No, not that Doctor.
Normally I would recap everything for you in a nice, somewhat easy-to-follow summary. Normally I would talk about how certain scenes call back to the first season, or how this or that actor/actress did very well with difficult or less-than-stellar dialogue. Normally I would have something nice to say. “The Doctor” shifts that paradigm. I have composed my feelings into list form:
One – Do not name an episode “The Doctor” unless you are presenting your audience with a British man and his flying blue box. My expectations surrounding that word are already astronomically, impossibly, unattainably high. The uncle from Vampire Diaries wearing guyliner does not achieve that level, or really any small percentage of it. Even if he is Dr. Frankenstein and I think the eyeliner was, like, an homage to Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. I'm pretty sure he wore eyeliner in that movie at some point.
Two – This is more a note for the fictional "adults" who can't defend themselves, nor do they have to answer to the normal laws regarding child endangerment because I'm pretty sure, from a legal standpoint, that Storybrooke is now its own country. Stop leaving Henry alone in secluded, or even busy, places. Really, everyone in the whole town should know by now that he either needs to be duct taped to the seat of the car OR accompanied by a responsible adult at all times. James does not count, nor does Regina, because they have the emotional maturity and foresight of a broken chair. Give Henry to Granny for the week and then go off in search of adventure, magic or whatever. Bitch has a crossbow, she'll keep him from sneaking off.
Three – This one is actually a positive note for the writers. Thank you for giving us more Hook and Archie in this episode. I'm really on board with that direction, and hope that it continues. Am I the only person hoping he will hook up with Emma? Get it? Hook up? Guys?
I'm going to go back to two for a moment. Why not give Henry to Archie? I mean, sure, he let him run away and get trapped down in a mine, but there's not a huge chance of that happening again.
Four – I'm kind of sad that Regina was not reunited with her David Bowie-lookalike lover. Everyone deserves at least a little Bowie love in their life, whether through listening to his music or dating a stableboy with an uncanny resemblance to the Thin White Duke. Her character arc was remarkably believable, as was R-stilts' deception to bring her completely to the dark side. There was an unfortunate side effect of R-stilts involvement with Frankenstein and Jefferson: the philosophizing. The long drawn-out conversations about whether science is better than magic could have been cut down without destroying the plot, mainly because there were no original thoughts. Yes, this show is about faith versus doubt, logic versus fairy dust, but you don't have to hammer it home that hard. This episode sounded like a freshman philosophy paper. Also, stop hinting that Frankenstein knows something more powerful than magic. He's a DOCTOR. Of SCIENCE. We get it already.
Five – When did Disney get the rights to Frankenstein? Can I hope for an episode based on the works of another Shelley? I would totally dig an "Ozymandias"-themed episode, where they end up in another part of the fairy tale world in front of the ruins of a talking Sphinx or something. Going further, will there be a Dracula episode next Halloween? Will it be more tonally consistent than this one? All the horror stuff felt really forced, mainly because I don't think the episode started off as “spooky” - instead they took a sharp left turn into arm-severing territory. Once Upon a Time can do menacing – some of the early stuff with R-stilts was terrifying – but this cheesy, monster of the week stuff is just not the right style for this show.
And finally, six – The plot is starting to slow down again, which is good and bad. The good is that each episode can have some character development, as opposed to the breakneck pacing of the first few episodes of this season. I think we're really getting to know the key characters, find out how their histories intertwined and made the curse. There's also some hinting that Regina chose who came with her and left others behind. I really don't want to think about what it means that she only brought one non-white character with her to Maine.
The bad comes from the characters that have been developed so far. I almost want to see some new characters, or at least develop the new ones we've encountered so far, because I feel like I really know what Regina's about now. I think I know Mulan's story because I was a girl in the 90's, but what is her story here and how is it different from what I think I know? (Side note: if Shang is involved, I want this story ASAP.) Does Aurora ever stop being a whiner? What did Hook do in Neverland, besides try to kill Peter Pan? I don't need to be reminded that Regina was evil and is now uncertain about that being a bad thing, no matter how surprisingly well Lana Parilla does with those scenes.
It's also not great that this was the essential plot of the episode: a guy who was dead is brought to life and then killed again, Emma and company find a beanstalk they have to climb and it's probably a trap. Oh and I guess Henry might learn to ride a horse and Regina is going through emotional development and blah blah I don't care. I just want Sidney back! Cancel Revolution and bring back the best magic mirror in the biz.
Next week: Climbing the beanstalk – I hope for a bit of innuendo, since Hook and Emma are doing the climbing. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.