Once Upon A Time 2.12 In The Name Of The Brother TV REVIEW
Writer: Jane Espenson
Director: Milan Cheylov
THE ONE WHERE In the past: We explore how, and why, Frankenstein was able to create his monster – namely because Rumplestiltskin visited his realm and handed him a magical heart. In Storybrooke: Our heroes ponder the fate of the stranger who crashed into their town from the outside world, while a furious Rumplestiltskin (after a few failed attempts to get Belle to recognise him) gets help from Cora to find his son. Oh, and Cora manages to sweet-talk Regina onto her side.
VERDICT As we finally discover here, there isn't much depth to Dr Whale's Frankenstein backstory. It can basically be boiled down to this: his dad's a git; his brother's a goody-goody; Frankenstein tries to prove himself to earn his dad's love and to save his bro; he fails. But while we've seen this plot before (sons trying to prove their worth to their unreasonable fathers is a story-telling archetype), the way that Once Upon A Time has gleefully recreated the black-and-white gothic look of the Frankenstein tale makes it glorious.
Although, of course, we've even seen that before (in “The Doctor”), and so here it's given one more marvellous little twist... Rumplestiltskin turns up. In colour. Not only that, but he's wearing bright red instead of his usual brown, and brings coins with him that burn a warm gold (because he's Mr Gold, see?). In short, this is an episode that's very different from the norm, and also underlines Henry's puzzlement that the world of Frankenstein isn't in his fairy tale book. Which other characters also live out there?
While Frankenstein's scenes are a joy to behold, the predicament over the stranger, Greg, isn't as interesting. It also seems a little forced at times. I mean, come on, did anybody really think for a second that Snow et al would let him die to protect the town? And their paranoia seems massively over-egged, right up until the final scene and the revelation that not only did Greg see magic, he's calling people to chat about it. Yikes. Then again, Emma's conversation with him probably served to make him even more suspicious than he would normally have been: after telling everybody that they have to act normally, she marches in to see him and prowls round the bed like a panther, twitchy and nervous, making subtle hints about what he might have seen before the crash – even with a concussion, any patient would find her behaviour strange. Most weird of all? She doesn't even ask him how he is! Really, Emma? Isn't that the first thing any law enforcement officer would do? Or human being, for that matter? Empathy fail!
VOICE ISSUES Frankenstein speaks with an English accent, but his father and brother are Americans. What's that about? Was he raised somewhere away from them?
ROLE REVERSAL Once Upon A Time makes a deal about the importance of True Love's Kiss – after all, it's the base on which many fairytales rest. And so when Rumple leans in to kiss a sleeping, amnesiac Belle, you expect her eyes to flutter open and for her to say, “My love!” Instead she throws a wobbly and screams the hospital down. Nice touch.
IN-JOKE ALERT This episode aired the week that Disney announced that it had bought the Star Wars franchise. In an amusing, throwaway gag, Greg's phone rings and it's the Star Wars theme.
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE... While Greg could indeed just be a wandering tourist who drove into Storybrooke by accident, it's bloody odd that he gets phone calls from someone he's labelled as “Her” in his address book. Is it a nickname for his nagging mum, perhaps? Or are we not supposed to know who it is?
NOT VERY MENACING Aw, check out Captain Hook in his fluffy hospital bathrobe! He looks all cuddly!
NOT VERY MENACING 2 Aw, check out Frankenstein's sad “puppy eyes” as he watches his father walk away. Give him a hug!
YOU TELL 'EM! As we all know, for decades people have been confusing Baron Von Frankenstein with his monster, calling the beast “Frankenstein” instead. There's a lovely nod to this when Dr Whale says with a rueful chuckle, “I wanted my name to stand for life. But everybody just thinks it's the name of a monster.” Later on, Henry also corrects Emma when she confuses the characters.
CONFLICTING EMOTIONS Dr Whale has been a controversial chap right from the get-go: remember how he seduced Mary Margaret? While he's ostensibly a good guy these days, albeit one having a few issues, it's interesting to see how in his past he stood by and watched as his brother-monster killed their father. Never trust him, Storybrookers!
THIS WEEK'S OPENING CREDITS IMAGE Rumple wearing his bright-red outfit, doing a little flourish for the camera.
David [about Greg's locked phone]: “Leroy, can you get it open or something, hack it?”
Leroy: “You do understand that computer hacking and pickaxe-hacking are different?”
Frankenstein: “Who are you?”
Rumplestiltskin: “Stiltskin. Rumple Von Stiltskin.”
New episodes of Once Upon A Time air in the UK on Channel 5, Sundays, 8pm