Thursday, December 26, 2013

In Which I Review the Doctor Who Christmas Special (7x15)

Everything ends....

It's never easy to lose a Doctor. We welcome them into our homes, we memorize their catchphrases, their pain is our pain. So when it's time for their regeneration, the viewer often feels as though they are losing a dear friend, never to be seen again. When the 10th Doctor regenerated, I thought my heart would break into a thousand pieces. I almost quit watching Doctor Who altogether. I couldn't stomach the idea of another man in the TARDIS, fiddling with the controllers, waving the sonic about, and not be 10. I was very hesitant about Matt Smith when he first appeared. He was young and his version of the Doctor was eclectic and strange and fast talking. He wore bow ties and fezes and was incredibly alien. But by the end of the fifth season, when the Doctor stood at Stonehenge talking to the universe and all its creations, I knew that I was slowly falling in love with this Doctor. And so when it was announced that the 2013 Christmas special would be Matt Smith's swan song, I began to prepare myself for the inevitable crying jag that would come when suddenly 11 was no more and 12 took his place. 

 The Christmas episodes of Doctor Who are almost always standalone episodes that are designed to invoke Christmas-y emotions of yuletide cheer and joy. They are self contained little highlights for the Doctor and sometimes his companions (he is often alone for the Christmas special). Last year's offering "The Snowmen" was brilliant and gave me a lot of hope for the second half of season seven after a rather lackluster first half. I find that I am growing increasingly tired with the inconsistency in Moffat's writing. The second half of season seven was poor until the last episode; the 50th anniversary episode, which I raved about, was complicated and strange but because it had a separate grading scale, I didn't mind the timey wimey-ness of it because I went in with both eyes open, knowing it had to be epically larger than your average hour of Doctor Who. But the Christmas episode, even if it is a regeneration episode, is nevertheless supposed to have a different flavor to it--more hopeful, more optimistic, more joyful. It shouldn't be an overly convoluted disaster where the writer tries to answer as many questions as possible in 60 minutes. It should be emotional, especially if there is a regeneration; it should be an emotional gut punch to your insides, not a lukewarm slap. Moffat is continuously trying to recapture the magic of his episodes before he became show runner, like "Blink"--a truly spectacular episode that should never be recreated nor attempted. This year's Christmas episode, "The Time of the Doctor," was--if I am going to be perfectly frank--awful. After 3 seasons, Matt Smith deserved a better send off than what he got: long drawn out plot that really made no sense, call backs to previous seasons, a very slow middle; it was as if Moffat dumped out all the toys in the box to play with but only for a split second before he moved on to something else. Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarians, and Weeping Angels--who exactly was the Doctor up against? And where was the Christmas spirit? You can't just put me in a town called Christmas and expect the spirit of Christmas to grow organically. And if I judge regeneration episodes based on "how much did you cry" then this one was the worst of the series; I barely shed one tear, which is telling as I adore the 11th Doctor.

So what is the plot of this episode? I'm not sure I even know. It's overly complicated and seems to have no focus. It feels as though Moffat spent a great deal of time on Doctor Who message boards figuring out what were the big questions in regards to 11's time in the TARDIS and then set out to answer those questions. And if you add snow to the scene then it means it's Christmas! There was so much back and forth--the Christmas town, London Christmas, and the "church" ship. The London Christmas portion of the episode was wholly unnecessary. While I like Clara, I find that I don't care about her in the same way I cared for past companions. She's there, she sometimes helps to save the day, and the Doctor cares for her, but Clara doesn't have the same spark that past companions have. Clara is the Doctor's "Impossible Girl" but all that seems to be swept away now that the Clara mystery is solved. Clara's holiday dinner with her family just ate up more time until the action went back to the Doctor, which may have been the point, but was so lackluster and forced that I groaned every time Clara got sent back to her house to have another awkward five minutes with them. And--random question--who are they? Clara's mother is dead! We learned this in "The Rings of Akheten" so who was the pushy blonde at the end of the table? So on the one hand, we have Clara zipping back and forth through time and space, not doing much besides reappearing when there needed to be an emotional chat with the Doctor and then be there for the regeneration. On the other hand, we have the Doctor trying to keep war from breaking out by protecting Christmas town.

There is a planet out there--a blue unremarkable planet--that is sending out an untranslatable message to the whole universe across space and time. And every type of creature comes to investigate the message, to breech the protective barrier that fortifies the planet and discover the meaning of the message. Everyone who hears the message is scared except for the Doctor. The Doctor can't translate the message and he doesn't know what planet lies below his TARDIS but that's ok cause he has his trusty Cyberman robot head, Handles. Why does he have a detached Cyberman head? Where did he get it? And why did he connect it to the TARDIS? Aren't all Cybermen connected; wouldn't this put the Doctor and the TARDIS in danger? I get that it's supposed to be cutesy and a little adorable to have the Doctor talking to a Cyberman head named Handles, but does it make sense? Not really. The Cyberman head's job is to translate the message and figure out what planet is below the TARDIS (something, incidently, the TARDIS should be able to do itself!) and eventually, after some tap dancing about the Doctor being Clara's boyfriend and being naked to go to church, we learn that the planet is Gallifrey. Except of course it's not Gallifrey, cause that planet is in a different universe, safe and protected until it can come back.

Of all the ships in the vicinity of the planet, the first ship to have arrived is a security ship under the head of Tasha Lem. This ship is a floating church that put the planet under the shield. I don't know if Moffat is trying to make a political commentary on the nature of faith and religion in general but everything to do with this "church" was odd for the sake of oddity instead of relevant. Lem has members of the Silence as priests who eerily whisper "confess" to people before being erased from your memory; everyone is naked; Lem and the Doctor have some sort of steamy history. Lem also provided the exposition desperately needed at this point: the signal is coming from Christmas town and she sends the Doctor down to investigate, where he is met instantly be Weeping Angels. Are you keeping track of the monsters at this point? Cause we've got Daleks, Cyberman, Weeping Angels and the Silence and yet none of them have been any sort of threat to the Doctor. Where is the tension? If you're going to have that many monsters then you can't just brush them aside after showing them to me. Use them, for pity's sake.

Speeding along, the Doctor and Clara find the source of the message: a crack in the wall. A crack that is a tear in the fabric of space and time. For those who don't remember, this is a call back to the fifth season (first season for the 11th Doctor) and how there were cracks in space; the TARDIS exploding in the future was responsible for it but the Doctor reset the universe. The message, finally able to be translated, is the oldest question in the universe, the first question: Doctor Who? Of course it is. Was this at all surprising to anyone? I could have told you that this would be the message! The repeating message of "Doctor Who?" is coming from another universe, from the Time Lords. And if the Doctor gives his name, the Time Lords of Gallifrey can come back; they'll know it is finally safe to return. The Doctor won't be alone anymore. Of course, all hell would break loose and the Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks would start once more, this time fiercer and more devastating. Oh, and in case it wasn't clear before, this planet (we learn through Lem) is Trenzelore. We've been to Trenzelore once before, at the end of Season 7. It's the final resting place of the Doctor, where he falls and finally dies. Alright so now that Moffat has brought up three seasons worth of unanswered questions, time for one more: Silence will fall.

Back in season six, we learned that the Silence is an organization that is determined that the question will not be answered, that is must not be answered. And now we have the question and a conundrum. Despite the fact that the Time Lords would come in peace, the races such as the Daleks would never let them return at all. These enemy races are determined to destroy the town and thus destroy the Time Lords only chance of coming back; but the Doctor is equally determined to protect this Christmas town. So the "church" under Lem dedicates itself to maintaining this delicate equilibrium. She is determined that the Doctor must not speak his name, that silence must fall. And thus the siege of Trenzelore--which drags out for 300 years (and 20 mins on screen). This siege dragged on and on and on and on. The Doctor gets older, wrinkles and white hair. Clara comes and goes. There are cute kids and Christmas gifts and wooden Cybermen who try to breech the Doctor's defenses. The Silence and the Doctor work in tandem to keep everyone safe. It was a long drawn out 20 mins that needed to be reduced greatly. At one point Clara comes back to see the Doctor and they discuss how Trenzelore will be his final resting place. He has no more regenerations; he is only allowed 13 and this is his final one (go with it, it's complicated). Clara wants him to change the future, to somehow subvert his own death but the Doctor insists that he can't. Which is true except that River Song gave the Doctor all her remaining regenerations, meaning that the Doctor should have several left. If River only regenerated three times, then she gave the Doctor ten more lives. Are we forgetting this? Is Moffat sweeping that under the rug?

Finally (finally) the final battle begins. The Daleks (of course) come to kill the Doctor, having defeated everyone else. The Doctor, incredibly old by this point in time, goes up to his death, despite Clara's begging him to change history. One important thing about Clara: she knows the Doctor's name. Desperate, Clara goes to the crack in the wall and tells the Time Lords that it doesn't matter what his real name is, "his name is the Doctor and if you love him, help him." It must have worked because the crack in the wall seals itself. Yes, because the Time Lords are a sensible race that listens to puny humans. (HINT: NO THEY DON'T! That's what made the Doctor unique to his race. The other Time Lords, while they are the protectors of creation, wouldn't give two cents about what a human had to say). The Doctor and the Daleks have a standoff, when suddenly the crack reappears, this time in the fabric of space above the town (wut?) and the Time Lords send a burst of regeneration energy to the Doctor, which he ingests. Full of regeneration energy, it is time. The clock strikes 12 and the Doctor uses the power of his regeneration to blast the Daleks out of the sky. "Love from Gallifrey, boys!" (alright, Moffat. You get props for that line. I'll give you that one).

Clara renters the TARDIS and sees the 11th Doctor, young once more but getting ready to fully regenerate. He has 12 more cycles of life and it's time to say goodbye. This was the highlight of an incredibly clunky episode. Matt Smith has grown by leaps and bounds as an actor and it was a privilege to watch him. 11 shed his skin, removing his bow tie and dropping it on the ground. He has flashes of young Amelia Pond running around the TARDIS and 11 tells Clara "I will always remember when the Doctor was me" before his Amy (GASP) is in front of him, telling him "Raggedy man, goodnight." And just like that, Peter Capaldi is standing in front of Clara, sans bow tie, telling her that he doesn't like the color of his new kidneys. Also, he has no idea how to fly the TARDIS. That's a good sign.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Time of the Doctor

--Honestly did not expect to see Karen Gillian again. I give Moffat credit for keeping that under his hat.

--I wonder if there is a picture out there somewhere of Karen and Matt trading wigs. Both actors were bald(for other movie roles) and wearing wigs for this whole episode.

--When Clara discovers that the Doctor has shaved his head: "Did the same thing happen to your eyebrows?" "No they're just delicate." Nice way to play to the fandom who are forever making fun of Matt Smith and his vanishing eyebrows.

--Pretty sure the Doctor was wearing the 3rd Doctor's opera cape in the opening segment.

--1 minute on screen and already I feel like Peter Capaldi and I are going to get along. I love that he's using his native Scottish accent.

--I skipped over most of Tasha Lem's plot in the episode because it was contrived and odd. The Doctor needs to stop having these romantic entanglements. Also, the Daleks have their memories back. Good to know? 

--So where does Doctor Who go from here? Safe money is on Season 8 (which begins in the fall of 2014) being the return of Gallifrey. I look forward to it, but I think it's time for Moffat to step down as show runner. Past time, honestly. His writing is getting way too complicated and inconsistent to be enjoyable. Pass the torch, Moff. It's time.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

In Which I Review Saving Mr. Banks

Just a spoonful of sugar...

Iconic. That's the first word that comes to mind when I think of Mary Poppins. The 1964 Disney movie invokes a sort of a painful nostalgia for my lost childhood. I don't know exactly when I first saw the movie, but I know I was young, somewhere between five and seven. My mom rented the movie at the library, had my aunt rip a version of it onto a VHS that also held such other classics like the Wizard of Oz, The Sword in the Stone, and Robin Hood. My copy still exists, buried in the movie closet somewhere, grainy and patchy, worn out after multiple views. It should come as no surprise that the Disney corporation and I have a deep history. A lover of all things magical, Mary Poppins was enchanting. The songs, the message, the character herself--at once caustic and encouraging--were endearing. It has come down through the ages as one of the great classics. When this movie was announced, I was instantly intrigued. Despite being a lover of the film, I've never read the book upon which it is based. I knew very little of the somewhat competitive history between Walt Disney and P.L Travers, author and creator of Mary Poppins. But the trailer to the film made the story seem as special as the final Disney product. 

Fair warning: this movie is going to get what might be termed a rave review. It was, as Mary Poppins would say, practically perfect in every way. How could it not be with powerhouse actors Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and P.L Travers, receptively? Hanks is exuberant and friendly, insisting that he be on a first name basis with everyone, filling hotel rooms with Disney memorabilia, and personally showing Travers around "the happiest place on earth." Thompson is what I like to call a quiet actress; her emotions in this film come across in eye twitches, furrowed brows and stuttering speeches that punctuated her rather stiff upper lip demeanor. Closed up and closed off, Travers wants nothing to do with Walt Disney and his candy cotton, multi-billion dollar enterprise that takes works of respected authors and turns them into animated cartoons for the masses. I found myself actually wondering how many authors felt the same as the real life Travers in their own dealings with Disney. Your life blood poured across pages, and if you're lucky to have Disney take an interest, chances are his vision is the one that lasts and most people will remember. Because of this possessive stance on her work, Travers is eager to make Disney disappoint her--with her long list of demands such as no animation and no signing (both of which end up being in the film anyway)--so that she can go back to England, to her memories, her pain and her loss.

You see, Mary Poppins (the book) is based in more than a large part on Travers own life. Part of this film was a flashback to 1904 Australia, out in a long forgotten town on a dilapidated farm where a young Helen Goff (Travers) lives with her kindly but alcoholic father and her severely depressed mother. Helen is the apple of her father's eye and all she wants is to be like him: adventurous, sweet, imaginative. But a dark cloud hangs over her father and what might seem like a simple but picturesque life--the bottle. Travers Goff (Colin Farrell) is trying to be respectable. He has a job, a wife, three lovely children but he is unable to escape his sickness of drink. When her father becomes unable to live without the drink and falls into a deep sickness and Helen's mother is overwhelmed by the sadness of it all (she tries to drown herself at one point), Helen's aunt comes to stay. And the aunt is the basis for Mary Poppins--heels at a smart forty-five degree angle, bottomless carpet bag, bouffant and all. Sometimes when movies are tying one person to two places it can feel disjointed and can confuse the audience, but in this case the flashbacks were well timed and thought out. For example in the present day, Travers demands that there be no red in the film and suddenly we are taken back to the Australian farm where a red dress flaps on a clothes line and Helen's mother discovers a bottle of whiskey in her husband's coat, one of the first signs that not everything is right in the Goff household. I have to give credit to both Farrell and the young actress who played Helen, Annie Rose Buckley. The bond between the two was very real and emotional. Together they managed to convey a father and daughter relationship that obviously followed Travers her whole life. I won't spoil the plot of the flashback, but suffice to say that in her books Mary Poppins shows up to--yes--save Mr. Banks, not the children. In her works, Travers tries to redeem her father, to make the curmudgeonly banker into a loving father who would never leave his children, despite "not being able to see beyond the end of their nose."

The true highlight of the film, though, is the relationship that grows between Walt and Pamela--pardon me, Mrs. Travers. Their initial meeting is icy and brief in which Travers refuses to give Walt the rights to her book, insisting that these characters are family to her, which they are, as we see in the flashbacks. Travers agrees to stay on and see what Walt has in mind, so long as everything is recorded for her peace of mind--which is how this movie was even able to be made. Travers, to be blunt, hates everything screenwriter DaGradi and composers/lyricists Robert and Richard Sherman have come up with. It's all bright pink and tinged with happy feelings instead of practicality, which is what Mary Poppins is supposed to inspire. There are made up words and songs and dancing penguins (side note: the dancing penguins are one of my favorite scenes in the eventual movie). Travers wants everything to be as she remembers in her childhood, not the sugary sweet concoction Disney has in mind. It is deeply personal to her and gradually, over time, Disney begins to uncover why. In the standout scene of the film, Disney and Travers find themselves in her London apartment, bearing their souls. Both had fathers who were loving and wonderful but could be cruel and harsh; both know how unfair the world can be. The scene required several hankies from yours truly.

The majority of the scenes in the film are Travers and Disney sitting in a room with screenwriter and songwriters where the audience is treated to the jingles and jangles that would eventually make their way into Disney's iconic film (almost all of them were loathed by Travers). Thompson manages to be both close to insufferable but somehow comedic and Britishly dry as she dismisses the hard work of the men in the room as fluff and stuff. Each witty pun lands with perfect precision and makes you laugh but also makes you realize that you've been insulted. She conveys both disdain and sadness in her looks as the musical numbers invoke flashbacks to her life as Helen Goff. Hanks somehow stays in stride with her as he shows Disney's infinite patience and jolly good nature, reminding us all of how large a part in our real lives this man played. References to the final movie product were everywhere--from Travers asking for a spoonful of sugar in her tea to the direction of the wind to names of characters appearing in the flashbacks and (as a surprise treat to lovers of the Disney film) scenes from the movie shown at the end. It's a shining happy movie about redemption but with a dark under tow about how life is sometimes very unfair and those scars on our hearts never go away, not fully. Which, I think, might have been Walt's whole mission statement.

Overall Grade: A

Go see it. Right now. It was the perfect Christmas movie, without actually being about Christmas.

The movie has a lot of revolving door characters who shine brightly, though nowhere as luminous as Hanks and Thompson. And while I think some more bitter critics might claim that this film is an exercise in Disney re-promoting itself by trotting out an absolute staple and classic of its company name, it is nevertheless endearing and sweet and uplifting. And as a lover of all things Disney, I didn't find it pompous or greedy. I found it nostalgic and wholly wonderful.

Friday, December 20, 2013

In Which I Review The Book Thief (movie)

I am haunted by humans...

Several months ago, when this blog was brand new, I reviewed the novel "The Book Thief" favorably. It's a unique, uplifting and heartbreaking book that I encourage everyone to read. When the trailer for the movie came out, I had high expectations. The trailer for the film seemed to capture the spirit of the book, about stealing back from life when it steals from you. It had a great cast and appeared to remain true to the written word. 

I finally got a chance to see the film and while I'm not disappointed in that it changed the overall plot of the book (it stayed very true to the conceptual outline), I do think the movie failed to capture the spirit of the novel and robbed it of some of that uniqueness that Zusak put into the book. Something was just missing. Some spark failed to grab me in the same way the book did. 

Let's start with some positives. The casting of the film was spot on. Sophie Nelisse managed to capture the inquisitive and precocious nature of Liesel Meminger. She was both compliant and defiant in a world that reinforced her "rightness" as a German born Christian while at the same time emphasizing to her dismay the "wrongness" of the states persecution of the Jews. Nelisse had great chemistry with her peer, Nico Liersch (Rudy), and I had no trouble buying them as best friends. Her interactions with Ben Schnetzer (Max) felt very real; you could see how concerned Liesel was about Max's health and his continued evasion of the German police. Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush (Hans) played off each other very well and their relationship of father and daughter was poignent if rushed. In the book, great pain and time is taken to set up Liesel and Hans's relationship; we see them learning to read and write together. Liesel is plagued by nightmares and episodes of terror and it is Hans who is there to soothe her fears away. All of that was missing from the film and having it in even the smallest degree would have gone a long way to solidifying the father/daughter bond of Hans and Liesel.

Geoffrey Rush as Hans Hubberman was excellent, though I had very little doubt that he would be anything other than that. I loved how he--a native Australian--managed to change is heavy accent into a believable German one. Hans is both the comic relief, making fun of his wife, and the heart of the book/movie to Liesel's soul. If I laughed during the film--which was few and far between un-surprisingly given the subject matter--it was because of Hans. Like I said above, I do wish more attention had been paid to building the bond between Hans and Liesel. While it did not feel forced by any stretch of the imagination, I missed the quiet moments in the basement where Hans and his child would read and write on the walls. It's an important motif to the overall book about Liesel coming into knowledge and how it helps in her relationship with Max. Hans's marraige to Rosa (Emily Watson) wasn't as caustic in the book. There, they are forever at odds, though more out of love than any type of bitterness. Rosa doesn't hesitate to help Max when he shows up at the door seeking Hans, though she is a worrier by nature. Another characteristic of Hans that got brushed over was his stance on the NAZI party in Germany. In the book, it's quite clear that Hans doesn't agree with the policies of the ruling party and has refrained from joining the party due to this. In the movie, they show Hans being sympathetic to the plight of his Jewish neighbors but more scared of the party than disagreeing with them outright.

Another highlight of the film was the sense of fear, lurking around every corner. Special attention was paid to the indoctrination of the German children into the NAZI party's mindset. Liesel, standing in her uniforms with the swastika, singing a song about "Germany for the Germans" probably wholly unaware of what that entailed for others not born German Christian. Loud angry speeches in German punctuated scenes like the conflagration of books which prompts Liesel to steal her first book. Max, hiding under a German flag, while a member of the SS inspects the basement and the family waits on tenterhooks to see if they will be figured out, all provided a sense of living in fear day in and day out. The friendship between Max and Liesel was sweet and tender, the former being a stand in for the latter's dead brother. However, while it was sweet, there were certain scenes from the book that needed to be there: like the book Max gives Liesel. While he does give her the book in the film, it is blank, ready for her written word. But the book originally held a story Max himself wrote about the power of the written word, a message that encourages Liesel to begin writing herself. Instead it was reduced to a quick bit of exposition where Max explains why writing is important to life. It fell flat, at least flatter than in the book where you get to read Max's story.

The title of the book and movie comes from Liesel's exploits breaking into the "mayor's" house and stealing his wife's books, something that Liesel believes is bold and daring and her opportunity to steal back from life when it has taken so much from her. But it's also something that the the wife of the mayor encourages in secret, making sure Liesel is never caught and has an easier time stealing the books than she should. Sadly, in the movie, this dichotomy is swept under the rug, as is the majority of the relationship between Liesel and Elsa.
The stealing of books also goes hand in hand with Liesel and her best friend Rudy stealing other items, like food from nearby farms, something that is wholly left out of the movie. It may have been a secondary plot in the book, but it was important in that it showed how desperate the family and people in Germany had become. In the end, the book thief didn't feel like much a thief and I hate that they left out the line, "sometimes when life robs from you, you have to rob it back" which is the story in a nutshell.

One more thing. While I appreciate that the movie did incorporate Death as the narrator, I feel as though it robbed the voice of Death of all its unique quality. The character of Death in the book is so much richer and full bodied; it's one of the high points of the novel and something that sets the book apart from others. But in the movie, Death has a few lines here and there, and while the actor delivered them well, they were devoid of that sorrow and humor I associate with the Death voice in the book.

Overall Rating: B-

I don't think this is a movie people are going to rush out and see nor would I claim that it should be. It was good and there are certain highlights (like Rush as Hans Hubermann) but there was something lacking overall that prevents me from gushing like I would have liked to. Read the book then wait for Netflix to stream the film.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (3x11)

"What do you think fairy tales are? They are a reminder that our lives will get better if we just hold on to hope." 
It's wholly possible that I am still in shock. After only a few hours of sleep, a vat of coffee, and lots of note taking, I think I'm finally ready to blog this episode. Some honesty: I knew way more about this episode going in than most people. I knew most of the characters were going to the Enchanted Forest; I knew Emma was in New York at the end with Henry and Hook. I knew Pan would die and that Rumple would do it. But the stuff I didn't know--like why Henry, Emma and Hook were in New York, or what happened to Rumple, or the sheer amount of emotion--is what is making this blog difficult. Knowing everything I knew and still the winter finale of season three, "Going Home," rocked me to my core. Say what you want about the entire season (and I will be saying a lot about it at the end), Adam and Eddy know how to write a finale. So hold on tight, reach for a loved one...this one is going to be long. 

YOU Get a Flashback! And YOU Get a Flashback! YOU ALL Get Flashbacks!

Ok, Once Upon a Time...THIS is how you do flashbacks. Flashbacks are supposed to parallel something significant in the present day; a lesson that characters learned, a moral story or a motif that continuously plays out. I was hesitant about the idea of multiple character flashbacks. How confusing would that be? From a timeline perspective, if the flashback wasn't obvious as to  where it fell, it could come across as retconning. But they played out well, I will admit. And every flashback, with the exception maybe of one, all dealt with one thing: hope. Have hope and belief and faith in yourself, in the Savior, in the possibility of a happy ending, in second chances. The theme of hope was replete in this weeks episode. I lost count of the number of times it was uttered by any character. Let's just take these one by one.

First Flashback: Snow White and Prince Charming 

A pregnant Snow White is scared to put her baby in the magical wardrobe. If Snow can't go with her, then how will little baby Emma know that she is the Savior? How will Emma know that she has to break the Curse? The Blue Fairy (more on her later) tells Snowing that they must have faith and hope that one day Emma will come back into their lives. One day "our story will reveal itself to her." If you have any doubt about who wrote the storybook, I think this clears it up for you. It has to be Blue. How does Blue know that someday Emma will come to Storybrooke? Why does she have so much faith and hope? Blue reassures Snowing that Emma will be fine (except for the 18 years of neglect and hardship) and leaves. Snow is devastated that she is going to have to abandon her child. This isn't the life she wanted; this is not her happy ending. Snow had it all planned out; she and Charming and baby Emma would live in their castle, happily ever after. But instead Snow has to send away her only child for 28 years. Charming, as usual, is trying to be supportive and delivers life lesson number one for the night: "life is full of twists and turns that you never see coming." And this curse, this horror that is about to engulf the land, is just another twist. "I choose hope," Snow says (life lesson #2). As Snow told her now grown daughter Emma way back in 301, "the second I give up hope, I know I'm lost."

Second Flashback: Hook and Tinkerbell

This is the one flashback that felt out of place. It felt lacking in the hope department. What it didn't lack was spark and chemistry and above all, a huge left flank attack in the never ending shipping wars. I'm convinced that Adam and Eddy enjoy playing the ships off each other. I think they like walking into the powder keg that is this fandom and dropping a match. I half expected Hook and Tink to give in to their heat and do it on the Neverland rocks. Hook is looking for a way off the island. Having learned about the dagger of the Dark One (from Baelfire) his purpose in life is renewed and it's off to kill himself a crocodile (still not on good terms with Hook). But he is confronted by Tinkerbell. And this is where the timeline goes stupid. Hook learned about the dagger from Bae maybe 250, or a bit less, years ago. Tink lost her wings only about 10 years before the Curse. How is she already in Neverland, de-winged? She shouldn't be. If Tink is even born by that point, she would be in the Enchanted Forest. The highly sexual first meeting resulted in what we already knew about Hook: "I risk my life for two things, love and revenge. And I lost the first." There was no mention of hope in this flashback, which is why it bothered me. This one was more about showing Hook in the present day and how he is risking his life for the former once more.

Third Flashback: Mary Margaret and Henry

Poor Henry, asked to do a family tree project and he thinks he doesn't have any family. Kid, you have no idea just how CRAZY your entire family tree really is. This flashback takes place in Storybrooke, October 2011. In other words, just a few weeks before Henry sets out on his own to find Emma. Henry is depressed; he feels out of place in a town that apparently never changes, his mother doesn't love him, and his birth mother gave him up because she obviously doesn't love him either. Mary Margaret wants to give Henry hope. And it just so happens that she has a magical solution: the storybook. Now this is where my mind was blown a bit. The residents of Storybrooke pretty much relive their days over and over again, ad nausem. Mary Margaret apparently cleans her closet every other day (tedious housework being a curse in and of itself). But this past time, something popped up in her closet that was never seen before: the book. She's never seen it before and forgot that she had it, but she wants Henry to have it. It may be a book of fairy tales but fairy tales inspire hope. And more than anything, Henry needs hope. I loved that as Henry is flipping through the book, he sees a picture of Snow and Charming at their wedding and when he looks back at Mary Margaret, she transforms into Snow White before his very eyes. It was a moment that I think many of us really wanted to see. And Henry, now awake sets off for Boston with a stolen credit card and information about one Emma Swan.

Fourth Flashback: Rumple and Belle

It's Bae's birthday and even though it has been close to 250 years, Rumple still celebrates every single one. A small candle and a promise that they will see each other again. This is fairly early on in Belle's stay in the Dark One's castle, given Rumple's very dark appearance and his demeanor. Belle realizes that Rumple is having a remembrance and asks him about it; Rumple is hesitant to tell Belle anything but she gives him the smallest glimmer of hope: you can see him again one day; if this person you are mourning isn't dead, just lost, then you can see him again. Rumple says he hopes that is true but then remarks "but my ending shall not be a happy one." Obviously, this was a major parallel to what happened in the present day (which I will be discussing later, once I manage to stop bursting into tears). Rumple has never thought he should get a happy ending. The village coward, the man everyone leaves, and man no one can love, he doesn't get a happy ending. Rumple may find his son someday, for a chance to tell him that he was sorry and that he loves him, but Rumple sees himself for what he is: a villain.

There is one more flashback, but because it is an altered flashback, I want to save it for later.

May Death Never Stop You

All the present day events of this episode were designed for one thing: to kill your soul and heart. The emotions were full force last night. In the end, it was really the villains who came out the strongest. One after the other, each one made huge sweeping moves down Redemption Road. Except Peter Pan who is the most vile human that has ever lived. Now that Peter Pan has the scroll he can enact his Curse, which will trap everyone in Stroybrooke, without their memories, frozen in time, and having to bend to Pan's will. Panry has all the ingredients he needs except one: the heart of the thing he loves most. Now this is where it got tricky. Pan doesn't love anything, not even Rumple as he said over and over. But love can come in many forms. Love is also loyalty and there is only one person who has never doubted him: Felix. RIP, Felix. I think everyone saw it coming, but I'm rather bummed we didn't get some sort of explanation for Felix's life. Who was he? Where did he come from? How long was he with Pan? Why did the music of the pipes back in 304 not affect him? I think in the end, Felix is more of a plot-device-boy than anything else. His purpose was to set up how truly evil Pan was by showing how evil his followers were. Felix was just a ruthless and without mercy as Pan.

Meanwhile, back at the Mills family vault, Rumple has come up with a plan to stop Pan's curse using the scroll itself. It seems that if the last person who used the scroll destroys it, then they can absorb the magic from it and create a counter curse and stop Pan's Curse. Yes, I know. Confusing. But essentially, Pan's curse is staying in Storybrooke with no memories. The counter curse would ensure that everyone got to keep their memories. But where would they go? This is all overly convenient, I'm not going to lie. This was a hail mary pass from the writers akin to the black diamond of season 2. Suddenly the Curse has a counter curse? Since when? Adam and Eddy need to stop making addendum's to the original curse. It's confusing. But of course the last person to use the scroll was Regina, which means that now she has to save everyone. Which is delicious, poetic irony. The one who cursed them all must now save them all. But all magic comes with a price, one Regina must pay. Before any counter curse can be cast, they must switch back Pan and Henry. And here is where, despite all my spoiler knowledge, I was really blown back. Who in the world is the Black Fairy? Where did she come from? We've never heard of her! Apparently the Black Fairy was incredibly powerful and versed in black magic but was banned by Blue (she does that a lot). But Blue kept the wand of the Black Fairy (of course she did) and the wand is so powerful that it can switch back the souls of two people. I don't understand why Rumple couldn't do this; he's not powerful enough? Since when? The only thing "bigger than the Dark One" is the Blue Fairy (bah) and if Blue banned Black then how does this power structure work? Rumple surmises that the Blue Fairy kept the Black Fairy's wand on her person (of course she did), so it's off to the convent!

While at the convent, Pan's shadow (which over heard the whole plan) attacks Hook, Neal, Charming and Tinkerbell. Hook decides to be a hero and draw the shadow's ire (honestly, you couldn't just saw wrath or anger or say you'll cause a distraction?) and ends up on the floor (CaptainFloor! Reunited and it feels so good). There are no other options, except the pixie dust. If Tink can just believe in herself she can fly with the coconut (giggle), light the candle inside the coconut (giggle) and trap the shadow. Clap your hands if you believe in fairies! Didn't take much time for her to believe in herself, cause up she flew, lit the candle and the shadow got sucked in to the coconut (giggle). However, since trapping the shadow didn't do much good last time, they decide to destroy it by tossing the coconut(giggle) into a fire. Cause fire destroys shadows? I need a shadow handbook. How in the name of sanity does fire destroy a magically ripped shadow? Light creates shadows. Science!

But then the most bizarre (sneaky) thing of all, The Blue Fairy comes back to life!!! Destroying the shadow brought back Blue's shadow and now she's alive once more. And she is just so proud of Tinkerbell that she welcomes Tink back into the fairy order with open arms. Ok, listen Sneaky Fairy. I don't trust you. You make no logical sense most of the time. I am convinced--CONVINCED--that Blue knew she was going to come back. She challenged Tink to believe in herself once more because she knew Tink had pixie dust, which would be helpful in taking down the shadow. I don't for one second trust this Mother Superior! Oh, and Blue just happens to know that they want the Black Fairy's wand and gladly hands it over? Why? Just because Tink believes in herself. No. There is something else happening here. I suspect that the Black Fairy won't be as devious as we think.

The heroes get back to Gold's shop where Henry is ready to go back to his body. The only thing left is to cuff Pan using the same device used on Regina (in season 2) to block her magic. With Pan magicless, they can save Henry and the town (yeah, it'll be that easy, guys). The body switching spell works perfectly fine and everyone except Rumple goes off to find Henry and begin the counter curse. Rumple has unfinished business with his Papa. I really hate Peter Pan. Back in his own body, he takes perverse pleasure in showing Rumple how the cuff does not affect him because he made it. And then he goes on--at length--about how he never loved Rumple. At all. Not even a little; how little baby Rumple was nothing but a burden, taking his time, his money, and his energy. And once free from the cuff, Pan gets violent and kicks Rumple, calling him a coward and threatening to take away Bae and Belle, to kill them, because they mean so much to Rumple. I don't know how I got through this segment of the show without breaking something. Rumple, on his hands and knees, crying, cowering from his Papa. Wanting so bad to be a good man and rise above being a coward, to rise above being a villain. And now that Peter Pan magically cuffed him, he is powerless. He is again without magic, making him weak and a so-called coward. But don't count him out yet. Oh no. My Imp is a hero.

Having left Rumple on the floor of his shop, the real Pan manages to find everyone out on the street, with the scroll. He freezes the heroes and starts to go after Baelfire, wanting to kill his own grandson first. Meanwhile, Rumple is torn between cutting off his own hand so that he can have his magic back or facing his father without his magic and paying the price for all his past deeds. The moment when Rumple comes out of the shop with both hands, prepared to face his Papa was amazing. There's my Imp, in his full glory. He is unafraid. He will show his scars but be fearless in the face of the man who caused all his problems to begin with. Rumple tells Peter Pan, "what needs done is a price, a price I am finally willing to pay." For everything he has done in the past, Rumple hasn't paid too step of a price yet. He found true love with Belle, he found his son and was on his way to a reconciliation. But the price of magic must be paid. And so with a heavy heart, he tells Bae and Belle goodbye. Rumple wants Nealfire to know that he can have a happy ending, but it won't be with Rumple and that he loves him. And to Belle, that she made him stronger, she gave him hope. She was his brief flicker of light amidst an ocean of darkness. All season Rumple continually says that the only way to kill Peter Pan is for him to die as well. And in the back of our minds is the prophecy that a boy would be his undoing. Rumple may not have magic, but he did detach his shadow. And the shadow went and hid a very important object--his dagger. Which is now delivered to Rumple's waiting hand.

And so Rumple stabs his father with the Dark One's dagger and slowly they collapse as magic engulfs them. Pan transforms back into Malcolm, and begs Rumple not to do this, "take out the dagger and we can have a happy ending." But Rumple has come too far. He will not be bullied or bribed by this man ever again. "I'm a villain and villains don't get happy endings." And a bright golden light engulfs both father and son and they vanish from sight, Rumple having given the last full measure of devotion to save his son, his one true love, and the whole town of Storybrook. And my everything is broken. I don't know how to even respond. It's amazing that I eventually stopped crying, though I cried off and on all night. Rumple accepts what he is: a man who has made too many mistakes to get his happy ending as he thought he might. He wants a future with Belle and with Nealfire but he doesn't get to have it. He has committed too many sins. And Belle falls to the ground, sobbing hysterically, realizing that her love is gone just when they were finally going to have it all. "He did what he had to do. He saved us all," Neal says barely able to keep from bursting into tears. While I really doubt that Rumple is dead forever (no body = no death), it was gut wrenching and the wait to March is now more stressful.

But the most interesting reaction is Regina's. She is just as upset but with a renewed purpose. Villains don't get happy endings but they can be reedemed. They can do good. And so Regina makes her decision; she will cast her counter curse, even though it will cost her the thing she loves most. Irony. To cast the original curse, she had to take the heart of the thing she loves most, now to save everyone she must give up the thing she loves most: Henry. She can never see him again. That's the price of magic. Breaking Pan's curse will destroy all of Storybrooke and send everyone home to the Enchanted Forest, but they'll keep their memories. Everyone, except Emma and Henry. Henry will be alone in our world because he was conceived here; Emma too will stay because she is the savior. They can be together, but Emma and Henry will loose their entire family and their memories of the past few years. The stories they've come to know as true, will just be stories again. To quote my other fandom, "we're all just stories in the end..."

And this is where the wheels came off the wagon and I couldn't stop crying. Emma, so hurt by her parents in the past for the abandonment, doesn't want to loose them again. Snow and Charming tell her that she has to go, she has to flee Storybrooke. She has to be with Henry and have a normal life. "But I just found you." "And it's time for you to leave us again." And so it is decided. Emma and Henry will leave Storybrooke just in time to escape the counter curse but they will not remember anything from the past two and half seasons. They are going to be reset. And out at the town line everyone says goodbye. Emma says goodbye to Neal and he tells her that she has to save Henry, but "this isn't over. I will see both of you again." (because I wasn't already in hysterics). And then Hook says goodbye to Emma and I'm going to skip over this. Emma says goodbye to her parents and Snow, in one of the most heart breaking moments in the history of the show, kisses her daughter's forehead and wipes away her tears. No words are needed. No matter where Emma goes, she is always going to be their daughter. She is theirs, forever.

But Regina has one more trick up her sleeve. She can give them a different story. Regina can, in other words, curse them and give them a happy story. She can make it seem like Emma never gave up Henry. They've always been together, happy. And this is the final flashback, an altered history that now Emma remembers in which she never gave up Henry. In which she held him in the jail cell and decided to keep him. And that's the history Emma now knows and she and Henry drive away from Storybrooke as Pan's curse engulfs the town and Regina casts her own curse, watching her son leave her forever. And the purple magic swallows our heroes and like that, they are gone.

Flash Forward: Emma and Henry

One year later. Yeah I wasn't expecting this. That was a shock. But there are Emma and Henry, a normal family living in New York City. Emma wakes up at 8:15 am (SwanFire!) and plays Charlie's Girl (SwanFire!) while cooking breakfast. When suddenly, there is a knock at the door. And in a moment of "what?!" it's Hook. He tries to kiss Emma (step off already) but she has no idea who he is. But he comes with a warning, "you're family is in trouble." Emma slams the door in his face, thinking that he is just a crazy person. And cut to black. See everyone in March!

Miscellaneous Notes on Going Home

--When we come back in March, we will have one episode (I think) that is just Cursed!Emma and Cursed!Henry while Hook tries to convince Emma to believe him. The fairy tale characters will be in the EF and I expect we will see flashbacks over the rest of the season of what happened in that year.

--I have no interest in dissecting the love triangle. Both sides are claiming victory. And if there are any CS shippers who read my blog, yes. You guys got a lot of head wind last night. But it ain't over.

--Rumple isn't dead. I refuse to believe it.

--I am perfectly fine that Peter Pan was not redeemed in the end. He didn't deserve it. Worst parent on ONCE.

A Season in Review 

--This is going to be brief, I promise. If I had to give an overall grade to the first half of the season I think it gets a solid:  B+. ONCE did somethings very well. They really pushed character development; there were lots of great character moments--like Emma telling Snow how she was always an orphan, Emma admitting that she has always loved Neal, Hook wanting to be a hero, Regina and Rumple's sacrifices. But there were some negatives too. Adam and Eddy have got to learn better balance. The Neverland arc was starting to drag out by episode nine without one attempt by the main Jolly Roger crew at rescuing Henry. They went from tangent to tangent without making progress. Neverland really started to wear on everyone after awhile.

--I am sorry to say that there were a host of unanswered questions and I suspect we will never get them, which really sucks. I'm just going to say it: emotion over substance is not ideal on a show like this. You have to give me both. Where did Pan learn of the heart of the truest believer? Who drew the scroll with Henry's face?

--Best episode: toss up between "Ariel" and "Going Home"

--Worst episode: "Good Form" and "Save Henry"

--Best individual Arc: Emma Swan. They really pushed Emma this season, making her accept not only that she is a mother and the Savior but making her confront her past as an orphan and how it still haunts her.

--Worst Individual Arc: The dreamshade arc. Prince Charming got turned into a plot device for CaptainSwan. This is not okay. They could have actually given Charming a storyline about being poisoned and how it hurt him, but instead it turned into an attempt to make Hook a hero and get Emma and Hook to kiss.

--Best New Character: Peter Pan. He may be the worst parent ever, but Robbie Kay was delightful to watch. Really superb. Never want to see him again, but he was excellent.

--What I'm most looking forward to in 2014: The Wicked Witch of the West, Emma getting her memories back, finding Rumple 

Friday, December 13, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (1x8)

How many cliche sayings do we have about "home?" Home is where the heart is; keep the home fires burning; home is where you hang your hat. Humans instinctively long for a home; a place to call our own, a place of belonging, where you can lay down your troubles and burdens and simply be at peace. What ties Cyrus and Alice together, besides being ridiculously pretty, is that they lack a proper home. Cyrus spends most of his life in a bottle, flitting between masters who use him before he is forced to move on. Alice has a house back in Victorian London, but it's no home. Her father neglects her, treats her as though she is crazy. She has never been comfortable in the confines of that society. In other words, she has no home. Until she met Cyrus and they both knew they had found a place to belong: with each other. In the winter finale of ONCEWL, "Home," there are reunions and more heartache and twists and turns. 

 Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Let You Down 

How adorable are Cylice? One of my biggest complaints about ONCEWL in general has been that they haven't really sold the Alice and Cyrus relationship on screen. Off screen, the writers and promoters harp on how this is an "epic love story" but on screen they've barely managed to have the two together for an extended amount of time. Cyrus has spent a large portion of the first half of this season in a cage; Alice has been with the Knave. It's hard to root for a couple when we aren't seeing them as a couple, either in present day or in the past. However, it's nice that when we do see Cylice I tend to root for them. The opening flashback was very sweet and romantic and Peter and Sophie have a lot of chemistry together. Cyrus is showing Alice the falling stars which leads to a lot of kissing. Alice notices that Cyrus has a compass on him and questions from whence it came. Another girl, perhaps?

Did anyone predict that Cyrus wasn't always a genie? I thought they might make this the case, but since this series is only going to be 13 episodes I didn't think they'd actually reveal it. So Cyrus was not always a genie. And his mother gave him the compass. For a long time, while he was trapped inside his bottle, the compass would point the way to Cyrus's mother. To his home, in other words. But eventually one day it stopped pointing and just started spinning. Cyrus keeps the compass as his only reminder of his home and his former life as a human. How did Cyrus wind up in the bottle? How did he become a genie? I have a theory! I think Cyrus was born long ago in Agrabah, to the Sultan and Sultana--named Aladdin and Jasmine. Aladdin still had one wish left over from his time as a street rat when he found the genie's bottle in the cave of wonders. Through some unforeseen event, his wife Jasmine falls gravely ill. The only way to save her is through the final wish. Aladdin uses the wish to cure Jasmine, but all magic comes with a price: Cyrus. He is trapped in a bottle as a genie, never to be freed. All this is going to be paralleled in a bit, so keep it it mind. Alice seems surprised that Cyrus never told her about being human, but it's not something Cyrus likes to dwell on. Which is a good thing seeing as right at that moment they are attacked by bandits who want to take Cyrus for themselves! But Alice is there with her sword and together she and Cyrus ward off the men. I love that about Alice; she knows how to handle a sword and actually comes to Cyrus's defense. Way to subvert the trope, writers! But of course, something goes amiss and Alice is gravely injured, blooding pooling in the front of her dress as she collapses into Cyrus's arms.

Enter the White Rabbit. Hi Bunny! I love you. We finally get to meet the White Rabbit's wife and their two children, who are ADORABLE. I love the Wife Bun. She was sassy and wore a head scarf. While the Wife Bun is healing Alice, the White Rabbit and Cyrus have a talk. The Rabbit wants Cyrus to leave Alice, claiming that it's not safe for them to be together. Alice needs to go home, to her father. A home is the one thing Alice has always wanted, the White Rabbit reminds Cyrus. "But, I'm her home. And she's mine," Cyrus counters. How sweet. But the question remains: will Cyrus leave? Of course not. Cyrus pays a visit to the JabbaPillar and makes a deal: my compass (the old symbol for my home) for a hidden house with my new love, Alice (the new symbol for my home). Thankfully the JabbaPillar agrees and Cyrus sets up a nice little love nest, hidden with magic where Alice and he can always go to be together, away from everyone. He literally makes their home manifest. It's very sweet and symbolic. "You know they say that sacrifice is the measure of true love? And I would sacrifice anything for you," says Cyrus. (PS: if you're a fan of the original ONCE, this flashback has basically heightened the mental shipping wars going on between CaptainSwanFire. Really Adam and Eddy? You had to add fuel to the fire?)

Strange Bedfellows 

 Meanwhile, the Red Queen has more or less come to her senses and realized that Jafar is "not playing by the rules of the game" and she wants out. I'm not sure she's actually repentant but rather now knows that she and Jafar are more at odds than they are aligned. The Red Queen learns, through the literal grapevine (which was amusing), that one of her Tweedle's has betrayed her and that Jafar has the bottle. Except, in an unexpected move, the Red Queen has outsmarted Jafar and tricked him. She has the real bottle, hidden away in the wagon she and Will once shared. It's interesting how after so much time and after so much pain, Ana and Will still know each other. Will knows that Ana would still use the trailer to hide something important. While Cyrus and the Red Queen, bottle in hand, are on their way to find Alice, Alice and the Knave are on their way to the Rabbit's house. Even though he has betrayed them, Alice knows that the Rabbit is the only one who can get her and Cyrus out of Wonderland. But twist: the Red Queen has the Wife Bun and Baby Bunnies captive and if the Rabbit were to help Alice and Cyrus, she'd kill them.

So slight tangent to go get the babies and Wife Bun, which the Red Queen has hidden in the wagon. Will's emotions over knowing that Ana still uses the wagon were really heartbreaking. "The Queen wouldn't be caught dead here. But Ana? She and I had a few laughs here." Isn't it interesting that despite not having a heart, Will somehow manages to be incredibly emotional. I'm not saying this is a plot hole; Graham from ONCE was very emotional despite not feeling anything. Now that the Rabbit has his family back (adorable reunion is adorable), it's time to go and find Cyrus who will be hiding in his and Alice's home. At least that's what Alice hopes. They are obviously drawing a parallel to Will/Ana and Cyrus/Alice. Both still know where the other would go in times of trouble, despite all the time that has passed. Does this mean that Will and Ana will reconcile? Maybe. This is ONCE after all where they believe strongly in second chances. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Ana wants another chance, but she's going about it all wrong. She doesn't want to do the work that goes into getting a second chance. Ana wants the easy path: magic. As many suspected, she was working with Jafar to change her own past, in which she never agreed to marry the King and become his Queen. Instead, she wants to go back to that life of living in a wagon, not enough food to eat, with Will. Starving and poor, but happy and home. Are they each other's home? Most likely. I'm still rooting for Will and Lizard but it seems very likely that Will and Ana will be reunited. Oh. Speaking of reunions...

Run Alice run! Alice arrives at the hidden away home before Cyrus and worries that he has been recaptured. But never fear. There he is. Running toward her. Their reunion is of the running toward each other, orchestra music playing, clinging to each other variety. It was very sweet to watch. But one issue, Cyrus has brought the Red Queen. And there is a lot of trust issues happening. Cyrus trusts the Red Queen because he is a genie and can read people and their secret wishes (in this case, Ana's wish to go back and have a do over); Alice and Will do not trust the Red Queen at all, the former because the Red Queen took Cyrus away and the latter because the Red Queen broke (and most likely took) his heart. There is a lot of begging and pleading because oh yeah...Jafar has sent a death cloud after everyone. Realizing that he has been betrayed and is now further from his goal of having the bottle, Jafar conjures up an ominous black lightening cloud (which I am convinced makes a clicking sound and shows you your own past if you stare into it. Also, it's really a man in black). I have to give props to the actress who plays the Red Queen here. I've been annoyed with the Red Queen from day one; her voice and demeanor were just obnoxious but she nailed Ana's begging and pleading to be trusted and her insistence to get everyone out of Wonderland. She is terrified of Jafar and even if you don't trust her right now, they need to leave.

What is a group to do? Well thankfully the lightening cloud shows up and shoots out some lightening. Which the Red Queen blocks with Cyrus's bottle! Only to have the bolt rebound and hit Will! AH! And of course, if you remember back to the first wish Alice granted, if the Knave dies, Alice dies. So down goes Alice!! Cradled in Ana's arms, Will lays dying and cradled in Cyrus's arms, Alice is dying. Cyrus begs Alice to use the final wish to save herself but Alice won't send Cyrus back to his bottle. But clever Will: "that's my bloody wish!" Alice promised Will the wish back in the first episode and now he can use it. It must be made carefully, though. All magic comes with a price. Will wishes that Alice's suffering would end and MAGIC! Alice is revived, alive and happy. But what's this!? Cyrus no longer has his cuffs? He didn't vanish back into the bottle? He is no longer a genie?! Being separated from Cyrus was part of Alice's pain and suffering and now it's gone. Yay! Wait. Where's Will?

Oh bloody hell. The price of magic: Genie Will in a bottle heading over a waterfall.

See you in March!

Miscellaneous Notes on Home

--I adore the costumes on this show. Can I please have Alice's purple frilly dress, her vest, her boots? Also the Red Queen's red riding outfit? And their hair. Dang.

--I wished for more Jafar in this episode. I really enjoy him (and is it just me or does he get hotter every episode?)

--"I think she's on to us!" LOL

--"I'm her home now. And she's mine."
"Must you always speak in metaphor?"

--Bunnies are adorable.

--It literally ended on a cliffhanger. Genius writers. 

--Where is Will? Is he going to end up in the Enchanted Forest? In Storybrooke?

--Sayid became Jafar and then conjured Smokey. META

Overall reactions to the season

--I don't want to make this very long because my thoughts on the show are scattered throughout the blog but if I had to grade the show, I'd give it a solid: C+
--Some episodes (102 and 105 in particular) felt very flat. There are somethings about ONCEWL that are great and I'd like to see move over to ONCE proper: Jafar, the Knave, the Rabbit. Alice and Cyrus themselves are fine and I do ship them, but I feel no need to have them enter ONCE proper. They can go live in their hidden home and be together. Overall though, there is something missing to ONCEWL. I'm not sure what, honestly. It doesn't have the same spark of magic ONCE does.
--The CGI on ONCEWL really hurt it and I think drove many people away. They have got to stop using the CGI screen of doom.
--Most of the time it doesn't feel like Alice in Wonderland so much as Alice in Aladdin's story. I keep thinking that Alice and Cyrus are more or less stand-ins for Aladdin and Jasmine
--There are a lot of clever wordplays which I enjoy: the clothes horse, forget me knot, the grapevine
--For the last half of the season, I want Will (and his heart) found quickly before this turns into #SaveWill. I want more Jafar and more Bunny. And I really hope they bring back Cora.