[This is a review for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland season 1, episode 5. It contains SPOILERS.]
With Jarfar’s origin story firmly in place, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland turns its attention to Anastasia (a.k.a. The Red Queen), who was not as kind and innocent as we were led to believe. In this week’s episode, entitled ‘Heart of Stone,’ deals are made and hearts broken, in what could possibly be this series best episode.
Some have described Emma Rigby’s portrayal of the Red Queen as flat, boring, and forgettable; however, it’s worth arguing that her character is the most diverse on the show. Rigby is the only character that is forced to change both her attitude and accent on a weekly basis. Sure, we saw a younger more innocent Jafar in last week’s episode, but his jump from eager young boy to super-villain was far too quick. Naveen Andrews (Lost) has proved he’s a talented actor, but Rigby’s performance is more subtle and challenging.
In ‘Heart of Stone,’ the Knave of Hearts (Will Scarlet) and Anastasia’s origin stories are fully fleshed out, as we meet a young girl desperately seeking an escape from her overly demanding mother. For Will, his love for Anastasia is all he needs to survive, but our future queen has more ambitious motives than just getting by. At the palace, it was enjoyable to watch Rigby change her accent to sound more regal, and less like a maid on Downton Abbey. Even though she betrayed Will, it was difficult not to feel some sense of sympathy for her, due to her mother’s desire for her to become queen some day. It’s also quite clear why Will has difficulties with commitment. How can he ever trust again?
Back in Wonderland, Alice is forced to strike a deal with the Red Queen who has a surprising ulterior motive. As in weeks past, Anastasia’s desires are ever-changing. At first, it appeared that this dust would be used as some kind of a weapon against Jafar, but it turns out that her feelings for Will are still strong. As a form of apology, she frees Will from Jafar’s curse. Can the Knave and Anastasia’s relationship ever be rekindled? Even with this episode being centered on the Red Queen, Alice too had to face a difficult test.
Alice’s confrontation with her younger self in the cavern was well crafted, but it also showcased some of the series’ weaker elements. Her search for Cyrus, who we still know little about, is the one aspect of the show that’s bringing it down. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is at its best when we get to learn more about the cast of characters that inhabit this magical land, but when focused on Alice and her love for a genie, the show becomes mundane.
There is hope, however, as the White Rabbit and Jafar’s journey to a different dimension should make for an entertaining story. The Rabbit said Alice cares for someone outside of Wonderland, but who? Keep watching to find out.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland continues with ‘Who’s Alice’ next Thursday @8pm on ABC. Watch a preview below.