Once Upon A Time season 2 episode 12 review: In The Name Of The Brother
Once Upon A Time's second Frankenstein family episode fails to impress Kylie...
This review contains spoilers.
2.12 In the Name of the Brother
Form fits function as Once Upon a Time delivers an episode as colourless as its flashbacks. Our second venture into Victor Frankenstein’s past is not as cringe-worthy as the first, but despite a story filled with potential for heartbreak, it fails to make the viewer really care, and the result is a mediocre episode.
In a peek at the origin story of Frankenstein, AKA Dr. Whale, we are introduced to his younger brother (soon to become the Monster) and his father (whose horrid acting shines through bright and clear despite the lack of colour). It seems the show is attempting to portray a pair of close brothers united against an unfair father à la Boromir and Faramir in The Lord of the Rings, but there’s no spark to the siblings’ relationship and nothing notable about younger brother Gerhardt. Since the entire flashback plot hangs on that relationship, the whole thing falls flat.
In present-day Storybrooke, however, Frankenstein/Whale gets his first sympathetic moment in a chat with Red about how they are both construed as monsters. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to alleviate at least some annoyance over the fact that he’s been given another entire episode.
The showrunners make an interesting stylistic choice in presenting this episode’s flashbacks in black-and-white (well, all except for Rumplestiltskin, who is so BA he gets to be colourful). It’s the first time they’ve tried anything of the sort, and while I appreciate that they’re thinking outside the box, it seems out of place in this context.
The biggest problem, probably, is that the previous Frankenstein episode featured flashbacks to his world (is it our world in the nineteenth century, or somewhere else entirely?) in full colour. Now only Rumple appears in colour, and he even references the lack of colour around him, suggesting that the black-and-white is intended to be taken as part of reality and not just as a filming method. So why wasn’t it black-and-white before? I am probably thinking too hard about this, but these questions distract from the story. The black-and-white was likely intended as homage to classic Frankenstein films and the horror genre, but OUaT changes Frankenstein’s story in so many other ways that it seems silly to replicate the black-and-white. The show should stick to what it does well - fairy tales - and leave horror out of it.
After last week’s eventful ending, the hospital is seeing a boom in business. Hook’s poor beautiful face is tragically marred (don’t worry, I’m sure that won’t last long), and he uses the opportunity to make lewd un-Disney-like comments at Emma. Belle has lost her memories, and Rumple’s persistence in being a creeper results in the coldblooded murder of Chip.
There is also the stranger from the Dread Realm of Pennsylvania, who may or may not have seen Rumple’s magic and respond by turning all of Storybrooke into a freak show. This concern raises some interesting questions about what would happen if the rest of the world got wind of Storybrooke, but since the stranger is unconscious most of the episode, it doesn’t come into play beyond speculation. That looks likely to change, though, and it would be awesome to see some outsiders from the real world introduced into Storybrooke’s den of drama.
The most interesting element of the episode, though sadly not too prevalent, was its look at the relationship between Regina and Cora. In a show rife with mummy issues, this one is queen. Cora does seem to love Regina in some twisted, egotistical way. All her dastardly deeds on the path to redeeming herself in Regina’s eyes make some kind of sense, and figuring out how that works is some of the best fun the show has to offer.
Rumple uses a funky white globe to locate Baelfire, and next week he’s taking Emma with him to go find his son. Will we finally get to see what happened to Bae? We have to wait three weeks to find out. I’m having horrible flashbacks to those end-of-episode Lost trailers beginning with “In six weeks….” And those nightmare flashbacks come in glorious Technicolor.
Once Upon a Time returns on the 10th of February.
Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, The Outsider, here.
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