Once Upon a Time, In the Name of the Brother: Monsters, Men, and Fun With Visuals (Part 3)

I finally got around to installing Google Analytics, so soon I’ll be able to get a sense of how many people read this blog, how many are new readers and how many are returning readers. To my returning readers, welcome back for the third and final installment of my “In the Name of the Brother” recap. To my new readers, please take a moment to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Speaking of Part 1 and Part 2, my blogging compatriot J-Witt was reading Part 2 yesterday and suggested that I include a tl;dr on some of my lengthier posts. Well, as you know, I have been trying to break them up in two or three parts to make them more manageable, but if I split them up any further I would probably end up taking about a month and a half to do one episode because of how the illusion of productivity works.

Still, I think he has a point, which is why Part 3 will include a tl;dr summation, located at the end. You can skip there now if you want, unless you’re too scared to read the whole thing…

Henry's handprint

The reappearance of Henry’s handprint is great because of the way it’s framed. It’s preceded by a line from Cora: “These carriages are strange…And something’s irritating me…” The character-from-pseudo-medieval-setting-who’s-unfamiliar-with-modern-technology-gag, ha! That’s something we haven’t had to deal with yet, since everyone in Storybrooke has been living there for twenty-eight years, for the most part with cursed memories, and Hook seemed to be taking everything in stride (part of being a suave and unflappable pirate, I suppose).

So there’s that moment of humor, and the setup for building on the joke a little more…and suddenly an object with heart-wrenching emotional value appears. Perfect–a perfect surprise for us and for Regina.

Whale nods to Ruby

That pep talk from Ruby has worked wonders. By the time Dr. Whale shows back up at the hospital, he seems as good as new, and he departs into the OR with a nod to Ruby. By the way, this was the part where my mom said, “Those two are going to end up together.”

This is in stark contrast to the condition of Victor back in the black-and-white world. His inability to kill his brother is framed as an act of weakness, especially since it’s the same act that Regina carried out in spite of her grief in “The Doctor,” the first episode to prominently feature Dr. Frankenstein. Besides which, as the Blue Fairy mentions later this season, “cheating death is the darkest of undertakings” and “to salvage a life beyond hope means breaking the laws of nature.”

Victor with gun

The “no spell can reawaken the dead” motif is something that I find personally fascinating. It’s frequently the limit of magic, and getting around this limit is something that’s often frowned upon, whether it’s Voldemort’s Horcruxes in Harry Potter or the reverse-aging technology in the Doctor Who episode “The Lazarus Experiment.”

To be brutally honest, I get the feeling that immortality is a sour-grapeism with society at large. We fear death, and so we portray attempts to escape death as abominable. It’s something I think about whenever I see it crop up in fiction, and if anyone wants to discuss it in the comments, I’m game.

Gerhardt with gun at forehead

But it’s slightly beside the point here because what makes Victor’s hesitation to put his brother out of his misery problematic isn’t the general rightness or wrongness of it all; it’s the fact that Gehrhardt explicitly puts the barrel of the gun to his forehead (which is as explicit as it gets for a guy who can barely speak) and Victor refuses his request. It’s a mix of love and selfishness like what you get from Rumplestiltskin sometimes. Also, it’s left wide open–nice.

By the way, given that parent/child relationships have been done to death (sometimes literally) on this show, it would be nice, I think, to see more sibling relationships on Once Upon a Time in the future. Victor’s relationship with Gerhardt is strong enough to be a driving motivation for some terrible actions and cause all sorts of problems–it’s plot gold. With its emphasis on family, Once is the perfect type of show to explore this and other types of sibling relationships.

"We're not a group sheriff"

The conversation about who will go to check on Greg Mundel brings to light one of the little complexities of life in Storybrooke. There’s already been the obligatory speculation about what normal people would do if they saw a werewolf running around, but this group is also abnormal in little ways–like the fact that Snow White and Charming have an apparently equal stake with the sheriff in going to check on a car accident victim. Just going by that, the fact that they’re having issues out of the starting gate, it’s clear that convincing this guy that this is a normal town is going to be an uphill battle (or it would be if the battle hadn’t already been lost…but more on that later).

Belle crying

Fun fact: Emilie de Ravin mentioned in an interview that she was fighting back tears during the scene where Belle breaks the teacup. It shows, and I had no idea that it was unintentional, but it works so much better that way. It’s important for the audience to see (and this is explored a little more in later episodes) that Belle is alone and scared, what with having seen things that she doesn’t understand and not knowing who to turn to for answers. Mr. Gold has lost his true love, but Belle has lost everything.

The scene where Emma questions Greg about what he saw is a little absurd to me, and I can never take it seriously. A guy is texting and driving, breaking a state law, hits someone, and he’s let off with a warning? And doesn’t seem to have any fear of an impending lawsuit at the very least, no matter how minor the damage was? I don’t know what country these people live in but it’s clearly not America.

Emma and Greg

Snow and Emma’s explanation to Henry of what happened is one of those rare, amusing self-aware moments that writers throw in when they realize how ridiculous things are and decide to embrace it: “Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook had a fight, and someone got hurt. We weren’t sure if Dr. Frankenstein could fix him, but he did.” A phrase you’ll only ever hear from either Once Upon a Time or a very imaginative nine-year-old with a nice range of action figures.

There isn’t much to be said about Mr. Gold’s visit to Emma and the others–it’s basically an extended penultimate-scene lead-in for the next story arc. His intention to hold back on killing Hook could be seen as character development, but his threat to kill all of the Charmings does sort of put a damper on it.

Greg on the phone

Finally, we see Greg alone in the hospital, and it turns out…he saw Mr. Gold using magic! Which, of course, raises some wonderfully inconvenient questions. Would it have been better to let him die? Is the whole town now in danger because of the main characters’ act of mercy? Well, at least if anyone gets killed in the upcoming episodes, they’ll have Dr. Frankenstein there to bring them back…

tl;dr: Bringing people back from the dead equals bad, Ruby and Dr. Whale make a cute couple, Emma and her parents are not a group sheriff, and this entire show is as weird as a weird episode of Doctor Who.

2 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time, In the Name of the Brother: Monsters, Men, and Fun With Visuals (Part 3)

  1. More sibling stuff for sure. Dr. Whale episodes in black and white world were amazing.

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