Sunday, October 28, 2012

Once Upon A Time "The Doctor" Review

I missed the first three minutes of Once Upon a Time because of a Hurricane Sandy update. I live in Philadelphia. ABC joined the program already in progress, which was in the middle of a Charming/Whale conversation that left me momentarily lost. Dr. Whale then stormed into Regina's office to demand the return of his brother. Somehow the episode turned into Regina's first attempts to master the dark arts of Fairy Tale land. There were some uninteresting elements in the episode. Anything involving Jefferson will cause my mind to wander. The random magical restoration of Daniel didn't entirely work. Henry and his horse don’t inspire hope for future C stories. Regina's involved in her second centric episode in less than a month, which is too much for a limited character especially when so many other characters are on the sidelines.

The Regina Redemption project is happening. Braided Fairyback Regina appeared in both the Regina centric episodes. Braided Regina means good girl Regina. It's worthwhile to simply observe the various appearances of the good and bad characters in both worlds. Jefferson's sort of slimy and untrustworthy so he appears like a frat boy who always drank too much the night before with bags under his eyes and messy hair whereas Charming and Snow are completely approachable with their wholesome looks. Regina looks like the Bitch Goddess from St. Petersburg, Russia, when she's Evil Regina, and like the sweetest rural Russian girl when she's Good Regina. It's significant when Regina removes a woman's heart with her dolled up like a beanstalk versus the earlier scenes when she's braided and unable to harm a horse. Season 1 showed only the Bitch Goddess side of the character, but we're to know the characters are both (thanks to Charming's speech). Regina didn't use to be a heart-stealing whore; she was a happy and had a braid. She wanted to use magic to bring Daniel back. Rumple told her 'what's dead is dead.' Jefferson showed up and introduced to a doctor, a doctor Victor Frankenstein specifically.

Regina's love for Daniel held her morality together in the face of tempting dark arts that would grant whatever wish she had in her pretty braided head. Love gave her the strength to reject Rumple's challenge to learn by doing. Victor treated the situation seriously and genuinely felt bad when he didn't succeed in reanimating Daniel. Regina stood outside the tent and sobbed. She went in and hugged the body of her beloved. The failure broke her. The braid disappeared. The hair went up. Hearts were stolen because her heart was stolen by DEATH.

Victor succeeds in reanimating Daniel in Storybrooke. Regina witnesses Daniel on the street and mistakes it for a ghost. Daniel came back wrong, of course--a monster, but a monster because he's battling excruciating pain. Regina is granted the one wish she had only to be forced to let go of him, using magic to do so which affects her redemptive journey. Love for Henry motivated her to live without magic, but love and compassion for Daniel motivated her to use again. Regina goes to Cricket to confess what happened. She's broken and desperate. Lana Parilla plays the scene desperately, like Cricket's a life raft she spotted in the open ocean just as she lost strength to stay afloat. Hey, atonement's a bitch.

The Dr. Victor Frankenstein revelation was and was not surprising. I figured out Whale's identity the second he corrected Regina's wizard definition. I never expected Frankstein in the Once Upon a Time universe because the character is Mary Shelley's, not Disney's. Public domain is a creative person's best friend, though. Jane Espenson teased the ending by declaring it 'the best ending ever.' It was not. Frankenstein's monster is going to appear in the future. Now that David Anders knows who he is as a character, I look forward to his interpretation of the classic Doctor. The last line about science might be a set-up to a substantially thoughtful theme of science's place in the world or it could be a nod to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I won't be surprised if Once's Victor is stripped of many of the characteristics Shelley gave her character.

Meanwhile, Emma met Captain Hook. Hook tried to conceal his identity but failed, and he broke when threatened with a flesh-eating ogre. The fairy-tale world story is lacking. Characters stand around and ask questions. Aurora and Mulan were active in the premiere, now they're background players to Emma and Snow. Mulan's been kicking ass for months, and she weakly submits to Emma because Emma scowls and repeats the word 'No.' Hook leads the women to a beanstalk where an essential magic crystal or jewel (what the hell was it) is for the enchanted wardrobe portal that'll take everyone back to Storybrooke. The beanstalk's Giant is coming to the show next week. Emma displays her sheriff skills and cements her identity and role as badass heroine of the series. Generally, the fairy tale world story is a bore.

"The Doctor" was one of the more ambitious episodes of Once. Kitsis and Horowitz introduced Frankenstein, told a humanizing Regina story as well as a Rumple/Jefferson story, and juggled those with Henry and the horse, and the Emma fairy tale stuff. It's an impressive amount of content for 41 minutes, and none of the stories felt rushed or pointless. No, wait, the Daniel story was rushed.

Other Thoughts:

-Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Frankenstein will always be my gold standard for the character. David Anders should deliver a good interpretation of Victor, but Branagh's over-the-top masculine Victor Frankenstein of the movie is terrific. Once will never have a scene as nonsensically masculine as Branagh in the lab, shirt ripped open, yelling, his golden hair blowing in the wind, as lightning strikes around him.

-Henry's anxious to ride his horse, but Charming says the horse will Henry know when Henry's ready. The plan is for Emma and Snow to be surprised when Henry's an actual knight by the time they return.

-Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wrote the episode. Paul Edwards directed it.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.