If you’ve been keeping score on Once Upon A Time, the inhabitants of Storybrooke have been divided into three groups: regular townsfolk who are basically good, bad guys who are trying to be good for the people they love, and the evil duo of Cora (Barbara Hershey) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) who wouldn’t know a scruple if it hit them in the head.
And then there’s Emma (Jennifer Morrison) who has to juggle all three along with the surprise addition of a stranger who finds his way into town and appears to have no connection to any realm but Earth’s.
Be that as it may, the most interesting story in this episode belongs to Dr. Whale, or rather Dr. Victor Frankenstein (David Anders), former resident of a realm bathed in black and white. Earlier this season, “The Doctor” revealed that Victor was heavily invested in the heart transplant business because of his desire to raise his brother Gerhart (Chad Michael Collins) from the dead.
Turns out, big brother Gerhard’s death came on the heels of a fight between the two brothers. Gerhard came to the cemetery where Victor was digging up a body to experiment on and the two bickered as to the merits of said experiments; a topic which was already a sore spot for Victor because their father disapproves of them as well.
The audience is then privy to Victor’s first failed attempts to revive Gerhard, his father’s discovery of the deed and subsequent dismissal of Victor from the family tree, and Rumple’s offer to help him find a way to merge science and magic. In the end, a monster is born, patricide is committed, and Victor is left feeling more hollow and alone than ever. A feeling that follows him into Storybrooke, where he must rely on a pep talk from Red (Meghan Ory) for the strength to operate on his dying patient.
Another part of tonight’s tale focuses on the grudge match between Hook and Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). Aside from a few broken ribs courtesy of the stranger’s car, Hook is fine and dandy and all too happy to gloat about getting his revenge on Rumple. Not even a reminder of who he’s messed with and how far that one would go to avenge Belle (Emilie de Ravin) is enough to dampen the pirate’s spirits. Rumple is indeed torn up about Belle’s amnesia and it doesn’t take him long to use magic to fashion a talisman for her from the chipped cup he has cherished for years. The cup, along with Rumple’s hopes for a happily ever after, are shattered on the hospital floor by a terrified Belle who doesn’t remember who she is, let alone the creepy guy trying to kiss her in her sleep.
Fortunately for Hook’s safety and Rumple’s sanity, Cora is ready to make her presence in Storybrooke known. The former Queen of Hearts strikes a deal with Rumple, swapping intel on where Regina (Lana Parilla) is hiding out for a magic globe that will reveal the location of Rumple’s long-lost son. He takes the deal, offers the obligatory blood sacrifice, then storms over to Emma’s place and cashes in his favor with her. While it seems a bit contrived to drag Emma away from her family when she’s just returned, a Rumple/Emma road trip could be a fun ride.
Tacked onto the end of this story is a mother-daughter story that has to potential to soar or sink in the weeks to come. Props to Cora for appearing as Regina’s beloved boy to gain entrance into the secret crypt, but let’s hope that Regina isn’t really falling for her poisonous drivel about how sorry Corry is.
Sappy car scene aside, Regina still gets the best line of the night when she insists her mother set the record straight with “Emma, Henry, and the two idiots.” And no Once Upon A Time episode would be complete without a last minute twist, so it should come as no surprise that the stranger who crashed into Storybrooke lies about texting while driving and wastes no time telling his girl about what he saw. The plot thickens, but the magic won’t return to our televisions until February 10th.
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays @8pm on ABC.