I’ll admit, when I learned that Once Upon a Time was going to introduce The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland into the mix, I was both worried and curious. This definitely stretches the definition of a fairy tale character. A series of books I enjoy with a similar idea has included characters from that story in its fairy tale characters. And at the same time, it could be interesting. Fortunately, it turned out to be both entertaining and fit into the framework they’ve created for the show so far.
I was going to break with tradition and start with Storybrooke, but there are a couple of things we learned in Fairy Tale that came up later in Storybrooke, so we’ll keep with convention.
Our first shot of Jefferson (aka the Mad Hatter) in Fairy Tale is of him running through the forest. He’s trying to get away from…his daughter Grace. But she finds him right away. Unfortunately, Hide and Seek time is over and they need to get to the work at hand – finding mushrooms to sell in town the next day.
When they get home, they find Regina waiting for them. Jefferson sends Grace into the woods to hide before finding out what the Queen wants. She wants Jefferson’s help in retrieving something from “there.” He refuses, stating he won’t leave his daughter. “You just don’t leave family.” He’s not even tempted by her offer of making sure Grace never wants again. These two definitely have some kind of history as Regina makes some references to his past, but we have no idea what it is.
The next day, Grace spots a stuffed white rabbit she would love to have for their tea parties. Jefferson tries to buy it for the money he has left, but the vender (Regina in disguise) refuses. He makes Grace a stuffed white rabbit, which she loves, but he still decides to take Regina up on her offer. He sends Grace to their neighbor and then takes a hat box down off the shelf where it’s been hidden.
Regina doesn’t seem that surprised to see him. He opens the box, sets the hat on the floor, and starts spinning it. Eventually, it grows big enough for them to jump into it. They find themselves in a room full of doors. He leads her to a mirror. Then he makes sure she knows the rules. The same number of people who go into the mirror must come back out again. Hat’s rules.
Gee, I wonder where this is going.
They walk through the mirror and find themselves in Wonderland. After passing the Caterpillar, they arrive at the Queen of Heart’s garden maze. Regina blasts their way through, and they go straight to a depository of boxes. At this point, I was thinking it was a heart like Regina takes, but I was wrong.
Guards come, and they almost get caught, but Regina’s magic helps them escape. Just as they are almost back to the mirror, Regina stops and grabs a small piece of mushroom. “You know what those things do, right?” Jefferson reminds her. “Yes,” she says as she opens the box and puts it inside. Smoke comes from the box, and out come her father. A shocked Jefferson realizes he’s been tricked. He pleads with Regina, but she doesn’t budge. As she and her father walk through the mirror, she reminds him that you don’t leave family.
The guards catch Jefferson and take him to the Queen of Hearts. When he refuses to answer questions, he is beheaded. But he’s still alive. Shocked, he learns the only way to get his body back is to tell the truth. When he does, he is told that maybe if he makes enough new hats, he’ll find one with magic so he can get home.
Our last shot of him in Fairy Tale (or really Wonderland) is him going crazy from making so many hats trying to find one to get him back home.
The episode actually opened in Storybrooke the same way the last one ended – a shot of Mary Margaret’s empty jail cell. Then we get a shot of her running through the forest.
Emma and Mr. Gold walk into the sheriff’s office to find Henry sitting there reading his book with a picture of a girl holding a heart locket. Alice in Wonderland, maybe? As he congratulates Emma on her plan and Emma and Mr. Gold are confused, he tells them to go look at the cell. When they find it empty, they panic. Emma sets out in search of Mary Margaret, hoping to find her before her arraignment the next morning.
As she’s driving through the forest, she almost hits a man – Jefferson. He’s okay, but he’s limping. Emma offers him a ride home and then help up the steps to his mansion. He returns the favor with some tea and a map of the area to help her figure out how to search for a missing dog, her excuse for being in the woods. She drinks the tea and starts to feel woozy. Jefferson helps her to the couch, and as he walks away, Emma notices he isn’t limping. As he confesses he faked his injuries, she passes out.
Emma comes to bound and gagged. She breaks her tea cup and uses it to cut her bounds. Walking toward the door, she finds a telescope pointing at her office. Creepy. She opens the door to see Jefferson in a room across the hall sharpening scissors. Double creepy.
Emma starts walking toward the front door only to make the floor squeak. She quickly hides in another room only to find Mary Margaret tied to a chair. They are just about to escape, but there’s Jefferson holding a gun. Mary Margaret winds up back in the chair and Emma is taken to a room full of hats.
It’s at this point we learn that Jefferson knows who he is and about the curse. Emma believes he is mad, but he starts talking to her about whether or not she should be believing in the curse based on what she has seen.
He also tells her that she is magic. He mentions the clock starting to tick when she came to town. He also mentions that he was trapped in that house for 28 years until she came to town. And, since Emma is magic, he wants her to build him a hat with magic. Once that happens, then she and Mary Margaret can both leave.
Emma tries, but she gets frustrated. At this point, Jefferson shows her another telescope. This one is trained on a house with Grace in it. Here, she’s called Paige, but that’s his daughter living with people she thinks are her family (their neighbors in Fairy Tale). When Emma asks why Jefferson doesn’t tell Paige the truth, he explains that he couldn’t be that cruel to his daughter.
Emma agrees to work harder, saying she is beginning to believe in magic. But it’s a distraction. Jefferson turns his back, and Emma hits him with the telescope. She races down the hall to free Mary Margaret, but doesn’t get too far before Jefferson attacks her again. While the two of them fight to gain possession of his gun, Mary Margaret manages to free herself. Jefferson finally grabs the gun and stands up, revealing a nasty scar where his neck was offed from his body. As he laughs, “Off with his head,” Mary Margaret kicks him, and he goes flying out the window. The two rush down stairs, but there is no sign of him anyway.
Emma’s car is hidden around back with the keys still in it. Mary Margaret seems upset at the idea of returning, and Emma gives her a choice – run or stay and they will fight it together. After Emma’s passionate speech about how much she appreciates the roots she has and how Mary Margaret is responsible for them by talking her into staying, she agrees. But they’ve got to hurry to get her back to her cell in time.
The next shot is of Regina pulling up to the sheriff’s station. She walks in and is shocked to find Mary Margaret calming sitting in jail waiting for her arraignment. Mr. Gold is there, and he invites Regina to leave, saying, “My client isn’t talking to anyone.” As he is escorting her out, they stop to talk. A rough paragraph is below.
Regina: I thought she would flee if she had the key.
Mr. Gold: Emma is more resourceful than we thought.
Regina: But I can still crush her at any time?
Mr. Gold: Absolutely.
But no, that bombshell wasn’t the end of the episode. Instead, Emma heads to the school and updates Henry on Mary Margaret’s status. As Paige walks by, Emma decides to ask Henry for his book. She thumbs through it to find several pictures of Jefferson and even one of Grace. Intrigued, she asks Henry if she can borrow the book.
Okay, so where do we even begin with the questions. Are all the residence of Wonderland in Storybrooke as well, or just Jefferson because he didn’t really belong in Wonderland?
Just which side is Mr. Gold on? Is their plot against Emma, Mary Margaret or both? Or does Mr. Gold have his own agenda and is playing both parties against each other?
And when will Emma starts to believe the truth?
What was Jefferson before we met him?
I have no answer, just lots of questions.
Next week, it looks like we’ll finally learn why Regina hates Snow White enough to do all of this. I can’t wait to get that answered.
Meanwhile, I finally saw The Muppets this last week. Here’s my review if you are interested in my thoughts on it.