"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. Oh wait, before I get to that, I mean to comment on the Whale/Frankenstein connection. That slim clue I mentioned -- the one that the supposedly unspoiled speculator used as the foundation for speculating that Dr. Whale might be Dr. Frankenstein, is this: the director of the original Frankenstein film adaptation is none other than James Whale. As soon as I read it, I knew the speculation was right, but it wasn't too long before I also felt like I'd been tricked into spoiling. So, there you go.
Now about our newly enlarged sandbox. I talked with friends about this early in the week. My friends Robyn and Ginger can accept (to some extent, grudgingly) that the different fairy tale characters live in adjacent worlds, and that Oz and Neverland, while not traditional folk stories, are sort of cut from the same cloth. Still, they're not crazy about the idea of making the sandbox so large that it even includes Frankenstein. They find it jarring.
On the other hand, I'm thrilled by it, as is my friend Jenn. Since Victor needed the Mad Hatter to get him to the Enchanted Forest Universe, I didn't find it jarring, at least not in a bad way. When we had Jefferson's episode last season, and he took Regina to that room between the worlds (and then to Wonderland), I took that as a promise that we'd be getting more than fairy tales. If Victor could have gotten back to his world on horseback, then I would be upset.
Additionally, while Chief and Nurse Ratched's Season One appearance seemed mostly like an Easter egg, it also seemed to indicate the fictional world will be as big as the writers can dream. Ditto the mention of Avonlea (in the first Belle episode). Most fairy tales tell the same story. Blasting out the walls of the universe to include all fiction, seems to me to be a good idea -- especially if they want the show to run five or seven years. I don't expect it will ever completely abandon the fairy tale premise because of who are main characters are, but I'm happy to know that the whole of fiction is now available.
My friend, Rachel, is impatient with the separation between the Charming men and the Charming women. She also feels we've had more than plenty of backstory focusing on Rumpy and Regina. She'd prefer if this season featured more current story -- one that honed in on the relationships, particularly between all the Charmings, since that's the true heart of this story. I admit to sharing her frustration where the family is concerned. The Charmings made me fall in love with the show. I agree they are the heart: strong, enchanted, all glowing and candy apple red.