Once Upon a Time Reviews

The Doctor Review | Once Upon a Time Season 2, Episode 5

Rumple and Regina face a bump in the road with her magical training, pushing her towards the scientific clutches of Dr Frankenstein.


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



Season 2
Episode 5: The Doctor


The Past

Regina is continuing her magical instruction under the watchful eye of Rumplestiltskin, who seems determined to shape her into something murderous. Regina refuses to take the heart out of a unicorn, and then also to kill it, and confesses that the reason why she is interested in learning magic is in order to bring her fiancé, Daniel, back to life. Jefferson, who has arrived to give Rumplestiltskin an item that he has requested (though he failed to get the slippers, as they had apparently already been used), tells Regina of a wizard who can restore Daniel. They travel to the wizard, who prefers to be known as a doctor (and looks like Doctor Whale from Storybrooke) and determines that Daniel would be perfect for his procedure, but emphasises the need for an enchanted heart, as ordinary human hearts fail to go through the process. Regina allows the Doctor to take one from her mother Cora’s vault of hearts. When the Doctor works upon Daniel, he announces to a distraught Regina that he has failed in his experiment. Regina then returns to Rumple and successfully proves her mettle by pulling the heart out of his new protégée and crushing it.

Later, Rumplestiltskin meets with Jefferson and the Doctor, to reveal that the three were in league all along and that the Doctor fooled Regina so that he could have an enchanted heart to restore his dead brother to life, revealing him to be none other than Victor Frankenstein. In exchange, Rumple got the “monster” of Regina.


Storybrooke

Dr Whale bursts into a therapy session that Regina is having with Archie, as she adjusts to an existence without magic, to demand that she send him back to his own world to locate his brother. Regina tells him that she is unable to, and that she only transported the people she wanted to to Storybrooke, including the body of Daniel, preserved with magic. While driving that night, Regina sees somebody who looks like Daniel walking around, and finds his glass coffin empty. Regina goes to the hospital to confront Dr Whale, believing him to be behind this turn of events, and finds him on his lab floor, with his arm ripped off. Dr Whale says that he brought Daniel back, but that he brought back a monster. David arrives at the hospital the next day, having heard about Dr Whale’s incident and believing Regina to be responsible for his arm being ripped off. Regina explains what Dr Whale did, and thinks that Daniel will have gone to the stables, as this is where he was when he died the first time. David panics, as he previously left Henry there tending to the new horse that David has gifted him.

In the stables, Daniel happens upon Henry and starts to strangle him, believing him to be Cora. David and Regina come to Henry’s rescue, and David is ready to kill Daniel, but Regina begs him to let her talk to him. When she manages to speak to him, she gets through to the real Daniel for a short amount of time, allowing Daniel to beg Regina to end his misery and for Regina to gain some closure. When Daniel loses control again, Regina immobilises and vaporises him. Regina then returns to Archie to confess that she has used magic, despite the promise that she had made to Henry, and Dr Whale seeks out Gold to have his arm reattached, filling Gold with glee that magic has triumphed over Dr Whale’s beloved science.


The Enchanted Forest

Emma, Snow, Mulan and Aurora return to the survivors’ island and discover that all of the other survivors have been slaughtered, with their hearts ripped out by Cora. They also discover Captain Hook hiding amongst the bodies, claiming to be the only survivor. Emma sees through the ruse, however, and ties him to a tree and threatens to leave him to the ogres unless he reveals the truth. Hook tells them that Cora is searching for an enchanted compass to help them travel to Storybrooke, but that he will help them find it provided that they take him with them. Emma demands to know what he wants in Storybrooke, forcing Hook to reveal that he wants to kill Gold. Snow is suspicious that Hook is using them, and Emma agrees, but reasons that if they don’t trust him in the first place it will be impossible for him to double cross them. The five then spot the end of their quest in the distance: an enormous beanstalk.


In Short

  • Rumple manipulates Regina into becoming a dark force of magic by destroying her hope of reuniting with her first love, Daniel.
  • Dr Whale reanimates Daniel’s dead body in the hopes of winning Regina’s favour, but instead creates a murderous monster.
  • Regina is forced to break her promise to Henry of using no magic to protect the town from Daniel.
  • Snow, Emma, Aurora and Mulan embark upon a search for an enchanted compass that promises to help to navigate them to Storybrooke, with Hook in tow.

Review

This episode showed that Once is thoroughly committed to Regina’s redemption arc, and we saw that play out this week. Continuing to unpack Regina’s humanity is a deft move, I think, for the show, as it has constantly explored the concepts of good and evil and it would be tragically remiss of them to pretend as if Regina is beyond saving. She has done terrible deeds, for sure, and there is no denying that, though within the context of the show she is also a victim of circumstance, and has been moulded by those around her, namely Cora and, now, Rumplestiltskin. So far, this storyline has been done quite well, though it has even worsened my hatred for Rumple: more on that later on. The idea to expand upon Regina as more than just “The Evil Queen who has cursed everyone and now destroys people’s lives as Madam Mayor” is a wise one, as it lends more longevity to her character. The idea to strip her back to basics and continue to examine what made her the specific brand of evil that she is continues to humanise her and help us to understand her actions, regardless of how extreme they may appear. As this episode explains for us, Regina was perfectly ready and willing to walk away from magic, and from her revenge, if it hadn’t have been for her hope that Daniel would be resurrected. When Rumple destroyed that hope, she gave in to her vitriol and her anger at Snow so that she could become a more destructive force. We also see Regina forced to give Daniel up in the present, as she finally disintegrates him. It’s the start of a new leaf for Regina, and it’s curious to know that she has held onto Daniel all this time, even though the resurrection was, to her knowledge, unsuccessful in the Enchanted Forest. Seeing Regina break down when she needs to get rid of Daniel does show us that she can demonstrate huge amounts of emotion, and Lana Parrilla does an absolutely phenomenal job at showing Regina at vastly different times of her life. Not only is the character completely different in behaviours, but the physicality of the entire performance is wonderfully achieved. Personally, I cannot remember Regina making a promise to Henry about giving up magic: I can only recall him saying that he didn’t want her using it for evil, but that aside, it is nice to see her going to Archie and actively trying to work on these qualities. It demonstrates a commitment to changing that we haven’t seen from villains in the show before, and it seems that Henry is Regina’s anchor within the programme. My one qualm with this storyline in general would be that the importance of Daniel is phenomenally great within the context of the programme and it is clearly ingrained within the makeup of Regina as a character and yet we never really had an opportunity to appreciate Regina and Daniel as a couple. We had just one flashback with the two of them before it went terribly wrong, and even in those short moments we didn’t really learn very much about them as a pairing. So, it’s somewhat difficult to buy the huge significance that is being placed upon his character as a motivating force for Regina regardless of how well Lana Parrilla plays her.

The inclusion of Dr Whale’s story in the flashback was also appropriate I felt. I often don’t enjoy focussing upon random guest characters, especially when the cast is already so vast (still longing for more screen time for Mulan and Aurora, for example), but integrating Dr Whale into Regina’s backstory worked splendidly. The revelation that Dr Whale is in fact Dr Frankenstein is not entirely surprising, but it does reveal the presence of other worlds outside just the Enchanted Forest, as well as Wonderland and Never Land (as well as a cheeky reference to Oz, as well). Personally, this begs the question for me whether these characters were written about because they were real or whether, in fact, they are real because they were written about. All of the characters who crop up in the Enchanted Forest, and other such realms, have the commonality that they are all storybook characters (it no longer feels right to deem them fairytale characters, when we have Captain Hook and Dr Frankenstein in amongst them). So, if they are real characters, are we proposing that those who chronicled their existence somehow came to know their story, or that these beings exist simply because they were written about in the first place? In which case, how exactly is that happening? I suppose that the show may never, in fact, answer that question, but it would be an interesting one to pursue.

The advancement of the Enchanted Forest storyline was nice, though it was not featured much this week, and I was pleased that Hook did not fool the company for very long as that would have been horrendously frustrating. I am slightly confused as to how Cora is supposed to have killed all of the survivors in the camp. Apparently, she ripped all of their hearts out, but every time we have seen this happen on screen it’s quite a lengthy and dramatic process, so you would have thought that somebody would have escaped, or at least that the bodies would have been more spread out. I mean, she’s magical, but it doesn’t take a genius to shoot her in the back of the head with an arrow while she’s taking somebody else’s heart out, does it? Anyway, I entirely digress. It was nice to see some forward traction here, though I am slightly frustrated by how Mulan and Aurora are there with Snow, Emma and now Hook, and yet never seem to provide very much of consequence other than just standing around.

The other takeaway from this episode is that Rumplestiltskin is, in fact, more Machiavellian than I credited him with after the last episode. With every flashback you just get more and more of a sense of how far he is willing to go to achieve his own means and goals, and mostly that entails manipulating the people around him. Having said that, this wouldn’t be a great grievance if Rumple wasn’t also meant to be one of the central characters of this show who we are supposed to root and care for, and who they are trying to push a romance plot with Belle into the mix as well. They just don’t match up, at all, in my view. So, I am perfectly fine with Rumple being a little destructive and chaotic force of nature in the background of the show, but a redemption story for him, I feel, would take an awful lot of work.

Other thoughts

  • Adding onto my worries about Belle’s character in the last episode, she is once again missing from this episode. Slightly understandable, I suppose, as it would have been wholly random to have her crop up in this episode. Indeed, Gold himself doesn’t actually appear, and nor does Ruby, so I suppose I shouldn’t take it too seriously just this once.
  • I think this is the most that Archie has actually done on screen since being in the show, which is ironic as he’s only a recurring character this season.
  • I like how Henry just seems to exist this season. Without Emma, it’s nice that he’s being included but also being palmed out of the action for a while so that he doesn’t get tiring. Bless Henry, he can just be a little bit irritating after a while.
  • I love the fact that there is a beanstalk in the Enchanted Forest. A perfect opportunity to explore new territories. Hopefully, we don’t end up meeting Jack, as we already have enough slightly annoying children (sorry, Henry) without another. Though, on that note, if there are magic beans within the Enchanted Forest, then how do people know whether they are magic beans that create beanstalks or ones that create portals? It must get horrendously confusing to live there, mustn’t it?
  • Please don’t trust Hook. He is pretty, though. Those casting directors are massive perverts, but I can’t say that I am complaining.

Verdict

A wonderful episode to lend even more depth to Regina’s delightfully complex backstory, as well as setting her up beautifully for a redemption story.

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