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Once Upon a Time - A Wondrous Place - Review

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“A Wondrous Place” was definitely a step back up from last week’s episode, a nice breather episode before the season dives into heavier themes and plots. Honestly though, the comedy and light-heartedness in this episode was welcome and flowed naturally, it didn’t seem to be goofy for the sake of being goofy. Even the more serious portions of “A Wondrous Place”, like the Agrabah flashbacks, weren’t particularly weighed down or dark. One did get a sense that even more plot lines were being snuggly wrapped up as we saw the departure of Nemo and perhaps even Jasmine and Aladdin. As the side plots are being pared down, the threat of the Black Fairy seems to grow closer and closer, which is thrilling as I’m always a sucker for the villains Once Upon a Time cooks up. I’m just a bit confused at Gideon’s sudden change in motivation, so I hope that a greater focus on the core cast will also explain what’s going on with him.

The flashbacks were gorgeous. I loved seeing Agrabah in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and it was great seeing it again on Once as well. The costumes were so rich and beautiful; they really grabbed your attention. It might be that I’ve grown used to the finely-detailed Enchanted Forest look, so the show shifting gears and showing us something new caught my eye all over again. This was an episode that allowed Karen David to stretch her legs as Jasmine and I think she did a fabulous job. She captured the fire we’ve seen in this character before, but injected enough of her own interpretation into her performance that she avoided being a carbon Disney copy. This truly showed in Jasmine’s cautiousness, her uncertainty throughout the episode. While I enjoyed seeing Ariel again and did find the scenes between her and Jasmine delightful, it was also a bit random to drag the mermaid into this story. I was also slightly disappointed that Jafar, who has proven to be very imposing and formidable, seemed to be swept under the rug in the span of an episode. The Agrabah plot line seemed as if it would be heavily featured when it was introduced in the beginning of season six, but I suppose the writers went in another direction and wrapped things up so as not to leave anything dangling.

This is also evident in Hook’s adventures on the Nautilus. It felt like Nemo and Hook’s brother were just there to get Hook to the Enchanted Forest, they served no other purpose. Given how many ways the audience has seen to create a portal, it didn’t feel necessary to reintroduce those characters just for that purpose. For some reason though, I did enjoy Hook as he was losing patience with everyone as he was trying to get back to Emma. I do wish that it could have been Hook who explained to Charming what happened regarding the latter’s father. Charming’s reaction was interesting; he seemed to be of the same mind as myself, wanting to know why Hook didn’t have the guts to tell him. I look forward to these two characters reuniting as much as I want to see Hook reunite with Emma. Charming and Hook have such an interesting dynamic that’s grown over the seasons and seeing that more in season six has been a treat.

I absolutely loved the Girl’s Night Out portion of “A Wondrous Place”. I’ve wanted to see something like this on Once Upon a Time since we saw Ruby, Mary Margaret, and Ashley go to the Rabbit Hole in season one. I would have liked more of a conversation between Emma and Regina regarding her feelings, but it makes sense Emma was so clipped and withdrawn. She put a lot of trust in Hook and she believed he did the one thing she hoped he’d never do. Drunk Snow White was just delightful. Part of me wanted more of that in the episode, while the other part understands that any more would grow annoying. The pun of the name “Aesop’s Tables” felt very Once Upon a Time, and I liked the inclusion of Aesop himself tending bar with drinks named after his tales. Unfortunately, this turned out to be Gideon, whose confrontation with Emma confused me. Now he wants to kill the Black Fairy. Does he still feel he needs to eliminate Emma, or has he learned something to cause this change? There are very few episodes of Once Upon a Time left this season, and the Black Fairy is starting to really loom over what’s to come next. I hope she lives up to her Boogeyman-like status.

Tune in next week for the, in my opinion, creepily-named, “Mother’s Little Helper”!

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