Let’s take a trip down the rabbit hole.
ABC has done it again. Writers, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have created a spin off to the favoured show Once Upon a Time. This time we are in Wonderland.
Starting in England, we first see a young Alice emerge from a hole in the ground. Happy to be home, she runs to her house. Her father answers the door and is shocked to see her there. She had been gone “a very long time” according to him.
When Alice tries to explain where she has been and what has happened, her father grows suspicious of her current mental condition. The doctors suggest she is institutionalized.
Alice ventures back into the rabbit hole to find proof that Wonderland exists. Grown up Alice (Sophie Lowe) enters Wonderland and grabs the proof she went searching for. While running from the Queen of Hearts guards, she shrinks herself with a mushroom she stole from the hookah smoking caterpillar. She avoids capture by hiding in a bottle that is laying on the ground in the garden maze.
Inside she finds a genie named Cyrus. After setting him free, they travel the worlds together. They eventually fall in love and as Cyrus is proposing to Alice, the Queen of Hearts (Emma Rigby) shows up and a fight ensues. Cyrus is killed by the Queen. This shatters Alice.
We flash back to England where Alice is being treated as an in-patient at a psych ward. She is trying to convince a board of doctors that she is fit to be released. She eventually agrees to a procedure to “fix” her. This is when it gets interesting.
We first meet the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha) in Storybrooke, the town from the show Once Upon a time. Even Grumpy makes and appearance during this time. He enters Grannys Diner and there we meet The White Rabbit (John Lithgow). The White Rabbit convinces Knave that he needs to help Alice escape from the institution by telling him that he knows Cyrus is alive and in Wonderland.
Knave goes and attempts to get Alice out. Well turns out Alice is a badass and Knave needs some fighting skills. For having been one of the Queens guards, you’d think he could fight better than Alice.
They escape and meet the White Rabbit who digs his hole back to Wonderland. Now we really get to see the visually stunning world I have always imagined it to be. Dragonflies breathe fire, marshes are made mallow and the mushrooms cause you to change size. It’s just wondrous, or as Alice likes to say, “Curiouser and curiouser.”
To avoid to a total recap of the pilot episode and to leave some things to surprise I’ll just mention that The Queen, Jafar (Naveen Andrews),yes that’s right Jafar, from Azkabah and our favored Aladdin, and The white Rabbit all have a plan for Alice. As with all good shows, the villains have struck a deal.
So far I have not seen much to talk about without doing a play by play of everything that has happened. Let’s just assume I was on LSD when I decided to watch the show. I was surprised and not, at some of the plot twists. As this is just the pilot episode, I expect things will get much more interesting as the season progresses.
The acting was amazing. You could see and feel the emotions in Alice’s eyes while she defends her story. My eyes leaked little when she was asked about Cyrus. The absolute devastation she felt when she lost him was so heartbreaking. I’m not one to get all sappy or cry at events in television shows but some parts of the show hit you right in the feels.
It’s hard to picture Jafar as a bad guy in this show, as the actor also was in the show “Lost” and was a beloved character. However, he pulls this role off very well. When we see him with the Queen of Hearts, you can see a darkness but you can also see a light in his eyes. If this series follows the pattern of the original “Once Upon a Time” we are sure to see a different side this character.
Knave struggles with his choices right off the bat. The constant questions in his heart are evident. The show has made it clear that he was not a good guy at some point in his past and now has a hard time discerning which path he should follow. This character was obviously written to be one we cannot predict the behaviours of and Socha pulls it off with flying colours.
What fairy tale isn’t complete without an overall feeling of loss, despair and love? Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has everything to make it a kickass show. The characters, good and bad, are bound to win you over.
So far I will give the show a 3 out of 5 for it’s stunning visual effects and what I know will be amazing surprises and twists on our classic tale.