Saturday, March 15, 2014

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Season 1, Episode 10: Dirty Little Secrets

Flash back! Many many years ago in Agrabah when Cyrus is playing cards and gambling, including with his mother’s compass while his brother, Taj, advises him to stop. Cyrus wins – and the sore loser is both not happy and planning revenge. Cyrus seems pretty happy with all of this while his brothers are much more suspicious.

As they walk home through the countryside his more careful brothers warn him of his cheating and pushing his luck. When they reach their home they see men leaving their home – which catches fire with their mother inside.

To the present and Anastasia and Alice comfort Cyrus for not knowing about his brothers being Jafar’s prisoner. Alice suggests breaking into the palace but Anastasia fears Jafar’s magic – she needs her army, though they point out her former subjects don’t exactly remember her fondly.

Cyrus has a different plan – since he and his brothers were human, not genies, he suggests breaking the curse that enslaved them. A curse laid on them by the guardian of the Well of Wonders in Agrabah. Getting to Agrabah is not easy – but Anastasia tells them the Well of Wonders is in every realm and she knows where it (and the guardian) is in Wonderland. Anastasia still isn’t convinced on the solution and goes back to her army – so they split up

The Jabberwock is on their trail, in the village where Will and Elizabeth had their little party (despite the odd makeup, she does manage to be awfully menacing). Elizabeth’s death is a little annoying, but she cuts out her eyes and brings them to a confused Jafar. He uses his magic to reveal that Anastasia has the genie.

Flashback again: the brothers’ mother is badly injured by the fire and Cyrus suggests they go to the Well of Wonders since its waters may cure her (his brother tries to convince him he’s not to blame but he clearly feels guilty).

In the present Cyrus is very assiduously dodging questions from Alice about how he was cursed and she wouldn’t recognise a hint if it were dropped on her from a very great height.

 Meanwhile Will the Knave and Anastasia go to see the White Rabbit who is very very very afraid and unhappy to see the Red Queen on his doorstep – and shocked when she asks for forgiveness. Which would work better if she had more than an apology to offer and if she didn’t come begging favours. She wants him to convince everyone she’s a friendly Queen now. Yeah, even Will is cynical about that – but the White Rabbit reveals the Jabberwock has been released which gives Anastasia another reason to stay and fight for the people (and Will a reason to run like hell).

Anastasia recruits the Rabbit to spread the word of her battle to the people while she and Will hurry to warn Alice and Cyrus about the Jabberwock (will is still questioning why they’re not running and hiding). He doubts her motivations, believing her motivated entirely by her own comfort – but she says she can never be comfortable without him, her whole plot with Jafar was about getting him back and if that’s never going to happen at least she can help others.

She hears something and puts Will back in his bottle and hides it. The Jabberwock appears, teleporting around and building the fear she feeds upon. The Jabberwock mocks her fear (not for herself, but for her finding the bottle) and Anastasia rather niftily turns a branch into a sword and impales the Jabberwock with it. Of course, a normal sword doesn’t do much but it’s still nifty. The Jabberwock then headbuts Anastasia, I have to say I didn’t see that coming.

At the palace, Anastasia and Will wake up in a cage, with Jafar. Of course, for Jafar’s plan to work, he has to make Anastasia use her three wishes. Jafar reminds us he doesn’t play well with others and what happened to Amara, the last woman he worked with. Will points out that she could just wish for Jafar to be banished from Wonderland, but he uses magic to silence her before she can. And in comes the Jabberwock to get those wishes used.

Cyrus and Alice, meanwhile, head to the Well and come across a knight guarding 2 doors and speaking in rhyme. It’s a pretty opaque riddle and this time it’s Cyrus’s turn to be all short tempered and impatient as Alice was last episode.

Flashback to Agrabah when getting the water was easy – but the Guardian, Nyx (who doesn’t look well and isn’t pleased to be woken up) showed up. She told them that her waters can heal people - but not those whose “destinies have been written” like their mother. She warns them to return the water or else. She then goes back to her waters. Of course, no-one’s going to listen to ominous warnings when their mother’s life is at stake - his brothers try to convince him to be sensible, but Cyrus is feeling far too guilty about his mother’s burns. They do ask him whether they’re risking this for their mother’s sake or for his guilt though.

To the present and Alice figures out the rather easy puzzle and they’re off to the Well of Wonders. But once in Cyrus wants to go on alone, being sharp with Alice when she questions why but lets him go. She disturbs the water and the Guardian wakes up and she’s not amused – she says all things happen for a reason which you understand with time. That’s another flashback cue!

The brothers arrive back to their mother with the water. The burns heal and she is restored – their mother is Amara, Jafar’s mentor/partner and now his snake staff.

Cyrus pleads with the guardian for his brothers, since he was the one who pushed them to steal the water. He begs on their behalf but she can’t cure the curse until the water is returned to her; which Cyrus thinks is impossible because he gave it to his mother 100 years ago – surely she’s dead now. Uh-huh, not so much.

Flashback to Amara learning that they got the water from the Well of Wonders. She tries to get them to leave before the Guardian comes for them – but it’s too late, the Guardian arrives and curses them to serve the desires of others.

At the palace the Jabberwock works on Anastasia’s fears – her rejection by her mother and her love for Will that she fears will never be returned. She pushes for Anastasia to wish for her crown back and end both of their suffering. She breaks and wishes for her crown – literally? Damn that’s a useless wish. Next step is the jewels, which she also does, apparently broken by the Jabberwock. The final wish is for her to wish for the Jabberwock to stop… she does.

Later the broken Anastasia cries in her cage – and Tweedledum comes to see her, still loyal. Instead of accepting his offer to escape, she tells him to go to Alice and Cyrus and warn them.

At the Well, Alice emerges from where she has been hiding and spying on Cyrus. They have a hugging reaffirmation with Cyrus confessing how everything is all his fault and Alice confessing she nearly had a lobotomy to forget him and let us all love each other as flawed human beings and drown into a puddle of saccharine twee. Blargle

Anyway, Jafar is talking to Amara the staff to remind us, yet again, about Amara in case the twee has rotted your brains. He’s also fool enough to bandy words with the Jabberwock (Jafar, you can’t even match words with your incarcerated father, give it up man). He prepares his ritual with the three genie bottles.

The problem with the Jabberwock’s fearness spell and her make up and need to prance about in an unnecessarily sensuous manner is that it detracts from its own menace. I mean we CAN see the menace – with Jafar last week him falling and choking, with the man who she killed in the beginning of this episode – but it needs to be a little more drawn out than it is. Maybe with some flashbacks or images or creepy lights or something. Because this episode didn’t make me think “damn that Jabberwock is scary powerful”, instead it made me think “damn, Anastasia, is that all it takes to break you?”

Which is a shame because these last few episodes have been awesome for Anastasia – she is growing and changing and generally amazing. She and Will make the show

Which is thankful because Alice is wetter than a tissue in a tsunami. What happened to her? When did she get this soggy? Cyrus was always kind of bland (and his backstory, even with its twists, didn’t change anything about that) but Alice had some spark.