I got my first lead role in a play when I was in sixth grade. I was Alice in the first act of Alice in Wonderland. After the intermission, the girl who was playing second act Alice and I did a mirror bit where we switched places. I don’t know that this would have worked for any other play, but given the bizarre nature of Wonderland, it fit.
It was an extremely fun experience, but I still didn’t come out of it liking Alice in Wonderland any more than I had before. It just wasn’t my story. I could never get invested in the characters. Sure, I wanted Alice to find her way home – the same way I would for anyone – I just didn’t want to have to watch it.
I went with some friends to see the Tim Burton version when it came out a couple years ago. Visually, it was certainly interesting and I liked that there were some twists to the original story, but, overall I still wasn’t all that connected to the characters. I wanted to like them more than I did.
Last night I caught up on the last couple weeks of Once Upon A Time. The first episode up was “Hat Trick,” with the fairy tale flashes starring none other than the Mad Hatter. And for the first time in a long time, Wonderland held some interest for me.
One of my favorite aspects of the show are all the character backgrounds it provides. I love seeing how these well-known characters got to where they were when we initially met them in the original stories. Because, as great as fairy tales are, the classics are generally lacking in back story. Stepmothers are apparently prone to evil. Okay. But, why? Was their malevolence born or made? And if the fathers of these fairy tale princesses are such noble men, what prompted them to marry these wicked individuals?
Do fairies have lives outside of helping all those mere mortals or are they basically just sitting around, waiting for the phone to ring?
Was the hatter always mad or was he driven to it?
The show tries to provide some of the answers. And, for that reason above all others, I love it.
Watching “Hat Trick,” it finally made sense to me why the hatter was such a looney tune. More than that, it made me root for him. Yeah, I was ultimately happy that Emma smacked him in the head with a telescope and Mary Margaret kicked him out the window. ‘Cause, kidnapping? Never the proper answer to the question. But, I do hope that he ultimately finds his way back from his madness. And I couldn’t help but wish that some of what he was saying was getting through to Emma, because despite the maniacal glint in his eyes, he made a pretty compelling case for why she should belief.
He also spoke what might be my favorite line of the series thus far, “You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution for their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic.”
But more on that tomorrow.