Posted by Ashley B at Friday, December 06, 2013 3 CommentsOnce Upon A Time In Wonderland , Reviews
This week we begin with a flashback, not to Victorian England, but Agrabah. We see young Jafar at his mother's bedside. Since this show is closely tied to Disney, I don't think mommie dearest will be lasting long. Jafar's mother, a healer, also seems aware of this and instead of leaving the boy an orphan, tells her son that his true father will take him in and he can be found at the palace. "But the Sultan lives at the palace," young Jafar protests. Yes well, hopefully this kid grows into his smarts, because surprise, his father is the sultan. A death rattle away from the end, Jafar's mother gives him a ring that will prove he is the sultan's offspring and that he will not be turned away. Oh lady, if you only stuck around for another 20 minutes into this episode... She then promptly bites the Agrabean dust, a small puff of something supernatural leaving her body as she goes.
As the pair recover from their landing through the portal, Jafar dismisses the White Rabbit quite insistently. Perhaps he realizes that the Rabbit has his ear to the ground, so to speak, and will report information back to either Alice or the Red Queen? Alice's father is amazed by the Lisa Frank cover art that is Wonderland, proclaiming it to either be a dream or a hallucination. Sorry sir, the stoner episode was last week. Jafar sells Alice's father a line about how there are villains afoot and Alice needs to be saved, but the father protests, explaining the rough history he has with his daughter and why he would probably be the last person she wanted to see. While he is speaking with Jafar, Alice's father nervously cleans his spectacles, a spectacle the camera makes sure we take in. We are obviously meant to notice this, just as Jafar does. After hearing that father and daughter have their share of baggage and difficulties, Jafar proclaims that a shame, since he was counting on a familial bond. Whatever this sinister proclamation means, we'll have to wait a few scenes to hear about it.
Over at the Red Queen's palace, a Tweedle strides in with a report. It's been a while since we've seen the Tweedles together as a pair, which is odd considering how complimentary and in sync these characters traditionally are. Also, in this version of the Wonderland tale, what exactly is a Tweedle? We've no indication what they do or where they came from, other than that they are here now and the Red Queen's servants. The Tweedle reports that they searched the entire shore with no sign of Cyrus, The Red Queen, dissatisfied, bids them to keep searching. This Tweedle decides to display some trademark Jane Espenson sass, throwing out suggestions as to Cyrus's status. The Red Queen reminds him that she has the upper hand if she can find Cyrus before Jafar since she also has the bottle. Too bad Jafar has sidled up behind her, listening to her spill her plan. But before the Red Queen can stick her red stiletto even further into her mouth, the sorcerer pipes up. He wants to know where Alice is, but is instantly side tracked when he discovers Cyrus escaped in his absence. After a bit of a power scuffle regarding guards, but before he bids his adieu, Jafar reminds the Red Queen that even if she has all the pieces of the puzzle; the genie, the bottle, she still needs him to re-write the laws of magic for her. This causes me to wonder what law the Red Queen wants re-written. My money is now on the law of love, that she wants the Knave of Hearts to love her once more, but only time will tell.
who is returning for episode 11, praise be to Barbara Hershey) is a more powerful magic practitioner than Jafar or they both deal in different brands of magic. The sorcerer puts a stopper in a vial of his potion and sets out, instructing that Alice's father be strung up in his own cage.
Meanwhile, Alice and the Knave of Hearts are still at the shore, taking stock of what tools they have to get up to Jafar's island in the sky. While I hum 8-bit inventory screen music, Alice and the Knave turn out their pockets, finding either items of very little use, like the keys to Granny's diner (boy does she have a crossbow with your name on it now), or items that can't be used at all, like Alice's wishes. Alice is banking on her Sudden Moment of Cleverness here, as she declares all they need is to be creative. Their planning is interrupted by shrill chirping from the tree line. Our heroes investigate and come across something called a BirdBark Tree, a shrubbery whose wood has remarkable levitation properties. This inspires Alice with a plan.
The sultan clearly had affection for Jafar's mother, he seemed to have a moment of regret for her passing and even asked after her, so why be so cruel to his son? Is it because he worries about his lineage or the scandal that would result? And the sultan's disdain only grows as the episode goes on. This guy will make Peter Pan look like an A+ parent.
Papa Jafar spins a tale of finally believing Alice's stories after she disappeared, buying a mirror that was said to have magical properties, and wandering around Wonderland for a while. Papa Jafar is sure to include the glasses cleaning tic, but Alice is actually still quite angry with her father, or rather the man she perceives to be him. She tells her parental imposter that "he" treated her as a burden not a daughter when all she needed was someone to believe in her and be at her side instead of ignoring her. Alice wanted him to try for her and now it's too late for him to do so. Looks like your brilliant plan is backfiring there Jafar.
Later that night, young Jafar is in his quarters when his half brother, the prince, arrives in his doorway. His costume kind of reminds me of Hadji from Johnny Quest, but the kid's attitude is anything but cartoon-y as he proceeds to lay the royal smack down on Jafar. The sultan interrupts, but instead of punishing the prince, bids him the give Jafar another slap. He proclaims the prince his only heir and teaches the lesson that in order to rule you must be feared. This is "How to Make a Super Villian 101" type stuff.
In a flashback to Agrabah, young Jafar is washing his face, no doubt still recovering from Ali Baba and the 40 Slaps he had to endure earlier. The sultan arrives and with very little preamble grabs Jafar and shoves his head in the wash basin, holding the boy down until he stops struggling. As Jafar goes limp, the sultan calls for guards to come and take the body away with the trash. They wrap him up in a carpet like a mob hit and I wonder if this carpet will soon have another life as Jafar's magical mode of transportation. Later on, the boy miraculously wakes up in a junk yard at the urging of whatever magic left at the moment of his mother's death (she was a healer after all), and Jafar gazes hatefully back at Agrabah.
On the shore, night has fallen as Alice, The Knave of Hearts, and Papa Jafar make camp. They are roasting something carnivorous, snacking on a predator that almost killed you being a "Wonderland rite of passage" according to the Knave. As Alice hands her faux father his share and he begins to chow down, a strange look crosses her face. Before you can say, "Oh look at the moon, it's time to go!" Alice has fabricated an excuse to have a secret pow wow with the Knave. Apparently, Alice's father always says grace before a meal. Even if it's just a snack, he blesses his food, making the earlier scene of him praying over his prison slop more than just filler. Because of this, Alice is now firmly convinced that the man breaking bread with them is not her father. They run off into the woods, leaving Jafar to get wind that the charade is over. He summons his snake staff and drops the disguise and boy now we know he means business.
Alice, upset that she had to use a wish, takes comfort that her father finally understands her. However, the Knave points out that wishes come at a cost, and true to magic coming with price, we jump to Alice's father jerking awake on the couch in his home. To him it was all a dream, none of his adventure in Wonderland was real. While he looks visibly shaken, one has to wonder if any of his character development will stick. I think deep down Alice's father was changed by his "dream", but I don't believe we will see the results of this change for a very long time.
In the present day, the former sultan reiterates that he will never call Jafar his son so he should just be killed now. Jafar assures his father that when Alice uses her third wish and the laws of magic are rewritten, he will be singing a different tune. And there you have it, Jafar's master plan. He wants to force his father to love him, an act that the sultan comments on as being empty and meaningless since the love has to be stolen. Then, in a final act of defiance, the sultan steps off the edge of the cliff, denying Jafar the satisfaction of being called "son". Or he would if Jafar didn't have a magic carpet to levitate his father back up the cliff. An interesting parallel, both father and son resurrected with the carpet. Perhaps they are more alike than the sultan wants to admit.
The final shot of the episode is Cyrus, confirmed to have survived his tumble off Jafar's island, regaining consciousness and immediately saying, "Alice" before springing into action.
So readers, what did you think? How did you feel about the sultan's cruelty? Alice's reunion with her father? Or how about the fact that all the progress Alice's father made could be gone forever? What do you think is next for the Red Queen now that she openly is working against Jafar? And where the heck is the Knave's heart?? Let us know in the comments!
Hopefully some questions are answered next week in the mid-season finale entitled "Home".
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