Dr. Whale’s identity is finally revealed to be Dr. Frankenstein, which I find an interesting move by the show writers. Up until now, we’ve only seen characters from fairy tales and well-known bedtime stories like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. But Dr. Frankenstein? Did anyone ever pick Mary Shelley’s famous novel to put their kid to sleep? Of course, maybe there are parents out there who get an enjoyment out of potentially giving their little tykes nightmares.
Regina is trying to prove to Henry that she’s making an effort to redeem herself, and chooses to show it by giving up magic. But when she is finding the process to be difficult, she goes to Archie/Jiminy for guidance. During her session, she admits she has kept Daniel’s body preserved within her family mausoleum, which is both touching and a bit creepy. However, we also learn through flashbacks that Regina’s original intent of learning magic from Rumpelstiltskin was because she was hoping to find a way to bring Daniel back. But Rumple informs her that ‘dead is dead,’ and refuses to teach her anymore. Thanks to Jefferson/the Mad Hatter, who makes surprise reappearance in this episode’s flashback, Regina learns of the existence of Dr. Frankenstein, who lives in a different world. Using a heart taken from Cora’s collection, Dr. Frankenstein attempts to resurrect Daniel. Now, I find this a bit risky in general. Regina even states straight out that she has no idea who any of the hearts belong to, since Cora clearly didn’t believe in a filing system. Which meant they were virtually playing a game of Russian Roulette with these hearts. For all they knew, they might have ended up selecting Abby Normal’s heart. (Yeah, I know; that joke was probably in poor taste. My apologies. But I’m not the only one who feels this way, as David/Charming also clearly is of the same frame of mind about it when he hears of such a thing in present-day Storybrooke.) Anyway, Dr. Frankenstein informs Regina that his attempt to bring Daniel back failed, prompting Regina to return to Rumpelstiltskin to continue training in magic his way. Which sadly ultimately leads to Regina practically becoming Cora 2.0. (Regina even admits to having a collection of hearts like her mother did. So much for her desire to not become her mother.) This conclusion is even sadder when we see Dr. Frankenstein failed on purpose, as Rumpelstiltskin instructed him to do so, in exchange for obtaining one of Cora’s hearts for use in his famous experiment. It’s this that further proves how much of a twisted puppet master Rumpelstiltskin is. He concocted this whole thing to force Regina to continue down the path of learning dark magic from him. He knew that doing so would ultimately lead to Regina casting the curse that created Storybrooke; don’t try and tell me otherwise.
In the present, Dr. Whale/Frankenstein, who has learned from David/Charming that the Enchanted Forest still exists, manages to abduct Daniel’s body. It’s here the episode goes absolutely bonkers. Dr. Whale/Frankenstein manages to bring Daniel back to life, because this time a) nothing’s holding him back and b) he’s hoping that by giving Regina what she wants, she’ll return him to his own world. But the resurrected Daniel goes berserk. Even rips off Dr. Whale’s arm. While he gets it back later by getting Rumpelstiltskin/Gold to magically reattach it, it doesn’t change the fact that we get an eyeful of his bloodstained dismembered arm lying on a table. (As the Nostalgia Critic would say: 'you know, for kids!')
Regina surmises that, much like how David/Charming made his way to the T(r)oll Bridge after waking up from his coma, Daniel might be making his way to a place he remembers- the stables. This is a problem, however, as David/Charming had left Henry there so Henry could bond with his new horse. What follows is a rather heart-wrenching scene, in which Regina is forced to pull an Old Yeller on Daniel, whose resurrected body is, from what I can gather, incompatible with the heart used in Dr. Whale/Frankenstein’s procedure.
We also get some more grandfather/grandson bonding between David/Charming and Henry, which is always welcome. For as much plot-related stuff that this show goes through, which I do enjoy, it’s still great to see our characters taking the time to actually be a family. Plus we get a nice little Oz reference in the scene when Rumpelstiltskin is conversing with Jefferson/the Mad Hatter when the latter delivers a glass orb (which I can’t really remember if it’s served a purpose yet.) This is the third time Oz has been referenced in this show. (Well, four if you count Regina saying ‘I don’t care if they turn me green’ in ‘We are Both,’ which is ironic in itself considering….well, you’ll see when we get to the second half of season 3.)
First, we saw a brief glimpse of an illustration of flying monkeys in Henry’s book back in ‘Snow Falls’. Then, in ‘The Hat Trick,’ we see a green curtain door in the Room of Doors that is accessed through Jefferson’s magic hat. Just makes you wonder if the show writers knew we’d eventually actually go there.
While all this is going on, Emma, Mary Margret/Snow, Mulan and Aurora discover the village of Enchanted Forest’s refuges has been attacked by Cora during their absence, and everyone living there is now dead. The only survivor is a man Mulan recognizes as a blacksmith who had been living among them for some time, but because of Emma’s lie-detecting ‘superpower’(after Emma messed up last time with the whole ogre + gun incident, it’s was really nice to see her get back to her take-charge state that we saw spring up with Ryan the Embezzler in the pilot and Regina’s apple tree in ‘The Thing You Love Most.’ She was just in her element in this episode, and I do enjoy seeing that), the four women discover that this blacksmith is actually Killian Jones/Captain Hook, who had been instructed by Cora to infiltrate their group. Once he sees that the jig is up, Hook announces that he’s willing to help them instead and informs them of Cora’s plan to journey to Storybrooke using the ashes of the magical wardrobe (which Emma had burned two episodes ago) and an enchanted compass that is located at the top of a beanstalk. Hook offers to help them obtain the compass before Cora can in exchange for them bringing him back to Storybrooke so he can get his revenge on Rumpelstiltskin. While seeing Hook interacting with our heroes in this episode is fun to watch, it’s not until the next one that things really get interesting.