Posted by Ashley B at Saturday, December 14, 2013 6 CommentsOnce Upon A Time In Wonderland , Reviews
We begin this week in a flashback. Alice and Cyrus are having a lovey dovey moment where stars fall from the sky like snowflakes. It actually reminds me of that old Windows 98 screen saver where it appears that you are flying through a star field. The music here is very celestial and not something we've heard in this show before. In fact the music throughout the episode is very fitting for every scene, aiding the viewer in empathizing with the events on their screen. As Alice and her genie begin to make out, Alice discovers a trinket worn around Cyrus's neck. It's a small compass, the needle eternally spinning, never finding north. Cyrus explains that the compass was given to him by his mother and always seemed to find her, until one day it didn't. The genie leaves this sentence very open ended, but we are meant to believe she died. I'll believe that when I see it. I'm more intrigued over the fact that a genie is not born a genie, that they somehow fall into servitude.
Present day Wonderland finds Alice, with yet another hair-do, my favorite so far, spying on a couple of guards, when the Knave of Hearts suddenly arrives at her side. He's been answering the call of nature, and while Alice is keen to collect the charges, the Knave refrains from explaining exactly what his metaphor meant. As they observe the guards still on the prowl for Cyrus, the Knave remarks that it's a good sign, since it means the genie hasn't been captured yet. Alice declares that she knows where Cyrus will be going, the only place in Wonderland he can hide and be safe. The Knave of Hearts is skeptical and sassy once more. Why won't you trust Alice's cleverness, Knave? They haven't failed you in the planning department yet.
One of my absolute favorite things about Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is the writer's willingness to play with words. Not just with puns or chess metaphors, which make a return full force this episode, but in the very spirit of Disney version, which was full of rocking horseflies and butterflies that you could literally spread on a piece of toast. It shows a fondness and understand for the source material, for the world of Wonderland that these writers are cultivating further.
Over in the woods of Wonderland, Alice and the Knave of Hearts are seen trudging along. Alice explains that the place Cyrus would be hiding is the Outlands. Their deal was if either she or Cyrus were hurt or lost, they'd meet the other in there. But first, Alice needs to make a pit stop. The Knave is not thrilled that he has to trek all the way to the Outlands and is even less impressed when Alice tells him that they need to see the White Rabbit first. They need the Rabbit's portal making abilities so they all may leave Wonderland for good. Between the homicidal queens and sorcerers crusing around on enchanted floor coverings, things are getting a bit hairy for our protagonists. The Knave is now staunchly against this plan, citing the White Rabbit's betrayal. Alice insists that something must have made him turn on his friends, that he had no choice, and she just might be right.
In present day Wonderland, Cyrus has been hanging from the grapevine for some time, like a piece of unfortunate mistletoe or a bad ornament. The Red Queen in a horse drawn cart drives up and cuts the genie some slack, literally, dropping him into the back of her cart. The Red Queen then snaps her reigns, telling the genie she is taking him back to his bottle. I must point out the Queen's appearance, while still regal, is much more casual. Her hair is not in its usual up-do and she is lacking the crown she usually wears, the one she gave up her love of the Knave of Hearts for. Something is afoot.
Over in Alice and the Knave's neck of the woods, the pair make their way to the White Rabbit's house. Or what's left of it seeing as the tree trunk the portal maker lived in is in disrepair. There's even rotting carrots strewn about. Alice isn't convinced that the homestead is abandoned and bursts into the White Rabbit's tree trunk. Well, at least this time she didn't grow to an astronomical size when invading his house. Inside, they find the Rabbit beside himself with guilt at his betrayal. Alice asks for the Rabbit's help one final time, but he refuses since the Red Queen has his wife and kiddies held hostage. The Rabbit knows that quicker than you can say "hasenfeffer", his family will be done like dinner should he do anything to help Alice. So Alice suggests an alternative; rescue the family. Alice, your hero is showing. The only problem is the White Rabbit doesn't know where they are being kept, he can't find them. Here the Knave steps up to the plate, claiming he may not know where a queen would hide something, but he does know where Anastasia might.
Flashback to the White Rabbit's house with Cyrus pacing nervously out in front of it like a father-to-be waiting for his baby to be delivered. The White Rabbit emerges and assures the genie that Alice will be alright. He also adds that this is no thanks to Cyrus. Find me a neck brace for my mood whiplash. The White Rabbit tells the genie he was lucky that they were there to help. But what happens next time? What kind of vagabond life is this for Alice, always having to look over her shoulder. Cyrus explains to the Rabbit that the risks of such a life are something his love is well aware of, that within each other they found a home.
In present day Wonderland, the Red Queen's chess castle to be precise, Jafar purposefully strides into the main hall, shouting for "her majesty". It appears the castle has been abandoned, with only a box addressed to Jafar left. He opens it and has a Se7en moment as the head of his loyal Tweedle manages to squeak out that the queen is on to them. Man, what is with my favorite television shows and putting character's heads in boxes? First American Horror Story, now this. And how, pray tell, does one remove a head and leave its owner alive enough to spout dry quips? We know the Queen of Hearts can perform this feat, we saw Cora remove and reattach the Mad Hatter's head in the Once Upon a Time episode "Hat Trick". The question is now, when did the Queen of Hearts find the time to tutor the Red Queen?
As their cart jauntily makes its way, the flaming wreckage of the Red Queen's palace in the background, Cyrus wastes no time informing the queen through a flurry of chess metaphors (how I've missed you!) that Jafar is gaining the upper hand. The Red Queen assures her captive that she is in control and irritatedly asks where they can find Alice. The queen raises a good point to counteract Cyrus's suspicion, that Alice will be found eventually, but by who, them or the crazed sorcerer currently setting fire to the Red Queen's garage?
Present day Wonderland and The Knave of Hearts, the White Rabbit, and Alice have arrived at the wagon the Knave and his love lived in during a simpler time. The Knave comments that the wagon was the perfect hiding place since it's run down appearance didn't encourage anyone to investigate further than the front door. As the Knave checks inside for the White Rabbit's family, he pauses, just as the Red Queen did, to take moment and clutch the gown the queen wore when she was simply Anastasia. The Knave snaps himself out of his memories and begins rooting through the debris collected in the wagon, noting the case that formerly held Cyrus's bottle and commenting on the queen's cleverness. I enjoy the fact that both the Knave and the Red Queen had the same reaction to their shared former life. Even without a heart, you can see that the Knave misses what once was, while the Red Queen knows what a terrible mistake she made and is now trying to correct it. Eventually, the Knave frees the White Rabbit's family. The Rabbit, grateful for their return to safety, agrees to keep his promise and sets off with Alice and the Knave of Hearts to the Outlands.
Over in Jafar's cave of wonders, the sorcerer is putting the DNA he lifted from the Red Queen to good use. A little or this, a dash of that and poof! a self contained, seek and destroy storm tailored to search out and eliminate the Red Queen. Jafar releases his new pet and this not-so-little black rain cloud speeds off. The developing storm reminded me of two different monsters. First, the rhinoceros from the Disney version of James and the Giant Peach. This beast is accompanied by his own billowing black storm clouds. Another influence that hits closer to home is the Jabberwock from the 1985 Irwin Allen version of Alice Through the Looking Glass. That's the one where Carol Channing turns into a sheep. Anyway, the Jabberwock, whenever he appears is accompanied by thunder, lightning, and dark storm clouds. So naturally I got very excited that we would finally be seeing the Jabberwock. However, all we got was thunder and lighting, very very less than frightening.
Present day finds us at the same spot, with Alice frantically searching for Cyrus. She enters their home, with the Knave right behind. Not finding her genie in their secret space, she becomes more irritated and irrational. The Knave tries to console her, but Alice lashes out. This is a side of her we haven't seen yet, but it doesn't last for long as she peers through the entrance of their hiding space and spots the genie wandering through the Outlands. Like she was shot out of a cannon, Alice runs to meet her lover across the grassy plain. Think of those slow motion reunions where the couple comes running from opposite sides of the meadow to meet in the middle, only without the slo-mo.
The Knave of Hearts cuts off the Red Queen's explanation, he wants no part in helping her, knowing she is a master at manipulation. The queen stresses that she, along with the rest of them need to get the heck out of Wonderland now and bids the White Rabbit to dig. The group is still at odds, with Alice vowing to never trust the Red Queen , even though she brought the girl her genie back. Alice is quick to remind the queen who was the one to take him in the first place. Alice refuses to budge until she learns why the Red Queen did what she did and why the Red Queen aligned herself with Jafar. The queen explains that Jafar could get her the only thing she wanted, which was the Knave of Hearts. She was going to help Jafar break the laws of magic in order to change the past and undo the biggest mistake of her life. Throughout her explaining and pleading the Red Queen has become less regal and more like the girl the Knave once knew. She even drops her queenly accent and she grows more desperate to reconcile with the fact that she shamefully cast aside her true love.
But right as the White Rabbit is finishing his portal, a bolt of lighting comes streaking down from the clouds towards the group. The Red Queen uses Cyrus's bottle to deflect the blast, but unfortunately deflects the bolt from the blue right into her former boyfriend's chest, knocking the Knave down fro the count, as well as loosing the bottle in the process. As the Knave of Hearts struggles to breathe, a magical glow surrounds Alice and she collapses as well. Remember several episodes ago when Alice used her first wish, stating "if the Knave dies, I die too?" Well, the writers did, and I have to say even though I commented on the implications in that earlier review, I completely forgot about this unfortunate connection until right now. Cyrus begs Alice to use her last wish, but she refuses as she does not want to condemn him to a life back in the bottle. Before they get to saccharine with their good byes, the Knave reminds Cyrus that Alice promised him a wish should he help her be reunited with her genie. All the callbacks this episode!
Well my dear readers, what did you think? I love that this episode relied so heavily on callbacks, especially in the last five or so minutes. Not only was it smart writing that kept the viewer guessing until the very end, it honored the foundations that were placed earlier on in the show. I shall endeavor to keep a closer eye on everything now that I know anything can come back and have an effect on the plot.
My biggest query is how is the show going to change now that everything we know has been thrown out the window. I shake my fist at the writers for springing this before a hiatus, but I am truly interested to see what direction the show will take now. I mean, Cyrus and Alice are reunited, Jafar and the Red Queen's alliance is dissolved, and the Knave is lost. Will a new villain be introduced? Will Jafar have to start over in procuring the genie's wishes? How will the group dynamic be now that the resident couple and the woman who tore them apart are forced to work together?
I guess we'll just have to wait and see when the show returns. The date of return has not been given yet, but keep a steady watch here on SpoilerTV for the latest news from Wonderland.
See you in the spring!
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