Posted by Ashley B at Friday, October 18, 2013 3 CommentsOnce Upon A Time In Wonderland , Reviews
We see a merchant relaxing comfortably in some pretty nice digs, when a dark and sinister man with a dark and sinister purpose blots the light from his doorway. It's Jafar and he seems to be on the hunt for something. He remarks on the merchant's low income but high quality of life, mentioning the two camels he owns. That kind of property makes this guy Agrabah's Donald Trump. Jafar drops the word "wish" about nine hundred times, so there's no mistaking what his real purpose is. A convenient kettle draws the merchant to his kitchen, where he panics and pulls the genie's bottle from hiding, summoning Cyrus. It seems Cyrus knows that Jafar has been seeking him and tries to calm his master but the merchant panics and uses his last wish to sent Cyrus and his bottle as far away as possible.
After the title card, we see Alice in new adventuring duds, practicing her sword skills, waking the Knave with bits of flying foliage as she hacks at a tree. Alice claims that a "clothes horse" came by, which conjures images of an equine composed of apparel, an ungulate of uniforms, lumbering in the woods. Given they're in Wonderland, the beast is probably just that. Alice speaks of thwarting enemies by staying on the move, but she admits she doesn't know who they are. I wonder if she's aware that the White Rabbit is not to be trusted or if she is speaking of Jafar's presence in Wonderland. The Knave loves his java as he inquires if a cup of coffee is possible. Throughout the episode he makes references to objects, cartoons, comfort items, and so forth that are found in the real world. I find this very captivating, as it is obvious the Knave preferred modern life and it had a lasting effect on him. It will prove to be interesting should the offer of returning to the realm be dangled in front of him, if he will choose these modern conveniences over his loyalty to Alice.
The focus quickly shifts to the Red Queen's court, where the maroon monarch, complete with Ziggy Stardust attendants, is entertaining the complaints of the peasantry. She quickly grows bored with their problems and the queen's subjects are silenced, though not by her. Jafar is lurking somewhere in the shadows and makes his presence known. The Red Queen makes mention of taking both her throne and Wonderland, which strengthens my thought that she usurped her reign from the White Queen and took advantage of the Queen of Hearts's absence. However, I don't know how much the Red Queen wanted to be a ruler as opposed to a figurehead. She comes off as a girl playing a game more than someone genuinely wanting to be in charge. True, she speaks of responsibility to her subjects, but makes no protest as Jafar poofs her problematic peasants away.
Cut back to the Knave and Alice as they continue to trek through the forests of Wonderland. The Knave, ever a ray of sunshine, references to "if" they find Cyrus, while Alice insists on using the word "when". The Knave raises an important question; what if Cyrus has moved on? But Alice insists that the Knave "wouldn't understand what they have". The Knave seems to speak from experience on the subject of lost love and one must wonder, did he have his heart broken figuratively or literally? Or, as it is entirely possible with this series, both?
Jump back to the Red Queen getting a pedicure, urging her literal footman to work that pumice stone harder and harder. Mercifully, she is interrupted by the White Rabbit arriving to give a report as to where the Knave and Alice are headed. I truly hope there was a reason behind that slightly uncomfortable pedicure scene.
Back in Jafar's cave of not-so-wonders, Cyrus is examining a burn received from the silver bars of his cage. I know that iron has been traditionally used to ward off the fae folk, and silver is a common deterrent for both werewolves and vampires, but had never heard of it being used on genies. Is Wonderland trying to set up a connection between the already established OUaT fairies and wolf-folk? Perhaps all magical beings relate to each other somehow.
Cyrus's fellow prisoner tries to take his mind off the pain by continuing their chess game, though this makes me suspicious. You would think no one in Wonderland would care to play chess. And why does Jafar have this random old man captured anyway? More than likely he is on the Red Queen's payroll and is planted to gather information from Cyrus. It could be that this is one of the aforementioned Tweedles, shape-shifted into an unassuming form. Cyrus has better uses of his time than chess though. He reveals a piece of parchment hidden in his vest and begins writing in earnest.
In the present, Alice and The Knave buzz across the lake with Silvermist providing an example of why one should never cross a fairy. She vindictively disenchants the Knave, allowing him to belly flop into the lake below. Protesting that the Knave already foreshadowed that he couldn't swim, Alice takes a header into the lake herself to save him. I will note that she once again calls him by the name of "Will", sowing more seeds of back story for next week's installment.
Alice hauls the soggy sass master on to a rock in the middle of nowhere, but instead of a caucus race to get them dry, they have a heart to heart. Here we get both the Knave and Alice's polarized views on love, with the Knave in the mindset that physical attraction is equivalent to to romantic love and partners can be cast aside at the drop of a hat, while Alice stresses that a person can not help who they fall in love with. We see a discussion between one who abandons and who has been abandoned. The Knave questions if Cyrus really did share his love with Alice and reminds her that he has no stake in her quest, he's only there for the wish.
Flashback to a very aloof Cyrus and Alice sharing a drink. He tells her of Jafar and his pursuit, reiterating what the Knave has already expressed, that Cyrus is only desired for his ability to grant what others don't have. Cyrus tells Alice he can show her the world (I see what you did there writers) and recounts some of his tales from all the lands he's visited. He promises to teach Alice how to use a sword, as Wonderland has forced her to be more "creative" in her defense. We've seen a bit of her ingenuity, though I'd like to see more of how she uses an enemy's weakness to her advantage. Cyrus shows Alice a prize from his travels, the Origami of Love, folded out of magic paper that enchants itself into a rose. Cyrus remarks that most people make their wishes and then move on and he and Alice bond over their magic paper and mutual experiences of abandonment.
As Alice and the Knave are still stranded on the rock, Alice stamps her foot in impatience and the rock shutters and moves. It turns out that the "island" is actually the Mock Turtle. Alice climbs astride his head and quicker than you can say "turtle soup", coerces the floating behemoth to take them ashore.
In present day Wonderland, Alice and the Knave stumble onto shore, where they find Silvermist waiting for them. It seems there is a hefty bounty on the Knave's head thanks to the resident hookah enthusiast, the Caterpillar. So, is the Knave Han Solo to the Caterpillar's Jabba the Hut? I wonder who Greedo is in this situation. Star Wars parallels aside, the Knave offers a sincere plead on behalf of Alice to the fairy after she calls him heartless (his expression to Alice there is priceless) and mentions his precious "Anastasia". Whatever the Caterpillar is capable of, it's not something the Knave wants them to tangle with on their quest. Now, the only Anastasia in Disney lore that comes to my mind is one of Cinderella's step-sisters. We did see Cinderella in the previous episode, so it's not entirely impossible that the sister and the Knave were an item, though an item Alice wasn't aware of as she has to ask who Anastasia is.
Alice and the Knave rush off to the bottle's real hiding place, passing various landmarks such as a "dandy lion" and a windmill. I do hope that windmill is a bit of foreshadowing as to the White Knight also being Don Quixote, though that mash-up might be a bit of reaching on my part. As it were, someone else has reached the bottle's true hiding place before our heroes. This causes Alice to doubt her quest, believing that perhaps the genie has done what the Knave suspects and moved on.
The Red Queen has the bottle in her possession thanks to the White Rabbit, who was conveniently lurking about the day Alice and Cyrus buried it. The Rabbit though, isn't evil for evil's sake, as it is alluded that the queen is holding something over his head. My money is on his family being held hostage until his work is complete.
Well there you have it, the second installment in our Wonderland saga. I actually enjoyed this episode more than the pilot. The pace felt quicker and I was genuinely surprised by the twists of the bottle being moved and the Red Queen having it. They weren't earth-shattering revelations, but how well they were explained in the plot made me enjoy them.
The ferry/fairy situation slayed me. It's one of those things that you'd wish would happen in an episode and the writers went there and did it well. Not as much praise can be cast on the CGI, but if the audience is willing to suspend its disbelief to enjoy talking rabbits and Mock Turtles, we can relax with the harsh critique of the effects.
The one thing really being hammered home about Wonderland is that you do not and can not trust anyone. It's a land filled with fancy and illusions, but also denizens who have lost their trust in their fellow man through either backstabbery or heartbreak. The fact that Alice didn't even trust the Knave during her charade with the bottle puts into focus once more the idea that anyone can turn on anyone else for the right reasons and at a moment's notice. This idea alone really fuels my desire to watch the next episode.
What did you think dear readers?
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