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The Doctor
Season 2, Episode 5
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Airdate October 28, 2012
Written by Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Directed by Paul Edwards
Episode Guide
The Crocodile

The Doctor is the fifth episode of the second season of the American ABC fantasy/drama television series Once Upon a Time, and the show's 27th episode overall, which aired on October 28, 2012.

It was co-written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, while being directed by Paul Edwards.

In this episode, Regina is reunited with Daniel, while flashbacks show her past with Victor Frankenstein. Also in present-day Enchanted Forest, Emma, Mary Margaret, Mulan, and Aurora meet Captain Hook.

View the The Doctor Gallery.


Opening Sequence

An electrical storm is featured in a black and white forest.

In the Characters' Past

In the Enchanted Forest, Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) is preparing to teach Regina (Lana Parrilla) everything she needs to know about magic. It is not as easy as it seems, especially after she struggles to take the heart out of a unicorn. She protests over doing this, but he tells Regina, “Nothing is innocent,” before taking the unicorn's heart out himself. He also tells her not even magic will bring her fiancé Daniel (Noah Bean) back to life. The Mad Hatter/Jefferson (Sebastian Stan) later arrives to overhear the two and shows off a crystal ball that Rumplestiltskin has requested. Rumplestiltskin, however, had told the Mad Hatter that he actually needs “the slippers” to enter a realm with no magic, since the Mad Hatter’s hat can only travel between realms with magic. Now that they meet for the first time, Jefferson tells Regina he has heard of a “wizard” who can help her bring back Daniel. They travel to see this person, who prefers to be called a doctor. As he examines Daniel's body, the doctor tells Regina that he is an ideal candidate for his “experimental” procedure, though, he still needs an enchanted heart, as normal ones cannot withstand the procedure. Regina lets him pick one from Cora’s vault of living hearts. That night, the doctor begins his work on restoring Daniel to life, but announces his failure. This devastates Regina, who returns to being Rumplestiltskin’s pupil and demonstrates her readiness by ripping the heart out of his new protegée, crushing it to prove her advancement. It is revealed that Rumplestiltskin was actually in league with the doctor, who exchanged the strong heart for the “monster” he got in Regina, and the Mad Hatter, who allowed him safe passage back.

It is later revealed that the doctor took the strong heart Regina gave him back to his laboratory, where he hands over the prized possession to his assistant and places it inside the body of the doctor's dead brother so he can bring him back to life. The doctor is revealed to be none other than Victor Frankenstein (David Anders), and that he relies on science, not magic.

In the Enchanted Forest

As Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), Snow White/Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Aurora (Sarah Bolger) return to the island from the castle, the foursome discover that everyone at the camp has been killed and their hearts ripped out by Cora. However, they discover Captain Hook/Killian Jones (Colin O'Donoghue) hiding among the bodies. Hook claims that he was the only survivor and pretends to act like a traumatized victim in an effort to gain their trust. However, Emma is suspicious of his claim, and is convinced that he is lying about the attack. She ties him to a tree and threatens to leave him to the ogres if he does not confess; Hook finally comes clean and reveals his identity along with Cora's plans to travel to Storybrooke. Hook then tells the four women that Cora is searching for an enchanted compass that he will help them find, so they could get back to Storybrooke. While Snow senses that Hook is using this plan to throw them off, Emma is aware of Hook's deception, knowing that as long as they don't trust him, they won't be surprised if he double-crosses them. The five individuals then prepare for their quest to search for the compass, which happens to be located at the top of an enormous beanstalk.

In Storybrooke

Dr. Whale/Victor Frankenstein approaches Prince Charming/David (Josh Dallas), who then punches him for sleeping with Snow White/Mary Margaret. Dr. Whale asks Charming if there may be a chance that they could find another portal that could lead them to another world, and hopefully find Dr. Whale's missing brother. Dr. Whale suspects that Regina may have the answer. Meanwhile, Regina is visiting Jiminy Cricket/Dr. Archie Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) for a series of sessions to let go of using her magic so she can see Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) again. Dr. Whale bursts into Archie's office and confronts Regina during her session to demand that she send him back to his world so he can find his brother. Regina, however, tells Archie that she only brought along whom she wanted, including the body of her beloved Daniel that she preserved with a spell. Later that night, while driving home in the rain, Regina sees whom she believes is Daniel roaming the streets, then finds his glass coffin empty, leading her to believe that Dr. Whale is behind this. As Regina arrives at the hospital to confront the doctor, she sees him on the lab floor with his arm ripped off. Dr. Whale confesses to Regina that he has brought Daniel back, but he has become a "monster." The following morning, Charming confronts Regina at the hospital; she tells him about what Dr. Whale did, and Charming reveals that he knows what Snow White/Mary Margaret did to her that started this immense hatred. Regina suggests to Charming that the resurrected Daniel is reliving his last thoughts and probably has gone to the stables. Unfortunately, Henry is also there, tending to the new horse that Charming gave him.

At the stables, Daniel finds Henry and begins to strangle him, believing that Henry is Cora trying to pull his heart out. Charming and Regina stop him before he can do any harm, allowing Henry to escape. Charming locks Daniel in the stable; he is ready to kill Daniel with his gun, but Regina insists she can talk to him. She manages to get as far as pulling the "real Daniel" out long enough for him to urge her to stop the pain, and let go of their feelings for each other. Just as he loses control and attempts to kill Regina, she tearfully immobilizes him, then vaporizes him. Later, Regina returns to Archie, confessing that she has used magic. Dr. Whale shows up at Mr. Gold's pawn shop to get his arm reattached. Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold makes him first admit that he needs magic; after he magically reattaches his arm, Dr. Whale thanks him and leaves.


"The Doctor" was co-written by executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, while Lost veteran Paul Edwards served as director. David Anders was persuaded to take the part of Dr. Whale after discovering his counterpart would be Dr. Frankenstein, though it took the series a year to reveal Whale's fairytale counterpart. Anders drew inspiration from Gene Wilder and the film Young Frankenstein.

This episode marks the final appearance by actor Sebastian Stan as the Mad Hatter/Jefferson. He departed the series due to his obligations to the Broadway play Picnic and the Marvel feature film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Cultural references

  • Victor Frankenstein and his "monster" are the primary characters from Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, which was written in 1818. While the story of Victor Frankenstein originates in the novel, the more well known version, (and the one alluded to in the episode, i.e. black & white) is the classic 1931 horror film Frankenstein. Such references include the use of lightning to bring the monster back to life (a process not detailed in the book), a bad heart (in the movie, brain) causing the monster to go bad, a lab assistant (a hunchback in the movies, while in the novel, Victor worked alone in secret), and the famous line "it's alive!" Also, Dr. Whale's arm is ripped out of its socket by Daniel, just like the police inspector in Son of Frankenstein. Frankenstein's Storybrooke name of Whale is a reference to James Whale, who directed Frankenstein and its 1935 sequel, Bride of Frankenstein.
  • The Wizard of Oz is briefly alluded to near the start of the episode when Jefferson gives Rumplestiltskin a crystal ball in lieu of the slippers he was sent to find. Jefferson says the slippers had "been sent to another land" to which Rumplestiltskin replies, "I needed the slippers to 'get' to that other land."
  • Among other references to Lost on the series (Kitsis and Horowitz, the creators of this series were producers on Lost), in this episode Rumplestiltskin tells Regina that "Dead is dead", the title of a Lost episode.



For the second week in a row (in spite of fears that Hurricane Sandy would affect the Eastern United States, which would've caused ABC affiliates to preempt the show if it became serious), this outing helped the series post another increase in the ratings, scoring a 3.4/8 among 18-49s with 9.7 million viewers tuning in, despite the competition it had from NBC's Sunday Night Football and Fox's broadcast of Game 4 of the 2012 World Series.


The episode was met with mixed to positive reviews from critics.

Entertainment Weekly's Hilary Busis liked the episode, but somehow questioned the show creators' sudden inclusion of characters that were written in the 1800s into the storylines: "Maybe it's best not to anger the all-powerful sorcerers. Instead, let's talk about their televised creation: 'The Doctor,' which revealed that Dr. Whale was once known as Dr. Horrible—I mean, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Though I know that not all of Once's 'fairy land' characters actually hail from folklore—like Frankenstein, Pinocchio and the Mad Hatter are both inventions of 19th century novelists—I've still got mixed feelings about bringing Mary Shelley's classic into OUAT's potent public domain stew. If any and all stories are fair game, where will the show's writers draw the line? Will future episodes feature Emma befriending Elizabeth Bennet and Jo March, then trying to reunite Romeo and Juliet? It just seems like expanding the show's world beyond fairy tales and Disney properties—like Captain Hook—has the potential to turn Once into a giant, fanfiction-y mess."

The Huffington Post's Laura Prudom also gave it mixed reviews: "This week's 'Once Upon a Time' certainly fit in with the rest of ABC's Halloween fare, with an abundance of lightning and shambling monsters and creepy heart stealing—but the end result left me a little cold."

The A.V. Club gave the episode a B: "With Halloween just around the corner, Once Upon A Time tries its hand at a spooky Regina-centric episode that not only features some considerable character development, but also moves the plot forward," and added that "it’s a solid episode that incorporates much of this series’ rapidly expanding cast, and it poses some interesting questions about the nature of this show's alternate worlds."

TV Overmind had reservations about this episode, noting that "this week's Once Upon a Time finally revealed Dr. Whale's true identity, but that discovery - and the story that played out in Storybrooke - made for a bit of a strange episode. While it's always nice to get insight into the emotions of the characters, the truth is that what happened in Regina's Storybrooke arc in this episode didn't really move the overall plot forward.

IGN's Amy Ratcliffe called the episode "great," giving it an 8.0 out of 10. She highly favored the storyline between Regina and Rumplestiltskin. She also praised David Anders performance as Dr. Frankenstein, calling him "fantastically creepy."


  • Rumpelstiltskin asks the Mad Hatter about a pair of slippers. This is a reference to Dorothy and the ruby pair she uses to get home at the end of The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • The object/animal/person in this episode is lightning in the Land Without Color.
  • Dr. Whale attempts to return the dead to life by placing an enchanted heart into the body of a dead man. Director James Whale directed Frankenstein (1931), the first film version about a doctor who returns the dead to life.
  • This is the last episode of Sebastian Stan.
  • The opening titles are in black and white in reference to Frankenstein (1931).
  • The mad scientist coat worn by Victor is called a Howie Coat. The design has been used in England for over 100 years. In 1978 a UK medical laboratory health and safety report (chaired by Dr. J. W. Howie) required lab personnel to wear this style of coat, which provides much better splash protection than regular open front lab coats.


Regina: Can you teach me how to use magic to bring back the dead?
Rumplestiltskin: That's what this is about? The stable boy?
Regina: I want true happiness.
Rumplestiltskin: Then find it elsewhere, dearie. Magic can do much, but not that. Dead... is dead.
Regina: Then I am lost.
Rumplestiltskin: And I've had my time wasted. I'm sorry, but, erm, transcending death is beyond even my reach.
Captain Hook: I can't thank you enough for your kindness. Fortune, it seems, has seen fit to show me favor.
Emma Swan: An island full of corpses. You're the only one to escape. How exactly did that happen?
Captain Hook: She attacked at night, slaughtered everyone in one fell swoop. When she started ripping out people's hearts, I hid under the bodies of those who'd already been killed. Pretended to be dead myself. Mercifully, the ruse worked.
Emma Swan: So much for fortune favoring the brave.
Captain Hook: [after being found out] Good for you! You bested me. I can count the amount of people who've done that on one hand.
[Rumplestiltskin has ordered Regina to take out a unicorn's heart]
Regina: I can't. It's innocent.
Rumplestiltskin: Nothing is innocent.
Regina: I didn't sign up to kill unicorns.
[Rumplestiltskin is supervising a girl practicing magic, when Regina enters the clearing]
Regina > Evil Queen: Who's this?
Rumplestiltskin: Uuh, your replacement, of course. I needed someone more dedicated.
Regina > Evil Queen: Dedicated?
[she turns to the girl, nonchalantly rips her heart out and crushes it]
Regina > Evil Queen: Now... where were we?
The Doctor: It's been a pleasure doing business with you.
Rumplestiltskin: Oh, the pleasure was mine. Thanks to your efforts, I've made my monster. Now, I do hope you'll be able to make yours.
The Doctor: I'm not "making" a monster.
Rumplestiltskin: Sure you're not. Good luck.
The Doctor: If these hearts are as strong as you say, I won't need luck.
Rumplestiltskin: Oh, just magic.
The Doctor: No. What I'm going to accomplish goes far beyond magic.
Rumplestiltskin: And yet, you need a magical heart to do it.
The Doctor: So small-minded. I need my powers to transcend the limitations of your magic.
Rumplestiltskin: This must be quite a land you hail from, if you think your abilities are more powerful.
The Doctor: They are.
Rumplestiltskin: Care to wager? I suspect someday, you'll see it my way.
The Doctor: I doubt it.
[Whale has asked Mr. Gold to reattach his arm]
Dr. Whale: You said you can do it.
Mr. Gold: Oh, yes. But there's a difference between 'can' and 'will'.
Dr. Whale: Name your price.
Mr. Gold: Say it.
Dr. Whale: Say what?
Mr. Gold: You know what. You came here, not the hospital. So say it.
Dr. Whale: [the penny drops] I need magic.
Mr. Gold: That's all I needed to hear.
[he magics Whale's arm back in its proper place]
Mr. Gold: Always a pleasure doing business with you, uh... Victor.
Emma Swan: You tell me one thing. And whatever you say, I better believe it. Why does Captain Hook want to go to Storybrooke?
Captain Hook: To exact revenge on the man who took my hand - Rumplestiltskin.
Emma Swan: [arriving at a high beanstalk] Let me guess - the compass is up there.
Captain Hook: Oh, yeah.
Emma Swan: So how do we... get to it?
Captain Hook: It's not the climb you need to worry about. It's the giant at the top.
Dr. Whale: [David punches Dr. Whale in the face] What the hell was that for?
David Nolan: Sleeping with my wife.
Dr. Whale: Kathryn?
David Nolan: Snow.
Archie Hopper: Stopping magic is a lot harder than starting.
Archie Hopper: If you can't let go of the past, Regina... it's doomed to haunt you.
Rumplestiltskin: [to Regina] So long as you harbor foolish notions of bringing back the dead, so long as you live in the past, you'll never find your future.
The Doctor: [of Daniel] His condition is ideal - apart from being dead, that is.
Regina Mills: I know you took Daniel's body, and you took one of my hearts. Why? WHY? Did you bring him back?
Dr. Whale: I did it.
Regina Mills: He's alive?
Dr. Whale: Yes. I brought him back. But he's not Daniel.
Regina Mills: What?
Dr. Whale: He's... he's a monster.
Mr. Gold: When they say I charge an arm and a leg, that's meant as a figure of speech.
[when Whale enters Mr. Gold's shop with a cooling box containing his arm]
The Doctor: These are all... hearts?
Regina: My mother was a collector.
The Mad Hatter: Whose hearts are these?
Regina: I have no idea. She took so many, caused so much pain, it was impossible to keep track. She was a monster.
[last lines]
The Doctor: It's alive.
Assistant: You did it. Victor, you did it.
The Doctor: Yes. I believe I have.
The Doctor: [to the creature] Welcome back, Brother.
Assistant: It's magic, Dr. Frankenstein.
The Doctor: No. Not magic. Science.
Mr. Gold: You want me to reattach your arm?
Dr. Whale: Can you do it?
Mr. Gold: Of course. But first, tell me why.
Dr. Whale: Because I want to use it again.
Regina Mills: It's just that magic is the way I've always gotten everything.
Archie Hopper: It sounds like it's also the way you've lost everything.
Daniel: Stop. Just stop the pain.
Regina Mills: How?
Daniel: Just... let me go.
Regina Mills: No. No, I won't lose you again. Without you, I'm lost. Daniel! Daniel, come back to me!
Daniel: [in agony] Can't, Regina.
Regina Mills: [whispering] But I love you.
Daniel: Then love again.
The Mad Hatter: I got what you wanted.
[he holds out a glass ball]
Rumplestiltskin: [Wizard of Oz reference] What about the slippers?
The Mad Hatter: Ugh! Couldn't find them. Heard talk they've already been moved to another land.
Rumplestiltskin: That's what I needed to get to that other land!
The Mad Hatter: Well, come with me in my hat. I'm sure we can work something out.
Rumplestiltskin: No, no, your hat only transports between magical realms. I need to get to a land without magic.
The Mad Hatter: Why would anyone want that?
Regina Mills: Goodbye, Daniel.
Dr. Whale: Send me back.
Regina Mills: Excuse me?
Dr. Whale: To my land. Send me back to my brother.
Regina Mills: Why don't you check the "Missing" board like everyone else?
Dr. Whale: Your curse only brought the *living*.
Regina Mills: Well, then I'm sorry for your loss. But I'm afraid I can't send anyone anywhere.
David Nolan: You're not riding today.
Henry Mills: I'm not?
David Nolan: No. There's much to learn before you hop in the saddle.
Henry Mills: Like what?
David Nolan: Well, every morning, you'll have to muck out his stall. Then you'll brush him and feed him. After school, you'll do it again. Every day, twice a day.
Henry Mills: That's not riding. That's babysitting.
David Nolan: Ah. *Horsesitting*.
Season 1
PilotThe Thing You Love MostSnow FallsThe Price of GoldThat Still Small VoiceThe ShepherdThe Heart Is a Lonely HunterDesperate SoulsTrue North7:15 A.M.Fruit of the Poisonous TreeSkin DeepWhat Happened to FrederickDreamyRed-HandedHeart of DarknessHat TrickThe Stable BoyThe ReturnThe StrangerAn Apple Red as BloodA Land Without Magic
Season 2
BrokenWe Are BothLady of the LakeThe CrocodileThe DoctorTallahasseeChild of the MoonInto the DeepQueen of HeartsThe Cricket GameThe OutsiderIn the Name of the BrotherTinyManhattanThe Queen Is DeadThe Miller's DaughterWelcome to StorybrookeSelfless, Brave and TrueLaceyThe Evil QueenSecond Star to the RightAnd Straight On 'til Morning
Season 3
The Heart of the Truest BelieverLost GirlQuite a Common FairyNasty HabitsGood FormAriel (Episode)Dark HollowThink Lovely ThoughtsSave HenryThe New NeverlandGoing HomeNew York City SerenadeWitch HuntThe TowerQuiet MindsIt's Not Easy Being GreenThe Jolly RogerBleeding ThroughA Curious ThingKansasSnow DriftsThere's No Place Like Home
Season 4
A Tale of Two SistersWhite OutRocky RoadThe ApprenticeBreaking GlassFamily BusinessThe Snow QueenSmash the MirrorFallShattered SightHeroes and VillainsDarkness on the Edge of TownUnforgivenEnter the DragonPoor Unfortunate SoulBest Laid PlansHeart of GoldSympathy for the De VilLilyMotherOperation Mongoose
Season 5
The Dark SwanThe PriceSiege PerilousThe Broken KingdomDreamcatcherThe Bear and the BowNimueBirthThe Bear KingBroken HeartSwan SongSouls of the DepartedLabor of LoveDevil's DueThe Brothers JonesOur DecayHer Handsome HeroRuby SlippersSistersFirebirdLast RitesOnly YouAn Untold Story
Season 6
The SaviorA Bitter DraughtThe Other ShoeStrange CaseStreet RatsDark WatersHeartlessI'll Be Your MirrorChangelingsWish You Were HereTougher Than the RestMurder Most FoulIll-Boding PatternsPage 23A Wondrous PlaceMother's Little HelperAwakeWhere Bluebirds FlyThe Black FairyThe Song in Your HeartThe Final Battle
Season 7
Hyperion HeightsA Pirate's LifeThe Garden of Forking PathsBeautyGreenbacksWake Up CallEloise GardenerPretty in BlueOne Little TearThe Eighth WitchSecret GardenA Taste of the HeightsKnightfallThe Girl in the TowerSisterhoodBreadcrumbsChosenThe GuardianFlower ChildIs This Henry Mills?HomecomingLeaving Storybrooke
Down the Rabbit HoleTrust MeForget Me NotThe SerpentHeart of StoneWho's AliceBad BloodHomeNothing to FearDirty Little SecretsHeart of the MatterTo Catch a ThiefAnd They Lived...