‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ Series Finale 2014 Review “And They Lived…”

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Episode 4 The Serpent (5)

“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the aftertime, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland…”

— Lewis Carroll

And so they did they live happily ever after. Cyrus and Alice married surrounded by a menagerie of magical and unmagical loved ones in Alice’s childhood home. Will raised his hand in protest, there was laughter, gentle ribbing at how even death could not part our two central duos, the red queen wore blue and Alice and Will shared a final, long embrace as their journey came to a close. We ended with Alice freely telling her daughter all of her grand tales, no longer afraid that anyone would think her mad, as the White Rabbit watched, hidden in the bushes.

The sequence was almost dreamlike, tinged with an unreality that may have been purposeful on the part of the writers. There was sadness there too; a reminder that all adventures come to an end, even the adventure of finding one’s self. As the Rabbit reminded Alice, it may have been true love that sustained her, but Wonderland forged the woman she became. It opened her mind as well as her heart, it even broke her for a while. She finds her way home again though, and she brings Cyrus along for the ride so that they can embark on a new adventure of normalcy. Meanwhile, Will and Anastasia return to Wonderland to put the pieces of the kingdom back together again. Anastasia found herself too, you see, and she was rewarded with water that revived her, so that only The Red Queen would die.

I thought perhaps the series would go for a darker ending, but the one they gave us was wistful, joyous and fitting. There was more than enough darkness at the top of the hour to compensate for the gentleness of the epilogue. Jaffar using his new found power to temporarily make his father love him only to drown him just as he once tried to drown Jaffar. It is easy to forget what forged Jaffar’s darkness when he is on a power high, but he learned how to be cruel and hard at the hands of his father and Amara. He became a villain, he was not born one, although the chilling scene of him committing patricide, proving to his father he was no longer weak or disposable, acted as a reminder of just how far gone he was. His ending was anything but happy, as he was sentenced to a lifetime (many lifetimes, perhaps) of servitude.

He exercised his power to also manipulate the newly brought back from the dead Anastasia into believing she loved him. This led to another blockbuster moment when Will broke through a magical barrier to plant a true love’s kiss on Anastasia that awoke her from Jaffar’s spell. Usually, those true love’s kisses are hokey, but this one was a cheer-worthy moment. Blame it on Will for being the most unconventional and entertaining fairy tale hero of them all. Even Captain Hook would bow before Will’s charm (and he might have to if Michael Socha really migrates over to Once Upon a Time next season).

Alice had her moments as well. Namely, fighting off an army of the dead sans magic and then tricking Jaffar into angering the woman in the well. Once a warrior, always a warrior. Much of her journey revolved around rescuing Cyrus– and I love the gender swapping of the roles –but Wonderland holds a special place in my heart for making her story about so much more than her one true love. Alice fought for sanity, for happiness, for a family and she got all of those things in the end. As did Will, which made the moment where they ran into each other’s arms one last time all the more satisfying.

Not everything in the finale worked. The Jabberwocky amounted to nothing in the end when Jaffar reimprisoned her before she could wreak an ounce of havoc. She was a misstep on every level given how little purpose she possessed. The battle suffered too– it’s hard to do epic when you are on a budget.

However, Wonderland soared in its character work straight through to the end. Our grown up minds have been trained to rebel against happy endings, but this one was earned. Rushed, but earned. I will miss Wonderland dearly, but I imagine I will revisit this series often. Like sweet summer days, good shows are meant to be savored, even when they end all too soon.

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