Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole (1×01)
Synopsis: Alice’s tales of her adventures in Wonderland have her placed in a mental asylum where she’s to undergo a procedure to cure her pain, but the Knave of Hearts and the White Rabbit rescue her and bring her back to Wonderland when they reveal that her true love Cyrus is still alive. As Alice begins a quest to find him, the Red Queen and Jafar plot against her.
There were a lot of things I didn’t like about this pilot. Well, not a lot. But there were enough to make me consider not watching it at all. But, past the halfway mark, I realized that I went in thinking this show would be exactly like Once Upon a Time, when really it’s more like a reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. She’s literally in Wonderland and all that the show’s done is added a few characters from other stories.
Alice is a young girl when she first goes to Wonderland, like the Alice we know from the book. She comes home to her father to tell him the wonders of her time in Wonderland, but realizes that unlike a trip to Narnia, actual time has passed and she’s been missing for a while. No one believes her stories, and it doesn’t help that she continues going back to Wonderland. Thinking she’s lost her mind, Alice goes back for proof to show her father and the doctors that she’s not mad.
In the process of running from the queen’s men, she shrinks down with the help of some of the caterpillar’s mushroom and stumbles upon a genie named Cyrus. Of course Alice and Cyrus fall in love and he takes her on wonderful adventures, seeing the boiling sea to swimming with mermaids (for those of you following at home, yes, this was kind of a winning point for me. I just, really love mermaids). He proposes to her, though in my personal opinion a little too rashly, but she accepts and all is good.
Except no! It’s not! The Red Queen swoops in and basically ruins everyone’s day. Cyrus is thrown off a cliff into the boiling ocean, and Alice is captured. I’ve got a huge issue with Emma Rigby in general, and her playing Red Queen does not help the situation. She’s also got a shaky alliance with Jafar (I know, I’m rolling my eyes too), who is played by the talented Naveen Andrews. I love Andrews, and don’t get me wrong, I love that they are actually even bringing in people of color into the show, but Jafar’s character is just too obsequious to be taken seriously.
Unknown to Alice, Cyrus is actually alive and being held prisoner by Jafar, assumedly for the wishes he can grant. And Alice, losing Cyrus, gives up and when she goes back she is willingly committed to Bethlem Asylum. The day before she is scheduled for a lobotomy, the White Rabbit and the Knave of Hearts bust her out. She initially tells them that she does not want to go, seeing no point without Cyrus in her life, but they tell her that there is a rumor of his survival.
The Knave is seen earlier in the episode in modern day Storybrooke, passing Grumpy and Cinderella, and breaking into Granny’s for a free cup of coffee. He seems to be there to make a life for himself, only to be dragged back into Wonderland by the White Rabbit. It seems nothing has changed in Wonderland, while at the same time everything has. The Red Queen has still got everyone’s balls in a vice, manipulating White Rabbit to keep the rumor up of Cyrus’s appearance so that Alice comes back to Wonderland, she’s after the Knave for doing something “terrible” (maybe “stealing her tarts” means something else in this reimagining)?
But when the Cheshire Cat appears it seems that he is no longer as friendly as he once was, attacking Alice, attempting to kill her. It is only after the Knave intervenes and feeds him some of the mushroom that he runs off. This Wonderland is dangerous, it’s wilder, it’s devolving as my friends would say at the BAU.
White Rabbit leads them to the Hatter’s where they can find the Dormouse, who the Rabbit says saw Cyrus, but when they get there it’s abandoned. The Knave is ready to leave, calling it all a lie, but when Alice finds Cyrus’s necklace on the lawn, she knows he must be alive. The only reason the Knave is even a part of this is because Alice has three “wishes” on hand, in the form of tiny rubies, that she will grant to the Knave if he helps her.
All in all, not a bad pilot. Rigby needs to work on her acting, and she and Andrews need to work on their lines together, but it’s not a bad start. The graphics are clearly fake, but the world is so beautiful it doesn’t seem to matter. It wants to look like a painting, and I have no problem with it. Sophie Lowe and Michael Socha have more chemistry than she does with Peter Gadiot, but maybe it’s because I’ve got a penchant for trouble makers and knaves. Cyrus and Alice are apparently “true love”, but the show keeps throwing the Knave together with her.
I wouldn’t mind some crossing over, especially since the main show has completely abandoned the town. I’d love to see more interaction with Storybrooke, or at the very least Aladdin and Jasmine. However, it’s suppose to be a shorter season, so we’ll see how the story plays out. By the end of season one, we’ll have an ending no matter what, apparently.