I'm honestly starting to wonder if I shouldn't just approach this show the same way I approach, say, American Horror Story; that is, simply allow the ridiculousness of it all to become the main source of entertainment. After all, half the fun of watching a show like Once Upon a Time is getting to see the spin creators put on familiar fairy tales, isn't it? Unfortunately though, unlike American Horror Story, I tend to expect a bit more from this show (then again, maybe I shouldn't be too quick to speak; so far AHS's sophomore season is shaping up to be pretty interesting). So, when "The Doctor" decides to devote nearly its entire hour to Dr. Whale (David Anders), a seemingly minor character (he only appeared in a total of six season one episodes), whose Enchanted Forest counterpart is—get this—Dr. Frankenstein (though the constant references to him as "The Wizard" had me wondering "Of Oz?"), I can't help but feel there may be cause for concern.
I mean, I get it; it's Halloween, and this show's got to prove that it can be just as fun and spooky as every other show airing this week, but the last time I checked, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein wasn't a fairytale—or did I just miss something? I suppose it is an interesting interpretation of the tale, and it's somewhat fun to see the show toying with multiple versions of fantasy, but, for the most part, I couldn't help but find it, well, weird.
And not within the context of the actual show, necessarily—in the fairytale flashback this week, Victor Frankenstein teams up with Rumplestiltskin and the Mad Hatter to "trick" Regina into turning herself over to the dark side completely. Convinced by Rumplestiltskin and pretending to fail to revive Regina's stable boy Daniel, Frankenstein manages to get Regina to give up hope of reuniting with her lover, pushing her over the edge into full-on evil queen mode. Dr. Whale, on the other hand, doesn't fail in the Storybrooke plot line (admittedly, the weakest of the three). Attempting to win over Regina in the hopes she'll use magic to transport him back to his world (which is apparently not the Enchanted Forest, but a black-and-white-Frankenstein-castle-world) so that he may reunite with his Frankenstein monster brother, he manages to bring Daniel back to life (a Daniel whose body was apparently kept in Regina's mausoleum vault this whole time), but he doesn't do so without hitting a bit of a snag. Stealing an unidentified heart to do the job, Whale manages to only bring back a monstrous version of Daniel, one who terrorizes Henry and fails to make a real breakthrough, forcing Regina to get rid of him for good. Admittedly, the one nice thing that did result from Storybrooke this week was definite closure on the Regina/Daniel plot line; quite the accomplishment for this show, I must say.
Meanwhile, genuine narrative progress was made in the Enchanted Forest plot. After Emma, Snow, Mulan, and Aurora encounter Captain Hook, learn of his plan to join forces with Cora to get into Storybrooke, and almost make him ogre food, the girls agree to trust him when he says he'll team up with them instead, so long as he can still enact his revenge on Rumplestiltskin; all they have to do is climb a giant beanstalk (cue next week's guest star, Lost's Jorge Garcia) to get to much-needed resources before Cora does. While I definitely enjoyed a step forward in Emma and Snow's journey (as well as getting to see Colin O'Donoghue again), what I most appreciated about this week's scenes was how naturally the writers managed to weave Captain Hook into the central narrative, establishing him as a potentially important figure, rather than just dropping him as a character after only one episode—something we all know they've been guilty of before.
To read the rest of the review (IMDb form too short) visit: http://custodianfilmcritic.com/once-upon-a-time-7-5-the-doctor/
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