Column: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.12: In the Name of the Brother

By Heather S. Vina

Written by: Jane Espenson

[spoilers ahead]

Recap: Fairytale Land That Was: Victor Frankenstein, his father Alphonse, and Victor’s younger brother Gerhardt are celebrating the Silver Cross that has been awarded to Gerhardt. It’s apparent that while Alphonse is quite proud and loving with his younger son, he is anything but to his older son. He gives Gerhardt a pocket watch, a beloved family heirloom from their mother that Victor was obviously expecting to receive himself. And he gives Victor a military commission he bought for him. When Victor objects, pointing out that he has his work as a doctor and scientist, Alphonse berates his son and cuts him off from the family fortune, throwing him out.

Later, as Victor is packing up his laboratory, Rumpelstiltskin appears (in color, while Victor’s flashbacks are in black-and-white) and offers him a huge amount of gold to continue his work. All he wants is for Victor to show him how to restore life. A thrilled Victor accepts, and he and his assistant, Igor, start to unpack.

Sometime later, Victor is digging up a body in the graveyard for his experiments, when Gerhardt comes across him. Gerhardt is horrified to see what his older brother is doing, but his recriminations are cut short when a guard comes across them and opens fire. The two brothers make it back to the carriage, but, alas, Gerhardt is fatally wounded and dies.

Desperate to bring his baby brother back, Victor uses Gerhardt in his experiments, but the experiment goes wrong when Gerhardt’s heart is burned. Rump appears again and offers Victor a replacement heart, but, first, he has to go to another land and “put on a show” for a young woman named ‘Regina.’ Victor agrees.

After his tricking of Regina (“The Doctor”), and back in his own land with the magical heart that Rump gave him, Victor successfully brings Gerhardt back to life. However, when he proudly shows his brother off to their father, Gerhardt reacts negatively to the candlelight and Alphonse ends up horrified at the animal his youngest son has become. He starts to hit Victor. Gerhardt – protecting his older brother – attacks him. Victor stands back and watches as his creation beats their father to death. When Gerhardt realizes what he has done, he runs off.

Later, Gerhardt is sitting in a prison cell. A sorrowful Victor comes to him with a loaded pistol. He goes to shoot his brother, but he can’t, even when Gerhardt grabs the gun and helps aim it at his own head. He backs out of the cell, promising his brother that he will find a way to save him.

Storybrooke: We pick up where we left off last episode, with Gold holding a wounded Belle in the street and Hook on the ground after getting run down by an outsider’s car.

Gold is trying to calm a hysterical Belle, but she is having none of it. He heals her shoulder, but she is completely freaked out over the situation, especially his magical abilities. Emma, Charming and Snow arrive. While Snow tries to comfort Belle, Emma checks out Hook. Hook is in semi-bad shape but gleeful that he hurt Belle and took away her memories, which hurts Gold. Gold moves in to kill Hook, but Charming and Emma pull him off. The ambulance arrives and Emma has them focus on the stranger she has found in the car, unconscious, instead of on Hook. She and her parents worry that the outside world is now intruding on their little town.

At the hospital, Dr. Whale is called in to work on the accident victims, but he’s mired in self-pity since he brought back Regina’s dead boyfriend Daniel, who promptly tore off his arm (Gold magically reattached it in “The Doctor”). Emma confronts Hook, who is still preening over his having hurt Gold. She warns him that he angered a man who has magic and would be quite willing to kill Hook. She doesn’t give much for Hook’s chances of surviving him. When she asks him where Cora is, he tells her he doesn’t know.

Emma has discovered the stranger’s name is ‘Greg,’ and hacks into his phone, but doesn’t find anything suspicious there. Just some pictures he has been posting of his meals and himself, traveling. She, Charming, Snow, Red, and Grumpy worry about the stranger’s arrival and what that could mean for the townspeople. They also worry about Cora being out there, and if she and Regina will hook up together and wreak havoc on the town.

Dr. Whale reports back to the gang that Greg is in serious condition. He could die if not operated on. Whale approaches Gold to try to heal the stranger, but Gold is not interested, having just been rejected again by a hysterical Belle when he tried to use “true love’s kiss” to bring back her memories. Gold warns them that he owes none of them anything and then tells them that they might want to hope the stranger dies. He saw Gold use magic before the crash. If he remembers, he could bring the entire world crashing down upon them all.

Dr. Whale tells Charming, Emma, Snow, Grumpy, and Red that he could let the stranger die. All he has to do is not operate on him. Grumpy is all for it. Red appears to be the same way, but Emma, Snow and Charming argue to save him. Charming tells Whale to operate on Greg and Whale heads off. Greg’s phone rings and the fivesome worry that it won’t be long before someone comes looking for him.

Gold heads to his shop, where he looks sadly at Belle’s chipped cup. His worry over his love is interrupted, however, when Cora arrives with a proposition and a gift for him: her gift of something magical to help him find his son, in exchange for leaving her and Regina alone to reunite. She tells him that he wants his son and all she wants is her daughter. He doesn’t need Regina, anymore. He asks her if she has a spell that will return memories, but she points out that she only knows what he taught her. Gold agrees to the deal. Cora asks him to seal it the way they used to and then kisses him.

At the hospital, Charming tries to encourage Whale to operate on the stranger, concerned over Whale’s state of mind. He has a right to be concerned, because Whale takes off before the operation. Red goes after him and catches him as he’s about to throw himself off the pier. She commiserates with him over being a monster, as he tells her that he feels like every time he tries to save a life, he ends up taking a life. Red tells him that there are still some things he can fix in this world. Here, they both have a second chance and they should take it.

Cora breaks into Regina’s house and finds a handprint plaster Henry once made for her, saying, “For Mommy.” Cora tracks Regina down at her crypt hideout and tricks Regina into letting her inside by appearing as Henry. She tells Regina that she knows that Regina is innocent because she was the one who set her up.

Regina is shocked to see her mother and not too happy, either. Cora tells her that she knows why Regina tried to have her killed and why she sent her away. She tells her daughter that she loves her and apologizes for making Regina marry the King. She says how when she heard Regina crying over her coffin, everything changed for her. She set Regina up to make her see what the town really thinks of her, but Regina is having none of it. She knows her mother wanted her broken. Instead, she tells her mother that she will bring her back to the town and she will tell everyone what she did. She was trying so hard to be worthy of Henry’s love again and she deserves that chance. Cora agrees.

On the way back into town, Cora reveals the plaster of Henry’s handprint. She speaks to her daughter about how Snow, Charming and Emma will never see her as anything other than a snake. When she asks Regina what she really wants, Regina admits that she just wants Henry back. Cora tells her that she just wants her daughter back. Regina stops the car and Cora tells her that she meant everything she said; she can do better. All Regina needs to do is let her into her heart again and together, they can get Henry back again. Regina leans into her mother’s embrace and asks her how. Cora stares and tells her that she has a few ideas.

At the hospital, Whale successfully operates on Greg. Emma goes in to ask Greg some questions about what he saw. She starts fishing to try to find out what he saw, saying she can explain it, but Greg ends up admitting that he was texting right before the accident. He looked down and was texting, then looked up and saw Hook standing in the road, and hit him. He tells her he knows texting while driving is illegal and is worried that there will be charges. Emma tells him there won’t be any charges and thanks him for telling her the truth, then leaves to report back to the others that he doesn’t remember anything.

Gold brings the chipped cup that Belle loved so much to her at the hospital, but she’s still petrified of him. No matter how much he urges her to hold the cup and really look at it, she refuses. She ends up throwing it across the room and screams at him to leave her alone. Shattered, himself, Gold agrees and leaves.

Back at his shop, Gold uses the gift from Cora – a magical globe – to find his son.

At the apartment, Henry asks his mom and grandparents what happened, and is surprised to find out that Dr. Whale is Frankenstein. He points out that Frankenstein isn’t in the book of fairy tales; it isn’t even a fairytale. So, if the curse affected people from different worlds, then who knows who else is in town?

The family is interrupted by a knock at the door. It’s Gold and he’s come to collect his favor from Emma. He tells them that he is going to go find his son – now – and they should be happy he’s leaving. The longer he stays in town, the greater the chance he will kill Hook. He demands repayment of the favor now, today, and warns Charming and Snow that if anything happens to Belle while he is gone, he will kill all of them.

Review: So, it looks like the thin veneer of civility that Gold had post-curse has been stripped away with the attack on Belle. Or at least severely worn. Color me sad. I still think he’s the most interesting character on this show, but I didn’t like that he would threaten Henry. Threaten the others, fine; they are adults. But threatening a child, no. I like to think that he wouldn’t carry it out, if only because he seemed to have a soft spot for Henry as being a little boy who reminded him of his son, but I don’t know about this version of him. He’s raging and hurting, and not having the craziness of his curse actually might be a bad thing. Because now he’s sane and cold-hearted pissed. So, who knows what he might do?

I hated what happened to Belle. It’s been really nice to see the female characters not be the victims that they oh-so-often were in fairy tales, but, yikes, poor Belle in Storybrooke kind of seems to keep getting victimized. First, she’s locked up for 28 years in a mental institution by Regina; then kidnapped and tormented by her own father; and now she’s shot and pushed over the edge of the barrier, wiping out her true self. Just sucks for her. I wonder is her curse self is an insane young woman. Because that was the “persona” she was under. But was that just because it was where Regina had her locked up, or is that what form the curse took for her?

Either way, she did know Gold before the curse ended. The Mad Hatter had sent her to find Gold and he helped her. So, it was a bit of a retcon to suddenly have her have no idea who he is. Actually, kind of a big one. But maybe the curse wiped out any memories of the curse? I don’t know. Either way, I really hope that Belle gets her memories back soon. I was really enjoying the Gold/Belle relationship and it was nice to see him interact with someone he really cares about, who really cared about him, and whom he respected enough to try to keep back his dark impulses.

Speaking of dark impulses, I honestly can’t tell if Cora is telling the truth or not. I am leaning towards yes, she really just wants Regina back. I think she’s evil as all get-out, and I think she has many plans to subject the town and its people to her will. But I also think she might be sincere in getting her daughter back. Unfortunately for Regina, with or without her mother’s love, being around Cora is going to do nothing but screw her in the end.

I do hope that Regina isn’t going to just give in and hook up with her mom. I really would like to think that even if Regina really isn’t sincere in being a better person, she still wants to be a smart person. And letting Cora back into her life would not be a smart decision. Sure, Cora wants her daughter back. But I don’t buy that she will allow her daughter any more autonomy than she had before. So, hopefully, Regina is just playing he, and isn’t going to allow her mother back into her life, or allow her dark impulses to wreck what she has been trying to reform.

I know the show is trying to sell me that Regina really does love Henry and just wants him back, and everything would be well if Emma just wasn’t there. But I remember last season. And the fact is, Henry quite willingly believed that his mother was an evil witch even before his birth mother came back into his life. In fact, he went looking for his birth mother BECAUSE he believed Regina was an evil witch. So, what led this sweet little boy to believe that the woman who raised him, whom he called “Mommy,” was so evil as to be the Evil Queen? That wasn’t on anything that Emma did; that was on Regina herself and her actions. That was on Regina sabotaging her son’s mental wellbeing, treating him coldly, telling his counselor to make him think he was crazy to try to keep him under her control. If I went by just the way Regina has been with Henry this season, I can buy this deep love she has for him. But then I remember the way that she was with him last season and what we know of her with him before that, and I don’t buy it quite as much. I know shows like to try to make you forget things, or like to retcon things away, but I’m just having a hard time swallowing this one. I really was appalled at the way Regina was with Henry last season. It’s not easily forgotten for me.

I felt for Victor in his flashbacks. His father was a real jerk and I was sad for Gerhardt. But frankly, their story was boring. The most interesting thing about it was that the flashbacks were in black-and-white and yet, when Rump appeared, he was in color. That was a very cool effect.

That being said, I actually liked Victor as Whale in the present time. I felt bad for him when he was telling Red about how all he wanted to do was save life, and yet he kept ending up taking it. I hated him pre-curse – he was way too slimy and disgusting – but post-curse, he isn’t too bad. He’s actually kind of interesting now. He can stay.

Hook, though, he can go.

I had to roll my eyes at Emma interrogating the stranger and then believing him when he said he hadn’t seen anything. Wow, this show’s writers sure like to conveniently forget her “magical power” of being able to tell when someone is lying or not, don’t they? Hook, Regina, Greg. I find it really annoying when shows do this kind of thing: ignore a plot point when it doesn’t work for their story then bring it back in when it does. Fine. If they realized that having her be able to tell when someone is lying was a power that was going to be super-inconvenient, then they should have just dropped it once they were past the pilot. Yeah, it would have been annoying to have introduced it and then ignored it, but things change from pilot to series. I could have flown with that. But to just bring it up every once in a while and have it work, then have it fail her pretty much every other time, is just a huge writing fail. And a really annoying one, too. They need to decide what they are going to do with this plot point and stick with it. Period.

I have to admit that I’m not much interested in the stranger right now. I’m not a big fan of Ethan Embry. I am curious if Greg came there on purpose, or it really was just an accident, and once he saw what he saw, he decided to take advantage. But right now, he is just looking like an irritant, rather than an interesting new story.

All in all, I was much more interested in the current day story, than I was of the past one. I love how the show had Henry point out that Frankenstein isn’t a fairy tale story, so if he’s there, who knows who else is in town? Hmmm, writers setting themselves up for more varied characters, I see! That was a nice development, because now they can add in new characters without worrying too much about how they could have come via a fairy tale world.

Should be interesting to see which new characters they bring in next!

Next episode: Tiny, the in-aptly named Giant, returns!

You can watch “In The Name Of The Brother” on Amazon Instant Video here.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaColumn: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.12: In the Name of the Brother