Review: Once Upon a Time 2.05: The Doctor

Heather S. Vina

Written by: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

Recap: Fairytale Land of the Present: Snow, Emma, Mulan and Aurora arrive at the haven, only to find everyone dead, their hearts ripped out of their chests. Snow is the one who realizes that it was Cora who did it, this being her magical way of killing people. It seems like they are the last ones left, until Emma finds a survivor amongst the bodies: Hook.

Storybrooke: Dr. Whale approaches Charming, who promptly belts the sleazy doc for having slept with Snow. He wants to know if it’s true that Fairytale Land still exists, and that Charming is looking for a way in to rescue Emma and Snow. Charming tells him that, as far as he knows, it is, but considering the source (Regina), there’s always a possibility they are being played.

Speaking of the not-so-good witch, she’s going to see Archie to have a counseling session over keeping her promise to Henry about not using magic. Turns out it’s not as easy as she thought it was. Whale bursts in and demands that Regina send him back, or tell him where his brother is. But she tells him the curse only brought back the living. He wants her to send him back, but she says she can’t. Archie manages to kick the Doc out, and then calls Regina on lying about bringing back only the living, since her dad is here. He tells her, if she wants him to help her, she has to start trusting him. Stopping magic is a lot harder than starting.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Rump is teaching Regina magic and using a unicorn to do it. She manages to stop the horse using magic, but balks when Rump demands she pull out its heart. When she can’t do it, he does it for her. He tells her that by taking the heart, she can control the beast. With that, he hands her the heart and demands that she kill it. She still can’t do it. He tells her that magic is power. Until she can take it, she’s not learning anything. She needs to find what is holding her back.

Later, Regina goes to see Daniel. She’s keeping his body frozen and preserved with an enchantment spell.

Storybrooke: Regina explains all of this to Archie, telling him she is keeping Daniel in her family mausoleum. He tells her that she needs to let Daniel go, but that isn’t something she can do right now, so she storms off, instead.

That night, as she’s driving home in the rain, she thinks she sees Daniel standing on the sidewalk, glaring at her. But when she looks back, he’s gone.

The next day, Charming brings Henry to the stables and presents him with his own horse, trying to cheer the boy up by telling him that Emma and Snow will be happy to return to find him a “knight.” He tells Henry that, before he can ride his steed, he needs to take care of him and let the horse get to know him. He leaves Henry to it, while he goes to check on the Dwarves and the mining.

Regina goes to the family mausoleum to check on Daniel, but his body is gone.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina goes to see Rump for her latest lesson, but Rump isn’t interested. He finally gets her to admit that she wants to learn magic to bring back Daniel. However, Rump tells her that not even his magic can bring back the dead. The two are interrupted when Jefferson arrives, bringing Rump something that Rump wanted. The two men move off to the side to deal, but Rump is disappointed when he discovers that Jefferson wasn’t able to get him the “slippers” that can move between magical and non-magical realms. Jefferson offers to take him where he wants to go in his hat, but the hat can only travel between magical realms and Rump needs to get to a non-magical one. Jefferson offers an orb, instead, which Rump reluctantly takes.

When Rump leaves, Jefferson tells Regina that he thinks he knows of someone who can help her – a “wizard.” He offers to bring him to her in exchange for a royal passport, which, as the Queen, she can get for him. She makes the deal.

Fairytale Land of the Present: Emma quizzes Mulan whether she recognizes Hook and Mulan says he has been around a few times. She realizes that Emma is suspicious of Hook. The two interrogate him. He claims that, when Cora started ripping out hearts, he hid under some bodies and played dead. Emma warns him that she can tell when people are lying, but he insists he’s telling the truth. Snow remarks that she wants to keep looking for a portal home, as she only had a few minutes with her husband and grandson. Hook tells them he knows about a portal. He can guide them. But instead, Emma puts a knife to his throat and tells him that he isn’t going anywhere until he tells them who he really is.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Jefferson brings his “wizard” from another land to Regina, and it’s Dr. Whale. He doesn’t call himself that, just tells her that he prefers “Doctor” over “wizard.” Regina brings Whale to Daniel. Whale is surprised to see how well-preserved the body is. He explains that he has a procedure that he has done in his world to bring back the dead, but it hasn’t been successful. The hearts there were too weak to sustain his methods. But he had learned that in this land, the hearts are strengthened by magic and he hopes that these magically strengthened hearts will be strong enough to make it. He asks if Regina can do this, but Regina denies it, telling both Jefferson and Whale that she won’t use magic for evil. Jefferson tells her that if she wants Daniel back, she will have to find someone who will.

Storybrooke: Regina goes to see Whale in his lab. She finds the lab destroyed and Whale lying on the ground, his arm severed and on his table. Regina knows he brought Daniel back and Whale confirms that he did it, but Daniel isn’t Daniel, anymore. He’s a monster.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Turns out Regina’s plan isn’t to go to Rump, but to go to her mother’s vault full of hearts. She brings Jefferson and Whale there and tells them that her mother pulled out so many hearts that she lost track. She was a collector. Whale picks one out and nearly swoons over it, thrilled that he is close to realizing his dream.

Storybrooke: Regina stands at Whale’s hospital bedside, waiting for him to wake up, when Charming comes in, demanding to know what happened. She admits about Daniel. Before she can tell him the story, he tells her already knows. Snow told him. She tells him that Whale said he could bring back Daniel. All he needed was a heart and he stole one from her vault. But when Charming asks whose heart Whale took, Regina admits that she doesn’t know. She took so many that she lost track of them all. She begs Charming to let her see Daniel, that he won’t hurt her, but Charming warns her that he ripped off Whale’s arm. Regina tells him that she thinks Daniel will do what Charming did when he awoke from the coma: Go to someplace that means something to him – the stables. Charming is horrified because that’s where he left Henry. The two rush off.

Henry is brushing his horse, getting to know him, when all the horses start freaking out and Henry is knocked to the ground. His horse runs off. As Henry is starting to look up, Daniel comes in.

Fairytale Land of the Present: The ladies tie up Hook to a tree and Emma whistles to attract the attention of the Ogres, threatening to leave him there if he doesn’t fess up. He keeps protesting his innocence, but, when they really do turn to leave him, he finally admits who he really is. Cora put him there to try to gain their confidence and find out everything he could about Storybrooke, so she would be prepared when she gets there. He tells them that she took the ashes from the wardrobe, where the enchantment remains. All she needs to do is gather a few things to jumpstart it and then she can get to Storybrooke. He offers them the same deal he had with her: Help gain a magical compass that is needed, in exchange for bringing him along. Emma demands to know why he wants to go there. He admits the truth that he wants to gain revenge on Rump for taking his hand.

Storybrooke: Henry tries to talk down a raging Daniel. Unfortunately, Daniel starts flashing on Cora ripping out his heart and starts to strangle Henry. Charming and Regina arrive. Daniel drops Henry. Charming pulls Henry out and then locks Daniel in the stable. But the door won’t hold. Charming asks Regina to use magic to stop Daniel, but Regina refuses to use magic on him. So, Charming pulls out his gun, determined to stop a rampaging Daniel. Regina begs him to let her talk to Daniel, believing he will listen to her. Charming finally relents.

Fairytale Land of the Past: It’s a dark and stormy night. In a tent outside, Whale sets up Daniel to perform his procedure. Regina and Jefferson wait outside and watch. However, when Whale comes out, he tells them that the procedure failed. The heart wasn’t strong enough.

Storybrooke: Regina goes into the stall and tries to talk to Daniel, but he starts to strangle her, instead. As she chokes out that she loves him, he finally snaps to himself and stops. He recognizes her and begs her to stop the pain, to let him go, but she can’t bear to lose him again. He tells her to love again, then his personality fades away, back into a rampaging monster. Crying, Regina uses her powers to stop him. She disintegrates him, telling him goodbye.

Fairytale Land of the Present: Hook leads the women to a beanpole in the sky and tells them that that is where they need to go to get the compass. When Emma worries about the height, he tells her that it’s the giant at the top that they need to worry about.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina, now dressed in her typical black leathers, returns to Rump, who is now mentoring someone else. When Regina asks who she is, Rump tells her she is his new apprentice. He needed someone more “dedicated.” To show her dedication and without any hesitation, Regina reaches in, pulls out the other woman’s heart, and crushes it, killing her. Rump giggles.

Jefferson is leading Whale through the forest, with Whale asking if their deal is done now. But Jefferson says their deal isn’t done until “he” says it is and Rump appears. Whale asks him if he is satisfied with the results. Rump remarks that Regina did seem fairly heartbroken. The men crow over Regina’s change of mind and state, and Jefferson turns over the heart that Whale wanted as his price. Rump tells him that now that he has his monster, maybe Whale can make his, but Whale objects to that word. He tells him he’s not making a monster. He’s using his knowledge to transcend what Rump can do. But Rump warns him that someday, he will come to need magic, and to be careful. Whatever he trafficks in comes with a price. With that, Jefferson uses his hat to return Whale home.

Storybrooke: Regina goes to see Archie and admits that she used magic again. He ushers her inside.

Whale brings his arm in a cooler to Gold’s shop, and asks him to reattach it. First, Gold wants to know why Whale brought Daniel back. Whale admits he was hoping that if he did, Regina would return him home so he could try to bring his brother back again. When Gold queries the “again” part, Whale admits that the first time he did it, it ended “badly.” But Gold wants one more thing – for him to admit it. Whale inhales and tells him that he needs magic. Gold smiles, waves his arm, and Whale has his arm back: “It’s always a pleasure doing business with you, Victor.”

Unknown Land of the Past: Victor returns home to a castle in the middle of a stormy night. He goes into his lab where his assistant is waiting with a body on a lab table, and tells him that he has got it. He pulls out the heart and admires it, before telling his assistant that it’s time. They work. When they are done, the body on the table stirs, the hand lifting out. His assistant tells him that he did it and calls him ‘Dr. Frankenstein.’ He breathes that it’s magic, but Victor corrects him: “No, it’s not magic. Science.”

Review: This was a fairly packed episode. It gave more backstory on Regina, Regina and Rump’s relationship, and Whale’s true identity, and introduced Hook to the modern day characters and into the current timeline. For all of that, it was a pretty well-written episode.

But it still didn’t make me change my mind about Regina.

I’ve gone into this rant before, so I will spare you most of it again. But they just made Regina too gleefully evil and hateful last season for me to ever suddenly turn around and feel sympathy for her now. Nothing she has been through has justified what she has done to other people for me. And this attempt to retcon the previous episode where she swore vengeance on a 12-year-old Snow White for Daniel’s death, into an innocent young woman who never wanted to use magic for evil and was just tricked into it by three self-serving men, actually weakens the character. In their attempt to whitewash her, they actually take away a lot of her strength and her power, to make her a weak, malleable creature at the hands of dastardly men. I don’t like Regina and never will, but it was understandable that she was weak in the hands of her mother. Making her easily manipulated in the hands of the men around her just makes her pathetic rather than sympathetic. They would have been better served just making her what she was before: a woman who wanted to escape her evil mother, then realized she was just like her and liked it. At least there was strength in it, instead of weakness.

Speaking of weakness, it seems as if Regina still married the King. We knew she did, but I still don’t see how she got from trying desperately to run away so she didn’t have to marry the King, to getting rid of her mother, to marrying him, anyway. Did Regina decide that she really does like the power of it all, after all? How come she didn’t just run away from the wedding once she sent her mother into the mirror? For a woman who keeps shouting that she doesn’t want this and she isn’t like her mother, she sure ends up proving the opposite. From ending up marrying the King to having her own horrific set of hearts, Regina is pretty much Cora’s spitting image.

The show did succeed in cementing what I disliked most about Jefferson from last season: that he’s a self-serving, amoral man who will hurt anyone to get what he wants. He had no problem making himself an accessory to Emma’s murder last season, as long as Regina gave him what he wanted. He had no problem manipulating Regina into turning to the dark side, as long as he got what he wanted from Rump. He hasn’t changed at all.

I’ve seen some complaints in some places that the show turned to literature to mine for characters with Dr. Frankenstein, but the show has been doing that all season long. It’s really nothing new. Captain Hook is from the Peter Pan book by J.M. Barrie. Lancelot is from an old French legend. Victor Frankenstein seems like less of a reach to me than Lancelot is. And Frankenstein actually worked for me, as it is explained he came from another world and, therefore, wasn’t really in Fairytale Land. I find it interesting that he isn’t from this world, though. And there seems to be a bit of a plothole with him: Victor seemed to not have any familiarity with magic and yet, Jefferson was able to reach his world with his hat. But according to Jefferson’s conversation with Rump, he can’t reach non-magical worlds with his hat. Hmm….

Speaking of literature, I enjoyed the little hints of the Wizard of Oz here, with the mentions of magical, world-transporting slippers and a “wizard.” Cute.

I’m glad that Emma’s superpowers of being able to tell when someone is lying to her kicked in again, and correctly this time. So glad that the women weren’t played by Hook. But that was truly horrifying to me that everyone at the safe haven was murdered by Cora. So sad. And so many characters we never even got to meet! Does that mean everyone in Fairytale Land is pretty much gone? And when Emma and Snow return home, will Aurora and Mulan come with them, or will they be left behind in that desolate world, with only a comatose Philip to keep company with? I hope not, as that’s quite a depressing thought.

Overall, I think this episode was well done, but it really didn’t touch me. I’m not a fan of Regina’s and Dr. Whale was never a character that interested me much. I’m glad to see that they have revealed who he is, and satisfactorily explained why no one except Regina, Jefferson and Gold knew who he was. But that was about it. Glad to see that Daniel is finally put to rest, but I’m guessing his dying wish to Regina to “love again” is setting up her getting a love interest. Perhaps Hook, if he makes it over to Storybrooke? I can’t really see anyone else for her.

The most interesting parts for me were with the women in Fairytale Land, trying to return home. And the sweetest and most touching parts were Charming and Henry, with Charming giving his grandson a horse and Henry trying to take care of it. I do hope that the family is reunited soon, because that five minutes that Snow spent with her husband and grandson wasn’t enough for me, either, but I am enjoying the bonding moments we are getting in the meantime.

Next week: Emma climbs the beanstalk. Guess who she meets at the top of it?

(All photos are copyrighted to ABC)

Watch Once Upon a Time on Sunday nights at 8pm, or online at its official site.

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. VinaReview: Once Upon a Time 2.05: The Doctor