When ONCE UPON A TIME does something, they do it right. And when they introduce a character you thought you knew, only to deliver the truth with a hard punch, then they do it more than just right.

This week’s OUAT episode finally revealed what fans had been speculating about for a long time; since season one actually. Who is Dr. Whale? With most characters, the name gave it away, or they had been introduced early in the show so everyone knew them anyways. Whale, however, remained a mystery, and even though there were speculations about him being from Moby Dick, or maybe even Hook, nothing proved to be right.
Instead, he’s someone most probably would never have anticipated him to be: Dr. Frankenstein.
Let’s start at the beginning of that again incredibly awesome episode. Again we had several plot lines; or, one might say, two, although one was the major and had yet to be divided again. On the other hand of course it was all about the name giving doctor (and still I read something of Doctor Who here… sighs…). On the other Emma, Snow & Co in FTL who met Hook.
With the latter we learned that Cora also initiates grand schemes… or not so grand one. Not much of a chess master like Rumple, she obviously has to resort to the more… simple ways, which then are all the more cruel. In short: Killing a whole camp/village only to introduce Hook to the Quartet (will be my name for the Emma, Snow, Aurora and Mulan now). Of course, and thanks to Emma’s superpowers, the plan kind of failed… or at least it seems that it did. In general one can claim this plot which consisted of only very few and rather short scenes to be a preparation for next week’s episode which will feature Hook and Emma climbing up the beanstalk – and certainly will that be interesting. Even more because it was teased that there could be a Hook-up (sorry, that was too tempting) between those two. Now, I don’t hope for it to be honest because I still root for Emma/August, but… we shall see. What I don’t hope to see is an attack of Hook against Rumple… which he kinda announced. Really nervous here.
But, there’s another big plot this episode was all about, and it revealed a lot.
Said plot starts rather funny. Dr. Whale approached Charming, only to get punched. Poor Doc *lol* And we have what I’d like to call plot hole again – when the hell did Whale and Snow ever sleep with each other??? I know they had their date, and it, um, didn’t go well – which is probably an understatement. So when did they find the opportunity and time – and sympathy – to get into bed with each other? This really bothers me because it just doesn’t seem to be right. Of course it causes hilarious moments – this now was the second, after Charming learning about that one night stand from Snow 😉
Furthermore we finally get to know Whale’s motivation and why he is so eager to return. He’s been leading the mob against Regina in the season premiere, and he’s obviously desperate to get back, all the while keeping quiet about his true identity. Which is suspicious by itself already. Now he goes as far as demanding from Regina that she sends him back, while I somehow think that he should know that it isn’t possible. Because why should she remain in Storybrooke if she could return to FTL? Sure, she could leave behind the others, but why stay herself where she has only limited powers?
Another thing that is now addressed for real after there were only hints at it is the existence of many other worlds. Of course we saw that in the hat in “Hat Trick”; but so far there’s nothing appeared in SB who is from another land than FTL. Dr. Whale is the first one, and I’m wondering how he came there. Was he still in FTL when he was pulled to our world? Or did Regina take him from his world, which would be impossible, as she can’t travel between worlds?
That’s one – or two of the facts we learned.
First: Regina chose the ones she wanted to take. That explains why there are still people in FTL, like Mulan and Aurora. Also, I guess Regina didn’t know where to Cora had disappeared after she’d pushed her through the mirror; otherwise I’d assume she would have taken her to SB as – to a place where she’d have been stripped of her powers and possibly also memories.
Second: Even the Dark One’s magic is limited. It was mentioned before that Rumple can’t travel between the worlds, like Jefferson with his hat. And not even Jefferson can come to our lands, if I got that right. And another thing Rumple can’t do is bringing people back from the dead. No magic can that; it’s one of the things the Genie excluded as well. Plus, I assume that the Dark One’s powers, being evil as they are, are not meant to do something good, which bringing the deceased back would be if the deceased was a loved one like with Regina and Daniel. Wouldn’t be as good if someone who is bad is brought back though, but that’s another issue entirely.
The next thing that was revealed is that Regina, Rumple and Jefferson know each other and even worked together. And this is the part where I laughed out loud during that pretty dark Halloween-worthy episode – the first encounter between Regina and Jefferson. With her still being the good and kind of naive girl, she possessed nothing of the self-confidence she had later as EQ. So when she was in Rumple’s castle and Jefferson visited, it was easy for him to sneak up behind her back and startle her. In a hilarious way. Actually, Jefferson was fun throughout the whole episode. I guess it must have been a Jefferson before the birth of his daughter… or his daughter was still very young and maybe her mother still there? He definitely is a Jefferson long before he was deserted in Wonderland, since it was Evil Regina who did it, and she isn’t yet evil. I guess there are still questions unanswered regarding Jefferson, and I hope they’re gonna be addressed later on – especially since I really start to like Jefferson 😉
And yes – Whale I like too. Despite his identity having been revealed, he has still something mysterious to him; also because, as said above, his presence in SB has not yet been fully explained. At least not to my mind. Whale’s intentions for wanting to return to his world are explained by him saying that his brother wasn’t brought with him to SB – because the Curse (or Regina) only brought the living. His brother isn’t alive though. Now I first had to read up on Frankenstein because I’m not at all familiar with that story (except for the monster part…), but obviously OUAT made the “monster” to be his brother, according to the ending of the episode. The… whatever that is lying on the table looks a lot like the stitched monster that is commonly known, only that Frankenstein calls it his brother. In the original story, he created a monster and it killed his brother, but he never tried to revive his brother it seems. Of course is this here the more clever way to create the story background of Whale/Frankenstein because the motivation, if it is true, is much better than one for a random monster.
In FTL, Frankenstein fails to bring Daniel back to life. In SB – not so much. Unfortunately one could say, since the development that follows is very sad and heartbreaking (no pun intended).
Regina kept Daniel’s body in his family mausoleum; preserved by magic. This is another thing I wondered about – how can this spell still work in a world without magic it was until now? It confused me a bit, as theoretically, the spell shouldn’t have worked anymore in SB. Or is it because also for Daniel time has stopped in the last 28 years since the Curse, and after the Curse was broken Rumple brought magic back, so there was never much time for him to decay? Would be a plausible explanation; only that it was presented like the spell has done the trick.
In any way, Whale brought Daniel back from the dead – or a monster that looked like Daniel. And all because… what? Revenge? What are his motives? It wouldn’t really be revenge if he believes that his science works – and then he would have brought Daniel back, something he knew Regina wanted desperately. Unless, of course, Frankenstein has different way of thinking as he is from another world, and thought that having Daniel back would be a motivation for Regina to grant him his wish… Or, possibility number three, he didn’t want to waste more time in which he can’t continue his research, and Daniel was… an opportunity. In the end though it is revealed that Whale is indeed a comparably good person – he did it so Regina would be encouraged to return him to his lands. So much for his plan.
So Daniel is a monster; an empty hull of something dark and undefined that first attacks Henry and then Regina – twice, even. And all work regarding Regina’s attempts to lay off magic (which included an amusing scene with her seeking Archie’s help, and I couldn’t help but think of her “Ah. The conscience thing.” comment earlier this season) was ruined when she had to stop Daniel with it. I thought it was interesting that her “I love you” (still True Love, wow) had the power to bring him to his senses, “awake” him, for a moment so that he and Regina can talk – and that he could plead her to let him go. And she did. She not only took away his life, but turned him to ashes, probably to keep herself and anyone else from trying to revive him yet again.
What was fascinating is that he was in pain after he regained consciousness as Daniel for these few moments. Which could indicate that one can only live with their very own – magical – heart and no other. Contrary to science and medicine, magical hearts obviously can’t be transplanted and exchanged. This opens room for a long speculation about the meaning of the own heart in FTL – because this heart could store True Love, among other emotions, that define a person and allow it to live. Without these emotions and feelings, it’s only a cold, lifeless being. And surely that must hurt, like we saw with Daniel. If body (heart) and soul are two parts of a sum, and soul and heart don’t fit…
Bit of a dark humor moment in that stable scene: Regina refuses to use magic on Daniel, as Charming demands. So Charming simply takes out the gun, with that demeanor that seems to say, then let’s take him out with that one, can’t be as bad as magic.
The episode revealed quite a lot about the whole heart thing. The dark art of ripping hearts out and crushing them Regina learnt – unsurprisingly – from Rumple, though hesitantly.
And this would be the third information we gather in this episode: If a heart is ripped from a body, it isn’t hurting the creature, human or animal (well, the process is, but not the loss itself). Instead, the heart becomes an enchanted one thanks to the magic Rumple and now also Regina possess (and Cora counts also), and practically makes the one whose heart one holds to their slave. We saw that before with Graham whose heart Regina also took. He lived on, but she was controlling him – and she also had the power to kill him.
This whole thing is, now that Rumple has explained it, very symbolic. Because – taking the heart of another person, holding it in one’s hands, and having the ability to literally crush it? Definitely symbolic. But then this is also a world where True Love breaks every curse, so literally crushing a heart might not seem so surprising or special. Add to that the impossibility to exchange hearts among their owners…
Rumple. Again he shows what a – as TVtropes calls it – Magnificent Bastard he is. Now, I wouldn’t so much agree on the bastard part, but magnificent – certainly. Rumple wants Regina – as his student for the dark arts. And yet again he had me shaking my head in fascination when it turned out in the end that it was all his doing – Jefferson appearing at just the right time in his castle, luring Regina away with the promise of someone who’ll be able to do what she desires, then Frankenstein failing due to keeping up his end of a bargain that ultimately brought the doctor a heart he needs for his brother. And Rumple? Rumple it brings a Regina who’s finally decided to bury Daniel – literally – and turn fully towards the dark arts. Just as Rumple wanted her to – even though we still don’t know why he does. But I guess we’ll find out… Here we see the turning point that marks good Regina becoming the Evil Queen.
Another question that arises for me is – why didn’t he hold on to Cora who obviously was also taught magic by him? It is, as always, a question of what and how much Rumple has included in his plans and schemes. Only thanks to the magic he gave her Cora was able to cause the incident that forced Regina to save Snow and thus had the king propose. Could Cora have enacted the Curse? Maybe. But what reason would she have had to do so? Regina, on the other hand, has a reason, and a very good one at that (at least to her mind). The only question is if it was only pure luck on Rumple’s site that opened up this opportunity for him – as he much have planned something with this Curse before to get back Bae – or if this was also part of his plans. But then we’d slowly reach a point where my brain shuts down because this is… incredible.
Incredible is also a way to describe what happened between him and Whale at the end. Apart from another time that lets Mr. Gold prove his snarky deadpan abilities when Whale brings him his severed arm in a cooler box (“When they say I charge an arm and a leg, it’s meant as a figure of speech.”) and that I wondered for a moment if he doesn’t need his cane to walk anymore (he didn’t have it, did he?), his merely waving his hand and reattaching Whale’s arm was pure awesomeness. And yes, I still underestimate the power Rumple has again. Side note: Nice to hear him call Whale/Frankenstein by his first name, Victor.
Rumple and Jefferson (I can understand why people ship this – as bromance, though, nothing else! – they are quiet the funny team), in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, share a few words when Jefferson first appears at Rumple’s castle and gives him the crystal ball – and following Rumple’s question tells him that he couldn’t get the slippers. The other hint at least I see at Oz is Frankenstein’s first appearance at Regina’s castle. The doctor looks a bit like taken from the “Emerald City” scene of the musical WICKED because of his glasses and also because of his dress… though I’m not sure if it reminds me of the musical or of TIN MAN.
Again we have several Oz references – and slowly but surely I begin to suspect that this long and subtle build-up sometimes only those who really know all the stories (the background knowledge to understand everything in that show never ceases to amaze me…) can follow will end in something really big. It is Oz, after all; and it offers endless possibilities because of the classical story with the Wizard and Dorothy, but also the stories about the witches. And I’m so looking forward to the Oz story line!
And last but not least… okay, I admit it, I think I may have started shipping Jefferson/Regina. They would be cute together. Yeah, I know. Cute isn’t exactly the word one should use here, and especially not with characters like Regina and Jefferson. But at least they’ve a long(er) history together and maybe they would be good for each other… from madman to madwoman or something like that *whistles* No, seriously, Regina tries to change, maybe even find back to the person she was before Rumple tricked her into turning to her dark side, and Jefferson may just find a bit closure now that he has Grace back. Plus, they’ve both been unaffected by the Curse. Yep, I’m grasping at straws, but everyone needs their crack paring 😉
Next week? We’ll learn a bit more about Emma… and maybe Henry’s father? The guy they show with her in the promo pics is the one from the pilot… who I still suspect to be Bae. Who else would know about SB and the Curse, and care about it being broken? And if Bae is really the father of Henry… well… I had that before. But I will squeal in excitement again. 😀

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Tags: Curse, Dr. Whale/Frankenstein, Hook/Killian Jones, Jefferson, Once Upon A Time, OUAT, Regina/Evil Queen, Rumplestiltskin