Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is throwing backstory at us like it’s beads at Mardi Gras but unfortunately, none of it is making these characters any more interesting.
The episode starts with a flashback to the Knave’s past, revealing that he used to live in the Once Upon a Time world and his original name was “Will Scarlet.” Some quick googling reveals his place in the canon.
Will meets up with Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men and convinces them to steal gold from Maleficent’s palace. Robin sets some boundaries, though, saying that they will only steal the gold and nothing else. Apparently stealing a lot of stuff from a super powerful sorceress is not a good idea.
Later we find out that Will broke Robin’s one rule by stealing a mirror (a looking glass perhaps?) from Maleficent, which gets her pissed enough to telepathically yell at the Merry Men. The next morning, Will leaves the band of thieves, but not before Robin lectures him on breaking their code and being a horrible person.
Will takes the mirror to a Anastasia, who is waiting in a cabin and happens to be the Red Queen before she turned red! DUN DUN DUUUUUUN! The mirror is actually a portal into Wonderland, which Anastasia tells us long after the mild surprise wears off.
Back in the present, Jafar and the Red Queen have intercepted Alice’s note from last episode and is using it to torment Cyrus. They plan to make Alice use all three wishes, thus breaking Cyrus’ heart and letting Jafar have the next three. Cyrus manipulates them into sending a bandersnatch after Alice, since that’s her biggest fear. The bad guys fall for this because they are not very smart.
Meanwhile, Alice and Will decide to go to the “Underland,” the Caterpillar’s bar. The Caterpillar is not Will’s biggest fan because Will hasn’t paid off a debt he owes.
Nevertheless, Alice and Will try to get him to tell them where a magical rope called the forget-me-knot (because what is magic without puns?) so they can use it to see who stole Cyrus’ lamp from its hiding spot.
Hippie Jabba The Caterpillar tells them where it is, but in exchange, they have to give it to him when they’re done. We aren’t told what the Caterpillar wants it for, but we know it’s nefarious because of the people he hangs out with:
So Alice and Will go to steal the forget me knot from a guy who looks like Gothmog, the lead orc from Lord of the Rings. Before they even get there, though, they fall into a pit trap and pass out. When they come to, they are tied up and Gothmog is preparing to eat them.
He pauses in his meal preparation to stare into the forget-me-not, where he is watching himself before he was orcified and a woman who is clearly his wife. Alice doesn’t pick up on this, though, thinking that the orc ate those people and is now…sadistically watching them live their lives? Will figures it out, though, and tries to bond with him over their common heartache. It appears to be working until Will tells the orc to just move on with his life and stop dwelling.
Immediately, the orc is back on the “eating Will and Alice” train. Instead, Alice rescues them by using one of her wishes to cut the rope on her hands. Yes, that’s right, she uses one of those tiny gems to cut through a thick piece of rope in record time.
Will and Alice run for the door, but can’t leave because the bandersnatch, which looks like a giant boar, is outside and getting ready to charge the door. Alice has a plan and runs back inside, Will following, just as the bandersnatch breaks through the door and knocks Gothmog down.
Alice lures him into the room where the forget-me-knot is. The bandersnatch mistakes the past people for Alice and Will, charges through the loop, and Alice catches him long enough for Will to stab him in the heart. Turns out, Alice used to be afraid of the bandersnatch more than anything else until she met Cyrus and he taught her how to defeat them.
Gothmog is so grateful to Alice and Will for saving themselves and tangentially saving him as well that he lets them leave with the forget-me-knot.
The Red Queen and Jafar show up at Gothmog’s hut after Will and Alice leave to grill Gothmog for information. He refuses to tell them anything until Jafar promises to
share his eyeliner bring his dead wife back. Turns out, Gothmog just knows that Alice calls Will “the Knave,” and the Red Queen shows an impressive poker face, considering their past relationship.
After his usefulness is over, Jafar “reunites” Gothmog with his dead wife by killing him.
In the next scene, we’re back with Will and Alice, who use the magic rope to discover that the Rabbit stole Cyrus’ lamp and gave it to the Red Queen, who is conveniently standing right next to the hole. The audience is totally unsurprised, but Alice is super surprised, which is kind of strange considering that she lied about the bottle’s location in the last episode because she didn’t trust the Rabbit.
Alice gets over it quickly enough, and they go to give the forget-me-knot to the Caterpillar. Along the road, Will has a change of heart. He makes a speech about being true to Robin Hood’s ideals of never stealing for yourself, and then burns the rope rather than giving it to the Caterpillar for whatever nefarious purposes he had planned. Apparently, magic is very flammable because that rope goes up like it’s doused in gasoline.
This episode was great if you are easily surprised, but if you’ve been paying attention for either of the two previous episodes there are no big reveals no matter how hard this episode tries. We know Will stole something, we know the Rabbit stole the bottle, and we know the Red Queen has it. There were a few holes filled in, but overall the only thing even approaching surprise was that Anastasia is the Red Queen.
Next episode, Will is captured by Jafar and they threaten to kill him if Alice doesn’t do what they want. Maybe they’ll throw an actual surprise in the next one and Alice will let him die to save Cyrus.