Once Upon A Time 6.04 “Strange Case” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Gold cuts his hair. He’s very good at it. He’d be a demon barber.
- Hyde and the Evil Queen go to Gold’s shop for an amulet.
- Gold tries to kill him but Hyde won’t die.
- Hyde takes the amulet, telling Gold that there will be no trade.
- Gold reminds the Evil Queen about their deal; her promise not to harm Belle. The Evil Queen points out that Hyde had no part of that deal and can do what he likes.
- Mary Margaret is going back to teaching. The new Untold Stories kids, though, seem uninspired by her old-fashioned teaching methods.
- A new teaching assistant, Sharin, tells her she needs to impress them as Snow not as Mary Margaret, so she uses her archery skills to teach them about Newton’s Laws of Motion.
- Hyde leaves the amulet for Jekyll to find. Jekyll freaks – it belonged to a woman he loved, Mary.
- In flashback we learn that in Victorian London (or a Disney fantasy version of it, anyway) Jekyll tried to join “the Academy” but Mary’s father, a member there, thought that Jekyll’s work into splitting the personality was dangerous.
- That’s when Rumplestiltskin appeared and offered to help Jekyll. He magically perfected Jekyll’s formula and the Doctor took it. Jekyll became Hyde, and Hyde blackmailed Mary’s father to get Jekyll into the Academy.
- Back in the present, Gold casts a magic forcefield around Hook’s ship, which will keep Hyde out but also traps Belle in. She is not a happy bunny.
- Jekyll perfects his new formula to kill evil doppelgängers, but the Evil Queen and Hyde turn up and steal it.
- Luckily Jekyll kept some of the formula hidden away…
- …Which Gold then steals.
- Jekyll joins Belle on Hook’s ship so that Hyde can’t get to him. BAD IDEA because…
- …As flashbacks reveal, Jekyll learned that Mary had slept with Hyde and in his anger accidentally killed her. He then took the formula again so that Hyde would be seen at the scene of the crime and blamed. TWIST! Jekyll is evil!
- Back in the present, Gold tries to kill Hyde with the formula he stole, but it doesn’t work. Hyde knew that Jekyll would hide some and he secretly swapped the phials.
- On Hook’s ship Belle comes to realise she’s trapped behind the force field with a psycho loony.
- Hook arrives just in time, there’s a scuffle and Jekyll is accidentally impaled and dies…
- …As does Hyde at the same time. It seems the only way to kill an evil double – such as the Evil Queen – is to kill the original – Regina.
- Regina is also worried that she still has the capacity to become dark (because Jekyll and Hyde weren’t actually the opposites everyone thought they were). She asks Emma to kill her if she does become evil.
- Gold tells Belle he originally visited Jekyll because he thought his serum might rid Rumple of the feelings he was developing for Belle when she first became his maid– feelings he thought were weakening him. But when he saw that Hyde had loved Mary as well as Jekyll, he judged the experiment a favour, and sent Jekyll and Hyde to the Land Of Untold Stories.
- Belle is basically all, “Talk to the hand,” but Gold warns her that when their child is born, she will have to come back to him… from “necessity”.
- At night, Sharin secretly meets with the Oracle (from “The Savior”) and we learn that she’s really Princess Jasmine. They are looking for Aladdin, and the Oracle is sure he is in Storybrooke.
So this week Jekyll & Hyde gets the Arthur treatment – seems if you’re a British literary character then Once Upon A Time is happy to turn accepted wisdom on its head for the sake of a twist. To be fair, making Jekyll a villain feels less arbitrary than making Arthur a really dull and incompetent villain (how would Americans feel if a British series portrayed Paul Bunyan as a lazy, womanising drunk?) but this feels like one story that should have remained untold. It’s all so wincingly contrived, apparently just to make Regina worry that she’s not so different to the Evil Queen.
On the other hand, the idea that Rumplestiltskin would be interested in Jekyll’s formula, does make some kind of sense – in his desperation to find a way to rid himself of unwanted feelings of love. Quite how he’d learn about what a Victorian scientist was up to in his lab is another question altogether and throws up all sorts of questions about Enchanted Forest chronology as it relates to the wider universe. Still, as a storytelling conceit within the weird and wacky world of OUAT it kinda works, and watching Rumple manipulate both Jekyll and Hyde is fun. But the Jekyll/Hyde inversion feels so clunkily handled, and it’s not helped by some really hammy performances from Sam Witwer as Hyde and Hank Harris as Jekyll.
It’s a good episode for Robert Carlyle though, who has some great scenes as both Rumple and especially Gold. He final exchange with Belle is particularly chilling; this guy is becoming the new Kilgrave – he just can’t take “no” for an answer. In comparison, the scene in which Regina asks Emma to have the guts to kill her if she becomes a danger to her family feels worryingly trite.
It also a shame how cheap the show’s looking these days. Of course, most of the audience won’t notice the hand-me-down virtual sets but there is a sense of tiredness and going-through-the-motions to the show’s production design. Four episodes into the new season and we’ve yet to have any visuals – either FX, sets or even costume design – that have a wow factor. Other than, “Wow, what have they done to the geography of London’s skyline?”
So, another merely average episode in a season that so far has been uniformly merely average. Hopefully the reintroduction of the Aladdin storyline to the arc will add some eastern spice.
- Gold’s new haircut. Much better.
- Regina’s unwitting repetition of the Evil Queen’s line about Rumple’s new haircut highlighting his eyes is a nice little touch, emphasising their similarities rather than their differences; these are not two separate characters but two aspects of the same person.
- “All science needs is a little magic.” A wonderful Disney-esque line.
- Gold’s warning to Belle about their child is ominous.
- Finally, some movement on the Aladdin front. Remember Aladdin? Very start of the season? Seems it wasn’t just a scene that’d wandered in from another show.
- The teaching stuff is cheesy as hell, but Once Upon A Time is a master of cheesiness, and the Mary Margaret scenes are silly, syrupy fun. We wish we’d seen class registration, though, to confirm who some of these characters are.
- So Dr Frankenstein’s just vanished into thin air? What was the point of having him back last week for one scene then forgetting all about him?
- Rumple naming Hyde – that was just a mighty big groan of a moment…
- In a show where it’s usually the female villains chewing up the scenery, Sam Witwer’s Hyde is licking what’s left off of the plate.
- Meanwhile, Hank Harris’s Jekyll is just enormously whiny. It kinda ruins the big twist, which would have had more impact if he’d been more likeable at first.
- It’s really unclear why Gold lets Hyde take the amulet without making a deal. He may not be able to kill the guy but he can clearly cause him pain.
- After Hyde reveals that he’d swapped the phials, you half-expect Jekyll to go, “But I knew that you’d know that I’d know that you you know…” etc, etc, ad infinitum.
- We really wish Hook hadn’t rescued Belle; we’d like to have seen her deal with Jekyll on her own. He was such a wimp, we’d have placed good money on her taking him in a fight.
And The Random:
- This episode’s title card features the Elizabeth Tower on the British House Of Commons (yeah, we’re being deliberately, “I think you’ll find…” and not calling it what everybody thinks it’s called).
- This is the first episode to feature Princess Jasmine.
- Mr Gold gets a haircut because Robert Carlyle had to have one for his appearance in Trainspotting 2.
- The episode’s title is, of course, a reference to complete title of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.
- Look (below), it’s a shell phone! Shell phone? Cell phone? Oh, never mind…
- We’re guessing this is Huck Finn because he has red hair, though he isn’t credited. Oddly, Tom Sawyer is credited (played by Reilly Jacob) but we can’t work out which one that is….
Review by Jonathan Norton