Once Upon a Time in Wonderland "Who's Alice" Review: Go Ask Alice

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland S01E06: "Who's Alice"


We are the few. We are the proud. We are the last remaining viewers of OUAT: Wonderland. Our numbers are trickling but we stand fast, ignoring the CGI and weird costumes and outrageous dialogue to see this thing through to its end. And this week we were rewarded with some MAJOR stalling. Oh and of course drugs. 


It’s taken seven episodes to really get into it but obviously Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has a storied history of drug references and allusions, I mean just listen to "Go Ask Alice," or actually don’t, it’s a three-minute song that ends up sounding like 20 minutes of sheer auditory hell and I had to hear someone do it at karaoke once at the Imperial Palace in Vegas and I still don’t feel clean.

Anyway, this was definitely the “drug” episode, with the Knave talking about how weird he felt after being stoned to a guy with a food cart and then chasing Alice into the Dark Forest where she had wandered into a sub-forest filled with flowers that shot dust into the air and made you loopy. 


Knave had a big long song and dance about how he couldn’t MAKE her leave, she had to WANT to leave (huge addiction parallel there, you can’t change addicts they have to want to get better, weirdly heavy stuff but okay), and she talked about how she was finally happy and then became half tree, half woman with weird scorpion-tail-type branches, but Knave was like CYRUS. CYRUS CYRUS CYRUS. Just add Cyrus and plot happens.


Then as Knave was pulling her out of the forest (a.k.a. heroin addiction or whatever, pick a substance) she was like "COMING DOWN?" Alice was like “Ahhh all the pain is coming back everything hurts now that I’m sober it’s too much for me to handle” and he was like “If you can stop complaining for five minutes and listen I’ll tell you how I literally removed my heart to stop feeling pain after Anastasia, so how the eff am I’m walking around? It’s a medical mystery.”


I’m sorry!! I’m so sorry. To be fair, the sheer weirdness of seeing people who were half trees was fun, the guy with a little axe was delightfully creepy and the giant purple flowers spraying pollen in Alice’s face like a Claritin commercial were totally mimsy but otherwise this episode was just so awful. I mean, CGI LONDON?! I get CGI Chesspiece Castle and CGI Floating Island but London is a real place. Ask someone from the BBC to send you some stock footage and matte out the modern-day buildings in post. And then Jafar appears in CURLY TOED SHOES?




This is our villain. A guy with a bouffant and elf shoes. And he’s threatening Alice now by going through her psych files? I really can’t with this show. Do you think he’ll neg her body image until she wishes for her ombre hair dye job to go away? What is his dastardly, slow-ass plan?

We also got a flashback into the last time Alice visited her dad, by crawling out of an open grave in full ombre hair dye and jeggings, both of which are styles of clothing which would not be seen for another couple like CENTURIES, which unsettled his New and Improved Non Crazy Family. Alice didn’t really help the situation by not explaining anything at all, just immediately weeping about Cyrus—the genie she was supposed to marry—and the Red Queen. I mean can you really blame Ron Swanson her dad for thinking she was insane?








Poor Alice, though. There's nothing more hurtful than not having your dad hug you back when you seemingly return from the dead. Or seeing that he’s replaced you with a bizarro version of yourself, and then having him make you sleep on the stuffy couch in the living room. I mean Alice’s life at home was hell, not to mention that her new stepmom was already planning for her to get brunch with Mr. Darcy down the road.



This was a good reminder to all of us that Pride and Prejudice is fair use/public domain AS WILL MICKEY MOUSE BE VERY SOON karma is a BITCH DISNEY!!! 

Rather than submit to having eggs with the guy down the street, Alice put on a capelet and took herself off to the asylum, where we met her in the pilot. And now she’s gotten over her addiction to fuchsia-colored pollen and is racing toward Cyrus, who himself is racing toward the ocean as he jumped off Jafar’s floating island to escape the advances of the Red Queen. ARE YOU SO SCARED HE WILL BE SMOOSHED? That’s how this series ends: Cyrus smooshes himself. Hahaha that would be so avant-garde. 


Look, can I ask you something? Do you think Sophie Lowe and Peter Gadiot have even met? I mean, I know they appeared in that one episode together but given the heavy use of green screen on this show it's highly possible they were both on separate sound stages the whole time. What I mean to say, and what several of you have said in comments, is that it's getting harder and harder to root for a couple who we don’t really know as a couple in the first place. They don’t even have, like, a catchphrase, they just have that freaking laser pendant! I want them to get together, but I’m pretty sure it’s more because that will mean the end of this ramshackle exploration of cutting-edge MAYA from 2004, not because I’m particularly convinced they are True Love Soulmates. It is the completionist in me that sits down for Wonderland each week, not the fangirl.


Eh. So I’m not addicted to this heroine. I appreciated the semi-Victorian garb this week and the subtle look at what it’s like to feel abandoned by your parents—a theme scarcely investigated by OUAT. Gotcha, that is the ONLY theme investigated by OUAT, again and again and again. OUAT this week was about druggie dads abandoning their kids, Wonderland was about kids escaping into drugs because of neglectful dads. Interesting, sure; entertaining? I don’t know. Go ask Alice.


QUESTIONS:

... ????????????????????

... But seriously though, so many drugs right?

... Filler episode or you beg to differ, madam?!

... Was the dark wood actually pretty exciting because there was no distracting CGI?


Comments (79)
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Mar 07, 2014
I really miss your reviews of this show. Can't you just MST3k it for us? Your reviews are the so much more enjoyable than the show.
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Dec 29, 2013
The worst for me is how powerless and weak a GENIE is! One of the most powerful mythological figures is just such a ninny. I'm a genie but I have NO POWER WHATSOEVER! Its the worst offense of the show.
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Dec 14, 2013
I miss your reviews for this show :*(
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Dec 08, 2013
Personally, I was thrilled to see ACTUAL FRIGGIN SETS instead of just CGI backgrounds.
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Dec 03, 2013
Once Upon a Time recurring theme number 1: Parental abandonment.
Recurring theme number 2: Drugs...I mean, "magic." You yourself first drew the parallels when discussing Rumplestilskin's backstory.

Granted, there is a margin a mile wide between numbers 1 and 2. Like the box office 2 weeks ago.
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Dec 01, 2013
Plot Hole: If my daughter returned after being missing for 5+ years and started nattering on about Wonderland, I would have asked "Where have you REALLY been?" I don't believe I heard the father say that. Lazy writers . . .
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Nov 25, 2013
It is the completionist in me that sits down for Wonderland each week, not the fangirl.

So true. I'm just watching this out of fear that I will miss a reference to OUAT. I like Sophie Lowe and Naveen Andrews, though. I hope they appear in the next season of OUAT once Wonderland gets axed.
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Nov 25, 2013
Okay, in every episode it keeps shoving in our faces that they are walking the Yellow Brick Road. Will, missing his heart, is Tin Man. Alice is Dorothy, and there was that darn Lion that stood out over where the lamp was buried.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees that.
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Nov 24, 2013
I am not watching this anymore...but love to follow up the reviews, as the captures are so funny....i laughed so hard...awesomely done...
But as far as i have read, i didn't miss much...another boring and weird episode..
thank you my brains, for stopping my fingers to press download...
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Nov 24, 2013
That wasn't an axe it was a saw!
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Staff
Nov 25, 2013
THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING.
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Nov 24, 2013
Am I the only one who feels really bad for Alice's dad? I mean, he's a single father whose only daughter keeps disappearing, for YEARS at a time without telling him where she's going, and then comes back talking about talking rabbits and giant caterpillars. And when, after ten years of crying himself to sleep holding his daughter's teddy bear in an empty home, the man starts a new family, she comes back to tell him he shouldnt have remarried and blubber about genies. And still the show tries to tell us he's being an ass. COME ON SHOW.
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Nov 26, 2013
He isn't a villain really but he is weak. Letting his new wife dictate what to do. Even if he thinks Wonderland is only in Alice's head, what kind of father would force his daughter to start dating when the daughter thinks she just lost the love of her life.

What kind of father demands that his mentally ill daughter who has been who-knows-where for years should adjust overnight, not talk about this or that, not cry, not look like that, etc. The stepmother didn't accept Alice at all and the father never stood up for her, not even for a bit.

Living with mentally ill people is undoubtedly hard but I don't think the right approach is to tell the sick person just to suck it, not talk about it and not show their real feelings. Of course Victorian England was another time but we are judging every characters actions more or less according to today's morals anyway.
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Nov 23, 2013
1- The Episode was good, then good, then good, then turned into a HUGE DISASTER.
I was beginning to get my hopes raised again that they're going to fix the show and then they made Alice remember by accidentally getting the necklace in her hand... yeah right.

2- That actress that plays Alice is the worst I've seen.

3- So my favorite character now is officially... Will.

4- For God's sake, do some magic. You're a GENIE.

Your Questions:
1- Exactly...
2- I think they wanted to say something that didn't come through.
3- No, it's not a filler. It's the first I've enjoyed.
4- LOL. That's funny.
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Nov 23, 2013
I love the roughly 25% of both OUAT and -IW where the plot actually progresses. The other 75% of the time is just boring boring boring rehash. Just like with "LOST", it seems like the writers come up with these great ideas but don't know where to go with them. I really enjoy the casting (love Michal Socha from "Being Human"), but if I hear one more "BLOODY 'ELL" so help me.
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Staff
Nov 25, 2013
yeah question about that: isn't "bloody" considered REALLY rude in UK? Like is it the equivalent of throwing around f-bomb?
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Nov 23, 2013
"And then Jafar appears in CURLY TOED SHOES?" (...) "This is our villain. A guy with a bouffant and elf shoes."

You're wrong! Watch and learn...

http://www.weirdspace.dk/ReneGoscinny/Graphics/Iznogoud.jpg

http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120720124237/disney/images/f/f0/Jafardisney.jpeg
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Staff
Nov 23, 2013
How am I wrong? He's wearing elf shoes. The photographic proof is above. What are you talking about Willis?
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Nov 23, 2013
Those aren't "elf shoes", they're arabian shoes - as can be seen in almost every "1001 Nights arabian style" adventure film ever made - including the Walt Disney adaption of "Aladdin", so I don't get your point.


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Nov 24, 2013
I think her point is she still thinks they look ridiculous even if they are classic Arabian Nights shoes.
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Nov 23, 2013
Couple things: you spelled laudanum wrong (proud Spelling Nazi here), and you don't like "Go Ask Alice"?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

Alright, now that I've got that out of my system, yeah, this episode was pretty... eh. This show is entertaining enough, but I won't be mourning its death (as there is no doubt with ratings like that that it'll die soon).

And I have to say, I was totally with her dad. I know it's supposed to be "Oh, how terrible it is that her dad thinks she's crazy and maybe she should get some professional help," but seriously, who would believe her? There was this girl at my school who thought she was a demon slayer and had three demons living inside her and she remembered all her past lives. I made a point of talking to her every day because she was awesome and always had some new demon adventure to tell, but did I believe her? Hell no! I loved that blonde chick (Britnee the Demon Slayer, as I privately called her), but she was crazy as shit. And I have to say, Britnee's delusions were much more interesting than Alice's. By the way, that back and forth between Alice and her dad was probably the funniest thing I've seen all week. I look forward to your reviews more than I look forward to the actual show.

Also, I slept on the living room floor at my dad's house, so crashing on the couch really doesn't seem that bad!
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Nov 23, 2013
I still like the show; the CGI doesn't bother me. This episode made me laugh out loud, especially Will just point blank asking the butcher "Have you ever been stoned?", and I thought seeing Alice stoned was pretty funny.
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Nov 23, 2013
The episode and the show has entertained me so far. I don't care to look for all the negatives in it, I see it for what it is. And so far, I'm ok with that. Except for maybe the Red Queen and her horrible embellished speaking - which is odd considering she's British to begin with so the exaggerations of her accent and enunciation is just weird. But, I don't look for excess drug use or other nefarious meanings behind the show and again, I'm ok with it.
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Nov 23, 2013
I'm really glad Cyrus jumped. Because it would really suck to have been stuck in a cage for the past 6 episodes and then spend one episode running through jungle then BAM back in the cage. I'm starting to think maybe there is a balance between these two. Cyrus is in a cage, so Alice is running around Wonderland looking for him. Cyrus finally gets out and starts running around so Alice gets stuck in a tree.

The biggest question I'm working on right now is, can genies die. I was always under the impression they can't, unless maybe the lamp is destroyed, or they were wished dead. But I also thought they had to stay with the lamp. Apparently Cyrus can die, or it wouldn't be a problem. But I can't help wondering.

Also, I love Alice. Seriously love this girl. It's nice to see a girl being so competent. She can beat bandits in a sword fight, impersonate an executioner, navigate the crazy world that is Wonderland all on her own. She's like Snow without the annoying platitudes. Or the increasingly annoying catchphrase of her companion.

Only thing I can say about next week is 1. Cyrus is probably about to become the high diving champion of the universe, taking out Snow's record. I wonder if a mermaid will save him too. 2. I hope Alice's dad feels really, really, really bad when he sees wonderland. I mean really bad. And I hope he gets to meat Cyrus the genie one day. Alice deserves 5 mins of smugness.
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Nov 23, 2013
So...here I will comment on plot. So Jafar (oh couldn't he have been stymied by the fact that he has no magic in this world if original OUAT rules apply) but wouldn't the more interesting info than her father be she was ready to have a lobotomy and forget everything including Cyrus. Okay I feel silly questioning the plot.
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Nov 25, 2013
But keep in mind that where Alice came from isn't OUR world. Magic could very well work there. It throws me off because the first episode show Will in Storeybrook, meaning that Alice's world is different to ours.
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Nov 26, 2013
Alice's world is OUR world.... just in Victorian era London... I think with all the jumping through portals and whatnot, it is plausible enough that they can travel through time.
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Nov 26, 2013
I don't think so... I don't think so far they've ever travelled through time.
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Nov 23, 2013
Better caption for photo #4:

"I'M A PLANT! YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH IT!"
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Nov 22, 2013
So, TV and movies have always been about fulfilling fantasies. That's why there are so many plots that revolve around a man stuck in a boring job with a boring wife and boring life in general, only to be thrown into some sort of international espionage plot with a hot secret agent. Or the many more stories about nobody children finding out that they're really the uber-powerful air to some kingdom, destined to save the world and eventually choose between the many attractive boys/girls that want her/him.

But is it just me, or are these fantasies changing, and not necessarily for the better. Now we've got shows like The Tomorrow People, which seems to have the message: "If you have literally all the symptoms of paranoia, don't worry and stop taking your meds, because you probably have a bunch of superpowers and are destined to save the world, or your own race of super-people, or something." And now Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has come along with its own strange fantasy/wish fulfillment.

Now, I'm fully aware that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There were very strange in their own right. And Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is a spin-off of Once Upon a Time, which is thoroughly obsessed with true love conquering all, and all that. So it's not surprising that OUaT: Wonderland has similar themes of true love, people doing literally everything and anything for the people they love, etc. But this episode introduced a very disturbing new fantasy/wish fulfillment regarding losing loved ones. To be fair, this has been a part of the show since its beginning (Alice thought Sirus was dead, and was willing to have a lobotomy because there was no reason to live, but then she learns that he's alive and will do anything to find him). So we've already been bombarded with what, in my opinion, is not the best message: "If someone you really love dies, then there's literally no reason to live. Don't worry though, because even if you saw them die they're still alive. So spend the rest of your life, and do literally whatever is necessary, to find that loved one that you saw die."

But this episode put a new spin on that already less desirable message with this: "You know that true love of yours that died? Well they can never be replaced, and you'll never be truly happy again. Sure, you can marry someone, but you won't really be happy. Not as happy as you were with your true love. Because there's only one person out there that you're destined to be with, and that you can be truly happy with. And if they die, then it sucks to be you." Now, as a fan of OUaT (and yes, still a fan of this show) I've been cringing for a while whenever we're force-fed the many questionable lessons that this show spews out. But this one was downright disturbing and insulting. Imagine the hundreds of kids who saw this episode, who happen to have step parents who genuinely love each other. What did they think of this episode? It's bad enough that adopted children must feel terrible on a constant basis while watching OUaT, but now it seems like the franchise is out to alienate all but the most "vanilla" of families.

I mean, these are shows about magic, where things that are impossible in our world happen on a weekly basis. If we're going to see giants, mallow marshes, and talking caterpillar kingpins, isn't it remotely possible for there to be a child somewhere in this world with a step parent who genuinely loves them and looks out for their interests? Who isn't always called an evil queen/is demonized in some way? And don't tell me that the show should continue to have only evil/formerly evil stepparents because this is a show about fairy tales, and all step parents in fairy tales are evil. Because this franchise doesn't perfectly embody fairy tales; in fact, the whole point is that it messes with them fundamentally. Remember what happened to the fairy godmother in the Cinderella episode in OUaT? Yeah, this show does include a lot of stories, characters, etc. from familiar fairy tales, but it warps all of these things into something new and different. A modern take on bedtime stories, if you like. So why not make the families/relationships in the franchise modern? Or at least, shouldn't the writers not go out of their way to demonize families that deviate from the standard mold imposed upon society for a while now, but are just as loving and healthy? Just a thought.

P.S. All the negative analysis above aside, I did like the episode for the most part. At least, I liked it more than I didn't. The forest of people trees alone sold it for me. That reveal was the most terrifying thing that OUaT or OUaTiW has ever done. More of that please.
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Nov 23, 2013
OAUT made its emotional basis in no fail universal themes: fear of the loss of parental love, and the value of "True Love", simple enough! No one is going to argue that those aren't powerful, universal concepts. The mistake Wonderland made was in not even trying to disguise these themes. OUAT had a lot to unspool before we got right down to the nitty gritty- Snow white teaches kids art school? lol! A bounty hunter has to learn to deal with her son! a small town has a manipulative mayor? These are all bigger storylines that eventually got whittled down to: parents & eros. Wonderland just went directly for the jugular and didn't even bother dressing things up in more complex stories. They just threw some mushrooms in the woods and have everybody shout about true love. It's lazy, and that's why people can't be bothered.
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Nov 23, 2013
That's a good point. I think what you say also applies to the relationships in the two shows, and not just the themes. In OUaT, we did meet Charming and Snow in the pilot at a time when it was already clear that they truly loved each other, and had been through a lot together. But, throughout that first season we got a lot of backstory about the two of them: how they met, how their relationships grew, etc. And in Storybrooke we got to see the two of them fall for each other yet again, showing that their love knew no bounds, not even the loss of all their memories. Over time, we got the feeling that they were truly meant to be together.

Wonderland, on the other hand, just went for the jugular, as you say, and said: "These two love each other. It's true love people; trust us on this." They've only had two bits of backstory so far about Cyrus and Alice's relationship: one where they first met, and one where it was established that they loved each other, and that Alice promised not to use any of her wishes. That's it. They haven't shown us gradual flashbacks of their relationship before they were lovers, or maybe a time in the past when they didn't like each other, or were at odds (like they did with Snow and Charming). And in the present day (which is the present day for Wonderland, but not corresponding to present day in our world, but kinda is because presumably the Red Queen took over for the Queen of Hearts, even though they haven't mentioned the Queen of Hearts...never mind) we don't get the same feeling of two souls coming together that we did in OUaT, because even though Cyrus and Alice are currently apart, they have never stopped loving each other, and are both finding their way to each other, and neither have shown any signs of straying or doubting or anything.

So it's not surprising that the relationship between the Red Queen and Will Scarlet is the one that everyone wants to talk about. Sure, we have yet to see a flashback of when they met for the first time, or how they came to love each other, but their present day relationship is an interesting mixture of lingering love, absent hearts (literally), and still present betrayal. If and when they actually get back together (there's no doubt that at some point Will's going to put his heart back in, and they've clearly pegged Anastasia to be the next Regina, in that she'll be a mostly good character who will do all the bad things for good reasons that need to be done) it will be a lot more satisfying (in my opinion) than when Cyrus and Alice reunite.

So yeah, with Wonderland they just jumped right in and said: "Here are some people. These ones over here love those ones over there. See this necklace says they love each other, so it must be true. Just go with it. Root for them to get back together. Do it." I'm guessing this has to do with the fact that OUaT is currently in its their season, and Wonderland doesn't want to feel like it's just started a competition that began ages ago and no one is going to care if some newcomer is going through the fist couple of rounds that have already been done by the more established contestant that they all love. So instead of taking their time with the first season by having us gradually learn who these characters are supposed to be in Wonderland (like OUaT did with Season 1), they just dived down the rabbit hole (Ba Boom!) and jumped right into the thick of things. Unfortunately this has resulted in them telling us what a lot of these relationships are, and then we have to take their word for it, even if it sometimes feels like the main true love couple on this show have never actually met.

Unfortunately, we have seen just a touch of this behavior in Season 3 of OUaT. I'm referring to where the fact that Regina's true love is Robin Hood was shoved down our throats. I don't know if this was an attempt by the writers to nip Swan Queen in the bud (little late to the party there), but it definitely stifled any gradual discovery or growing of love between the two of them that we might otherwise have had. And since I personally don't like that pairing, it could have given them an opportunity to each those two together in a way that would win over a number of people. But instead it feels like they've just thrown those two characters into a room, locked the door, and put a sign on it that says: "true love resides inside; deal with it." I really hope this doesn't become a trend, because as I've said, it's not working so well on Wonderland.
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Nov 22, 2013
"If someone you really love dies, then there's literally no reason to live. Don't worry though, because even if you saw them die they're still alive. So spend the rest of your life, and do literally whatever is necessary, to find that loved one that you saw die."
This bothered me too and the weird thing is that it also happened in OUaT a few weeks ago. Snow advised Emma to believe that Neal was alive. When she was asked why, she replied that Emma deserved a happy ending (and happy endings start with hope). This phrase kinda covered the aforementioned most disturbing message but it seems to be in the writers' heads.

As much as I agree with your points, we should not forget that some messages are not necessarily intentional and are not meant to be transferred as life philosophies to the viewers. Obviously the message they want to send is that true love exists and that people can be happy (thus transfer hope to the audience). Moreover, I have to agree with the opinion that you shouldn't marry somebody so as not to be alone but because you really like him or her and they make you happy (it seemed like the 2nd wife wasn't that kind of person). And anyway, should you be able to think in depth and from many different perspectives, you will eventually be able to convert a nice message to a bad one and vice versa. That occurs because everything has multiple sides and can be both good and bad under different circumstances. Thus, I choose to believe that the writers' intention was not to tell us to end our lives if we lose a person we love, but it was to make us be more optimistic.

As for stepmothers, the majority of the fairytales that have evil stepmothers, on their first version they were about biological mothers (eg Handsel and Grettel). But well 1) this show is linked with Disney and 2) you can't really blame the writers for having a bad stepmother in the show at the time that all parents suck in their shows (Anastasia's mother, Alice's father, [and I'm sure there're more to come]).
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Nov 23, 2013
My main response is below, but I didn't mention stepparents at all. For the most part I agree with you. Parents on this show are terrible at raising kids. Like, all of them. So yeah, I guess it makes sense that the stepparents would be bad as well. I guess the one difference is that the good people on this show are often bad parents because of things that were outside of their control/bad circumstances (Emma being sent through the portal and not meeting her parents until they were all the same age/not, and Henry being born in prison and Emma not wanting to raise him in such an environment). While the stepparents are almost always unpleasant (Alice's stepmother) or straight up evil (Regina). Admittedly Regina has changed quite a bit as a character, and is now arguably the best parent in either show, but she started out as the Evil Queen, and lied to Henry a lot.

Now that I think about it, Alice's dad may be the best parent in the franchise. He actually raised her and loves her. Sure, he doesn't believe her stories about where she's been, but do you blame him? I mean, a giant talking caterpillar? Falling in love with a genie? And he only sent her off to the asylum because 1. he thought it would provide good treatment for her, 2. she herself said that she could never be happy again, and 3. she agreed to go. I honestly don't see how a better parent would act in that situation, other than marrying a nicer/better person, of course. I mean, they wouldn't really believe Alice's story, especially without proof (something which he'll soon have in abundance). So yeah, he's arguably the best parent.
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Nov 23, 2013
Well he did let his wife decide for Alice's fate. I mean, Alice was there for like 2 days and they get her a boyfriend after she refused to meet anyone? Even if her stories were lies, she still seemed to believe them. And the second mistake was to tell Alice that his wife was her new mother. I think the best parent in both shows was Regina's father. Remember what a nice person she used to be? That couldn't be because of her mother. Then, of course, dark magic and grief changed her.
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Nov 23, 2013
I couldn't agree more about Alice's dad. This episode was supposed to show how terrible it was that he didn't believe her, and how unsupportive he was and everything, but I really got the opposite impression. This is a man whose wife died, whose daughter is CONSTANTLY disappearing (I found that "How long are you planning to stay this time?" kind of heartbreaking) and then coming back spouting all this crazy shit, and now that he has a new wife and another daughter, she doesn't accept his family, and says that he couldn't POSSIBLY love his new wife! Like, wtf Alice? What right do you have to judge your dad's marriage when you're in such a codependent relationship that you were willing to be LOBOTOMIZED when you thought your squeeze was dead? And how DARE you think you know your dad's heart better than he does? Ugh. I REALLY don't like this girl.

Also, I have never understood the whole "being mad at your parents for getting remarried" thing, whether that was because your parents got divorced or one of them died (that happens in MANY shows/movies/books, not just this one). Is that true in real life? My parents split up when I was still a fetus, so I never knew a time when they were together (which is a good thing, from what I've heard), so naturally I had no problem with them having other significant others. I've never understood the "my parents are splitting up!" angst. Is that actually how kids react?
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Nov 23, 2013
You make some very good points. In defense of the writers, I also don't think that they're intentionally trying to send these negative messages. Obviously they're going for true love, keep hope alive (Emma is sometimes referred to as "The Hope"), everyone deserves a second chance, etc. In truth, most of these negative messages unintentionally make their way into the show because it tends to deal with extremes. There's a lot of black and white, and nuance usually occurs only after entire seasons have passed and characters have gone through several arcs to break free of their original molds. The show also has a lot of magic and other "impossible" things. It's routed in a world of fairy tales, a place where old-school morals and societal goals from centuries ago are often enforced.

While it's true that a nice message can often be converted into something sinister if you try hard enough, this happens with very little effort on these shows quite a bit because of how extreme a lot of the messages are. Don't give up hope, NO MATTER WHAT. True love conquers all, NO MATTER WHAT. And while in the real world there is a point where you should probably give up hope (i.e. when you've seen someone die right in front of you), in the world of OUaT anything is possible, often when it comes to people who have died, or practically died and then have, quite literally, magically come back to life. Similarly, in the real world true love doesn't really conquer all, but in the magical world of this franchise it can break any curse and all that jazz.

So yeah, in the world of OUaT these extreme messages can be realized, but a side effect of this is a lot of negatively conclusions that are almost begging to be drawn by the viewers. Alice doesn't need to realistically consider the possibility that she might find love again in another person, nor does she even need to find a way to survive for the rest of her life without Cyrus, because he somehow didn't die when she saw him fall to her death, and a magic necklace of hers is proof that he's alive. This is a great thing. It is a huge symbol of hope and love on this show. However, what is never fully addressed is that our hero was willing to lose her personality because she thought her one true love was dead, and this would have been a very bad thing for several reasons. You and I were both bothered by the resulting message that life is meaningless if the person you loved is dead, a message that springs from this extreme black and white style of storytelling that the writers often employ.

Now, there is plenty of nuance to be found in OUaT, but it is often convoluted, full of contradictions, and takes a long time to emerge. For instance, this franchise does not have a blanket policy that once your true love is dead, you can never truly love another. At least, I hope this is the case. Because, Regina started out loving Daniel, before he was killed. She loved him, he loved her; that seemed for all intents and purposes to be true love. And now, just a few episodes ago, we learn that Robin Hood is apparently Regina's true love as well. Which means that it is possibly for someone to truly love again once another person has died.

However, this bit of nuance took three seasons to actually happen, and is really confusing more than anything. This is a franchise that champions the idea of having a one, true love. We see a prime example of a couple who truly love each other, and no one else, as a paragon for both shows. In OUaT it's Snow and Charming, and in Wonderland it's Alice and Cyrus. These are meant to be the perfect relationships. People are meant to strive for this, to desire this, to do everything they can to achieve this. And yet... There are several characters in these shows who have complex relationships with the ambiguous thing that is love in these shows. Love didn't conquer all for the Red Queen and Will; at least, it didn't conquer poverty for them. So Anastasia took the King's offer and now controls her own kingdom, while still loving Will, except she can't show it, and he doesn't have his heart, yet he still kinda feels for her. It's complicated. There's also the whole Emma/Hook/Neal love triangle which is...yeah...complicated. And weird. I'm not even going to get into the whole Mulan/Aurora/Prince Philip thing because then I'll never stop. Suffice it to say that love is a very fickle thing to most people in this franchise, even though the overall message is suppose to be love conquers all, hope, etc.

But seeing as this show is about keeping the good things front and center, these messy relationships are often swept under the rug most of the time. Or there's always a suggestion that things will be better at some point in the future, don't you worry. For instance, it's great that the show actually has a princess who's a lesbian/bisexual/queer. But all they really did was drop that bomb (without ever actually saying anything out loud, btw), and then not have any of those characters appear ever again. Sure, they'll come back at some point, but how will that mess get sorted out exactly? Or will it ever get sorted out?

I've already gone on about this topic more than I probably should, but the truth is that OUaT is a franchise with a very messy collection of morals, plots, and relationships; however, it tries to come off as being pure, true, black and white, and simple a lot of the time. They have extreme messages, like everyone deserves a second chance, NO MATTER WHAT, and we're supposed to cheer when our heroes are able to live up to these ideals, without giving into the temptation of killing someone, and instead having mercy. But while we're cheering we can't help but cringe, because the rational part of us just realized that they let an evil and powerful serial killer go free to terrorize and/or kill just about anyone they want, simply because she couldn't hurt two people. At least, I can't help but cringe. Which is why I try my best to forget a lot of the messy morals, and awkward conclusions that anyone with half a brain is forced to make, while watching these shows.

It's just that this episode had multiple points where the message of not having a life after a loved one dies rang out. There was the revisiting of the place where Alice almost got her lobotomy, there was the unpleasant stepmother/second wife, and there was Alice's inability to be happy again without Cyrus. More than normal, an inadvertent negative message seemed to take center stage, and I found that disturbing. I'm not really disturbed by it, obviously. I don't think that hordes of widowers were suddenly overcome with a lifelong existence of misery and meaningless after seeing this episode. Nor where children inconsolable over the treatment of step parents. But if these shows are going to be all about happiness, hope and love, and is going to kinda be aimed at kids, you'd hope that all of these inadvertent negative messages aren't really easy to spot, and seem to be actually intentional.

Wow that was long. If you actually read this far, then well done. Seriously, pat yourself on the back. You probably need to go rest your eyes now for a couple of days.
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Nov 23, 2013
Haha I did read it :P Do I get a cookie?
Well, the "no matter what" derives from the fact that it is a fairytale so the heroes can follow their morals and find solutions to their problems. I'm not that bothered of this because I try to think in this way in my life too. However real life doesn't really favor moral people as much as cheaters (think of politicians and most rich people). But I prefer for a show to follow morals than success techniques that are usually immoral.
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Nov 22, 2013
I misspelled Cyrus. My bad.
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Nov 22, 2013
This episode should have been titled "Stoner's paradise".

1. Best dialogue of the episode:
Will: "You've ever been stoned? Feels like death when you come out of it."
The Old Guy: "Maybe you've been messing with the wrong stuff".
Will: "No, I mean stone as in turned into stone."
The Old Guy: "Sure, sure..."

I'm still laughing when I remember it.

2. Alice got so stoned. When I think about it that forest seems like a great place. Who knows maybe turning into a tree is not such a bad thing?

3. Alice not only has a crappy father, but also a mean step-mom. No wonder she ended up in the Asylum.

4. So little Emma Rigby this episode :(

5. Also it seems you can't get stoned if you don't have heart - poor Will :(

6. I loved Alice's Victorian dresses - more of them, please!

7. This show would be much better without Cyrus. I seriously hate that guy.

Filler episode or you beg to differ, madam?!

- I wouldn't call this episode a filler. We found out a bit more about Alice. Also Will joined Alice again. So the story moved forward.

Thanks for review, Lily!
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Nov 22, 2013
So is 18th century England its own realm? In the pilot the Nave was in modern day Storybrooke, yet with Sayid popped through a portal he was in Victorian era London. Maybe portals also travel through time. Maybe I shouldn't pick on this minor plot hole when there are giant chasms of logic.
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Nov 23, 2013
It's Alice in Wonderland Victorian England, not real Victorian England. It as been said that there is no magic in our world. Which means any story world must be different from ours. Same as peter pan london in OUAT. I think that's a different world, because the shadow couldn't just come visit this world because no magic. So if it is in a story etc. it is a different world, even if the setting is very similar to our eg. a past time.
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Nov 22, 2013
Yeah, the writers have said Victorian England is it's own world, and that portals don't travel through time.
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Nov 23, 2013
When did they say that?
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Nov 24, 2013
They've said it in a couple of interviews. I'd link to them, but they are a bit of a pain to google search for.
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Nov 22, 2013
It's also difficult to consider Cyrus a genie. Because... he's called Cyrus. Cyrus the Genie. Ugh.

That and he seems to have no magical powers. In the Disney movie, Genie could engage in magic stuff even when he wasn't fulfilling wishes. You wonder why Jafar put Cyrus in a silver cage to negate his powers: Cyrus doesn't seem to have any. Nothing he used this week to escape, at any rate.

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Nov 22, 2013
I'm wondering if maybe Cyrus can't do any real magic unless it's wished?
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Nov 22, 2013
You don't consider animating origami birds "real magic"? :)
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Nov 24, 2013
He said it was "magic paper" so I assumed that wasn't him actually doing magic, just the paper itself. :)
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Nov 22, 2013
This is a reply to your comment below. In "The Serpent," Amara uses the phrase "the three genies," and not "these three genies" or something like that. When she says this, they are looking through a book that supposedly holds all the knowledge about genies. So, it would seem that there are only three genies. Of course, it could turn out that they're very wrong, and that there's a fourth, or something like that. Or a new one could be created. Once again, there is so little in this franchise that is tied down, that the writers can come up with just about any changes to cannon they want with only the slightest justification necessary.
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Nov 22, 2013
Technically that was magic paper. Anyone, including Alice, could do that. The same goes for Alice's necklace. He can see it shimmering off in the distance, even though the queen presumably can't. While it could be that he's using magic here, it is also possible that isn't actually drawing from his own power, since the necklace is supposed to connect the two of them, and is magical in of itself. This means that, like the magic paper, it's an object that is already magical, which he is simply utilizing.

As for Cyrus not displaying his magical powers, there are so many possible reasons for why this is. It's the main problem with this franchise: the writers have never really laid down a complete set of rules for how these worlds, or any one of their worlds, works. I mean, Neverland is supposedly a place where anything is possible as long as you can imagine it, which leads to all sorts of logical contradictions. And it's not like they've made it easier, what with an infinite amount of food being something you can think out of nowhere into physical, and yet the simple act of levitating off the ground a bit requires magical dust and can only be accomplished by children.

Similarly, Wonderland is a place with little to no established rules. Genies are creatures with even less established mythology. Sure, we know quite a few things about their wishes: the physical form the wishes take, how many wishes an individual gets, what someone can and can't wish for, etc. But literally the only things we know about Genies are: 1. They normally live in a bottle or some such vessel. 2. If someone possesses them then they have to grant whatever three wishes that person wants. 3. Once all three wishes are granted, a genie will go back to his/her bottle. 4. They are immortal. And 5. There are only three of them.

Other than the seemingly limitless power they must possess in order to fulfill these wishes, we know nothing about how/why they are magic, who created them, why there are only three, etc. Because the writers are able to draw on a plethora of characters/places/stories from outside the show, they can introduce a bunch of things without ever having to explain them. This allows for the world/worlds of the franchise to be vague enough so that they can always come up with explanations for things down the road. So yeah, it could be that if Cyrus using his magic, someone or something will be able to track him. It could be that Genies are not able to use their magic for themselves, but only for other people. Or there's the possibility that being around silver for so long has made him weak, and he won't be able to use any magic until he's fully recovered.
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Jul 01, 2014
Cyrus knows magic comes at a steep price and we later find out he's a cheater so, my money is on him drawing on and utilizing magic from other sources (i.e. the wishbone) to get what he wants. The real question is why did he wait so flipping long to get the hell out of the cage? It's not like Jafar's guards were coming off a vegan fad and the Red Queen could've done any number of things to Alice after tossing him off the cliff; show some initiative, man! (Which leads to the next question, if they needed her in Wonderland to make her wishes, how did she get back to Victorian England seemingly immediately after Cyrus' fling into the boiling sea?)

Also, if we're going to talk about drug references, can we please have some discussion of how Cyrus' first conversation with Alice reads like a prettily-worded version of the handbook for drivers of windowless vans?
"Are you alone?" "Who's important to you?" "Aww, I guess they don't really love you but, don't worry, I've got these nice shiny wishes for you." Anyone see my point here?

I loved this show and all its delightfully flawed characters (except, of course, that Will is perfect - though perhaps not so much in the past) but, the finale made me want to cry for Alice & Co and the fate that, imo likely, awaits them all. My real takeaway from all this was "We create our own prisons" but, hopefully, that's just me being cynical and pessimistic. They SEEMED happy enough... :)
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Nov 22, 2013
I don't recall. Have they said that there are only three genies, or only three that either a) they know of or b) are the only ones who will meet the requirements of the spell they want to cast?
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Nov 22, 2013
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Nov 22, 2013
" I’ll tell you how I literally removed my heart to stop feeling pain after Anastasia, so how the eff am I’m walking around? It’s a medical mystery.”

Magic 101 - they can survive without their hearts. Just this week Henry took his out and put it in Pan's chest. Regina took out a Lost Boy's heart and used him to speak to Henry, and so on.

At least, they can survive if they're magically removed. Presumably the old-fashioned cut-n-hack works just fine.
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Nov 22, 2013
I know, I know, Aurora was running around heartless a few episodes as was Graham for 28 years. It just never stops being a logic stretch to me.
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Nov 24, 2013
I agree, it is a logic stretch. Especially considering that Regina took her father's heart out and he immediately died. From what I recall, everyone else whose heart was removed has lived, unless the heart was crushed (which then killed them). I guess maybe Regina performed some extra magic so that her father wouldn't have to live heartless? Regardless, it's kind of poetic that Regina's mother died by receiving her heart, and her father died by losing his.
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Nov 22, 2013
...Yeah, this show. You're spot on about Alice and Cyrus - a big problem with this show is that it revolves around this true love between Alice and Cyrus, but we've never seen this true love onscreen! (Okay, there were those flashbacks in the second episode, but that was it.) I just care absolutely nothing about Cyrus at this point, and since the whole show is about him, it's hard to care about this show.

Same goes for Alice - I like Alice; she's totally kickass, but I don't care about her, either, because she's all about Cyrus and I don't care about him, ergo, I don't care about her.
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Nov 22, 2013
"We are the few. We are the proud. We are the last remaining viewers of OUAT: Wonderland."

I love Lily's matter-of-fact attitude towards impeding doom. I guess I've become one of those I don't really like, the ones who have jumped ship and show up just for the reviews. But hey, there's a silver lining. Page views, amrite?
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Nov 22, 2013
I'll take 'em where I can get 'em! :)
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Nov 22, 2013
I didn't really enjoy this episode as it was a filler. Nothing new really happened, but I like that it set up things for the next one (Jafar's taking Alice's father in Wonderland could prove to be really interesting). However, I'm not sure I want him to survive. I mean... ok, it's hard to believe something that crazy and he seemed like a good father for the most part. But I can't forgive the phrase "this is your new mother". No! She is your wife, I get it. That makes Alice and she a family, but it doesn't make her her mother! Anyway, I just hate this phrase especially when it comes from a father. On the pros, I liked the creepy gardener. I'd generally like to see more creepy things happening.

Was the dark wood actually pretty exciting because there was no distracting CGI? I actually got so used to the CGI that the dark wood felt fake. I was like "wth, this can't be in Wonderland". But I'm done complaining about the CGI. Fortunately, I have enough imagination (plus I watched Buffy for the first time 6 months ago).
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Nov 22, 2013
I felt for Alice's dad. He's suffered a lot of loss, first from his wife dying and then his only (at the time) daughter disappearing for months/years at a time and basically being nuttier than a fruitcake. I mean, I understand Alice's POV, she just wants her dad to believe her, but I understand his too.

Sophie Lowe was great in this. I really enjoyed the scene of Alice and Millie sister-bonding but I think my favorite was the dinner scene where the step-mother was setting up a meet with a suitor and Alice was pretty much doing her best to reign in a panic attack and then broke the glass in her hand.

Oh, and about the suitor, Mr. Darcy... I can see why he was still available. I bet he gets shot down a lot because all the women are bigger than he is. Man, he was short.
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Nov 22, 2013
I actually really enjoyed this episode. They seem to do better when they are dealing with a darker theme. It really brought out the pain that Alice has gone through, the happiness that she longs for, and how her journey parallel's Will. I really liked it because they dug a lot deeper this time.
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Nov 22, 2013
I'm all for darkness, but they just portrayed Edwin as an unfeeling jerk. There's a difference between being torn between your new wife and long-lost daughter... and convincing Alice to go off to the madhouse. Setting aside that short bald guys in black are rarely trustworthy ;) , Edwin should know pretty much what Alice should expect when she signs up for the mental institution. This is the same place where they left Alice in a cold stone cell back in episode 1, right? Need to vet the place a little more carefully, Ed.
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Nov 22, 2013
He believed the place to be a better establishment as he explained to Alice when she was shocked he'd send her to a mad house. He was also hurt that Alice didn't want him to visit her while she was away. I actually thought they'd portrayed him as a very feeling character, one who is torn between a daughter who keeps disappearing for months/years at a time with no real explanation, and the new family he's built from all his grief and struggles. I didn't see him as a jerk at all, just as a father at a loss for what to do.
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Nov 22, 2013
If I was going to commit my daughter, I'd check on the state of the cells (plus the fact that they have cells rather than beds) rather than just "believe" it. They had decent sanitariums even in Victorian England.

And I'd check before she was out the door and telling me she didn't want to see me. :)

While I would expect him to be confused and puzzled and grieving, I'm just not seeing that tying in with him telling her "enter into a loveless marriage or go off to the nuthouse with stone cells that I'd know about if I did Due Diligence 101 as a father." It's hard to tell how old Alice is supposed to be (the actress is 23), but if she's supposed to be an adult, I'd give her a stipend and send her off if there was really absolutely nothing I could do.

(And if she's underage, her and Cyrus... ugh. Creepy.)
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Nov 22, 2013
I think looking at it from his point of view, it's really not that hard felt. He believes Alice has made Wonderland and everyone in it up just to get attention. If not 23, then she's at least 18 and she's still spinning these tales. He loves her, but she keeps dropping off the face of the earth, and if she really wants to stay, then she needs to grow up. I think part of him does wish she'd just disappear for good, that it would be easier instead of her continuing to pop up every few years. It's like having a child show up every handful of years only to ask for money. Eventually you offer them a choice of being part of the family or letting them go. Edwin's gone through the same thing.
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Nov 22, 2013
Sheesh, no responses (except for three now-gone spam comments, I assume).

It was... average for the series. The Boro Grove was a little imaginative. Cyrus and the Red Queen spent a lot of time going through the woods. Jafar and the (unvoiced) White Rabbit were mostly off-screen. We found out a little more about the Knave of (lack of) Hearts.

I have figured out one other big problem with the series, which I may write up as a full discussion piece. Since it seems doomed to cancellation (i.e., "winter hiatus and we'll show the remaining 5 episodes sometime"), is there a point? But basically... the flashbacks are boring. I blame Lost. Once Upon a Time has a larger cast and the fact that at least initially, the main characters didn't know their backstories. Last night's flashback didn't really tell us much we didn't know or could figure out, or added anything to what we knew or could figure out.

And next episode is another Jafar flashback. Folks, Jafar just isn't that interesting a villain. He has no inner conflicts like Regina and Gold. The Red Queen, sure, I'll give you that. But Jafar is a baddy through and through. Again, the flashbacks are confirming what we already know and, if anything, making him out to be worse (letting a friend die, seducing and then stripping the power of his SO).
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Nov 22, 2013
The flashbacks in Lost and OUaT serve a purpose. A kind of sharing in the interconnectedness of all things (to paraphrase Dirk Gently ;) ). Learning who Rumplestiltskin's father really is, the weirdness that followed Hurley even before he got to the Island, Snow and Ariel knowing each other.

The storytelling in Alice isn't that... deep. I'm not saying that an epic action-adventure, it's not interesting or entertaining. It's just not a show suited to this kind of flashback-telling. Here it just feels like an excuse to save on the budget and not to tell a full story each week.
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Nov 22, 2013
Or the flashbacks pad out the story there is.
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