Welcome to a special Halloween edition of Once Upon A Time. This week features the Fairytale Land back-story of Dr. Whale (David Anders), the reappearance of Jefferson (Sebastian Stan, The Mad Hatter’s counterpart) and Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue aka Killian Jones) promising more guyliner than you can stand and a Storybrooke zombie apocalypse courtesy of Regina’s long dead love, Daniel (Noah Bean). So strap yourselves in for what promises to be episode you won’t want to miss.
It begins in present day Fairytale Land. Mulan (Jamie Chung), Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin, Mary Margaret Blanchard’s counterpart), Aurora (Sarah Bolger aka Sleeping Beauty) and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) arrive back at the haven to find it demolished and the people dead. The hearts of the people were ripped out leaving them to conclude that Cora had paid a visit to the land. There is only one survivor, Captain Hook but they don’t know who he is just yet.
The girls give Hook some water and question him about the massacre. His answers are sufficient but Emma is immediately suspicious. After Hook shows too much interest in Snow’s grandson, Emma puts a knife to his throat. (If memory serves, that’s the same way Snow caught Cora in a lie). They tie him up to a tree and make noises to summon the ogres. Hook has no choice but to tell them the truth that he’s in cahoots with Cora and that she is going to try to use the ashes from the wardrobe to get back to Storybrooke. With that pertinent information in hand, the girls leave him to become ogre meat. Hook then offers to help them by finding an enchanted compass that can take them back to Storybrooke in exchange for them taking him along on their wilderness walkabout. Emma is still hesitant so she asks Hook why he wants to go to Storybrooke. He tells her it’s for revenge on Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle, Mr. Gold’s counterpart). Looks like they share a common enemy. This little party just added a fifth member.
Snow and Emma already know this is a trap but they have the element of surprise on their side and they need the compass so they go along with it anyway. Hook takes them to a sky-high beanstalk (you know where this is going) where the compass is located. They must face the giant at the top of the stalk to obtain it.
Back in Storybrooke, Dr. Whale approaches David (Josh Dallas, Prince Charming’s counterpart). They have a manly spat resulting in David punching Dr. Whale in the face. Obviously, he’s angry because Dr. Whale slept with Snow while they were under the curse but one would think that there would be some statue of limitations on grudges. Remember, David two-timed Mary Margaret in Storybrooke so he’s not innocent either. Dr. Whale asks David several questions about Fairytale Land’s existence and he finds out that yes, it is possible that the entire land still exist. So he goes to the source to find out the truth, Regina (Lana Parrilla, The Evil Queen).
Regina in the meantime is now seeing therapist Archie Hopper (Rafael Sbarge, Jiminy Cricket’s counterpart) to help her deal with her addiction to magic. At two days sober, she’s off to a great start. (Is sober the correct term for a magic addiction?) As they are talking, Dr. Whale barges in, demanding to go back to Fairytale Land to see his dead brother. Regina is flippant and she tells him that only the living were brought back to Storybrooke. By this time, Hopper has heard enough. He orders Dr. Whale out of his office in a manner that seemed mean even for him. Go Archie! Then he calls Regina out on what she told Dr. Whale. Hopper knows that Regina’s dead father is entombed in Storybrooke so he knows she lied. She defensively tells him that she chose whom she wanted to bring to Storybrooke. One of the things she chose is Daniel. She keeps his body, which is preserved by magic, in a glass coffin. When Hopper asks her to let go of the past meaning Daniel, Regina decides she has had enough and leaves therapy. On her way home, driving in the pouring rain, she sees Daniel standing on the sidewalk and then he disappears quickly. Spooky!
Regina rushes to her mausoleum to check Daniel’s coffin only to find it empty. Next stop, Dr. Whale’s. Regina finds his office in shambles. Medical supplies are tossed about and lighting fixtures are hanging from the ceiling. She walks over to a table with a white sheet on it and she lifts the sheet to investigate. It’s Dr. Whale arm, which has been ripped from his body! The doctor, himself, is lying beside the table on the floor. Rather than ask him if he’s okay, Regina cuts to the chase and begins interrogating him about why he resurrected Daniel. It seems that the poor doctor mistakenly thought that if he helped Regina, that she would help him get back to his brother. What he found is that he resurrected a monster instead.
She takes Dr. Whale to the hospital where David meets her. David has just come from the stables where he was teaching Henry (Jared Gilmore) how to become a real knight. As he arrives at the hospital he immediately accuses Regina of causing Dr. Whale’s injuries. She explains what happened and tells him that Daniel will most likely be headed to the last place he remembered when he was alive, the stables. Of course, you knew the minute Henry was taken to the stables that this was going to happen.
In the Fairytale Land flashback, Rumplestiltskin has taken Regina under his tutelage. He teaches her how to freeze a person and rip its heart out of its chest. In this lesson he uses a unicorn in place of a person. Regina tries but she can’t do it, which disappoints Rumple greatly.
The next day, Regina returns to Rumple’s place for more training. He rudely rebuffs her and then Jefferson interrupts their conversation altogether. Rumple and Jefferson barter like Regina’s not even in the room. Jefferson gives Rumple a crystal ball but tells him that he couldn’t get the slippers. Jefferson gets gold in return. Regina is trying to eavesdrop inconspicuously but she knocks over a couple of flasks alerting the two to her obvious indiscretion. The deal is done and Rumple dismisses Regina as his student permanently. As soon as Rumple leaves, Jefferson approaches Regina with a deal. He says that he can bring Regina to a wizard-like man who possesses a power stronger than magic that will raise Daniel from the dead. All he wants in exchange is a royal passport so that he can travel freely. Anyone can tell that this is too good to be true except of course for poor, sweet Regina. Seriously, Jefferson’s acting is way over the top and it screams, “I’m lying,” which is a testament to just how naïve and desperate a pre-evil Regina is.
He introduces her to Dr. Whale who is dressed like John Lennon complete with circular eyeglasses, a dated black trench coat and a proper English accent. He examines Daniel who is lying in his glass coffin and tells Regina that he needs a human heart to resurrect him. Regina refuses until she gets an idea. She goes into her mother’s vault and nabs one of the many hearts Cora has stolen.
The Doctor performs a procedure alone on Daniel behind the cloak of a tent. The Doctor’s head bows down in defeat and Regina is once again heartbroken that her love is lost forever. This time the pain seems to have killed something inside of her. She shows up the next morning wearing all black like she’s a rock ‘n roll diva attending a funeral and convinces Rumple to take her under his wing again by ripping out the heart of his new protégé and crushing it. A delightfully devilish Rumple is pleased.
He meets later with his cohorts, Jefferson and the Doctor whose first name is now revealed to be Victor. Their plan worked. Victor got the heart, Jefferson got his passport and Emperor Palpatine, I mean Rumplestiltskin, got a new apprentice to turn to the darkside. They all go off on their merry way but Rumple warns Victor that one day he’ll need magic.
Back in Storybrooke, David and Regina arrive at the stables just in time to save Henry. David barricades the door but steps aside when a distraught Regina begs him to. He and Henry leave and Regina stays to talk to Daniel. Daniel responds by trying to choke Regina to death. She whispers, “I love you,” prompting Daniel to release her. Fully aware of his surroundings, he embraces Regina. The reunion is short lived as he begins to have stomach pains and it’s clear that he won’t be lucid for long. He tells Regina to let him go. She can’t but is forced to anyway when he tries to kill her again. She uses the same freeze spell that she used on the horse in her youth and with a flip of her hand, turns Daniel to dust. It’s getting harder and harder each week not to feel bad for Regina. The whole town is accusing her even though she’s making a conscious effort to improve and now she’s had to watch her one and only true love die twice, this time by her own hands. On top of all that she’s now no longer magically sober. She heads back to Dr. Hopper for counseling.
Dr. Whale, in the meantime, heads to Rumple. He needs his arm reattached. Rumple’s price is Dr. Whale’s pride. He makes Whale admit that he needs magic. Take that science! And just like that his arm is back, good as new.
Finally, the reveal that everyone’s been waiting for. The screen becomes black and white. Victor is in a laboratory on a stormy night, there is a body lying on a medical table and his assistant is waiting by his side. Victor pulls a lever and the lightning comes down bringing the dead back to life. Dr. Whale is Dr. Frankenstein. Wait! That’s not a fairytale character. Does that mean that later on down the road that Edward from The Twilight Saga will show up in Storybrooke too and fight Red for Emma’s affections? At this point you never know but kudos to the writers for shaking things up. After all, it’s not easy telling a story week after week about beloved fairytale characters and yet still make them three dimensional and keep the story fresh. A common critique in this column is that the stories this season have been predictable but I doubt that many of these stories could be told any better than they already were. This frightful fantasy gets a 4 out of 5.
Come back next week when Hurley (Jorge Garcia) from Lost reappears as the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. Losties rejoice!