‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ Recap
For the second week in a row, ‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland‘ delivered a tragic origin story for one of its major villains. Last week, we learned all about Jafar’s turn to the dark side, and this week we learned how the sweet and rosy-cheeked Anastasia became the power-hungry Red Queen in the episode titled ‘Heart of Stone.’
Flashbacks reveal that Anastasia and Knave — aka Will Scarlett — didn’t find their happily ever after when they escaped to Wonderland together. They’re poor and hungry and no better off than they were in their homerealm; Anastasia is disappointed by their poverty and poor luck, because she thought the “Wonder” in Wonderland was short for “Wonderful.” Turns out it’s short for, “I wonder where my next meal is coming from.” It’s here that Anastasia begins to reveal her longing for the finer things in life, like rich food, expensive dresses and a castle full of servants and jewels. These are all things Will can’t provide for her, but at least he can steal a few high-priced outfits to get them into the royal ball.
The pair sneak into the ball, and Anastasia meets the king, who is immediately enchanted with her audacious attitude and ambition. She and Will get tossed out of the ball when it’s revealed they’re only peasants, not royalty, but that doesn’t bother Will; his fancy tights are too itchy and all he really wanted to do was steal some bread from the royal buffet anyway. He manages to nab a few slices and counts the night as a win, but as they leave the palace, Anastasia frets as her chance to hang with kings and, I presume, mega rich fairy tale oil tycoons slips away.
Back in present day Wonderland, the Queen manipulates Alice into retrieving some magic dust from a dangerous corner of the realm. Alice doesn’t trust the Queen and swears to make her pay for her part in keeping Cyrus locked up. But the Queen cuts a deal with Alice, promising to give her Cyrus’ location in exchange for the dust. The Queen says she needs the dust to get out from under Jafar’s thumb, and only someone with a pure heart can retrieve it. Since the Queen’s heart is about as pure as a bag of black tar heroin, she has to trick Alice into nabbing the dust for her. But getting the dust proves tricky, since it’s guarded by a curse that tests the seeker’s heart. First Alice must conjure up enough faith in her love for Cyrus to walk across an invisible bridge, then she’s forced to deal with a creepy entity masquerading as her younger self. After a few stumbles, Alice manages to pass the test and prove she has a pure heart by sparing the Queen’s life. Alice had her chance to take revenge on the Queen, but she chooses to let her go. The Queen, selfish as always, breaks her deal with Alice and leaves with the dust and without telling her where to find Cyrus. But clever Alice keeps some of the dust for herself, and its magic floaty sprinkles reveal the path to Cyrus’ cell in Jafar’s hidden tower.
And just as Alice learns where Jafar is holding Cyrus, Cyrus manages to escape his cage and the tower. But it’s clear that his troubles are only beginning; earlier, Jafar warned that “there is no escaping beyond the tower.” So what scary security system is Jafar hiding outside the tower? Jabberwockies? Killer flamingos? I guess we’ll find out next week.
We get another taste of Jafar’s depravity while he’s interrogating the Rabbit. Jafar goes as far as cutting off the rabbit’s foot and forcing him to betray Alice, again. Jafar magically reattaches the Rabbit’s foot only after the Rabbit reveals the name and location of someone Alice loves. The Rabbit later redeems himself by helping Cyrus escape, but Jafar later forces him to open a portal so he can find Alice’s loved one and hurt him or her. So who is this person Jafar is after? My money’s on Alice’s dad, since it was revealed that she would do anything to prove herself worthy of his love.
The episode ends with the Queen convincing Will to help her steal the palace crown jewels in a flashback. She wants to return to their realm a rich woman. But as she sneaks into the prison and admires the jewels, she’s caught by the king, who is still so bewitched by her that he proposes to her on the spot. I guess this guy likes to mix love with larceny. The king immediately announces his engagement to Anastasia, breaking Will’s heart and sealing her fate as a selfish, gold digging tart. And you know what? The role kinda suits her.
But the Queen proves she isn’t all bad by releasing Will from his stone prison in the present day. She caresses his stone face before breaking the spell, and it’s clear that she still has feelings for him, but her selfishness and ambition has robbed her of one of life’s most important gifts — true love (Hey, it’s a Disney show, whattayou expect?).
This episode offered a clear juxtaposition of Alice’s pure heart and the Red Queen’s selfish spirit. The Red Queen has the world at her fingertips, but she’s miserable without love. Alice’s tenacious search for her one true love is taking her on the greatest adventure of her life. Unlike the Queen, Alice is willing to suffer to be with her love, which makes her the hero of the story and, yes, pure of heart.