Sometimes, the stars are against us and things just refuse to work out as planned. After a weekend filled with turbulence in my extended family and then my body deciding that massive amounts of sleep were needed immediately and THEN an internet outage ... well. I gave up on putting together my own thoughts on this week's Once Upon a Time and asked the very smart, very insightful Katie to step in for me. If you've ever spent any time in the comments each Tuesday, you know she always has something profound to add!
"Aww, the crocodile snaps at
the little bird. And after I brought you a gift."
"Yeah, did you bring the antidote, too?"
Dual-language puns! I knew Rumpy was my favorite. (Gift means poison in German, for those of you who had no idea what he was talking about.)
Let's take a look at In the Name of the Brother.
Most of the episode focuses on Whale/Frankenstein, with the Other-World storyline giving the backstory to the backstory we already got on Whale. Here we get a male version of the mother-daughter angst we've seen all season with Cora/Regina and Snow/Emma. It's interesting that the show connects Red and Whale as fellow monsters; you could also connect Whale with Regina, who could never please her mother and didn't want the future her mother saw for her. One of the great things about this show is how the same themes and conflicts play out in different permutations for many of the characters.
Black-and-white Frankenland with colored Rumpelstiltskin--fun way to prove setting and theme, or cheesy and heavy-handed? You decide!
We also learn something about our Mystery Man from Pennsylvania, who, alas, is neither August nor Henry's dad what's-his-name, but a totally random stranger (OR IS HE?). Greg Mendel, as in Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics!
The real Mendel was an Augustinian frier and eventually abbot as well as a scientist--the spiritual/magical world and the scientific/real world collide again! Surely you all remember doing his squares in high school biology (or am I the only one who used the same method to determine the chances my kids would have blue eyes?).
Does this mean we're going to hear more of how one inherits magical ability (a la Emma's newfound powers), or is it just to reinforce the science vs. magic angle of Whale/Frankenstein's story? Total stranger or not, you know the character can't be random with a name like that.
Anyway. So yes, the protection around the town is gone, unless Greg turns out to have an Other-World past. Our dear townsfolk must rally to defend their new home against external as well as internal threats.
Sidenote, what does Whale mean when he says Gold
"fixed" him? Did I miss something?
Sidenote two, this guy's internal injuries were awfully thoughtful to wait for Whale to finish having his existential crisis. If Greg was as seriously injured as Whale indicated, he should have died three times over by the time Herr Doktor gets around to the surgery.
Sidenote three, thanks, Show, for reminding us that Disney (ABC's parent company) just bought the rights to Star Wars. Sigh.
Some of this season's themes received major airtime in this episode.
Science vs. Magic might be Whale/Frankenstein's Big Theme, but in a sense that's what the show is really about: the difference between Fantasy and Reality, Magic and Science, and what happens when those lines begin to blur. In Frankenstein, for instance, we learn that science, like magic, can be wielded for good or evil, life or death, and that it always comes with a price.
Identity: If you cross the town line, you forget your Enchanted Forest identity and remember only your curse/Storybrooke identity. But since Belle spent the twenty-eight years of the curse locked in a pscyh ward...who does she think she is? When she loses her Enchanted Forest memories, what memories does she have?
The conversation between Whale and Red shows us that many of the characters, though they now remember who they “really” are, still struggle with their identities and defining themselves.
Parent/Child Relationships: The Frankenstein family, Regina and Cora, even Gold and (the still offscreen) Bae.
Cora appeals to Gold as a fellow parent seeking a reunion with his child just as she seeks a reunion with hers--and it's the same card Cora plays on Regina, later, when she convinces Regina to join forces with her in order to win Henry's love back. The love of a parent for his/her child is powerful (wasn't it True enough to break the curse?), but this season is really emphasizing how that love can be warped and turned to evil purposes like any other magic.
I am glad that Henry noticed that Frankenstein isn't a fairy tale and it seems that the Show is actually doing something on purpose with this mixing of stories, rather than just scrambling around for fictional material. I know the lack of strict adherence to Fairy Tales Only bothered many of you.
What of that exchange between Cora and Gold? We knew Rumpy taught Cora magic from hints in Regina's backstory, but the kiss! What's that about? And clearly we don't trust either Cora or Rumpy to be dealing straight with each other. Also: bloody globe. Very cool, but where did that come from?
the scenes with Regina and Cora. Lana Parrilla plays it perfectly per
usual, as Regina struggles with wanting to believe her mother's
apologies, desiring her mom's approval, but knowing that she's
a manipulative bite-your-tongue. (Have you read this Los Angeles
Times interview with her, btw?)
Frankenstein didn't kill his brother (Mercy--not killing people who maybe ought to die--was, I suppose, another theme of the episode and even the season). Are we going to see him again? If Frankenstein ended up in Storybrooke, did his monster?
So sad for Gold and Belle refusing his teacup test. Clearly she's freaked out about the magic stuff--maybe he should have tried another angle there. But the look on his face when she broke the cup--crushed.
And back to Greg Mendel, who's lying about not having seen any magic. Duhn duhn duhnnnn! What will happen now?
Rumpy's cashing in his favor with Emma to take her Bae-hunting--in New York? For Mysterious Stranger aka Henry's Daddy?
Unfortunately, we won't find out for another three long, agonizing weeks. But! Hurley the Giant returns! Hopefully Tiny is an episode worth waiting for.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!