Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the new spinoff of Once Upon a Time, premiered Thursday night with “Down the Rabbit Hole": a grownup Alice escapes from a mental institution with the help of the White Rabbit and the Knave of Hearts to return to Wonderland.

As a young girl, Alice (Sophie Lowe) lived out Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, and when she returned from Wonderland, her father did not believe the tales of her adventures with the white rabbit. When she disappeared, her father thought she was dead. Ten years later, Alice is in a mental institution being questioned by psychiatrists about Wonderland. Alice reveals that she recently returned to Wonderland in an effort to collect evidence and prove its existence to her father.

During her second trip to Wonderland, Alice shared a fateful encounter with Cyrus (Peter Gadiot), an Aladdin-like genie whom she freed from his magical lamp. Together, Alice and Cyrus embark on Wonderland adventures and fall hopelessly in love. They are happy, until they are stopped by the evil Red Queen (Emma Rigby).

Fans of Once Upon a Time will note that the Queen of Hearts (aka Cora aka Barbara Hershey) has already appeared on OUAT, so the villain in Wonderland is an entirely new character to the OUAT world. The Red Queen magically throws Cyrus off a clip, and, presuming Cyrus dead, Alice left Wonderland and returned to the ‘real’ world. That is how she came to be in a mental institution.

Shortly after she is done with her therapy session, Alice is rescued from the sinister facility by the White Rabbit (voiced by John Lithgow) and the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha). The three battle their way out of the institution and go through a magic portal from England to Wonderland.

Once the group has safely arrived in Wonderland, the White Rabbit tells Alice that Cyrus is alive and has been hiding in the Tulgey Wood. While Alice sweet talks Knave into joining them on their journey to the Tulgey Wood, the White Rabbit disappears to meet the Red Queen. The White Rabbit isn’t Alice’s friend after all, but has been assigned to spy on Alice by the Queen in order to repay a certain debt.

The White Rabbit may be working under orders from the evil Red Queen, but he is not knowledgeable of her plan. The Red Queen is also working in secret with Jafar (Naveen Andrews), the evil genie. The evil duo’s plan remains secret, but it is revealed that, whatever their goal, they need the genie’s bottle that had trapped Cyrus and they need for Alice to have used up all her wishes. It is also revealed that it was Jafar and his magic carpet that saved Cyrus when the Queen pushed him off a cliff. Cyrus is currently being held captive.

In the Tulgey Wood, Alice fights the Cheshire Cat and makes her way safely to the Mad Hatter’s home, where she believed Cyrus would be hiding. The home is abandoned, but Alice does find Cyrus’ amulet and it confirms to her that Cyrus must be alive. Her rescue mission must continue.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland returns Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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