‘Once Upon a Time’ recap: Dr. Whale, I presume?

Snow White realizes who their captive is.

“The Doctor” is the simple title of this week’s “Once Upon a Time” episode, and had long been a perplexing puzzle to those of us trying to figure out who all of Storybrooke’s residents are. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Capt. Ahab? There is even a plausible explanation online for Quasimodo. But no, the doctor in question was none other than ... well, may as well follow the show’s format and reveal it in due time.

We start with Regina’s desires, since everything that’s happened revolves around her tragic relationship with Daniel in the past, back in the enchanted land. Her mother killed him, and she wants him back. Like a magical Rocky Balboa, she began training with Rumpelstiltskin to do just that: bring him back to life. She progressed, but when it came to killing an animal by taking and crushing its heart, she couldn’t do it. Out moved Rumpel, in moved Jefferson, who, through his dimensional hat travels, knew of a man who could possibly bring back the dead.

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Back in Storybrooke, it seems that Dr. Whale has caught wind of the fact that the enchanted land is still out there. After taking a shot to the jaw courtesy of Prince Charming -- the sock stemming from Dr. Whale having had a one-night stand with Mary Margaret/Snow White -- Whale inquires about it, but Charming can’t help. He knows who can.


Regina, having trouble keeping her promise to Henry to not use magic, goes to see therapist Dr. Hopper. As they talk about what obstacles are troubling her, Dr. Whale storms in to demand that Regina send him back to his land. She can’t; he’s mad.

Meanwhile, in present day enchanted land, the femme foursome (Emma, Snow, Mulan and Aurora), find that all of the people in their village have been killed -- and it looks like Regina’s evil mom, Cora, did it. There’s one survivor -- a Mr. Killian Jones. Despite them not knowing Capt. Hook on sight, Emma was never fooled by his “I’m-the-only-survivor” act.

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In Storybrooke, Regina sees the image of her dead boyfriend, Daniel, walking on the street in the rain, and goes to confront Dr. Whale about it. She finds him in bad shape in a laboratory, with his left arm ripped clean off. Using one of her magical hearts, he was able to do what he could not earlier: revive David.

In that earlier experiment, Regina and the doctor met through Jefferson, and she gave him one of her stolen hearts for revival using something “more powerful than magic.” But it didn’t work, and Regina was heartbroken again -- precisely what Rumpelstiltskin had planned from the start. Paying Dr. Whale, Rumpel and Jefferson were in on the plan to set things in motion that would bring Regina back to Rumpelstiltskin for more training in the dark arts.

Back with Emma and the gang, Killian revealed himself to be Capt. Hook to the women, but also told them about the quest that Cora was on to get to Storybrooke and get back at her daughter. There are other things she’ll need besides the burned wooden cabinet. For one, a magical compass, which just happens to be at the top of a very high beanstalk. No word on where Jack is, but the group is going up.

In Storybrooke, Regina and Charming band together to go after the monsterous Daniel created by Dr. Whale. He’s going to the stable where Regina and he last met up. And, of course, Henry is there learning to take care of his very own horse. Danielmonster almost chokes out Henry, then almost chokes out Regina. Charming wants to kill it, but Regina wants to talk/save him. She tries, and gets through to him for mere moments before the monster returns. In tears, Regina dusts him like a staked vampire. She’s lost him twice now.

Victor is Dr. Whale’s first name! That is what Rumpelstiltskin, back in Storybrooke, calls him when they meet. Whale needs his arm, and even admits to Rumpelstiltskin that he needs magic -- and Mr. Gold replaces his arm with but a wave. But Dr. Whale is used to reattached appendages. In a final flashback, we see Whale back in his own realm with the stolen magical heart from Regina’s mother’s vault. He, with the help of his assistant, revives an inanimate body. Dr. Frankenstein has finally done it, proving to himself that science, not magic, is the more powerful force! But we know the rest of that particular story.

Next up: Jorge Garcia is the giant at the top of the beanstalk! ABC and its retro synergy is not “lost” on us -- so to speak.

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