WondLa: Finding Monsters in Wonderland

There’s no place like Orbona. (Well, almost nowhere.)

WondLa focuses its story on Eva (Jeanine Mason), a 16-year-old teenager who has been raised in an underground bunker by Muthr (Teri Hatcher), her robot caretaker. However, after an attack forces her out of her home, Eva discovers that the surface is not anything like she was led to believe. Inhabited by aliens, the planet Orbona is covered by other-worldly fauna and no other humans are anywhere to be found. Making matters worse, the land is haunted by the brutal Besteel, a creature with awesome power and a nasty personality. Joining forces with a loveable giant water bear (Brad Garrett) and a cantankerous alien (Gary Anthony Williams), Eva searches tirelessly for more of her kind and a home that will welcome her.

Created by Skydance Animation, WondLa shows surprising joy within its animation. Whereas many series produced for television can look and feel lacking when compared to projects on the big screen, WondLa absolutely pops with imagination and colour. Here, every tree and creature feels original, allowing the viewer to feel immersed within its expansive look. 

Admittedly, WondLa does feels at times as though it borrows from others that we’ve seen before. Part The Wizard of Oz and part Alice in Wonderland, the show doesn’t always feel entirely new. (In fact, the show even feels like a children’s version of Apple TV+’s Silo in moments.) Even so, there’s a maturity to its mystery that makes the series compelling. As Eva steps out into her own personal ‘wonderland’, the series unravels its secrets in its own time, balancing its character arcs with its conspiracies. As a result, this is more than simple children’s fantasy fare. This series has genuine potential to become something special.

Having been raised in the underground bunker, Eva’s understanding of the world is limited. Although she’s been well-educated by Muthr, the knowledge is entirely out of date with the world outside her doors. Suddenly, Eva’s innocence comes face-to-face with a world that doesn’t understand her and cares little for her safety.

In this world, butterflies are brutal and flowers are ferocious. 

This brutality is signified by Besteel, the ruthless bounty hunter who roams the lands with profit on his mind. To Besteel, the creatures of this land are mere commodities. There is little care for their well-being other than what he can gain from them. And, it’s through this lens that the show seeks to explore what it means to be a monster. 

Without giving any spoilers, Eva’s journey forces her to re-examine, not only the truths about the world, but also about the meaning of character. With each new person that she encounters, Eva tries to see the best in them. This positivity allows her to create her own pseudo-family in a world that feels constantly threatening. 

However, her optimism isn’t always validated. Sometimes, she discovers that their motives aren’t in her best interests. In this way, WondLa begins to unravel what really defines the monsters in our lives. Although it’s not always clear from the outset who she can trust, Eva quickly learns that true monsters are those who look out only for themselves. And, they’re the ones who can cause the most damage.

In the end, WondLa proves to be a series that’s highly-entertaining, beautifully animated and definitely worth your family’s time. Eva’s journey of discovery absolutely pops onscreen but, most importantly, it holds your attention with a surprisingly engaging mystery underneath the surface.

WondLa is available on Apple TV+ on Friday, June 28th, 2024. 

Leave a Reply