Once Upon a Time in Wonderland- Episode 1- Review (Spoilers)
There are two reasons I decided to watch Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the first being because it is a spin off of Once Upon a Time. The writing of the original show, the way it wraps all the stories together and has such intriguing characters made me want to see where they would go with an idea like Wonderland.
I also decided to watch the show because it is Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland is a very eccentric, outlandish, trippy kind of story. The numerous movies show just how crazy this story can get. So many different characters from some of the farthest reaching areas of the imagination. You really have to let the rational side of your mind turn off and let your full imagination take over to really appreciate the story. If you question too much you ruin the best parts of the story.
Alice in Wonderland is wild and fun but it is also much more than a kids story. It isn’t as innocent as it seems. It can be much darker and more twisted than other fairytales (though more like the modern versions than the original versions). I think this show is really going to dive into the darker sides of this story.
When the show opened we had Alice returning home, as a child, from her first trip to Wonderland. She has been gone for a good long while and no one believes a word she says about where she had been. Her father is very reluctant to consider her actually crazy, he wants to see his daughter as just a child who let her imagination run away with her. He tries to hold onto her as long as he can but finally he gives up and commits her.
A lice is an intriguing character. She persists in her belief of this land she found by accident. She continues to hunt for proof of Wonderland. She goes there multiple times, constantly trying to return home with something to show she isn’t insane. She does not give up easily, that is until she lose Cyrus, the love of her life. Just as in many fairytales, she loses all hope when she loses love. She is committed and left to wallow in her sorrow and despair. A scenario that would dampen anyones life and imagination.
At first I thought the time period of the story was much further in the past then the present day. (Though from the costumes and look I still think it is, but not sure how to connect that to Will being in present day Storybrook). The asylum is so dark and barbaric, the methods ancient and cold. The doctors are cold and could careless about Alice or her recovery. They just want to break her and destroy her. No one in that place wanted to actually hep her. I don’t know much about mental health facilities but I am pretty sure most are not like this. They want to help or in some way assist their patients live better lives.
I think it is an interesting choice to place Alice in a place like this. This is what her life is like if she gives into how she is supposed to live. This is what life will be like if she walks away from her love and a life full of imagination. Without Wonderland and without all the adventures that comes with it, she will live in a cruel, hard and cold world. This is the world without stories, imagination and fun. This is the world when you give up and don’t keep believing and living.
We see Alice break but she is not broken. It only takes a few words to bring back her fighting side. WIll, the Knave of Hearts, tells her Cyrus is alive and she is once again a strong woman on a mission. She fights well and with vigor, defeating the orderlies/guards with little effort. She isn’t a broken child or a dead hearted woman. She just needs that small flame of hope to keep herself alive and moving. I like this aspect of her, she just needs something to hold onto, no matter how small it may seem. I feel like this is going to be a theme in this show, fighting even when everything seems to be against you.
She is rescued by the Knave of Hearts, a character we know very little about right now. He is sarcastic and obviously some type of rebel/criminal. We first meet him in Storybrooke, after the curse is broken. (I am making that assumption because he knows who he is and can go in and out of the town.) He wants to live here to build a life here. He knows what this place is and knows he can move forward here.
In the cafe he did something that really intrigued me. He poured a cup of coffee, put some money on the counter, looked around and took the money back. What was that? Why did he “pay” then quickly retract the action?
To me this is a telling aspect of his character. He is the Knave of Hearts, at one time he worked with Queen of Hearts. He was on the wrong side, which I am sure caused him to do somethings he now regrets. To me this pretend paying was a way for him to hold onto the responsible side of himself. There was no one there to see him taking the coffee without paying but he did the action for his own conscious. He is striving not to live the life he lived in his past. Something we know is always very difficult to do.
He rescues Alice and multiple times says how much he does not want to have anything to do with Wonderland. He is a wanted man there, life is not good for him. Yet he still follows her, still decides to join her on this hunt. I know he says he wants the wish, the ability to erase everything but I think there is more to it than that.
There has to be a deeper connection between these two. Alice mentions helping him get his heart back, so he does owe her some type of debt. How deep does this debt and his feelings of payment go? He hesitates only slightly when he decides to go on this journey to find Cyrus. He just wants a new life, he wants out of whatever trouble he is in. This adventure is only going to complicate that issue, he won’t get out of this place without encountering his past and his past actions. I know he wants the wish but I think he feels a deeper connection to Alice than that. He wants to help her, he feels like he has to help her for some reason.
The villain of this story is of course the Red Queen. We instantly know she is evil when she “kills,” Cyrus. She has no emotion when she does it, acting like it was just some accident. She appears heartless. But she does feel something and that is fear.
I love that Jafar is the real villain of the show. Yet again the creators of the show are going to intertwine stories, pull from different worlds and interact a variety of characters. I love that Jafar scares the Queen. She knows she has leverage, Jafar doesn’t know the land like she does, but she is still terrified by him. She isn’t a flawless evil ruler, she is just as much a pawn as the White Rabbit. She is not in control and it will be interesting to watch her struggle to come to terms with that.
When Alice is almost eaten by the Cheshire Cat, he says something very interesting to her. “I’m strange, you’re strange, together we ware strangers.” I think this is a telling line for what this land is like now. It isn’t the Wonderland Alice once knew. This place is a dark now, everyone is more twisted and strange. It isn’t the vibrant colorful land like the Disney movies. Something or someone is twisting and turning this land. This place is breaking and I believe it is going to come down to Alice to fix it.
Alice going to have to come terms with this new world. It is not the place she once left behind, because of a broken heart. She is going to have to hold onto that fighter side of herself if she is going to get out of this place alive and whole.
I am excited to see where this series is going to go. At the heart it is a love story but it is a love story set in one of the most imaginative unstable worlds ever created. There are so many places to go and so many characters to meet and work with and around. I hope they use this story and related stories to their full potential.
“Strangers in a most strange land,”- Cyrus- another time this idea of strangers being part of a strange land comes up. A theme I am sure will be explored more.
“Nothing is impossible in Wonderland,”- guard guy- the rules of this world are that there are no rules
“Power can be fleeting”- Jafar- a lesson the queen is going to have to learn
“When you really love someone you don’t need proof you can feel it”- Alice- her motto and a theme that will be the center of this show or at least this season
How many times did Alice visit Wonderland?
How did she help Will, the Knave of Hearts?
What are the implications of the doctor seeing the White Rabbit?
What is the time period/time line?
Will there be any real world effects from that moment?
What is Will’s story? What has he done?
What does the Red Queen want with Alice?
What is her end game?
Why does Jafar want Cyrus?
What has happened to Wonderland?