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.

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