What kind of vibe, exactly, is Once Upon a Time in Wonderland going for? It may still be too early to tell for sure — but as of now, that question is nearly impossible to answer. The show’s tone seems to shift every time a different pair of characters appears onscreen: Alice and her genie’s flashback sequences are straightforward googly-eyed romance. Alice and the Knave play off one another like characters in a classic buddy cop comedy. And when the Red Queen and Jafar get together, the show turns into a hammy scenery-chewing competition. (In a contest like that, there are no winners — only indigestion.)
Perhaps Wonderland, like its television parent, is simply trying to include something for every type of viewer — the sentimental, the sarcastic, the camp lovers. Unfortunately, as is often the case on Once, attempting to please everyone necessarily means not truly satisfying anyone.
But hey, enough critiquing! There’s adventure afoot in the computer-generated island of Myst — I mean, Wonderland. After a good night’s sleep and a costume change — courtesy of a punny beast known, naturally, as the Clothes Horse — Alice has decided what her next move must be: She’s going to retrieve her genie love’s bottle. Why? Because if she uses up the three wishes he gave her, Cyrus will be sucked out of harm’s way and back into his cushy prison. Remember, she can’t just wish for his freedom, because it might have dire consequences… and because the show’s main plot would be over a whole lot sooner if she did.
So Alice sets off for the Mimsy Meadows like a raging bull as the Knave follows snarkily in her wake. (Side note — did you know Lewis Carroll invented the word “snark”?) Nothing can stop them now! Well, except for the ginormous lake that Alice didn’t anticipate. She announces that they’ll just have to take an alternate mode of transportation… and though you think Alice means a ferry with an “e,” she’s actually talking about a fairy with an “a-i.” Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially entered the Punderdome.
Twist: The fairy is an aggressively Canadian lady named Silvermist who has an unhappy history with the Knave. Second twist: Even though she slaps the guy twice as soon as she lays eyes on him, Silvermist pledges to safely transport Alice and him across the water because “[she’s] a professional.” Third, inevitable twist: “Safe transportation” actually means “dumping the Knave into the middle of the lake.” Hell hath no fury like a grown-ass woman in a sparkly tutu scorned.
NEXT: You are cordially invited to Alice’s pity party