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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “In the Name of the Brother”

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At the end of last week’s Once Upon a Time episode “The Outsider,” Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) is cradling the wounded Belle (Emilie de Ravin) after Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) shoots her. Out of nowhere, a car comes barreling into town nearly hitting Belle and Rumple before crashing into Hook. This week’s “In the Name of the Brother” picks up directly from that point.

Belle, who had fallen into Rumple’s arms just over the town boundary, and with no memory of herself, let alone her beloved, is now in the hospital while he tries frantically to reconnect with her. Hook has accomplished his mission to eradicate Rumple’s main tether on his humanity. Killing Rumple’s love, to Hook, is just as tasty as killing him, if not more so. (On the other hand, as long as people keep reminding him to temper his more violent instincts for Belle’s sake, Rumple will, stay more or less tethered.)

Hook and the car’s driver are also in the hospital. Hook has broken ribs, and the driver Greg Mendel (Ethan Embry) is bleeding internally. The good folk of Storybrooke now are confronted with a moral dilemma. If the Mendel lives, he can lead a parade of outsiders into Storybrook to witness the freak show: fairies, witches, werewolves and all. Grumpy (Lee Arenberg) speculates that they might fall victim to the fate of ET, to be poked, prodded and studied before being locked up. But if they let Mendel die, what does that say about their own morality? 

After a despondent Rumple refuses to work his magic in order to get the stranger out of town ASAP, all eyes turn to Dr. Whale (David Anders) to patch him up and find out what he knows. In the meantime, Rumple tries desperately to help Belle recover her memory, and Cora (Barbara Hershey) approaches him with a deal that’s almost impossible to refuse. She offers him a device that will at last locate his son, the only person, she reminds him cruelly, left in the universe who loves him. They strike bargain, sealing it with a kiss “like in the old days” (suggesting a past between them that goes beyond the mere practice of sorcery). 

Cora certainly knows which button to push to make him compliant as a lamb. When he quietly asks Cora whether she knows any magic that can restore memory, she brushes him off, telling him that she only knows what he’s taught her. 

Cora is busy in this episode; as soon as she handles Gold, she sets her sights on her daughter Regina (Lana Parrilla), manipulating her into giving dear old Mom a second chance. Both Regina and Gold have so much to lose that Cora walks through them both like butter. (And I still don’t trust that Cora’s kiss is just a kiss, and Gold’s expression suggests that she imparts to him something other than lip gloss; he looks horrified.)

The other part of the story is a continuation (or a prequel, I guess) of “The Doctor,” which tells Dr. Whale’s Tale. Like so many others in Once Upon a Time, Dr. Whale/Dr. Frankenstein’s story involves a troubled parent-child relationship. Victor is a disappointment to his father, who sees no use in his science. Again we see the Rumple-Whale conflict between magic and science, with Whale coming to the conclusion that like magic, science too comes with a cost. 

Of course, the cost of science can be the loss of magic in our lives. When everything can be explained in the mundane terms of blood and flesh and bones and chromosomes, the world can so easily lose its sense of wonder. Although I’m not sure that’s what writer Jane Espenson was going for in this terrific episode and “The Doctor,” it certainly resonates with me and something I think about a lot.

This is a fabulous episode, one of the season’s strongest. All of the main characters have important roles to play in different story threads.

I loved the richness and texture afforded by the high-definition black and white rendering of Frankenstein’s story.  Adding Rumplestiltskin in very majestic red (loved that costume) was a nice touch, and since Rumple is not from Whale’s Gothic horror movie world, Rumple’s fanciful (and colorful) attire makes sense.

Resident werewolf Red (Meghan Ory) and Whale together make a great couple. Both troubled and slightly dangerous, with monster reputations to boot, it’s nice to see them drawing comfort from each other. Anyone else raise an eyebrows (or spit out whatever you were drinking) when Ruby tells Whale she ate her boyfriend? (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, never mind.)

I have to wonder about that wrist watch Whale took off the Greg Mendel. Is it simply a trigger for a bad memory, or does that watch signify something else to the good doctor? Is it something Whale has recognized from another time or place? As Henry wonders, realizing that Frankenstein is no fairytale character (and not in his book), who else, from what other fantasy lands live amongst them? And are that watch and the Pennsylvania license plates a clue? What do you think, O wise readers?

And it’s clearly not the last time we’re going to see Greg around town. It can’t be coincidence that his name is Greg Mendel (as in the father of genetics Gregor Mendel). So what is he doing in Storybrooke?

Is it possible he’s a character from another fantasy land? Does crossing into Storybrooke from the outside makes you lose your magical memories the same way that leaving does. So, maybe it’s not that he doesn’t belong in Storybrooke, maybe he just can’t remember that he does. I could be completely wrong, but I keep coming back to that watch and its possible significance for Whale.

A couple things perplex me about this episode. First, Victor’s brother Gerhardt’s (Chad Michael Collins) hands look stitched, but he was shot in the stomach; his hands hadn’t been injured. So why the hands? Continuity error? Or is there an explanation?

Second, when Emma interviews Mendel, why doesn’t she spot the fact he’s lying? It’s series canon that Emma can easily spot a liar (although she’s not been quite as good at it lately). Is that because no longer a very wary, very cynical loner, but a loving mother and daughter? Has her spidey sense dulled at this point in the narrative?

Speaking of Emma (Jennifer Morrison), I really loved her scene with Hook. “You’re looking awfully chipper for a guy who failed to kill his enemy and then got hit by a car!” Hook is quite smug and satisfied, however, that he’s exacted an even greater toll on Rumple than killing him ever would have. “I killed his heart,” he declares. 

But I loved even more Emma’s rejoinder, “You’re handcuffed to a bed, your enemy’s still standing, he’s immortal, got magic and you hurt his girl. If I had to vote for dead guy of the year, you’d be it.” Great line, perfect delivery. There is real chemistry between Morrison and O’Donoghue in that scene.

I also loved the Cora-Regina storyline. There is no doubt in my mind about to whom the Manipulative Bitch of Storybrooke crown goes. Lana Parrilla really shows Regina’s emotions as she struggles to hate Cora, who is doing her manipulative best to reel her daughter in, as Rumple would say “lika da feesh.” But you just know that Cora is up to no good. All is love and forgiveness, sweetness and happy Mother’s Day? Doubt it. Just as Cora has, I’m sure, exacted a cost from Rumple (still to be revealed), she’s up to something with Regina as well. What is it? Anyone’s guess.

And now to the story of Rumple and Belle. I know many of you are upset that 1) Rumple would leave Storybrooke with Belle still afflicted with amnesia and 2) Belle breaks the iconic “chipped cup,” Rumple’s most cherished possession. Neither of these things upset me at all. I really loved the way the story played out, and I have to say that I was right there with Rumple, feeling his growing panic and abject terror that that cup would break. My heart broke for him when Belle hurls it against the wall, smashing it into a million pieces. Rumple realizes he’s lost her, and he is bereft. He’s so down, he walks right by the shards without even trying to collect them.

He tries so hard to bring back Belle’s memory. I adored the scene early in the episode when he hesitantly kisses her, perhaps hoping against hope that “true love’s kiss” would break through her memory.

But it’s no curse Belle is under, it’s amnesia. So it’s going to take more than a kiss. And when he returns later, imploring her to focus on the cup, which he has enchanted, my heart went out to him. Carlyle is just brilliant conveying Rumple’s anguish and growing panic throughout the episode, from the first scene when he heals Belle’s wounds and tries to calm her to the last moment, when he gives up, completely defeated, telling her how sorry he is for upsetting her.

As to his decision to leave Storybrooke, what else can he do as long as Belle is so upset? She doesn’t want to see him, Rumple frightens her, and that’s the last thing he wants to see in this woman he loves so much. If he keeps trying, she will only get angrier. I suppose he could enthrall her, but I’m guessing he wants her not through magic, but through her love for him.

As his sadness deepens so to must his rage against Hook also deepen. And as he tells Emma, the longer he stays in town, the more likely he is to kill Hook, something from which he’s refraining because Belle would not want him to do it. 

With Belle wanting him as far away as possible, and the belief he can finally reunite with Baelfire, which is, as we know, the entire driving force behind the curse and everything set into motion before Regina casts it, he must go. And so he does. 

So, where from here? Gold and Emma are off in pursuit of Baelfire. (I wonder why he wants to bring Emma along.) Cora and Gold have a truce, and he will not act against her. But I wonder why Cora needs that truce. What’s she up to? I can’t imagine it’s good, and if I were Regina or Gold, I’d be worried, no matter how sickly sweet she seems. Cora uses the word “snake” to describe how the Storybrooke townsfolk view Regina. Is that what she has in mind for her daughter? I have a bad feeling about Cora (and I suppose we’re meant to).

This week’s episode is also the perfect excuse to have the great Jane Espenson on Let’s Talk TV Live. She will be on my show tomorrow night to talk with me about “In the Name of the Brother,” Once Upon a Time, and her other projects. She will take calls from the fans. It’s the second time Jane has graciously appeared on the show, and it should be a fun and informative hour for all Once Upon a Time fans.

The series will be back on the air with new episodes February 10 as Jorge Garcia returns as the Giant, and Mr. Gold ventures forth into the real world to find his son in “Tiny.” Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • You are very welcome!

  • I love your review of this series! I read it religiously. Thanks so much for all your details and insider info.

  • WML

    I really hope Gold is not Regina’s father.

    The new cast announcements don’t really point to anyone being Bae aside from Neal, and photos from future episodes don’t show anyone new (yet), so the likelihood of Neal being Bae is growing, but with OUAT, you never know.

    Did I say that the more Barbara Hershey, the better? She’s a good actress, she and Lana Parilla definitely play off each other quite well, and she make’s Gold nervous. Plus she is able to play Hook and Rumple/Gold quite well. More Cora, please!

  • WML

    Barbara, that was an interesting talk with Jane earlier tonight. Someone had a question about why Frankenstein’s world is in black and white. I would think that the story is being told from Dr. Whale’s point of view – and it’s a story that he’d rather forget. Sometimes, we paint our histories in black and white, remembering either the very best or worst of what happened, especially when we would rather forget much of it. My guess is as soon as Whale begins to forgive himself, maybe even as the story of Frankenstein evolves, the world may be transformed. But then again, just a speculation.

    I wonder what the Belle/Bae/Rumple relationship will be like once they are all in Storybrooke. It would be even more interesting if Neil is Bae, how Rumple’s relationships with Snow, Charming, Emma, Henry would evolve. Seems to me that he’ll have a lot to deal with in the future, then we add Hook, Cora and Regina to the mix. I think RC will have ample time to shine as the great actor that he is. So much to look forward to.

  • Oops, I thought I had deleted that last line, I changed my train of thought!

  • Sherry. Interesting points. Right now between R and B it’s all his passion and love for her. Unrequited now, but…

  • They showed the knife last season when August was pretending to be Rumple’s son, right?

    One thing I was thinking about is why Henry was unable to figure out who Mr. Gold was during the first season. They never really went back to that – other than he eventually figured it out. It made me wonder how much Rumplestiltskin was in the book, if at all. And if he wasn’t really, why?

    I think they are leading up to some very interesting events.

    I was sad about the tea cup. I wouldn’t call myself a shipper, but I do like their relationship. Even though they don’t need a physical symbol of their love, it’s still hard to lose something of sentimental value, especially in that way. Right now there is no spark between them at all. No residual feelings on her part.

    I’m not a shipper, but I was sad about the tea cup. If

  • Thanks everyone for your comments. Lots of good ideas. I have also liked these post-break episodes a lot. Back to business and in storybrooke. Excellent. There are so many possibilities now with Cora (especially) and to a lesser extent with Hook in the mix. I also am excited about 1) Ruby and Whale 2) The relationship between Emma and Rumple and many other storylines.

  • Sharon

    WML’s comment reminds me that I have been wondering if Bae is grown up or is still a child. Although it would be cool if he is Neal, who’s to say that Rumple designed the curse to include the 28 years; that when Emma arrives is the time that Bae had arrived in this world. With this show I am expecting some twists, so I am not placing any bets!

  • Sharon

    That kiss from Cora has some kind of malice intended, indeed. Something that would scare Rumple, is really scary. I wonder if leaving SB will cause some complications brought by that kiss? Maybe he will lose his powers and become weak, or die if he stays away too long? Darn! And I have to wait three weeks now!

  • WML

    Only Rumple is immortal; both Cora and Regina are ordinary humans. I wonder if Rumple brought the knife with him. After all, if Cora or Hook found the knife in Storybrooke while he is away, that would be big trouble for Rumple.

    I wonder what a Whalewolf will sound like. The Ruby/Whale coupling would be an unexpected surprise.

    It will be interesting to see what genealogical lines Charming actually belongs to. He is, of course, the doppelganger of King George’s deceased son. Why is that? Oh, and it would be another pleasant surprise if Charming is indeed Jack.

    Yeah, I fell bad for Gold, but I’ve been missing the not so good side of him. Now we get to see how much Belle really means to Gold, as far as making him a better human being. And we have to watch another courtship between Emilie and RC, as Gold struggles to have Belle fall in love with him again. It’s obvious that Gold has found his true love. I hope the romance is a multi episode arc. Only through suffering will Gold’s soul be truly redeemed.

    It would be interesting if Bae first recognizes his father, punches him in anger for abandoning him. And have Emma help Gold up, only to see Neal standing over them. And for Neal/Emma to have their own spat, with Emma asking Neal why he abandoned her and their child Henry. Since Henry is supposed to be traveling with them, the family reunion will be interesting to watch, no matter how it happens. I wonder how Gold and Henry would react to their newfound relationship.

    Barbara Hershey is deliciously creepy and conniving! Will she be staying beyond season 2? And finally, Hook is beginning to fit the storylines.

    The after winter break episodes have been terrific.

    I would not mind more Whale. David Anders is terrific. I like Grumpy too. It’s great to have this dynamic in Storybrooke. It appears that many in the town would rather stay in the town – Emma, Snow, Belle (I think), Rumple (maybe), Red. Let’s see how this goes.

  • More thoughts: 1) Rumple needs to get out of town because he fears Cora. 2) He makes his warning to the gang because he fears either Hook or Cora (or even Regina, though less likely) will harm Belle 2) The look on Gold’s face when Cora kisses him: horror. Cold dread.

  • Betsy

    Honestly, I need this break to recuperate, lol.

    One more thing: Maybe being needed instead of always needing will make Gold feel better about himself. Emilie DID say Gold would be Belle’s rock. She needs him now, more than ever.

  • WML

    And based on the previews, it seems entirely possible that Charming is Jack. After all, he did live with his mother in a farm. The OUAT people did say that we’ll learn Charming’s real name this season.

  • WML

    I loved it when Gold told the Charmings to make sure that Belle is alright or he’ll kill them all. My question is – what did Gold see in the Oculus (or whatever you call that orb), Does he know who Bae is or just where he is? Three weeks to ponder the question and answer.

  • Betsy

    Oh and what I love is that for all of Gold’s eternal love for Bae, it’s very clear that his love for Belle is as strong. It’s really beautiful when you think about it.

    Getting out of Dodge was the right move, but Gold truly needs someone to take his part, to reassure Belle and to let her know that he loves her…..he’s not someone she should be frightened of.

  • Betsy

    Hmm, my comment was rejected. Barbara, you basically said everything I had said about Rumbelle.

    Jane was trying to be reassuring on twitter. I had asked her about the fact that Rumbelle love is so deep that it doesn’t really need a physical object as a symbol – which she pretty much agreed with. Maybe they are trying to move beyond the chipped cup? It’s very very clear that their love for each other is extraordinary and so perhaps now that Belle is alive and back, the chipped cup is looked at as an artifact of the past when they have their entire lives and future to look forward to?

    Gold, as some blogger mentioned tonight, was really on the verge of having a complete breakdown – like with Mo in Skin Deep. The difference is that it’s a living Belle who has been zapped into some sort of blank slate, who not just doesn’t remember him, but has no clue about anything. Because he has such a deep-seated hatred of himself and because it’s Belle who has believed in him for so long, he now has lost his anchor. He wasn’t kidding when he said in the car that he’d be lost without her. I think it’s really interesting that he would remove himself from the situation beause he doesn’t trust himself to behave appropriately. I think it’s very realistic – and I for one have acted that way before.

    I really think that threat was made not because he was going to act on it but because he has no other way of ensuring Belle’s protection and he had to make it perfectly clear what he expected. The Charmings are the only one he can count on.