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Once Upon A Time In Wonderland - 1.11 "Heart of the Matter" - Review - If I Only Had A Heart

A Much anticipated episode, Once Upon A Time in Wonderland's "Heart of the Matter" mostly delivers in a pseudo-cross over episode. This week I'm going to skip the general recap since it's an episode that connects us back Once Upon A Time in a more direct way.

At long last we learn a little bit more about Cora's time in Wonderland taking on Anastasia as the perfect protege' and adopted daughter, which is great timing after just learning officially about Cora's first born daughter Zelena on Once Upon A Time on last Sunday's episode, "Witch Hunt".

We learn that there can be more than one royal family in Wonderland at a time and that Anastasia's husband, The Red King, was anti-magic in a belief that they should not distinguish themselves from Wonderland's people, but Cora disagrees. (We seem to be missing a history between those two characters, which almost seems vital in understanding Cora's reasoning here, let alone if there is anything malice behind the Red King).

It was definitely fun to see Barbra Hershey reprise her role and see that she found a substitute for Regina and also Zelena (especially since we might conclude Zelena became an object of Rumple's due to the deal he made with Cora back in "The Miller's Daughter") in her need to teach somebody, but one thing that's sort of left open is why Cora was so determined to help a young woman (her daughter or not) in any capacity? What's really in it for her? Is it guilt or is it legacy? What's really her goal in Wonderland or even life?

I was actually touched and moved by one of Cora's lines of dialogue. It being one of the most rational and beautifully philosophical things any villainous character in either series has have ever stated, "We all come into each others lives for a reason, sometimes it's just a different reason than we thought." It adds another layer back onto Cora and makes me want to go back and rewatch season 2 for another look!

The episode also brings us back to debate about the use of magic. The episode like some others in Once Upon A Time suggests that using magic is not the best thing, as it always comes with a price, but in Wonderland's case it seems more ironic in that Wonderland's people seem to generally disregard magic, even though it's a magical land full of magical places, and where characters keep claiming that, "in Wonderland ANYTHING is possible!" So one might ask is that because people choose not to use magic and miracles happen or, when it's get down to it, does it even matter because eventually all people will get to better place, despite their suffering and/or the way they go about it? (Destiny). But then again I think there is also a debate for the kinds of magic used, and not necessarily all magic is bad, especially since it seems to be the essence of many lands and life, as it hinted at in last week's episode with Cyrus and Nyxe at The Well of Wonders...

I was hoping this episode might shed more light on amount of time passing in Wonderland and seeing where the current Wonderland story specifically fits into Once Upon A Time's currents story. In "Down the Rabbit Hole" we were able to deduce that we started in Storybrooke sometime during the beginning of second season right before Emma and Mary Margaret end up in The Enchanted Forest. In this episode we see Cyrus and Alice almost getting run over by two passing cars. I've been trying to figure out who either of the drivers are and if they are significant players. One review online claimed that the red car was Cora's, but I'm not sure if that jives well with the fact that like Alice, Cora too seemed to be baffled by electricity and other technological devices in The Land Without Magic...so would she really be driving an automobile? The only other red car that I know of is Micheal's and John's, which would have us be at the beginning of season 3, but I do not think that this is their convertible either...

On the downside, the episode really only gives us a glimpse of Cora's story in Wonderland, which could have been made better if other characters we know from Once Upon A Time would of appeared (Jefferson, Henry Sr., Hook) and/or if we could of had some more Cora related episodes in flashbacks, which doesn't look like will end up being the case for the remaining two episodes since Barbra Hershey's name does not appear on press releases, -although she could still be mentioned in passing. The same could be said for the Storybrooke scenes.  It would have been nice, like in the Pilot, if Cyrus and Alice would have actually spoke to someone viewers know on the street, like Ashley/Cinderella or another one of the Dwarves like Sleepy, Dopey, or Bashful. (especially since many anticipate that Ashley is one of Anastasia's sisters and any of the dwarves I mentioned could have made for comedic scenes).

I have also seen comments in other reviews that are disgruntle about continuity and Alice's shock of electricity, I thought I should clarify what our showrunners have said about this before the series even started. In Alice's case her reality is not the Victorian era of The Land Without Magic's past, but a separate Victorian-esque reality. But in truth part of the Victorian Era didn't really have electricity in a lot of buildings until the later part of it, and even then it was primarily the wealthy that did and took the first part of the next century for electricity to become a staple note of all modern living. And going back to Alice herself, we know she really didn't spend a lot of time in her reality of origin either, as she had been going back and forth from Wonderland and possibly other realms.

Additionally it's also like viewers were treated to a half-backed back story with Will's heart. So far viewers don't see him come and work for Cora (which kind of defeats his description in being The Knave of Hearts), but instead she sends him on his way elsewhere(?) and where we know again from the Pilot (and other episodes) that Will comes and saves Alice from the asylum partially because he feels he owes her for helping him get his heart back from sometime before, and thus we have a missing adventure involving Alice, The Knave, and The Queen of Hearts. However, I do love how the episode played with 'Lost and Found' as Will gets back his heart, but looses someone he loves, and Cyrus compass suddenly works and he immediately finds his mother...

But something to ponder might be Jafar's new found realization that people can be missing their hearts...I was delighted the episode expounded on the idea that The Jabberwocky has limitations, only reading truths off of fear and can't fully read minds, especially with those that don't have a heart. For Jafar this revelation could open doors for him in being able to tell other stories elsewhere should he survive the series. I really do find myself longing for a Jafar and Regina scene. I also enjoyed the Jabberwocky being dismayed by not being able to get information from Will, but also she occasionally doubts Jafar's motives, which is curious that she cares about them at all, but again leads me to believe that Jafar might be a means to end for her, whatever they are...

Obviously it's also very sad to see Anastasia come to her demise, but like I have been saying for a good chunk of the season, Wonderland seems like it will be a place where rules do, can, and will be broken one way or another. We have the iconic line that "anything in Wonderland is possible", to the idea that a lot of what's happening in Wonderland's story stems from Cyrus, his mother, and The Well of Wonders, (one might assume that the curse could include other events that center around Amara such as all actions of Jafar), and then we have this magical spell that also is suppose to allow for the rules of magic to brake. I suspect we may see Ana and Lizard brought back to life...

With two episodes remaining it's hard to imagine that Wonderland's story will feel completely wrapped up, with some questions and adventures still looming, but I'm hopeful given some information in the press release in the final episode in relation to how Alice responded to Storybrooke, and given there could easily still be an Aladdin and Jasmine story out there (and maybe Abu could turn out to be a flying monkey), that some of these characters could find themselves in the current Storybrooke and/or another spin off story, especially since I feel certain that some of these dead characters will be revived after Amara (and the water) is given to the Well of Wonders...

One Bad Robot connection to make this week is through actress Amy Acker. Once Upon A Time fans may know the actress as the fairy Nova (nun Astrid), who turned Dreamy to Grumpy through a sad unrequited love story in which Faeries and Dwarves are suppose to make magic dust and take the highroad when concerning love. At the beginning of the season I made a mild reference to her Person of Interest character Root in relation to mental institutions (and fairies), as Alice and Root are both in one at the beginning of each series' seasons this year.

Well this week's Person of Interest episode, "Root Path (/)" Root is sent to help protect a man, along with Finch and the gang, named Cyrus Wells. I might have over looked this possible reference to Cyrus, Nyxe, and the Well of Wonders, but Person of Interest, for one of the first times ever, touched aptly on metaphysics with Cyrus Wells believing in fate, which the debate is extended through conversations she and Finch have through out the episode.

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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