[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.
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.