Posts Tagged With: Once Upon a Time

[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“Heart of Stone”)

This post is a bit late. Finals and labs have been happening.

People of the kingdom, your new queen. Source: IGN

This episode focuses on Will and Anastasia’s entry into Wonderland. It begins from where Will and Anastasia are about to jump through the portal that he stole from Maleficent. Before they jump in, they are stopped by Anastasia’s mother, who cautions Anastasia that “love” won’t be enough for her new life with Will. It’s interesting to see the parallels between Anastasia and Regina from the parent series: cold, overbearing, poor ambitious mothers who coax their daughters into marrying royalty. However, whereas Cora (Regina’s mother) managed to use magic to force Regina into her eventual fate as the Evil Queen, Anastasia’s mother just lets her escape to Wonderland, but cautions her that “love won’t be enough,” and expects her daughter to return (with a bucket of water). At first, the couple seems to be happy by themselves, though their desires for riches eventually overcame as they crash a ball held by the king of the realm (mother does know best, doesn’t she). Formulating a plan to steal the crown jewels, Anastasia gets caught by the king himself, who offers to make her his queen and overlook her burglary. How the king meets his demise has yet to be seen.

Meanwhile, in the “present,” Anastasia coaxes Alice to the Great Divide to acquire magic dust on the other side that can point her in the direction of Jafar’s lair. Alice is still savvy enough to ask why the Red Queen herself didn’t go across and fetch it herself, to which she responds with an “[Alice’s] heart is the purest of them all,” noted by Anastasia’s betrayal to Will and lingering regret evidenced by her giving Alice a look as the girl mentions her love for Cyrus. After falling into the chasm after crossing an invisible bridge, Alice comes face-to-face with a younger version of herself that preys on the hatred she has towards Anastasia by reminding her that it is her fault that Cyrus is gone. The apparition then summons Anastasia into the rift and gives Alice the chance to kill her for all the suffering she has been put through. Alice, being the bastion of incorruptible goodness that she is, puts down her blade and spares the Queen’s life. The being then congratulates Alice and gives her the magic dust. When the two women climb back up from the chasm, Anastasia promptly takes the pouch of magic dust and leaves Alice, but not before the latter had taken some for herself to be guided towards Cyrus. Anastasia returns to the garden where Will had been petrified and uses the dust to cure him and leaving as he gets de-stoned, as if she feels that she cannot face him yet despite her unfaltering love.

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[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“The Serpent”)

Pun of the week: wishbone

After a week’s hiatus, the denizens of Wonderland are back to continue their little chess game.

(Ex-)Lovers reunited. Source: Seriable.com

Following the trend from its parent series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has given the chief villain a justifiable motive for their start of darkness. Jafar is revealed to be an illegitimate son of the Sultan of Agrabah whom has been abandoned and falls under the sorceress Amara’s tutelage. Like Regina, he was unwilling to take the life of an innocent at first, but with some prodding from his mentor, that habit was slowly forced out of him. The clear difference is that Amara is enamoured by Jafar (of course, seeing as how she took him in at a young age (when he was conspicuously a boy, giving off a creepy implication of sex-flipped wife husbandry) during the time they’ve spent together  compared to Rumplestiltskin finding Regina (and her mother’s) antics amusing. Unlike Rumpelstiltskin, Amara ends up getting turned into Jafar’s iconic serpent staff.

Meanwhile, a new character is introduced–Elizabeth (who also goes by Lizard)–who like Anastasia has run with Will in the past. Whether or not she is an original character remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Alice has reached an ultimatum during the escape from the Red Queen: she uses her first wish to bind her life to Will’s to prevent Jafar from killing him. This doesn’t stop him from turning Will into stone, however, and that probably means we won’t be seeing Michael Socha for a while now.

I still find Alice to not be as interesting as the other characters in the series, particularly Anastasia. Will, for the most part of his capture, taunts his ex-lover to kill him, something that she has been pressured to do by Jafar. In fact, the few close-up shots of her show her frustration breaking through her stony facade. It is interesting to note that the Tweedles answer not only to her but also to the sorcerer from Agrabah; one could make the argument that the servants are being shared among the two, but there should have been a sequence where they answer to Anastasia before Jafar.

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[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“Forget Me Not”)

Pun of the week: the Forget-Me-Knot

A key character from Alice’s adventures makes an appearance in this episode.

Who are you? Source: OUaT Wiki

Jafar and the Red Queen are trying to make Alice use up her wishes so that Cyrus won’t be bound to her anymore by creating situations where she has no choice but to use them. Using Cyrus’ reactions as a guide, the villains finally decide on releasing a Bandersnatch, which takes the form of a wild boar with an incredible sense of smell.

Following the discovery that the bottle has been stolen, the Knave suggests using the Forget-Me-Knot, a rope with a loop that acts as a magic lens with the power to see past events in any viewed area. The problem? It is in the possession of the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, who put out a bounty on his head for not honouring his debt, further illustrating the impact that the Knave has had on Wonderland that we haven’t seen yet. The caterpillar then confides in the two adventurers that the knot has been taken by the Grendel, a monster so terrible that adventurers never returned. The Knave then sees an opportunity to settle the debt: retrieve the knot from the Grendel and give it back to the Caterpillar, who agrees, seeing as whatever outcome occurs benefits him in some way: if the Knave fails to retrieve the knot, the Caterpillar is rid of him once and for all; if the Knave succeeds in bringing the knot back, the Caterpillar can use it for his own gain; if the Knave gets the rope and runs off with it, the Caterpillar will take glee in having his head (still conscious, and a callback to Jefferson’s decapitation in Once Upon a Time) as an ornament.

At this point of seeing the portrayal of a pivotal character I realised that there was a compromise during the show: the mystique, logical arguments and philosophy of Lewis Carrol has been replaced by backstory and action. I don’t really mind the reimagining of the characters, but it is something that made Alice and her adventures what they were.

When Alice and the Knave reach the Grendel’s house (and subsequently captured and tied to be the beast’s next meal), it is revealed that the monster is really just a deformed man who is using the knot to hang onto the past and his deceased lover. The Knave tries to empathise with the Grendel by mentioning his ex-lover Anastasia to no avail. It’s at this point Alice seemingly accomplishes the villains’ plans in getting her to use her wishes; just not in the way they had intended. Alice uses them to cut through the ropes, just in time as the Bandersnatch arrives. After dispatching of the pig the Grendel decides to let go of the past and relinquishes the rope. A while later, Jafar and the Queen stop by for a visit, and after promising to “reunite [the Grendel] with his wife,” the sorcerer kills him, but not before alerting them to the fact that the Knave is accompanying her, causing the Queen to have a small reaction shot, reasons which become apparent with the Knave’s origins.

Alice and her companion return to the site of the stolen bottle and discover the White Rabbit unearthing the vessel, something that we the audience learned in the previous episode. Learning about it beforehand lessened the impact, something that would have better kept concealed until now. I’m guessing the writers were trying to establish the Queen’s power play against Jafar, but that could have been easily done by her presenting it without the Rabbit being included in the scene.

The most interesting part of the episode by far was the flashback. Sean Maguire makes an crossover appearance from Once Upon a Time as Robin Hood accompanied with his Merry Men, stealing from the rich to give to the poor in the Enchanted Forest. Here we discover the petty thief Will Scarlet, the Knave of Hearts’ true identity. After convincing the band of thieves to pillage Maleficent’s castle for gold, he steals a magical artifact with a warning that keeping the artifact will only bring misery. When Robin finds of Will’s treachery, he simply lets him go, as it is “the cruelest thing [he] can do.” He brings the item–a looking glass–back to Anastasia, who is revealed to be the Red Queen. Using the glass, they jump into the magical world of Wonderland. The whole using the looking glass thing makes Anastasia seem like Alice herself,

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[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“Trust Me”)

Pun of the week: Dandelion

After the pilot episode, this one tells of how Cyrus came to Wonderland and some of his adventures that Alice tagged along on.

Getting letters from her supposedly-dead boyfriend, eh? Source: Hypable

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[Review] Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (“Down the Rabbit Hole”)

With the success that is the hit ABC series Once Upon a Time, the creators had decided to do a spinoff series that tells the tale of a well-known girl who followed a rabbit down a hole into a mysterious land. Alice is portrayed by Sophie Lowe and her companion the Knave of Hearts is played by Michael Socha. I’ll try and get a review for the second episode up soon.

Mushrooms that make you get big? They’re back. Source: Wikipedia

This incarnation of Alice is an adolescent (young adult) who has been to Wonderland multiple times to bring back proof to her father that it is real. Along the way she discovers an old bottle that contains a genie by the name of Cyrus hailing from the land of Agrabah. With him, they go on many adventures, culminating in a confrontation with the Red Queen (played by Emma Rigby) at the Boiling Sea where she tosses Cyrus off the cliff.

Dismayed, Alice returns to “our” world and is institutionalised and is set to be undergoing an operation that looks suspiciously like a frontal lobotomy. Just as she resigns herself to the surgery, the Knave bursts in and proclaims that Cyrus is still alive, whereupon she opens a can of whoop-ass on the orderlies, further distancing the idea that heroines are not action-oriented.

After she and the Knave jump back into Wonderland, we can see how creative and punny the world is; the Mallow Marsh and the dragon flies (that spew fire!). Granted, it does seem a bit too technicolour, but then again, it is Wonderland, where anything is possible.

As the Knave and Alice leave the marsh, the Knave refuses to travel with her any further as he’s become a very unpopular character that warranted a bounty on his head. Alice decides to bribe him with 1 of 3 red stones that she’s hidden in her shoe that turn out to be the physical manifestation of her wishes, to which the Knave wonders out loud why she can’t just use one of them to bring Cyrus back immediately. She replies and states that the bigger the wish, the likelier it is something will go terribly wrong, thereby prolonging the series and rightfully so. The White Rabbit then declares that Cyrus was last seen at the Mad Hatter’s place. Alice then decides to climb up a tall tree, leaving her wishes down with the Knave. Up there, she meets the Cheshire Cat, who has grown to large proportions and wants to eat Alice. She jumps down and discovers the Knave missing with her wishes. After a bit of adequate combat, she is pinned down and about to be snacked on when the Knave returns, throwing one side of a mushroom into the Cat’s mouth, shrinking it back to normal size and fulfilling the “I saved you just in time!” trope. It turns out that he can’t use the wishes, as they’re not his, and so he is stuck with Alice on her quest to find Cyrus.

Meanwhile, we learn that the White Rabbit is actually in cahoots with the Red Queen, and that she is in an unholy alliance with Jafar (played by Naveen Andrews, who you may remember from Lost), who is the one that holds Cyrus captive and brought Alice back so that she would use all of her 3 wishes so that the genie would be unbound from her.

This new series so far is promising, though Sophie Lowe seems a little wooden. Michael Socha as the sardonic tag-along brings reluctance contrary to Alice’s determination, becoming a nice foil around her. I haven’t made my mind about this show yet, but I hope it get renewed for a second season.

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