Last week, ABC debuted its Once Upon a Time spinoff, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, following the adventures of Lewis Carroll heroine Alice and her genie, Cyrus, in Wonderland. Missed the first episode? Don't miss Brittany Melson's thoughts on the pilot. And now, without further ado, here's what happened in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland 1.02, “Trust Me”:
Last week, the first episode of the season found poor little Alice searching for her lost love Cyrus, a genie she thought was murdered by the Red Queen but who had actually been locked up in a cage by an evil magician named Jafar.
This week’s episode opens with a gruesome flashback scene that occurred “many years ago in Agrabah.” Evil Jafar torments a poor scarf seller named Farzen. He demands to know why Farzen has such a “well-appointed” home, two camels, and a full vegetable garden, which Jafar describes as “everything a man could possibly wish for.” Farzen fails to lie his way out of the situation, escapes to his kitchen to wake Cyrus from his bottle, and—despite Cyrus’s protestations—uses his final wish to send Cyrus “as far from Agrabah as the earth from the sun.” Jafar bursts into the kitchen just as Cyrus disappears in a puff of smoke. Farzen pleads for “mercy,” but Jafar denies him, revealing just how evil his character really is. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his hands on Cyrus. Meanwhile, Cyrus wakes up in his bottle and asks, “Where am I?” The answer: Wonderland.
In the next scene, Alice and Knave are in the forest. Alice, who’s full of restless energy, is practicing her swordplay skills by whacking at a tree. Knave says, “Now you’ve gone and hurt the tree. Happy?” I had the same thought, actually. In this episode, Alice reveals an unexpected mercilessness that was only hinted at the week before. She’ll do whatever it takes to rescue Cyrus.
Physically, she’s undergone a bit of a makeover, which has my hearty approval. Last week, I complained about the poor girl running around in her pajamas. This week, she’s dressed in an adorable leather vest with a long-sleeved shirt underneath, a knee length skirt, tights, and boots. She tells Knave—who comments on her wardrobe change—that the “clothes horse” came by. Her hair, which is twisted back in a sporty-looking up-do, also looks great. Somebody needs to put a tutorial on YouTube for how to copy her look.
Her clothes discussion with Knave complete, Alice excitedly discloses to him that she has a plan to find Cyrus. First, she’s going to locate the genie’s bottle. Then she’s going to use her wishes to request safe, mundane items. Finally, she’s going to give Knave the bottle to rub, forcing Cyrus to appear. Knave points out that Cyrus will become his genie if he rubs the bottle. Alice says, “I guess I’ll just have to trust you.” But does she really trust him? It’s hard to tell. And at this point, I have the lyrics of Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” song in my head. I hope that one week this song will make it into the show’s soundtrack. That would be awesome.
Knave points out that finding the bottle might be a problem, but Alice says it is “in the Mimsy Meadows under the Tum-tum tree.” She says that nobody goes there. Knave replies, “With a name like that, why would they? Unless they were a Care Bear.” I laughed, of course, but Alice, being from Victorian times, didn’t get it. At the end of the scene, Alice and Knave set off on their journey without the rabbit—who’s pretending to be asleep behind a tree—because she says she doesn’t want to be slowed down. I wonder if she realizes, however, that the rabbit is a double agent.
A brief scene flashes, showing Cyrus sleeping in his prison cell/birdcage. He wakes up, shouts “Alice!” and grabs his chest.
The next scene shows the Red Queen in her castle, wearing a gorgeous red gown with red feathers around the bodice. I have some serious issues with the Red Queen’s character and with her acting but not with her wardrobe. Every dress she dons is absolutely gorgeous. Somebody needs to start a Pinterest board with this show’s fashions. Immediately.
In the scene, the Red Queen is being mean to her pleading subjects. She says, “Your problems bore me.” She magically freezes them and says, “Dear Jafar, come out, come out, wherever you are.” Jafar suddenly appears and starts lecturing the Red Queen about being too nice, which I thought was ironic. He says, “You are trying to earn their respect. All you have to do is take it.”
She says, “I took this throne. I took Wonderland.”
He’s unimpressed. He wants to know where the bottle is. She doesn’t answer him. Instead, she gets what I can only assume is a greedy look on her basically immobile-looking face and asks him if he’ll be able to change the laws of magic for real. He says that, “to make the impossible possible,” she’ll need to have “truly unholy desires.” Their talk is premature, however. He needs the bottle. And he needs Alice. He magically dissolves all of the Red Queen’s subjects into piles of dust and says she can have her “tweedles” sweep them up.
Jafar and the Red Queen are both evil monsters, but whenever they’re facing off against each other, I almost find myself rooting for her as the underdog. What this scene establishes, however, is Jafar’s motivation (i.e. to change the laws of magic) and the Red Queen’s greediness and insatiability. Ruling Wonderland isn’t enough. She wants more.
In the next scene, Knave and Alice continue their journey through the forest. He warns Alice to be more tight-lipped about the location of Cyrus’s bottle because the walls might have ears—and he means that literally. Then he warns her that she might be setting herself up for failure, that she might get her heart broken, that Cyrus might have moved on. This doesn’t seem as much like wishful thinking on Knave’s part—which is what I thought last week—as it does him speaking from past experience. Alice says that he wouldn’t understand a love like she shares with Cyrus. He says, “No, I suppose I wouldn’t”—which clearly means he does. He’s been in love with somebody. I’m intrigued. Alice, wearing a fierce look on her face, says, “Nothing will get in the way of us being together,” but they emerge from the forest onto the shores of a huge lake that stands between them and the Mimsy Meadows.
The next creepy scene shows the Red Queen looking like a maniac as she gets a manicure and pedicure. As her minions frantically pumice her feet and hands, she shouts, “Harder! Harder!” The rabbit appears, tattles on Alice, and admits to the Red Queen that he knows exactly where the bottle is. At this point, I hate the double-agent rabbit, but I can’t get over the Red Queen’s weird pumice-fetish. Is she a bit of a masochist?
Back at the shores of the unexpected lake, Knave discloses that he can’t swim because he’s afraid of water. Does this hint at his back story as well? A traumatic incident in his past, perhaps? He and Alice are forced to call the ferry—which is a literal fairy named Silvermist. The fairy is one of Knave’s disgruntled paramours from the past, and when she sees him, she slaps him. But she insists that she’s a professional and that she can overcome her feelings in order to ferry them across the lake without incident.
In the next scene, Cyrus chats with one of his prison friends in a nearby cage. They discuss the burns on Cyrus’s arms and his allergy to the silver in the bars. His friend invites him to play a game of chess, but Cyrus declines. Instead, he flashes back to the day Alice found him in his bottle. He became her servant and gave her three wishes. He said, “Mistress mine, my will is thine,” but he explained that the wishes had restrictions, which he referred to as the laws of magic—the same laws that Jafar and the Red Queen want to break.
There are four of them: He can’t kill anyone. He can’t bring anything back from the dead. He can’t change the past. And he can’t make anyone fall in love.
The laws seem like common sense, right? If Jafar figures out a way to break the laws and bend them to his will, then Cyrus would go from a good genie to a bad genie—killing people, raising the dead, rewriting history, and creating love slaves.
Cyrus explains that, after Alice makes her third wish, he’ll return to his bottle. He’s spent his whole life serving the pleasures of his masters. He’s a slave, basically. She asks him if she can wish for his freedom, but he says it’s never gone well for either party—the bigger the wish, the greater the consequence.
The next scene shows Alice and Knave flying across the lake with Silvermist. Things seem to be going well, but right when they’re in the middle of the lake, Silvermist gets her revenge by sending Knave plummeting down to the water. Alice informs the angry fairy that Knave can’t swim, but Silvermist doesn’t care. So Alice flies down to save him and drags him to the safety of what appears to be an island. Alice, who’s angrier at Knave than at Silvermist, asks him what he did to break the fairy’s heart. He doesn’t have a good answer—he basically says he hit it and quit it. Alice asks him why he’s being such a cad. Who broke his heart? He won’t answer her.
Alice flashes back to her time with Cyrus soon after they met. She hasn’t used her wishes yet because she wants to spend time with him. Cyrus says that it’s not easy being with him because he’s a wanted man. Someone’s always chasing him—like Jafar, who he describes to her. He says people are always after him because they want what they don’t have. He says he’s been many places and had many masters, and he shows her some magic paper he collected on his travels. She asks him to tell her everything he’s learned and teach her everything, like how to use a sword. Neither one of them have a home, or someone they belong to. They’ve both been abandoned by the people they care about. “I know what it’s like to be moved on from,” Alice says. They begin to fall in love. In this scene, I definitely start to fall for Cyrus right along with Alice. He’s a lonely soul, and he’s wise. He needs Alice, and she needs him. Cyrus folds a magic paper rose for her.
After such a heartfelt scene, it’s jarring to see the Red Queen again, caressing her red roses. The juxtaposition between Cyrus’s magic paper rose and the Red Queen’s roses made me wonder if Cyrus used to belong to the Red Queen—but that could just be a wild guess on my part. It would explain how she became queen, however.
Jafar shows up and wants to know where the bottle is. She hems and haws and says she needs proof that Jafar can “satisfy” her “needs”—whatever those might be. He’s not amused. He uses his magic to overpower her will and freeze her in place, while he lectures her. He says that what he needs is for her to be quiet, still, and silent and follow orders. He’s given her his “word,” which is more than he ever gives most people, he says. While he has her frozen, the Red Queen’s eyes are wild and panicked, which helped me empathize with her. Her duck lips, however, were out of control. Seriously. If this actress bought these lips instead of being born with them, she needs to reconsider her purchase. Jafar finally releases the queen from his magical bindings, and she tells him the bottle is in the Mimsy Meadows.
In the next scene, Alice and Knave are on the island, despairing. All of a sudden the island shifts and throws them back into the water, and they realize it’s not an island at all—it’s a huge turtle. Alice jumps on its neck with her sword and says, “If you want to keep your head, I suggest you take me where I want to go.” I thought she was being a little harsh. Even if he’s not a real turtle, did she have to be so mean to him? He does obey, though.
The next scene is a flashback to when Cyrus taught Alice how to use a sword. She’s good at it, and Cyrus asks her if she’s always been a quick study. She says that she learned to play Mozart in a week. She says she’s talented like her mother, who died when she was born.
Alarm bells go off in my head when Alice talks about her mother. We all know that dead mothers rarely stay dead, and anything’s possible in Wonderland, right? Maybe her mother fell down the rabbit hole. Maybe she left on purpose. Maybe she’s in prison somewhere in Wonderland, or maybe…she’s the Red Queen? I know I’m grasping at straws here, but I’m a fan of wild conjectures. That would be the weirdest combo ever, right?
Anyway, wild conjectures aside, Cyrus informs Alice that the trick to winning a fight is to always be smarter than your opponent, which means you have to know who you’re up against. Alice says, “I’ll remember that.” She uses Cyrus’s advice and kisses him in order to stop his attack and win the swordfight with him. She knows her opponent.
The flashback ends, and Knave and Alice are finally out of the lake and back on shore. She wants him to hurry up, but he says, “I was nearly drowned and eaten by a mock turtle. Can I have a moment please?” I laughed, but it took me a minute to figure out what a “mock turtle” was. I didn’t get the reference at first. According to a quick Internet search, the mock turtle was a pun used by Lewis Carroll in the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Mock turtle soup was a Victorian soup consisting of brains and organ meat from calves. It was made to imitate the texture of real turtle soup, which was more expensive. So the “mock turtle” is made up of parts from other animals, I guess.
Silvermist appears on shore and says that there’s a bounty on Knave’s head and she’s going to turn him in. Knave admits he’s a bad guy and that the mysterious Anastasia broke his heart and ruined him, but he begs Silvermist to have mercy on him because Alice needs him. He says Alice is a “decent person and so is the man she loves.” Silvermist gives them mercy—unlike a lot of other characters in this episode—and lets them go. Alice asks Knave if that was an apology, and he says, “It happens. Don’t dwell on it.”
The next scene is another flashback to Alice and Cyrus. They’ve been hanging out together for a while, and Cyrus is disturbed. He urges Alice to use her wishes up and let him go—because he’s falling in love with her. He can’t imagine eternity in a bottle without her. She refuses. She says they’ll be together forever. He says everyone makes their wishes eventually, but she says he’s everything she could ever wish for. This scene is exceedingly romantic. I suffered a case of the swoons. At the end, Alice and Cyrus go off to bury his bottle together—and no, that wasn’t a double entendre.
In the next scene, Jafar uses magical bugs to hunt for Cyrus’s bottle under the Tum-tum tree. Alice and Knave spy on him from a distance. Knave’s freaking out, but Alice says the bottle’s not actually under the tree. It never was. She just wanted to know who her opponent was—per Cyrus’s recommendation—and she recognizes Jafar from Cyrus’s description. She knew all along that saying her destination aloud would mean that the information would get back to the bad guys. “The one thing you can count on in Wonderland is that you can’t count on anyone,” she says. The Knave replies, “You didn’t tell me the truth either. Does that mean you don’t trust me?” She says she trusts him now, which is pretty much a “yes.” Alice and Knave set off to find the real bottle beneath a dandelion bush—which is a literal lion-shaped bush with yellow flowers on it. The bottle’s gone. It’s been dug up. Alice is in despair and thinks that Cyrus has, in fact, moved on.
In the next scene, Cyrus folds his magic paper with his letter to Alice on it into a bird and sends it off to fly to her. A second later, Jafar strides in, livid. He demands to know where the bottle is. He says he’ll kill Alice in front of Cyrus if he doesn’t tell him. The Red Queen walks in and admits that she has it and that Jafar needs to stop underestimating her. She says he’s not allowed to talk down to her anymore. She didn’t trust him because he held all the cards, but now she has the bottle and he has the genie, so they’re even. Am I supposed to root for the evil queen and her girl power? Because I kind of am. They’re both awful, but Jafar is more awful—I guess.
Back at the dandelion bush, Alice says, “He’s moved on. It’s the only thing that makes sense.” She thinks that she and Cyrus were the only two people who knew where the bottle was. Something growls in the dark, and Knave points out that it’s not safe. They need to find shelter. Alice says, “Who cares?” and storms off. She’s suicidal again, and I start to wonder if she might be a little romantically obsessed and emotionally imbalanced. I understand that her love is all-consuming and over-powering, but she needs to chill out and focus on self-preservation.
The next scene is back at the Red Queen’s lair. The rabbit says he’s held up his end of the bargain and wants what the Red Queen promised. The queen says promises were made to be broken. She says, “Now, for the last time, when I get what I want, you will get what you want. Why is it such a difficult concept for everyone?” She asks the rabbit how he knew where the bottle was—for the audience’s sake—and there’s a flashback to the rabbit hiding, watching Alice and Cyrus bury it. Cyrus says, “You’ll always have to keep one eye over your shoulder. Someone will always be after you.” Alice says that their love is powerful enough to give Cyrus his freedom, and Cyrus promises he will never leave her. They bury the bottle. The rabbit hops off, saying, “Crazy kids. Honey! Sorry I’m late.” The rabbit’s reference to his “honey” makes me think that the Red Queen has his wife or family. I don’t believe he’s truly evil or malicious.
In the final scene, Knave says to Alice, “How can I sleep if you insist on thinking so loudly?” Alice asks him who Anastasia is. He says it’s a tale of heartbreak but refuses to say anymore. He adds, “When somebody truly loves you, they can never move on.” He’s referring to Cyrus, but I think he also means he hasn’t moved on from Anastasia. Alice says, “My father did. He loved me, and he moved on. And now it’s happening again.” She has some serious abandonment issues. Not that I blame her. But then Cyrus’s magic bird reaches her and makes everything better.
“What the bloody hell is that?” Knave asks. “Proof,” she says, smiling. We hear Cyrus’s voice, narrating. He says, “It took several lifetimes to meet you but only seconds to love you. And it’s a love that cannot be broken.” He begs her to leave Wonderland and go home because it’s not safe there.
Knave says, “I thought, when you truly love somebody, you didn’t need any proof.” Alice replies, “You don’t. But it’s still nice to have.” I loved that line.
She writes on the back of the bird, “I’m coming for you!” and sends it off.
So, in the end, this episode revealed that Knave is broken-hearted, Alice is impetuous, and the Red Queen’s duck lips are her most impressive feature. Jafar is one truly evil dude, while Cyrus, our genie in a birdcage, is a flawless hero (so far, anyway). The rabbit, while acting like a remorseless snitch, is probably under duress.
Some thoughts to ponder: Who is this mysterious Anastasia who broke our Knave’s heart? Is Alice’s mother really dead? And when is Cyrus going to get out of his cage?
Brittany is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and small business owner who hopes that heaven will be like a bookstore with an endless supply of free books, free coffee and super comfy chairs.