‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ Gives Jafar an Origin Story

Published 1 year ago by

once upon a time in wonderland season 1 episode 4 alice knave Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Gives Jafar an Origin Story

[This is a review for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland season 1, episode 4. It contains SPOILERS.]


Once Upon a Time in Wonderland gave an iconic villain his very own origin story in this week’s episode, titled ‘The Serpent.’ Not even in Disney’s 1992 classic were we privy to such vital information. Is Jafar a misunderstood miscreant, or just another power hungry man beyond redemption?

Well, ‘The Serpent’ would suggest the latter. Unlike the Red Queen (Anastasia), Jafar takes the age-old villain trope of wanting to rule the world to a whole new level. At first glance, it appeared as if we were going to get our first look at Aladdin himself, yet the “gutter rat” in this tale was an innocent young boy named Jafar.

Like Anakin Skywalker before his fall to the dark side, Jafar wasn’t born evil. Apparently, he was the illegitimate offspring of the Sultan, who was cast into the streets of Agrabah with no one to care for him. Instead of learning the power of forgiveness, the young man forms a bond with a sorceress named Amara (Zuleikha Robinson). When Jafar becomes a man, he learns about genies and how they have the ability to rewrite the laws of magic. These revelations point to Jafar’s ambitions in Wonderland, and why he’s obsessed with getting his hands on Cyrus.

While it was nice to learn more about Jafar’s past, his fall from a willing young apprentice to a prince of darkness was rushed; however, these are Disney-esque villains, so just being “evil” doesn’t have to carry a significant amount of meaning. Anastasia, on the other hand, is not so transparent.

once upon a time in wonderland season 1 episode 4 anastasia Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Gives Jafar an Origin Story

With the Knave of Hearts in her grasp, the Red Queen’s convictions are made clear, as Jafar forces her to execute the young rebel. Emma Rigby continues to give a superb performance, which makes her character even more dynamic than Jafar’s. While Naveen Andrews is doing a wonderful job portraying Jafar, Rigby’s character is not so monochromatic. The tears welling up in her eyes as she realizes Knave is going to be killed indicate that she may turn on Jafar in the near future. She wants to be the confident queen, but her looks cannot hide that her heart is broken, and that she is still in love with Will.

‘The Serpent’ was a villain-centric episode, but Alice had an important role to play as well. Jafar used Knave’s execution as a way to tests Alice’s limits. Our beautiful heroine demonstrated that she’s willing to give her life for those she loves. With her life now tied to Knave’s, where will her journey take her next? The Red Queen is also a wild card, as she pleaded with Alice to just give into Jafar’s demands. Perhaps she will join Alice on her quest?

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland continues to do a solid job at building its world and the character that inhabit it. Can Cyrus escape Jafar’s dungeon in time to help Alice? Stay tuned to find out.


Once Upon a Time in Wonderland continues with ‘Heart of Stone’ next Thursday @8pm on ABC. Watch a preview below.

Follow David Griffin on Twitter @griffinde
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  1. Go,this show just feels soooo cheap !
    Really not my cup of tea ! Watched a couple of eps but it feels like straight to DVD stuff to me ! The Queen of hearts is not a good casting !

    Anyway,for sure there is an audience out for it !

  2. I agree that the queen is not good casting. She’s not the queen of hearts though – she’s the red queen.

    Anyone thinking about the other man in the cage that Jafar is keeping? I think it’s the Sultan. But is that too obvious?

  3. I keep giving this show a chance and it continues to disappoint me. Bad casting, ESPECIALLY the red queen. Her face is just too odd looking so it’s hard to overlook her acting. And I agree with others, the show looks cheap. OUAT doesn’t have the 80s looking SFX quality as this does. I’ll give it a couple more episodes but unless this show makes a drastic change, I’m done with it.

  4. I’m enjoying this show for the most part, but it bugs me that Jafar seems to be in utter and complete control here. I’d like just once to see him get thrown off (I don’t think Alice not using her wishes previously counts — he’s pretty much been testing her up to this point, I think). I hope Cyrus can escape, and that Jafar doesn’t have some kind of weirdo all-seeing eye or force field that keeps him in the dungeon. I’m not necessarily looking for everything to turn up roses for Alice right now, but with the Knave as a stone statute and one wish gone, I think things are going too easily for Jafar right now.

    I do love that Alice tied her life to the Knave’s, though. I’m guessing, then, that keeping the Stone Knave in one piece is now a priority for Jafar, since in theory smashing it would kill him, which would kill Alice. I wonder what does happen if the master dies without making the third wish? Did I maybe miss that somewhere along the way? If this weren’t Disney, I’d say we were shaping up for a possible suicide-finale, which would suck for everyone — but it would certainly foil Jafar.

    I hope we get to see more back story on how Jafar and the Red Queen allied together, and what exactly the Red Queen stands to gain from all this. And, I don’t know if they could work this in at all, but since we do have the Knave of Hearts, I wonder if we’ll get a cameo appearance at all from the Queen of Hearts (aka Cora)?? I guess it depends on where in the timeline this takes place…