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A sign of a good episode is that it flies by and I still want more. This episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is a perfect example of that. Not only do we finally get answers regarding the Red Queen and the Knave of Hearts's background, but more questions are raised regarding the Red Queen, Jafar, the White Rabbit, and even that other prisoner locked away in Jafar's tower.

This week opens right where episode 1x03 left off, with the Knave and the Queen, or should I say Anastasia and Will Scarlet, about to leap into the portal formed by the magic mirror stolen from Maleficent. But before the pair can begin their journey, their cottage is crashed by the haughtiest-looking dame this side of Louise Fletcher. It's Anastasia's mother, and damn right you better believe she followed them to their cottage. Mommy Dearest proceeds to question if her daughter intends to run off with Will Scarlet, a loser her in book.

Mom of the Year continues to lay the guilt thicker than cream cheese at a free bagel bar, reminding Anastasia that she didn't work and scrape for her daughter to be a queen, only for her child to throw away her life. She calls Anastasia a failure and practically starts quoting Lorde, telling her daughter she's never be a royal (royal), inquiring what kind of a life a thief can give her. This woman makes Joanne Crawford look like Mother Teresa in the parent department. Mother reminds Anastasia that you can't live on love and when her daughter finally figures that out, the only way she'll be allowed back into the house is as princess of the chamber pots. Good god, bullies in Stephen King novels have more compassion that this woman. It's doesn't matter though, as Will counters every foul thing coming out of Mommy Deariest's mouth by telling Anastasia that he loves her for who she is, not who he wants her to be. This is a beautiful line and serves to steel Anastasia's resolve as the two lovers jump through the portal.

Present day Wonderland and we find the Red Queen at the edge of a deep and decidedly pointy chasm. She sticks a stiletto over the ravine and almost falls into the gap. Recovering her composure, the queen looks almost contemplative. The audience will soon find out that this locale holds more significance that we initially think, though the Red Queen testing the waters is interesting. I know it's a form of exposition as to her limits regarding the up-coming task, but one has to wonder how many times the Red Queen tested herself in this way, hoping the outcome would be different.

Meanwhile, back at the courtyard, we see the Knave, still encased in stone, being wrapped in the Blanket Babushka of Brotherly Love, the perfect barrier for warding off the elements and unwanted pigeon droppings. Alice regrets using her wish since it resulted in this for her friend. Cyrus always said wishes have consequences, a lesson she has now learned first-hand. She vows that when she finds the genie he will be able to save the Knave, though seems rather despondent over the fact that she doesn't even know where her True Love is. Enter the Red Queen, who must have been lurking among the hedges, for she quickly pipes up that she can help Alice with her task. The queen wants to make a deal with Alice and offers to tell the girl where Cyrus is held as her half of the bargain. The deal is a way for the Red Queen to get rid of the magic carpet riding thorn in both their sides, namely Jafar, who is simply a means to an end. So we now officially see what has been constantly implied, that the Red Queen and Jafar are not working together, but rather parallel to each other. Perhaps seeing the Knave again caused the queen to finally pull away from her dark ally?

Alice reminds the Red Queen that she's gotten a glimpse into the monarch's past, wondering aloud if the Knave too was just a means to an end, but the queen ignores the question, instead criticizing the fact that Alice only looks to the past. This is actually very true of Alice. She dwells on her lost love, the entire reason she is back in Wonderland, and her inability to let past events go not only damaged her relationship with her father, but landed her in a bedlam asylum for who knows how long. I hope we see more of both that father/daughter relationship and her time in the nut house in future episodes. The item the Red Queen needs is actually magic that will grant her protection from Jafar after she pulls away from his influence and this magic comes in the form of dust. Can you say fairies? Has anyone seen a certain blue one lurking about lately? The Red Queen can't get the dust herself because it's a suicide mission, but knows Alice will be willing to risk her life and more to be reunited with her genie. Jafar's tower is well hidden and unfortunately the Red Queen is the only chance Alice has at finding it.

Speaking of the genie, we jump to Jafar's tower where Cyrus is lying at the bottom of his birdcage, watching his fellow prison mate being brought back from an invigorating bout of hard labor. Jafar has been forcing the other prisoner to move giant rocks up a flight of stairs for the sheer hell of it, a punishment that reminds me of the story of Sisyphus, who was sentenced in Greek lore to eternally push a boulder up a hill as punishment for deceitfulness. The prisoner admits he has something Jafar wants, but doesn't elaborate further. What could he be hiding from the sorcerer? Last episode I began to wonder if this man wasn't in fact the sultan Jafar was so keen on enacting revenge upon. Cyrus tells his prison mate that his suffering will soon come to end and sits up, revealing that the wishbone has almost completed its work and cut through the bottom of his cage. Somewhere, off in the distance, the theme from The Great Escape begins to play.

In a flashback, we see Will and Anastasia, foraging for food in the woods. They are not well off at all, contemplating making a meal out of fish bones, before Will suggests they chow down on a giant mushroom, only to be stopped by Anastasia, who reminds him that those are the mushrooms that make you grow larger. Obviously sometime has passed for these two to realize the dangers of some of Wonderland's more recognizable flora and yet they are still struggling. Wonderland doesn't seem to be much in the way of the land of opportunity, though I would love to see a flashback as to how these two realized the mushrooms had that effect. I can only imagine a giant Will Scarlet bellowing "bloody hell" as his head brushes the treetops. Anastasia quips that a change is size won't do as they can barely fit in the wagon they reside in, causing Will to worry that he's not providing enough for her. This reminds me of a couple being forced to live out of their car, and while she reassures him that it's all they need, one can't help but feel that Anastasia is saying the words to convince herself, rather than her partner.

A wagon, filled to the brim with rich food and drink, passes by on the road, the smell of fresh bread drawing Will and Anastasia to its side like college kids to a buffet. But the men on the wagon are unwilling to spare even a loaf. The food is meant for a grand ball to be held at the palace later that evening. Anastasia gets a mischievous look in her eye and suggests that they crash the ball. She needs a change of scenery and they both need bread in their stomachs. Will remarks they'll have to smarten up for the occasion. Gate crashing and clothes line thievery? You two are a regular fairy tale Bonnie and Clyde.

In the present a very different carriage speeds off through the woods, carrying Alice and the Red Queen to their mysterious destination. Alice inquires about the dust and learns it is at "The Great Divide", a place she remarks holds great darkness. The queen counters with one of my favorite lines of the series so far, that "there's darkness everywhere when the sun goes down". So much meaning is so few words, this line serves to highlight that there is the potential for darkness everywhere, especially for those who's sun has set, those who have lost hope or given in to more evil intentions.

Alice warns the Red Queen that she will help her foe now, but after all is said and done, Jafar will be the least of the queen's worries. Here the Red Queen scoffs, telling Alice that she didn't harm or kill Cyrus and Alice counters that being a prisoner is the same fate to him. It sees a genie's enslavement can take its toll. Alice asks the Red Queen what more could she need, she is a powerful ruler here in Wonderland and the queen states that everyone comes to Wonderland searching for something more, just like Alice did as a little girl, looking for her father's love. The pair both want something they don't have and the queen reminds Alice that it's all a matter of what they are willing to do to get it. Again, the darkness when the sun goes down.

Back at Cyrus's Birdcage of Bondage, he continues to cut through the iron bottom of his prison, quizzing his fellow prisoner on the layout of Jafar's lair. The prison mate mentions that there aren't many guards to be seen inside the tower, meaning they must all be on patrol outside. The prison mate goes on to mention that others have tried what Cyrus is attempting and none have succeeded. Could he mean the other genies captured by Jafar? Or perhaps this is a red herring? I'm not firmly convinced that this other prisoner is to be trusted, even if he is the sultan, We don't know his relationship with Jafar after all. The prisoner laments that he had a life once outside of his bondage, but that's all gone now. Cyrus, ever the optimist, tells him that now it's time to make a new one. If the genie is to be free, so shall the prisoner and with one final cut, breaks the bottom out from his cage. Cyrus the Cooler King is about to enact his Great Escape.

Elsewhere in Jafar's tower, we see the sorcerer in this cave of wonders, when the Tweedle who is definitely on his payroll comes in with the "item" he requested. The Tweedle scurries off after dumping the contents of the bag, revealing the White Rabbit. The Rabbit seems rather complacent about being stuffed into bags all over Wonderland, but perhaps he knows resistance is futile when your captor can just literally drag you around by the ears. Jafar, ever the bearer of burning questions, asks one that has been bothering the audience for some time: why would the White Rabbit betray a friend and ally he's know for so long? The sorcerer figures that the Rabbit owes some debt to the Red Queen and my money is that the queen has a loved one held hostage under threat of hasenpfeffer. Jafar offers to solve this problem for the White Rabbit in exchange for information on Alice. He needs to know everything about her, especially everyone she's ever loved.

Back at the birdcages, Cyrus waits for a guard to complete his rounds, before swinging his cage Pirates of the Caribbean-style closer and closer to the ledge where Jafar does most his taunting. At the apex of one of his swings, the genie drops down through the hole and pulls a move that would make McKayla Maroney proud, just barely managing to catch the edge of the ledge. The guard returns, no doubt to investigate the noise brought on by these gymnastic shenanigans and Cyrus's prison mate distracts the guard long enough for the genie to appear behind him and lay the smack down of True Love, sending him over the edge to the pit below. Gold medals in boxing and gymnastics, well done Cyrus.

Cut to Alice and the Red Queen at the edge of the pointy ravine. The magic dust is located across the chasm, but there is no way to get across, not even a bridge or a ferry (or fairy for that matter). The Red Queen does offer help by way of revealing a clue to Alice, showing her a plaque with the words "The Pure of Heart Shall Make the Leap". It's a test, with Alice's chance of passing being better since the Red Queen admits that she is anything but pure of heart. This reminds me of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where "only in the leap from the lion's head will he prove his worth", so I'm expecting a sort of leap of faith situation.

Flashback and we see Will Scarlet and Anastasia crashing the White House State dinner, I mean the ball. Will fidgets in his fine clothes, saying they don't belong with such a crowd, where Anastasia disagrees, telling her love that if they believe they do, they will blend right in. She seems more at home in such grand surrounds and I wonder if this is partially due to her mother's influence. Here we also see a conflict growing between the pair. Anastasia obviously relishes and longs for this kind of environment, showcasing the kind of ambition that would make a Slytherin proud, while Will is just happy there is food on the table and he is with the one he loves. Clearly a Hufflepuff. Speaking of food, Anastasia chooses to mingle with the upper crust, while Will sets out to find a crust more to his liking at the buffet.

Anastasia practices imitating the smarmy nobles, copying their vocabulary, really showcasing what I've suspected all along, that she, even in present day Wonderland, is not wholly comfortable in her role as queen and is simply playing a role. She is acting how she assumes a queen should act. Her practicing puts her in a bit of a spot with the king, as she is accidentally overly familiar, but the king doesn't seem to mind, in fact he offers Anastasia a drink. The king acts a bit flirty, commenting how he is bored and wishes for a change of scenery. Oh sire, you have no idea how much Anastasia agrees. As the king remarks that he knows every lady in his court, yet doesn't recognize Anastasia, a comment that should have set off warning bells in her head, they are interrupted by a commotion being caused by some royal guards. It seems Will has finally been found out, his invitation identified as a forgery. Both Anastasia and Will are called out as imposters and peasants and they are promptly tossed out of the castle. Anastasia is upset at the embarrassment, while Will is happy he managed to score a couple of loaves of bread that will allow them to survive a bit longer. Again this difference in their outlooks on life, his contentment and her ambition, will prove to be the undoing of their relationship. Will bids his love to come home to their wagon, but Anastasia hesitates, gazing up at the bright, beautiful castle.

Back at the ravine, Alice and the Red Queen still haven't sorted out the best method of getting across. Alice, suspicious, asks how will she know this isn't an elaborate trap, with the Red Queen simply tricking her into falling into the gap, where the queen replies that if that was her intention, she'd simply push Alice. God Alice, didn't you watch the pilot, you'd think you'd remember the same thing happening to your boyfriend. It's about this time that Alice has her once an episode Moment of Cleverness, that spark that causes all the pieces to fit into place for our hero. She realizes the words cast in the plaque are indeed a riddle and figures that what is required of her is an actual leap of faith. Alice, after a moment's hesitation, much to the Red Queen's annoyance, understand that she must use the faith she has for the purest thing in her heart, her love of Cyrus. She tells the Red Queen that when two people love each other, they can accomplish anything and the queen laments that if only this were true. She obviously speaks from personal experience.

But it appears that what Alice says holds some merit, for she takes a deep breath and a large step and wouldn't you know it, her weight is suspended in midair. Gingerly, Alice ventures further, making real headway when suddenly her invisible bridge is no longer there. Off balance, Alice plummets to her doom below... only she survives the fall, finding herself in a cave of some sort. I admit, I did not see this development coming, or what happens in the cave next. Alice calls for help up to the Red Queen, who is still at the edge of the cliff, sulking over Alice's perceived failure.

Flashback to Will and Anastasia's camp, where Anastasia realizes they failed at their attempt at independence and starts planning on going back with her mother. No, don't do it Anastasia, she has worse things that wire hangers in store for you, she has chamber pots! In all seriousness, this scene reminds me of a young couple struggling with marriage out in the real world, realizing life is harsher than to be imagined. Will in fact makes a comment to this effect, also reminding Anastasia that her mother will never let her live it down if she returns. See, he remembers the chamber pot speech. Anastasia, that same mischievous glint in her eye, tells Will they don't have to go back empty handed. She wants to pull a Moriarty and steal the crown jewels. She asks Will if what he told her was true, that it was ok to steal like when he was with the Merry Men? They stole from the rich and gave to the poor and Anastasia figures there's nobody poorer then the two of them right now. Will doesn't want to live life on the run, but Anastasia figures it will be one last Wonderland hurrah. They steal the riches then return through the looking glass and live a comfortable life in the Enchanted Forest. My main question, through all of this, is where is that looking glass now?

Back in present day Wonderland, Cyrus throws the keys for the cell to his prison mate, who successfully catches, then drops them. He let the keys fall on purpose as a way of making certain he didn't slow Cyrus down. The prisoner is confident, almost sure, that Jafar will not kill him for the role he played in the genie's escape and urges Cyrus to leave immediately since the guards will be back any moment. Reluctantly, the genie leaves the other captive and begins his trek out of the tower. Again, I am suspicious and intrigued at what the mystery prisoner's relationship is with a dark sorcerer like Jafar. Are we still thinking he is the sultan, or perhaps someone else?

In another part of the the tower, Jafar is still grilling the White Rabbit, figuratively speaking, though this may become literal in a moment since the sorcerer is not pleased that the only information the Rabbit can offer is things like, "she enjoys tea parties". Jafar is unimpressed; he already knows everything the Rabbit has offered. He tells the White Rabbit to stop stalling with the Lewis Carroll re-hash and spill the beans on who it is that matters enough to Alice that she might use a wish to ensure their survival. The Rabbit waffles a bit, so Jafar, man of action, grabs his staff and cuts off the White Rabbit's foot. Admiring his new keychain, Jafar tells the Rabbit that there is a finite amount of time to reattach the limb, so he better start talking if he wants to do more than hippity hop in circles. The White Rabbit admits that there is someone Alice cares for, but he's not in Wonderland. Could the Rabbit be referring to Alice's father?

Over on the other side of Wonderland, Alice is still at the bottom of the cave when suddenly the audience is treated to various creepy children's echo-y voices calling out for Alice. Our hero demands that the source of the ghoulish cacophony show themselves, but I'd rather they didn't as ghost children are on my top ten list of Supernatural Things Not to Engage, Taunt, or Otherwise Mess With. Unfortunately, the source of our troubles reveals itself as an ill-kempt version of young Alice sporting the Voice of Legion, looking like it would be more at home with American McGee's Alice instead of Kitsis and Horowitz's.

Alice seems appropriately and sufficiently wigged out by this little girl (I use that term loosely). Alice inquires about the dust, but the creature (can I call her a creature) tells our hero she hasn't earned it yet. She goes on to tell Alice that she knows what she has to do, requesting that Alice remember her dreams. Alice replies that she dreamt of Cyrus and the creature counters that what she dreamt of was revenge. Alice balks, stating that it's not true, which only irritates the creature who bellows, "I'm you, you can't lie to me! You can't lie to yourself!" It should be noted that at this point the Voice of Legion has all but disappeared. Does this mean that whatever this figure is, it has materialized itself fully and become more real?

The Alice-creature begins to stomp its foot, not out of petulance, but to help Alice get what she wants, a chance to kill the Red Queen. Up above ground, the Red Queen can indeed feel each tremor and was perhaps standing too close to the edge of the ravine, since a well placed stomp sends her toppling over the edge and into the cave below. Now that the Red Queen has joined the party, the Alice-creature orders her older self to kill the queen. She's in both of their heads and if Alice succeeds in killing the queen, the creature will tell our hero where Cyrus is. The Red Queen tries to magic the figure away, but it doesn't work.

The creature circles, asking Alice where being good has gotten them. Their foe is a queen while they suffer. Alice steels her gaze and raise her sword, telling the Red Queen that someone needs to pay and swings her weapon... sending it into the dirt. It won't be Alice who makes the queen pay. The creature disappears, praise all that is holy, and is replaced with a clean and bright version of young Alice who congratulates her older counterpart. This was the test and by sparing her enemy, Alice has proven she is truly pure of heart. The figure of young Alice dissolves in the magic dust they have been seeking, which older Alice gathers into a bag. The Red Queen asks Alice why she was spared and Alice simply replies that it was because she was not like the queen.

One last flashback, where we see Bandit Anastasia, creeping about the throne room while Will waits outside under a balcony to receive the goods. Anastasia deftly picks the lock, having apparently learned many skills from her boyfriend, and begins to clean out the royal jewelry box. She stops for a moment to admire a tiara, the same one she has worn throughout the episode in present day Wonderland. Her admiration for all things shiny is brought to a grinding halt by the king. He inquires as to why Anastasia is stealing his riches, to which she replies that she needs them more than he does. The king goes on about the have and the have-nots and how this is the way of things, though it doesn't have to be because there is something special about Anastasia. She seems to be living a life that she wasn't meant for and he wants to take her hand in marriage. Ah, so the king was being flirty at the ball, though for some reason their age gap, a thing that usually doesn't bother me, seems a bit skeezy here.

The king leads Anastasia to a mirror and places the tiara she had been admiring on her head, telling her that her ambition to be more than what she is now is perfect for a ruler and what he desires in a queen. She protests, stating she loves another, but the king tells Anastasia that love is not enough and she won't realize this before it's too late. This is quite the antithesis of the show's general message that True Love conquers all, though from the end of the episode it can be gathered that the king was wrong in telling the future queen that love is fleeting. All this while Will still is waiting impatiently under the balcony, where many citizens of Wonderland have gathered. The king appears on the balcony and introduces his new queen to his subjects, bringing out a finely dress Anastasia the greet the court. You can literally see Will heart break. We know Anastasia does as she locks eyes with Will one last time.

Back a top the ravine, the Red Queen asks Alice to hand over the dust, but Alice refuses, asking first to be told of Cyrus's location. However, the Red Queen betrays Alice and uses her magic to snatch the pouch right off Alice's belt. When and how did the Red Queen learn magic in the first place? Perhaps she had private tutoring from the Queen of Hearts, oh how I would love to see a scene like that. The Red Queen has no qualms about her lie to Alice, reminding the girl that only one of them is pure of heart. Alice counters that she gave the Red Queen her life, but the queen doesn't agree, stating that everything in her life she had to take, just like the dust. The queen turns on her crimson heel and leaves and we see that Alice has once again displayed her trademark forethought, two steps ahead of everyone else as opens her hand, revealing a bit of the magic dust she saved for herself.

At Jafar's tower, Cyrus the Cooler King has yet to be found out, stealthy making his way to the exit of Jafar's lair. Jafar, it seems, has gathered the information he needed as the White Rabbit is once again bipedal, though the Rabbit can't leave just yet as the sorcerer needs him to open a portal to another realm. Well, the White Rabbit doesn't think too much of this plan, and runs out of the room, with Jafar not far behind. The Rabbit runs right into Cyrus and there is a tense moment where we are not sure if the genie's cover will be blown. Thankfully, the White Rabbit tells Cyrus to go and find Alice, and stalls Jafar by agreeing to open the portal. Jafar comments that this is a wise decison as whatever lies beyond the tower is dangerous indeed. I'm wondering if perhaps Jafar has employed the use of a Jabberwock as added security.

Back in the courtyard, the Red Queen removes the Knave's blanket of bird poop protection and for a moment I wonder if she will attempt to use True Love's Kiss to break the spell. But no, she pulls out the pouch of dust, showering the Knave with the magical powder. It seems her intention all along was not to protect herself from Jafar, but save her love, for who can doubt now that the Red Queen is still in love with the Knave of Hearts. As the curse lifts, the queen departs, sneaking away before the Knave can see who released him as he collapses to the ground, struggling to recover. At the edge of a valley, Alice uses her own bit of dust to show her the location and path to Jafar's tower. She vows to Cyrus that she is coming for him and across the valley, Cyrus finally escapes his dungeon, blinking in the sunlight and echoing Alice's vow.

There you have it, another excellent installment of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I enjoyed it, not only because the Red Queen and Knave of Heart's joint back stories were a treat, but for the many questions it raised in the mind of the audience. What does the Red Queen want with Cyrus's wishes? We know Jafar wants to rewrite the laws of magic, but how will this help the queen? What made Jafar approach her for an alliance in the first place.

We see from the flashbacks that the Red Queen wasn't always red. What did she do to overthrow the king and take his castle and his crown? Was it the influence of one of Wonderland's other card-carrying queens? And how did she secure the loyalty of the Tweedles? Perhaps Will's hatred of the king for stealing his love is what drove him to become the Knave of Hearts and join Cora the Queen of Hearts's court?

Who is the other prisoner in Jafar's tower? I really do think that perhaps it's the sultan, Jafar's father, being held captive as a form of revenge for the wrongs he inflicted on the sorcerer. What information does this man hold that Jafar desires so badly? Is it the identity of Jafar's mother? If so, then who is this woman and why does her identity need to be kept a secret?

And finally, if the White Rabbit is indeed off the fetch Alice's father with Jafar, how will his sudden exposure to Wonderland, a realm he has for so long dismissed as a childhood fantasy, change his relationship with his daughter? Will Alice's father be forced to believe or will he be kept in the dark about Wonderland at large?

Also, a bit of personal house keeping. I will be out of town at a convention next week and unable to cover Once Upon a Time in Wonderland's sixth episode, "Who's Alice". I encourage you to keep an eye out for Darth Locke's review next week and I will be back in action for episode seven!

Well, dear readers, what did you think of this most recent episode?

Ashley B
is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention attendee, and resident sass master, Ashley also writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time over at GottaWatchIt.com. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.

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