‘Once Upon A Time’ S2 Ep 12 recap: Stranger danger

S2 Ep 12
Can Rumple save Belle? (Photo credit: ABC)

Last night’s engaging episode picks up from last week’s cliffhanger. Rumple rushes to help an unreceptive and frightened Belle, while the Charmings arrive on the scene and try to do some damage control. Greg’s (aka the “Mysterious Stranger”) life hangs in the balance as the Storybrooke Council decides how much of a threat he could be to everyone in town. Meanwhile, Dr. Whale faces his demons, both present and past, as he struggles to save a life and we learn more about his unpleasant past.

Fairytale Land: “I wanted you to have two sons again…And now I have none.”

Dr. Victor Frankenstein lived a privileged life, which afforded him the luxury to conduct scientific experiments, as long as his father, Alphonse funded his efforts. We quickly learn that Victor is the black sheep of the family, unlike his younger brother, Gerhardt, the fearless war-hero. While celebrating Christmas, Alphonse gives his favorite son a family heirloom, an antique pocket watch that belonged to their late mother’s father. Alphonse further insults Victor by gifting him with a commendation that forces him to give up his experiments and serve the military with his medical skills. Kind-hearted and loyal Gerhardt immediately comes to his brother’s defense and argues that their father should continue supporting his research, but Alphonse deems it all foolish and wants Victor to drop his quest for everlasting life.

Later, Gerhardt tries to make up for their father’s shortcomings by offering Victor the pocket watch, insisting that it is his birthright. But Victor doesn’t want the watch he only wants his father’s respect and approval. As the brothers head back home, Rumple pops up from behind the shrubbery and clearly has a plan in mind for Victor.

Victor sends Igor out as they start packing up their workspace and Rumple suddenly appears before him with a proposal. Rumpy is very interested in Victor’s work. He comes from a land with magic, but even magic can’t “restore life,” so he wants to know what Victor’s secret is for bringing back the dead. Rumple pours out a large mound of gold coins, far greater than what his pouch can hold, and he promises Victor endless funds in exchange for knowledge. Victor makes the deal and heads out to find a body.

Gerhardt discovers Victor desecrating a grave and fears his brother has gone too far. Suddenly, a guard arrives on the scene and shoots at the brothers. They flee into their carriage and Victor realizes that his brother has been shot in the gut, right above their grandfather’s watch.

Victor tirelessly fights to revitalize his dear brother, but his heart is too weak and gets fried during the procedure. Alphonse storms into Victor’s lab and chastises his son for causing Gerhardt’s death. Victor explains that it was an accident and he only wants his father to have two sons again. Alphonse proves his cruelty with another callus response, “And now I have none.”

Once again Rumple appears with a solution. He knows a “Master of the Hat” who can take Victor to a land with magic where they can ask Regina for an enchanted heart that will withstand Victor’s vigorous treatment. When we see Victor again, it is after the events we learned about in “The Doctor” and the enchanted heart has worked.

Victor proudly unveils his living brother to Alphonse, saying that he still needs some time to adjust, but his father is not impressed. He calls Gerhardt a “monster” and thinks that Victor is a “disgrace to [their] family.” Upon hearing those hurtful insults, Gerhardt charges his father to the floor and beats him to death in a fit of rage. Victor doesn’t hold him back and probably finds satisfaction in his brother’s act of defense, but a conflicted Gerhardt feels remorse for his brutal actions.

Later we see that Victor has kept Gerhardt locked in a room for their protection. At first Gerhardt feels threatened by Victor and jumps to strangle him until he recognizes him. This confusing existence torments Gerhardt and he looks to Victor to be released from this violent life. However, Victor cannot bring himself to killing his beloved brother. In a heart-wrenching moment, Gerhardt pulls the gun to his forehead and his eyes plead with Victor, begging him to pull the trigger. Dr. Frankenstein refuses to give up and vows to find a way to save his brother.

Storybrooke: “Looks like the world just came to Storybrooke.”

In this week’s explosive opening, Rumple heals Belle’s gun-shot wound with magic and she is scared out of her mind. As she screams for help, the Charmings pull-up and lead him away from Belle. The second he spots Hook injured on the side of the road, Rumpy pounces on him and starts chocking him with his cane. Emma stops him; she looks towards a terrified Belle and reasonably says that “murder is a bad first impression.” As they all begin to regroup and wait for more help, Emma peers into the car and discovers that there is someone inside. The Storybrookers realize that once the curse broke, their town opened up to outsiders and new threats.

The newly formed Storybrooke Council, consisting of the Charming family, Red and Grumpy, discuss what they should do about this new mystery man while they wait to hear Dr. Whale’s prognosis. Meanwhile, Whale is preoccupied with his own issues. As the hospital pages him, Victor is busy boozing in his office. It seems that resurrecting Daniel opened some old wounds (rightfully so, given what we learned about his past.) But Whale isn’t the only one going out of his mind.

Rumple is usually self-composed and ready to tackle any challenge thrown his way, but Belle’s amnesia has made him completely frantic. In a heartbreaking scene, Rumpy sneaks into Belle’s room while she is sleeping and he kisses her, hoping that True Love’s kiss can break the spell. Painfully, it doesn’t work and Belle lashes out at Rumple, yelling at him to leave her alone. It looks like Hook got what he wished for because Rumple’s heart is definitely hurt.

Speaking of Hook, Emma pays him a visit and has a chat with the hook-less pirate. As we previewed in a sneak peek, regardless of his circumstance Hook shamelessly flirts with Emma in a banter that is cheekily full of dirty jokes (including one about being handcuffed to his hospital bed.) But that does not faze Emma; she calls him out on his poor form and warns him to watch out because Rumple will get his revenge.

When Emma returns to the others, they are trying to hack into Greg’s cell phone. Some of them look to Grumpy for help, but he quips that computer hacking and pick-axe hacking are different. Emma browses through his phone and thinks he seems normal. However, Grumpy is worried. He cites ‘E.T.’ and ‘Splash’ as examples of what happens when people come across anything magical and he doesn’t want to be probed by a bunch of crazy scientists. Before they start worrying about it too much, they ask Dr. Whale about Greg’s condition.

Greg is drowning in his own blood and it may be difficult to save him, so Whale asks Rumple to magically fix him. He refuses to help and gives them a piece of his mind: “I owe you nothing at all. You all owe me…He saw me throwing magic. It is better to let him die…I don’t give a damn.” As Rumple storms out, they are left with a difficult decision to make. They go into to Dr. Whale’s office, but there really isn’t much of a discussion. Charming says they can’t just let a man die and he instructs Dr. Whale to save him. After Whale leaves the room, Snow is concerned about the doctor because he is “drunk off his ass.” Suddenly, Greg’s cell rings, playing the ‘Star Wars’ theme. They worry that someone is looking for Greg, unfortunately they can’t track the caller down because she is simply listed as “Her.”

Meanwhile, Rumple returns to his shop and finds a surprise. As he sadly gazes upon Chip, a box magically appears on his countertop. As he looks around to see how it got there, Cora reveals herself and claims it is a peace offering. The terms of her deal: Rumple helps her win back Regina and her gift will help him find Bae. What’s the catch? Cora says, “I want you to find the one person in this universe that still loves you…Like me.” Rumple agrees to make a truce and shakes on it, but she wants to seal their deal like they used to with kiss. (Anyone else puzzled by this flinch-inducing event? Could there have been a romantic history between them? If so, then eww! What do you think, Oncers?)

Back at the hospital, Whale is still in a daze, fixated on Greg’s watch, so Charming prompts him to get to work. Instead of work, Whale makes a run for it and Red uses his white coat to track him down. She finds him at the dock, ready to plunge to his death and she quickly catches him before it is too late (looks like she has wolf-like speedy reflexes too.) Whale explains that he just wanted his name to “stand for life” and it regrettably became the name of a monster. After what happened to Gerhardt, Victor realized that science also comes with a price and he’s been paying it dearly. However, Red shows him the bright side of their situation in Storybrooke. He has a chance to start over and fix people again. He agrees and they return to the hospital, so he can save Greg before it is too late.

While one disaster has been adverted, another one has been set in motion. Cora found out where Regina has been hiding and she pays her daughter a visit. By disguising herself as Henry, Cora manipulates Regina into letting her in. She reveals her true form to Regina and apologizes for how she has wronged her in the past. Regina wants Cora to make it all up to her just like she has been trying to do to get back into Henry’s good graces. Regina takes Cora into town so that she can confess. However, on their way Cora convinces Regina that there is another way to get Henry back. By working together, they can get Henry back from the Charmings. Whatever “thoughts” Cora has in mind are not going to be pretty, but we’ll have to deal with that in future episodes. For now, we need to focus on the problem at hand and see how Greg is doing.

Whale successfully saves Greg and he is ready to speak. Emma, insisting that this “group sheriff-ing” shtick won’t work on an average guy, goes in to chat with Greg alone. He is relieved to hear that he didn’t cause any major harm and he confesses that he was texting while driving. He swears that he doesn’t remember anything else and he appreciates being let off with a warning. With the case solved, the Charmings return home to finally get some rest.

During Emma’s conversation with Greg, Rumple was taking another chance on triggering Belle’s memory. He brings her Chip and tells her it is her charmed talisman. If she looks at it and focuses, she might remember her past. Belle scoffs at the broken cup and smashes it on the floor when Rumpy persists. Rumple leaves in defeat and returns to his shop to work on a problem that he might be more likely to solve.

Rumpy takes out Cora’s gift, which is a blank magical globe with a spindle-like needle on top. When he pricks his finger, his blood illustrates a map on the globe and the East Coast shows a deeper shade of red. The globe seems to be like the necklace Rumple charmed for Henry and Charming when they entered the fiery dream-world. With some hope restored, Rumple rushes over to the Charmings to cash in a favor.

Emma briefly fills Henry in on what happened while they were out and he is surprised to learn that Whale is Dr. Frankenstein. He notes that Frankenstein is not in his storybook and it makes him wonder who else could have traveled to Storybrooke under the curse. Moments later, Rumple barges in and tells Emma that she needs to uphold her promise. He wants to find Bae and they need to leave today at noon. Emma tries to reason with him and asks for a chance to rest first, but Rumple says that every minute he spends in Storybrooke he is one minute closer to killing Hook. Rumple leaves them with an ominous warning: “If any harm comes to Belle while I’m gone, I’ll kill all of you.”

As if that isn’t foreboding enough, the episode closes with Greg calling “Her” and saying that she won’t believe what he saw.

Hold your breath, Oncers. This is going to be a long three weeks until ‘Once Upon A Time’ returns with “Tiny” on February 10 (check out the trailer.)

What did you think of “In the Name of the Brother”? Were you shocked by anything? Has RumBelle’s predicament left you heartbroken? Do you think Regina truly trusts Cora? Will Greg cause trouble in Storybrooke? Do you think it is strange that someone is labeled as “Her” on his phone? What do you make of it?


  • Victor’s past in black and white: The change in color was a nice touch and worked well visually. These blue-grey hues have been used on shows more recently to contrast the difference between worlds and accentuate the darkness of certain times and places (‘Smallville’ fans may have been reminded of season 10 episodes “Kent” and “Luthor”). Rumple’s colorful presence emphasizes the fact that he comes from a different, magical world. His bright appearance also represents hope for Victor in one of his darkest hours. This was a particularly powerful flashback and all of the guest stars did a superb job. Gregory Itzin made Alphonse so heartlessly cruel and Chad Michael Collins movingly captured Gehardt’s tortured soul. David Anders was brilliant as well and gave his character a new depth as he conveyed the internal turmoil Whale has had bottled up for so long.
  • RumBelle: Poor Rumple! This is just too much for him to handle and he deserves praise for not killing Hook. Given that he is supposed to be a kind of villain, it is a huge deal that he restrained himself from killing Hook twice in one day, both times with good reason. Hopefully, he will be able to find Bae and fill a part of the void that has been eating away at his heart. Granted, it is still too soon, but Belle needs to be more open and receptive. You can’t blame her for cringing at a strange man’s unwanted kiss, but at least look at Chip. This is going to be a very frustrating storyline to see unravel.
  • Cora and Regina reunite: This isn’t good, Oncers. Cora is the most conniving person on the show and she is only going to corrupt Regina after she’s tried so hard to redeem herself for Henry’s sake. Storybrooke’s future has now been plagued by multiple threats.
  • Mysterious Greg: What is this guy’s deal? Who is he really? What does he do? Who is “Her”? Is he a government guy, a reporter, or just some regular dude who was at the wrong place at the wrong time? Time to look for clues and try to piece this puzzle together. If you have any theories, please share them below!

‘Once Upon A Time’ airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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