Hello again, Hookers, Swan Queens, and sundry Oncelers! After taking a week off to live blog the Golden Globes — thanks for filling in, Sarah! — I was eager to return to the world of Storybrooke for tonight’s episode. Unfortunately, “In the Name of the Brother” ended up being an exercise in wheel-spinning that seemed to exist only to set up the show’s next hour… which won’t air until February 10, thanks to the Super Bowl and the heretofore unknown holiday known as January 27. Dangit, Kitsis and Horowitz! Quit playing games with our hearts!
We begin in medias res, right after the mysterious stranger — played by Ethan Embry, of Can’t Hardly Wait fame — has careened into Storybrooke, taking down a certain pirate in his wake. Emma, who’s quickly on the scene, calls for backup even though she’s definitely the town’s only cop; soon enough Hook, an amnesiac Belle, and the stranger are all taken to Storybrooke Grace Mercy West, where they’ll be under the care of a drunken Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Uh oh.
Victor is the night’s focal point; his flashbacks explain in greater detail why he came to Fairy Land in “The Doctor,” as well as what happened after he became the proud owner of Rumpelstiltskin’s telltale heart. The short version: Before stepping down Jefferson’s metaphorical rabbit hole, Victor was a simple scientist in Black and White Steampunk Land with a disapproving father and a loving brother named Gerhardt.
After Daddy Dearest decides to stop funding his work, Frankenstein is about to give up his laboratory — pronounced “lab-ORRR-atory,” no doubt — when he receives a colorful visitor: Rumpelstiltskin, who’s heard that the good doctor knows how to restore life. If Victor can tell the imp how he does that voodoo that he does so well, Rump will give him a pretty penny in return. Then the Dark One conjures up a mountain of gold coins… and disappears before Victor has even had to prove himself. Hey, free money!
Naturally, things aren’t going quite as well in Storybrooke. Belle has been well and truly cursed, and even Rumpelstiltskin’s attempt to bestow Twue Wuv’s Kiss on her isn’t working. (Note to would-be hex-breakers: Please do not smooch a sleeping woman who’s forgotten who she is, let alone who you are. Especially if you’re 300 years older than her.) Hook has been de-clawed and chained to a hospital bed, but he’s still incorrigibly flirting with Emma. And Storybrooke’s very own Justice League is freaking out about Ethan Embry, whose character’s name is actually Greg Mendell — it’s likely that he saw some serious magic before going unconscious. And if regular folk can just crash into Storybrooke all willy-nilly, the town’s peculiarities just might start raising some eyebrows.
The Justice League can’t stop outsiders from barging into their little magical oasis. They can, however, solve their Stranger Problem pretty easily by simply letting Greg succumb to his injuries. Grumpy’s in favor of the idea; Snow and Charming are appalled at his callousness, and tell Frankenstein that he needs to save the interloper. They don’t urge the physician to get sober first, indicating that they know about as much about medicine as they do about law enforcement.
NEXT: Give your hardt a break