So this time we saw more of the “exciting” history of Will and Anastasia. Gotta say, I wasn’t impressed with the flashbacks this week, even less so than normal. The flashbacks this week picked up right where the previous ones with Will and Anastasia left off, with them about the jump through the looking glass into Wonderland. And this is where the show is showing some weakness, we are introduced to Anastasia’s mother, who goes into this whole speech about everything she did so that Anastasia could end up a princess. Between this and the obvious hatred she shows towards Will the entire scene was almost exactly the same thing as Regina’s back story. You had the cruel mother who has plans to put her daughter into a position of power, even if she doesn’t want it, and the daughter rebelling against the mother to be with her love. All they did with this was rehash Regina and Cora’s relationship, only with less heart ripping out. And then, you had Anastasia betraying her love for wealth and power, the same thing that Cora did with Rumpelstiltskin in her flashback episode. I was upset with this, greatly. As I have stated before, a major drawback of both this show and Once Upon a Time is this pointless obsession with giving the villains some sort of sympathetic back story, and this shows it perfectly. The writers seem to show that they have no more ideas on how to do this. So instead of getting something original or interesting, we basically had a combination of Regina and Cora’s back story. I just, I don’t even, GAH!!! This had me in a rage. They could have done something interesting with Anastasia’s back story, there was a solid set up there to do something new and interesting, but they wasted the opportunity. I have my doubts over how many idea’s the writers have left. So to sum up, if the writers can’t actual do something interesting with these flashbacks, they should abandon them altogether and focus on the good parts of the show.
Moving on from the rather lackluster, and honestly stupid, flashbacks, lets get to the good parts of the episode. We join Alice standing next to the stoned Will. I honestly did enjoy this, you could clearly see the sorrow that Alice felt over this, how much she blames herself for what happened to him because of her wish. This was great because it really helps to reinforce how important Will is to Alice, we saw this last week in her saving him, and this scene did a great job of continuing to show that. After this scene, the rest of the episode was pretty up and down. The team up between Alice and Anastasia was certainly interesting to see, if only because it helps to show just how little trust the two villains of the show have for each other. Their going off to find the magic dust that would protect Anastasia from Jafar’s magic was pretty boring, at least for the first part. The whole giant canyon and pure of heart to cross it, can we say Last Crusade? I don’t think this was really to bad of thing, more just an eye roll moment, it really helps enforce the whole idea that the writers don’t seem to have to much along the lines of original ideas.
However, after Alice’s fall into the canyon things started to get a bit more interesting. You had her confronted with this dark parody of her younger self, one that was forcing her to confront the darker aspects of her personality, the dreams of revenge she had while in the asylum. This was interesting but I don’t think was utilized to its full extent. All we got was basically the child screaming things at Alice, that she would deny was true, even the confrontation with Anastasia at the end, when the child was urging Alice to kill her was a bit anticlimactic. Never once did I honestly think Alice was going to kill her, you could tell right from the get go that this was all part of the test that Alice had mentioned. Again, while this was interesting, it was very much a wasted opportunity. This is something they could have devoted more time of the episode to, have Alice actually confronted with these darker aspects of her personality, instead of an unoriginal and boring story of Anastasia’s history, have the flashbacks be Alice reliving her time in the asylum, have this test push her to the extremes, building up this hatred she has for Anastasia and what she did, that would have made her final decision to not kill her that much better, really show that she is pure of heart. Instead, we had more wasted potential.
The final twist, Anastasia using the sand to reverse what was done to Will, was good. It again shows what we saw last week, that Will is still important to her. This is exactly why I am so upset with her back story. What we see of her in the present times it honestly interesting, she was very blah at first, but everything that we saw last week made me think that she had a lot of potential to be a really great villain, she has her plots, but doesn’t want to see Will come to harm. This could lead to great conflict with her character down the line as she tries to fulfill whatever she and Jafar have planned but keep Will out harm’s way. So, her history is unoriginal dredge, but her present and future show some potential. I am conflicted to know, not sure how to feel about her character. Damn writers.
Now, I do have to say this, I am honestly loving Cyrus as a character. Despite everything that has happened to him, the years of imprisonment, and possible torture, never broke his spirit. His escape was fantastic to see, especially the sorrow over having to leave his friend, who is obviously Jafar’s father, behind. This is great because they are making Cyrus more than just a plot device, a thing for Alice to rescue. (which I have to admit is a solid turn around of the standard damsel in distress story) Now that he is out of the cage I am looking forward seeing what he will have to go through to get back to Alice. We have this vague reference of Jafar’s to some horrible fate that awaits those who leave the castle, I am eager to see what this is and how we will overcome it.
The final thing to talk about, Jafar and the White Rabbit. While I was happy to see the Rabbit appear again, these scenes didn’t do much. The showed what we already know of the Rabbit, that he is at the core a good person, but his cowardice gets the better of him, and that Jafar is working against Anastasia just as much as she is working against him. The only really good part was the Rabbit covering for Cyrus to help him escape.
Overall, the flashbacks were god awful and make me question the writer’s qualifications, but the show is still showing some potential for the future. They just need to stop with the flashbacks, they are a waste of time.