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Once Upon A Time In Wonderland - 1.10 "Dirty Little Secrets" - Review - The Truth Takes Time

Our tenth episode, Dirty Little Secrets, marches on with Jafar using the Jabberwocky to find his missing genie and bottle, while Cyrus wrestles with choices he made in the past.

In the past in Agrabah we come to see Cyrus being a bit of a cheat when playing cards while hanging out with his two brothers. Cyrus doesn't even admit to cheating when the men playing against call him out, but before a fight breaks out the other men are asked to leave and Cyrus buys drinks for all!

On their way home they soon discover that their house is on fire with their mother inside. They are able to save her, but she remains severely burned and could die at any moment. Cyrus can't bare the thought of loosing her and he sets out to find a place called The Well of Wonders. Once he finds it he is introduced to it's guardian named Nyx. Nyx explains that he should not take the magical water because Cyrus' mother's life has already been sealed in fate and destiny, taking the water would come with severe consequences. Cyrus ignores this warning and takes the water anyways.

Back at their home Cyrus and his brothers watch after the water was sprinkled into their mothers sheets. It took a moment, but their mother revives and is revealed to be the great sorceress that also becomes apart of Jafar's serpent staff, Amara! Amara questions their actions and soon realizes that there would be consequences and urges them to leave, but soon after her three sons are bound to bottles and sent away.

In current Wonderland Alice and Cyrus choose to split up when Cyrus tells them briefly about The Well of Wonders and that might be one way for them to free the genies so Jafar can not use them. Jafar sends the Jabberwocky out who is able to kill a mass amount of people in her wake, all dying from fear. She revives a man to get information needed and then allows his to die again.

Ana and Will go to the White Rabbit's house where Ana begs him for her forgiveness and insists that she wants the best for Wonderland. She asks the rabbit if he will spread the word across the land to make an army to fight against Jafar and The Jabberwocky. A little reluctant at first, he agrees.

The Jabberwocky then finds Ana in the forest. She tries to hide Will's bottle, but is consumed by fear. The Jabberwocky starts to look inside her head and reveals the location of the bottle. Both are taken prisoner and later awake tied to chairs in a Wonderland prison.

Cyrus and Alice come to a Knight standing in between two red doors and offers a riddle: One to the Well of Wonders, the other will drag you under. Cyrus becomes a little impatant, but Alice is soon trying to ask the Knight questions to see of get any kind of hint or response. He starts to answer yes and no questions, but Alice soon discovers that he answers them opposite to the truth and thus the Knight is lair! She is able to figure out the door on the right is the right one and when it opens the road to pavillion that houses The Well of Wonders appears. Cyrus is short with Alice and insists that he needs to do this by himself, but won't really explain why.

Meanwhile Jafar again uses the Jabberwocky trying to get Ana to use her wishes since Jafar can not kill either of them. The Jabberwocky gets inside Ana's head even further this time, making her feel the deep pain of disappointment and rejection she has often felt coming from the disapproval of her mother. She soon wishes for a crown, and then more jewels, and then she wishes for the Jabberwocky to stop! Jafar now has all three genies he needs!

Back at the Well of Wonders Cyrus approaches the pool of water and Nyx again rises. He begs for her mercy and pleads that the curse that fell on him should not of been shared with his brothers. At first Nyx says she does not accept his mercy, but then Cyrus again implores he understands now after years of being a genie and granting the demands of others that what he did was wrong. He asks if there is any way to break the curse and Nyx replies by telling him the curse will be broken when he returns the water he stole. He is unsure about how is suppose to do that since he believes his mother to be dead. Nyx tells him that she is not and in time he will understand that everything happens for a reason.

On his way back to Wonderland Cyrus hears rustling in the bushes. Alice appears. Cyrus admits to shame and Alice tries to comfort him by revealing she lost faith in love once after he feel of the cliff by the boiling sea...

In the former Red Queens Palace the Jabberwocky briefly muses at Jafar's plans and he responds rather sharply, but then goes back to the table with the spell book open and says, Lets begin, shall we.

A Breath of Life
I really enjoyed this episode for both the story and mythological reasons. It gave viewers a lot to chew on, but also beautifully have found great ways to make Agrabah's history and Wonderland's feel very entwined. In earlier episodes I discussed that idea of karma and the unique way we have seen mythology that includes these breathes of life and death.

The Jabberwocky and her almost serpent-like body language have been a great addition to the cast and mythos, as Peta Sergeant plays her so psychologically motivated, but a creature who seems carefree, but yet the whisperer of hard truths. She adds another dark element to the series that could tend to only relate to things pertaining to Jafar, but she compliments him and/or even takes what we thought of his darkness to another level.

I had wondered if she would be a creature that literally scared people to death or if she might force others to look past their fears and become stronger for it. So far we see her capacity to literally scare people to death, as mass amounts of people lay dead on the streets of Agrabah, but interestingly viewers can see that she can [at least temporarily] breathe life back into people she has killed! I love this idea because it goes with what we saw in "Bad Blood" and "The Serpent", where Jafar's mother draws her last breathe and it's essence leaves her body and then where after Jafar lay dead on streets after the attempted murder of Jafar's father the Sultan, did some other "breathe of life" re-enter his body. At the time I had wondered what the breathe really was and if it really was Jafar's former spirit returning or if it was the spirit of someone else?

At any rate it seems more evident that all of this ties into what the lady at The Well of Wonders tells Cyrus about fate and reason, and again expounding on Once's mantra of magic comes with a price in which is often eye for an eye (a kind of reciprocity).

It then stands to reason to be able free Cyrus' brothers his mother must be given back to Well of Wonders and obviously this is a great challenge now that we know that their mother is none other than the great and once greatly feared sorceress Amara! It's unclear why Amara was later again thought to be dead by Cyrus and/or if Amara's dark ways are a direct byproduct of this curse or if it's something that happened because she was using Jafar and dark magic to undo the curse of her sons herself, but fell prey to the dark ways needed to achieve such a goal? And then also why didn't his compass work?

But going back to the Jabberwocky, I think it's foolish to think that she's exclusively tied to Jafar and/or that she doesn't also have her own motivations, but more over it will be interesting to see, given that press releases suggest she may be with us to the end of the series, if she's really a bad entity or if like LOSTs smoke monster in relation to John Locke's reasoning (which goes with ides presented in Eastern Philosophy. See more about this below), if this being is just not The Proper Motivation needed to move our characters stories and/or life progressions forward, and if she's just not an integral part of what fate is?

I was also struck by Cyrus shame in the episode and glad that this character, despite his usually optimistic and insightful advice comes with some darker baggage. It humanizes him a great deal as being a character that starts out as human and a character who's back story seems to be the Wonderland and Agrabah story's origin point, making it more vital that he be the one to fix what he may have broken and set into motion. I thought Peter Gadiot., Emma Rigby, and Peta Sergeant all gave great performances.

The guardian Nyx is also an interesting addition to the mythology serving as a guardian and perhaps a voice of reason. She seems like a great shout out to Gore Verbinski's film The Ring (and from the japanese Ringu) about a little girl who died in a well and when people come across a certain video tape, the girl seems to step out from the plane of death to take others down with her and in which one has to go through great lengths to stop the cycle...Nyx is the name for the Grecian Goddess (or personification) for "Night". It's easy then to see Night as a metaphor for the unknown whether is be sleep, darkness, death, and/or the mysteries of life and all we can not see or know.

Another thing to consider is that there still may be a missing piece of the puzzle with Jafar's father the Sultan. If I remember correctly, I believe that one reason Amara took young Jafar on was because he was the Sultan's son and was out for revenge. It still isn't clear why that matters, let alone why Amara spent part of her life being ruthless, despite that she seemed to working towards a way to lift the curse from her sons.

And lastly it's also interesting to think about Jafar and where he will stand by the end of series. It is curious that he has not yet thought of using the Jabberwocky on his own father, seeing that peoples fears also lead to people's truths, as it is very hard to deny Ana's love of Will and her failure as person and a a Queen stemming back from the lack of approval of her own mother. Perhaps the truth is much like Rumple's father; he just simply does not love him, but I still think Jafar deserves an explanation about why exactly that is. On the other hand maybe Jafar's father does love him, but fears Jafar's ability to be a better man than he ever could be and if only he could let of that fear, could maybe Jafar have what he has been searching for, that is, if he can also learn that lesson for himself!

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 Heart of the Island Matter
It would be hard to deny that Once Upon A Time in Wonderland shares some grander metaphysical ideas with LOST after this episode. In LOST the Island was a kind of time machine that houses the essence of all existence, as the heart of the Island (electromagnetic water and light) was "Life, Death, and Rebirth", and as the series explored life extension on every conceivable level from multiple timelines, time travel, memories of the dead, spirits of the dead appeared, some characters were revived and some didn't age after a certain point, and where the ethereal plane (death) is where groups of people could come together and see the spiritual progress they made before moving onto their next material incarnation.

Dharma and The Mysteries if the Universe(s)

Additionally the series took ideas from many theologies and philosophies and seemed to suggest that each one of them had an element of truth to the way everything metaphysically worked, but none of them alone was the whole truth, as it was a combination of those things put together. One of the bigger aspects was Eastern Thought. The concept of dharma and karma bode well in a series with multiple kinds of existences and with a mythology about spiritual progression. There was a science team and organization called The Dharma Initiative that came to the Island in the 1970's to study the Island's unique electromagnetic properties, which included building military bunkers also known as Dharma Stations to do various research experiments and protect the Island. Each Dharma Station featured a logo in the design of the I-ching, --a Touist definition of Divination. The shape is of an octagon, the same shape the pool of water sits in at the outdoor pavilion of The Well of Wonders.

Stranger in A Strange Land
Note: Lana Parrilla guest starred on LOST's "Through The Looking Glass" episodes, as a member of Ben's team manning the underwater Dharma station: The Looking Glass. Her name was Greta Interestingly her Once Upon A Time character, Regina has gone to Wonderland to retrieve her father, has left Jefferson behind, and where she later sends Hook to assassinate her mother Cora, who at the time resided in Wonderland as The Queen of Hearts. As next week's promo suggests, Barbara Hershey reprises her role via flashbacks. It seems likely that Jafar will not be able to use Will for his spell without his heart, which we might suspect Cora has something to do with (after all Will is known as The Knave of HEARTS). This might also turn out to be an interesting thing to see also knowing Rose McGowan is returning to Once Upon A Time to also reprise the younger Cora role, --since many speculated Zelana (The Wicked Witch) might be the daughter of Cora and Rumplestiltskin or King Leopold (which actor Eric Lange will be playing the younger version. His LOST character, Radzinsky was in charge of the creation of the Swan station and was in charge of operating the Flame station)...Let alone the connection that Zelena is wearing Regina's clothes when she traveled to Wonderland in "Hat Trick" and in many respects Wonderland's original literary work is not that far from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz's, in which I think the OUAT writers have also winked at in our Wonderland story!

Note: Amara played by Zuleikha Robinson also played the character Ilana on LOST paralleling a similar relationship with Naveen Andrews' character Sayid as she does with Jafar. Ilana was also seen covered in bandages for an unknown reason when Jacob comes to visit her and "touches" her. This is similar to seeing Amara trying to recover from horrific burns in which then she heals and revives through the magical water of the Well of Wonders. It will then be interesting to see if Amara does have to die, as Ilana's death on LOST was sudden, sad, and horrifically ironic.

We have also seen the Wishing Well in Once Upon A Time, which is very ironic when you think of Wonderland's genie aspect would a wishing well seem suited here and where a the bigger (mythos wise) Well of Wonders might of come in handy for characters like Regina or Rumpelstiltskin.

Interestingly "Dirty Little Secrets" basically gave us a BIG secret mythology wise, in which this magical water exists underneath every land or realm and thus again, similar to LOST, can we assume that this water is interrelated and part of these fate-oriented set of parallel universes that all stem back to this Well of Wonders or others like it.

Course Correction
But besides life extension being a rather common Bad Robot theme (Alias, LOST, Fringe, Revolution, Almost Human, Believe), there is also the idea that fate orientated universes or timelines also come with various kinds of physical limitations, despite the exploration of things one might consider magical or advanced. One then is the concept of course correction, which can be tricky concept in and of itself. On LOST we could deduce that Island course corrected certain things and presented ideas that characters couldn't die until it was their time to die. On Fringe we have Observers who kept accidentally interfering (Observer Effect) and then would turn around and try to make new variable calculations to get any given time line they were looking at back on track to whatever future THEY believed was "correct", but even for them as expressed by the Observer September in "The Firefly", they too are limited by not being able to determine the outcomes of every possible reality, as there just are too many variables to figure out which one would become vital in massively changing course.

Similarly Once Upon A Time too explores these kinds of limitations, including the idea that once someone is dead, they should remain dead, suggesting that this is that beings' (or groups of beings') course and fate, but it's even furthered with the idea that all magic comes with price... (However, we see an exception with the Blue Fairy/Mother Superior, which may suggest Fairy mythology or existence is meant to be a little different than human mythology/existence in these universes)

The Voice of Reason
Even here with this spoof of The Ring's or Ringu's dead-well-girl being the voice of fate and course suggesting much like John Locke that everything happens for a reason (and only in time can we come to understand what that reason is), does even cheating death, such as with Cyrus and his mother Amara, might be apart of Fates plans, despite the warning and/or provocation that one should not cheat death and/or that magic comes at a price. If anything it suggests that life is a learning curb and hopefully meant to lead the characters to being better people and to leave the series with them at a better place.

This Place Is Death

Cyrus ability to revive his mother is also reminiscent to Regina reviving Daniel and Dr.Whale reviving Gerhardt, as these beings didn't come back fully in conscience and ultimately needed to be killed again, but for Regina, she was able to have to a moment of a real goodbye, which is something she wouldn't of had, if she wouldn't have attempted the alleged impossible...

Other kinds of life extension we have seen on Once Upon A Time include Cora using dead bodies as zombi-like soldiers, her ability to shapeshift into people that have died (much like Lost's smoke Monster or Fringe's shapeshifters), Mother Superior/Blue Fairy being revived by Tink's faith in herself, magical water that was to save Charming's mother Ruth, magical water of Neverland healing Charming and Hook's brother, Rumple's father becoming Peter Pan and the immortality of Neverland, and of course Rumplestiltskin becoming The Dark One and gaining the Powers of the Seer...

What's Done Is Done or Everything Changes 
Many iconic LOST phrases have also surfaced over the course of Wonderland's run and although thieves and cheaters are surely a part of the parent series, Once Upon A Time in Wonderland seems to home in on it more closely and there seems to many allusions specifically to James Sawyer Ford. Ultimately though viewers saw Sawyer go through a major transformation by killing Anthony Cooper and being left behind with Juliet Burke. So although Sawyer often said, "What's done is done", suggesting there's no point in going over the past, he still often strived for revenge, in which then nothing was ever really done in terms of Sawyers motivations ("I'm doing what I've always done, Kate, surviving."). This is furthered with Daniel Faraday's "Whatever Happened, Happened", which in the end, Daniel believed that people were variables and not everything was set in stone-doomed to repeat exactly every time. He believed there still had to be variation (law of averages) an any given evolution. Depending on how you take the flash sideways, could have Thee 1970s "our" characters time travel back to THIS time, change 815 from crashing in the next time line, which IMO is the point of the beginnings of the flash sideways --showing us as such--a branch off had been made. The FS was to glimpse of the new future (2004) made, but also where one has to remember the past in order to understand what it is that was made from their last incarnation and then they could move onto the next one together.(Very Wonderland-like-dream logic). So what if the hand one is dealt included the experience of needing to cheat? Is than not also fate then?

Again I would be surprised if this isn't a story that will defy some of these rules of magic, or at least expand on the mythology in that maybe sometimes not all is lost (Lizard) and we can undo some things with simple variable exchanges. determination, and hope.

Think Greek!

And lastly Grecian myth also makes it's way into Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, as it does with it's parent series with the Grecian-like Pavilion and the guardian of the Well of Wonders, Nyx. In Once Upon A Time we see touches of it from Regina's family mausoleum, to Medusa hidden in a Cave, to the story of Fredrick and King Midas, Siren (a reference to The Odyssey), and various Greek deriving names such as Peter, Margaret, and Gretel.

Note: Bad Robot also sprinkles some Ancient Grecian ideas in some of it's tv series such as the Hydra Station and references to The Odyssey on Lost, Peter Bishop and the Greek Phrase"' Be A Better Man Than Your Father' on Fringe, and Person of Interest looks at computer technology and political organizations with metaphors to the Greek Gods.

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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