Once Upon A Time In Wonderland Recap: Season 1, Episode 1 - Pilot

We at RT love books, sure, but we also love books that make it to the small screen! Which is why we're recapping Once Upon a Time in Wonderland for you! (Plus, we love any and all excuses to use GIFs.) Our intrepid Features Editor Mala watched last night's pilot, and here's what she had to say …

A blonde moppet in an iconic blue dress/pinafore ensemble bursts out of a hole in the ground — as you do. She runs home to a grand house with a serious kudzu problem. Five seconds after babbling about crazy things she’s seen, she’s listening at a keyhole as Very Serious menfolk talk about how she’s delusional. This can’t be good.

Keyhole peepin'!

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Flash forward to “present day.” A guy (Michael Socha) walks through what Once Upon a Time viewers know is Storybrooke, Maine. Grumpy the dwarf and his ladyfriend warn this fellow about the bad weather. Mysterious guy, who has impressive ears, fixes a cuppa at the diner as the floor suddenly explodes. Out pops a CGI White Rabbit (John Lithgow), with hipster glasses and even MORE impressive ears. He informs the wary Knave of Hearts that Alice needs help. They say nothing about leaving Granny some cash to fix the diner floor. Jerks.

Knave and White Rabbit in the diner

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In case you somehow missed ABC's endless commercials, we now meet English-orphanage-waif-y Alice (Sophie Lowe) — all grown up, but trapped in Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch. I mean, er, a mental institution. Poor Alice must rehash her eponymous Adventures in Wonderland with a board of evil doctors. Lucky us, we get visuals. Like Alice ducking under a mushroom and running through a bad CGI hedge maze. She also hides from the Red Queen’s men in a cute genie’s bottle. (No, that’s not a euphemism.) “My name is Cyrus,” he says, telling her that he’s from Agrabah. It’s one universe over. If you hit Frankenstein’s castle, you’ve gone too far. So, Alice and Cyrus get their flirt on and Alice says she came back to Wonderland for proof of its existence. “For my father. He thinks I’m insane.” (Frankly, Alice, I’m not so sure he’s wrong.) Cyrus drops Significant Wisdom about how if you really love someone, you don’t need proof and then offers her his wishes. He even calls her “Mistress.” Kinky. Paging Tiffany Reisz!

Alice and the doctors

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Back at Zack Snyder’s Hospital of Horrors, a lifeless Alice swears she never left England, but Dr. Evil keeps picking the scab. He even accuses her of crying out for Cyrus in her sleep. Ew. What a creeper. Flash back to Alice and Cyrus all lovey-dovey on the edge of a cliff. She says, “Yes!” before he even proposes (“I had a whole speech and everything!”) and they canoodle. But, oh noes, the Red Queen (Emma Rigby) and her men have arrived! Do we know why they hate Alice and Twu Wuv? No. Alas, despite some asskickery, Cyrus falls into the boiling sea below, with his red necklace glowing like Rudolph’s red nose.

The cliff's edge proposal

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Dr. Evil offers Alice a mind wiping “new procedure.” Mopey Alice signs away her brain. (I kind of wish I could do the same.) Soon, she dreams of Cyrus while the nefarious doctor prepares a drill. I get the sense that Alice’s present-day is not our present-day. However, that doesn’t stop the Knave from showing up to rescue her. Alice is all “Hell, no!” until he blurts out that Cyrus is alive. Naturally, she beats up guards like she’s been doing Sarah Connor-style pull-ups in her cell. Asses kicked and names taken, Alice and the Knave converge with the White Rabbit. Guards are in hot pursuit, so the White Rabbit opens up a portal in a wall. No, not in Snow White’s crotch. I know you’re disappointed. Speaking of which, the Knave wants to go back to Storybrooke, but Alice gives him a “You owe me!” speech. Thus buoyed, they dive into the express hole to Wonderland.

Knave to the rescue!

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Our Heroic Trio lands in the Mallow Marsh. Yes, it’s a Thing. The Rabbit admits that he’s only heard that Cyrus is alive and, PS, the Mad Hatter left Wonderland. (Guess they can’t say “Storybrooke” or Captain America: Winter Soldier.) While expositing, Alice and the Knave start to sink. The Knave moans that they’re going to die like s’mores. Naturally, Alice grabs a dragonfly and toasts their way out. (Dangit, now I want s’mores.) The Knave is still having doubts, so Alice dangles the genie wishes in front of him. (No, that’s not a euphemism.) Nearby, the White Rabbit meets up with the Red Queen. Turns out, she’s controlling our wee hipster bunny. Gasp! As Alice and the Knave head to Casa Mad Hatter for Cyrus scuttlebutt, she rhapsodizes about whacking the Red Queen with a branch. Like the exposition stick the show is hitting us with.

Elsewhere, the Red Queen has a visitor. Channeling Lost, Naveen Andrews’ Jafar is very much the Smoky Eye Monster. (Ben Linus and Iago the parrot were unavailable for comment.) Jafar warns the Red Queen that their plans aren’t complete until they have the genie’s bottle. He tries a sorceror whammy on her, but she reminds him this isn’t Agrabah, and only she knows where Alice and the missing wishes are. I’m not sure if this is villainy or foreplay. Either way, it’s a little hot in here. Less hot? A grouchy Jafar flouncing away on a bad CGI magic carpet.

Jafar chatting up the Red Queen

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Meanwhile, Alice climbs a tree and comes face-to-face with a heinously rendered Cheshire Cat. “Chesh” isn’t happy to see her. Alice backs up on the limb like she’s about to do “Hey Baby” with Dirty Dancing’s Johnny Castle. Then she falls. Awkward! Awkwarder? Chesh saying Alice will be the “sweetest meat” he’s ever tasted. Wonderland: full of perverts, folks. Luckily, the Knave throws a shrinking charm, turning Chesh into a tiny, harmless pussy. He and Alice run off to the Hatter’s house. Alice yells “Cyrus!” the whole way. You know he’s not going to be there, right? Sadly, Alice doesn’t. So we get to watch her buzz get killed. :/ But wait … what’s that in the grass? Cyrus’ glowy necklace! The Knave doesn’t consider that proof he’s alive. “When you really love someone, you don’t need proof,” Alice intones. (Told you that line was Significant!) Will the Knave stick around to help her? Sure. He’s got nothing better to do. It’s not like they get Scandal in Wonderland.

Meanwhile, a caged Cyrus awakens and remembers being grabbed by Jafar — who still has him. Kinky. But never fear: Alice and her big-eared buddies are on the way!

Cyrus in the cage

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Did you watch the premiere of Once Upon A Time in Wonderland? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!