I was very tempted to try to structure this review to the lyrics of “A Whole New World”, but it only worked well in my head. So, here we are at long last. Six seasons of waiting, teasing, and just about using everything else from the 1992 film, but at long last, Aladdin has arrived in Storybrooke. Well, actually, it turns out he was there the whole time. In this mostly fantastic episode, Emma’s attempts to keep secrets bubble to the surface, mostly through exterior forces and the full brunt of her burden hits her and her loved ones, while the Evil Queen and Zelena try to remind us how evil they are by having a girl’s day out. Okay, then. So, let’s get one jump ahead of the next episode and go on a magic carpet ride into this review.
Our episode begins in a faraway place where the caravan camels roam. Where it’s flat, and immense, and the heat is intense. It’s barbaric, but, hey, it’s home. Yeah, okay, we’re in Agrabah – or rather, the “Capital of Agrabah” – I’m definitely sure Agrabah was the name of the city rather than the country in the film. Jafar and the palace guards drag some thieves into a busy market and turn them into literal street rats. Aladdin just happens to be passing by pick pocketing and promptly makes his exit, where he is approached by Princess Jasmine.
Jasmine asks Aladdin to help her find a great weapon called the “Diamond of the Rough” that can defeat Jafar, since he is making Agrabah a miserable place to live. Oh, I don’t know. He was just punishing some thieves. That doesn’t really justify him being evil. Aladdin agrees ad they set off across the desert to find the Cave of Wonders. On the way, Aladdin and Jasmine bicker on their respective selfishness, Aladdin being a thief, and Jasmine only now taking interest in the sufferings of her people. They find the cave, which isn’t as impressive as the Disney version (the giant tiger head now only serving as a decoration piece). Aladdin takes a page out of Jasmine’s books and uses “open sesame” to gain entry to the cave.
Inside the rather impressive set, which may actually just be a big green screen, Aladdin and Jasmine find the diamond in the rough but it turns to sand in their hand. A pillar collapses, but Aladdin unexpectedly destroys it with magic. It turns out he is the Diamond in the Rough and the destined Saviour of Agrabah. Jasmine gives Aladdin a scarab as a symbol of heroism and then heads off home. Jafar pops in moments later and reveals to Aladdin that being a Saviour sucks, his pet bird actually being the one who can show the future. So, Iago has the power of the Oracle. Dear Lord. Jafar then offers Aladdin a pair of scissors, once owned by the Fates of Greek mythology, which can cut his doomed fate. That’s awfully nice of him.
Jasmine returns to the palace finding the Sultan playing around with toys, and Jafar enters, revealing he is manipulating the Sultan to do as he pleases. For those of you wondering, this Sultan is a different one seen in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, so you don’t have to worry about Jafar and Jasmine being siblings. Anyway, Jafar locks Jasmine in a giant hourglass and claims Aladdin legged it. However, Aladdin makes an awesome entrance flying on a carpet, using his magic to break Jafar’s staff in two, and the vizier makes his escape.
Aladdin plans to head off to be a hero, inviting Jasmine to go with him, but she friend zones him. What!? You can’t do that. There is no friend zoning in a Disney product. Aladdin heads off, but a satchel appears from Jafar, carrying the magic sears to use on a rainy day. Jafar was the biggest douchebag in the spin-off and here, he is a surprisingly nice guy.
Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Emma and Archie chase the Oracle’s bird through the forest and find the Oracle being very dead and Jasmine is arrested. Jasmine reveals her identity to our heroes, and the bombshell that Aladdin in a Saviour. Archie returns to his office where the Evil Queen is waiting for him, disguises herself as him, and dumps him in Zelena’s house as a prisoner, much to her sister’s annoyance. Fake Archie follows Emma, learning of Aladdin, and then openly implores her to tell her family about her visions.
Naturally, everyone is shocked by it, particularly Henry who starts getting all angsty about forcing Emma’s role upon her. Sorry, Henry, but you’ve spent five seasons being an optimist. Becoming angsty really doesn’t suit you. Though, he and Jasmine do have a touching scene together as the chooser of the chosen ones. Meanwhile, Archie is left to babysit Robin Jr. while the Evil Queen and Zelena go to the local spa for some quality evil sister time, and Zelena decides she should remain wicked for the sake of it. So much for turning over a new leaf by becoming a mother. Seriously, Zelena has had nothing to do since this season began, has barely interacted with other characters, and now she is taking a step backwards.
The Evil Queen and Zelena eventually return home and turn Archie back into a cricket, hanging him above Robin’s cradle. Regina makes a potion that links the magic of the two Saviours, Emma drinking it so she can find Aladdin. The gang come across a hidden crypt in the forest, where Jasmine finds the scarab she gave Aladdin and everyone assumes he is dead. Emma worries about her fate and Henry apologises for dumping such a burden upon her. Just then, Aladdin strides in, alive all along. He explains he used the shears, fled to the Enchanted Forest, and was a victim of the Dark Curse, but no one paid attention to a thief. However, it turned out Aladdin’s decisions doomed Agrabah.
He hands the shears over to Emma so she can decide her own fate. Henry convinces Aladdin to reunite with Jasmine, but their fate is left unrevealed when Jasmine asks for Aladdin’s help to save Agrabah. Emma gives the shears to Hook, deciding because she has family to support her while Aladdin had nobody, she won’t be swayed so easily. However, when Hook claims to have disposed of them, he is shown to have actually kept them after all.
So, this episode was pretty good. Aladdin and Jasmine have great chemisty and it was wonderful to see them at long last, despite the somewhat dovetailing of their story. It does tie in nicely with Emma’s own arc for this season. I hope we see more of Aladdin as a major character, since he is a Saviour and actually quit, though we don’t know the reasons why yet. On the negative side, though the Evil Queen and Zelena’s antics were funny, they offered nothing to Zelena’s non-existent character development.
Final Score: A
Prons and Cons:
+ Aladdin and Jasmine (wheee!)
+ Something surprisingly good sets/green screen.
-Emma has been burdened by her Saviour role for ages now, so why is it Henry only now carries guilt for forcing it upon her.
-Zelena’s importance is really running low.
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