This year OUAT made a vague attempt at a Halloween episode, but what they achieved was a heartbreaking Regina episode that showcased how amazing an actress Lana Parilla is.
The episode began in the magical lands with Emma, Snow, Aurora and Mulan returning to their safe haven, only to discover that Cora had been there already. Everyone had been killed, their hearts removed, as is Cora’s style. In the rubble they do find one survivor: Hook.
In Storybrooke, Charming is approached by Doctor Whale who demands to know if Charming is really looking for a portal back to his world. He then asks if all the old lands still exist. Apparently Whale, whoever he was, was not from the same place as the rest of them.
Meanwhile, Regina makes a visit to Archie. Apparently she is attempting to stop using magic, per her promise to Henry. She is trying but seems to keep failing. She’s an recovering addict. Whale walks in, demanding Regina send him back to his home and his deceased brother, mentioning that the curse only sent the living. Archie forces him out, but then questions Regina. He knows she brought some dead with her, like her father. She also admits she brought “who she wanted,” meaning her father and her fiancé Daniel.
A flashback shows Rumpel training Regina to use magic. He demands she take the heart of a unicorn and then kill it, but she says she cannot. She doesn’t want to be like her mother, whose specialty was hearts. Rumpel asks what is holding her back. When Regina visits Daniel’s grave, a glass coffin that shows his magically preserved body, we can figure out what her problem is.
Regina leaves Archie’s office, driving home in the rain, and sees Daniel’s ghost.
In an interlude, Charming takes Henry to the stables to train him to be a “proper knight” by the time they get Snow and Emma back. But instead of riding a horse, he has to come twice a day to clean its stall and take care of it. Charming is very much a princely Mr. Miyagi.
Cutting back to Regina, we see her check her mausoleum only to discover that Daniel’s body is missing.
Flashback to Rumpel’s house, where he asks Regina what she really wants. “Can you teach me how to use magic to bring back the dead?” Apparently no. At that moment, Jefferson appears with something for Rumpel. He overhears Rumpel telling Regina to leave, that he cannot teach her while she’s still living in the past. But Jefferson knows of a man who can help her. In exchange for a royal passport to travel with free reign, he will bring her to a “wizard.” And if he can’t bring back the dead, then no one can.
Back in the present in the magic land, Hook is claiming to be an innocent blacksmith, but Emma is suspicious. He says he pretended to be dead in order to survive, but Emma knows he’s lying (as you may recall, that’s her party trick), and pulls a knife on him.
Flashing back to Regina, Jefferson warns her to be cautious. This “wizard” is not familiar with their world. And guess who it is: Doctor Whale! Though he asks to be called Doctor. He looks over Daniel and says the conditions are ideal “apart from him being dead.” All he needs is a strong heart. He’d heard that this land had the magic to enchant hearts, just like Regina’s mother and Rumpel have done. Regina says she cannot do it, but knows where to get a heart.
In Storybrooke, Regina goes to the hospital looking for Whale. She finds his lab in shambles, as well as Whale himself whose arm has been torn off. He says he brought Daniel back, but that he’s a monster.
Flashing back, Regina takes Jefferson and the Doctor to her mother’s vault. Apparently she had been quite the collector of hearts. “She was a monster.” They take one for the procedure.
In Storybrooke, Whale is in the hospital. Charming comes, demanding to know what happened. In a surprising move, Regina tells him the truth. Whale was able to bring him back using one of the hearts from her vault, to which Charming replied with the line of the night: “you have hearts here?!” Like mother, like daughter. Charming says Daniel is dangerous, but Regina doesn’t believe so. She thinks he’ll be following his final thoughts, meaning he’ll go to where he died: the stables. Where Henry is.
In the magic land, the girls tie Hook to a tree and whistle to get the ogres’ attention. Either he tells the truth or he’s done for. He admits who he really is, Killian Jones, AKA Hook. He explains the Cora wanted him to gain their trust and information about Storybrooke, and that she can travel there with the ash from the wardrobe. Mulan wants to leave him to die, but he offers to help them get to Storybrooke if they take him with them. He says Cora still needs an enchanted compass, and he’ll help them get t it first. When Emma asks why he wants to go to Storybrooke, he tells the truth: for revenge on Rumpelstiltskin.
In Storybrooke, Daniel is at the stables with Henry. The horses all begin to freak out, scaring Henry, who asks Daniel if he can help him. But Daniel attacks Henry. Luckily Regina and Charming show up and get Henry away. Charming tells Regina to stop, meaning kill, Daniel, but she refuses. She begs for the chance to talk to him.
Flashing back, the Doctor says he must be alone to perform the procedure, leaving Jefferson and Regina outside to wait. He soon joins them, explaining that he failed.
In Storybrooke, Regina faces Daniel, who attacks her and starts to choke her. She fights back, saying she loves him. He lets her go and they embrace, but he is hit with a terrible pain. He begs her to stop the pain, to let him go. She doesn’t want to, saying she loves him. He responds, “love again.” Crying, she uses magic to destroy him. In the magic land, Hook directs the girls. Emma and Snow know it’s a trap, but they follow anyway. He says the compass is at the top of a beanstalk up ahead. “It’s not the climb you need to worry about. It’s the giant at the top.”
In Storybrooke, a mourning Regina reminisces. In her past, finally dressing as the “evil” Queen we first met, she kills Rumpel’s new apprentice and gains her spot back. In her present, she goes to see Archie, admitting that she used magic.
Flashing back, the Doctor tells Jefferson to take him home. Rumpel appears, and we learn that he paid the Doctor to break Regina, and give him the enchanted heart as payment. “Thanks to your efforts, I made my monster. Good luck with yours.” The Doctor claims his is no monster, and that his abilities are far more powerful than magic. Rumpel scoffs at that, and warns him about the price of any kind of magic.
In Storybrooke, a limping Whale with a cooler goes to see Rumpel. The cooler contains his severed arm, which he wants reattached. Rumpel asks why he brought Daniel back, and he explains that he thought if he helped Regina that she’d send him back to his world. He wants to try to bring his brother back again, because it worked badly the first time. Once Rumpel gets him to admit that he needs magic, thus proving magic superior to science, he attaches the arm in the blink of an eye and calls Whale “Victor.” And a flashback then reveals that Doctor Whale is, in fact, Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
Next week: Emma and Hook climb the beanstalk.