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‘Once Upon a Time’: A Treatment of Jekyll and Hyde

Partners Statue at Disneyland

Spoiler alert: The following article contains spoilers for Season 6 Episode 4 for “Once Upon a Time.” If you plan on watching the series, book mark this page and come back to it when you get through that episode. Or read on and discover the spoilers after the trailer.

In what was the best episode to date, Season 6, Episode 4 brings to its conclusion the story of Jekyll and Hyde. For 45 minutes, the writers and actors of the series served up jaw-dropping twists and turns that delighted and entertained. The episode’s only weakness came from the Snow White storyline that was lame and unsurprising. Even the Snow White related reveal was not a reveal so much as a pandering to those who may not have seen the film or been able to remember the last three episodes. (Still, maybe that person is you, and I don’t want to ruin that surprise. The rest of the surprises, well, I’ve already warned you about.)

The real pleasure came in the reveal of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s story as envisioned by the “Once Upon a Time” team. In a “Hunchback of Notre Dame” which is the monster and which is the man way, the realization that both were for different reasons could help the future storylines involving the Evil Queen and Regina. More importantly, it calls into question what makes a man a monster.

In theory, Jekyll created a serum that stripped the baser elements of a man from himself. However, Hyde is a full-formed human being. He is stronger, more threatening, and uglier than Jekyll, but he still loves, reasons, and acts like a gentleman. He’s supposed to be the impulsive emotions, the animal in man, but he isn’t. After ridding himself of Hyde, Jekyll is supposed to be the intellect, reasoning, and logical side of man, but he lets his emotions and impulses get the better of him. Clearly, there was some miscalculation in the serum. (And that should be later found in the Evil Queen/Regina conflict if the writers are paying attention.)

Hyde may be more of an anti-hero than a villain while Jekyll is revealed to be the villain. The novella that this storyline is based on was published in 1886. The turn of the century was coming, so if the storyline is true to the book, it may represent man’s fear of knowledge and science over instinct. But “Once Upon a Time” has taken it one step further. Here, it’s the weakness that gives rise to the monster. Just as it’s Rumpelstiltskin’s weakness that gives rise to the Dark One. The difference being that when Jekyll is freed from his “animal impulses,” he is no less weak. Rumpelstiltskin has chosen to embrace all of who he is.

Sam Witwer gives a deliciously slow, and beautifully understated performance as Hyde. His character lives up to his name until the final reveal, and the audience is left to wonder how this will all play out for Regina and her alter-ego.

What was your favorite episode of “Once Upon a Time?” (Please do not leave any spoilers. Thanks.)

Read more about “Once Upon a Time” at Medium with these stories: “Disney’s ‘Once Upon a Time’: Family, Identity and Fairy Tales; Themes and Observations from Season 1” and “‘Once Upon a Time’: Why Season 4 Failed.”

This is part of our Disneycember coverage. Disneycember appears to have been coined by Doug Walker, the Nostalgia Critic, and Channel Awesome. Come back every day during December and read a new Disney article.

If you want to read more about Disney and creativity, check out “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Read more about the Disney Company in “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” Check out other Disney stories at www.penguinate.weebly.com.

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