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Once Upon A Time in Wonderland - 1.08 "Home" - Mid-Season Finale Review, Speculation, & A Look Back

So for this week's article I'm not going to recap the episode, but talk about some of the scenes, the cliffhanger we're left with for the next 3 months, and look back at the season thus far.

Catch A Falling Star (And Put It In Your Pocket)
The opening scene, a flashback, was a really nice scene both aesthetically, as the stars fell like snow, but also because of the contrast of a quick turn over from a romantic and full-of-life moment to an adventurous near death experience for Alice. It's also one of the few times where I really enjoyed Alice and Cyrus' relationship, as I felt the episode catered a little bit more to Cyrus side of it.

That scene and the rest of the flashback scenes helped resonate that 'home is where your heart is' theme, as Cyrus takes wounded Alice to The White Rabbit's family home where Mrs. Rabbit concocts a willow root potion that should and does heal Alice, followed by a lecture from the White Rabbit that if Cyrus really loves Alice, he will let her go and quit living a nomadic existence, to Cyrus giving up his 'Lost 'N Found' to the Caterpillar in order to acquire a secret space that he makes for his and Alice's humble abode, to the Red Queen talking a few steps back in becoming the women she once was.

Let Your Hair Hare Down
Although I couldn't completely blame Alice or, especially Will, I think the characters took a little too much time in their Red Queen trust debate, especially when to the audience it was easy to tell from her appearance, that she had been becoming more sentimental, although wouldn't of it been nice if she would of freed the Rabbit family herself? Ultimately I trust Cyrus intuition, as even more than Prince Charming, I do think he's a character that reflects honestly and taking the moral high road and it was evident from The Red Queen's accent slipping and response to The Knave falling, that she does care for him and her reason for wanting to change the laws of magic do seem to have merit.

The White Rabbit I found a bit obnoxious in the episode. It wasn't that I didn't agree that one does whatever they can to protect the family/people they love, but more over I just don't see him as someone with great moral standards and in any position to make demands or have the right to define what love and a home are. 

Raining On Your Parade
But with that being said, the episode lacked being exceptionally impacting and perhaps it's because we still really don't know that much about some of the characters. If we would of known what the White Rabbit went through to have a family, or if we better understood Ana's transformation into the Red Queen and/or what it means to be that Queen (and the reasons why she felt she needed to keep up the act), or if there is any other reason outside ditching The Knave that would add onto Will's and Alice's distrust of her, would have made these exhibitions more emotionally resonating.

On the other hand the episode did give us interesting mythology and shed a little bit more light onto Cyrus. We now know that Genie's aren't born Genie's and that things can happen to make one become a Genie (you don't even need your heart within yourself), which we see an example of through The Knave's wish that ultimately turns him into one, as we see the price of magic, especially in the form of wishes, comes with an eye for eye a lot of times. Jafar's Thunderstorm cloud was another neat unexpected thing to see and rather metaphoric. 

Through The Looking Glass.
Looking back at the season, I think Once Upon A Time in Wonderland has a good thing started. In comparison to it's counterpart series Once Upon A Time it manages to allude, parallel, and uniquely contrast it, while also being it's own thing, as the series in some ways is more light hearted (say for Jafar), playful, and more philosophical. Once Upon A Time I think suffers more in episodes with poor execution and too much repetition, but it's many more characters give it a flavor and spontaneity that Once Upon A Time in Wonderland at times lacks. At the beginning of the season we had met a lot of other characters, but so far their returns have been so minimal and/or non existent, but I hope very much that we get back in touch with characters like Lizrad, Silvermist, let alone flashback characters The Sultan, Amara, The King, or Alice's relatives along with some new additions including characters we already know and love.

Most of all though I look forward to the story of how the Will becomes The Knave and how he lost his heart. No doubt that this will also relate to The Queen of Hearts, as Barbra Hershey is set to appear in at least one March episode! I think the second half of the season would do best to connect itself back with Once Upon A Time a little bit more directly than it has. I also think it might do better to try and make the current story more interesting, which granted, the The Knave becoming a Genie was a nice twist and good turning point, but so far I think Wonderland's greatest asset has been it's flashback stories. 

Ultimately I think they have a great cast, good ideas/concepts presented, strong themes and parallels within itself, and have a lot of pieces on the board to be able to tell a satisfying story considering Once Upon A Time in Wonderland will probably end up being more like it was originally intended, as a mini series.

Theory Time: Never Loose Your Heart

So I have been wondering about WHERE Will may have hid his heart and I have come up with a few ideas. 1. Given that Will Scarlet becomes a member of Cora's Wonderland Court, as he is dubbed "The Knave of Hearts" (which is a Jack in a deck of cards) and that both characters have their hearts removed so that they can survive and not deal with the pain of their losses, do I think Will's heart might have to relate to Cora more specifically.

One place then might be Neverland. It was suggested in "Down the Rabbit Hole" that Cyrus and Alice had adventured to Neverland sometime after they first met and fell in love ("Mermaids & Pirates" mentioned) and it is Captain Hook that Regina sends to Wonderland to "assist" (kill) her mother Cora. There's a small window where these events could co-exist, especially if the Neverland story would coincide with the story about getting The Knave's heart back. Cora does mention to Hook at the bottom of the beanstalk that she has "traveled to many worlds" (Jefferson's new hat?) and has not come this far to be stopped, implying she no longer trusts him.

2. However, the "home is where your heart is" (Regina had taken hers with her when going to Storybrooke to reunite with Regina aka another definition of 'going home') is a very strong theme, and although we don't know for sure in what realm Will Scarlet was born, again given Cora is from FTL, might we assume the Knave is too! Thus it might be hidden back somewhere in FTL, either where he was he was raised or a place he shared a home or special event with Ana, tying back to the scene in this episode where Will knew she kept precious items in the wagon where they had briefly lived together when arriving in Wonderland. Will should of returned to FTL at some point in order to be apart of Regina's curse.

3. Something completely unexpected (and at this point, because of what happened on Once probably too complicated, but what the heck!). Whether Cora had her heart always hidden in a vault, similar to Regina's vault, is unclear, but what if The Story of The Knave revolves around a parallel between Will and Ana, where Will tries to climb the royal ranks by seeking a romantic relationship with Cora?! Even though Alice gets his heart back [from where ever], what if somehow (Will gives it freely or it is stolen again) if Cora ended up with again! It could then be on Hook's ship or Regina's vault, especially if Cora was truly sentimental about Will...

Or maybe it was in Storybrooke, because Will took it out after his memories were returned? In any case, considering one way or another there's a story here between these two [or potentially three] characters, is there this great irony that Will left Storybrooke just a little time before Cora [and Hook] arrived! But it might be in FTL after since everyone, but Emma and Henry went back to The Enchanted Forest at the end of OUAT's mid-season finale "Going Home"...

Once Upon A Time Factor:
Each review I will bring this section to mention things like crossovers, riffs, similar themes, contrasts, and tie-backs, which may also span into Bad Robot works as well, since OUAT already clearly references them. I watch a lot of TV with mythology however, and if any of you see something I missed, then please share with us in the comments below!


In this episode we see Cyrus have an object he calls a "Lost and Found";  an [enchanted] compass that allows one to find others they love. We have seen a near identical object on Once Upon A Time, as Hansel and Gretel were given one by their father so that they could always find their father again ("True North") and later when Emma and Mary Margaret/Snow White return to the Enchanted Forest and Hook con's Emma into going up the Beanstalk to steal one from Anton the Giant, as secretly Cora/The Queen of Hearts wants this item! ("Tallahassee")

I think this is rather significant or symbolic item to have within Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, as "Tallehasse", "Queen of Hearts", and "The Doctor" are all episodes who's titles and/or subject matter tie us back with Wonderland related objects and characters (Jacqueline/Jack, Cora/The Queen of Hearts, Anton/Tiny, Killian/Hook) and because the Enchanted Compass is so strongly tied to reflect Emma Swan and her own internal struggle with love and acceptance. The compass also ties in nicely with thee  Emma, Hook, and Neal love triangle, as we could view Neal coming back to her, or even her willingness to kiss Hook, (and by extension the ability to have her family returned to her) proof of love lost that is found, despite her excuse that the prince of being The Savior is to not live for yourself, which parallels Genie mythology and/or Wonderland's imprisonment themes. I am hopeful that the second half of the season will give us more significant tie-backs and maybe will through into a love triangle...

Note: Emma's name meaning is "All enCOMPASSing".

Additionally a compass was also a symbolic item on LOST being an item relating to time travel and the relationship between John Locke and Richard Alpert. Emma (and a little bit of Charming) also share commonalities with John Locke from Emma's surname SWAN, to the vehicles they drive (Truck, Bug), and from where Emma spent the later part of her youth where something life changing happens to her in Tallahassee...

I'm Telling The Truth Now.

Although Ana definitely has some parallels and similarities to The Mills, her personality and role is more like Rumpelstiltskin. While in Neverland, we do hear Rumple have to explain that he is no longer interested in killing Henry trying to prove his loyalty to Neal & Emma in particular. It's very similar to Ana trying to explain to Alice and Will that she is there because she still loves Will and wishes to save them all, as, at least for a time, she seems to want to be on their side. Both characters I think will probably still make mistakes and do things unorthodox, but I would like to think that they both have also changed, especially Rumple, as he has not been rejected by his current significant other Belle, where as Anastatia I think still has a lot to prove, but maybe this is wishful thinking?

Going Home
Themes of Home and what home really means continue to be explored on both shows, as characters struggle to make and keep families together often times do other characters also loosing theirs. It's a very strong pop cultural theme and is also explored on other Bad Robot shows such as Lost, Alias, Fringe, and Revolution. Both OUAT and OUATiW have "Home" in their mid-season finale episode titles.

Off the Cuff
Another nice tie back to Once Upon A Time is the Genie cuffs which are a literal objects that keeps a Genie bound to his bottle and magical service of providing wishes. Although a slightly different use on cuffs, does Once Upon A Time's mid-season finale ("Going Home") display them from Rumple trying to control Peter Pan by having it back fire onto himself, which allows him not be able to use magic at all! Magic or no,t Cuffs seems to show us more "imprisonment" themes.

Additionally we learned that Genies are not born, but made. It's unclear if it's exactly the same, but the same might be true, since Fairies like Genies can be demoted/freed back into human. Tink might then parallel Cyrus and eventually Will.

Spirits Inside and Out
In last week's OUATiW episode,"Bad Blood" we saw spirits leave and return to one's body. This is very similar to Henry and Peter Pan switching bodies and back again, as Rumple comments that Henry spirit is now leaving Pan's body ("Going Home"). It may also be a hint that another spirit might reside in Jafar's body other than Jafar's since he seemed to be near death if not dead when The Sultan drowned him and threw him out onto the street!

Where's There's Smoke, There's Magic

And one last tie back is using hair to make a strong potion. Rumpelstiltskin had used Charming and Snow's hair to help him build a back door into breaking the curse aka "what true love creates"---> children, as Emma Swan is "The Savior".  Jafar's potion, a black [killing] thundercloud, which is not quite as micro cosmically reality changing, does resemble a curse and/or other unleashings of magic. Cora too is seen using a wooden staff shortly after she and Hook stage her death to Regina and Regina unleashes The Curse. Cora's tall wooden staff emits "lightening" up into the sky and a shield-dome is created to protect them.

Magical Lights like Snow
The falling stars are similar to other things and special scenes in other Bad Robot shows, such as in Fringe with young Olivia Dunham and young Peter in a White Tulip field where she makes it snow, or the nanites appearing like green glowing fireflies on Revolution.

Heads Keep Rolling
Whether Ana learned it from Cora, or if it's just an all out Wonderland royal tradition is hard to say, but seemingly Ana too is not afraid to make one loose a head, as she leaves one of the betraying Tweedles' head in a box for Jafar to find and as we have seen Cora have Jefferson's head removed.

So did you enjoy the Mid-Season Finale? Do you think Anastasia is done being The Red Queen? Are you looking forward to seeing The Queen of Hearts? Any other characters you want to see introduced or reappear in the second half of the season? Do you want to know how Cyrus became a Genie and what happened to his mother? Let us know in the comments below!

PS: I'm planing on creating a Theoretical Timeline in January to help visually show where some of these events of this series line up with some events in Once Upon A Time

About the Author - Darthlocke4
Laura Becker (Darthlocke 4) is a long time commentator, TV addict, and aspiring writer participating with other fans on SpoilerTV. She writes reviews and analytic type articles. Some of her other interests include philosophy, cultural anthropology, reading, drawing, and working with animals, as she grew up and continues to work on her family's horse farm.

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