"Behind every tale you know, lies a story you don't.
This is Alice's.
But her story didn't begin in Wonderland.
It began in Storybrooke..."
The pilot opens with Rumpelstiltskin letting the wraith into Storybrooke as seen in the Season 2 premiere of Once Upon a Time. We see the Charming family looking out the door of Mr Gold's Pawn Shop wondering what is going on outside. We then cross the street where a mysterious man makes his way into Granny's Diner. He is stopped by a character that we are all familiar with. Leroy / Grumpy yells at the mysterious man to help save Storybrooke as it is under attack. The man replies with "I don't help anyone" and continues to make his way into the diner. Once inside he makes himself a cup of coffee. As he takes his first sip, the ground begins to tremble. All of a sudden a portal opens and a white rabbit pops out. The man demands to know what the rabbit is doing there but the Rabbit says that he will tell him on the way as they are late. The man argues that he isn't going anywhere. After a quick argument the White Rabbit says "Alice, she needs help. You're the Knave of Hearts. She needs you" so he agrees to go.
We then flash to the Bethlem Asylum in London. Alice is lead into a room with three doctors. The one in the middle seems to be the one that does all the talking. He asks Alice if she remembers why she is there. Alice claims that she doesn't remember but the doctor doesn't buy it. He then starts to reminded her about about an invisible cat, a hookah smoking caterpillar, food & drink that is capable of changing ones size and a murderous red queen. He says that she experienced all this by falling down a rabbit hole. He asks Alice is she now agrees that the whole idea is ridiculous and she does. He then says that she can be sent home after she answers a few questions. The first one was whether she still believes Wonderland to be real.
The scene then cuts as we find ourselves in a flashback to Wonderland. Alice grabs a handful of mushroom. The hookah smoking Caterpillar yells at her to give it back. Alice is then chased into a maze by the queens guards. She puts something into her mouth (most likely the piece of mushroom that she just stole) and begins to shrink. She gets knocked knocked off her foot as she is almost trod on by a guard.
Now we are back in the office in the Asylum. It is apparent that Alice is daydreaming as she wasn't answering the doctors question. He starts banging on the table saying her name. She opens her mouth and confesses that none of it was true. The doctor asks what really happened. A little girl who had adventures in Wonderland or a young lady who says that it was all in her imagination? Alice replies that she was a fool when she was younger and she now knows what really happened.
Again we flashback to Wonderland. Alice picks herself up off the ground and hides in a genie bottle that happens to be lying next to her. This is when we meet Cyrus. He questions Alice about why she is in his house. Alice threatens to drink her potion and turn big again which will effectively destroy his house if he turns her in to the guards. Cyrus laughs this off and tells her that his house is her house.
Back in the office, the doctor asks Alice where she really was when all of this was supposedly happening. Alice says that she was with a friend.
There is a reference to Agrabah when we return to Wonderland. Alice tells Cyrus that her father doesn't believe her about Wonderland so she had come back for proof. She pulls a talking hare out of her bag. Cyrus gives a speech to Alice about how one doesn't need proof if they really love someone. They can feel it. He then goes on to ask Alice what her three wishes are as she found his bottle.
Once again we return to the asylum office. The doctor tells Alice that she needs to participate if she wishes to be released. Alice snaps that she doesn't wish for anything. The doctor asks her if this had anything to do with the genie that she believes she fell in love with. Is she ready be admit that was a lie too?
We then flash forward in the flashback. Alice and Cyrus are standing on a cliff surrounded by some sort of waterish-fireish substance. Cyrus admits his love to Alice and gets down to propose. Alice immediately accepts. Cyrus pulls out his heart shaped necklace. It glows red as he tells her that it will always glow when the pair are near each other. Their happiness doesn't last long. We hear footsteps and Cyrus tells Alice to run.
Back in present day the doctor reminds Alice that she said the love of her life was murdered. Alice tries to interrupt but the doctor tells her that she was an ignored little girl who made a fantasy land but grew up believing that it was real. Alice starts to cry as she says that she doesn't believe it anymore. The doctor doesn't believe her because she still cries out for Cyrus in her sleep.
Back in Wonderland the footsteps are revealed to be the the Red Queen's guards. The Red Queen follows behind them. It is obvious that she wants something. A fight breaks out. It is here that we find out that Alice knows how to fight. Together Cyrus and Alice take out all the guards. The Red Queen doesn't seem to be too happy about this so she waves her hand and Cyrus goes flying over a cliff into the water below. Alice watches on in horror.
The doctor tells Alice that they have a new procedure that can make her forget everything. Alice asks if it will hurt. He replies that yes, it will hurt a little but it will be far worse than the pain she is currently in. Alice thinks about this for a moment and then signs the contract that the doctor hands her.
That night Alice wakes up to a weird noise outside the cell. The door opens and who should appear but the Knave of Hearts! She refuses to believe that he is real. The asylum guards arrive to take him away. He puts up a fight trying to get her to believe. As he is dragged out the cell, he calls out that Cyrus is alive and that the White Rabbit saw him. This is what causes Alice to believe he is real. She then gets into another fight with all five guards (she even snaps one of their necks using just her legs)! The Knave watches with a smile on his face.
The pair make their way down to what appears to be somewhere under the Asylum. They meet the White Rabbit who once again informs them that they are late. Alice tells him that to him everyone is late. The Rabbit tells her that he does have high standards and that he finds the Asylum disgusting. Alice asks the Rabbit if it is true that he saw Cyrus. To Alice's disappointment the Rabbit replies no but he did find his heart necklace. He says that nothing can survive the boiling sea so if it survived, so did he. Alice takes the necklace and puts it up against her chest. She then tells the Rabbit to open up the portal. The Rabbit takes out some chalk and draws a circle on the wall. A blue portal appears and the Rabbit jumps in. Alice asks if the Knave is coming with them but he says no. Alice begs him because she won't be able to find Cyrus alone. Eventually, after Alice reminds him that she helped him get back his heart once, he agrees to go. The episode ends with Cyrus saying "Next Stop Wonderland" as the two hold hands and jump into the portal.
Although it was only the 19 minute presentation, I really liked what this episode had to offer. The cameo by Lee Arenberg was a nice surprise to fans of the mother show. It will be interesting to see who else we might see if they decide to extend the Storybrooke scene in the full episode.
I felt that the flashbacks were perfectly positioned. My only complaint was that the doctor tells us what happened to Cyrus before it was actually shown. I feel as if it would have had more of an impact if it was shown first.
Sophie Lowe is the best Alice I have seen yet. I was worried that she would be stiff after seeing the trailer but I am happy to say that I was surprised by her performance. She made me believe that she was worried about what would happen if she was caught lying.
Although Emma Rigby only had about 1 minute screen time, she definitely stole the spotlight in that one scene she was in. I look forward to seeing more of the character when the full 42 minute episode airs.
When I first heard that Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were developing a spin-off I was hesitant about the whole idea. But after viewing this presentation, I am glad that they did. I just hope that the rest of the series remains the same in terms of quality. I can't wait to see what comes next.