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Once Upon A Time in Wonderland - "Bad Blood" Review - All The Best Sorcerers Have Daddy Issues

So this week on Once Upon A Time in Wonderland we come to look a little bit more at Jafar's past again, as we see a series of flashbacks in Agrabah, while Alice and her father are forced to come to terms with each other.

Jafar has brought Alice's father to Wonderland and learning that they have never really been on very good terms for most of Alice's life, Jafar surmises that he will need to become Alice's father by concocting a potion made from Edwin's blood.

Alice and the Knave thinking they have an uphill journey to Jafar's castle are quickly surprised when they come to the shore of a large lake and discover Jafar's castle resides on a floating Island! Trying to figure out what to do next Alice hears a horrible sound which leads her to special kind of tree, called Birdbark Tree, that has levitating properties. She decides that they can build a basket and use some of the tree to help fly them to the castle. 

Watching a bit a ways Jafar drinks his potion and morphs into Alice's father. Alice hears his voice cry out and is shocked to see her father in Wonderland! He tries to tell how sorry he is that he had failed to believe in her and asks for her forgiveness. Alice, a bit skeptical, discusses it with Will. She asks if she should forgive him? Will tells her that she shouldn't, but knows she will, because it's the right thing to do!

The fake Edwin also asks Will what he should do to try and help Alice forgive him. Will tells him that he should help her find Cyrus. He agrees, but not too long after do we see him scribble in a spell in the sand that summons a dragon!

Alice is able to slit the beast's throat with her knife. At night the three eat their former foe and this is when Jafar is given away, as Alice's father would always say grace before eating anything! Alice and Will attempt to get away from the impostor! Jafar is able to summon his Amara-Serpent Staff, changes back into himself, and goes off to retrieve Alice's father, who has been aptly saying grace before the old prisoner in the other cage!

Alice's real father now appears before Alice, as Jafar is about to let him fall to his death. Again we see an image of Edwin plead with his daughter and admits his wrongs, but does not ask Alice to save him. Alice struggles with the truth of this reality, but as he begins to fall to his death Alice wishes her father to return home. Jafar on his magic carpet grins as another wish has now been used and returns to his castle and in rage tries again to force the old prisonor to give him what he wants. But even free of his cage, the man refuses and tries to plunge to his death, but alas the carpet saves a life yet again and Jafar insists escaping him for death won't be that easy.

Alice and Will discuss Alice's choice. Although a bit upset, Alice is somewhat pleased in knowing she came to terms with her father, but Will points out that wishes come with a cost. We catch up to Edwin who awakes in his living room. When confronted by Sarah, he says he has had a dream about Alice and Wonderland, but does not admit to actually experiencing it. It's unclear if he did this to save his marriage, or if he truly isn't sure if what he experiences was real!

The flashbacks are what really made this episode great! We go back to Jafar's childhood before he takes up a life with Amara; a time when his mother dies. She had told him that his real father is non other than "The Sultan" and to take her ring to him, implying that he would care for him should he know Jafar was her's and his son...

Jafar schemes to get an appearance in front of The Sultan by committing a crime that would normally cost him his hand, but upon showing him the ring and half heartedly listening to what Jafar has to say, he lowers the punishment. He refuses for Jafar to call him "father", but he can stay in the Palace and serve the royal family. Jafar agrees/

We see that Jafar's [half] brother Mirza, who's being prepped to become the next Sultan is tested by his father in front of politicians and diplomats. When put on the spot Mirza fails to answer the question, but Jafar steps in and answers perfectly. The Sultan smooths over their shock by saying, "Even the servants in Agrabah are educated."

Mirza later find Jafar in his quarters and begins to beat him for making him look a fool. The Sultan catches him in the act and Mizra quickly apologizes, but The Sultan says to no and to continue to hit him again. Jafar apologizes and says he sorry. The Sultan says yes he knows and this will teach him how to be discrete. He then takes Jafar and begins to drown him! Jafar later awakes on the street, seemingly breathing in new life.

Later sometime after Jafar has transformed and imprisoned Amara he raids The Sultan's Castle. He then insists to the now older man, the man we know as Jafar's old prisoner, to refuse his request to tell Jafar that he loves him and/or accepts him as his son. The Sultan now calls on the also now older Mirza to defend his father, but Mirza, a coward, flees and Jafar appears to instantly kill him.

Spirited Away: Breathing In & Out New Life
What I found most curious about the episode was the mythology of life and death. It's obvious that when Jafar's mother had died the wind had come and her last breath literally became an essence that left her body and moved out into the unknown. What isn't clear to me is if Jafar was dead or near death after his father had tried to murder him ---and "who's" breath is it that gave him new life and if that will mater in terms of Jafar's progression childhood to adulthood and the dark path he takes to get his father's recognition and approval?

One theory I have is his mother's breath. It was mentioned she was a healer and perhaps she gave her son life back so that she could seek out her own revenge!?

But the concept really goes well with other identity transformations we have seen both in this episode, as Jafar becomes Edwin, and in other episodes where Amara becomes the serpent staff ("The Serpent"), and Alice confronts herself ("Heart of Stone") and looses herself ("Who's Alice?").

The transformation and the life, death, and rebirth aspect in conjunction to Wonderland's serpent and spiritual themes also reminds me a bit of the symbol the Ouroboros, -which is a snake-dragon like creature that is eating it's own tail. It represents cycles, re-creating life, and/or eternal return!

Note: Cyrus appears to have a juxtaposition to Jafar awaking on the street after being drowned by his father. Cyrus did not appear to have any 'essence' breathe life back into himself, but he did awake from a near death experience in which he could of easily drowned.

Take A Look in the Looking Glass
Another interesting aspect was how we now can compare Alice with Jafar, although Jafar's back story probably takes the cake not just too Alice, but most of Once Upon A Time's villain's back stories, but more over, that it will be interesting to see how and if Jafar will feel something for her down the line. It was also interesting to compare The Sultan's behavior towards Cyrus and Edwin, who seem to endorse love by supporting them with their fondness for Alice, but yet still refuses to deny Jafar his right of passage.

Ultimately I think there is something (or somethings) we're missing. I wonder if Jafar's mother had lied to Jafar for some reason (hence my theory of revenge) and/or if it's possible The Sultan was switched out by another at some point after Jafar became a servant? It just doesn't make sense for him to be so adamantly against Jafar for no reason other than the blood relation, especially when we see the man be kind to others, then again Mirza is also living proof of someone raised in complete fear., but I feel like there is more to tell about these characters, including Mirza's mother (The Sultan's Wife).

Prince Not So Charming
Mirza is of Persian origin (like Cyrus) and is name that points out one's political/royal rank, as it translates to "Nobleman" or "Prince". It's traditionally used as surname or a pronoun rather than a first name. Mirza characters do appear in stories from "One Thousand and One Arabian Nights".

Dream the Impossible Dream! 
It was briefly mentioned that the Queen has dreams, but I do wonder if it's the general saying of a hope, wish, or expectation, or if it's a hint of actual prophetic visions such as a seer? As also briefly mentioned, it's also unclear if Alice's father tells his wife is what he now believes to be the truth, but given that wishes, like most of magic, comes with a price, it may very well be that Edwin thinks he had a dream and that perhaps nothing much is resolved at all. We also learned what it is Jafar wants, dreams, and wishes to rewrite the laws of magic for, and acceptance and token of love. Alice too was having nightmares after she thought she had lost Cyrus forever.

Note: Jafar's mother's ring seems to have a red gemstone, similar to the appearances of wishes!

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!

The Healing Dragon
Dragons continue to be a motif and theme of both Once Upon A Time and Once Upon A Time in Wonderland.

In this episode we see Alice slay a dragon in which eventually results with some relationship mending with her father by the episode's end. In Once Upon A Time Emma Swan slays Maleficent in dragon form (same as her father Prince Charming), which is part of the process needed for Emma to break the curse and to being magic to Storybrooke. Emma breaking The Curse is also the first step in all of the characters being able to begin their journeys to mending their relationships with each other, including Emma's with her son and parents.

Additionally there is also the character The Dragon (who somehow mysteriously exists outside of Storybrooke in Puckett (and this is an additional reference to Lost episode, "A Stranger in a Strangeland" and to Lost character Dogan). The Dragon was able to help heal people (Like Jafar's mother) through objects they brought him. Unfortunately he was killed. His essence (in the form of red smoke) was absorbed by futuristic device Tamara had.

Note: There are also fire-breathing snap dragonflies ("Down the Rabbit Hole"), Charming had to take his twin brother James' place by slaying a dragon ("The Shepard"), and it's unclear if a Jabborwacky will be synonymous with dragons like in other Alice in Wonderland adaptations, but if so, then James' girlfriend Jack, also has slayed a Wonderland dragon ("Tiny").

An Antiques Dealer.
Although not a direct reference to Rumple/Mr. Gold, Jafar does mention (as a lie) that he picked up something at a little shop of an antiques dealer. I'm also reminded a bit of Captian Hook, as we stereotypical see the crime and punishment of Mideastern law, as stealing requires a loss of a hand. And it is Captain Hook after all that is sent by Regina to retrieve Cora from Wonderland, let alone the seemingly likely prospect that Alice and Cyrus had ventured to Neverland at some point.

Note: The Knave's keychain was in fact to Granny's dinner. By coincidence the code names for Wendy's brothers Michael and John are Keychian and Glasses.

One thing briefly reminding me of something in LOST is the dragons and name of 'Birdbark' [tree] in relation to The Hurley Bird and then the building of the basket is also reminiscent to the characters building things on the Island like the raft.

*****SPOILER: Be on the look out for more serpents and stone-turning on Once Upon A Time in tonight's episode, "The New Neverland" (Also Note: That Greek Science was passed to the Arabians. Think Peter "Pan" and "Pan-dora's" Box, and this character appearing in "The New Neverland") END SPOILER

So what did you think of "Bad Blood"? Is Jafar really related to The Sultan? Is the Sultan just in his actions towards Jafar?  Do you think there is more to this story and have any theories? Let us know in the comments below!

LAURA BECKER (DARTHLOCKE4) 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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