one episode left in the series, many events occurred this week with quite a few surprises. And yet, this episode didn't feel particularly rushed. I enjoyed how the flashbacks in this episode brought the story of Alice's past in Wonderland full circle. I was also pleased at the return of more humorous bits and definitely surprised more than once while watching. It's odd to think how far we've come in only twelve episodes, but let's leave the retrospective review until next week and the finale. For now, on to the action!
This episode begins with a despondent Knave of Hearts being taunted by Jafar through his jail cell. Jafar has so thoughtfully decided to place a glass coffin containing the now deceased Red Queen right outside the cell. Way to twist the knife there Jafar, oh wait, you already did that. By the way, the guy who makes glass coffins must be making bank, between Snow White and Daniel's tombs on Once Upon a Time, and the coffin we seen here. Jafar continues to pick at the Knave, causing an explosive outburst from his prisoner. Even the Sultan is over in his cell like, "Damn, that's cold, man", but Jafar is quick to remind his father that mercy is not a family trait. The sorcerer has taken a liking to how passionate the Knave is now that he has been reunited with his heart and offers the prisoner a deal. There's a small shout out to Jefferson here as the Knave of Hearts claims Jafar is "madder than the Hatter" if he think he is going to get any help. However, Jafar presses on, dangling the possibility of bringing the Red Queen back in front of the Knave. What role will the Knave play in Jafar's latest scheme?
Alice wishes to rid herself of the annoyance of constant murder attempts and offers to steal the Knave's heart back. He scoffs at the idea since his heart is in the queen's vault, guarded by her best men. Alice assures him that even though he says the best thieves don't work alone, she is up to the task and that every one deserves a second chance. Boom, there it is, the running theme of our show. This is also the back story I've been waiting to see since it was alluded to in the earliest of episodes. I am really enjoying watching Alice and the Knave of Hearts growing from foes into friends.
The Knave of Hearts's punch sends us back to another flashback, where we see Alice creeping around in the Queen of Heart's hedge maze. Remember, as we saw in the Once Upon a Time episode "Hat Trick" those hedges are hungry and deadly to the touch. Alice has really done her homework, counting off the seconds it takes for the guards of the vault to change, boldly sneaking right up behind them to pickpocket the keys. I feel as if I've played this level on Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Using their efficiency against them, Alice continues to countdown the spaces between their movements and succeeds in entering the vault undetected. Cora, however, has her own unique filing system, so at first Alice is stymied. Our heroine quickly realizes that the designations on the drawers correspond to a deck of cards. Yes, yes more card metaphors please. Remembering that the Knave referred to himself as a "jack of all trades", Alice deduces that his heart lies in the "J-H" box.
The Knave lashes out a bit here, telling Alice that he risked life and limb for her to reclaim her True Love, so why can't he go to great lengths to restore his? Alice tries to tell the Knave the that circumstances are different, but he cuts her off and brashly tells her that her problem is that she thinks her love story is the only one worth fighting for. Wow, I have to say that is a bold move for show to actually take one of its core themes, the thing thousands of dollars of advertising money went to promoting, that this love between Cyrus and Alice is the end all be all, and then put it down here. The Knave of Hearts just flat out said what some of us were thinking in regards to our main couple. I like this, it's refreshing. I know a million years ago, when I started writing these reviews, I said I wasn't very invested in the main love story, that romantic, sappy story lines weren't my cup of tea. This show hasn't really gone in that direction and I think that's why I've grown to love it. It abandoned the overly saccharine image of just "True Love conquering all" for more harsh realities. That people mess up, are imperfect, and can be selfish. That True Love doesn't just happen, it has to be worked towards and cultivated. And that with all these mistakes and imperfections, second chances are possible and that's how love conquers conflict.
In the present day, well night, The Knave, Cyrus, and Alice are trudging by torchlight through the woods. Seems that the Knave and the former genie have made peace. They are halted by Alice, who senses something is not right as the woods have gone silent. She guesses the Jabberwocky is near and when Cyrus asks if Alice is sure, their torches are doused by a mysterious breeze. Ok, now the Jabberwocky just screwing with them, though that is in line with her personality. Alice bravely calls the monster out, and the fear master appears, generously allowing the torches to relight. Surprisingly, the Jabberwocky is there of her own accord. She has grown tired of Jafar and wishes for her freedom. Alice and company are obviously less than eager to help, but the Jabberwocky suavely points out that she feeds on fear and if Jafar is eliminated, the fear in this realm will dissipate and she will have to move on. So everyone gets what they want. Unfortunately, our heroes want more than to defeat Jafar, they want to restore the Red Queen. And if the Jabberwocky can't do that then she is of no use. The Jabberwocky concedes that she can't help them with this task, but gestures to the snake staff, claiming "she" can. We know that two sorcerers are needed to complete the spell and change the laws of magic. Perhaps if Amara is in control of the spell, she alone can wield it's power and use it for nobler purposes than Jafar.
Flashback to a lighter scene as we see Alice and the Knave of Hearts sharing a pint in a tavern. Actually, this is more of a chugging contest, with Alice whomping the Knave. Between this and the Knave always going on about a cold beer, these protagonists are my kind of people. Alice feels guilty about holding onto the Knave's heart, but the Knave assures her that treating him to a cold one and fighting for the love of her family certainly makes her less that terrible. The Knave tells a story of his sister, Penelope, who he lost in an accident involving thin ice. He likes to think that she would have turned out much like Alice, cementing the brother-sister relationship we've seen between these two characters and perhaps giving a reason as to why the Knave has agreed to help Alice in this and future endeavors. The name Penelope may have no significance as the only Penelope in literature I can think of is that of The Odyssey, which doesn't fit into the present story much, only perhaps to reference the fact that this sibling, like bond between the Knave of Hearts and Alice is what set the Knave off on his journey in the series.
Meanwhile in the dungeons, Alice is still counting. She and the Knave have a brief moment where they acknowledge that there is no turning back in this plan, that anything can happen. Foreshadowing is casting its shadow on this operation. She then directs the Knave to where he will be most likely spotted by the guards. The Knave of Hearts leads them off in a chase, clearing the way for Alice to free the Sultan. Knowing the Sultan means much to Jafar, she resons having another ally on their team won't hurt. Man, all of Jafar's ghosts are going to come back and haunt him at the same time.
In Jafar's dungeon, Alice and the Sultan are making their escape, only to be confronted by a slew of guards. The Sultan is taken aback, telling Alice there are too many enemies. But here, here is where our heroine shines as she draws her blade and opens an entire case of whoop ass. I've missed seeing Action Alice and the viewer gets a healthy reminder that this Alice in Wonderland is no damsel in distress. This has to be one of her best action scenes as she defeats the guards with ease. When asked by the Sultan where she learned her skills, Alice replies that Cyrus taught her and it wasn't by luck that she stumbled upon his bottle.
Amara cradles her dead son as Jafar stands over her triumphant. He knows now that Amara will do his bidding and help complete the spell in order to bring Cyrus back. They only need the bottles, not the genies inside for this magic, and the two begin to weave their spell. Alice rushes in and sees Cyrus lying on the floor. She goes to him while the throne room shakes with the power of the magic being created and in a final shot we see Jafar's eyes glow with power. It seems this time evil has won.
Do you think, now that the laws of magic seem to be broken, that both the Red Queen and Cyrus can be resurrected? I believe in the end all our heroes will get their happy endings. I'm thinking that considering everything everyone went through goes back to the moment Cyrus decided to cheat at cards, there's a possibility the magical fix could be a time do over, where Cyrus never played that hand, which would mean the three brothers were never turned into genies, meaning Amara would never take on Jafar as a student. Would the Knave of Hearts and the Red Queen decide to remain in the Enchanted Forest, never going to Wonderland in the first place? And what would this mean for Cyrus and Alice? Would True Love still find a way for these two to be together if the events of Once Upon a Time In Wonderland never happened?
According to the preview, next week is the series finale and final episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. This has been an amazing journey and I hope that you tune in with me for episode thirteen, entitled "And They Lived..." and see if our favorite characters do live happily ever after.