“As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”
“But I still want one.”
Y’all, I don’t know exactly what to do with this episode. I’ve thought about it a lot, enough to make my brain hurt. Weirdly though, it wasn’t a favorite of mine; it’s probably my least favorite so far of this season (which actually fits with last season, since 1×05 ”That Still Small Voice” – Jiminy’s episode – was equally as ‘meh’ for me).
The significant aspect of the episode was that they finally revealed the Enchanted Land (or non-Storybrooke) identity of the doctor we’ve known as Whale. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the last major Storybrooke character to be revealed, which to me is both good and bad. On one hand, his reveal has been dragged out much further than was probably necessary, so I’m glad they finally got to it. However, unless we introduce more Storybrooke townspeople, we don’t have any more mystery or intrigue on that front. (I’ll expand more on this after the recap portion.)
On the surface it’s actually fairly straight-forward, plot-wise in Storybrooke. However, there was a lot of subtle things that made the waters murky on the Enchanted Land side. Still, fun episode for Halloween weekend, plus the teeing up of what looks to be a knockout episode next week.
Lucky for this recapper, the Present-day Enchanted Land is not directly integrated to any of the Past Enchanted Land stuff or the Storybrooke plot, so I’m going to wait until the end to cover the whole bit at once.
Storybrooke: Charming-as-interim-Sheriff/town leader has taken up a sort of office on the patio of Granny’s. He’s also taken up to wearing a way hot leather holster/bandoleer. I approve.
Dr. Whale comes up to speak with him, which gives Charming a chance to discuss the whole “you kind of had a one-night-stand with my wife” thing. And by discuss, I mean punch in the face.
Whale takes it pretty well, pointing out the cursed thing, but since he’s there to try to get information from Charming, it doesn’t behoove him to get too indignant. He’s trying to confirm the rumors about Charming’s quest to find a portal to the Enchanted Land, and Charming obliges, because he “has no secrets form this town”. He’s trying to be the anti-Regina, which is nice for the town.
Whale asks if it’s possible that since the Enchanted Land survived the curse if all the Lands still exist; definitely possible. “So the queen lied to us, again. Are you sure?” “Remember who we’re talking about.”
The Lying Liar Who Lies is trying to make good, however; she decided to take Archie up on his offer of therapy since she’s having a hard time keeping her promise to Henry to not use magic. She’s two days sober, which Archie proclaims as “an excellent start”. Regina seems less convinced, but does agree to some therapy.
Archie thinks that this is Regina’s chance to start over and “earn Henry”. Ehhh, I don’t know about that, or at least that phrasing. You don’t ‘earn’ a person. You can earn a person’s trust, but people aren’t possessions. By the way, what exactly are Archie’s qualifications? Is part of his curse memories training as a licensed therapist? Not that Regina shouldn’t get any and all they help she can get – girlfriend needs at least a few decades of therapy – but still.
Another questionable thing about Archie’s approach? No lock on his office door, which allows Whale to burst into the session, demanding that Regina send him back to his own land and his brother. She suggests the missing board, but Whale assumes that her curse “only brought the living”. So Whale’s brother is dead, but he’s still insistent on returning to him? Hrmmm. Regina tells him she can’t send anyone anywhere, but Whale questions her: “Can’t or won’t?”
Archie demands that Whale leave, and when he does, Archie gets Regina to admit the truth: that she did bring both the living and the dead (which he knows because her father’s grave is in Storybrooke). The condition for Storybrooke travel was that they were significant to her: “I brought who I wanted.” Archie asks if she brought anyone else (dead), and when Regina is reluctant to say, he emphasizes the importance of honesty, because ”stopping magic is a lot harder than starting”.
But starting magic was no picnic either, as we’ll see. After she dispatched her mother through the magic mirror, married Snow’s dad anyway, she decided to get her Sorcerer’s Apprentice on with Rumple. In one of their early training sessions, Rumple has Regina magically immobilize a black unicorn, and her giddy happiness at her success is so cute.
Her happiness quickly fades when Rumple orders her to rip out the unicorns heart. Way harsh. If the extraction is done correctly “no harm will befall it, unless, of course, you will it.” Regina can’t go through with it though; this is the same evil crap that her mother did, pulling out the heart of her True Love Daniel, and the unicorn is innocent. Rum: “Nothing is innocent.” He does the hear-ripping himself.
Rumple gets super!Scottish as he explains about taking hearts:
(By taking away its free will. Which makes Regina having Graham’s heart that much more creepy, in case you needed that, because she controlled him and slept with him, which equals rape.)
If she wants to continue training she needs to think about what’s holding her back from becoming a real monster.
Easy answer: Daniel. Or rather, Daniel’s corpse, interred in a glass coffin (apparently that’s the only kind that exists in the Enchanted Land). She goes to cry over him and uses her glowy blue magic to preserve his body. Normal.
Regina’s admitting this to Archie: “he’s dead, but frozen, and I’ve kept him in my family mausoleum”. Super, super normal. Archie gives good therapist: “If you can’t let go of the past it’s still going to haunt you.” Literally. All of this honesty has been enough to bring Regina to tears, so she leaves; Archie can’t help her.
However, on her drive home through a crazy thunderstorm, she spots a figure staring at her through the rain. “Daniel?” But after a flash of lightning, he’s gone. I was kind of hoping she was being gaslighted, but unfortunately it’s less interesting than that.
The next morning, Charming has taken Henry out to the horse stables so he can learn to ride, which was another one of the royal-y things Henry was bummed on missing out on (like swordfighting). Charming’s learned a thing or two about parenting, so before Henry gets to ride, he has to learn to take care of his horse. The horse will tell him when he’s ready to ride. Charming goes to check on the dwarfs and their mining.
Regina heads down to the mausoleum, which seems to expand into more and more rooms each time we visit. She opens the doors to Daniel’s glass coffin room, but his body is AWOL. That’s an awkward thing to misplace.
Back at magic training camp, Regina admits to Rumple that the real reason she wants to learn magic is to have the power to bring Daniel back to life. However, “magic can do much, but not that. Dead is dead.” It’s not a pretty picture. Regina’s lost, and Rumple’s had his time wasted: “Transcending death is beyond even my reach.”
Perfect timing for Jefferson to appear and snark, “I thought nothing was beyond your reach?” Rum waves Regina off to conduct business with Jeff, who has found a crystal ball for him. “What about the slippers?” Jeff had no luck on that front, “heard talk they’ve already been moved to another land.” But Rum needed the slippers to get to that other land.
So, here’s the first murky sort-of possible reference to The Wizard of Oz. It seems like the crystal ball would be the same one that used to belong to the Wicked Witch of the West, and “the slippers” would be the ruby slippers/silver shoes. In the book, the slippers/shoes do transport Dorthy home, presumably to Our World, that of Storybrooke (but maybe not; see later), but fall off back in Oz (in a place called the Deadly Desert), so maybe everyone thinks the slippers are gone but they aren’t really. Anyway…
Rumple dismisses Regina again; he’s not going to teach her anymore unless she gives up on the whole Daniel thing.
He hops off to put his ball away, giving Jefferson the chance to move in. He overheard Regina’s corpse reanimation desires and says that, on his many and vast travels, he’s heard of a guy who could do it. “He’s a, you might say, a wizard.” Oz reference #2?
Jefferson’s willing to bring him to Regina in exchange for a universal Enchanted Land passport, which she can do as queen. “Can this wizard really being someone back from the dead?” “If he can’t, no one can.”
After finding Daniel out of his crypt, Regina heads to Dr. Whale’s office/lab (which appears to be down in the hospital’s now-deserted psych ward). “Dr. Whale, where are you?”
“Where is he, this wizard?” Regina asks Jefferson, “you promised to bring him to me.” Jefferson warns her about the Wizard; though he might not be dangerous to them, being unfamiliar to the way and magic of the Enchanted Land, things might not go exactly as she might hope. They head out the the castle garden, where a man is sketching a nice looking flower.
They go to examine “the patient”, who the doctor proclaims to be in ideal condition, “apart from being dead.” Regina asks him how many people he’s brought back, and that’s awkward, cause the answer is none. “What kind of charlatan are you?” The doctor’s heard that the last crucial piece of the puzzle is the kind of super-powered magical heart that can survive the procedure.
Regina’s not cool with doing any evil heart snatching, but she realizes where she can find a whole plethora of them.
Horror-brooke: Regina investigates Whale’s lab, all flashing, hanging fluorescent lights and broken things and bloody rags. She pulls back a sheet to reveal a dismembered arm, and when she pushes the gurney away, she finds Whale on the floor, minus an arm. “I know you took Daniel’s body and one of my hearts. Why?”
Dun dun dun!
In the Enchanted Land, Regina decided it was to visit home again.
No, to the super creepy sound of a gazillion beating stolen hearts hidden in Cora’s crypt. To their credit, both the dudes are pretty freaked out by it.
Apparently Cora “took so many, caused so much pain, it was impossible to keep track.” Get that bitch a label maker! “She was a monster.” An unorganized monster! Whale picks a random heart box and declares it “perfect”. Sure. Hope it’s not the heart of someone bad or evil or anything.
One-armed Whale is recuperating in the Only Room the Storybrooke Hospital Has. Good thing only one person is in a coma/having a baby/sick at a time. Charming heard about the incident and questions Regina, who is cagey at first but finally confesses that she went to Whale because of seeing Daniel. Charming knows how important that is because Snow told him that Regina blames her for Dan’s death. But if Dan’s dead, how is he back? Whale.
Regina: “He practices something more powerful than magic, or so I was told. All he needed was a heart, and he took one of mine.” Charming, appropriately, flips out: “you have hearts here?!” She’s like, yeah sure, in my fault, from our Land. But whose heart did he take (I think I’m right in my guess as to that being important)? She doesn’t know, because she didn’t buy a label maker either.
That just seems sloppy. And also, she knew exactly where Graham’s heart was, so I don’t know about this.
She needs to go find him, but since he’s obvious dangerous enough to be ripping out limbs, he gives her two options: tell where Daniel is, or jail. Regina guesses that it’s like when David woke up from the coma and went to a familiar place; Daniel probably went to the stables, since that was the last place he would remember being. Those same stables that Henry is hanging out in. It’s too bad Henry’s not a slacker who skipped out early on his horse-sitting duties. He’s still there, talking to his horse, trying to make it talk back, when all the horses flip out and Henry gets knocked to the floor. Zombie Daniel!
Henry tries to talk to him calmly, and Daniel mostly just seems confused, until Henry’s out-stretched hand makes him flash to Cora’s hand in his chest and he grabs and chokes Henry. Charming and Regina arrive in the nick of time, and Daniel drops Henry, who Charming pulls out and tells to run. Regina looks at Dan in amazement, while he looks confused and then tries to attack her. Charming pushes Regina out of the way and slams the stall door shut.
He tells Regina to use magic to subdue him, but Regina doesn’t want to use magic on him. She begs Charming to just let her talk to him; “you have to at least give me a chance.” She cries, “just let me talk to my fiance.”
See, this is where I get way less sympathetic with Regina, because of the horrible, horrible things she did to keep Snow and Charming apart. For her to expect any sort of sympathy from Charming when it comes to her True Love is bullshit. Of course, Charming wouldn’t be a Good Guy if he didn’t let Regina talk to Dan, but I wouldn’t blame him an ounce if he didn’t and just took Daniel down (especially because Zombie!Dan was clearly dangerous). This goes to the larger issue of Regina in general, because even though I do think she deserves help (like therapy), she did a lot of horrific things and I think does deserve to be punished for those crimes.
Enchanted Land: Jefferson and Regina wait outside a tent the Doctor has set up in a field, in a thunderstorm. The Doctor gets the heart, and tells them that he must do the procedure alone and goes back inside the tent with Daniel’s corpse. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
“He says he wields power greater than magic.” “Why won’t he let us see?” “In his land there’s much we don’t understand, or can’t. If he can’t achieve what you seek, Rumplestiltskin was right: it can’t be done.” We see the Doctor pull the heart from the box and appear to shove it in Daniel’s chest.
Regina’s face is hopeful as the Doctor walks out, but he failed; the heart wasn’t strong enough to withstand the procedure. Rather than returning to get a whole jar of hearts from the vault to have him keep trying until it works, Regina just goes in to cry over Daniel’s still-lifeless body.
Horror-brooke: Regina unlocks the stall, and at first Daniel seems like Daniel, and then he goes zombie monster and chokes her. She’s able to gasp out, “it’s me. I love you.” Which sufficiently snaps him out of murdering mode, saying her name. They hug, but he is not doing great. It gets way melodramatic. He’s in so much pain it’s driving him crazy. He begs her to stop the pain, to let him go, but she can’t lose him again. “Without you I’m lost.” When she says he loves him, he tells her that what she needs to do now is “love again”. He goes murder-eyes again, so Regina is forced to magic-hold him, and turn him to dust.
Enchanted Land: Regina finds Rumple in the woods with her “replacement”, but you can tell Regina’s really evil now because she’s wearing an insane black dress and has all her hair piled on top of her head.
She snatches the heart out of the red shirt girl and crushes it. “Now, where were we?” Rumple giggles with excitement.
Storybrooke: Regina, upset, goes back to see Archie, and confesses that she relapsed, and stays for some more, much needed therapy.
Jefferson and the Doctor are trudging through the woods, with the Doctor asking to be sent home to do his work and he believes their “deal is done”. “The deal isn’t done until he says it’s done?” He? That would be Rumple. Yep, turns out the whole things was a ruse, and Rumple used Jefferson and the Doctor in order to “create his monster” of Regina. Sneaky sneaky.
The guyliner is strong in this scene. These three and Hook should get together to swap make-up tips. Also, Jefferson’s face in this scene is great, so have some more gifs. And that last one! I want to see more of Rumple and Jefferson as weird, sneaky, giggly, half-crazy little bros.
The doctor’s payment for the deal?
He gets the heart. The Doctor claims he’s not making a “monster”, and he and Rum have a bit of tete-a-tete re: the doctor’s methods vs. magic. Doctor claims that what he’s going to accomplish “goes far beyond magic” and that he needs his powers to “transcend the limitations” of magic, but Rumple points out that he needs a magical heart to get the thing done.
Rumplestiltskin doesn’t make bets he doesn’t know he won’t win.
The Doctor asks to depart, and Rumple gives him his requisite warning: “Careful dearie. Just remember, whatever it is you traffic in, it comes with a price.” “We’ll see.”
Storybrooke: One-Armed Whale walks over to Rumple’s shop with a cooler slung over his good shoulder. He comes in, sets the cooler down and when he opens it, of course his arm is inside. “When they say I charge an arm and a leg, that’s meant as a figure of speech.” Ha!
Rumple wants to know why Whale brought Daniel back, and of course it’s because he thought if he did that, Regina would send him back to his world. He wants to see his brother and try to bring him back again. Again? “The first time ended badly.” Understatement, much?
Even though returning Whale to his world is beyond Regina’s abilities, returning Whale to his arm isn’t beyond Rumple’s. Rumple’s price, however? It pains Whale almost as much to admit it as losing his arm:
(Hel-lo bade David Anders arm! I wonder if he worked out just that arm to prep for this scene.)
“Always a pleasure doing business with you, Victor.”
I hear a theremin! And someone’s gone crazy with the de-saturation tool! It’s actually a cool effect, close to black and white, but tinted slightly blue (to keep people from adjusting their tv/computer settings, I’m guessing).
So. Dr. Whale is for sure Victor Frankenstein The question is, is he also the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz? Were the previous allusions red herrings to make us think that he was before the Frankenstein reveal? Or was it legit, and he’s both Dr. F and The Wizard. I’m hoping for the latter, or else the red herrings seem like the show was unnecessarily fucking around with us for no good reason. And we have seen a picture of flying monkeys in Henry’s book, so… and with the whole back&white thing, which relates to the black&white/color elements of movie Oz.
Before going on anymore about that, quickly here’s what Snow/Emma/Mulan/Aurora got up to in Present Day Enchanted Land.
The gang returns to the Safe Haven village after their castle adventure, with Aurora being a whiny idiot and Snow/Emma trying to force logic on her. Mulan shuts them up, because the village guard tower is sans-guard. They get to the village and see why: every is dead.
Mulan doesn’t understand how the ogres could have found the Haven, because it was hidden, but Snow notices the injuries to the bodies; they’ve all had their hearts ripped out. Fucking Cora. Snow’s adamant about stopping her before she hurts anyone else, but Emma sees someone moving under a bunch of bodies. They help the person out, and.. it’s Hook! In peasant-y garb. I miss the leather pants already.
Apparently Hook and Cora thought ahead and Hook’s been undercover in the camp for a couple of months, posing as a blacksmith who lost his hand in an ogre attack. Emma is suspicious, thinking it’s sloppy of Cora to leave a survivor and she’s not going to get tricked by Cora again.
She questions Hook as to how he escaped dying. “She attacked at night, slaughtered everyone in one fell swoop. When she started ripping out peoples hearts I hid under the bodies of those already killed, pretended to be dead myself. Mercifully the ruse worked.”
Emma: “So much for fortune favoring the brave.” She leans in, telling him about her superpower.
She gives him a little smile that is halfway between, “sure, I believe you” and “bitch, please”. Mulan starts on about getting away from Cora, and Snow about looking for a new portal.
Emma’s plan: tie the liar to a tree, whistle for some ogres and walk away. And it totally works! Hook gives in and gives her props.
Emma: “Is that supposed to be funny?” Hey, I thought it was pretty good.
Oh, he got so much satisfaction out of being notorious. Reminds me of another guyliner-y pirate.
The ogres are closing in, so it’s time for Hook to spill: “Cora wanted me to gain your trust so I could learn everything there is to know about your Storybrooke. She didn’t want any surprises when she finally got over there.” Snow thinks she’s can’t get there because of the destroyed wardrobe, but the enchantment of the portal remains. ”Cora gathered the ashes and is going to use them to open up a portal.”
He asks to be cut free, but Mulan wants to leave him to die, “to pay for all the lives that he took.” Mulan still has some problems with the whole vengeance/justice thing. Emma’s actually cool with it, but Hook has more to bargain with. Like any good pirate, he knows when it’s advantageous to switch alliances. He claims they need him alive and that they have the same goal of getting back to Storybrooke, and he’s willing to make the same deal with them as he made with Cora: he helps find a way and he gets to come along.
How’s he going to help? “The ashes will open a portal, but to find your land [Cora] needs more. There’s an enchanted compass; Cora seeks it. I’ll help you obtain it before she does.” Snow and Emma both think it’s too good a deal to be true, btu with the ogres nearly there, Emma decides to take a chance. Before cutting him loose, she makes him tell her one more thing, “and whatever you say, I better believe it.”
Emma’s like, “yep, sure, I can absolutely believe that he would do something like that.”
So they cut him loose and let him led the way to the compass. On the way, Snow and Emma hang back to discuss strategy. They both know it’s probably a trap, but, “as long as we know they’re trying to play us we can-” “-stay one step ahead of them.” “Exactly.” Like mother, like daughter.
They get to the top of a ridge. Emma: “Let me guess, the compass is up there.”
AWESOME. So excited for next week.
Thingamabobs and Dingle-hoppers:
- Now that we’ve met the Enchanted Land counterparts of all the main Storybrooke residents, does this mean we’re going to expand our Storybrooke cast at all, or are we at capacity? Do we want more characters? Sometimes it feels like the ones we do have don’t get the attention they might deserve, but it means less fun mystery of figuring out who people are.
- Who is Frankenstein’s brother? After seeing the Mockingbird Lane pilot, I kind of want Once to hire Bryan Fuller and have his version of The Munsters show up in Storybrooke, and have Herman be Whale’s bro.
- David Anders as Dr. F has a British accent, which is fun, because so many people think he’s actually British (because that’s the accent he had on Alias), but in fact he’s from my home state of Oregon.
- Have you ever played with a theremin before? You basically can’t avoid looking like a doofus. Oh look, here’s someone playing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” on a theremin. What a crazy random happenstance!
- This was the earliest we’ve seen Jefferson, pre-daughter, and it was great, seeing the less serious, more snarky/playful side of him. Seb Stan is doing such an awesome job with each of his small bits.
- Is the compass up the beanstalk the compass from Pocahontas? Pirates of the Carribean? Both? Neither?
- So, some people are all pissed about his inclusion because Frankenstein isn’t a “fairytale” character (that he was somewhat based on a real person, which is not substantiated), and this establishes that any character from fiction is fair game. However, there’s lots of examples of “fairytale” characters who were “inspired” at least in part by real people (see: Alice Liddell/Alice in Wonderland, the Llewelyn Davies boys/Peter Pan), plus we’ve already got Mulan. Second, isn’t it much more interesting to have the potential character pool be that much wider? I’m not saying I think we should see Jane Eyre or Harry Potter in Storybrooke, but what about Captain Nemo? Or Sinbad? Or Dracula/Van Helsing/Mina Harker? Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins? Or the protagonist of The Time Machine!
Basically, I think more variety = good, and makes sense long as it’s being sourced from fiction that is part of our collective cultural knowledge (aka, many more people can picture Frankenstein’s monster than have actually read the novel).
- This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I was watching Last Resort, which features our own Cinderella (Jessy Schram), and she finally had a scene with Autumn Reeser, who is amazing, so I tweeted about how cool it would be if Autumn would be on Once, and she replied! Aw, I still get excited when famous people actually reply to my tweets. #nerd
- Another very (not even) tangentially related thing, but I got accepted to this thing called the Disney College Program, which means that next April through August, I’ll be working at Disney World (and you should all come visit and we can talk about Once). There is nothing Disney that I will not be a part of!
What do you think? Is Victor also maybe the Wizard? (I’m going to be trolling interviews – and I asked on Twitter – to get more info on this; will update if there’s any answer) Are you glad we finally know who Whale is? Have you ever played a theremin?
And how freaking excited are you for next week?! It’s Jane Espenson (co-)written! Emma backstory, finally! Awesome guest stars! Promo!