'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland' Puts a New Face on Jafar

[This is a review for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland season 1, episode 7. It contains SPOILERS.]


Once Upon a Time in Wonderland tells a tale of two fathers, each having a complicated relationship with their respective children. Taking a step back from the stories of Will and Anastasia this week, 'Bad Blood' chooses to focus on Alice and Jafar's family dynamics.

While not the most plot-building episode of the series, 'Bad Blood' does do a respectable job at deepening our understanding of why our heroes and villains do what they do. Alice's father (Edwin) has been tricked into entering Wonderland by Jafar, who uses his blood in order to impersonate him. Alice is no fool, so Jafar's deception is quickly discovered. The only move left for the sorcerer is to threaten to kill Alice's father, hoping that it will force her to make another wish.

Jafar's cleverness is only matched by his drive to succeed, so it was no surprise that Alice chose to use one of her two remaining wishes to save Edwin. In typical fairy-tale fashion, Alice makes peace with her father before his journey back to England, but was this reconciliation too sudden? It would seem more likely that a young woman (like Alice) who is suffering from parental-abandonment issues, would take longer to forgive that betrayal. Although, it's important to remember that this series is closer to Cinderella than Game of Thrones. Conflict exists in Wonderland, but for Alice, it can be resolved with a single phrase or action by someone she loves. Unfortunately for Jafar, his past relationships are not so easy to mend.

Many of you have predicted that the old man in Jafar's floating prison would turn out to be his father. Well, your predictions have come true, as we meet a sultan who is as cruel and unforgiving as his son. As in previous flashbacks to Agrabah, we see a young Jafar who is still a good boy, who comes from a troubled past. Battlestar Galactica's very own Rekha Sharma plays Jafar's mother, who tells him the truth about his father. Locked in a cage for several years should have softened the sultan's heart, but his only regret is not holding Jafar's head under water longer. The seemingly kind old man is not so kind after all.

This scenario makes for a problematic picture. Unlike Emma Rigby's portrayal of The Red Queen, Jafar gives no hints of wanting to be a better person. Sure, his horrific past could lead him down this path, but he's so cartoon-like in his villainy, that there doesn't appear to be any hope of redemption. His father too, who will not tell Jafar that he loves him, or acknowledge that he is in fact his son, is not a character that's easy to sympathize with. The sultan wishes for Cyrus and Alice to be together, but it has nothing to do with him being in favor of true love. Jafar's father only wishes to see his son fail. To him, that is fulfillment enough.

With Cyrus awake and Alice left with only one wish, what's next for our weary heroes? Alice's dad had a strange look on his face after his return home, so this will probably not be the last time Edwin appears in Wonderland. Keep watching to find out.


Once Upon a Time in Wonderland continues with 'Home' next Thursday @8pm on ABC. Watch a preview below.

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