Grading the Series Finales: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

ouatiw finale

Today, Leah is back to share her thoughts on the finale of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and the series as whole.

Title And They Lived… (1.13)

Written By Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, and Zack Estrin

What Happened? Jafar and Amara finish casting the spell that breaks the laws of magic, which they then both use for various means. Cyrus and Amara head to the Well of Wonders to return the water, while Alice heads off with an army towards Jafar’s castle, prepared to strike. However, their plans are interrupted when Jafar’s new army captures Alice. Jafar threatens to use his magic to change Alice’s past in an attempt to get Alice to reveal Amara’s location, but before he has to use that plan, members of his army arrive with reports of seeing Amara and Cyrus by two red doors, which the love-curse-stricken Anastasia tells Jafar is the Well of Wonders.

While Jafar chases Amara, Will talks to Anastasia and makes her doubt the validity of her love for Jafar enough to get her close enough for him to reach out and kiss her. The kiss is true love’s kiss and thus breaks the spell Anastasia is under. Upon coming back to herself, she immediately helps Will and Alice out of their various confinements.

Jafar interrupts Cyrus and Amara’s attempt to give the water back to the Well of Wonders and kills Amara, which turns her back into the water that gave her life so many years ago. Alice appears—disrupting Jafar for a moment—but he freezes her with his magic before she can really do anything. As Cyrus attempts to put the water back into the well, Jafar takes it for himself, gaining the wrath of the well’s guardian, Nyx, and bringing about his own punishment as a genie. This undoes all of what Jafar’s magic had recently done, and it stopped the effects of Cyrus stealing the water so many years earlier, freeing Cyrus’s brothers and Will from being genies and undoing Jafar’s revival of Anastasia.

Alice and Cyrus arrive with water from Nyx to bring Anastasia back because it was not her time to die. Back in England, the Rabbit marries Alice and Cyrus ,with Alice’s family, Will, and Anastasia all present to witness their happy day. The last scene of the series shows us Alice telling her daughter the stories of Wonderland, while Cyrus brings them more treats for their teatime setup as the Rabbit looks on from afar.

Most Memorable Lines “This is great; now we have matching bloodstains on the carpet. Seriously, who needs a photo album when you’ve got this? Look, kids, here’s where Alice almost died, and oooh, look, here’s where Cyrus’s spleen fell out.” (Rabbit)

“I think this is the part where I’m supposed to say something about ‘for better or worse, in sickness and in health,’ but you’ve already been all those things, and you survived. Not even death could do you part.” (Rabbit)

What Didn’t Work While this episode was not horrible, it also didn’t contain the excitement that I would expect from an episode that was not only a season finale, but also a series finale. The way that the season-long battle with Jafar was resolved seemed anticlimactic after all the buildup to the laws of magic being broken and with each side gathering an army. There was no major battle, and ultimately Jafar didn’t do anything unexpected with his new limitless magical abilities. His defeat in becoming a genie was also a resolution that I was able to guess at previously, since earlier in the season having Jafar become the new genie had seemed the easiest way to free Will from his fate. While I had not thought of the exact method through which Jafar would be defeated, it still felt to me like there should have been more involved in the final defeat of such a seemingly diabolical and clever villain.

Another disappointment for me was that not only was there no major final battle, but the Jabberwocky was barely seen in this episode. After building up her character to play a larger role in the story, in this episode she was confined to one scene in which she discovered that Jafar had no fears anymore, and then Jafar stuck her to the wall of his dungeon with the Vorpal Sword. After that, we never saw her again.

What Worked Despite this episode having, in my opinion, a major failure to deliver on the climactic tone you expect from a finale, it did deliver in other ways. The most important of those for me was the sense of closure the episode brought. Other than the Jabberwocky, all of the major characters were accounted for by the episode’s end. Cyrus and Anastasia were alive again, and both of the show’s main couples were together and happy. Alice and Cyrus were married, and Alice had found peace with her father. Anastasia, Will, Alice, and Cyrus were clearly going to be friends for a long time. Will and Anastasia were back in Wonderland, and Alice and Cyrus were in Victorian England, starting a family together. I thought it was a nice touch at the end to have Alice telling her daughter stories about Wonderland, while her daughter had a tea party, which was a nice reference to the tea party scene many people know from the books or various movie adaptations of the original Lewis Carroll novel.

Final Grade B-. This episode had some good moments and a nice feeling of closure, but it felt too anticlimactic in the resolution of the overarching conflict for a season and series finale.

Series Wrap-Up While I think the show could have done so much more with this world and its characters, there were some really fun and interesting elements to the story they told. I like to try to always end on a good note if possible, so I wanted to end this recap with a quick look back at some of my favorite parts of the show!

The aspect that most drew me in to this show from the start was the Will/Alice dynamic. Will was my favorite character in the series overall, but I especially loved Will when he got to share a scene with Alice. Their interactions were the most entertaining for me and brought a comedic element to the show that was needed to counteract all of the dramatic scenes of battling the Red Queen and Jafar.

One of my favorite flashbacks in the series was the one from the penultimate episode that showed us how Will and Alice first met. It also showed how their relationship had evolved, while still featuring the same sense of camaraderie and give-and-take that was present from the first moments of their meeting. In my opinion, the chemistry between these two actors was by far the best on the show, and their friendship seemed to be the most natural part of the show. You could see how important that friendship was to the show and to the characters in the way Alice called Will back for a second hug and goodbye near the end of the finale. These two have a hard time saying goodbye to each other and needed one more moment, and the show made a point to emphasize their relationship in the ending sequence of scenes that were mostly romantically focused.

My other favorite part of this show was the character of Anastasia. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the writers plotted out her character growth, from a seemingly one-dimensional villain in the first few episodes to a complex woman who had conflicting desires and fought with herself to be the person she wanted to be—ultimately winning that battle.

If you’re feeling sad due to the end of the show and the loss of some of your favorite characters, take solace in the fact that it appears that Will is coming back to our TV screens on Once Upon a Time next season. I can’t wait to have him back!

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One thought on “Grading the Series Finales: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

  1. I really enjoyed reading your review of the show, because it mirrors my thoughts exactly!
    The finale definitely was anticlimatic and could have been so much more, but I guess they got rushed into finishing all the storylines that they couldn’t really come up with something more … special.
    Also, I loved Alice’s and Will’s relationship. I will admit, that I often interpret way too much into their friendship and that I might even secretly wanted them to be more than friends, but that doesn’t change that they had some amazing scenes together. I just feel like they had more chemistry than the intended couples. But as I said, I tend to romanticize things.
    Last but not least, I think Anastasia was great as well. I didn’t like her at first, but as soon as her background was revealed, I understood her so much better!
    I think the end of the show was lovely and I will miss it a lot. I think it would have had more potential than the original “Once Upon a Time” that just seems to get more ridiculous by the episode … but what’s done is done.
    Great post :D!

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