Once Upon a Time "In the Name of the Brother" Review: Multi-dimensional Storytelling, Literally
So! Last night a person from the real world infiltrated Storybrooke, and let’s address him right up front because long after the episode was over, he’s what I’m still thinking about, with his sneaky “You’ll never believe what I saw!” phone call, for two reasons:
1. The Charmings were worried that if the outsider saw Rumple throwing magic, he’d be “driving a tour bus” up and down Storybrooke’s main drag. Um, no, that is not a fun day for the whole family, dipshits—in this day and age the revelation that a community of Mainers was launching Street Fighter fireballs at each other would more likely actuate a SWAT drop-in, a Hasmat-level quarantine, or just some quick-and-clean carpet bombing.
2. Hey Emma, remember how your superpower was being able to tell when someone was lying? Guess it’s not just all-powerful genies who can fool you, it’s quite literally everyone except Regina.
I could rant about the idea of black-and-white films being a different world but I said everything I care to say about that (and the entire Frankenstein storyline) the first time around when the show originally introduced the black-and-white dimension in October. I wasn’t as enraged with it coming back last night, because it wasn’t the same shocking sense of something I love being irretrievably marred, much like the second time you, say, scratch the finish on a new cellphone is not as annoying as the first time. However, three new points about black-and-white world:
1. Could you spend gold-colored coins in a black-and-white world or would it freak everyone out, Pleasantville-style?
2. Persian Carpets look so freaking gorgeous in black and white. Do they sell them like that?! Holy hell I need one.
3. Frankenstein’s pops was a delight. He’s the worst actor I’ve seen on television, including the extras who appeared on Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job who were hired off Craigslist and cherry-picked for their awkwardness.
I can understand Frankenstein being hurt because his dad gave Frankenstein's little brother a nice watch for Christmas and then only gave Frankenstein a crumpled-up US Magazine he found in a public bathroom, but it was still pretty cray that he ran out on a surgery to reflect on his backstory when a patient was fighting for his life on the operating table.
These fairy-tale characters are such jerks. Thank goodness Ruby went and counseled him “monster to monster.” Which was actually pretty adorbs and maybe she heard good things about his sex steeze after Snow’s one-night stand with him back when they were all cursed? Who knows.
The actually heartbreaking moment was Emilie de Ravin simply SLAYING the audience as amnesiac Belle. She seemed so genuinely afraid of Rumple and totally creeped out that it really drove home what Rumple had lost. An intelligent young woman who honestly loves a much older pawnshop owner while looking like Emilie de Ravin? Good luck hooking another one of those on Match.com, Rumple, or whatever the fairy-tale equivalent of that is, I guess going down to a brook and playing a hornpipe or whatever. The fact that at one point it had been meaningful to talk about a chipped cup, but that telling her to “focus” on a dirty old dish made him now seem like a raving maniac, underlined how nuts the premise is and how isolated these characters really are in a genuinely touching way. Also CREEPSTER move kissing her when you know she’s lost her memory, Rumple, geez. Obviously creepster.
He did get some action later from Cora, which was sort of interesting. He taught her everything she knows, are we supposed to do the fortune-cookie thing and slap “in bed” on the end of that statement? Did curly toed boots get knocked? Is Regina possibly Rumplestiltskin’s daughter??! Is there anything I would put past this show? No. Logic, emotional justice and common decency are not restraints on the OUAT writers’ need to fabricate plot twists, and like most fairy tales, the overall narrative is swiftly boiling down into a horror story that's predicated on the darkest impulses of sibling rivalry and childhood abandonment being acted on with impunity.
I do love that natty blood globe, though. Hot stuff, art department. Where in the world is Bae?! And speaking of where in the world, they really opened it up last night about there being countless other dimensions (“Wow, if black-and-white films are a world, what the hell other inappropriate fictional characters can be dragged into this Irish stew of Disney properties?” —Henry, more or less), so do you think Carmen San Diego will pop up in Storybrooke next? She could come from a land based on early-'90s educational PC games. There would be an Oregon Trail in her world too, where everyone was going at a grueling pace and blowing all their money on bullets to shoot squirrels. Also how soon until Star Wars characters get dragged in and will that be the day you throw your TV into the ocean and move to a cabin in the woods to mourn?
Regina had a pretty sweet thing going on in her heart barn/crypt. The interior was like the most upscale Forever 21 I’ve ever seen. Who would bother mooning over a petulant 8- to 14-year-old when you could play dress up all day in a magic crystal sitting room? How the hell old is Henry again? That kid looks sweet sixteen and I’m pretty sure he’s shaving. Whatever, you can’t pressure child actors to stay little, it does things to them, Danny Bonaduce things to them, so let’s all never speak of it again.
I also didn’t buy that Regina bought into Cora’s offer of a reconciliation. As long as she’s known her mother, her mother has been a zombie-summoning, true-love slaughtering, crazy-ass bitch. Of course, the idea that Regina’s well aware of that and she’s just excited to have her mom be her hype man and back her up while she takes down the whole town is entirely possible as well.
Unfortunately it looks like the next episode (three weeks from now, LOL) is about a regular-size giant.
So yeah, we’ll be waiting another few weeks before the small seeds of a good episode that were scattered last night can blossom onto our screens, and we know the really good stuff won’t take root until the season finale. But that’s okay. This show is so damn crazy that I’ve made the complete cycle from loving it, to questioning it, to hating it, to kind of being like “You do you!” to maybe just straight-up loving it again.
1. Do you think Dr. Frankenstein is a generous lover?
2. Regina and Cora: Will they wreak a mother daughter duet of destruction upon Storybrooke?
3. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?
4. Did you catch the Star Wars theme playing? Did it break your heart or are you hoping that some Storybrooke cashier reveals herself as Princess Leia?
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