For the past two years fans of “Ever After High” have followed Raven Queen’s streak of rebellion or rather her desire to choose her own destiny rather than follow in her mother’s infamous’ footsteps and become the next generation’s Evil Queen of Snow White’s tale. A move that has not only earned Raven herself backlash, but started a movement of others’ questioning their paths as well. The result of the student body at Ever After High being divided into ‘royals’ that wanted their destinies, ‘rebels’ who wanted a new path and even ones who wanted the best of both.
Even though we have seen other aspects of the narrative come into play within “Ever After High” and presents of new tropes and tales with their ever growing cast, at long last we see some resolve for our main plot.
“Way Too Wonderland” offers up all the craziness of a Wonderland set story one can image, but gives some great growth and development for both Apple and Raven. Plus a few new faces that we probably will be seeing more of.
As of now the four part special, each part clocking in at about twenty-four minutes, is now up for streaming on Netflix. If you are headed over Plugins 0 to watch, please note that the order of the episodes is incorrect. Card Tricks, Jester’s Wild, Shuffled Deck and A Royal Flush are the proper viewing order. If you start with Jester’s Wild, marked as the first of the special act, you will walk in very confused. In truth it was even a mistake I made myself.
Because this is a review of the latest addition to the “Ever After High” series, spoilers below.
Unlike some series, “Ever After High” has been rather good with their continuity and is always building off what happened last. Even though it is unclear just how long ago the events of the pervious special, Spring Unsprung, Way Too Wonderland continues on with the loose ends previously presented in regards to Wonderland.
Our stories starts right off with Wonderland- more specifically Apple making a announcement to the student body that she is writing an article on the subject matter and is seeking any additional aid. But Wonderland is not what Lizzie Hearts, daughter of the Queen of Hearts, wants to think about- not by a long shot. Feeling great homesickness and armed with an innovation from her mother for her looming birthday, Lizzie is heart-broken that she cannot return back home. With Wonderland blocked off from the world of Ever After there is no way to get back.
Or is there?
During Apple’s meeting in regards to her article is this matter brought to her attention but also to that of her friends that have gathered- in addition to a slip from the narrator in-training, they are also informed that there is a plot in place to ‘off with the head’ to the Queen of Hearts. Homesick, and now fearful for her mother’s fate, Lizzie along with rest of the group searches high and low in one of the school’s library for something- anything that can be of aid.
As they seek a book with clues to the blocked off world, they are being watched from the shadows by the Evil Queen herself. Even though she is locked away in the world of mirrors, she can still do a thing or two in reality. Including drop a hint, in this case a book with an image of her younger counterpart holding a book. With the use of an app, Apple is able to make out the contents on the page as captured in the photo. The spell that Raven’s mom had used to curse Wonderland.
Quickly everyone gets excited and tried to convince a still skeptical Raven, who is still struggling with her powers, to try and reverse the spell in hopes of freeing Wonderland and a happy end. With the belief that Raven is the only one who has a chance of breaking the spell and making amends for her mother’s acts, Raven agrees. But the spell does not go nearly as planned; rather than breaking the spell Raven finds herself, Maddie, Apple, Briar, Kitty, Darling and Lizzie transported to Wonderland.
Lizzie is more than thrilled to be back home, and above all to warn her mother. As the returning Wonderland citizens enjoy their homecoming, Ever After natives Raven, Apple and Briar find themselves in wonder over what they are seeing. Their travels are going well- that is until they find themselves on Wonderland High property.
Despite Lizzie trying to explain what their business is, and her royal status, the Red Knight insist that rules are rules and they must follow them. But much like everything else, things in Wonderland are different. Rather than going to school for most of the year, in Wonderland there is only one day of school a year. In that day not only do the students must attend classes, they must pass to graduate- and their graduation is hinged on them being able to not only save the Queen of Hearts, but also re-gain the real Storybook of Legends.
As the girls attend their various classes and pass due in part to Raven’s creativity and Apple’ logic, back at Ever After High Alistair and Bunny find themselves alone in the library. Not knowing where Raven and company went the duo sets out to find their friends. Along the way their path crosses with Dexter and Daring, both of whom are looking for their sister, Darling.
Things do seem to be going well for our main group as they make their way through the school day at Wonderland High and new characters are introduced, including that of student body president Courtly Jester. During their encounter, Apple lets it slip the true reasoning as to why her and her friends have ventured to the land. Armed with the information that the group knows of the plans in place to take the Queenship away from the Queen of Hearts, Courtly throws a monkey wrench and forces the White Rabbit to enroll the girls in even more challenging courses. That way there will be no way they can graduate let alone leave the school to warn Lizzie’s mother.
Despite being thrown more challenging course, the girls are able to over-come the new obstacles that stand in their way with their own quick thinking and aid of the famous White Knight. At long last they find themselves freed from the challenges and on their way to the office. But their hopes of being able to gradate are cast off as they learn the identity of the vice-principle slash principal (a la Wonderland logic) is none other than Courtly.
Despite pleas, Courtly refuses and it is learnt that the plan to kick Lizzie’s mother of the thrown is indeed that of her own as a joker can become anything they wish. Knowing that Lizzie and her friends want to graduate, Courtly offers Lizzie a choice- officially sign over rights for her rights as heiress to the Queen of Heart’s throne to her, or they will be forced to spend rest of their lives at school.
A hard choice as Lizzie loves and aspires for her destiny, but also cares deeply for her friends. Conflicted her friends call out for her to refuse and even Raven insist that this is her destiny and sometimes what someone wants is the same as destiny. It is with her friends’ words that Lizzie finds herself staying true to her heart- and destiny, and with a snap of the pen in two her choice is clear.
Outraged at not getting what she wished, Courtly sentences the girls to detention. At least she starts to before the White Rabbit reminds her of the school rule she herself put into place about the need of a trail before such an act can occur.
Like much else that day, the trail is not at all what the girls had imaged. Whenever they try and explain themselves they find their words twisted and misunderstandings after misunderstandings land them into detention. Worse than that, another slip that the real Storybook of Legends is in Wonderland becomes known. Now with the knowledge that she can just sign her name on Lizzie’s page and get a destiny she longs for, Courtly now sets her sights on the book. Suddenly the stakes become higher than before, but landing in detention forever means possible end-game for the girls.
It is thanks to that of the narrator-in-training Brooke’s interface do the girls learn that they have a chance of freedom by offering a challenge. What they do not realize is that they must face off against the Red Knight, standing in place of Courtly. Luckily the White Knight appears and takes the battle on for them and allows a chance for the six-some to escape to save the Queen of Hearts and find the book before Courtly.
It seems easy, but getting to the party in time because a bit of a task in itself. As they try and get to the venue on time, Kitty goes ahead and tried to get a location on the book that was last in her mother’s position. Much to her discouragement, Kitty learns that her mother has gifted the book to the Queen of Hearts and it is somewhere in the Gift Room, a large room filled with mounds of presents.
After much trial and error the girls finally make it to the party and Lizzie is reunited with her mother. But their happy reuniting is short lived as Courtly has already arrived and seeking the book. And armed with powers of her own, Courtly soon finds the Storybook of Legends and has every intention of claiming Lizzie’s destiny. It is only thanks to Raven’s interference is she halted and the book is thrown wayside.
Enraged, Courtly summons her powers from a book once belong to Raven’s mother and attacks Raven. But running can only do so much good and still in-proficient with magic it becomes clear that without her full powers there is no way victory is possible. The only hope of gaining her full potential is for Raven to sign the Storybook of Legends- the thing she has spent so long protesting from. It is the last thing Raven wants, to become the next Evil Queen- to become what she never wanted to be. As Raven protest, Apple tells her that things do not have to be that way. That she does not have to be that way, that Raven’s heart is too good to be evil and Apple believes in her. With the heap of presents that once was protecting them destroyed time is of the essence and Raven does the only thing she can to stop Courtly and protect the ones she cares for- signs the Storybook of Legends.
An action that finally allows Raven to inherit her mother’s powers and gives her a chance to take the powers from Courtly. But the dark powers seem to have gone to Raven’s head as she starts to finish Courtly once and for all, it is only thanks to Apple that Raven is snapped back to her former self.
Even though Courtly is able to get away, the Queen of Hearts is now safe and the Storybook of Legends out of the hands of evil all seems right. At long last the spell on Wonderland is lifted thanks to Raven’s new powers and the bridge between the worlds is no more. As they celebrate both the Queen of Hearts’ birthday as well as the start of a new chapter, Briar finally gets a chance to pull Raven and Apple aside. After so long Briar admits that it was because of her that the book ended up in Wonderland, that she was having second thoughts about her destiny as the last thing she wanted was to lose the people she cares for.
Apple admits that things use to be so simple, that you signed the book and relived the destiny set before you. But that was then, this is now. Now the rules have changed. Knowing that someone can use the book to steal some else’s destiny is not a fact that settles well with Apple’s sense of justice and even realizing that it might be more trouble than it’s worth. Even though Apple still longs for a happily ever after, she does not want anyone’s stories in danger and that they should be chosen to follow or even changed.
After all the conflict both Apple and Raven have seen the light of the other side. In agreement Raven uses her magic to send the pages of the Storybook of Legends into their respective person to allow their stories to be with them rather than in the book as they get their own choice of what comes next. Good thing too, as it looks like a new challenge awaits.
The fifth Ever After High special could very well be the strongest to date. Even though the majority of the story was centric to Lizzie, it really was Raven and Apple that received the most development in the last of the four part special.
It has been foreshadowed for quite some time now that we would venture into Wonderland and it does not disappoint. Filled with all the craziness that you would expect and an interesting lot of characters that challenge our main cast keep things from being dull and the pacing smooth but at the same note it had lots of crazy instances. As always it is great to actually see the parents of our main cast come into play with the storyline, not only did we get to see Kitty’s mom once more as well as Maddie’s dad, but Bunny’s dad, and Lizzie and Raven’s mothers. All five served to be very important and the new additions allowed us to see more sides to the daughters and the bonds (or lack thereof) between parent and child.
The only word I can think to describe Way Too Wonderland would be that of resolve. Since day one we have seen the effects of the spell on Wonderland and even the implications of the separation. A fact that is much stronger in both series of novels as we see just how deeply this effects the Wonderland natives. And after two years the payoff shows especially with a lot of the core focus being on Lizzie, who is the most affected by it all. Seeing her reunited with her mom and be back at home was a great feeling as we see some of her walls lower.
Never did I think going into this did it even hit me that what happened in the end of the story would happen. Even though we had seen Raven willingly agree to sign the Storybook of Legends back in Thronecoming for the sake of her friends, this time it was much more powerful. Perhaps because this time the stakes where real and high. If Raven had not done what she had there was a chance that Courtly would have been victorious.
Seeing Apple, who had been doing all she could to get Raven to sign not only for her own destiny’s sake but even for Raven’s, being the one telling Raven that she was too pure of heart to let the evil power corrupt her and that the choice really was hers- it had impact. Just that entire conversation during the battle and even after during the party show just how much Apple has developed and changed. Even how much she cares for Raven.
Just as much as Apple has changed we see some changes in Raven as well, not as drastic per say, but still notable. Declaring that being the Queen of Hearts was Lizzie’s destiny and realizing that destiny and desire can be the same thing displayed a level of understanding.
Up until now we have seen the girls grow and develop, so it is not that drastic of a change unless you specifically recall how they started. If you look at it like that it is very clear.
With the girls understanding what it means to be both royal and rebel both Apple and Raven are able to in a way find a middle ground and carve out a new chapter and now with everyone armed with complete choice of what comes next things have indeed changed. With the royal and rebel storyline, the once core to Ever After High, resolved it feels something of the sorts like an end-game. If not for what happens at the end with the Evil Queen you could almost call this a perfect end. Everyone gets an ending they want and we can assume and decide on our own what comes next. But there is still more to come.
The next special titled Dragon Games is slated to come out next year and after the events of Way Too Wonderland things have changed greatly in Ever After and a new chapter is ahead. There is no telling what might happen next.
Join the conversation; what is your thoughts on Way Too Wonderland? Glad that the royal and rebel conflict is over, or was it too early?