Friday, October 18, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (1x2)

The real basis of trust is faith. But the problem with faith is that you can never be one hundred percent sure that your faith isn't being misplaced. What do you put your faith and trust in? True love? Friendship? Family? Magic? And when evidence is telling you that your faith and trust are wrong, what then? In this weeks episode, "Trust Me," Alice struggles with her faith in Cyrus and everyone begins to doubt each other. 

There was a lot going on this week--Agrabah of the past, Wonderland of the past, Wonderland of the present with Alice and Knave, Wonderland of the present with the Red Queen and Jafar, and Wonderland of the present with Cyrus. Honestly it was a bit overwhelming. I understand that OUATinWL is supposed to be an open and shut book with 13 episodes telling a whole story but there is so much going on that it doesn't feel like they are taking time to build anything properly. Cyrus and Alice are cute together but so far their interactions haven't given me the happy shipper heart that I've come to expect from ONCE. Actually, I really like Alice and the Knave at the moment, even though I'm not supposed to be shipping them. Streamlining is hard when you've literally opened the door to having any possible fairy tale or classic story at your disposal. I really like Jafar as a character but it's hard to fit him into the story right now because everything is supposed to be heavily focused on Wonderland. It makes reviewing difficult because I'm trying to pick up themes and motifs but the plot is getting in the way.

I think the first thing we need to establish are the laws of magic. According to our genie, Cyrus, there are four: cannot kill anyone; can't bring back the dead; can't change the past and can't make anyone fall in love. Jafar wants to change the rules of magic and believes he can do this with Cyrus. In the Disney version of Aladdin, the blue genie also gives a similar speech about the rules of his wishes, with the exception of the third. Because the writers deliberately stuck in the third rule concerning the past, I would contend that it is probably the rule we need to be the most concerned about. For some reason, Jafar wants to change the past. Given that most often our villains motivations are both self serving and poignant, I suspect Jafar has what he considers to be a good reason. Does he want to prevent someone from dying? We know there are consequences to trying to resurrect someone from the dead--it basically turns them into Frankenstein's monster. If Jafar wanted to avoid this, the best option would be to prevent them from dying. Also, I suspect it is someone from when he was much younger. The show opened in Agrabah many years ago and Jafar was already on his mission. Jafar has probably been obsessed with this mission and collecting power for himself for a very long time.

So what is his relationship with the Red Queen--who, I'm sad to say, isn't improving in the second week. She and Jafar have a relationship that is laced with sexual overtones but ones that are dangerous and violent. The Red Queen has no interest in hearing the complaints of her subjects, in fact she is out right bored with them. She shows no signs of regret or sadness when Jafar turns several of her people to ash; yet she declares that she "took" Wonderland (from Cora, the Queen of Hearts I suspect) and Jafar points out that her only flaw is that she wants to earn her people's respect, not just take it. However, the Red Queen does have a cunning streak to her--which is to be expected, she is a chess piece in the original book. She outsmarts Jafar by using the White Rabbit (poor sad bunny) and now has an equal share in the overall scheme by possessing the bottle.

Meanwhile Alice has formulated a plan to rescue Cyrus. It's a two part plan: find Cyrus's bottle and then make three very simple and easy wishes. Once Alice makes her wishes, Cyrus returns to his bottle and the Knave can summon him again and wish them together. When the Knave says "doesn't this mean that Cyrus would be my genie?" Alice replies, "Guess I'll just have to trust you." They then set out to find the bottle which Alice says is under the Tum Tum Tree. The interaction between the Knave and Alice is really the highlight of the show.
The romance between Cyrus and Alice is slowly building but they haven't won me over yet. This was hindered by the doubts Alice and the Knave expressed along the way that Alice's genie love has moved on in the year they've been apart. Their flashback scenes together were cute, especially the sword play but I guess I'm confused as to why they need to hide the bottle. Why not just keep it on Alice at all time? If she refuses to spend her wishes then the bottle is fine. It seems to me that hiding the bottle might cause more problems. The relationship aspect escalated quickly. This was what ONCE did perfectly with Snow White and Prince Charming. We saw their happy life for a brief instant in the pilot and then the writers flashbacked so that we could see them falling in love. This time around we're jumping so fast that during one flashback Alice and Cyrus have clearly just met, the next they are kissing and then declaring their love for each other. There are a lot of missing pieces that need to be considered.

Along the way we learn a bit about the Knave, Will. Apparently he's a bit of a Lothario--but only because his heart was broken by someone named Anastasia. (Bells went off in my head. Let's lay down money that Anastasia is really the Red Queen). We don't know the whole story yet but I suspect we'll get it soon enough. After an unfortunate adventure with Silvermist, the fairy, the two take a Mock Turtle to the Tum Tum Tree where they discover Jafar. Alice then reveals how clever she really is: the bottle isn't at the Tum Tum Tree, she just wanted to see who they were up against. The real location of the bottle is at the Dandy Lion bush (it's Wonderland. There are mock turtles and clothes horses and dandy lions). But sadly when they get there, they find the bottle gone, it having been taken by the White Rabbit to the Red Queen. I think the White Rabbit's wife and children have been captured and are being held prisoner by the Red Queen--as someone with a bunny, this is a sad thought, indeed.

Miscellaneous Notes on Trust Me

--Sadly the ratings have completley plummeted. I hope ABC lets the story play out but it's not looking good.

--The Knave is full of snarky comments:
"Now you've gone and hurt the tree. Happy?"
Care Bear reference

--Cyrus's magic paper is impressive but that whole scene was such a Lord of the Rings ripoff with Gandalf and the moths.

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