Enchanted Past. Regina is Rumpy's magical apprentice, but she balks when he tries to teach her the fine art of ripping out hearts (which I get, because ew, and also he wants her to rip out the heart of a unicorn), so he sets her up. Rumpy introduces Regina to Jefferson, who baits her with tales of a wonderful wizard (while this story isn't that story, at least not this week, the Oz references abound) who can do far more than mere magic. Dr. Whale is a whiz of a wiz if ever a wiz there was -- and his name is Victor Frankenstein. It is rumored he can bring the dead back to life, but to do so, he needs a heart.
Victor is in L'enchantement, because he understands the disembodied hearts there are so strong that they glow. Rather than rip out a heart on her own, Regina raids Cora's vault. She and Jefferson wait while Victor "operates" on Regina's late love, Daniel, but alas, the dearly departed stable boy does not come back to life. While Regina's off somewhere crying her eyes out and purging her wardrobe of everything that doesn't scream Evil Queen, Rumpy and Victor have a mild science versus magic disagreement, before Jefferson whisks Victor back to his own realm. Regina resumes serving as Rumpy's apprentice, once she rips out the heart of the young woman with whom he's currently working. I guess it's emotionally easier for her to rip out the heart of a busty village girl than a unicorn. Meanwhile, Victor returns to his own realm with the heart he never tried to put in Daniel at all, and transplants it into his brother. We leave him in his castle, soon after the creature's hand quickens.
Enchanted Present. Emma, Snow, Mulan, and Aurora return to the Haven to find almost all the refugees have been slain. Cora has ripped out their hearts. Curiously, Killian Jones/Captain Hook is the sole survivor. Emma's superpower seems to be on the mend, and she gets Hook to confess that he's working with Cora to find a way to Storybrooke. After Hook is strapped to a tree (and is threatened with being left as a tasty ogre snack) he tells enough of the truth -- including the fact that Cora has ash from the wardrobe -- to earn some measure of freedom. He says Cora needs to obtain a magical compass, and then somehow that, in conjunction with the enchanted ash, will open a portal to Storybrooke.
Hook says he'll offer our ladies the same deal he struck with Cora. He'll help them get to Storybrooke, provided he can come with, so that he can exact revenge upon the man who cost him his hand -- Rumpy. Hook leads our gang to a giant beanstalk. He says they have to climb it, to find what they seek, but warns of the dangerous giant they must face after their climb. Now, call me crazy, but since magic beans seem to be the go-to choice for portal opening, and they're set to climb a beanstalk, I'm suspicious of this whole compass contrivance. Don't worry, though. Snow and Emma are suspicious of Hook and the venture in its entirety. They figure the swashbuckler is setting them up for Cora, but since they want to get home, and they do not want Cora anywhere near Henry, the best thing to do is play along and keep their eyes open. I hope Emma watched Lost and realizes that Hook may well be her Benjamin Linus.
Storybrooke Present. In hopes of convincing Regina to return him to his own realm, Whale takes one of the hearts from her vault and reanimates Daniel, but he's not really Daniel, anymore. He's a monster, and he means serious business, which you can tell, because he's already crossed "Rip off Whale's arm" off of his to-do list. Daniel makes his way to the Storybrooke stables, where Charming left Henry, so that they boy can learn how to groom horses. After Daniel startles the animals and tosses Henry around, Regina and Charming race to the rescue. Charming, in accordance with child labor laws, orders Henry to run.
Once the boy is gone, Charming tells Regina to magically subdue Daniel, but she hasn't used magic in two days, because she's trying to earn Henry's trust. When she balks, Charming says he'll have to shoot the creature. Regina convinces Charming to let her talk to Daniel. The creature storms at her and throttles her, but when Regina whispers that she loves him, it seems to clear his head. He's in terrific pain, and begs for Regina to put him out of his misery. She's reluctant at first, but a couple of minutes of watching him writhe, contort, and basically lose it, makes Regina realize she has no other choice. She freezes Daniel and poofs him away. Later, she rushes to Archie's office to confess she's fallen off the wagon. Meanwhile, Victor brings his arm to Rumpy and asks him to reattach it. Rumpy makes the man of science admit that he needs magic, then fixes him right up.
"The Doctor" is an ambitious episode that, by bringing in the Dr. Frankenstein character, exponentially increases the scope of fictional sandbox in which our writers play. I have to confess though, I'm more impressed by the serendipity of it all. This is the Halloween episode, so it's great that Frankenstein appears this week, but that's planned, so it's not what I'm talking about. What couldn't have been planned is that the East Coast is hunkering down, trying to ride out Hurricane Sandy -- which has been dubbed Frankenstorm. I suspect Kitsis and Horowitz of conjuring up this whole thing. Be careful, dearies. Magic always comes with a price.
I'll be back with the whole story, in the full recap, if we ever have electricity, ever again -- which the media predicts is doubtful. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where we're riding out the storm.
Hi everyone. Let me welcome you back, because I don't know that I've ever meant it more. Welcome back! I wish I could hug you all, wrap you in soft blankets, and feed you warm chocolate pudding. I wish I could restore power, rebuild your homes, your neighborhoods, and your grieving hearts. To all of you who are struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (including many fine folks at the TWoP home office), please know you're in our prayers, thoughts, and hearts.
People like to talk about all the division in America. It's there, I know, but I truly believe in what's good and true in us, and that is our dedication to one another. If, like me, you escaped much of the horror that swept up our beautiful Eastern Seaboard, I know you know it's time to step up. I know you're doing and will do the right thing. Don't let politics and the media make this feel like it's someone else's problem. A country, at its best, is simply a big family. Let's be at our best. Let's take care of each other.
I've got a job to do, and while I've never thought it was a world changing job -- even in my most delusional moments -- right now, doing it makes me feel particularly vapid and useless. It's hard to bring the fun in, when feeling vapid and useless -- at least for me. That said, I recognize the human hunger for art (not what I do, I mean this beautiful story Kitsis and Horowitz are telling us). I also recognize the need for escape. I'm pretty much an escape addict. A lot of addicts are dealers, so why should I resist the cliche? If I can give you a half an hour in which you can pretend that things are better, maybe that's something, so...here goes nothing.
Previously on Once Upon A Time, Regina takes a grownup Snow to Daniel's grave. He's dead because Cora ripped out his heart. In Storybrooke, Regina lets Henry leave with Grandpa Charming. She wants Henry to be with her, only if he wants to be. She needs to redeem herself. She needs said redemption, because long ago and far away, she allowed Rumpy to manipulate her into using the very magic that she's struggling to quit today. In present day L'enchantement, Emma, Snow, Aurora and Mulan realize Cora killed Lancelot and has been magically impersonating him. They need to return to their Haven. But hark, what fetid souls on Neverland's border beach doth ooze? It is Cora, and Killian Jones, a.k.a. Captain Hook.