‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ Recap: ‘Who’s Alice’
‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland‘ took us back to Alice’s home of Victorian London, where she was forced to act like a prim and proper girl and have tea with the boring suitor boy next door. But society life didn’t agree with Alice; she’s used to sword fighting and and swashbuckling her way through Wonderland with her genie boyfriend, Cyrus. Her homecoming was anything but a happy return.
Alice’s return to London is told in flashback in this episode, titled ‘Who’s Alice.’ The flashback gives us a peek at Alice’s life one year before Knave and the Rabbit rescued her from the asylum in the pilot episode. In the flashback, she returns home mourning Cyrus’ supposed death, and she learns that her father has remarried after her mother’s death and has had another child, a cute little girl named Millie. Millie is sweet to Alice, but her mother Sarah is the epitome of the evil stepmother. Sarah prods Alice’s dad into giving her an ultimatum: Either stop talking about Wonderland, forget about Cyrus and become a normal, happy, corset-wearing girl or it’s off to the madhouse for you!
Unfortunately for Alice, she can’t find happiness in her father’s house; she misses Cyrus too much, and the pain she feels in the wake of his absence is too powerful to hide. So after several uncomfortable scenes of Alice trying to bury her true self in order to meet her father and stepmother’s strict demands, she opts to try life at the madhouse. Her father tells her to stop pining for a “make believe life” full of genies and talking rabbits. Alice is lost and lonely and with no where else to go, and that’s how she ended up at the asylum, where we first met her in the pilot episode.
But this episode wasn’t all sadness and false starts. In the present timeline, Cyrus outwits Jafar’s guards and finds a path straight to Alice. At first, it looks like he’s going to be reunited with his long lost love, but his journey stops short when he learns Jafar’s palace sits on a floating island. Cyrus is trapped on the island with no way to escape, but his love for Alice proves stronger than anyone thought: the idea of reuniting with her inspires him to jump off the island and into the vast Wonderland ocean, risking life and limb, and that sweet ‘do, to get to her. Did he survive the leap? Yeah, of course he did.
While Cyrus is risking everything to find her, Alice hits another roadblock on her journey to Jafar’s palace. She stumbles into another dark and dangerous part of Wonderland called the Black Forest. In the second of two blatant drug references in this episode, Alice inhales the purple mist of an enchanted flower and starts to relax as all her troubles begin to float away. The black forest is really a trippy tree-laden paradise that entices people to stay and chill out in its splendor forever… until it totally robs them of all their ambition and turns them into trees.
Alice falls victim, for a while anyway, to the charms of the forest, and who could blame her? Her life back in London was horrible (even if she did look pretty hot in those Victorian dresses) and her search for Cyrus has only brought her pain and grief. But Knave shows up to remind Alice that she has something to live for, true love (of course), and she snaps out of her purple haze just as quickly as she got caught in its grip. (‘Purple Haze’ would have made a great name for this episode.)
The episode ended with Jafar arriving at Alice’s father’s house. After learning everything he could about Alice at the asylum, he promised to take Alice’s dad to meet her. It’s more likely he’s planning to lock him up in Cyrus’ vacated cell.
This was one of the best episodes of ‘Wonderland’ we’ve seen so far. Upping the trippy-ness of the show’s magical world and exploring Alice’s past made for a fun and emotional hour. As for the most memorable part of the episode, it had to be the Knave talking to the old peasant about “getting stoned.” Nice subtly there, show!