Oh wow, look at that Jafar become a bad guy because someone did something mean to him, so we should feel sad for him at first. I am ever so surprised by this. Since you can’t actually hear me, that line was heavily laced with sarcasm. This seems to be a recurring theme with Once Upon a Time, all the bad guys have some element of their backstory that is supposed to make us feel bad for them, granted it doesn’t always work, but it’s always there. I don’t like this, at all. Just once I want to see a bad guy who is just straight up evil from the get go. None of this “oh something bad happened to me so I’m gonna go out and murder a bunch of people, boo hoo hoo” crap. I had my hopes for Jafar to be that villain, but no. Granted I will admit that with Jafar it wasn’t as prominent as it has been with the other villains in this show and its parent show, he did seek out power for the sole purpose of revenge so I have to give him that, but he was still a decent enough person that was more or less made evil by Amara. Jafar’s history, despite the parts that annoyed me, was interesting to watch, but I didn’t consider anything special. The biggest part was seeing a bit more the evil plot, the needing of three genies for some nefarious purpose. I honestly thought we would be seeing another bit of a crossover with OUaT, what with the magic mirror originally being a genie from Agrabah, but that wasn’t the case. Which is good, Wonderland needs to grow into its own show, the bits of crossover we have gotten were solid, but not something we should see to much of.
Alright, flashback talk out of the way, lets move on. I honestly really loved this episode. So far this show has yet to really “wow” me. It was a decent start with a lot of promise, and the first few episodes didn’t do much to live up to it, but I think that is starting to change with this one. With the flashbacks we saw more of the villains plot revealed, we got a bit more history on Will, who in my opinion is still the most interesting character on the show, and had the introduction of a new character, who while so far isn’t all that spectacular, does promise some interesting times in the future. The overall plot for the episode wasn’t anything to grand, it was actually a pretty basic “rescue the damsel in distress” story, with Will fulfilling the role of the damsel. I did like this twist on the classic story, where it was the girl rescuing the guy, it is really helping Alice to stand out and assert herself as the strong and confident female lead of for the show. In essence, its really making her the hero that she is supposed to be. That was I really liked this episode over all the others. It actually shows Alice being a hero, and shows just how much of hero she is. In the previous episodes we have seen her fighting monsters, riding a turtle, and making deals with bugs, all could be heroic things, but ultimately all of those were done with the single goal of her reunion with Cyrus. Alice didn’t really need to rescue Will, while yes he is helping her in her quest, she is more than capable enough to do it on her own. Instead she walks right up to the bad guys front door and kicks it open solely because Will is her friend and she doesn’t want to leave him in danger. What really cinched this for me was her using of one her wishes to save him, and not just from that one threat, but by irrevocably linking his own well being to hers. Doesn’t actually work out quite as well as she expected, but that single act alone has been her most defining heroic moment so far. I want more of these moments, we need more these moments. Alice’s mission to find Cyrus is all well good and is a solid motivation for her character, but the show will be so much better if she actually becomes a hero, finds a cause that is more than just her personal quest, to fight for. This episode has planted the seeds of that concept, not lets just see if they grow.
Will’s moments with Anastasia were great to watch as well. While they didn’t reveal any more of there past relationship, we definitely got to see how it is still effecting the both of them. Anastasia obviously still has feelings for Will, even if she won’t admit to them. She doesn’t want him back in her life, but wants no harm to come to him. Her reluctance to kill him, and plan to have the Rabbit send him back to Storybrooke shows that. At the same time we see that Will obviously has some hurt feelings in regards to her, can’t say I blame him on that part, and throws her offer to help back in her face. While we have no real idea about how their relationship ended, or what caused her to become the villain she is now, it is clear that whatever she and Will had was important enough to her that she is reluctant to see him die, and he seems to hate her and doesn’t actually believe she is capable of killing him.
Thus brings us to the execution scene, which was honestly my favorite part. Even in the face of death we see Will cracking wise, Anastasia clearly unhappy with the decision, and Alice acting heroic. Best part of this was the catapult. I have always been asking how one would make an execution a fun filled, and rewarding, group activity; playing “Catch the Head for a Free Dinner!” is the perfect way to do that. Props to the Red Queen for making public executions an interactive experience for the crowd. What I really liked about this scene was that it was bit reminiscent of Disney’s Three Muskateers, where Porthos disguises himself as the executioner to save D’Artagnan. Granted I question the effectiveness of using the catapult to escape, but it was honestly a fun scene to watch, Alice got to kick some butt and be a hero, Will got to be his sarcastic self, and both had a fun, if physically improbably, ride on a siege weapon.
What really stood out about this episode is that we finally had Alice’s first confrontation with the villains. While Jafar did get her to burn through a wish in this scene, it was only to save her friend’s life. After that we see Alice showing her defiance to Jafar, even in the face what I assumed was massively painful torture. This shows just how strong Alice is as a character, and just how much she loves Cyrus. She is willing to put herself through horrific pain to protect him from whatever evil plot Jafar plans to use him for. Alice finding out that the Red Queen is Anastasia, and just how horrified she was over what Jafar was doing to Will. We got to see Jafar being a straight villain, some great emotions from the Queen, and the true depth of Alice and Will’s friendship. At the end, Alice staring at the now stoned Will, and the closing shot of her lying alone in the woods looking absolutely broken, flat out amazing. I must admit, Sophie Lowe is amazing in this role, even if this show was terrible, I think her performance along would be enough to make me keep watching it.
Now, to close out, Lizard. She is definitely an interesting addition to the show. Her history with Will is intriguing, that there were thieves together and her denying that there was ever any romance between them. While I don’t think she was lying there, I definite think that maybe Lizard wished there was. I hope we see more of her, possibly her and Alice teaming up to find a way to de-stone Will. Her inclusion could bring use a new romantic subplot, or at the very least a new friend and ally for Alice in her mission. She could possible act as support for Alice should be ever actually become a full on Hero.
Overall, this was the best episode of the series thus far. It wasn’t perfect, Jafar’s flashbacks were predictable and a bit boring, but everything else about it was solid. Since its premier this show has just been feeling pretty average to me, this episode has made me realize just how great this series has the potential to be. You’ve set the bar ABC, don’t screw this up now.