In a Halloween-tinged episode, the series goes for the zombie effect. Sympathy for Regina is built and the question of Dr. Whale's true identity is finally solved.
In the Enchanted Forest's past, Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) tries to teach Regina (Lana Parrilla) to use magic. She's dead-set, though, on finding a magical way to bring Daniel back from the dead.
Convinced that her devotion to Daniel's rebirth is holding her back, Rumple brings in a Doctor (David Anders) from another land to "attempt" to reanimate Daniel with one of Cora's stolen hearts.
He is, of course, unable to brig Daniel to life (not that he really tried). Regina then gives up and embraces the dark ways of magic, to Rumple's glee.
In Storybrooke's present, Regina is trying not to use magic. But when Dr. Whale (David Anders) brings Daniel back from the dead, she is forced to use magic to stop her crazed, confused zombie fiancée.
The procedure has finally worked, but Daniel (Noah Bean) is suffering. He pleads with Regina to be allowed to die. Broken-hearted, she finally disintegrates him herself.
In the Enchanted Forest's present, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and her entourage meet Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue). Hook pretends to be a survivor of Cora's attack.
Emma doesn't buy it and gets him to spill the real story. He tells the girls about a magical compass that may help them get back home. Unfortunately, getting the compass involves a climb up a very tall beanstalk.
The Doctor returns to his own land with the unused enchanted heart. It turns out that he is really Dr. Victor Frankenstein, trying to reanimate his dead brother. He seems able to do so. It's alive! It's alive!
Dr. Whale is really Frankenstein! Awesome! The addition of Victor Frankenstein and wherever his 'land' may be adds a whole new dimension to the series. How did a non-fairytale character get stuck in Storybrooke in the first place? Will we start seeing more strictly literary characters show up? If so, it would certainly seem like the series is setting itself up for the long haul.
Emma finally got some of her mojo –- missing since she arrived in the Enchanted Forest –- back. She wasn't fooled by Hook's sob story, and she earned his grudging respect. Their pairing next week through beanstalk-climbing and giant-battling should be great fun!
The series continues to build real sympathy for Regina this year. Between her efforts to win Henry back, to detox from her magic addiction, and particularly her pleading with David for Daniel's sake, the audience may be wondering if she will really remain The Evil Queen we knew and loved to hate.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
Prince Charming may need to think of a good way to explain to Emma exactly why he left her child alone in a stall with a horse with no adult supervision or even basic instructions. Bad grandpa, David!
Please, writers, give Aurora some reason to be around. She could desperately use some livening up, and she's dead weight to both her traveling companions and the plotline at the moment.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
"The Doctor" was directed by Paul Edwards. It was written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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