Another episode of Once Upon a Time has gone by without a single mention of what is happening to Aurora and Mulan in the present day Enchanted Forest. But, other than that, “In the Name of the Brother” is a very good episode.
This episode focuses mostly on Dr. Whale and his past struggles as Dr. Viktor Frankenstein in his home world. For the first time in Once Upon a Time’s run, Dr. Whale is actually something of a sympathetic character. His interest in raising the dead stems from his dead mother and his father’s disapproval, but it quickly descends to full blown obsession when his work gets his younger brother killed. Gerhardt is revived, but is monstrous. The resulting fall-out from this keeps Dr. Whale from performing his duties at the hospital in the present day Storybrooke.
Dr. Whale’s storyline comes into play, as the driver who hit Hook in “The Outsider” is in desperate need of medical attention. In addition to Dr. Whale’s struggles, they have to confront what it means to have an outsider from Storybrooke in town, especially one who saw magic. This debate feels forced. Of course, there is a legitimate fear what would happen if magic leaked outside of Storybrooke. However, the debate is almost entirely between the heroes. There is only one answer: the driver must be saved. It’s the good and right thing to do.
The really great thing about this episode, though, is that Cora finally reveals herself to Rumpelstiltskin and Regina. Her part is brief, but she expertly manipulates the two and it’s awesome. Cora gives Rumpelstiltskin to finally find Baelfire, drawing him away from Belle and her recent memory loss. At the end of the episode, he abducts Emma to go on this journey. Meanwhile, Cora seduces Regina away from her path of redemption by promising her the return of her son.
“In the Name of the Brother” is great because it excels at dealing with the familial bonds. Once Upon a Time is always best when it’s working with those strong bonds that it’s created. But it’s also great because it set up enough questions to sustain the audience through its break until it comes back on February 10.