Friday, November 15, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (1x5)

Show creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis love their parallels. Often, on ONCE proper and even on Wonderland, the events of the past are played out again in the present and we see how the choices of the characters either match their past actions or differ, thus allowing us inside the characters head for a span of time. It's a perfectly acceptable way of writing and most of the time it's highly enjoyable. What is less enjoyable are remixes of past successful episodes that are watered down and replicated for new characters. This weeks episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, "Heart of Stone," took two episodes from ONCE proper and mashed them together to give the Red Queen a backstory. The two ONCE proper episodes in question have to do with the other two evil queens, Regina and Cora; 1x18 "Stable Boy" in which a mother disapproves of her daughter's choice of love because she had hoped that her daughter would move up in society and 2x16 "The Miller's Daughter" in which a poor peasant with lofty notions if offered a crown if she gives up someone she loves. What this episode did not to do was endear the Red Queen to me; in fact, I'd really like it if she doesn't get a happy ending. 

Mommy Dearest (and other adventures)

Turns out Ana's mother does not approve of Will Scarlett; he is poor, common and a thief. Ana's mother wanted so much more for her daughter; she expected Ana to become a queen or at the very least marry a nobleman.  Raise your hand if you expected Mommy Dearest to rip out Will's heart and declare that Ana's life wasn't her own. They should have been in a stable with horses while Snow White slumbered in the great house. The point I'm making here, is that this whole scene and scenario was something straight out of "Stable Boy" in ONCE. Ana declares that all she needs in life is Will; the Beatles will take their royalty check now, thank you very much. Ana's mother watches as Ana and Will jump through a portal to Wonderland, wide-eyed and dreamy. Another note on Ana's mother: she looks a lot like Lady Tremaine from Disney's "Cinderella" does she not? There is a pretty popular theory that Ana is one of Cinderella's step sisters, one of whom is traditionally named Anastasia, and in "Cinderella 2" runs off with a bread baker named Will despite her mother's reservations. It wouldn't surprise me in the least except that the timeline of the whole events is massively screwed up. We saw the Step Sisters in ONCE 104, "Price of Gold," which was well after the events of this episode. (I sound crazed, don't I?) It's probably not overly important at any rate. If ABC does let ONCEWL play out for the full season then these little matters are annoying only if you're an obsessed fan.

 Life in Wonderland is--shock--hard! Despite what young lovers often think, you need more than love to survive. You need food and clothing and money and shelter. You can't just wander hither and thither expecting that life will be simply grand because you have each other. This is a lesson Ana is learning the hard way. An idea strikes Ana when the love duo see a passing cart of bread: let's go to the ball! Ana and Will could sneak in, steal break to eat, and get away without anyone being any the wiser. After all, they were thieves at one point, so it shouldn't be too hard. Part of me wonder if this is what would have happened had Regina and Daniel run off together. Would Regina eventually miss her old life of comfort and begin to make Daniel do unethical things to provide for her? So Ana and Will pinch some dresses and apparently some hair product and some makeup and head off to a ball at the King's palace.

The life presented in the palace is in stark contrast to the life Ana has been living outside the palace. Here she is beautiful and coiffed and well dressed. There she is run down and hungry. The king obviously approves of her. It's a pretty standard story: peasant girl gets dressed up for a ball, attracts the attention of the king, and suddenly her life will change. But given that Ana is still in love with Will, she needs to distance herself from him first. They are caught trying to steal bread and the woman from whom Ana stole her gown recognizes it and the pair are tossed from the palace. Very Miller's Daughter. I half expected Ana to say that she could spin straw into gold. Ana continues to mope and lament their life and it's all very annoying. Honestly, I don't know why I have no sympathy for her. Maybe I'm supposed to, but most of my sympathy lies with Will who lost his girl in a matter of seconds. Ana comes up with the plan to break into the King's castle and steal the jewels so that they can sell them and live off the riches. Man, is this a bad plan. And worse, Will doesn't want to do it at all but for the love he bears Ana, he will. So they break in and I bet you can guess what happens next: Ana gets caught by the King; the King offers up riches and comfort by making an offer of marriage; Ana accepts and literally in five second is crowned and dressed as a Queen while Will watches from below the castle.
And that's how Ana became the Red Queen. Except she was always the Red Queen to an extent. She was never, so far as we can tell, honestly happy living in poverty. Even when her mother came to take her away, you can see that Ana hesitates, not sure if she honestly wants a life with Will and the hardships it will bring. I don't doubt that she loves Will; I doubt the conviction of those feelings. Again the similarity to Cora: love is weakness. Ana could be with Will (Cora could have been with Rumple) but it meant a life of hardship and sacrifice. If they don't bring Cora back soon, I'll be very disappointed given how close their stories are.

Let's Make a Deal

First, how cute is Alice draping StoneWill in a blanket to keep the rain off of him? Seriously, ONCEWL, if you want me to ship Alice and Cyrus then you need to stop making Alice and Will so adorable. It doesn't help that, apart from the odd flashback, Cyrus has been in a cage for 5 episodes now. The chemistry between Alice and Cyrus isn't quite what it needs to be; but the chemistry between Will and Alice is spectacular. But since Alice and Cyrus are obviously True Love, I suppose I need to get over it. Anyway, the Red Queen shows up with a deal for Alice: come with me to get some magic dust and I'll tell you where your genie is because Jafar's palace is cloaked in magic and you'll never find it without me. Looks like Alice has no choice and so the two team up together. This is really the first interaction between Alice and the Red Queen thus far and it felt...underwhelming. Maybe it's because how the Red Queen presents herself: her dialect, her mannerisms, ect all feel forced and frankly after 5 episodes very annoying. Her "darlings" now grate on my every nerve. Alice is sweet and I enjoy her but the two together don't do it for me. Alice and Jafar, now that was scary.

The Red Queen takes Alice to the Great Divide which I'm sure is symbolic and stuff but frankly I can't be bothered to pick apart the symbolism because it was deadly boring and odd. There is a riddle that only the person who is true of heart can cross the divide and of course that means Alice. By believing in the power of her love with Cyrus she crosses halfway before falling, as she was meant to. And there she meets Zombie Alice. This was freaky and weird and was altogether unnecessary. What exactly was the purpose of the magic dust becoming a zombie version of Young Alice and demanding that Big Alice kill the Red Queen? We all know Alice won't do it. That's why she has the pure heart, we get it. But there's young Zombie Alice, with dark hair and freaky eyes. And then she's not there and a pile of dust remains. Okay then. And in a surprise to no one, the Red Queen betrays Alice and refuses to tell her where Cyrus is; but in another non-surprise, Alice has kept part of the dust for herself and uses it to uncover Jafar's castle. Of course, the twist is that Cyrus has escaped and is now off to find Alice. Will they actually find each other? I hope so. They need to really sell me Cyrus and Alice.

Miscellaneous Notes from Heart of Stone

--I really love the White Rabbit. He is obviously working for the Red Queen because his family is being held hostage and then he tries to keep Jafar from learning anything about Alice by telling him trivialities. I was *so* angry when Jafar cut off the Bunny's foot. (I have a pet rabbit. It was personal). While I'm glad Jafar put the foot back, I still worry about the Bunny. Where is the Bunny taking Jafar? My guess is London to steal Alice's father. But I bet my Bunny will do something heroic again. Last night, he let Cyrus escape. He's a hero in a hat.

--The other prisoner in the cage next to Cyrus is most likely the Sultan and I was impressed that he stayed behind to allow Cyrus to escape. He doesn't sound like the kind of man who would give up his son. Jafar probably doesn't know the whole story.

--Speaking of Cyrus's escape...when he was hanging on to the walkway ledge, I remember wanting him to yell, "Fly, you fools!" (Nerd jokes!)

--Not nearly enough Will this episode. More Will please.

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