Saturday, March 22, 2014

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Season 1, Episode 11: Heart of the Matter

Cyrus enters the Caterpillar’s den looking for the Lost and Found – his mother’s enchanted compass that can help him find anything that he traded to the Caterpillar for the invisible tent. The Caterpillar is willing to give him the compass – if Cyrus brings him Alice and the Knave since they owe the Caterpillar as well. While they’re talking, Alice, shrunk all tiny goes sneaking around looking for the Compass. As a distraction, he starts a bar fight by stealing someone’s drink so he and Alice can leave easier

Swashbuckling Cyrus with the cheeky smile is much much more fun than last week’s Soggy Cyrus with the endless moping.

In the palace, Jafar begins the ritual with the 3 genie bottles, shaking the whole building and alerting Anastasia and Jafar’s father – Anastasia makes a comment about magic in the wrong hands

Yes that’s a lead for a flashback – Anastasia first meeting the Tweedles before her marriage (Tweedles is a job description, in Wonderland the servants don’t have names, just purposes) and she greets another queen – Cora.

Yes, Once Upon a Time Cora, Regina’s mother Cora.

Cora is surprised to be invited because the Red King doesn’t like her – she puts it down to him being threatened by her (and she shows off her impressive magic). The King doesn’t like magic because it separates them from the people (uh-huh, your kingdom has a tradition of not bothering with servants’ names – I don’t think it’s magic that separates you) while Cora thinks magic is just a tool to help rule. She identifies with Anastasia because of her own humble beginning. She calls her own daughter a disappointment (which one? Or both?) and would like to teach Anastasia. But Anastasia would rather not begin her marriage lying to her husband

Back to the present and Cyrus and Alice struggle to get the compass to work to find his mother when Anastasia’s Tweedle arrives with Anastasia’s warning. Of course, they don’t run as warned and instead want to sneak into the palace.

At the palace, Jafar’s spell doesn’t seem to be working (as the Jabberwock helpfully points out) so he summons the Knave. Oh Jafar, you can’t even bandy words with your dad, the Knave’s sarcasm is more than a match for you. Anyway, the Knave is resisting the spell, somehow. Time to unleash the Jabberwock – and the Knave continues to banter, because he’s so good at it. He’s immune to her as well – he’s protected. They assume by Anastasia.

Flashback again – to the Knave sneaking into Anastasia’s room before the wedding, begging her to tell him it’s all a scam to steal the wealth and run, that she still cares for him. She says she does – and this is totally for both of them. Honest. He asks her to come away with him – and tells her where to meet him as he runs ahead of the guards. All overheard by Cora.

Present and Alice and Cyrus arrive. Anastasia tearfully thanks them for coming back, even though it wasn’t for her, she still thanks them (and steals the scene with her acting). Cyrus has a chance to say hi to Jafar’s dad before they hide when Jafar and the Jabberwock come to visit. They question Anastasia about the Knave but she knows nothing – but the Jabberwock plucks the answer. The Knave doesn’t have a heart. But the answer wasn’t from Anastasia – it was from Alice’s fears; but they escape through the tunnels. Jafar isn’t happy about Anastasia keeping them from him either – she knew about them, the King used them to smuggle “companions” into the castle (which Jafar taunts her with).

Jafar holds a knife to Anastasia’s throat to try and get the Knave to tell him where his heart is – Anastasia tells him not to tell. He cuts her neck… and the Knave breaks

Cyrus and Alice realise they need to find the Knave’s heart before Jafar and the Jabberwock force him to tell them where it is; which shouldn’t be too hard since the Knave told her where he hid it.

Flashback! To will waiting for Anastasia to turn up and instead meeting Cora… who was never very impressed with love getting in the way of ambition. She thinks hearts are more trouble than they’re worth and, as he describes his pain, the Knave agrees. He asks her to remove his heart so he won’t feel the pain – and she does. He’s much more chipper afterwards. But then Cora agrees to take care of it – which isn’t a good idea.

Back to the present and Alice tells Cyrus she did retrieve the Knave’s heart from Cora, but the Knave didn’t put it in his chest. They arrive at the Rabbit’s who is still trying to follow Anastasia’s instructions and recruit an army – but they’re a bit lost without an inspiring leader (do not even pretend Alice is an inspiring leader, really). But before Alice steps in as convoluted leader (and we know it’s going to happen) Alice needs a portal to Storybrooke where the Knave hid his heart.

To Storybrooke! And Cyrus and 19th century Alice are quite bemused by cars and light switches when they arrive at the Knave’s house and quite impressed by the many things the Knave owns (the Rabbit tries to explain what “fell off a truck” means). It’s definitely the Knave’s place though since he has a sketch of Anastasia he uses as a dart board.

Back to the prison and Anastasia and Will talk about their relationship and whether she loves him or not – her no show in the flashback has him thinking “not”. Flashback to Anastasia who very much intended to meet Will – but was intercepted by Cora. She preys upon Anastasia’s ambition, low self-esteem and mother issues and finally shows Anastasia that Will isn’t waiting at the wagon as he said he would; because Cora got there first. And Cora teaches Anastasia magic.

In the present Alice worries that she’s ruined Will’s life and Cyrus steps in with a stirring speech and they find his heart behind Anastasia’s picture.

Back in the cells Will and Anastasia are still talking past and pain and love and Anastasia would love to rewind their lives to before they came to Wonderland – to before they ever messed with magic. Flashback to Cora teaching Anastasia magic and telling her the laws: no bringing back the dead, no changing the past, no making someone love you.

The laws that can only be broken using the three genies – and now we know Anastasia’s motives for going along with the plan.

Cora also has some truly awesome advice about not needing anyone’s approval, that’s she’s not flawed or broken as her mother made her feel. Anastasia falls in love with magic – and Cora is sure the king won’t be an obstacle for long.

Alice and Cyrus return to Wonderland with the heart – and run into Jafar (the Lost and Found reacting – to his staff of course). He uses dramatic magic to knock them back and claim the heart. Cyrus runs at him then pauses because Jafar needs to do something dramatic with his staff to kill him (you stop when a mage casts his spells – it’s polite). Of course, the staff is Cyrus’s mother and with an explosion of energy it sends Jafar flying. Cyrus steals it and threatens to whack Jafar with it. Jafar tries to summon the staff back to his hand – but Amara isn’t playing, pushing Jafar back again. Jafar flees – but takes the heart with him.

In the aftermath there’s a little confusion until they check the compass – it follows the staff. They put 2 and 2 together and now have to figure out how to de-spell Amara

In the cells, Anastasia and Will are still being warm and touching. Jafar and the Jabberwock return – and Will gets his heart back. Anastasia is super excited to see him able to feel again – and they kiss.

See, Cyrus and Alice take a step back. This is the epic star-crossed romance of this series, thank you very much.

Then, to test his heart, Jafar stabs Anastasia while Will screams.

Anastasia, the Red Queen learnt her magic from Cora. I love these connections – and, of course, that means that indirectly Anastasia learned her magic from Rumplestiltskin. Who is behind absolutely everything in this universe.

I think one of the sad things about this show is that even when Cyrus and Alice are at their swashbuckling best, Anastasia and the Knave still steal every scene they’re in – their characters are deeper and more interesting, their relationship more complex and compelling, their storylines more fascinating and, frankly, their acting rather better (especially this episode, Anastasia was excellent). It’s always a little odd when the protagonists are so completely overshadowed.

Not least of which by their reunion kiss – more passion, feeling and pain in one episode of Will and Anastasia’s relationship than all the moping of the Soggy Ones.

I loved the connections to Once Upon a Time even if they were round the edges I think the series needed more of that - it IS a spin off, after all, so it could have used more connections to its parent show to get it launched.