Once Upon A Time 2.05 “The Doctor” TV REVIEW
Writers: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
Director: Paul Edwards
THE ONE WHERE In the past: We see Regina learning the ways of magic under Rumplestiltskin's tuition before trying to bring her beloved Daniel back from the dead. In Storybrooke: Daniel actually does rise from the dead and goes on a monstrous rampage. In the Enchanted Forest: Hook leads our heroes to a beanstalk so that they can find an enchanted compass and get home.
VERDICT This is an episode of two halves: one of them excellent, and the other rather feeble, which is the reason for its average star rating. The feeble half is the sudden appearance of Regina's one true love, Daniel, who always seemed a bit wishy-washy for her back when he was alive (probably no fault of the actor; sometimes chemistry between characters just doesn't work out). Alas, as a dead, reanimated monster, he's still wishy-washy... And for a creature who's supposed to be terrifying, it's hard to take him seriously as he staggers around wearing a New Romantic outfit like an extra from a Duran Duran video. He doesn't even seem dangerous when he lifts Henry in the air and tries to strangle him, and that's a fatal flaw for the week's twisted villain. Oh dear.
Still, Lana Parrilla – as ever – is exceptional as she weeps for her lost love, and by the time he asks her to kill him some semblance of drama is regained, making their final scene rather touching. The fact that she's started to visit Dr Hopper to get therapy for her bad ways is a fascinating touch, too, and hints that perhaps Regina may face some kind of redemption this season... although we'll believe it when we see it.
The other half of the plot is way, way better, with the identity of Storybrooke's Dr Whale finally revealed. He's really Victor Frankenstein, and the show goes gloriously gothic for its final few minutes as we visit his lab and see him reanimate his brother – all in perfect black and white (magical red heart aside). This is Once Upon A Time at its very best: taking stories we don't necessarily see as fairy tales and mixing them in with the rest. It also inspires some fascinating discussions, as Whale and Rumplestiltskin argue over whether science is better than magic. An absolute joy!
DID YOU SPOT...? Most Storybrooke characters have names that playfully riff off their fairy tale counterparts, and Dr Whale is no exception. James Whale, of course, was the director of Frankenstein and Bride Of Frankenstein , so lovingly homaged in this episode's finale.
SILENT PARTNER Poor Aurora spends this entire episode virtually speechless, following Emma and Mary Margaret around like a lost puppy. Isn't it about time someone gave her something to do?
CORA CARNAGE Cora wipes out an entire village by ripping out their hearts, leaving bodies lying everywhere. Clearly this is a woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants...
SUSPICIOUS MINDS Hook tries to trick everybody into thinking he's an innocent survivor of the massacre, but Emma sees through him in an instant – even tying him to a tree and summoning an ogre so that he'll finally ’fess up. It's nice to see that while Emma may be out of her depth in a land of fairy tales, she knows a lying pirate when she sees one.
BOY'S TOYS David presents Henry with his very own horse and tells him he needs to learn to ride it. Okay, so first he has to look after the animal (it's always good to teach kids responsibility, isn't it?) but unless Henry's willing to wait years , all we can think is that the horse is absolutely enormous. Er, maybe you could buy him a little Shetland pony in the meantime, Charming?
THIS WEEK'S OPENING CREDITS IMAGE... A lightning bolt hits the logo, which seems very underwhelming until the final scene and realise hat that lightning bolt is bringing to life.
Regina: “Take your pick.”
Whale: “These are all... hearts?”
Regina: “My mother was a collector.”
Victor: “It's alive!”
New episodes of Once Upon A Time air in the UK on Channel 5, Sundays, 8pm