Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC) Review “Heart of the Matter”

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Episode 11 Heart of the Matter (14)

Raise your hand if you would like to rip your heart out and hide it in a hole for a while after last night’s episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Every time I tell myself the series won’t go that far, they go just a little bit further. I never imagined Jafar would murder Anastasia, especially not in front of Will just moments after his heart was returned to his chest. I don’t usually go for the slo-mo kissing technique, but kudos to the director because I fell for the moment without hesitation. Seriously, Jafar stabbed Anastasia though. Wonderland is a dark, dark place.

The stakes have been raised for Will now. If Jafar is right and all three genies can change the laws of magic, Will could get Anastasia back. Without his heart, Will took a pragmatic approach about helping people. He did the human thing, rather than the emotional. Now that his emotions are back in the mix, things are bound to get messier. His desires put him at odds with Cyrus and Alice, who want to save Cyrus’ family.

Which brings us to Jafar losing his staff. Apparently, with the right motivation, Amara is conscious enough to stop Jafar from wielding her power as she did when he went after her son. Jafar without his staff is still deadly, but I suspect Amara will be a whole lot scarier than Jafar and the Jabberwocky combined. If Cyrus can release his mother, Wonderland stands a much better chance at surviving Jafar’s reign.

My excitement over the impending showdown between Wonderland and Jafar almost made me fail to mention the side trip to Storybrooke. Alice and Cyrus’ curiosity about the modern world was a bright spot in an otherwise grim episode. Their visit also reminded me once again how daring Wonderland is compared to the mothership. If Jafar had come to Storybrooke, would anyone there have actually been able to deal with an evil that kills without remorse? There are far less threats and more follow through in Wonderland, making it an altogether more thrilling place to set a story.

Back to the showdown though, as The Rabbit pointed out when absolutely no one was paying attention to him, Wonderland needs a hero to rally around in order to fight back against Jafar and the Jabberwocky. That person should be Alice. Our outsider, who loves the land and has a strong moral code. She too is capable of being completely ruthless when she has to and she is quite good with a sword. The arc for this season was constructed with great care. I don’t feel like a single step has been wasted as we head into the final stretch.

Take Anastasia, her evolution from an young woman seeking love and admiration carried to the palace, and away from her love. The original Red Queen then showed the joy of harnessing her own power, teaching her to draw on her inner strength. She lacked balance though. She leaned too hard on the power and lost herself in it, but she held onto Will. Seeing his act of selflessness that saved Alice and seeing the destitution of her kingdom reignited the best parts of her. Her story was well-drawn and in the end (if it is the end) painful, but still joyous. If she died, at least she died knowing she was loved and that she could wield her inner strength with or without magic.

I hope her death is a temporary affair, of course. Wonderland doesn’t always give us what we want the way we want it though, so I will not allow myself to hope for a happy ending just yet. I’m not even sure I want a purely happy ending. What would that look like in Wonderland where even the darkest villains were forged out of pain? Happiness may not be in the cards for us, however, there are two more episodes left in this thrilling tale, and I cannot wait to see them.

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