Friday, October 11, 2013

TV Recap: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland 1-1 - Down the Rabbit Hole

I have been looking forward to Once Upon a Time in Wonderland for a while now.  The fact that this has been made into a full blown series instead of a limited run series does concern me a bit.  But it sounds like they’ve got season one figured out at a minimum, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy.

I hope.

Frankly, I felt last night was a typical season premier and not the magical premier that the original Once was.  So I was probably expecting too much last night.  And it didn’t help that they had showed way too much from the previews.

The first scene is actually of a young Alice dressed as the Alice from the Disney version of the story returning from her first trip to Wonderland.  Of course, the twist here is that it is real instead of a dream.  Her father is certain she made it all up, and worse yet, she had disappeared so he was worried something had happened to her.

Next up, we have a brief stop in Storybrooke with cameos by Emma’s car and Grumpy.  There’s also someone closing down what I thought was Granny’s, but it wasn’t Granny or Red.  We’re seeing everything from a point of view, and this person is stealing a cup of coffee when the White Rabbit shows up, announces that Alice is in trouble, and then convinces our coffee thief – the Knave of Hearts – to join him.

We then join Alice as a young woman back in Victorian era England.  (Did I mention that they stuck to the original book time for Alice?)  She’s spent a year in a mental institution.  Through an interview and flashbacks, we find out that she returned to Wonderland looking for proof to show her father that she was right.  While she was there, she met Cyrus, a genie.  She freed him, and they fell in love.  He has just proposed to Alice when the Red Queen shows up and throws him off a cliff to his death.

Alice is now distraught, mourning the loss of her true love.  When the doctor promises a procedure that will rid her of her memories, she agrees.  But before it happens, the Knave and Rabbit show up.  Alice isn’t ready to go with them until she learns that Cyrus is alive.  The White Rabbit heard it from the Doormouse.

And so she heads back.  They land in the Mallowmarsh and almost get pulled under the quicksand like marshmallow (what a way to go), but Alice takes a dragonfly (real dragon, of course), and hardens the surface so they can get out.  Rabbit has run off at this point to get help.

Knave isn’t sure he should be back.  Alice had already saved his heart once, but he did something worse after she left to get himself on the wanted list, head attached or not.  But Alice convinces him to stay, promising him the use of her wishes when they find Cyrus.  (And these wishes sound a lot like magic in the original series – they come with strings attached.)

Their quest through the woods almost gets them lost, but Alice climbs a tree and finds their destination – the Mad Hatter’s Cottage.  Cheshire Cat shows up and almost eats Alice, talking about how food has disappeared in the woods.  But Knave uses a mushroom to shrink him down to size.

They get to the cottage to find it empty.  At this point, Rabbit finds them again, and starts offering excuses and explanations.  But Alice finds Cyrus’ locket outside the cottage, and it is glowing, meaning both of them are close to each other.  She’s ready to keep searching even though Knave wants to leave.

What they don’t know but we do is where Rabbit went when he was away from Alice.  She met with the Red Queen.  Red Queen is luring Alice into a trap of some kind because she needs what Alice has for some plan.

That plan might involve the sorcerer Jaffar, who shows up to visit Red Queen.  He even threatens to kill her because he doesn’t need her any more.  Some how, this trap involves the wishes that Alice has, however, wishes have to be given.  They can’t be stolen.  What these two villains are plotting is a mystery – for now.

As to Cyrus, he is indeed still alive.  When he was falling off the cliff, Jaffar used a magic carpet to rescue/capture him.  Cyrus is being held in a cage.  I should mention both Jaffar and Cyrus are from Agriba (or however it is spelled).

It definitely feels darker than the main series, and I think that was part of why it was off putting.  It also didn’t feel like it had the breath of characters from the original.

Also interesting is the timeline.  How can Alice know the Mad Hatter in her time line of 100+ year ago and yet he still be a young man in modern day Storybrooke?  Oh, I know, those characters didn’t age during the sure, but even so that’s 80 years or so unaccounted for.

For that matter, how did Knave get there?

I’ll give it several episodes to grow on me, and I think it will.  There’s certainly some fun potential here.  But I was expecting to have my socks blown off, and that didn’t quite happen.

What did you think?  And what do you think Red Queen and Jaffar are up to?


  1. I feel there is a small chance that Jaffar could be from before the Aladdin story, but that's just a guess.

    Time between worlds may not flow the same, like in the Narnia Books. The Creators did also hint in an interview that there maybe worlds that just stuck in time, I.e. a Victorian London world, though I would just say that in Wonderland anything is possible.

    As for the Knave in Storybrooke, We know that the curse pulled people form other world that had visited or were form the Enchanted Forrest, Dr. Frankenstein had visited, Jefferson/Mad Hatter was from there. But the Knave also said that he had left Wonderland so I would guess he just happen to be in the Enchanted Forrest when the Cures hit.

    1. It also sounds to me like Knave has a connection to Enchanted Forest, so there is that.

      I agree that time might work differently. I'd be surprised if they haven't thought through timing issues. But so far that's left a burning question in my mind.


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