Posted by Ashley B at Saturday, March 15, 2014 7 Comments
The episode begins in Agrabah of the past, where Cyrus and his two brothers are playing cards at a local watering hole. It seems like they are playing an expy of poker, each player choosing to either up the ante or pass. When Cyrus's turn comes, he places his mother's enchanted compass on the table. Cyrus's older brother warns him to quit while they are ahead, but Cyrus smugly pushes on. I feel these glimpses into who Cyrus was before he became a genie definitely help me appreciate him as a character more. In the past he was more of a smarmy rouge as opposed to the gentle, dreamy genie we have seen so far. That was one quality of Cyrus's I didn't appreciate, the unfaltering positivity and calm. This episode does well to show the real Cyrus once the genie cuffs come off. In this flashback, Cyrus is doing his best Jack Dawson impression as he wipes the the floor with the other poker players. Well, we know how Titanic turned out for Jack, so it's safe to bet the future doesn't look so bright for the three brothers.
Back in present day Wonderland, our heroes are laying low in Cyrus and Alice's hidden love nest. To defeat Jafar and his magic they'll need an army, something they no longer have, despite the Red Queen's desire to hold on to the notion that she can win her people back. A new plan is formed. If the curse set upon all the genies can be lifted, Jafar will no longer hold their power. All Cyrus has to do is return to the place that they were cursed, a place called the Well of Wonders whose guardian so fit to curse the brothers. Too bad this well is all the way in Agrabah. Anyone up for hijacking Jafar's magic carpet?
Elsewhere in the realm, we see the aftermath of the Knave of Hearts kegger. Villagers are passed out left, right, and center from having too good of a time. Yup, all magic comes with a price. As we pan over the passed out populace, we hear chickens clucking and wind chimes chiming, when suddenly everything goes deathly still. The sound is sucked out of the area, similarly to that horror movie with the ventriloquist dummies, Dead Silence. I have to say, this is very effective in heightening the creepiness of the Jabberwocky, as we soon see her saunter on to the scene. Is this silence a conscious effort or a side effect of her presence when she's sniffing out someone's fear? The absence of things can cause as much fear as a monster or ax murderer. Again, less is more.
The Jabberwocky picks a victim and invades his personal space to rouse him. She demands to know where the genie went and who he was with, not even pausing for answer before looking straight into this man's mind and reading his thoughts, his fears that the Jabberwocky will murder his wife and children. Yes, even the "baaaaaabyyyyyy", as the Jabberwocky puts it. She whispers something intelligible into the man's ear, causing him to quickly give up the location of Lizard's house. All the while the Jabberwocky is putting the whammy on this guy, her eyes are locked on his. Is this just an intimidation factor or is she really using his eyes as a window to his soul? The Jabberwocky is disappointed to find Lizard dead (the Red Queen couldn't have put a blanket over her corpse?) and the genie bottle missing. She stares around the room for inspiration, when suddenly it hits. And boy is it a doozy.
Jafar takes the eyes, (there are retina still attached, did you borrow these props from Hannibal?) and dumps them in a bowl, a clear bowl because of course we have to see the eyes that have been plucked out of Lizard's head, and pours some magical Visine over them. He utters an incantation. The music gets a little loud here, so the only latin I can pick up is at the end of the spell, "visione revelare" which as it sounds, means "vison reveal". And reveal it does as we see a projection of what Lizard saw in her final moments, the Red Queen, closing her eyelids. Realizing the queen has the genie, Jafar commands the Jabberwocky to bring her to him.
In a flashback, we see Cyrus and his brothers debate on the wisdom of going to the Well of Wonders. Legend tells that it has the power to grant health to the sick and bravery to the cowardly and might be their only hope. Cyrus guilts his brothers into joining this quest, the eldest reluctant to leave his mother to die alone if the legends are false, and the youngest looking to his older brothers for guidance. Cyrus feels immense regret that it was his cheating that resulted in their mother's fate and finally convinces the other two to join him. The trio grab waterskins and set off on their quest.
In present day Wonderland, Cyrus and Alice make their way through the woods, following a path to this realm's version of the Well of Wonders. Cyrus seems withdrawn, almost irritated. He distractedly and vaguely answers Alice's questions about his past and yes, this is what I've been craving. We know these two have a love like no other, but to see Alice struggle to learn of Cyrus's past and for him to react adversely and very humanly to sharing painful information like that is refreshing. I enjoy that these two have conflict, it makes it feel that as they work through their problems, their great love isn't some unobtainable fairy tale happenstance.
The White Rabbit informs the Knave and the Red Queen that a battle with Jafar is the least of their worries since he has let the Jabberwocky loose. The Red Queen is shaken, while the Knave doesn't seem to know what's going on. Was the Red Queen the one who imprisoned the Jabberwocky in the first place, perhaps at a time when the Knave was no longer in Wonderland? Despite the imminent and very real danger, the Red Queen is even more convinced of her plan and bids the White Rabbit to travel the realm, telling people that the battle for Wonderland is about to begin.
But as soon as the Red Queen whirls around, ready to dispense some magic, the Jabberwocky is gone, now only a taunting, sing-song voice. The Red Queen grows more and more agitated as the Jabberwocky continues to pry into her mind, "tasting her dread" as she puts it, which is a terrific line. The queen takes a branch and magics it into a sword, jumping around like a jackrabbit on speed, trying to find the source of the voice taunting her. When the Jabberwocky grows tired of her game and announces that despite the queen's efforts she found the bottle, the monster appears once more and is promptly skewered into a tree my the queen. But only an enchanted blade can trap the Jabberwocky, who wretches herself free, pulling the hilt of the sword through her body, and headbutts the Red Queen into unconsciousness.
While Alice tries coaxing the information out the the knight, Cyrus is seen getting progressively more annoyed until he shouts at the White Knight. This startles Alice and frankly I don't ever recall the genie raising his voice like that before. He explains he is frustrated, not being able to do as he likes. He thought being free from the bottle would change that and once again I am pleased that they are addressing the topics I, as a viewer, long to see. Alice reasons that perhaps one has to deal with the cards they are dealt, echoing the words of Cyrus's brother.
Back in Wonderland, Alice and Cyrus are still stymied by the White Knight and his set of doors. Alice begins questioning the knight, discovering he can only answer "yes or no" questions. Through some quick deduction, she discovers he only speaks the opposite of the truth and deduces which is the correct door, opening a new pathway to the Wonderland Well of Wonders. Before they go through the door though, Alice confront Cyrus, asking him what is wrong, he's been acting strangely all day. The former genie admits that he wants Alice to hang back, that he must do this alone. I think he is ashamed of her overhearing how he got cursed in the first place. Cyrus's temper flares up again as Alice stubbornly refuses to leave his side, so in the end she allows him the pass through the door by himself.
Flashback to Agrabah, the boys are back in town and waste no time, giving the magical water to their mother. At first nothing happens and for a hot minute even I thought they had failed. Then, the woman miraculously beings to heal all her wounds, stripping off her Invisible Man bandages. And who is actually the mother to these three future genies? But Amara, the same woman who taught Jafar everything he knows. If you follow these reviews, you'll know I hypothesized that this might be the case last week and I am feeling mighty pleased about it now. And if you follow the Once Upon a Time franchise closely, you can pull out your hundred yard family tree scrolls and make a new branch. Does this make Jafar Cyrus's step father?
Back at the Well of Wonders, Cyrus stares bleakly into the water after the guardian has sunk away. Alice makes herself known, admitting to Cyrus that she heard everything. The former genie is distraught. He didn't share his past because he was afraid of losing Alice. He considers everything that's happened, the entire Once Upon a Time In Wonderland series to be exact, to be his fault due to his actions. Alice tries to make him feel better by reminding him that everyone makes mistakes, Cyrus insists Alice is the exception. And to his surprise she admits that she lost hope. That she was held in that mental hospital and considered having the procedure done to forget Cyrus. Because she stopped believing in him. This caught me by surprise, I didn't think the writing gods would have heard my prayer so soon. But I do love that this couple, while they made up and moved on rather quickly here, still took the time to share and express their doubts, fears, and regrets. This may prove useful in the future should they encounter the Jabberwocky, who they still don't know is on the loose.
The only way to get the Red Queen to use her wishes is through torture. Enter the Jabberwocky, who's expression couldn't be sunnier. jafar gives the Jabberwocky permission to work the Red Queen over until she is "broken". The monster reacts like it's her birthday and Christmas wrapped into one. This is the face one get's when work and school is canceled due to snow. The Jabberwocky is even quoting the Big Bad Wolf, bidding the Red Queen to "let her in". Let her into her mind, that is, as the Jabberwocky begins to mentally rip the queen apart.
And with that the episode ends on a shot of Jafar uniting all three bottles in front of his spell book as the earth quakes with the power of what he is about to do. So, dear readers, what did you think?
How about the surprise that Amara and Cyrus are related? Do you think she will renounce her evil ways for the sake of her sons or that she will have to make a heroic sacrifice and die before the series is over to redeem herself? I'm personally thinking the latter.
The more I see of the Jabberwocky, the more I am enjoying her presence. I was downright disturbed during that torture scene, the way she picked and picked at the Red Queen brain, hollowing her out through her insecurities. I wonder if she will try to get Jafar, Alice, or Cyrus involved in her mental games.
As disappointed as I was with the White Knight, I think next week will make up for it, because I have two words folks: Barbara. Hershey. See you next week for "Heart of the Matter"!
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