Friday, March 7, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (1x9)

And we're back!! It has been a wicked long hiatus, hasn't it? A cold desolate winter with very little to review or talk about but finally the sun has come out. Ok, that was a horrifying metaphor. Gotta get my writing chops warmed up, I suppose. But here we are; after three months with no ONCE of any kind, Wonderland returned in fine form this week. When we last left off, Cyrus and Alice had been reunited only to almost be separated by death before the Knave of Hearts stepped in and wished for Alice's safety, only to become a genie himself. The Red Queen's alliances were moved to the hero gang once she confessed that all she wanted was Will back and in the former Red Kingdom, Jafar prepared to unleash his plan to break the laws of magic. In this weeks, "Nothing to Fear" our characters explore their fears and prepare for battle.

Be Careful What You Wish For 

In the mid season finale, Will Scarlett ended up a genie in the bottle, floating down stream. Thankfully, the show didn't make us wait too long to find out what happened to him. ONCE has a tendency to take tangents before answering the more important questions, so it was refreshing to see them tackle that problem straight off. Will's new home was discovered by a scantily clad Lizard (remember her?) in a muddy bank. Once she releases Will from the bottle, he is her genie and she is his master. This is something she clearly wants to enjoy. I noted back when we met Liz that it was pretty obvious that she was in love with Will. And now the bandit gets to have some fun with the man who is incapable of feeling. Will is in a hurry to get back to Alice and Cyrus but Liz manages to convince him to have some fun first--take a breather, in other words. Now that she has wishes, Will and she can conjure up a good time before the madness begins again. Remember that all wishes has consequences, especially if they are big ones. The first wish is simple enough, a nice cold beer for Will and the townsfolk. Easy enough. It's after the first wish that things begin to get a little bit more complicated.

Revelry is fun and all, but when it becomes apparent that Liz is longing for something else, Will begins to put some pieces together. Liz is clearly in love with someone but can't get the bloke to notice her. Poor Liz! So in steps Will, offering up his genie services. Will is, it turns outs, a typical guy. He can't see what is staring him right in the face--Liz loves him! Will makes a good speech about what love should feel like, "it should feel like fireworks going off," and Liz makes her second wish, "make me into someone you could love." And Will still doesn't pick up on what Liz is actually asking for, his heart. Now, in a breathtaking gown, Liz waits for Will to realize that she loves him and still the man is incapable of it. Now, to be fair to poor Will, he is heartless. Literally. He had his heart removed and never put it back, even after he rescued it. He can't actually feel anything for anyone anymore and I suspect that is at the root of his deepest fear. Will is so scared of feeling ever again, after what Ana did to him, that he can't bring himself to feel anything at all. All emotions are dangerous, so it is better to be heartless. When Liz presses the issue, at last, Will tries to explain this to her. But the heart wants what the heart wants and Liz makes her final wish, "I just wish you could feel something for me." Be more specific Liz!!

Consequences. They exist on this show--which is so refreshing from the parent ONCE where they keep breaking their own "dead is dead" law! Liz wants Will to feel something? Fine, says magic, he can feel grief and guilt and in return for Will feeling something, we will take your life. Liz slinks slowly to the floor dying and as soon as Will begins to feel that guilt and grief, back into the bottle he goes. He can't even be with Liz as she dies, he has to watch from the window of his bottle, his new prison. It's a pretty heart breaking scene. Liz was a cute character with whom I wish they had done more, but it's understandable given the limited scope of the TV show. This death is, for me, the equivalent of Graham's death in ONCE--two very nice characters who were killed off in order to show just how powerful magic is and how you cannot try to circumvent the rules put in place. All magic comes with a price, and sometimes that price is your life. I have to wonder if the writers had bigger plans for Liz (I had a theory that she was the rightful ruler of the kingdom, the White King's daughter) but it got changed when it became apparent that the show would not be getting a second season. Rest in peace, Lizard. And now Will is back in his bottle, waiting for a new master. Keep that in mind.

The Three Stooges

In the aftermath of Will turning into a genie and vanishing, Cyrus, Alice and Ana are forced to work together, much to Alice's horror. No matter what, she doesn't want to trust the Red Queen. There is a lot of history between these two, but it hasn't been explored in any kind of great detail. We're not really sure how they know each other or what happened between them. The Red Queen claims that she knew Alice as a little girl in her blue dress, but that doesn't line up with the timeline and I think it was more of a throw away line. At any rate, Alice's idea of a happy ending is saving Will and then getting out of dodge (Wonderland). Alice is a lot like Emma Swan when it comes down to it--she may be a fantastic warrior and hero, but at the end of the day, she wants a happily ever after with Cyrus. Alice wants moments, a quiet life, away from the constant chaos and life or death adventures. That's her (and Emma's) idea of the good life. But in order to have that, she must first save the Knave of Hearts. This part of the episode was a little draggy because it was a lot of walking and exposition but it did have some genuinely funny moments and some enlightening moments. Funny first!

Worst. Rescue. Ever. While walking toward Will, the Red Queen is captured by some very angry peasants. Turns out the Red Queen is a pretty bad queen; she never cared for her people and now they are hungry and in constant mortal danger from beasts. Now that she's fled the palace, the peasants make short work of getting their revenge. Tying her to a stake in the ground, they have every intention of feeding her to wild creatures. Enter Cyrus and Alice. Cyrus makes a heroic speech about honor and dignity and how murder is not the answer. It's moving, really, it is. So naturally he and Alice are tied to a stake in the ground alongside the Red Queen. The beasts are attracted to light, so even after the torches are extinguished, they are still drawn to Alice's necklace which glows a bright red. In a very sad moment, Alice is forced to throw away her necklace--the symbol of her and Cyrus's love. It was given to her in the pilot and represented how her and Cyrus's hearts were intertwined. And this is Alice's great fear; after searching for so long to be reunited with Cyrus, she'll lose him all over again. Something will come between them again and they'll never really get their happy ending. (Emma Swan and Neal Cassidy MEGA PARALLEL ALERT *ahem* But that's a different show...) She may have lost her beloved necklace, but Cyrus wants her to know that she'll never loose him and in a very touching moment, he finally gives Alice an engagement ring and they seal it with kiss.

The first eight episodes of Wonderland had Cyrus and Alice separated in the present and it was hard to get a read on Cyrus because he spent so much time in a cage. But finally, we are getting a little bit more information on the former genie. For example, Cyrus may not be magical, but he can do magic--his *mother* taught him. She also taught his two brothers. Got that? Cyrus has two brothers and a mother who knows magic. Theory time! I think Cyrus's mother is Amara, the woman who is now Jafar's snake staff. And his brothers? We learn at the end of the episode that they are the other two genies in bottles needed in order for Jafar to break the laws of magic. So what was Amara really up to? Was she collecting the bottles in order to free her children? Most likely. Turns out she wasn't evil but a mother looking for her three sons. How VERY ONCE. But how did Cyrus and his brothers end up in bottles? That remains to be seen, but I'd wager it was the consequence of magic Amara had to pay at one point. It's cyclic on this show--Amara used magic improperly and her sons paid the consequences. Cyrus is only freed by Will using magic and facing the consequences. Liz dies because of a poorly worded wish. Magic and its consequences is probably one of biggest themes on this show.

The three erstwhile companions finally make to the small town where Will is and the Red Queen gets to the bottle first (finding a dead Lizard in the process). When Cyrus demands that Ana hand over the bottle with Will inside, Ana (of course) tricks Cyrus and instead releases Will and now Will has a new master: Anastasia. And it's here that Ana really makes a huge leap forward in character development. Instead of taking Will and running (as Will says she will do), Ana decides to stay and fight Jafar for her people. Ana knows she was a terrible Queen and that they deserve more from her, so they will have it. I think Will and Alice were surprised to hear this; Cyrus knows Ana is sorry for her actions. I think I am going to warm up to Ana after all, up until now I've really been critical of her, but her speech about how she would stay and fight was great.


Meet the Jabberwocky. Now in the books, the Jabberwocky is a fearsome creature but a monster nonetheless. I *love* this take on the creature. She's dark and creepy and mental and probably more dangerous than Jafar and the Red Queen combined. Jabber is almost totally unhinged. This episode found Jafar searching for the Jabberwocky in the palace, whom he later found in a tower. The scene between Jafar and the Jabberwocky was hot and steamy and a little deranged. You can tell that the Jabberwocky was in total control and has no time for Jafar's ego. Instead of being psychically menacing, she is psychologically menacing. The Jabberwocky knows how to get inside people's head and open doors to their greatest fears. For Jafar that's the the feeling of being powerless, first felt when his father held his head under a bucket of water and tried to kill him. These two are going to make a very demented team, though I have yet to figure out exactly how Jafar will deploy the Jabberwocky. And what's up with the sword in her stomach? Is it the Vorpal Blade, the only blade strong enough to kill the Jabberwocky? I suppose it must be, but you have to cut off her head, not just stab her. I hope they let the Jabberwocky play with out characters before Alice kills her (c'mon. You know Alice will).

Miscellaneous Notes on Nothing to Fear

--Great start to the second half of the season. Though, I have to wonder if I would have been happy with just anything after so long away.

--"I think I'll take my chances with the homicidal maniac with the snake stick"
"I am already acquainted with death. Give him my regards" a BOSS.

--The rest of the season will probably focus on taking down Jafar, finding Will's heart, and some extra backstory. One of my favorite parts of Wonderland right now is how concise it is. There is very little filler because they have a limited amount of episodes to tell their story.


  1. I have to agree about the concise bit and I am okay with it. Though I was not aware that there will not be a second season, I'm glad that they will get to finish out the first.
    I am going to miss Liz a lot. She was a sweet character who deserved better. I'm also a touch confused why Will didn't ask Ana to bring her back to life or to unwish what had happened.
    Number 2...Cyrus knows magic.... why did he never teach Alice anything? Can anyone learn magic? These rules are getting sloppy .Why doesn't everyone learn magic then?
    Lastly, Jabber is an acrobatic telepath?
    I do like your theory about Cyrus and Amara a lot and I wonder if that is how it would have been if there were more seasons.

  2. The rules are very sloppy right now, I agree. Adam and Eddy have said that some people are born with the spark of magic inside which makes them easier to teach (ie: Cora and Regina) but Cyrus seems to imply that his mother just taught him without Cyrus needing to be...sparky.
    With Liz, I don't think genie's can bring people back from the dead. What bothers me more, actually, is that after Will is released a second time, there is no mention of Liz at all, as if it hadn't happened. He's not longer grieving or sad. It might have something to do with this heart (or lack thereof) but it felt like a total disconnect from the emotional trauma exhibited only a few moments before.
    Jabber is just epic. I have no idea what else she is, but she's epic.

  3. "Sparky"....nice.
    And yes, maybe that is what I was hoping for. Will pleading and Cyrus saying it can't be done. Just...something more.