Last week, ABC debuted its Once Upon a Time spinoff, following the adventures of Lewis Carroll heroine Alice and her genie, Cyrus, in Wonderland. Need to catch up? Don't miss Brittany Melson's thoughts on the pilot and episode 2. And now, without further ado, here's what happened in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland 1.03, “Forget Me Not”:
NOTE: This post may contain spoilers for all aired episodes of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
The third episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland explores the theme of what it means to be a thief and focuses on my favorite wisecracking thief, the Knave of Hearts—a.k.a. Will Scarlet. It begins with a well-appointed carriage racing down a wooded road. The caption “a few years ago in the Enchanted Forest” appears on the screen. Where is the Enchanted Forest? Wonderland? Apparently not, as we will soon find out. So keep that in mind—it’s the Enchanted Forest in pseudo-medieval England.
A group of men block the roadway, forcing the carriage to stop. One of the men in the road claims he fell off his horse and broke his leg and begs for water from the carriage guard. It’s all a ruse, of course. While the carriage guard helps the “fallen” rider, an unidentified man lowers himself from the treetops and steals two bags from the carriage.
Later, around a campfire, the thieves boast about their acting skills, and we soon realize the group on the road was part of Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men. Then our very own Knave strides into the group’s inner circle, bearing the bags that were stolen from the carriage earlier, which are full of gold. They welcome him to the group as Will Scarlet. In the first episode of the season, Alice referred to Knave as “Will” one time but otherwise called him “Knave,” along with everyone else, so she somehow knew his given name when others didn’t. We still don’t know Alice and Will’s backstory—how they met or how Alice helped him or how she knows his name. From here on out, when I refer to Knave, however, I will generally call him Will.
Back in the present day, Alice and Will walk down the road in Wonderland. Alice sees a wanted poster and reads off some of the Knave of Hearts’ offenses—“theft, fraud, posturing, imposturing, gambling, disturbing the peace, and public nudity.” She gives him a funny look—considering the last offense—which made me laugh. Knave says, “In my defense, I was tied to a tree and stripped of my clothes, so that one wasn’t really my fault.” I wish they would have flashed back to that scene! Considering that Knave is wanted “with or without a head,” Alice presumes that the caterpillar must want him badly and is concerned about it. Will suggests they split up, but she says she needs his criminal skills to catch the thief who stole Cyrus’s bottle. Knave proves her right by coming up with a plan to find a “Forget-Me-Knot,” which is an “enchanted rope” that will allow them a glimpse into the past. If they hold it over the empty hole where the bottle was once buried, they will find out who unearthed it. This sets up the mission for the entire episode. On a side note, the word geek in me loves all the puns in the show, and they seem to be very much in the spirit of Lewis Carroll.
In the next scene, Cyrus, still in his gilded cage, is an involuntary attendee at a dinner party from hell with the Red Queen and Jafar, who are intent on questioning him. The bad news is that Jafar found the magic paper bird that Alice sent back to Cyrus, which says, “I’m coming for you.” Jafar and the Red Queen couldn’t be more delighted with the news. Jafar mocks Cyrus by saying, “You should know better than anyone, magic always comes with a price.” Cyrus fight back by saying, “So does stealing it,” but Jafar says, “I’m not going to steal your magic, genie. I’m simply three wishes away from owning it.” Cyrus stands up for Alice and says, “She’ll never make them,” but we all know, as the audience, that she contemplated doing just that before she realized Cyrus’s bottle had been stolen—so that’s awkward. The Red Queen makes a catty comment about how Cyrus “smells,” and Jafar makes his own catty comment about how he can’t wait to see the look on Cyrus’s “pathetic” face when Alice makes a wish. Why does Jafar hate Cyrus so much? What is their history? Jafar and the Red Queen retrieve a large, old book that will help them hatch some sort of nefarious plan to make Alice use her wishes.
Back on the yellow brick road in Wonderland, Alice freaks out when she discovers that Caterpillar has the Forget-Me-Knot. She thinks it’s foolish to try to get it from him. “You’re willing to do this for me?” Alice asks. Will says he’s not doing it for Alice, that he wants to clear his name, but I think he has a soft spot for Alice—I just don’t know why. Alice and Will walk through a door in a giant mushroom into the Underland. Pseudo-medieval music plays in the background as nefarious looking men and women—some of whom are wearing goggles as eyes apparel—drink and smoke hookah pipes. It’s like a fantasy novel come to life. “Follow my lead. This is my world. Let me handle things,” Will says to Alice—-right before he’s backed against a wall by an angry man named Nazim. Continuing in the tradition of the girl saving the guy, Alice pulls her sword, causing all the seedy characters in the Underland to pull their own weapons and surround them, but Caterpillar intervenes and beckons the duo to his office.
Will tells Caterpillar that he’s hoping to make a deal for the Forget-Me-Knot, but Caterpillar doesn’t have it. So Will offers to retrieve it for him in exchange for Caterpillar cancelling his large debt. Caterpillar says the Forget-Me-Knot is currently residing with the Grendel, a dangerous monster that lives in the Whispering Woods. Even though he thinks the Knave will fail to retrieve the Knot, Caterpillar agrees to the deal, because he wants to “possess” Will. He says, “I could always use another pretty face on my desk.” He lifts the top off of an opaque bell jar, displaying a man’s screaming head. Yuck. Caterpillar is creepy. He’s like a sociopathic mobster in insect form. He’s going to give me nightmares, particularly since he acted interested in Alice. What would he do with her once he had her?
In the next scene, Alice and Will are walking through the Whispering Woods. Will tells her how dangerous the Grendel is and how dangerous the Knot is because of its power, since it can reveal people’s secrets and mistakes. Alice has some misgivings about handing it over to Caterpillar, and Will says she has to face reality. “What if I was to tell you, you could be with Cyrus forever, but someone else had to suffer because of it? Would you do it?” She’s dumbfounded and can’t answer the question. He makes her realize that what they’re doing is “thieving,” whether she likes it or not. He says, “You wanted a thief. Well, you got one.”
Will flashes back to his days with the Merry Men. Robin Hood cuts Will’s palm and makes him a blood brother (I’m guessing they didn’t have blood-borne diseases in the Enchanted Forest). He warns Will that “When you steal for personal gain, the first thing you lose is yourself.” Will’s like, “yeah, sure,” and then encourages the band to steal gold from Maleficent, the aptly named sorceress who lives on Forbidden Mountain. Robin Hood is afraid of magic but reluctantly agrees to the plan. He says, “You’d steal the pitchfork from the devil himself,” and Will says, “And be out of hell before he realized it was gone.” This is a cocky, confident Knave we’re seeing. After his conversation with Robin Hood, Will returns to his cottage and slides into bed next to a mystery woman, hidden beneath a sheet. He promises her that he’s going to rob the sorceress’s castle and make a new life for them.
In the next scene, Jafar and the Red Queen taunt Cyrus by flipping through a book filled with various mythological creatures and debating which one to sic on Alice in the hopes she’ll use a wish to save her own life. They settle on a bandersnatch because one almost killed her when she was younger and Jafar believes he saw fear on Cyrus’s face when the Red Queen mentioned it.
Back in the Whispering Woods, Alice and Will approach the Grendel’s house and debate the best way to steal the Forget-Me-Knot. He says he’ll create a diversion while she steals the Knot. As they approach the house, he says, “The trick is poise. Keep your cool, and always stay one step ahead of your mark.” A second later, they both plummet to the bottom of a concealed hole in the ground, knocking them out. A monstrous looking man peers into the hole, a pleased look on his face.
In the next scene, Alice and Will wake up in the Grendel’s kitchen. She says, “Will, are you all right?” and he replies, “I’ve been better.” The Grendel, who looks like he has a face filled with small tumors and a deformed mouth, is sharpening his knife. Will urges Alice to use a wish, but she insists there must be another way for them to escape. “The only way out seems to be through his digestive tract,” Will says, eying a pile of bones. Alice encourages him to step up and get them out of this mess for once.
Will flashes back to the night he and the Merry Men robbed Maleficent’s castle. Robin Hood warns them to be careful because the sorceress “traffics in the darkest of magic.” The men wander off to steal the gold, while Will secretly steals a looking glass—a small, round mirror framed in silver.
Back at Grendel’s house, Alice and Will struggle to escape their bindings. They hear the Grendel sitting at his table, talking about what’s for dinner. At first, they think he’s crazy, but then they realize that he’s peering into the Forget-Me-Knot, watching a vision of a handsome man and a beautiful woman who are clearly in love. Alice wonders if the monster killed the young couple in the vision, but Will has another idea.
In the next scene, the Red Queen and Jafar walk through some sort of underground cave system, looking for the bandersnatch. The Red Queen says, “The bandersnatch is a unique creature. Once it gets the scent of what it wants, it won’t stop until it has it.” Jafar replies, “You and this creature have something in common.” Ouch. Jafar really got her on that one. But then he starts acting creepy and flirting with her, saying how there’s more to her than meets the eye. She tells him that all he needs to know is that she’s the queen, but she seems pleased by the pandering. Jafar uses the magic paper bird to give the bandersnatch Alice’s scent, and they send it to find her. I don’t know if Jafar’s faking interest in the Red Queen because he knows that’s what she wants, or if he’s really intrigued by her, but I found the scene disturbing either way.
Back in the Grendel’s kitchen, Will tries to counsel the Grendel. Alice discourages him at first, but he says, “Don’t worry. I’m good with monsters.” He asks the Grendel about the vision in the knot and if that was the woman the Grendel loved. He says, “Losing someone you truly love, it can change you.” The Grendel asks, “How would you know?” Will says, “Because the way you look is how I feel. Believe me. I understand what you’re going through.” I loved this entire exchange. It revealed so much about Will’s character. And it made me wonder if Alice will turn into a monster in order to get Cyrus. She was awfully bloodthirsty last week, and this week, she couldn’t answer Will when he asked her if she would hurt someone to help Cyrus. Will counsels the Grendel to leave the past behind and let go of his hurt, but the Grendel says he doesn’t want to move on. He holds up his axe and says, “Dinnertime.” It was a good effort on Will’s part, but the Grendel is a lost cause. He’s been in too much pain for too long.
Will flashes back to his time with the Merry Men again. They’re all gathered together in the woods after robbing Maleficent, patting each other on the back. All of a sudden, the sorceress’s voice echoes across the clearing. She says she doesn’t care about the gold, but she wants the other treasure returned. She warns, “While its power is alluring, it will only bring you misery.” Robin Hood is pissed and wants to know who stole the magic item. The men look at each other, confused, but Will obviously knows the truth.
Back at Grendel’s house, Alice and Will struggle to get free of their binds. Alice asks, “So who’s that woman, the one you want to forget?” Will, shocked, says, “Really? We’re about to be eaten alive.”
Alice persists. “Was it Anastasia?” Annoyed, he replies, “I mean this as a friend, Alice—Sod off!” I loved this entire exchange. She’s nosy like me. I’d have wanted to know who he was talking about, too. Finally, Alice gets free. She used her wishes—literally. The gems have sharp edges that she used to saw through the rope and then she frees Will. Again, she’s the one who saves the day. They run for the door and open it on a huge, angry-looking, boar-like creature—the bandersnatch. They slam the door again. Will wants to know what it is, and Alice says, “It’s here for me.” They work together to hang the creature with the Forget-Me-Knot. It almost kills the Grendel, but Will finally comes in handy and stabs the bandersnatch. It dissolves.
In the next scene, the Red Queen and Jafar realize that the bandersnatch is dead. The Red Queen is pleased because she thinks it means Alice used her wish, but Jafar isn’t because he knows she didn’t. “Are you certain?” the Red Queen asks. “I would know,” he says. How would he know? That’s my question. What’s the tie between him and Alice, or him and Cyrus, or him and the wishes? He must have some sort of magical connection to one of the three. Jafar is enraged because he realizes that Cyrus pointed them in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, Cyrus, who can somehow feel Jafar’s wrath (perhaps because they’re all in the same castle?), smiles and tells a neighboring prisoner that his “plan” worked. He knows Alice is safe. Cyrus’s small act of defiance from his cage pleased me greatly and made me like him even more.
Back at the Grendel’s house, Will asks Alice how she knew how to kill the bandersnatch, and she says that Cyrus taught her that the monsters are deadly but they’re also dumb and have terrible eyesight. The Grendel thanks them for saving his life. He says that when his wife died, he thought he’d die of heartbreak, so he stole the Knot from the Red Queen. He was able to see his wife again, but the Red Queen turned him into a monster as punishment. “You did what you had to do, to be with the woman you loved. There’s no crime in that,” Will says. Is he trying to convince the Grendel—or himself? The audience remembers what Robin Hood said—that stealing for personal gain causes misfortune. It certainly caused the Grendel misfortune. He ends up giving Alice and Will the Knot and says, “I hope it brings you what you desire.”
Will flashes back to the morning after the heist from Maleficent’s castle, when he snuck off with the mirror. Robin Hood confronts him and asks him why he stole it. He quickly figures out Will did it for a woman. He lectures Will and says he made a “bad mistake,” but he’s not going to try to stop him or punish him. He says, “You will meet the fate you’ve earned, the fate you deserve.” Will says that Robin should hardly be talking, since he’s the ringleader of a band of thieves, but Robin says, “You’re the only thief among us.” Will says that just because he doesn’t live by Robin’s code doesn’t mean anything—he’s gotten along fine. Robin replies, “I hope your luck continues, but my experience tells me different.” I have to say, I hope we meet Robin Hood again. He’s not only attractive, but also wise.
In the next scene, Jafar and the Red Queen visit the Grendel at his home. The Grendel admits that the bandersnatch attacked him and that one of his “guests” killed it. Jafar says he might be able to bring back the Grendel’s wife if he tells him who the guests were. The Grendel says it was a young woman and man she called “Knave.” Jafar thanks him for his honesty. “You will reunite me with my wife?” the Grendel asks. “With pleasure,” Jafar says. He then proceeds to stab the Grendel with his snake cane. Every time Jafar kills somebody, it cements in my mind what a monster he is. He’s truly awful, and I keep wondering why. What made him so ruthless and bloodthirsty?
In the next scene, Alice and Will are walking back to the hole where the bottle used to be. She compliments Will on trying to empathize with the monster and asks about Anastasia again, but he refuses to answer and says it was in the past. Alice is definitely growing to like Will and trust him more, and their friendship is deepening. When they get to the hole, they use the Forget-Me-Knot and see the rabbit retrieving the bottle and handing it to the Red Queen. Alice realizes the extent of the rabbit’s betrayal and is hurt and confused. “I don’t understand. We were friends. How could he just betray me like that?” she asks. “You’d be surprised what some folks are willing to do,” Will replies, as if he has, himself, been betrayed.
The next scene flashes to Caterpillar, who says there’s not much time left for the Knave to return with the Knot. Jafar walks in and demands that the caterpillar tell him everything he knows about the Knave.
Alice and Will are, at the same time, walking toward the caterpillar’s abode in the Underland. Will has a change of heart, however. He doesn’t want to give the Knot to the caterpillar. He says, “If I give this to him, then I went to steal this thing for me. That makes me a thief. But if I don’t give it to him…well, then I got it for you.” “And what does that make you then?” Alice asks. “Hopefully, someone with a shred of humanity left.” “No ‘hopefully’ about it,” she says, revealing the true depth of her kinship with him. He burns the rope up, destroying it.
In our final, earth-shattering flashback of the night, Will hurries home after his argument with Robin Hood. He has the looking glass, and he wants to share the news with his lady. He shouts, “Anastasia!” Anastasia appears and she’s none other than….the Red Queen! She looks young and innocent. What a shocker. I did not see that coming. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. My question is, why doesn’t Alice know the Red Queen used to be named Anastasia? The fairy Silvermist seemed to know in the last episode—at least who Anastasia was, if not who the Red Queen is. Who knows, and who doesn’t? Jafar doesn’t, but what about everyone else in Wonderland? Is that why everyone hates Will so much, because he brought Anastasia there?
Anastasia’s delighted about receiving the looking glass. She tells Will how much she loves him. They use the looking glass to take them, as Anastasia says, to “a place filled with magic and wonders beyond imagination where anything is possible, where we can be whoever we want to be.” Knave asks her what that place is called, and she says, “Wonderland.” They jump through the portal.
Okay, so I have so many questions that I’m about to burst. Why was Anastasia so desperate to escape? Were they very poor? They didn’t seem that poor. Their cottage seemed nice, but Will was working as a thief. How did she know about Wonderland? Had she visited there before? Were Will and Anastasia married, or just shacking up? Once she got to Wonderland, what happened to her? Did she suddenly turn evil, or was she evil all the time? She was obviously unhappy with her lot when she was living in the Enchanted Forest, so maybe she just has an unquenchable thirst for more, a soul-deep greediness. But how in the heck did she end up being Queen? The flashback at the beginning of the episode said it was “a few years ago,” so Anastasia’s only been Red Queen for a few years? Or does time work differently in Wonderland?
Also, my previous theory that Red Queen might be Alice’s mother seems pretty unlikely, so I’m hoping another character will eventually emerge to fill those shoes—unless her mother really is dead, which seems like a missed opportunity for drama.
And finally, will Maleficent make a re-appearance in the future? She’s an interesting character. She’s supposed to be evil, but she didn’t punish the men for stealing her gold. What does she look like, I wonder? And did the looking glass have more powers than simply being used as a portal?
Well, this episode was definitely shocking—the best of all three in my opinion. Alice was brave, but she didn’t overdo it. More of Knave’s history was revealed, establishing him as a reformed rake. We learned about the Red Queen’s origins, which made her a much more interesting woman. And Jafar just keeps getting creepier.
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.