Alice Jones/Robin

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Pairing
Pairing: Alice Jones/Robin Mills
Tilly Rogers/Margot West (cursed)
Alternative name(s): Curious Archer, Mad Archer, RabbitBow, BunnyHood, WonderBow, WonderHood
Gender category: Femslash
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Canonical?: Yes
Prevalence: Small-ish
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Alice/Robin (known as Curious Archer or Mad Archer, among others) is the femslash ship between Alice Jones and Robin Mills from the seventh season of the TV series Once Upon A Time.

Canon

Alice and Robin met in the New Enchanted Forest, when the latter accused the former of spying and subsequently trapped her in a cage when she ran off. Alice dubbed Robin Nobin (New Robin) and Robin gave Alice the nickname Tower Girl. During their cursed lives, Alice and Robin were known as Tilly and Margot respectively, and the two met again when the latter saved the former from a car.

Fandom

Reception

The pairing seemed to be largely praised by both critics and fans,[1][2] and will frequently make people's lists of best or favourite ships in the show.[3][4][5][6] Some fans have deemed them to be OTPs more broadly.[7]

The attempt at representation of a queer relationship in the show in the form of Alice and Robin was much better received than the two previous attempts involving Ruby Lucas/Dorothy Gale and Mulan. The incorporation of mental health issues, with particular emphasis on the 'good days and bad days' talk in the bar, was also largely well received,[8] though criticism has been directed towards some scenes with Alice earlier in the season, before Robin appeared. QueerCultureChats released an article relating to the mental health representation within the pairing:

Seeing a positive representation of mental illness in a relationship between two women is the queer content that we need to see. It sends an incredibly powerful message: just because you have a mental illness does not mean you are not worthy of love. It illustrates that love is not the cure to your aliments but it can be such a comfort during the bad days. It’s not always easy but people are capable of loving you exactly as you are.

Thank you, Once. You’ve created a beautiful, multifaceted love story that has become one of my favorites.

Other aspects of their relationship have also been discussed positively, such as their relatability and a grounded sense to the conflicts between them.[9] Some have argued that their relationship is one of the healthiest OUAT ever did.[10]

Praise for the pairing has also reached the actors behind the characters in fan interactions:

Tiera Skovbye: There’s been a couple moments where they’ll be like, to me and Rose, “Thank you for being the lesbian couple on the show,” and like, “Thank you for taking that on. Thank you for giving us that character and that love story, because it’s not often done.” It’s getting more normal and more done on TV, but I think for this show, for them to see that and for people to respond so well to it, and to love our love story so much, has been just so cool. I love it so much, just to know that other people love it just as much is really cool.

There seems to be a general tendancy within the CA fandom to favour Alice over Robin, often due to greater audience relatability to the former,[11][12] and likely partly influenced by Alice having more screentime overall than Robin.

Ship Name

Curious Archer and Mad Archer appear to be the most popular ship name for the pairing, though at one time, earlier on in the ship's history, several ship names were considered and bandied about. Among them were: RabbitBow, BunnyHood, WonderBow and WonderHood etc. Some of the earliest suggestions appear to be: Peanut Rook and Wicked Rook.[13] Most of these names have fallen out of use, though some fans will still use them, and older Tumblr posts and fanworks may refer to the ship using these names. Whether a fan will use 'Mad' or 'Curious' seems to depend on several factors, including fan group/clique/community, website, when they became a fan etc.

The Mad/Curious divide seems to have come about due to a few reasons:

  • ‘Mad’ was already used to indicate a ship included the character of Jefferson (The Mad Hatter), and so some fans wished to differentiate between him and Alice.
  • Some fans took issue with the word ‘Mad’ being associated with Alice. Unlike The Mad Hatter, in which ‘Mad’ is part of his moniker/persona, ‘Mad’ for Alice would be in reference to her percieved ‘madness.’ This was seen as ableist against folks with mental illnesses by some members of the fandom, and a different word was preferred in those sections of the fanbase.

Changes Over Time

As OUAT has only been off the air since 2018, the longevity of the CA fandom still remains to be seen. The fandom has somewhat dwindled since the show ended, relatively speaking when compared to coverage at the time, with the absence of new canon content leading to some fans moving elsewhere. However fans of the ship very much still exist, with new fans coming in after finishing the show for the first time, and old fans flitting in every now and again.

Communities of fans will congregate on places like Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Discord, and though posts are sometimes scarce, discussions and fanworks will still come about. Small pockets of fans are still surviving and coming together out of love for the ship.

Spinoff

Desire for a spinoff centred on the ship appeared to be fairly common, particularly just after the show itself ended, to the extent it was noticed by at least one of the showrunners, Edward Kitsis, on Twitter[14]:

What I will say is we loved those two and I see people on Twitter saying, “Spin-off!” and I’d watch that. I think those two are fantastic. So I do wish we could explore more. If you see the way we did it this year, it was very much in the Snow-Charming [romance], the very slow burn of really watching the love story come together. So I think there was much more happiness and story to be told with them, but that’s what the ending is about — we did our version, but these stories continue. A fairy tale was always something that was passed from village to village, so now Robin and Alice belong to the Oncers and the fandom, and they’ll live on in fanfic and in everyone’s mind. We’re done telling our side of the story. Now the characters belong to Oncers and they should go out and play with them.

Comparisons Between Other OUAT Ships

The ships Curious Archer appears to be most commonly compared to are Snowing and Swan Queen. The former for, among other things, the fact that one of the individuals in each ship trapped the other in some way soon after meeting, and the similarities between CA's "We'll always know each other" and Snowing's "I'll always find you" quotes. Swan Queen comparisons seem to revolve around the two couples' time spent in Emma's iconic yellow bug.

Fanon

Periods in Time Explored

Regarding Canon Compliant fanworks and headcanons, there are three periods of time in which the pairing are explored within:

  1. Before the Curse as Alice and Robin - The time between their first meeting and when the curse is cast and engulfs them. Approx. 7-8 years or so.
  2. During the Curse as Tilly and Margot - The time they spent as their cursed selves, Tilly and Margot.
    • As well as new versions of the previously mentioned tropes, includes discussions on Support for Tilly's Mental Health, Modern USA (Seattle) based Setting.
  3. After the Curse as Alice and Robin - The time after the curse has been broken. Mostly post-canon, though not always.
    • Includes discussions on dealing with two lives, happy beginnings, and future endeavours.

Post-Canon

Other

Influence of Actors

As often happens, the actors themselves will often answer questions relating to their characters. Fanworks and discussions will sometimes arise based on some of these answers.

Conventions & Panels

  • OUAT NJ 2019 panel
    • A well known panel at OUAT New Jersey 2019 had Rose deciding Curious Archer's child would be named 'Teacup' after first arguing they would be called 'Lee Arenberg Mills-Wonderland-Jefferson-Teacup.' Rose asked the audience for photoshopped images of babies with Lee Arenberg's face. Fans obliged.[15]

Common Tropes and Themes

  • Fluff - Likely due to the canonical fluffy portrayals of the pairing, and the lack of significant drama and conflict between the two, fluff is quite a popular trope. Often in the form of domesticity.
  • Mental Health Issues/Mental Illness - Alice/Tilly's mental health issues, and the ways in which it affects both herself and the relationship, often come up in fanworks and headcanons featuring the two[16]
  • Proposal fics - Due to events in the finale of the series, proposal fics appear relatively common.[17]
  • Wedding fics - Similarly, fanworks and headcanons speculating on their wedding and the planning of it, also seem to be quite common in the fandom.[18]
  • Magical Pregnancy - Due to Alice's seemingly powerful magical ability (enough to apparently break blood magic) and her connection to Mother Nature, several fans have pondered whether Alice could use magic to give her and Robin a baby, and even wish herself[19][20][21] or Robin[22] pregnant. Other, more typical, means of 'pregnancy causing magic' including potions and spells, are also found.
  • Kidfic - Similarly, many fanworks and discussions have arisen regarding parenthood and their interactions with their kids.
  • True Love's Kiss - As the pair didn't have a TLK in canon, fanworks have arisen in which they do. Sometimes this is in the context of Canon Divergence in which their kiss breaks the curse.
  • Inclusion of Dinah - Some fanworks will introduce or include the character of Dinah, the cat, from Alice in Wonderland.
  • Incorporation of the film Tangled - Due to Alice's parallels with Rapunzel, aspects of the Disney film will sometimes be included in fanworks. This can include Robin being a stand in for Flynn,[23] or scenes such as 'I See The Light.'[24]
  • Travelling

Other Common Associations

  • Bracelets - Usually with Robin giving Alice one in AUs or a continuous tradition in Post-Canon fanworks. This is linked to canon events.
  • Candy
A field of sunflowers with the words 'Example Image' superimposed on top.
Curious Archer 30 Day Challenge:
enixamyram Tumblr

Articles

Events & Challenges

Fanworks

Fanfiction

Fics

Series

Fanvids

Fanart

Links

Gallery

Archives & Communities

Resources

References

  1. ^ Curious Archer Praise - Tumblr (September 2018)
  2. ^ 'Curious Archer was amazing.' - Tumblr (May 2018)
  3. ^ Favourite Ships of OUAT Ask - Tumblr (August 2019)
  4. ^ Top 10 Cutest Once Upon A Time Couples (April 2018)
  5. ^ OUAT 30 Day Challenge: Day 8- Favourite Ship? (June 2019)
  6. ^ 'top 5 ouat couples?' Ask - Tumblr
  7. ^ 'Your current OTP(s)/OT3(s)/OTX(s)' Ask - Tumblr (July 2019)
  8. ^ 'Grounded Issues - Mental Health' - Tumblr (January 2019)
  9. ^ 'Biggest Conflict' - Tumblr (August 2019)
  10. ^ Curious Archer Healthy - Tumblr (April 2018)
  11. ^ 'Make Me Choose Between' ask game: Alice or Robin? (July 2020)
  12. ^ Alice vs. Robin - Tumblr Ask (August 2019) - justanoutlawfic
  13. ^ What’s robin and Alice ship name? Is there one yet? - Tumblr Ask (December 2017) - justanoutlawfic
  14. ^ 'Once Upon a Time bosses on that surprise series finale ending' (May 2018) on Entertainment Weekly
  15. ^ Teacup Photoshop (October 2019)
  16. ^ Day 17: Alice’s bad days. (July 2018)
  17. ^ My Greatest Adventure (May 2018) by justanoutlaw
  18. ^ A Moment Like This (September 2019) by justanoutlaw
  19. ^ All The Stars (April 2018) by justanoutlaw
  20. ^ CA Baby Headcanon Tumblr (April 2018)
  21. ^ Curious Archer Kids Headcanon (December 2019)
  22. ^ CA Baby Headcanon Ask (April 2018)
  23. ^ In Her Ivory Tower (January 2018) by justanoutlaw
  24. ^ Now That I See You (December 2018) by OfMonstersAndWerewolves