The seventh season of Once Upon A Time seems to be in some sort of hurry. Half of the cast are now free of the Dark Curse, huge plot twists are being thrown like handfuls of money in game shows, and the flashbacks are starting to become a little bit nonsensical. Though it may just be that we return to Wonderland in this episode. While the Hyperion Height subplot goes by quite smoothly and introducing a new character, the flashbacks in this episode feel like we’ve missed an episode. Events are brought up without prior establishment, and left me quite confused in some places.
Last episode, Mother Gothel was freed, Victoria Belfry is off to jail, and we found out that Alice is Hook’s daughter. In the New Enchanted Forest, Henry and Cinderella’s romance trundles along despite there being little chemistry between them. Alice crashes their latest round of UST, hoping to find her dear old dad, though Cinderella takes a particular interest in Alice having knowledge of Wonderland. Regina informs Hook of the tower she came across, the same one Alice was trapped in, and he despairs, believing Alice is gone. However, there are many questions that need answering. Could Alice escape if the tower was demolished as it has been? When did she escape, and how long was she in there for? Hook was a drunken old man when we first saw him, so why did he leave in the first place? How did Alice end up in Wonderland?
Instead, the plot throws another question at us, one of which we’re apparently supposed to know about. Alice shows up and has a reunion with her father, who suddenly announces that his heart was poisoned and he and Alice can’t physically touch. When did that happen? I rewatched the last episode just in case Gothel cursed him, but nothing occurred or was even mentioned. Has his heart been poisoned this whole time, and who did the deed? Once has done this before and has often relied on sudden left turns in the story, but it was written like we are supposed to know Hook’s heart has been poisoned. This is the first time it has been mentioned.
Alice claims she has found a cure and is shielded from the poison’s effects. This turns out to be wrong when Hook is injured when they touched. Alice runs off in tears and jumps through a portal to Wonderland, Henry and Cinderella following. The duo find themselves in good old Wonderland, which looks pretty impressive, with huge toadstools everywhere, lots of visual detail. It is really good knowing this show’s limited budget. They are really starting to rely on clichés now for Henry and Cinderella. They get caught in a net trap, then land on top of each other, and stare dreamingly into the other’s eyes. You know the drill. However, while Henry is eager to give true love a try, Cinderella is a bit more cautious.
They come across, what else, but a tiny door that leads to the endless Infinite Maze. Henry realises Cinderella has another motive – specifically to learn what happened to her birth mother. She explains that her stepdad Marcus gave her mother an enchanted locket, which would glow when they were near. However, her mum apparently abandoned the family and fled to Wonderland, her magic locket stopped glowing. That left Cinderella broken-hearted and distrusting in love. She shrinks herself and goes off looking for her mother.
Wonderland messes with Cinderella, before she comes across the remains of a tea party. And don’t expect Jefferson the Mad Hatter to show up. He’s currently in cryostasis in Wakanda (he was played by Sebastian Stan. I hate explaining jokes!). Also, there is a random Star Wars backpack on the table. Uh-huh. Alice appears, upset about hurting Hook and decides to stay in Wonderland. I thought she wanted to escape her reputation as “that” Alice, yet she runs back to the place she is famous for. Cinderella spots her mother’s locket, and Alice explains that she died fighting the Jabberwock. But, like Alice and Hook, it turns out Cinderella’s mother was also cursed with a poisoned heart, and that is why she fled to Wonderland.
Alice explains that it was Drizella who told her about a cure for the curse, but that was just Drizella being a troll again. Speaking of which, Drizella paralyses Henry with magic and whips out the toadstool that can cause the poisoned heart. Cinderella comes to the rescue, delivering a beautiful right hook to Drizella, before Alice throws a looking glass at Miss Congeniality. Cinderella decides to throw caution to the wind, and she and Henry have a big snog. So, was it Drizella who poisoned Hook’s heart?
Henry and Cinderella return to the forest, handing over a white knight chess piece to Hook, which he gave to Alice. A sign that they will find a cure and reunite. The resistance also gains a new ally, namely Henry’s friend Jack (Nathan Parsons). Yes, that Jack. There is kind of a Han Solo-Lando Calrissian relationship between the two, though it might just be that Henry quotes Lando’s lines from The Empire Strikes Back. Hmmm…direct references and obvious product placement related to Disney. It’s like there is a new Star Wars movie out or something.
There isn’t really much to say about the conclusion of the Eloise Gardener story. Rogers is praised as a hero by the cops, aside from Weaver, who still warns him that there will be trouble. Gothel, posing as Eloise, offers Rogers a thank you cake, but Regina grows suspicious and bins in, likely because it is poisoned. So, did Gothel just make Captain Hook her own brand of Rich Damp Cake? That’s a really obscure reference to a Peter Pan musical where Hook made a cake to poison Pan. Yeah, it’s as weird as it sounds.
Gothel and Drizella turn their sinister plan to finding the hidden Anastasia. Drizella makes it clear that she wants to awaken her sister not out of love, but out of greed, claiming that she has magic that belongs to her. Not entirely sure how, but okay. Drizella continues to troll everyone, being delightfully evil if a bit arrogant, which will likely come to bite her in the rear when the time comes.
With Lucy now living in the foster system, Jacinda summons an old friend, Nick, actually the cursed Jack, to help get custody of Lucy. It turns out that under the curse, Jack thinks he is Lucy’s dad. Thankfully, Nick turns out to be a really nice guy, supporting Jacinda without any ulterior motives. However, there does appear to be some chemistry between Jacinda and Nick. Good grief, is her entire character built around unfinished sexual tension? Lucy disbelieves that Nick is her father, and guesses he is the Kathryn Nolan of this love triangle developing between her parents and the newcomer; Kathryn being Charming’s fake wife during the first curse.
However, Henry soon decides to distance himself from Jacinda, to which she admits she actually gave up the rights to Lucy based on Victoria’s comments. Regina speaks privately with Weaver, hoping something will reveal he is awake and actually Rumplestiltskin, but Weaver feigns ignorance. I’m not entirely sure why, since the duo would make quite the badass pairing.
With Rumple being of little help, Regina plans to head to San Francisco to recruit another character kicked out of Hyperion Heights by Victoria. Henry decides to tag along so he can think about his relationships with Lucy and Jacinda. Jacinda later shows up at Regina’s bar, learning from a substitute barkeep – named Remy who happens to run a catering company – that Henry has gone on a road trip.
While the scenes in Seattle flowed smoothly, the flashbacks were a bit clunky. It was nice to see Wonderland again, but was underused and Alice’s surprise relationship with Cinderella’s mum needed some more clarity. The revelation that Hook’s heart was poisoned comes completely out of nowhere with no build up, and it was never actually explained how, why, when, or who poisoned him. I can only assume Drizella did it, since she talks about how Wonderland has so many useful poisons. Hopefully, it will be explained within the next couple of episodes.
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