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This article focuses on the episode "The Doctor".
For the characters who hold this title, see Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Whale.

Regina: You're the wizard?
Victor: I prefer "doctor."

"The Doctor" is the fifth episode of Season Two of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis and directed by Paul Edwards. It is the twenty-seventh episode of the series overall, and premiered on October 28, 2012.


While Regina continues to try and stop using her magic in an attempt to win back Henry's affections, she begins seeing what she believes is a ghost from her past; and when Mary Margaret and Emma discover a lone survivor from an ogre massacre, Emma begins to question whether or not he's telling the truth. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Regina finds herself failing at learning the dark arts from a dark master because something from her past is preventing her from using her magic for evil.[1]


This section is a detailed recap of this episode. There are major spoilers. Click to expand.

In the Enchanted ForestEmmaMary MargaretAurora and Mulan return to the Safe Haven only to discover Hook under a pile of dead refugees; all of whom have had their hearts ripped out by Cora.

At Granny's Diner in Storybrooke, Dr. Whale tells David they need to talk. David responds first by punching him for sleeping with his wife—curse or not—and second by sitting at a nearby table. They discuss building a portal to the Enchanted Forest, and Dr. Whale realizes Regina lied to them.

Regina goes to Archie's office to discuss the difficulty of not using magic after abstaining from using it for two days. Archie tells her it's an excellent start and invites her in. She explains that it's always been the way she's gotten everything, and he says it's also the way she's lost everything—and that this is now her way to earn Henry. Shortly after, Dr. Whale barges in and demands Regina send him back to his land with his brother, because the curse only brought the living. She apologizes for his loss and reveals she can't send anyone anywhere, but Dr. Whale snaps back. Archie raises his voice and demands the man to leave. He confronts Regina after Dr. Whale leaves about the curse only bringing back the living and brings up her father in the process, to which she says she doesn't care and that she brought who she wanted. Archie explains that she needs to trust him if she wants help, because "stopping magic is a lot harder than starting".

In the past, Rumplestiltskin is training Regina to take power. They're training with a black unicorn. After Regina immobilizes the animal, he tells her to take its heart. She remembers aloud it's what her mother did to Daniel, and Rumplestiltskin states she knows how it's done. Regina approaches the horse, but then refuses to take out its heart because she believes the animal is innocent. Rumplestiltskin says, "Nothing is innocent." He then tears out the unicorn's heart and explains that the animal now belongs to him; Rumplestiltskin continues to explain that, once a heart is removed, it becomes an Enchanted Heart, which is stronger than a normal heart, and that she isn't hurting the beast but controlling it instead. He tells her to kill it, but she can't. Rumplestiltskin tells her to ponder what's holding her back. The scene changes to Regina admiring Daniel in a glass casket.

In Archie's office, Regina explains she preserved Daniel's body with an enchantment spell. She explains that he's dead, but frozen, and kept in her family mausoleum. Archie tells her that if she can't let go of the past that it'll still haunt her. She decides the session has been enough, and doubts Archie can help her. After leaving, Regina sees Daniel standing on the sidewalk corner outside her dashboard window in the rain. She looks away for a moment, and when she looks back, he's gone.

David and Henry go to the stables. David gives to Henry a horse and tells him he needs to take care of his stead twice a day everyday to form a bond with the horse before he can ride it. He then leaves Henry at the stables to go check on the dwarfs.

Regina goes to the mausoleum only to find Daniel missing.

In the past, Rumplestiltskin questions whether Regina is ready and assumes she's wasting his time. She wants him to teach her to use magic to bring back the dead, but he informs her that "dead is dead" and even he doesn't have the power to bring back her beloved Daniel. Jefferson appears with a crystal ball, but not slippers—which are what Rumplestiltskin requested. Jefferson doesn't understand why he would want that and asks if he wants the crystal ball or not. Rumplestiltskin takes the ball and lets Jefferson choose whatever he finds appropriate, then tells Regina their work is done. Jefferson tells Regina there is someone who can help her, and that he can deliver him to her for a royal passport to have free range in traveling the kingdom.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Emma and Mulan ponder and chat about Hook. Emma thinks he's lying. Hook claims he played dead to survive. Emma, Mulan, Mary Margaret and Aurora talk about leaving the ruins and finding a portal, and Hook chimes in that he knows the land well. Emma holds a knife to his throat.

In the present, Regina goes to find Dr. Whale in psychiatric ward of the hospital.

Regina and Jefferson find Victor Frankenstein, or "The Doctor", as he likes to be called, in her castle. He then proceeds to examine Daniel and states that his “condition is ideal”. Victor insists he needs a strong enough heart to survive the procedure and believes that the Enchanted Forest has magic hearts that are strong enough for just this sort of operation. Regina refuses to use magic for evil, but knows where to find an enchanted heart.

In present-day Storybrooke, Regina discovers Dr. Whale in one of the psychiatric rooms lying on the floor with one of his arms having been savagely ripped away. She demands to know why he took Daniel and if he brought him back. Dr. Whale confirms this, explaining that he made the mess they're in and that Daniel is now a monster.

In the past, Regina leads Victor and Jefferson to Cora's secret vault to pick out an enchanted heart. She calls her mother a monster.

Outside of a hospital room, Regina watches as Dr. Whale is being tended to for his injuries. David arrives and demands to know what is going on, as he believes she is culpable for Dr. Whale's current condition. Instead, she reveals what Dr. Whale did to Daniel and how he was revived using an enchanted heart. Regina has no idea whose heart he took, but wants to go find Daniel. David won't allow her to do so without telling him where he might be. She strongly believes Daniel is acting similar to how David reacted coming out of his coma, and may have gone to the last place he remembers. She guesses Daniel is at the stables, which causes David to worry since it's where Henry currently is.

At the stables, Henry is grooming his horse. Suddenly, the other horses begin jumping and panicking in alarm. Henry's horse is startled as well, and knocks the boy off his stool as it runs out of the stall. A shadow appears outside the stall as Daniel approaches Henry.

In the present-day Enchanted Forest, Hook insists to Emma he's merely a blacksmith even as she, not believing his claim, begins tying him to a tree. She whistles for ogres and the women begin walking away, which persuades him to be honest with them. He offers to help them find a way back to Storybrooke in exchange for not being left behind with the ogres—the catch is that he gets to go through the portal as well, revealing he wants revenge on Rumplestiltskin.

Meanwhile, in present-day Storybrooke, Daniel moves closer to Henry and proceeds to choke him as Regina and David rush in. Regina immediately begins begging him to let Henry go. David picks up Henry to make sure he's okay, and then tells him to run. After Henry is gone, Daniel dashes for Regina, but David pushes her out of the way and shuts the stall. He tells her to use magic, but she refuses to use magic on Daniel, so he pulls out his gun. She begs David to let her speak to him.

Victor performs the surgery on Daniel in an operation tent during a lightning storm while Jefferson and Regina wait outside. After he is finished, Victor exits to inform Regina that the operation has been unsuccessful. Grief-stricken, Regina hurries into the tent and rests her head on Daniel's chest.

Back in present-day Storybrooke, Regina enters the stall to approach Daniel, who begins to choke her. She whispers her love for him, and he releases her before they embrace moments later. He hurts from the heart transplant and wishes to die. He reverts to his monstrous state, forcing Regina to use magic to make him disappear, as she is left heartbroken.

In the present-day Enchanted Forest, Hook leads the ladies through the forest whilst Emma and Mary Margaret talk about staying one step ahead of Cora and Hook. A giant beanstalk is revealed, and Hook informs the group of an enchanted compass at the top guarded by a giant. He tells them that they will obtain it before Cora.

In the past Enchanted Forest, Regina intrudes on a training session Rumplestiltskin is having with a new apprentice, Trish, because he needed someone "more dedicated". To prove her dedication, she tears out Trish's heart and crushes it right before Rumplestiltskin, who looks very impressed by Regina's willingness.

After letting go of Daniel, Regina returns to Archie's office. Miserably, she admits to Archie that she used magic. He welcomes her into his office to finish their session.

Back in the past Enchanted Forest, Jefferson, Victor and Rumplestiltskin discuss their deal regarding Regina. It is revealed that she was set up to believe Victor had legitimately tried to bring back Daniel and had ultimately failed as a result, causing her heartbreak in return to bring out the evil Rumplestiltskin knew she possesses so she would be dedicated enough to become his apprentice. As payment for his services, Victor receives an enchanted heart from Rumplestiltskin. The two argue over whether magic is the most dependable source of power. Rumplestiltskin places a wager that Victor will need magic in the future, but the latter disagrees. Jefferson opens a portal to take Victor home as Rumplestiltskin reminds The Doctor that all magic comes with a price.

In present-day Storybrooke, Dr. Whale stumbles into pawnshop carrying his severed arm in an ice cooler. He begs Mr. Gold to reattach his torn arm, and grudgingly admits he needs magic. Satisfied by his admittance, Mr. Gold reattaches the limb to Dr. Whale's body.

Victor, after returning home to the Land Without Color, attempts to resurrect his deceased brother using the enchanted heart he received from Rumplestiltskin. The operation is a success.

Deleted Scenes

"Chamber Of Hearts"

This scene is included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season.

Regina, the Doctor and Jefferson are in Cora's heart vault. After Frankenstein inspects the heart, the walls of the vault begin to close in. Regina asks Jefferson to use his hat, but he replies that there is not enough room. After Frankenstein and Jefferson stop the walls with a statue, the ceiling begins to descend. Eventually, Regina masters teleportation and saves them.



Guest Starring



*: Only in archive footage



  • The title card features lightning.[3] It is the first title card that is in black and white.
  • The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on September 22, 2012.[4]

Production Notes

  • For the scene where Regina is driving in the rain, the rain was created via a huge crane with a rain curtain, a long hollow tube with nozzles along it that shoots water out to simulate rainfall.[5] For the moment where Regina sees Daniel, a body double wearing the same costume as Noah Bean was used as a stand-in for Lana Parrilla to interact with,[5][6] while Noah Bean's parts of the scene were filmed separately.
  • REUSED FOOTAGE: Footage from the establishing shot of the Mills mausoleum at the beginning of the scene where Regina searches for Daniel's body,[7] was reused for the scene where Regina searches for the Curse of the Empty-Hearted in "Welcome to Storybrooke",[8] but with a warmer color hue.

Event Chronology

  • The exterior of Granny's Diner is decorated with pumpkins and a spider,[10] indicating that this episode is supposed to take place at Halloween, but that is impossible: Halloween takes place on October 31, one week after Emma's birthday. A major plot point in "Pilot" is that Emma was sent to the Land Without Magic when the Dark Curse was cast, and that she came to Storybrooke on her twenty-eight birthday. However, a title card in "Queen of Hearts" establishes that it's still 28 years since the curse was cast,[11] and according to "The Tower", the period of time between "Pilot" and "Quite a Common Fairy" was less than a year: This is proven when David states in "The Tower" that it's been "almost 30 years" since Emma was born; since "Going Home" and the following episodes establish that "The Tower" takes place twelve months after the first half of Season Three, this means that less than a year passes between "Pilot" (where Emma turns 28) and the second half of season three.

Episode Connections




Fairytales and Folklore

Popular Culture

  • While interrogating Hook, Emma says, "So much for fortune favoring the brave", referencing to the Latin phrase, "AVDENTES FORTVNA IVVAT", quoted in Virgil’s Latin poem Aeneid as allegedly the last words of the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder.[17]
  • The scene where Frankenstein's monster comes to life, is based on the famous movie scene where the creature comes to life in the 1931 Frankenstein horror film: The scene is shot in black and white and takes place in a laboratory during a thunder storm, where Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant, surrounded by highly technical equipment, try to bring the creature to life as it lies under a white shroud on a big table. A harnessed lightning bolt is used to bring the creature to life (in the novel, it is implied that the creature comes to life via electricity, referred to as a "spark of being", as seen in Chapter 5; however, no lightning or thunderstorm is present). As the monster awakens, it raises its arm and there is a close-up of its hand, prompting the doctor to say, "It's alive", all of which mirror the iconic movie scene.

Set Dressing

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The fence outside Granny's Diner is decorated with swan-shaped pumpkins.[10]

Costume Notes

Filming Locations

  • A wooded area in Vancouver doubles as the Enchanted Forest for the scene where Dr. Frankenstein "tries" to bring Daniel back to life. The interior tent/lab shots were filmed on a sound stage. The Special Effects Department mimicked a storm with fans, shaking trees and the tent as well as adding bolts of electricity during the operation scene.[31]


International Titles



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, October 28, 2012. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#205) "The Doctor"”
  2. Bibel, Sara (October 30, 2012). Sunday Final Ratings: 'The Amazing Race' Adjusted Up; 'America's Funiest Home Videos' Adjusted Down Plus Final World Series & Football Numbers. TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on August 13, 2014. “Once Upon A Time (...) 9.85”
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  4. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (September 22, 2012). "Ep. 4 The Crocodile Ep. 5 The Doctor Ep. 6 Tallahassee #titles #OnceUponATime #Saturdaytidbits 8 days to go!" (screenshot)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Once Upon a Time makes it rain. Vancity Filming (September 7, 2012). Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. “We had already been there all day and were deciding whether or not to head home when we noticed a huge crane getting set up with a rain curtain. A rain curtain is a long hollow tube with nozzles along it that shoots water out to simulate rainfall. The one in Steveston was pretty big and pretty high up. We asked one of the crew members who was standing by the crane if it was going to rain, and he told us that that there would definitely be rain showers in a few hours. As he promised, around 8.45pm the testing of the rain curtain began. Regina's (Lana Parrilla) black Mercedes had been sitting on Main St. (Moncton St.) for a while as they were getting ready to shoot the scenes, and it looked like was going to get drenched. Luckily, they stopped the rain so that Lana could get into the car. She drove the car to the end of the street and proceeded to drive it towards the intersection, where another car would drive in front of her causing her to stop suddenly. It was at that point that she saw the mysterious new character standing on the corner, by the entrance to the Storybrooke Library. Lightening distracts Regina for a split second, but the character has vanished.”
  6. Update: Once Upon a Time – The Mysterious new character (August 31, 2012). Archived from the original on May 9, 2013. “Update: Having just watched "The Stable Boy", I can confirm that this guy is definitely NOT Noah Bean.
  7. File:205HeartVault.png
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  9. The Mysterious Dr Whale. Vancity Filming (September 9, 2012). Archived from the original on December 8, 2013. “I posted a teaser picture of Dr Whale with his arm covered up to Twitter and people have been commenting that it could be just David Anders putting his coat on. Well, the pictures in the gallery below show that he wasn’t just putting his coat on, but covering up his arm. You can clearly see that he has a "green screen" sleeve on and that the shirt he is wearing has the arm ripped close to the shoulder.”
  10. 10.0 10.1 File:205You.png
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  14. Unicorn. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on October 13, 2021. “The unicorn appeared in early Mesopotamian artworks, and it also was referred to in the ancient myths of India and China. (…) As a biblical animal, the unicorn was interpreted allegorically in the early Christian church. One of the earliest such interpretations appears in the ancient Greek bestiary known as the Physiologus, which states that the unicorn is a strong, fierce animal that can be caught only if a virgin maiden is placed before it. The unicorn leaps into the virgin's lap, and she suckles it and leads it to the king's palace. Medieval writers thus likened the unicorn to Christ, who raised up a horn of salvation for mankind and dwelt in the womb of the Virgin Mary. (…) Many fine representations of the hunt of the unicorn survive in medieval art, not only in Europe but also in the Islamic world and in China.”
  15. Scottish fact of the week: Scotland's official animal, the Unicorn. The Scotsman (October 5, 2012). “In Celtic mythology, the Unicorn of Scotland symbolized innocence and purity, healing powers, joy and even life itself, and was also seen as a symbol of masculinity and power.”
  16. MYTHICAL BEINGS: Unicorn. Quick Silver Mint. Retrieved on August 13, 2018. “Unicorns were a symbol of purity and innocence in European mythology. As legend had it, only a virgin girl could "capture" a Unicorn, and many Renaissance tapestries and paintings show the Unicorn with its head on the lap of a maiden. As a symbol of purity, Unicorns have been shown with the Virgin Mary, Her protector, and protector and companion of all maidens.”
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Dove, Steve (October 2012). Storybrooke Secrets: The Doctor. ABC. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. “Jefferson shows up at Rumplestiltskin's workshop with a crystal ball and gives him some information about magic slippers that can transport someone between magical and non-magical worlds. Both of those items can be found in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. That's the second Oz reference this season. Think we'll get to visit sometime soon? Keeping it literary, when Emma is interrogating Captain Hook, she says "So much for fortune favoring the brave,". That's a reference to the Latin "AVDENTES FORTVNA IVVAT", allegedly the last word of Pliny the Elder as he left the docks at Pompeii to rescue people from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, quoted in Virgil's Aeneid.” (Note that the source erroneously states that the crystal ball is from the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; however, the crystal ball was invented for the 1939 movie.)
  18. Ogre. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on October 13, 2021. “The word gained popularity from its use in the late 17th century by Charles Perrault, the author of Contes de ma mère l'oye (Tales of Mother Goose). Since then, ogres have appeared in many works, including "Tom Thumb"; "Hansel and Gretel," where the witch is a type of ogre because she intends to eat the children; and "Little Red Riding Hood," where the wolf resembles an ogre.”
  19. D'Angelo, Mike (November 24, 2015). Victor Frankenstein and his loyal assistant Igor get a boring revisionist remake. The A.V. Club. “There is no character named Igor in Mary Shelley's novel, however, nor does Victor Frankenstein have any sort of lab assistant, hunchbacked or otherwise.”
  20. Was the Assistant in Frankenstein Really Named Igor?. Entertainment Legends Revealed!. Retrieved on September 5, 2018. “The assistant character does not appear in Mary Shelley's original novel, but first popped up in a stage adaptation a decade or so after the novel, Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein by Richard Brinsley Peake.”
  21. Once Upon a Time - Behind the Magic, Titan Books, London, October 2013, p. 162. Facsimile by Google Books.
    David Anders (October 28, 2012). James Whale? Director of Frankenstein?" Yup! That's the wink Eddie & Adam had in mind. You cracked the code. Twitter. Archived from the original on June 26, 2013.
    The Official ABC Once Upon a Time Podcast: "The Doctor". ABC (2012). (At 00:08:35)
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  31. Ochej, Josephine. Practical Magic. ABC. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. “Dr. Frankenstein's Fairy Tale Land lab was shot in both a wooded area in Vancouver, for the exterior shots, and, later, on the inside of a sound stage for some of the interior lab/tent shots. The stormy conditions for this scene in the woods—both natural and human-made storm effects—had to be replicated in the stage to complete the scene, so members of the Special Effects department aimed huge fans at the tent, the Grips team literally shook the trees and the tent, and members of the Electrics department added bolts of lightning, all in order to simulate the stormy effects to recreate the stormy effects for this dramatic operation scene.”
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