Finding myself at a bit of a loose end on Saturday, I caught up on “Once Upon A Time in Wonderland”… because that’s what you do when your ends are loose, apparently.
In the course of ignoring the dreadful CGI and being entirely unmoved by the rather heavy-handed romance, I made a starling and dreadful realization: I don’t really like Alice.
I never thought I’d say that.
What’s not to like about a plucky, quirky, fish-out-of-water heroine?
Well, plenty, in this particular case… She’s very pretty, of course, and good with a sword, which some people might say that all women should be… she’s loyal to her friends (in an uncomfortable, “please be sure to always do what I tell you” sort-of way), and she’s very confident in her ability to bend others to her indomitable will.
That last bit may not have been complimentary.
Something in my tone, I think…
Other than the fact that I find Will and the Red Queen to be leagues more interesting than Alice and her genie (whom I am determined to think of as Robin Williams in blue balloon form), I’m noticing that Alice is particularly insistent on having her way… always… with no arguments allowed… even if her only rationale is “Because it’s the right thing (for me… *sparkle*)”, presented quite earnestly with very blue eyes and the ever-so-slight reminder that she’s killed before.
Alice is a bit selfish.
She’s an angelic-looking despot.
We’ve seen selfishness on these shows before, so it’s not particularly surprising in Alice, but what disturbs me is her position as both the heroine and the moral compass of the show.
Last week, the resident “moral compass” was perfectly comfortable allowing the Red Queen to get ripped apart by mome raths (who, apparently, have evolved from those little flowery things with eyes to large dogs). All issues understood, but that is not something a moral compass would do, right? I had the sense that Alice was going to whip out a lawn chair and a bag of Orville Redenbacher and watch the Queen get shredded, and the only thing that prevented the loss of a rapidly improving character was the tepid intervention of the genie.
Alice “the heroine” was solely responsible for Will getting sucked into the genie’s bottle (Cyrus is free… my joy overwhelms…) by refusing to do the one thing that everyone really wanted/needed to do at that moment: ask the Rabbit to dig a hole to the other realm and jump in it.
The entire episode was all about find Cyrus and leaving Wonderland! The Rabbit gets on board (after WILL finds his family… not Alice… WILL… Alice accepts the credit, of course), and she finally finds Cyrus, but because the Queen is standing behind him, Alice won’t leave, suddenly… even though there’s a storm coming that will kill them.
Cyrus explains that everything is fine. Alice won’t move. Talk, talk, talk, the storm moves closer, Cyrus says, “No, really, it’s okay! I’ve sussed with my genie-sense that all she wants is the charismatic guy that should be the star of this show“. Alice won’t move.
The charismatic guy that should be the star of this show take a lightning bolt to the chest.
Face palms all around.
Seriously, that was a time-waster if ever I saw one. Even if the Queen’s intentions weren’t the clearest, Alice had it on her beloved genie’s authority that the Queen wasn’t lying… there are THREE persons to the Red Queen’s one (so they could have taken her, if needs must), and there was a storm coming that would kill people… but Alice makes the rules, and if taking one extra person through to the other world (again, a person that they could have easily restrained) wasn’t in her original plan, then she would rather prolong the Wonderland agony, because that’s what true heroes do (dumb things, to be clear).
To my mind, the only thing that separates Alice from her arch-nemesis is the fact that the Red Queen knows precisely how selfish she is and carries no illusions about herself, therefore making her capable of real change. Alice is nowhere near that self-aware, so when she’s whinging about the fact that her first day reunited with Cyrus wasn’t gloriously romantic… you know, after Cyrus spent LONGER THAN A FEW DAYS in a cage, facing certain doom and combing his glossy curls with rat bones… she honestly believes that she has a reasonable complaint… you know, because she was expecting more.
What? Really? Grow up, woman!
If this show sees a second season, I’m planning to, once again, root for the supposed villain of the piece. I suspect that Once Upon A Franchise team is doing this deliberately… first throwing Emma Swan into my face, and now Alice, while pairing them with villains who are 100% more interesting and 100% less insufferable… this can’t be a coincidence.