…”

MR. GOLD
Don’t. Go. By. That. House.

Miranda signs: “You can’t…”

MR. GOLD
Actually, I can.

A beat. Then, Miranda lightly laughs.

MR. GOLD
What?

Miranda signs: “I just thought: Despite everything, I’m your only friend.”

MR. GOLD
(A hint of cruelty creeping in.) You are nothing more than my servant.

With a calm, inner strength. Miranda signs: “Don’t be mean. I’m not, and you know it.”

MR. GOLD
Don’t you…

Miranda signs: “Servants don’t choose to be. I chose to be. I let you have power over me, and you hate it.”

Mr. Gold is taken aback. Practically a first.

MR. GOLD
Don’t put words in my mouth.


CUT TO:

INT. ARCHIE’S OFFICE – DAY

ARCHIE sits at his DESK. There’s a knock at the door. He answers it. EMMA steps into the room.

EMMA
Hey Archie, can I talk to you for a minute?

ARCHIE
Of course! Is this official business, or…un…official…

EMMA
Um, a little bit of both, I guess. Do you happen to know this girl Miranda? Works for Mr. Gold? Can’t speak.

ARCHIE
Not really. Don’t go in Mr. Gold’s shop much. Odd girl. Tragic really.

EMMA
Everyone keeps saying that. Tragic.

ARCHIE
It is. Lost her home, her family.

EMMA
Than someone needs to help her.

ARCHIE
Mr. Gold…

EMMA
Oh come on Archie, you and I both know Mr. Gold is the last person we’d trust to truly help someone.

ARCHIE
What did you have in mind?

EMMA
I thought you could talk to her. Something’s off. It feels like Stockholm syndrome over there or something.

ARCHIE
I could try…

A beat.

EMMA
What?

ARCHIE
It’s just…I don’t know sign language. It would be…difficult to have a session with her. It could take half our time for her just to write out her responses. We couldn’t do much with short, one-sentence answers. Mr. Gold’s the only one who seems to be able to communicate with her in any kind of real way…


EMMA
Why does that not surprise me?

ARCHIE
At least she has a job. A place to live. In her…condition…there aren’t many opportunities for her.

EMMA
She deserves more than being a slave to Mr. Gold. (A beat.) Listen, I know you don’t really know her, or her situation, but in your professional opinion – what’s going on over there?

ARCHIE
It does seem a little…odd.

EMMA
Please? I’m just trying to help.

ARCHIE
Without talking to her, I honestly don’t know Ms. Swan. I will say, as…intimidating as Mr. Gold is, I don’t think he’s abusing her. Or forcing her to stay. And I’ve seen moments, when he does truly seem to care about her.

EMMA
And that puzzles you.

ARCHIE
Truth be told, I’ve never really seen him care about anyone. (A beat.) Ms. Swan, I don’t doubt the girl could use help. But please, be careful. Mr. Gold is, for all intents and purposes, the only family she has, or to my knowledge has ever known. It could be devastating for her to have that taken away. And at the end of the day, we don’t know much about her, or her situation. As noble as it is to want to “save” her – it’s dangerous to try and do so without having all the facts. It might just end up making things worse.

CUT TO: EXT. FOREST – DAY – STORYBROOKE

A few days later. MIRANDA is floating in a beautiful pool of water. On the shore is a small, portable CD PLAYER. She’s listening to Debussy’s “Reflets dans l’eau.” A TOWEL, DRESS, SHOES, BAG, and a NOTEBOOK and PENCIL lie close by.

After a moment, HENRY walks by on the path. When Miranda sees him, she ducks under the water, only her eyes peaking above the surface.

HENRY
Hey! Don’t be shy! It looks like fun!

Miranda’s head peaks up, grinning impishly. She splashes some water at Henry.

HENRY
(Laughing.) Hey!

Miranda runs up on shore, and throws her towel over her shoulders. Her hair is soaking wet.

HENRY
What are you listening to?

She motions for Henry to come closer. He sits down next to the CD player, and listens to the music. Miranda is looking through her bag for something. She pulls out the remnants of her lunch: a TUPPERWARE CONTAINER, and a FORK.

HENRY
What are you looking for?

Miranda mimes brushing her hair.

HENRY
Um…I don’t see a brush.

Miranda finally picks up the fork, washes it off, and uses it to start brushing her hair.

HENRY
The music’s pretty.

After a moment Miranda grabs her notebook and pencil. She writes: “Do you hear the water?”

HENRY
What do you mean?

Miranda writes: “In the music. Do you hear the water in the music?”

Henry listens.

HENRY
I don’t know…

Miranda writes. Henry reads from her paper:

HENRY
“The eighth notes suspended an octave above – like water dripping into a pool.” (As he listens) You mean those notes? (A beat.) Yeah! Yeah I do! Hey, that’s cool! (A beat.) How do you know so much about music?

Miranda writes: “My teacher. Sebastian.”


HENRY
Did you used to play piano?

Miranda writes: “No. Sing.” Then, realizing what she wrote, she quickly crumples it up.

HENRY
You used to sing?! But… (A beat. He realizes…) Oh, but… I’m sorry.

Miranda suddenly gets nervous. She’s said too much. She writes: “Anyways, I shouldn’t be talking about this.”

HENRY
Why not? Mr. Gold?

Miranda smiles.

HENRY
I wish I could take you away from there.

Miranda writes: “Don’t wish for things you don’t understand.”

HENRY
Well, I do.

Miranda writes: “Don’t be such a guppy.”

HENRY
(Laughing.) Hey! I’m not a guppy!

Miranda throws her dress and shoes on over what she’s wearing, and gathers her things. She offers her hand to Henry, and they start to walk home.

CUT TO: EXT. STORYBROOKE – DAY

Miranda and Henry walk through the residential part of town. Suddenly, Miranda stops. We see a handsome young man, ERIC walk out of a large house. Miranda may as well be invisible to him. After a moment, a lovely young woman, VANESSA follows him out, and locks the door. They walk down the street.

Miranda looks like she’s just had her heart ripped out. She can’t move.

HENRY
What’s wrong?

Miranda pulls herself together. She writes: “Sorry, I have to go.”

HENRY
But, why?

Miranda writes something, and shows it to Henry. Then she starts to leave.

HENRY
Why aren’t you supposed to be here?

Miranda turns and puts her finger to her lips, “shushing” him. She runs off.

HENRY
Wait! Please! I need to talk to you!  


CUT TO: INT. MR. GOLD’S SHOP – DAY

Miranda bursts through the door. MR. GOLD gives her a disapproving, but concerned glance as she walks in.

Miranda signs: “I know! I know!”

She runs into the back of the store, frantically trying to dry her hair.

MR. GOLD
Teenagers.

CUT TO: INT. ERIC’S PALACE – NIGHT – FAIRY TALE LAND

ARIEL bursts through the door into the ballroom. She’s distraught. She’s made a mess of dinner. ERIC enters a moment after her.

ERIC
Boy! You should see the girls Grimsby usually brings in here! So boring, so… but you! Oh!

He sees she’s distraught.

ERIC
Hey. Hey, don’t be upset. I didn’t feel like crab tonight anyway. (He laughs, then becomes serious.) Come on. You’ve made me smile for the first time in weeks. Honest.

Ariel instantly brightens up.

ERIC
Who would have thought when I found a little shipwrecked girl on the beach that… well, everything’s been a lot better with you here. I…I hope you’ll stay for a long time.

Ariel beams. She nods: “Yes.”


ERIC
(A beat.) Listen, I’ve been wondering…what happened to your voice? Were you born like this? (Trying to lighten the mood. With a laugh:) Or maybe Goblins stole it away in the middle of the night.

Ariel moves away.

ERIC
I’m sorry. (A beat.) I’m sorry. Hey, who needs words anyway? A smile, or a look can say just as much sometimes, right? Hey! I know! Dancing beats small talk any day.

Ariel, shakes her head “no” as if to say: “I don’t know how to dance.”

ERIC
Don’t be shy. I’ll bet you’ll be a great dancer.

He goes over to a music box, and winds it up. It begins playing a beautiful waltz. Eric goes to Ariel, and places her arms. They begin waltzing. He shows her where to go.

ERIC
See? It’s as easy as breathing.

Ariel starts to trip. Eric catches her.

ERIC
Don’t worry! I’ve got you. It’s ok. You just have to get your land legs.

They continue, slowly. Ariel gets better as she gains confidence. They start to move across the dance floor. She’s actually dancing quite well.

ERIC
You’re very musical!

Ariel smiles.

ERIC
Do you...have you studied music?

Ariel nods “yes.”

ERIC
Wonderful. You dance beautifully. Very graceful. Like an enchanting aerial creature.

Ariel nods vigorously.

ERIC
You like that?

Ariel nods “yes,” then “no.” Then she moves her hands as if to say: “Say it again.”

ERIC
Like an enchanting aerial…

Ariel nods vehemently and points to herself.

ERIC
Aerial?

She nods.

ERIC
That’s your name? Ariel?

She nods.

ERIC
That’s kind of pretty. All right. Ariel.

They continue dancing, but closer. A long moment. Is he going to kiss her?


CUT TO: INT. HENRY’S BEDROOM – NIGHT - STORYBROOKE


HENRY is combing through his FAIRY TALE BOOK, trying to find what story Miranda might belong to. He turns to “Rapunzel”: not right.  “The Goose Girl”: also not right. After a moment, he flips to “The Little Mermaid.” The picture of the mermaid looks strikingly like Miranda.

He begins feverishly reading. We see him turn past various ILLUSTRATIONS: The mermaid rescuing her prince, having her voice taken by the sea witch, as a human at the prince’s castle.

We watch Henry’s face as he turns to a picture we don’t see. His eyes widen, and all but fill with tears. He’s clearly upset, and disturbed by what he sees.

CUT TO: INT. SHERIFF’S OFFICE – DAY

EMMA sits behind her desk drinking coffee, and going through some paper work. Suddenly Henry bursts in.

EMMA
Henry! What…?

Henry slams the book on the table, interrupting Emma. The book is open to the last page in “The Little Mermaid” story.

HENRY
She dies!

EMMA
What?

HENRY
Miranda. I found her story. She’s The Little Mermaid. She traded her voice to the Sea Witch in exchange for becoming human, so she could be with her true love. If her prince marries someone else, she dies.

EMMA
Henry, wait just a minute…

HENRY
And he does!

EMMA
What? Henry, calm down…

HENRY
He does! He marries someone else. Look at the end of the story! Why was I so stupid?!

EMMA
Henry…

HENRY
Don’t you see?

EMMA
It’s going to be ok. Just take a deep breath.

HENRY
Don’t you understand?

EMMA
Understand what?

HENRY
That Mr. Gold is protecting her. What if he’s trying to help her? What if he knows something we don’t? Miranda was right. Don’t wish for things you don’t understand.

EMMA
Henry, you’re going to need to spell this out for me.


HENRY
If the curse is broken, everyone in Storybrooke will go back to their real lives in the Fairy Tale world. Right?

EMMA
Yeah?

HENRY
But what if that’s not really a happily ever after? What if things are more complicated than we thought? What if Operation Cobra is really keeping people from having a happy ending?

EMMA
What do you mean?

HENRY
Miranda. We were rushing into this without knowing all the facts. If Miranda goes back to the fairy tale world, she’ll be dead. And her soul will be in bondage forever. Not as a curse waiting to be broken, but for all time. She doesn’t get to be with her true love, she doesn’t get to go back to her family, she doesn’t even get to be alive. Not ever. What if being here, what if Mr. Gold taking care of her, is actually better? What if being in Storybrooke is her happy ending? Or as close to one as she’s going to get? Maybe he knows something we don’t. Maybe he’s using the curse to an advantage?


CUT TO: INT. ERIC’S PALACE – NIGHT – FAIRY TALE LAND

We pick up exactly where we left off – with Eric about to kiss Ariel.

Suddenly GRIMSBY bursts through the doors.

GRIMSBY
Eric! The girl! The girl who rescued you, who brought you back from the beach after the shipwreck – she’s come back. She’s here.

ERIC
You found her?

GRIMSBY
Yes. Her name’s Vanessa.

ERIC
Princess…?

GRIMSBY
Yes. Princess Vanessa. Of Lonnymore.


ERIC
I remember her. Is she…?

GRIMSBY
Yes.

ERIC
Where?

Without missing a beat, Eric rushes out of the room, the doors crashing behind him. Ariel is devastated.

CUT TO: EXT. BEACH – DAY – FAIRY TALE LAND

Ariel watches Eric and VANESSA walking along the beach. They seem to be enraptured with each other. Suddenly, Eric turns to look at her.

ERIC
Ariel!

Ariel lights up.

ERIC
Come here!

She races to him.

ERIC
Vanessa is going to sing for us! They say she has the most beautiful voice in all the lands.

Ariel stops short.

ERIC
Did you know that Vanessa and I knew each other when we were children? I’d nearly forgotten.

VANESSA
I never did.

ERIC
She dumped me overboard into the sea when we were six. I learned to swim just so I could keep up with her.

VANESSA
The ogre wars kept us away for so long. I’d been longing to see you, but I never thought you’d remember. If I hadn’t found you on the beach that day, I don’t think I would ever have gotten up the nerve to come visit you.

ERIC
I’m finding I like shy girls more and more…

Vanessa lovingly hits him.

ERIC
Ariel?

She looks at him. He turns to Vanessa.

ERIC
Have you ever been in love?

Ariel nods “yes.”

CUT TO: INT. The EVIL QUEEN’S THRONE ROOM – DAY

The EVIL QUEEN stands before her MIRROR conversing with the SEA WITCH – who we hear, but never see.

EVIL QUEEN
I can’t stand it! It’s too easy!

SEA WITCH o.c
I told you.

EVIL QUEEN
I made sure Vanessa was walking along the beach just in time to find Eric, and take him back to his castle. He’s convinced she’s the one who saved him from the storm. Not Ariel. I hear their wedding is to take place within the week.

SEA WITCH o.c
Perfect.

EVIL QUEEN
Have you dealt with her father?

SEA WITCH o.c
Triton? He was all too willing to make a deal. I simply didn’t uphold my end of the bargain.

EVIL QUEEN
Is he…dead?

SEA WITCH o.c
Yes. And the sisters too.



EVIL QUEEN
I’m impressed. So, with Ariel soon to be enslaved, the kingdom belongs to you now?

SEA WITCH o.c
I can’t thank you enough for your assistance.

EVIL QUEEN
And my payment?

SEA WITCH o.c
Is on its way. It should be there within the hour.

EVIL QUEEN
Excellent.

SEA WITCH o.c
I’m glad we didn’t enlist Rumplestiltskin’s assistance after all.

EVIL QUEEN
Well, I’m not his favorite person at the moment. (A beat.) Neither are you I hear. There was a…dispute recently?

SEA WITCH o.c
To put it mildly.

EVIL QUEEN
In any case, it’s been a pleasure doing business with you. And I hope you enjoy your new servant. She seems positively…

Suddenly there is a great BURST OF LIGHT, and sounds as if an ANIMAL IS BEING SLAUGHTERED. The evil Queen becomes panicked.

EVIL QUEEN
What’s going on?

Sounds of a CAVE COLLAPSING.

EVIL QUEEN
Ursula?! Ursula!

Another BURST OF LIGHT. The evil Queen quickly throws a CURTAIN over the mirror.

EVIL QUEEN
Damn it!

She goes to her window and looks out across the OCEAN. The WAVES are large, and crashing over one particular spot in the middle of the sea.

EVIL QUEEN
Mirror!

Her HAND MIRROR springs to life.

EVIL QUEEN
What’s happening?

MIRROR
I can see nothing my Queen.

EVIL QUEEN
What do you mean, nothing?

MIRROR
Nothing. It’s some sort of magic, very powerful.

EVIL QUEEN
My payment from the sea witch?

MIRROR
Is safe. Ursula spoke truthfully. She sent it within the hour. Whatever happened down there, it was already on land when it did.

EVIL QUEEN
And Triton is dead?

MIRROR
Yes. The princesses as well. All except…

EVIL QUEEN
Ariel is of no concern. She will follow them soon enough. Although her fate will be much more…dire when she does. Poor, desperate soul.

MIRROR
Yes.

A beat.

EVIL QUEEN
I don’t care how you do it, but find out what’s going on.

MIRROR
My Queen, you got what you wanted…

EVIL QUEEN
I can’t be sure until it’s in my hand. Find out what happened. Now. It is…of the utmost importance.

MIRROR
Yes, your majesty.

EVIL QUEEN
This curse must be enacted soon. Time is running out.

MIRROR
I understand.


CUT TO: EXT. SHIP – DAY

A large, elegant ship is docked near ERIC’S PALACE. It’s being prepared for the wedding festivities to take place that evening.

SAILOR 1
Did you see that tempest the other night?

SAILOR 2
Good thing it didn’t make it onto shore.

SAILOR 1
Never seen anything like it. And those sounds…

SAILOR 3
Don’t tell us you’re getting superstitious now!

They laugh.

SAILOR 4
What’s going to happen to the girl?

SAILOR 3
Oh, Prince’s little pet? I hear he’s planning to keep her around.

SAILOR 1
Even after he’s married?

SAILOR 2
I’m sure his fiancĂ©’s pleased as punch about that.

SAILOR 3
Wife and mistress in one square deal.

SAILOR 4
Stop it! She’s a sweet kid.


SAILOR 3
Oh come on, don’t tell me you feel bad for her? She’s had a good run.

SAILOR 2
Knock it off. He’s right. I feel bad for her.

SAILOR 1
What do you mean?

SAILOR 2
Everyone knows she’s in love with him.

SAILOR 4
Everyone except the Prince.

SAILOR 2
He knows. But who’d want a stupid mute girl for a wife?

We see ARIEL walk by the sailors. They all stop talking as soon as they see her.


CUT TO: EXT. SHIP – SUNSET

Ariel stands on the side of the ship, gazing out over the water. She’s the maid of honor, and is wearing a beautiful dress. A tear falls down her cheek, into the ocean.

We hear music start to play. Ariel looks behind her – the ship has set sail, and the wedding is about to begin. She slowly walks back to join the bridal party.

Ariel goes to the bride – VANESSA, and helps arrange her dress. Ariel gives her a kiss on the cheek, and then turns, and begins to walk down the aisle.

She walks towards ERIC – standing at the bow of the ship. Every step is like torture for her. She finally takes her place, and watches Vanessa make her way down the aisle.

As the vows commence, Ariel watches the sun set, and fade across the horizon. She knows that this is the last sunset she will ever see.

MINISTER
Dearly beloveds. We are gathered together to join Prince Eric, and Princess Vanessa in the bonds of holy matrimony.

Vanessa hands her bouquet to Ariel.

MINISTER
If there be any person who knows of a reason why these two should not be joined together, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace.

Ariel starts to open her mouth, then realizes that she physically can not object.

MINISTER
May I have the rings please?

GRIMSBY hands him the rings.

MINISTER
Eric.

Eric takes a ring and places it on Vanessa’s finger.

ERIC
Vanessa. I know, without a shadow of a doubt that you are, and forever will be my one true love. I never knew I could feel like this. I promise to honor, cherish, and keep you all the days of my life. And I happily take you as my wife, until death do us part.

MINISTER
And Vanessa.

Vanessa takes the other ring and places it on Eric’s finger.

VANESSA
Eric. My whole life I’ve been waiting for you. And for the rest of my days I shall need nothing more than to be in your company, to love you, to be your wife. And I shall honor and cherish you forever and ever.

MINISTER
By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

A beat.

MINISTER
You may kiss your bride.

Eric and Vanessa passionately kiss. The guests erupt in cheers and applause.

Ariel looks as though she might crumple into a heap and die right then and there.

Suddenly, Eric runs over to Ariel, he kisses her forehead, and then, along with Vanessa, disappears into the joyful crowd.

CUT TO: EXT. SHIP – NIGHT

A celebration, not unlike the one on the night when Ariel first saw Eric is underway. Ariel stays to the side, away from the crowd.

She sees Eric waltzing with Vanessa as he had done with her.

CUT TO: EXT. SHIP – NIGHT

The party has died down. It’s very late. Almost everyone is asleep below deck. Eric walks to the tables, still filled with food.

GRIMSBY
Eric. Shouldn’t you…be in bed?

ERIC
(Relishing saying the word “wife”) My wife would like a few more strawberries and cream.

He picks up a bowl from the table.

GRIMSBY
(Uncomfortably) Very good sir.

ERIC
What happened to Ariel? I haven’t seen her since the ceremony.

GRIMSBY
I’m sure she’s below deck sir. Poor thing must be exhausted.

ERIC
Is she…all right?

A beat.

GRIMSBY
What do you think, sir?

A beat.
ERIC
Good night Grimsby.

GRIMSBY
Good night sir.

They go below deck.

PAN TO:

ARIEL, sitting on the back of the ship. She’s curled in a ball, hugging her knees into her chest. She stares out over the water, almost willing the sun not to rise. She’s crying.

Suddenly, we hear a strange, manic voice:

RUMPLESTILTSKIN o.c
Poor child. Poor, sweet child.

Ariel is suddenly on high alert. She looks up, and sees RUMPLESTILTSKIN standing a few feet in front of her.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Too late now, isn’t it?

Ariel panics. She turns to run, a scream escaping from her mouth. Stunned, she stops, and turns – her hand to her throat. Confused.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
As a show of good will. (A beat.) Anyways, it’ll make this easier if you can speak.

ARIEL
(Testing out her voice.) Who…? Who are you?

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Rumplestiltskin.

Ariel looks confused. Rumplestiltskin suddenly comes very close to her face, forcing her to look right in his eyes.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Perhaps, where you’re from, you know me by another name.

ARIEL
(Realizing:) The dark one.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Yes.

ARIEL
They say you are as powerful as the sea witch.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
More powerful now, dearie.

He pulls out a large, GOLDEN SEASHELL.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
The sea witch no longer exists. We had a little score to settle, and her powers now belong to me. That means all her…contracts, transfer to my name. Including yours. That’s why I’ve come to see you.

He pulls out a LONG SCROLL – as if from nowhere.  We can see his name at the top, and Ariel’s at the bottom. 



RUMPLESTILTSKIN
It seems we have some business to attend to. Lets see. In exchange for your voice you were made human. A state, which will continue until the morning after your beloved marries another. At which time your life will end, and your soul will forever be in bondage to the executor named above. (He giggles.) Me. Well, the Queen did say I should get a new girl. (Looking through the fine print of the contract as he speaks) With this contract though, you couldn’t leave even if I chose to let you go. It’s iron clad. The sea witch thought this through.

ARIEL
Why are you here?

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
I am about to offer you something I’ve never offered anyone before.

ARIEL
What’s that?

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
An escape clause. I have to say, this deal is a bit harsh – even for me. See, the sea witch had no interest in striking a bargain. She wanted to gain power and control of your father’s kingdom. She used you. And she had no desire to enter into a fair arrangement. Now, the price of a deal is often, extreme, but by all rights it must be fair. Equal to what is being offered in exchange. And this deal, is far from. Besides, I’ve already gotten what I want. I didn’t enter into this contract with you. And I’m feeling…generous.

ARIEL
You…you’re letting me go?

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Oh, no. See it’s not quite that easy. No contract can simply be ripped up. Magic doesn’t work that way. Even I don’t have the power to make this just disappear.

ARIEL
Than what…?

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
I said an escape clause. Not a free pass. The way out wont be easy. But I think you have the courage for it. You’re a plucky little thing, aren’t you?

ARIEL
What do I have to do?

He pulls out a shimmering, terrifyingly sharp DAGGER.




RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Just this: I can’t undo this contract. But before the sun rises I can, amend it. If you kill your prince, and his blood splashes on your legs, you will turn back into a mermaid, and you can go home. Just as if you had never loved at all. You can be a princess – and have the entire ocean at your command.

He offers it to her, but she is too scared to take it.  

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You have no idea the horrors waiting for you if you don’t.

She still doesn’t take it.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
My charity will not last forever. I am sparing you a fate worse than death. Do not treat such a gift lightly. The sun will be up soon. Tick tock.

Shaking, Ariel reaches, and takes the dagger.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
That’s right child. That’s it.

CUT TO: INT. ERIC’S QUARTERS – NIGHT

Ariel enters tentatively, scared to wake the sleeping prince and princess. She stands over them, and raises the dagger.

Suddenly Eric moves in his sleep. He hugs Vanessa to him, and whispers her name.

Ariel begins crying. Rumplestiltskin appears over her shoulder.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Think of what he did to you! You loved him. You saved his life. And how does he repay you? By betraying your love! By hurting you more deeply than any knife wound ever could. By taking you forever from those you care for.

ARIEL
He didn’t know.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
He knew you loved him. Trust me. And do you think he would have chosen any differently if he had known all you did for him? One last thing. And then you can go home. Start a new life.

She raises it, but cannot kill Eric.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
I am not joking around here! Once that sun rises I have no power to free you. Your soul will be enslaved in hellish torment for all eternity.

Ariel is shaking. She leans over Eric…and kisses his cheek. She stands, and, completely drained, drops the dagger on the floor. She runs out of the cabin.


CUT TO: EXT. SHIP – NIGHT.

Ariel runs to the bow of the ship.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
What are you doing?

ARIEL
I can’t. I love him.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You’re a fool. Take this chance, before it’s too late. Please!

ARIEL
Why do you care so much about me?  

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
I care for nothing. But you’re a child! A child without a soul in the world, who that witch took advantage of.

ARIEL
How many cruel deals have you struck?

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You entered into an arrangement you couldn’t possibly understand.  

ARIEL
Like you did?

Rumplestiltskin is taken aback.

ARIEL
I’ve heard the legends. The stories.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You were too young.

ARIEL
I knew what I was doing. (Quoting from the contract:) “The executor will have full rights and privileges to every aspect of the mind, body, and soul of the undersigned for all eternity herein and forthwith without release with no exceptions, outs, clauses, or conditions, with such rights transferable upon executors death.”

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You read the contract?

ARIEL
Every word.

A beat.

ARIEL
I can’t have been the first one to read a contract.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
To my knowledge.

He’s met his match.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
I have no wish to enslave you. I do not want another… (He’s about to say “girl”) being in my service. But if you do not do this, I will have no choice. And that will never change no matter when it is, or what world we’re in. You will never have a happy ending. Please.

ARIEL
All magic comes with a price.

He turns and looks at her.

ARIEL
I chose. And I would give everything. I would gladly die so that he might be happy. Even if he is happy with someone else.  I will trade my happy ending, for his.


A beat.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
No one has ever turned down a deal with me.

ARIEL
I just did.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You are a fool.

ARIEL
Have you never loved? Have you never loved someone so much you would give your life for them? A father? A child? A true love.


RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You will exist without all of them. For eternity.

ARIEL
Then perhaps, we are alike in some way. But no matter the cost, I will not kill my love, for anything in the world. There are worse things than living without a happy ending.

He looks as if he’s going to cry.

ARIEL
I believe you still have a heart, Rumplestiltskin.

His mask goes back up. Harshly, he pulls out the shell, and Ariel’s voice disappears. Just as it does, a beam of light cuts across the horizon, and the sun begins to rise.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
My first order, is to shut up.

Ariel starts convulsing, in torturous pain. Even more terrifying because she cannot scream. She collapses, and Rumplestiltskin, in spite of himself, holds her. She looks up at him as if to say: “What’s happening to me?”

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
You’re dying.

The sun is now bright on the horizon.

RUMPLESTILTSKIN
Don’t worry. The worst is still to come.


CUT TO: INT. GOLD’S PAWN SHOP – DAY – STORYBROOKE.

EMMA, forcefully makes her way into the store. She sees MIRANDA working behind the counter.

EMMA
Miranda? I’d like to talk to you.

A beat.

EMMA
Can we take a walk? (A beat.) Don’t worry, I’ll deal with Mr. Gold.





CUT TO: EXT. STORYBROOKE – DAY.

Emma and Miranda walk on the outskirts of town. There are flowers by the side of the road.

EMMA
Miranda, I need to be honest with you. And I need you to be honest with me, ok?

Miranda nods “yes.”

EMMA
I’m worried about you. I’m worried about Mr. Gold ordering you around, and keeping you under lock and key. I think you should get your best chance at a normal life. Get to go to school if you want – find out who you want to be. Not be stuck in that pawnshop all day and night. Has anyone even taken you to a doctor about your voice? I know Mr. Gold can be intimidating…

They stop. Miranda gets out her notebook and writes: “Mr. Gold is a better man than you think he is.”

EMMA
I know that he’s taken care of you, but you can’t be indebted to him for the rest of your life. Everyone keeps telling me to leave this alone. That you’re better off where you are, and that I shouldn’t go rocking the boat. But I’m not so sure. Tell me honestly – what do you want? And I will do everything in my power to get it for you. You can’t lose hope that you can be happy. You deserve a happy ending.

Miranda writes: “I can’t leave.”

EMMA
You can Miranda. I know this is a hard time in your life, but…

Miranda writes:

EMMA
(Reading:) “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” But Miranda…

Miranda writes: “Hope, and happiness do not come free Ms. Swan.”

Miranda hands her a folded, well-worn piece of paper, and walks back to the pawnshop.

HENRY comes running up.

EMMA
Miranda! Wait!

But she’s gone.

HENRY
What did she say?

EMMA
She wants to stay where she is.

HENRY
I know. It’s because of her story.

Emma gets down to Henry’s level, and speaks to him earnestly.

EMMA
Henry, story or not you never stop hoping. I don’t care how bad things look. There is always a way.

She gets up.

HENRY
Where are you going?

EMMA
I’m going to go talk to Mr. Gold. And you’re coming with me.

CUT TO: INT. MR. GOLD’S PAWN SHOP – DAY

Emma enters, followed by Henry.  Miranda is nowhere to be seen. Now MR. GOLD is behind the counter.

EMMA
Mr. Gold.

MR. GOLD
Emma. Just can’t leave this alone can you?

EMMA
What is going on with Miranda?

MR. GOLD
What do you mean?

EMMA
What happened to her family? Why is she so damn eager to jump to your every beck and call?

MR. GOLD
Her family died, a long while back. Drowned I believe. I take care of her, and she respects my wishes.


EMMA
Why her? Of all the kids who need help.

MR. GOLD
I’m afraid that’s between me, and Miranda.

EMMA
What about her voice?

MR. GOLD
An accident when she was younger. Shame, she had the most beautiful voice you’ve ever heard. I do my best to take care of her Ms. Swan. How long do you honestly think the child would last on her own? No real way to communicate…

EMMA
You can’t keep her a prisoner Mr. Gold. She’s a young girl – you can’t keep her indebted to you, make her work here forever.

MR. GOLD
I’m not. It’s her choice. And we all have to live with our choices. Believe me, I am doing everything I can to help her.

HENRY
And…there are things…we don’t understand…right Mr. Gold?

A beat. Mr. Gold is taken aback. How far into this does he want to go?

MR. GOLD
Yes Henry.

HENRY
It’s like…in my book. If you don’t have all the information, you can end up making things worse. Like with King Midas. He wanted gold so much it ended up ruining his life. Before he used that spell, he should have read the fine print.

MR. GOLD
You could take a lesson from your boy Ms. Swan. (A beat.) Can I offer you a bit of advice? Sincerely. Really know what you’re fighting before you jump in the fray. It’s not just about getting a happy ending. It’s about how you go about getting it. What you think will make you happy, might end up being quite off the mark. And you may have sacrificed a great deal in the interim.

HENRY
What if you know you’ll never get a happy ending?

MR. GOLD
Such a thing is…subjective. (To Emma:) Emma, I admire your courage, and your conviction. They can do much good. But make sure you have all the facts before you begin a crusade, or you’re going to destroy more than you help. Put your hope in the right things, and I promise, you will have an ally in me.

EMMA
And what is the right thing?

MR. GOLD
For right now, I guess you just have to wait. And see.

Henry takes a CD out of his pocket. It’s “Les sons et les parfums tournet dans l’air du soir” by Debussy. He slides it to Mr. Gold.

HENRY
This is for Miranda. Ask her…if she can hear the air.

MR. GOLD
I’ll do that.

HENRY
(To Emma) Come on. It’ll be ok.

They leave the shop.


CUT TO: INT. MR. GOLD’S SHOP – DAY

Mr. Gold walks his back office. He sees Miranda polishing his CHIPPED CUP with the greatest of care, and gentleness.

She signs: “It was getting dusty.”

MR. GOLD.
Thank you.

She signs: “I know you still think of her.”

MR. GOLD
Don’t.

She signs: “I still think of him.”

MR. GOLD
Why don’t you try to forget?

She signs: “Take up spinning?”

She sets the cup down carefully on a table. He looks back at her.


MR. GOLD
Of all the people I made deals with. Why you? Why was it you?

She signs: “You lost a child. I lost a father. Maybe we need each other.”

She smiles. He turns away. She writes something in her NOTEBOOK, and goes to him, touching his shoulder. He turns, and she holds up the PAPER. It reads:

“You still have a heart, Rumplestiltskin.”


CUT TO: INT. GRANNY’S – DAY

EMMA and HENRY sit drinking HOT CHOCOLATE.

EMMA
I’ll never understand how I had a child who seems to be smarter than me at ten years old.

HENRY
Eh, intelligence increases with each generation.

EMMA
Really?

HENRY
No, I’m just special.

They laugh.  A beat.

HENRY
I don’t think Miranda is tragic. Everyone keeps calling her “poor child.” She’s not a poor child. I think she’s smart, and strong, and very brave.

EMMA
I think you’re right.

A beat.

HENRY
What did she give you?

EMMA
Just a piece of paper.

HENRY
Well…

Emma pulls it out.

HENRY
What does it say?


Emma reads. As she does, Debussy begins playing, as the camera fades into a MONTAGE of the inhabitants of Storybrooke. ASHLEY, RUBY, MIRANDA, AUGUST.

EMMA v.o.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune – without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”

We fade back to EMMA and HENRY.

EMMA
She’s a smart girl.

HENRY
What is that?

MARY MARGARET looks up. She’s been sitting at a nearby table.

MARY MARGARET
Emily Dickinson. It’s a poem by Emily Dickinson, Henry.

EMMA
Do you think it’s true?

HENRY
Yes. (A beat.) But I think we have to be careful what we put our hope in.

EMMA
Like what Mr. Gold said?

HENRY
Yeah.

EMMA
Operation Cobra gives you hope, doesn’t it Henry?

HENRY
No. You do.

Emma is reeling. This is a heady thing to be told, and a great responsibility to shoulder. She locks eyes with Mary Margaret.

As the music continues we fade back into the MONTAGE. We hear MR. GOLD’S voice over:

MR. GOLD
“What though the sea with waves continual
Does eat the earth, it is no more at all;
Nor is the earth the less, or loseth ought :
For whatsoever from one place doth fall
Is with the tide unto another brought:

We see ERIC and VANESSA, happy. Suddenly a hand closes a curtain, cutting off our view of them.

CUT TO: INT. MIRANDA’S ROOM – NIGHT.

And we see that the hand belongs to MR. GOLD. He sits by MIRANDA – who is sleeping peacefully in bed. He hesitantly strokes her head (he hasn’t done this in a long time) and is reading to her from a BOOK: Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queen.”


MR. GOLD
For there is nothing lost, but may be found if sought.”


He closes the book, and extinguishes a CANDLE.

BLACK.