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Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - Episode 1.03 - Forget Me Not - Review

I must say that with each new episode the tale of Alice and her further adventures in Wonderland grows more intriguing and layered. New relationships and connections are revealed this week, as well as ties to the mothershow, Once Upon a Time. This week we open, not in Wonderland, but the Enchanted Forest, a few years in the past. A carriage straight off the set of Sleepy Hollow speeds through the darkened woods, only to be stopped by some men in the road, one of whom appears to be badly injured. Classic highwayman tactics and yet the coachmen offer help, fetching bandages and water for the apparently wounded man. While they do so, another figure descends from the shadows above in a style that would put Spider-Man to shame and makes off with satchels full of goods.

A quick transition shows the injured man, only now he is laughing by the fireside with his compatriots. These are Robin Hood's Merry Men and they jest at a carriage well robbed. The Prince of Thieves himself appears, congratulating his men on their haul. I love that this connection between the newest season of Once Upon a Time and Wonderland is present. Robin Hood is an intriguing character on OUaT and learning more about him is a bonus for fans of both shows. i especially appreciate that his appearance here is done in a manner that won't exclude viewers who only watch Wonderland.

Spider-Thief returns to the fire pit and reveals himself to be the Knave of Hearts. The stealth and stealing skills he demonstrated were a test to see if he was suited to join Robin's band, and the Knave passed with flying colors, the most primary color being scarlet. Yes, that's right, the Knave of Hearts is actually Will Scarlet, revealing the reason Alice referred to him as "Will" during times of stress. In the traditional tales, the character of Will Scarlet is known for his swordsmanship and skill with daggers, so I hope these traits will come into play in future episodes.

In present day Wonderland, wanted posters depicting the Knave are plastered everywhere. Seems he'd been busy while Alice was away and is wanted for everything from gambling debts to public nudity. It's the Caterpillar who wants the Knave's head and he isn't picky if it's still attached to the Knave's body. The Knave suggests he and Alice split up in order to take the heat off of Alice as she completes her quest, but she refuses. Whoever stole Cyrus's bottle must know where the genie is, so Alice reasons that in order to catch a thief, she needs to have one on her side. With no clues to go on they must find a way to figure out who beat them to the bottle. Alice laments that she can't go into the past and see the culprit, making the Knave realize he might just have the solution.

He tells Alice that they don't need to go to the past, they simply have to view it to solve their mystery. This bit of dialogue reenforces previous statements made by the creators of Once Upon a Time that time travel is not present in the OUaT universe. The object Alice needs for this task is called the Forget Me Knot and I'm loving the word play here. Calling it the Forget Me Knot is splendid, as the flower by the same name is a symbol of remembrance, while the tool in this episode is a method of actively engaging in that remembrance. The Knot is a length of enchanted rope that when tied in a lasso or loop, becomes a frame where one can look into the past and see the last thing that occurred in their current location.

Finding the Knot will prove to be an uneasy task since it is the Caterpillar who has it. Though he seems to operate in methods similar to the Dark One with his love of making deals, the Caterpillar is sounding more and more like a crime lord or mafioso, while Rumpelstilskin comes off as a singular wheeler and dealer, moving chess pieces into place to suit his needs. The Caterpillar's deals sound as if they effect a wider community. The Knave is willing to make a deal, not solely for Alice, but to clear his slate with the Caterpillar. Alice and the Knave find their way into the Caterpillar's mushroom, which has TARDIS-like qualities, concealing, as Obi Wan Kenobi put it so well, "a hive of scum and villainy" below the techno-colored ground of Wonderland. Alice and the Knave have descended into Underland.

Over in Jafar's dungeon, he and the Red Queen have pulled up a table to Cyrus's cage and have chosen this moment for snack time. Jafar shows off the centerpiece of his tablescape, the Origami of Love, and provides the genie with Alice's intercepted message. Now, how is it that the magic paper did not go straight back to Cyrus? Jafar claims it was flitting about the corridor. Does that mean it got lost or is there something about Jafar that dampens other's magic?

Jafar reminds the genie that "magic comes with a price" and I can't help but grin at this tie to Once Upon a Time. It seems this golden rule of magic is overarching and infinite, and intrigues me more to Jafar's motives, as he obviously understands the cost and dangers of magical use, yet is willing to press on with his endeavors to bend or break the four laws of magic mentioned last episode. It is also established that Jafar's goal isn't about stealing Cyrus's magic, that he requires Alice to use all her wishes so he can fairly gain it. And the questions continue to flow as one must wonder, what is so special about this particular genie and why must Alice be the one cast the wishes?

In an effort reminiscent of the movie, The Neverending Story II, the villains plot to get Alice in a situation where she must use those sought after wishes. They consult The Book, a tome outlining various fantastic beasts and how the will kill you. Jafar and the Red Queen page through The Book like an IKEA catalog, commenting that Cyrus will be the the one to tell them which creature will suit their designs the best. After rejecting mome raths and sarlaccs, a very nice little shout out for Star Wars enthusiasts (Greg Mendell would be pleased), they settling on creature Alice has faced before and fears, the bandersnatch. Jafar took a leaf out of Ursula's book, not underestimating the importance of body language, and was observing Cyrus closely, taking the concerned cues from his face and posture to mean that this creature could be Alice's undoing.

Back in Underland, which honestly looks like an underground garden party where the party favors are hookah ash and facial deformities, the Knave comes up in a bit of trouble. He owes just about everyone money and has started a bit of a brawl, until the Caterpillar speaks up from his tent and ends the confrontation. The Caterpillar takes an audience with Alice and the Knave and blows a ring of smoke directly in the latter's face. As a hookah enthusiast myself, one who is known to enjoy a water pipe while writing her reviews, I know that hookah etiquette states it is considered an rude gesture to blow smoke in someone's face. The Caterpillar, in his own way, is openly showing his contempt for his adversary without saying a word.

The Knave offers the Caterpillar a deal for the Forget Me Knot, double payment of all his debts, but the Caterpillar doesn't bite. Knowing he is greedy, Alice is tipped off that their foe is no longer in possession of what they seek, though he must know where it is. So a new deal is struck; tell our heroes where the Knot is and they retrieve it for the Caterpillar, all debts are paid in full. The Caterpillar thinks this is a fine idea since he benefits in every outcome. The Forget Me Knot is with the monster Grendel in the Whispering Woods. The Caterpillar figures that either Alice and the Knave will die trying to get the magical item from Grendel, they'll succeed and bring the Knot to him, or the Knave will try for a double cross, giving the Caterpillar gratis to have his head on a platter. Literally. In the more traditional tellings of Alice in Wonderland, the character of the Caterpillar, while proud, smug, and short tempered, was not nearly as ruthless. He is considered a sinister figure in this version and one must wonder how he got to be so powerful and so blood thirsty.

Speaking of blood thirsty, as the Knave and Alice set out to retrieve the Knot, they discuss what a nasty piece of work Grendel is. For those not familiar, Grendel a monster from the piece of Old English epic poetry known as Beowulf. The monster attacks the hall of the King of Danes and Beowulf battles and slays Grendel to protect the hall. But this is proves to be just the start of Beowulf's troubles, as the death of her son brings down the wraith of Grendel's mother. The poem describes Grendel as a brute, a larger than life man-beast.

In a flashback to the Enchanted Forest, Robin Hood indoctrinates the Knave as a Merry Man for life. He also takes the time to explain his code to the Knave, that they are not thieves, as thieves only steal for themselves. The Merry Men's cause is greater than that. He stresses that when one steals for personal gain alone, they lose themselves. Robin Hood makes plans to leave the forest soon, but the Knave has another idea. He tells Robin of a treasure trove hidden in a castle on the Forbidden Mountain. Robin Hood is familiar with who lives there, the sorceress Maleficent, and wants no part in the loot as he seems strongly adverse to magic. He only concedes after the Knave's insistence that the gold found there would be able to help a far-reaching amount of people, but stresses that the bandits take only the gold. This is a defining character moment for Robin Hood. He puts the needs of the greater good over his own personal discomforts and potential danger, and demonstrates how important he takes oaths and promises.

A short while later, the Knave is seen returning to a small cottage elsewhere in the forest. He joins the unseen Anastasia, the lost love mentioned last episode, and reveals his ultimate plan; to use the Merry Men as a way of stealing what the two of them need to leave the Enchanted Forest forever. I really enjoy the music in the scene, those ethereal vocals that serve as the Knave and Anastasia's theme.

In present day Wonderland, Alice and the Knave come to the home of Grendel and concoct a plan that will employ diversion and daring in order to gain the Knot. Or it would if Grendel wasn't two steps ahead of them as our heroes fall into his trap and are knocked unconscious. They wake later in a kitchen as Grendel prepares to grind their bones to make is bread. The monster himself looks like a cross between Quasimodo and Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein monster. I do very much prefer the use of prosthetic make up over CGI for this character, for as we will see, it allows the actor to really project a sinister air,as well as emote.

While Alice and the Knave struggle with their bonds, Grendel appears to be talking to himself at the table. Actually, we see he is using the Forget Me Knot and is watching the images of a happy couple in the cottage. The Knave realizes that the monster is watching his own past. The Knave, in an effort to distract the brute long enough to break free, begins to question Grendel about the scene he is witnessing in the Knot. He inquires about the woman in the past, irritating Grendel, but the Knave presses on, speaking of losing love and how it can change a person. It's obvious he speaks from experience. The Knave coaches Grendel, telling him the only way to move on is to let go of the pain and leave the past. But the monster doesn't want to move on and has had enough; it's dinner time.

A flashback to the Enchanted Forest and the Merry Men are in Maleficent's castle, searching for her hidden loot. It is stressed that they take no additional items as the split up, though the Knave ignores this warning as he goes off on his own. He finds a curio cabinet full of magical items and selects a small looking glass for himself. Later on, the Merry Men and Robin Hood all celebrate their impressive haul of gold by the fire, though the merry making is quickly cut short by the disembodied voice of Maleficent ringing through the night air. She declares to care nothing of the stolen gold and casts a dire warning for whomever took her missing magical item. Robin Hood is furious that someone would disobey his orders and demands to know the culprit, all the while the Knave remains silent. I truly wish we could have encountered Maleficent in the flesh and am disappointed not to actually see her on my screen. I'm sure scheduling conflicts had a hand in this decision.

In some underground lair, present day Wonderland, we find the Red Queen and Jafar discussing the bandersnatch. Once it gets your scent, it is relentless in hunting you. While they make their way to the beast, Jafar comments on how it seems there is more to the Red Queen than meets the eye, though the queen is evasive, simply stating all Jafar needs to know is her status as monarch. It was at this point that I began pining for the Red Queen's back story episode. Jafar gives the bandersnatch a whiff of the Origami of Love and sends the beast off the find Alice.

Meanwhile, back in Kitchen Nightmares: Wonderland Edition, Alice finally uses her wishes to set herself free, though not how one would expect. She uses the gems as a cutting tool, severing her and the Knave's bonds. Alice's sharp mind is something I love about this character, as well as her ability to think outside the box. Every episode now I've had a moment where I go, "Huh, I never would have thought to approach the problem that way" and it demonstrates the Wonderland writers' ability to make this well-known character their own.

As the duo make their escape, the Knave hesitates, still determined to get the Forget Me Knot, allowing Grendel enough time to return and confront them. There is a brief struggle and our heroes manage to get to the front door, only to find a very irate bandersnatch on the other side. The visual of the beast reminds me of the demon-possessed boar god from Princess Mononoke, not only in appearance, but in it's relentless rampage. Alice, as before stated, is familiar with the bandersnatch and quickly comes up with a plan. She tricks the beast with an illusion of the past using the Forget Me Knot, then employs it as a magic lasso, not to find the truth, but to incapacitate her monster as it corners Grendel, knocking him to the ground. The Knave appears at Grendel's side and in one swift move, runs the bandersnatch through with a sword, evaporating the beast into nothingness.

At the same moment, on the other side of Wonderland, the Red Queen and Jafar observe the bandersnatch's mate dying. The Red Queen explains that these beasts mate for life and its untimely demise signifies that Alice has used a wish to kill her bandersnatch. Jafar disagrees, stating that if a wish was used, he would know and I question how. Is Jafar a genie himself, similar to his fate at the end of the animated version of Aladdin? Just how is this sorcerer so tuned in to these wishes?

In a fit of rage at this development, Jafar blows off some magical steam that even Cyrus can feel in his birdcage prison. At this, Cyrus smiles and reveals to his fellow prisoner that his plan worked. Instead of being played by Jafar and the Red Queen, the genie stacked the deck in his favor. Cyrus knew Alice could defeat the bandersnatch as it was he who taught her how to conquer that particular fear by educating Alice on the beast's weaknesses. The genie guided his captors into picking that particular beast and I have to say that I didn't see that one coming, well done writers.

Back at Grendel's cottage, the monster thanks the Knave for saving his life. Grendel looks through the Knot and sees the vision of his wife is not longer there. He explains that he lost her long ago and stole the Forget Me Knot from the Red Queen so that he might see his wife again. The Red Queen cursed Grendel with his current form for his crime. The monster, having no more need for the Knot, gives it to Alice and the Knave.

Flashback to the Enchanted Forest, we see the Knave sneaking out of Robin Hood's camp. Robin is wise to this and stops the Knave in his tracks. He knows it was the Knave who stole magic and demands to know why, ticking off reasons until coming to the conclusion that a woman is the blame. Robin Hood declares this an unfit excuse to break his code and that Knave has become a true thief, a person only in it for themselves. Robin dismisses the Knave go to deal with Maleficent's wrath on his own.

Back in Wonderland, we have a shot of Grendel, sitting in his ruined kitchen, having what appears to be an existential crisis. I love this scene, the way Grendel just appears to be sorting out what's left of his life. The way he sits at that table, the very personification of "now what", is moving and here is where we see the benefit of practical make-up over the CGI.
This quiet moment is soon interrupted as the Sass Brigade arrives. Jafar and the Red Queen persuade Grendel to tell them who defeated the bandersnatch, coercing him with promises of seeing his dead wife again. The villains solidify for the audience that their goal is to rewrite those four laws of magic, and more specifically it seems, the one regarding resurrecting the dead.

Grendel tells of a woman and man who killed the beast, identifying the Knave by this title, which causes Jafar and the Red Queen's poker faces to slip. It's easy to forget that neither one has made mention of the Knave at this point; they assumed Alice was operating alone. True to his word, in return for the information Jafar reunites Grendel with his wife, though probably not how the monster planned as Jafar stakes Grendel through the heart with his staff. Jafar is a character that holds none of his villainy back. He is prepared to burn the world to the ground if it means he can achieve his goals.

In another part of Wonderland, the Knave and Alice are on the move to where the bottle was buried. Alice knows the score regarding the Knave and connects his untold story with what they just learned about Grendel, a man who lost his truest of loves. She continues to ask after Anastasia, much to the Knave's annoyance as that has been a subject he has avoided all episode. The pair finally get to their destination and use the Forget Me Knot, observing the White Rabbit retrieving Cyrus's bottle for the Red Queen. I'm glad they revealed The Rabbit's treachery to our heroes so soon, as opposed to drawing this development out tediously.

Alice is devastated that the Rabbit could betray them, putting a damper on my previous theory that she was suspicious of him. Realizing that the White Rabbit must have reported everything she and the Knave discussed to the Red Queen, Alice declares the next stop on their journey is to pay the queen a visit. But before they do, they must settle the Knave's debt with the Caterpillar. The Knave, however, in a stroke of either honor or idiocy, doesn't want to give the Knot to the Caterpillar. He knows it will only be used for foul ends and because he chose to get it for Alice and not himself and his needs, he is once again honorable according to Robin Hood's code. The Knave then burns the Knot, destroying it for good.

Well the Caterpillar's ears, or whatever he has in place of ears, must have been burning for the next scene is back in Underland, where the hookah enthusiast exclaims "speak of the devil" as Jafar enters his tent. It says something when the most dastardly person in Wonderland addresses someone else as "the devil". Jafar didn't come for the compliments though. He wants to know everything about the Knave. Everything.

In the final flashback of the episode, the Knave returns to his cottage and his Anastasia. And who does Anastasia turn out to be, but the Red Queen herself! I kind of saw this coming, but am not disappointed at all. You'd never be able to guess Anastasia and the Red Queen were the same woman anyway, as the maroon monarch's trademark icy primness and regal swagger are replaced with excitement, delight, and Emma Rigby's portrayal of girlish enthusiasm. Think Galinda from Wicked, only not a spoiler brat. The two lovers plan on using the looking glass to open a portal to a land far from the Enchanted Forest. The soon-to-be Red Queen gushes about the land they are going to, a place where they can be whoever they want. I wonder who it was who planted the idea of this new land in her head in the first place. As the portal opens, the Knave echoes his lines from the pilot and declares, "Next stop, Wonderland".

I enjoyed this episode thoroughly. Revealing the Knave's back story not only provided his character with more depth, but raised a load of new questions regarding the Red Queen. One can gather that her back story is going to be just tragic, considering her drastic personality change. What was it that turned this fresh-faced young girl into the ice queen she is today? Could it have something to do with how Will Scarlet became the Knave of Hearts? Perhaps there's more than stolen tarts in his past. And I still wonder how The Red Queen got her crown.

It was wonderful seeing a character from Once Upon a Time have substantial impact on the plot, and yet not overtake the Wonderland story. Viewers didn't need the information gathered from this season of Once Upon a Time to enjoy Robin Hood, and those viewers who watch both shows got another unique piece of this character and his story. It was indeed well-balanced. What I find most intriguing is Robin Hood's distaste for magic. Did the events of this episode come before or after he stole magic from Rumpelstilskin to save Maid Marian? I didn't see their son Roland, but one wouldn't expect Robin to bring a toddler along banditing. I wonder most ardently how his distaste for magic will effect the relationship with Regina being hinted at on Once Upon a Time as Regina is someone who thrives on and is addicted to magic.

Grendel was an interesting choice for an antagonist. While not a fairy tale, epic poetry is a form of fiction that incorporates fantastic elements. This branching out gives me hope that the White Knight will indeed be Don Quixote. Whether this was intentional or not, I do find it interesting that in Beowulf, first Grendel is slain, then his mother, and then a dragon. We already have Grendel dispatched, and since the Red Queen created this monster as punishment, she could be classified as his mother, the next foe to be tackled on the list. It might be a stretch, but dragons being snake-like in some cases could symbolize our man with the serpent staff, Jafar, as being the final obstacle. I would applaud the writing staff if this symbolism was intentional.

Well there you have it dear readers,what did you think of the episode?
Will you be joining us in again in two weeks after a break for Halloween?

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 She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.