Once Upon A Time Review: Broken Things
This week’s episode of Once Upon A Time is the first one that has genuinely held my interest during Season 2. It doesn’t hurt that it’s centered around Belle and Rumplestilskin, two of the only characters I still give a crap about, but I was surprised that they found a way to give Whale/Frankenstein a backstory that held my interest too.
Last week Belle (Emilie de Ravin) was shoved outside the city limit of Storybrooke by a bullet from Hook’s gun. She lost her memory, Rumplestilskin used magic to heal her gunshot wound, and Hook was struck by a car, then Emma, Charming, and Snow all showed up shortly afterward, and that’s where this week’s episode begins.
Rumplestilskin panics about losing Belle again, frantically leaving her side when he realizes he’s scaring her and going to kill Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) instead. The Charming family talks him out of it by reminding him it’s not what Belle would have wanted, a tact which still may not have worked if the ambulance hadn’t arrived at that very moment. They take the driver of the car, Hook, and Belle to the hospital for treatment.
At the hospital we learn that Belle is fine, aside from the memory loss, and Hook will recover as well—at least as long as Rumplestilksin (Robert Carlyle)—doesn’t kill him. He has a fabulously suggestive conversation with Emma, though, which delighted me to no end. I love it when he acts like a pirate, and I’m glad he finally stood up for himself as far as his grudge against Rumple. Not that it’s okay that he shot Belle, but still. Loving the attitude.
The driver of the car isn’t so lucky. According to Frankenstein (David Anders) he’s bleeding into his chest, and after he learns that the driver glimpsed Rumplestilskin doing magic, they all have a discussion on whether or not it won’t be better to let the outsider die. Of course the Charmings are against this and eventually win out, but when they go to order Frankenstein to do the surgery they find him disappeared.
Which leads to the Fairytale Land flashback of the week—or rather, the unknown fantasy realm flashback (which I still think is Oz)—which gives us the story of what happened to Frankenstein’s brother.
Viktor is the elder brother, cast aside by their father in favor of the younger prodigal son—the military hero and the son not a scientific embarrassment. The younger brother supports Viktor’s work, at least until he spots his brother robbing graves to acquire bodies to perform his experiments. When the two of them are caught, the younger brother is shot and killed, and (you guessed it) becomes Viktor Frankenstein’s successful monster. Their father is killed by the monster but Viktor still believes in his work.
Did I mention Rumplestilskin showed up to fund Frankenstein’s work? No? Well, that happened, but we’ve yet to glimpse how exactly that’s going to play out.
Ruby (Meghan Ory) tracks Frankenstein back in Storybrooke, saving him as he’s about to commit suicide. The failures of his past are coming back to haunt him, and he believes now that everyone knows what a monster he is, there’s no chance of having a happy new life. Ruby convinces him that, like her, Storybrooke and the curse is their chance to start over.
He returns to the hospital and saves the outsider’s life. When Emma (Jennifer Morrison) speaks with him about the accident he claims to have been texting someone. Relieved he didn’t see any magic, she leaves the room. But the outsider (Ethan Embry – yay!) makes a phone call that clearly shows that he did see something strange—and that he’s not going to keep quiet about it.
The best scene of the episode was Rumplestilskin going to see Belle, desperate to have her remember him. He can’t have lost the last good thing in his life, and when kissing her doesn’t elicit any response except panic, he tries enchanting their chipped teacup. She freaks out again at not remembering him and having no idea that magic exists, tossing Rumple’s most prized possession into the wall, shattering it to pieces.
The entire episode is about broken things. Belle. Rumplestilskin through the loss of her, his son, and finally the last symbol he had that life could be better. Regina (Lana Parrilla), who is still hiding out, not realizing everyone knows she’s innocent. Frankenstein and Ruby.
The question is, are the characters more resilient than a teacup? Ruby convinced Frankenstein to try again, but at the moment Belle remains in pieces. Regina looks dangerously close to allowing her mother (Barbara Hershey) back into her life. The most heartbreaking of all, Rumplestilskin, who might be ready to leave town and find his son…but what will happen if Bae is broken, too?
It’s a deep, thought-provoking theme that runs through this week’s installment, and it sparked my curiosity and held my interest (not to mention it held together structurally in a way the majority of Season 2 has not). We’re all broken, or have been broken, and there isn’t any magic that can put people back together. We have to find a way to do that on our own.
Season 2, Episode 12 “In the Name of the Brother” (originally aired January 21, 2013)
Once Upon A Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC
Images courtesy of Jack Rowand and ABC.