Just how evil is Jafar, the villainous genie played by 'Lost''s Naveen Andrews in 'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland?' Before this week's episode, I would've placed him somewhere between Lex Luthor and Cobra Commander. You know, a sneering but cartoony scoundrel with bad intentions, but not a truly twisted or malevolent soul. But after watching his back story unfold in 'Serpent,' it's pretty clear that Jafar's dark, hateful heart would make an infamous baddie like Darth Vader cringe. He's the Wicked Witch and Ben Linus rolled into one incredibly well-coiffed package. And it's awesome.

'Serpent' revealed Jafar's back story and his motives for luring Alice back to Wonderland and for capturing Cyrus. It turns out the meanie genie learned his evil tricks in his homeland of Agrabah from a powerful and sultry sorceress named Amara (Andrews' former 'Lost' castmate Zuleikha Robinson). Jafar meets Amara as a boy in a flashback that opens the episode. After watching her frighten the townspeople, he begs her to teach him to become a great sorcerer. She agrees after learning that he's the Sultan's "bastard child," and the two shack up for the next several years trading tricks and presumably a bed -- which is a little grody, considering the much older Amara met Jafar when he was still a young boy. But whatever, Jafar is eager to learn dark magic to take revenge on his father and all the people who abused him, and Amara is his ticket to spelltown.

When Jafar grows up, Amara concocts a test to learn if he's willing to do whatever it takes to achieve great magical power. She tricks him into poisoning a goat herder, and he must choose between saving the herder's life or letting him die so that he'll get closer to becoming one of the most powerful people in the realm. Jafar opts for the power, allowing the man to die and sealing his own fate as a villain. Amara says Jafar is "reborn," but she clearly has no idea. Later, when she and Jafar find the final key to a spell that will allow them to "change the laws of magic," he betrays her by stealing her magical essence, turns her into a golden snake, and places her on the head of his staff. What a twist! All along it seemed like Amara was using Jafar to find and cast the uberspell, but it turns out he was more evil and determined than she ever thought he was. He played and seduced her in order to get ahead in the dog-eat-dog world of fairytale magic, and she never saw it coming.

But Jafar's plan isn't quite complete. The final key to unlocking the powerful spell seems to be controlling Cyrus, and he can't do that until Alice uses up her three wishes. Jafar has been keeping Cyrus prisoner in order to manipulate Alice into giving up her wishes. If she does, he'll be able to control Cyrus and cast the powerful spell. (Yes, magic is complicated, but Jafar and his excellent hair make it look easy.) But Alice isn't giving up her wishes that easily, so Jafar forces her to use one wish to save the Knave of Hearts' life. Clever Alice finds a way out of Jafar's grip for the time being, but not before he the turns Knave into stone, which is a bummer considering he's one of the show's most charismatic characters.

So it looks like Knave is out of the picture for a while, but that doesn't mean Alice has to walk Wonderland's trippy roads alone. She teams up with Lizard (Lauren McNight), a cute thief who used to be Knave's partner in crime. Together, they save Knave from execution at the Red Queen's castle, but they're forced to leave him in the Queen's garden maze after he's turned to stone.

The episode ends with Jafar revealing just how cruel, manipulative and evil he really is, and Alice proving that she'll risk anything to protect the people she loves. They're two opposite sides of the same sparkly coin. Jafar promises to hurt everyone Alice loves until she uses up all of her wishes. But Alice may be closer to reuniting with Cyrus, and escaping the prison that Wonderland has become, than her enemies know. Unbeknownst to his captors, Cyrus is using a magical wishbone (Of course!) to escape from his cage. He says that both halves of the wishbone long to be together, and that's where it gets its power. Sounds a lot like his relationship with Alice.

Before all is said and done, Alice learns that the Red Queen is the Anastasia that broke Knave's heart. This info is sure to come in handy down the line, since Anastasia's feelings for Knave seem to be her one weakness, a point Jafar brings up over and over again in this episode (We get it bro, she has a heart and you don't. Enough, already). The Queen is corrupt, but she's not an evil killer like Jafar, and it's probably only a matter of time until she and Knave rekindle their romance and join Alice in her mission to reunite with Cyrus.

Next week: We dig deeper into Knave and Anastasia's back story ... and Alice and Lizard go shopping for new shoes and swords, maybe.