It doesn't get good until later. It wasn't dark enough to make the Alice-in-Insane-Asylum a real hook, especially when she pulls an Emilie Autumn and Fights Like A Girl to get out--basically, we've seen it before or at least I have with McGee's video game and Emilie Autumn's entire opus. Once Upon A Time had some real-life drama to draw us in, with Emma getting a visit from her young son that she gave up, and having to contend with his adoptive mother. The Wonderland spinoff was about magical Agrabah and magical Wonderland. While I'm a fan of high fantasy, it felt too much like a spectacle. I'm also much less interested in love stories, and this one really was at-first-sight-no-character-development-required-outside-their-devotion. At least Snow White and Prince Charming met each other on a seesaw of a rise/fall to and from greatness, and talked about the pressures of their expectations and personal feelings.
Around episode eight, it seems that it finally found its heart. It rubbed me wrong that there were hardly any female characters that weren't motivated by their male love interests, so it was like The Token Chick In Fantasy Adventure show--when, frankly, nobody really loves the token chick in fantasy adventures in the first place. Even when there's more than one, they all felt so token. But then Alice finally develops some deeper-seated family issues (that, of course we've seen before--but this time I actually believe it), and she relates to Jafar in terms of deep-seated family issues (and I loved that Jafar's father remained so ambiguous...he's an unrepentantly abusive and stubborn jerk, but he's affable enough to people who aren't his own children!) That was a great twist. The Red Queen has great character development, and I liked her scenes with Cora.
Finally, I liked how it all tied up at the end. Amara wasn't just the token sexy sorceress too sexy to live--she was a mother. Nyx is a truly mythical archetypal creature who is unmoved by mortals who break her rules. The Jabberwocky...is interestingly animalistic, although the character design keeps reminding me of Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.
They bring round home the father-daughter relationship that Alice had with her own father...and, I was happy that Will and Alice beat the Harry-Met-Sally conundrum and that yes, they could be just friends, and were great friends.
Lizard's too stupid to live, though. I hope the actress catches a break and makes it big somewhere else. She and Naveen Andrews. I was really only watching for Naveen, really.
So, it does get better--much, much, much better...but I'm still disappointed because I think it might have been juggling this show with Once Upon A Time that have caused such a degradation in the quality of writing with the original show.