Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Season 2, Episode 5: The Doctor

Fairy Land Present
Snow, Mulan, Emma and Aurora trudge back to their island fortress, worrying about telling people about Lancelot’s death – when they find that the place is deserted. Except for the bodies many many bodies. They first think of ogres – but then see that the hearts of the victims have been removed, Cora killed them. Or nearly all of them – among the bodies is a man, Captain Hook, pretending to be a survivor.

Mulan tells Emma she’s seen him around, he says he’s a blacksmith who lost his hand in an ogre attack, but Emma is suspicious. As we remember from the very first episode of the first season, it is very very hard to lie to Emma and she is very very suspicious. So when they discuss leaving, finding a portal and getting back to Storybrooke – Emma puts a knife to Hook’s throat.

They tie him to a tree while he continues to protest his innocence – Emma isn’t buying it and whistles for the ogres. He can tell the truth or he can become lunch. He tries to lie some more so Emma is happy to walk away and leave him tied up. He cracks, admits to being Captain Hook and tells them he was left their by Cora to try and infiltrate their group, earn their trust and find out everything they could about Storybrooke. To which Mulan says it’s safest to leave him tied for the ogres – and Emma agrees (so do I, and yes, I was cheering).

He protests they need him alive – out comes the knife again and he quickly tells Emma that in addition to the wardrobe dust Cora has, she also needs a magical compass to find her way to Storybrooke. And he’s willing to make the same deal as he made with Cora – help him get to Storybrooke and he will help them get the compass before Cora. Emma asks what he wants in Storybrooke – to kill Rumplestiltskin. Everyone’s pretty much OK with that.

They follow Hook, with Mulan and Emma suspecting and being ready for a trap when they see their destination – a giant bean stalk with a giant up the top.

Fairy Land Past
Rumplestiltskin is teaching the naïve and innocent Regina how to use her magic – starting by having her immobilise a unicorn. Once unable to move he demands she remove it’s heart as Cora does – Regina refuses, it’s evil and the unicorn is innocent (“No-one is innocent, dearie”).  Rumple removes the heart himself – saying it strengthens the heart and, if done right, doesn’t hurt the creature, unless you want it to. Though it does control them.  He gives it to Regina and demands she crush it. He wants to know, if she truly wants power, why does she hold back, why does she hesitate?

Later, in Rumple’s work shop he asks Regina what she wants. She tells him power and he scoffs, saying she’s wasting his time. Regina confesses she wants to bring back the dead, to bring back Daniel, her true love, who Cora killed. Rumple dismisses her, bringing back the dead is impossible – and they’re then interrupted by Jefferson the Mad Hatter arriving – a much more fun, less angsty Mad Hatter at that. Wants to know why she’s there – power, stop wasting time, bring back dead, impossible. He has an orb for Rumple and is apparently in the business of acquiring things for him – but he doesn’t have the objects Rumple wanted to use to reach another world. Jefferson mentions his hat but the hat won’t go to a land without magic (to try and find his son).

While Jefferson collects his gold, Rumple tells Regina to leave, there’s no point training her if her goal is impossible. Jefferson overhears what he said and tells Regina that he does know someone, a wizard of sorts, who may be able to do what she wants. In return he wants a passport for free travel across the kingdom, since she’s queen. If the wizard he knows can’t do it then Rumple is right, no-one can.

They go to Regina’s palace and, after much drama where Jefferson warns Regina the “wizard” is unused to their form of magic, he introduces her to… Dr. Whale. She takes him to the preserved body of Daniel and he marvels over the state the body is in, perfectly preserved by Regina’s spell. And we learn that his process hasn’t had success to date – it’s experimental – but it should work so long as he gets a strong heart, a heart that doesn’t exist in his realm. But he had heard that Fairy Land has hearts that are enhanced by magic – so powerful that they glow. Regina is adamant that she will not use magic for evil – and removing a heart is black magic. Jefferson suggests if she wants her fiancé back she should find someone who will.

But she doesn’t need to, taking them to her mother’s fire place, they can hear a heartbeat. Behind the fireplace is a vault in which are stored dozens, if not hundreds of hearts, all beating away. Regina says she has no idea who they are, Cora took so many it was impossible to keep track. She reflects on what an utter monster her mother was and the pain she caused.

Outside a storm rages as they set up a tent for the doctor. A lot of lightening, a lot of spooky atmosphere – he raises up the heart above the inert body of Daniel and smashes it down – alas to no effect. He comes out and tells Regina that the heart wasn’t strong enough and Jefferson reiterated that if Dr. Whale can’t do it, no-one can. Regina grieves over Daniel’s body

When next we see her, she’s in her evil Queen black leather outfit and tracks down Rumple and his new apprentice. She rips out the apprentice’s heart and crushes it – showing Rumple her renewed dedication.

Jefferson leads Dr. Whale through the forest, with the doctor demanding to go home, he’s done what they ask. But Jefferson says the deal was made by Rumple – and he’s the one who has to say he’s satisfied. Rumple is happy – Regina’s heart is broken and he gives the unbroken heart to Dr. Whale saying “I made my monster, now I do hope you’ll be able to make yours.” Whale protests that he isn’t making a monster to which Rumple responds “sure you’re not.” Dr. Whale scoffs at them, his science is far more powerful than Rumple’s magic (which Rumple and Jefferson mock since his science required a magic heart) but Whale is adamant – his science goes above and beyond the limits of Rumple’s magic. Rumple merely says that he’s sure Whale will see it his way, some day.

Storybrooke Present
In the real world Charming takes the chance to punch Dr. Whale for sleeping with Snow (rather unfair one feels). Dr. Whale has heard that Charming is trying to build a portal to get back to Fairy Land and that their world still exists…

Regina is taking therapy sessions with Jiminy Cricket to try and hold to her promise to Henry not to use magic. It’s difficult and fraught and the acting excellent –but they’re interrupted by Dr. Whale. He demands that Regina send him back to his brother, she points him towards the missing person’s board but he says he was never transported by the curse. Regina protests inability and, also, not caring and Jiminy kicks him out. But Jiminy has his own questions about the Curse, they know not everyone was transported and even dead people were brought – since the grave of Regina’s father travelled to Storybrooke. Regina says the curse brought who she wanted to bring and doesn’t want to answer any more questions – despite Jiminy pushing her to trust him. She cracks and tells Jiminy that she also brought Daniel’s body over, preserved by a spell. He urges her to let go of the past or it’ll haunt you and she leaves, close to tears.

But, as she drives home in the rain, she thinks she sees Daniel through the window. She blinks and he’s gone. She goes to the mausoleum and finds Daniel’s body is missing, the glass case empty.

Regina goes looking for Dr. Whale at the hospital and finds is room has been badly trashed and, on a blooded gurney, there’s a severed arm. Underneath the gurney is the not-very-well-at-all Dr. Whale. Regina demands to know if Dr. Whale took Daniel’s body and one of her hearts, asks if he brought Daniel back – he says he did, but he’s a monsters.

Charming catches up to Regina watching the unconscious Dr. Whale in a hospital bed. Charming demands answers and she tells him about Daniel, her fiancé and what Whale did with his “powers beyond magic” and one of her hearts. Charming takes a step and asks why she has hearts – she says she has them from their land and she doesn’t know whose they are, she took so many it was impossible for her to keep track (why hello there not-too-subtle Cora reference). Regina wants to go find him, alone, but Charming threatens her with prison if she doesn’t tell him where Daniel is. She thinks that, with his memories coming back, he will be like Charming was when leaving his amnesia – and go to a place that stood out in his memory: The stables

Now this is a problem because Charming has just given Henry his own horse and plans to teach him to ride. But first he has to clean out the horse, care for it and form a bond with it until one day the horse tells him he’s ready to ride. So he’s at the stables when the undead Daniel shows up

The horses panic with the monster there, his horse knocks Henry over (which I think is horse for “no way are you climbing on me no matter how much shit you shovel”) and Daniel traps him in a stall. When Henry reaches out, he has a flashback to Cora removing his heart and he grabs Henry by the neck. Regina appears and screams at him to let go – he drops Henry and tries to attack Regina but Charming locks him in the stall – demanding Regina use her magic to subdue Daniel.  She refuses to use magic on her fiancé and Charming draws a gun to put the monster down – Regina cries and won’t let Charming hurt him – she sobs for a chance to reach Daniel.

Regina goes into stall and Daniel starts to strangle her. She manages to gasp “I love you,” and he backs off, saying her name. They hug, but there’s no happy ever after here – he’s in enormous pain and begs her to let him go, that he can’t come back to her. She begs him, pleads with him to stay – but he monsters out again and tries to attack her. She freezes him with magic – then dissolves him into dust (uh, Regina can turn people to dust… when you think about it she has been REALLY patient with the Storybrooke people). Then falls into tears.

She goes to see Jiminy crying about having used magic

Dr. Whale, meanwhile, with only one arm goes to see Rumple/Gold carrying his severed arm in a cooler box. Rumple, naturally, makes a joke about things not really costing “an arm and a leg”. Whale wants rumple to put his arm back. Rumple wants to know why Whale did it, why bring back Daniel. Whale says he thought if he could manage it, Regina would send him back to his brother and he could try to bring him back again – his previous attempt was unsuccessful. Rumple says he can restore the arm – but he won’t, not until Whale says what he wants to hear. After all, why come to Rumple and not to a hospital? Dr. Whale folds and says “I need magic” and his arm is back in a blink of an eye. Rumple says it’s a pleasure doing business with him – and calls him Victor

Yes, Rumplestiltskin always gets the last word.

Somewhere Else Entirely, in the Past:
Dr. Whale returns to his esoteric lab with the heart. There’s a classic assistant, storm, lightening, electricity covered shiny electronic devices and, of course, a body on a slab. He puts the heart ion the body we get the full stormy effects and a stitched-together hand moves… “it’s alive” Dr. whale whispers. Except, of course, his assistant calls him Dr. Frankenstein.

It’s almost a shame they had to call him Frankenstein in the end, I loved the hints – “Victor” is Dr. Frankenstein’s first name in the book. And the 1931 Frankenstein film – the iconic Frankenstein film – was directed by a James Whale.

Rumplestiltskin is just such a flawless character, he’s behind absolutely everything and always 10 steps ahead. Has the evil manipulator ever been done better? A completely flawless character

I also like Regina – we see more of her depth, more of her descent to darkness, the parallels between her and her mother – and how that troubles her – how she wants to come back from the edge with both genuine regret and a genuine desire to seek redemption; all carried by some excellent acting.

And Emma with hook? Yes, I am impressed. In fact can we have Emma and Mulan without the lettuce accompliment (and give Mulan some more actual lines. Don’t make me call her T-Dog.) More awesome, hold the lettuce.