Apologies for being a week late, I spent last weekend at and traveling to and from GeekGirlCon and am only now starting to catch up!
I really want to like this show. I really, really do. I want to love this show. But this show is making it so hard! My basic complaint is that so far it is a retelling of the first series – except without any of the intrigue or clever “our world” takes on the characters. As I mentioned earlier, Alice and Cyrus are another version of Snow White and Charming. This episode only strengthened that idea. I mean, they might as well have said “I will always find you.” As for the Red Queen and Jafar, if their scenes were enacted by Regina (or Cora) and Rumplestiltskin no one would know the difference. It’s not just lazy, it’s boring.
Okay look. I’m good with a skinny Queen of Hearts because Barbara Hershey is amazing and I love Cora (I miss Cora!). At least she was an older skinny, beautiful Queen of Hearts, right? But WHY are the Tweedles thin clones of George Washington with face paint?? I just. WHY? They are background characters who didn’t even speak would it really have been so bad for them to be large? Because, see, FAT PEOPLE EXIST. But on television they are practically invisible. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are supposed to look like this:
Then we have Silvermist. I love Disney Fairies! I clapped my hands when she appeared (aside: shout out to clever wordplay with the ferry/fairy. THAT is what I want to see more of in this show!!!). But then Awesome Silvermist the Awesome Fairy turned into Decidedly Less Awesome Angry Ex Plot Device Girl. The Knave of Hearts is a Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold. This has been patently obvious from his introduction but in case you were just not paying attention (valid) here is Silvermist to explain it to you.
- She and the Knave have a history (he is a BAD BOY).
Their relationship ended so poorly she a) tried to drown him and b) tried to turn him in to the authorities (he is SO BAD).
It has something to do with “Anastasia” (he CAN LOVE) (note: if we drag the Romanovs into this mess I will go Black Widow on the writers).
The Knave gives an impassioned plea for leniency because Alice is a good person (he has a HEART OF GOLD) (and also a crush on Alice) and Silvermist gives in because of course.
Again, I loved the idea of the Fairy Ferry and I love seeing Silvermist. But why did she have to be a scorned lover? And if she did (she didn’t!) why couldn’t she have been ALICE’s scorned lover? That would at least be new.
And then we have the scene that bothered me so much I had to pause watching and take a walk. The Red Queen is a sexy, flirty minxand seems to think since she’s in bed with Jafar, why not be in bed with Jafar? Their first scene in this episode went something like this:
Peasants: Whine whine whine whine.
Red: O.M.G. you are So. Boring.
Peasants: Freeze! Jafar has frozen us!
Red: eyeroll but also flirty Oh, Jafar. How do you do that.
Jafar: These people are beneath me. And you, I guess.
Red: But I am queen! Part of being queen! is listening to dumb people be dumb. It makes me feel smart in comparison.
Jafar: You’re an idiot, read this. hands over the book Jafar’s 1001 Rules for Rulers by Jafar Smarter Than You Jafar
Red: Do I have to?
Jafar: Lesson one, do everything I tell you to.
Red: But my people.
Peasants: Poof! We’re dead.
Jafar: Problem solved! Lesson two, What Would Jafar Do.
Red: Do I have to wear a bracelet?
Jafar yells at her to find the bottle and sweeps away. It’s their second scene that upset me:
Red: I found it!
Jafar: Tell me.
Red: Gimme a little bedroom eyes first. Please?
Jafar: TELL ME.
Red: Just a little wink? For your sexy supervillain partner?
Jafar: O.M.G. you are So. Boring. Also we are not partners!
Red: Freeze! Jafar has frozen me!
Jafar: Now that you can’t move anything except your sexy pouty lips I will ooze all over you while I explain that you are my pawn, I have all the power, and I will always be Smarter Than You (it is my middle name). I can make you do whatever I want so boo. TELL ME!
Red does and he sweeps away again. She’s free and shaken and I am DISTURBED.
But I came back and watched the rest, and their third scene was better:
Jafar: GENIE WHERE IS YOUR BOTTLE?!
Cyrus: I will never tell.
Red: I have it.
Red: I have the bottle. You have the genie, I have the bottle, we are equals. How do you like them apples?
Jafar: How did you do that?
Red: I read your book. Byes!
This scene saved Red’s character but it didn’t erase the gross power play in the middle one. And yes, Jafar is a villain. But the scene played like one of those “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” videos that teach what not to do because guess what that is actually sexual harassment. Also don’t ruffie people!!
SO. That’s what I did not like. Here’s what I did like.
Alice is clever, imaginative, lonely, moody, and persevering. She plays with words and truths and looks at things on the slant. She inspires people and fears abandonment. In other words she is ALICE.
Both Alice and the Red Queen are sex positive (or as sex positive as you can get at 8PM on network). They make the first move, they like what they like, and they are comfortable in their physical skins (which is why it is so horrible when Jafar holds Red’s body hostage!!!). I especially liked Alice going for Cyrus because unlike Red (or Jack in last season’s Once) she is a heroine. Not a Bad Girl.
The Knave’s devotion to Alice is pretty adorable. Their relationship is the best one on the show and I hope they don’t muck it up. Plus the Knave gets fun lines about coffee and Care Bears.
Alice and Cyrus aren’t horrible. Cyrus is angsty and not particularly good at delivering exposition (I nearly fell asleep during the discussion of what wishes can and cannot do), but there is potential. In the past he taught her how to use a sword and in the present they communicated via magic paper crane which is nifty. Best part?
Cyrus, via crane: Dear Alice, I love you. Get out while you still can. Yours, Cyrus
Alice, literally: I’m coming for you!
Cyrus is the damsel in distress and Alice is his knight in shining armor.
And the CG was less obviously awful. The rabbit is still absurd but whatever, the rabbit and his rabbit angst bores me. The turtle was cool!
I already have another episode to watch, and I will watch it. I want to like this show! But I don’t quite yet.