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Once Upon a Time: The Doctor

“Magic is power. Until you can take power, you’re not learning anything.”

While 'The Crocodile' was riddled with character inconsistencies and a weak sense of foresight, 'The Doctor' managed what last week’s episode couldn’t. It was all about bringing characters forward, and moving on from the past. Even its story arcs felt like they were all about progressing towards something bigger. There was no middling character development, and side plots being left in the cold; a perfect example of how strong this season’s narrative has been so far.

One of my favorite things about this season is Regina finally making a move back towards the good side. The biggest issue with her last season was how one note, and regressed she was as a character sometimes. Since Henry has forced her into giving up her evil ways for good, it feels like there’s a major change in her prerogatives and motivations, and that change never felt as prominent as it did here.

It was Daniel’s death that awoke her dark side, and eventually put her in that desperate state that we saw when she begged for a way to resurrect him. Failing in her last attempts to bring him back, she became the villain we all knew her as, or at least an early prototype of the evil woman who destroyed the Enchanted Forest. In Storybrooke, we saw the same thing happen; she blatantly disregarded her vow to stay away from magic to see Daniel again, only to be forced into making that same painful decision to let him go once again. Though she resorted to magic in order to stop him, she still made a choice to place the well-being of everyone else ahead of her own happiness. It’s great to see the show make such wonderful strides with her this season.

It’s also great to see Emma’s lie detector come back with a bang. It really cut out the bullcrap of them all figuring out what Hook was really after and got us another step closer towards bringing these guys back to Storybrooke. Hopefully then they won’t be relegated to the lesser go-to transitional story. I like the idea of there being a bigger world out there, though. The show does seem to be struggling with so many separate arcs this year, but there also seems to be a much larger scope in comparison to the pre-established world from season one.

We even learned that there’s a realm where magic is irrelevant, or at least in part, when Dr. Whale was revealed to be none other than Victor Frankenstein. A massive stretch of the show’s fairytale roots to be sure, but surprisingly innovative at the same time. At least we know there’s still a whole lot more for the show to do once Cora and Hook are taken down.

4 out of 5 stolen hearts


More Sebastian Stan, please.

Cora has a massive collection of human hearts. Regina also made reference to one of her own; does she even consider returning them to the people she took them from?

He Said, She Said

Rumpelstiltskin: “Magic is power. Until you can take power, you’re not learning anything.”

Regina: “I want true happiness.”
Rumpelstiltskin: “Then find it elsewhere, Deary!”

Emma: “I’m gonna let you in on a little secret; I’m pretty good at knowing when someone is lying to me.”

Regina: “I love you!”
Daniel: “Then love again.”

Previously posted at PandaTV.


  1. As much as I enjoyed this episode I think I would've liked it more if they'd done a better job with the FrankenDaneil storyline. It all felt too rushed and Noah Bean's monster acting had too much ham and cheese for my liking. The flashback was more compelling. I love how they are handling Regina's storylines this season, using flashbacks to show her descent into evil while at the same time showing her struggle with redemption in Stroybrooke. It was nice to finally get some definitive confirmation that Rumple manipulated Regina into becoming the monster he needed her to be.

    I'm curious to know if Whale's world is filled with all the other icons of 19th century Gothic literature. Will we see the likes Dracula, Mr Hyde, Dorian Grey or the Phantom of the Opera at some point in the shows future?

  2. I loved the scene of Frankenwhale, Rumple, and Jefferson chatting in the woods.

  3. Loved this episode! It was like one of those Halloween specials where all the Disney villains get together and try to take over whatever Mickey Mouse is in charge of.

    After a few weeks of adding more characters and more story lines, we went back and looked into one of Storybrooke's preexisting characters. It was a nice change of pace. Plus, I don't think the show can handle many more new stories.

    "More Sebastian Stan, please." SECONDED! It was so much fun seeing him as a carefree, roguish villain and not a caring dad, although he does that well too.

    Did anyone else notice that they never said the name "Frankenstein?" They just kept calling Sark, er, Dr. Whale, "Victor." Intentional choice or copyright issue? PS. The original 1931 version of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale. I am still a little disappointed the doc didn't turn out to be Monstro from Pinocchio. Oh well.

  4. Great review of an excellent episode! I was surprised by Dr Frankenwhale (great name Josie!), didn't see it coming at all! Definitely not Fairy Tale material!

    I was glad for once we got it ALL! As in both parallel worlds + flashbacks. More please!

    Giant next week? Fee fi fo FUN!

  5. sunbunny, he was called Frankenstein right at the end by his assistant, who clearly doesn't know that it is pronounced Fronkensteen.

  6. I have to disagree one again, Panda, although I enjoyed your review as usual. I liked that the episode pushed the plot forward, but I was extremely displeased by the revelation that Dr. Whale was Dr. Frankenstein. He just doesn't fit.

    First because he's not from a fairy tale. For starters, he's not from a timeless story. Mary Shelley's (awesome) novel happens in a very specific period. And, most importantly, it happens in a very specific place. And it's in OUR world.

    Most fairy tales have no real author, just someone who collected their stories from folklore, like Andersen, Perrault or the brothers Grimm. The exceptions would be Pinochio, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. But they've all been fairy-fied by Disney and have magical elements; the last two happen mostly in a timeless, alternative realm. Frankenstein just doesn't fit.

    Besides, it's beem stabilished he was not from fairy world; he was there on business and came back. Why would he be caught by the curse?

    I'm not saying I'll abandon OUaT. I still love it. But I demand an explanation. This episode betrays everything that was built so far. It's like installing a modern bathroom on a medieval castle. They have major remodeling to do.

    And Mark, are you sure it's the right pronunciation? Isn't it just how they say it in Young Frankenstein? I think the "ei" is pronounced like "I" in German.

  7. Yeah, I was kind of let down by the fact that Dr. Whale was Frankenstein - especially since ABC spoiled it in the promo. After all that build-up and mystery about the character (for an entire year!), it felt like a waste to blow it on an episode that has little impact on the future, and like cheating to have him be a character so far out of the realm of the other stories.

    I'll admit using black and white for Whale's world was pretty cool, and now that it's part of the story, I hope other characters from that world show up (so it's not just a stupid one-episode plot device). And if that world exists, they'd better show other cool ones later on (too bad Disney no longer has the rights to Narnia).

    I'm also pretty happy Hook's deception only lasted a few minutes. I was afraid they were going to drag that on.

  8. Gus, that's how I felt when they introduced Pinocchio. And the Mad Hatter. Then again when they introduced Mulan. And Captain Hook.

    At this point, the show seems to treat "Fairy Tale" and "Owned by Disney" as synonymous. Frankenwhale isn't even like Victor Frankenstein from Shelley's novel; he's like the old monster-movie Frankenstein.

    It's annoying, but I think they tried to explain it when Regina said something like "I only took people I wanted." She wanted Dr. Whale for his scientific powers (and because David Anders makes everything better).

    I think the implication is that there is a huge number of worlds, each created by a fictional work or body of fictional works. So Shelley's Frankenstein doesn't take place in our world, it takes place in the fictional world she created, one level removed from ours.

    Of course, that may mean that by Season Six the Once creators are going to desperately craft stories about Vronsky and Raskolnikov sitting around, drinking tea with jam, and waiting for Godot, who finally arrives and is such a letdown.

  9. I think I enjoyed the review and the comments more than the episode and I enjoyed the episode! I was going to give Once Upon a Time a pass this season as I just have to much to do and too much TV I enjoy but I watched the premiere and just kept going. I like that they are delving into other fictional worlds. It creates more creative possibilities and really speaks to the thinness of the barrier between reality and imagination. Great Review Panda!

  10. I for one wlecome Gothic Hammer Films World and am rooting to see Dracula.

  11. Josie, For Pinocchio and the Mad Hatter, it was odd byt understandable because Disney had already made them equivalent to fairy tales. It was a stretch, but not so much.

    (I've never watched Mulan, but now that I think of it, it took place in China; the talking dragon was all Disney, though. Was Mulan a legend in China before the movie?)

    With Frankenstein, it was too much for me.

  12. In the narrative voice-over for OUAT doesn't the guy say "story book" characters not "fairy tale" characters? While I was hoping that David Anders would turn out to be Peter Pan so I can have a Hook/Sark throwdown, I rather like the inclusion of other worlds.

    On a more superficial note, as much as I love and adore David Anders, and have since I was eleven and he was introduced on Alias ... Boy can't rock the guyliner as well as Sebastian Stan and Colin O'Donoghue. Although HOORAY FOR THE RETURN OF THE FAUX-BRIT ACCENT!

    I'm loving this season a lot more than the first season, which seems to be a minority opinion.

  13. Hook/Sark throwdown? Please, Sark would kick that hot pirate's ass all the way back to Neverland. Hook would start off with some speech and then Sark would shoot him in the head and stroll of all flippant and Sark-y.

  14. Archie sighting! About time. Regina really needed his support and he gave it. She should return the hearts she stole if she's serious about being good.
    Also Dracula? Yes please.
    The Frankenstein stuff was ok, but it was Regina's story more then his. The Daniel stuff felt too rushed. Maybe this should have been a two-parter..
    There can never be enough Sebastian Stan.

  15. I know I'm late to the party, but in my view, when they first introduced Jefferson and his portal-accessing hat, they pretty much opened up the door to characters from any fictional story. Particularly fantasy worlds. Frankenstein (whether Mary Shelley's original or a black-and-white movie take on her story) falls nicely in line with that. I love they way they are stretching the boundaries of who can show up in the story, and the different ways they are interconnecting tales. (Although, Mulan as an apparent native of the Enchanted Forest realm, may be a bit too much of a stretch for me.)

    I found the episode itself rather cheesy throughout the bulk of it, but I still really enjoyed the way they expanded the world. Plus, Sebastian Stan in early rogue mode and David Anders rocking the accent and eyeshadow was great fun!

  16. I was pretty disturbed by Charming/David randomly sucker-punching Dr. Whale for sleeping with his wife (even though no one knew she was his wife)...at which point they both sat down for a civil little chat. What the heck? I had hoped that once David remembered he was actually Charming, he would become a more likeable character, but so far, that hasn't happened for me. He is kind of an ass, so it really bugs me that everyone in Storybrook considers him their heroic leader.


  17. I really liked this one. I am enjoying watching Regina's transformation and I liked this week's juxtaposition with her initial descent.

    I'm not bothered by the Frankenstein world being included in this one. I agree with Josie that any fictional world could be included as fair game. When you begin to think about it, the possibilities are nearly endless -- but, let's skip all things Beckett, please.

  18. I wonder if where we all stand on the love/hate spectrum for this episode and Frankenwhale's inclusion is directly related to our love/apathy for Sark.


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