After I reviewed the season premiere of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, “Rapunzel’s Return,” I realized that Disney Channel has yet again adopted a bizarre airing schedule. It looks like they’ll be airing this series one episode per weeknight throughout October and November, so I’m going to be reviewing these in big chunks. From now on, I’ll be reviewing them one week at a time, starting with the remainder of week one.
“Return of the King” begins, surprisingly enough, with the Stabbington brothers wandering into a bar. They’re greeted with mockery all around, as the other patrons and bartender find it very amusing how Eugene continually kicks their butts. In leaving, the speaking brother (reprised for the series by Ron Perlman) remarks that they’ll never be taken seriously as long as “Rider” lives. Meanwhile, King Edmund of The Dark Kingdom (Bruce Campbell) arrives in Corona with a gift for Eugene: the Royal Family sash with their house crest. Eugene accepts the sash but suggests that Edmund go back home. However, Rapunzel responds to Edmund’s not-so-subtle desire to stay by inviting him to stay the night. That night, Eugene’s sash goes missing, and a ransom note is left in its place. The note states that the trade can only be made at Mount Saison, so Eugene reluctantly sets off with his father to retrieve the heirloom. Guards Stan and Pete foolishly clue the Stabbingtons in to this trip, and with that, they’re off to trail Eugene and Edmund. Along the way, Edmund reveals that Eugene’s given name is Horace, and Eugene thinks this is the worst of his three names by far. However, the two bond over Eugene’s toys that Edmund had held onto and their mutual love for the Flynn Rider book series. Before long, the Stabbingtons catch up; initially, Eugene and Edmund hold them off with the knick-knacks and their ingenuity. However, they ultimately capture Edmund and use him to bait Eugene back into fighting. Eugene ends up trapped in a cave with nothing but Edmund’s bag of baubles and finds the sash in it. Edmund admits that he took the sash and wrote the letter so that he could get Eugene to spend some time with him. Rapunzel arrives, having herself found out from Stan and Pete, and she frees Eugene, who, in turn, saves Edmund from the brothers. They all end up racing down the aqueducts, but they have to get away before crashing. Eugene decides to save the Stabbingtons, remarking that they’re practically family. Edmund and Eugene embrace, finally referring to each other as “Dad” and “Eugene,” respectively. We see a brief glimpse of Cassandra struggling to develop whatever magical abilities the Moonstone may have granted.
“Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf” sees the arrival of a werewolf hunter named Creighton. Just as Red and Angry permanently join Coronan society, strange occurrences take place all over the Kingdom. Creighton attributes everything to werewolf attacks, but Rapunzel doesn’t believe it. A series of mishaps reveals Red to be the monster, having made a pact with a wolf spirit out of her frustration with Angry. Red doesn’t want to move to Corona and do everything Angry wants all the time. The two girls are revealed as being named Kiera and Catalina, Kiera stating that she only agreed to go by Red to suit everyone else’s wishes, something she won’t be doing anymore. As usual, Rapunzel manages to make peace between the two girls, and they reconcile, deciding to live in a treehouse on the outskirts of Corona that Rapunzel and the others fix up for them. Red agrees to go through a ritual to remove the werewolf curse.
In “The Lost Treasure of Herz Der Sonne,” Rapunzel arranges a treasure hunt for her ancestor’s hidden trove to bring the Kingdom together. However, the treasure turns out to be cursed, and some of the paired citizens get on better than others. Can everyone escape alive and remain friends?
Overall, I like “Return of the King” the most for the way it balances comedy and drama. This episode explores Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure’s characters and their relationships and exemplifies a lot of the show’s best qualities. Unlike some lesser episodes of the series (roughly half of season two), “Return of the King” actually feels connected to the original movie. There’s plenty of comedy in the episode, and it’s quite good for the most part, but my favorite scenes were Eugene and Edmund bonding over the Flynn Rider books and Eugene’s childhood toys. It is also strangely sweet when Eugene says he considers the Stabbingtons to be like family, although one can surmise they don’t share the sentiment. It’s good to have an episode focusing on Eugene and his family after he was sidelined near the end of season two. Rapunzel doesn’t really have an internal journey this time, just the external one of helping Eugene and Edmund. But that’s OK; he deserves one after all the big stuff Rapunzel has gone through lately. I hope we see Edmund and the Stabbingtons more this season. Really, I hope Rapunzel’s father, King Frederic, gets to meet King Edmund. Meeting another king and learning that Eugene is a prince could lead to some interesting growth and interactions with him. This episode features some fantastic callbacks to the movie Tangled, and the line about Eugene’s name really being Horace killed me.
That being said, I also like “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?” and “The Lost Treasure of Herz Der Sonne” a lot, silly and inconsequential though they may be. It’s interesting that each episode of this season’s first week is less important/dramatic than the last. “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?” would have been perfect as a Halloween episode, with the werewolf plot and the creepy imagery throughout. In fact, the zombies in “The Lost Treasure of Herz Der Sonne’s” climax would have suited the holiday well, too. It’s a shame they’re airing the series in this odd manner instead of once a week. I like the design and concept of Creighton, but I wasn’t crazy about her turning out to be a chicken and running away. I didn’t think it was very funny anyway, and I liked her better as a badass werewolf hunter. Red’s frustrations with Angry were valid, and her argument was compelling. I appreciate that the show gave these two children a real problem to work out instead of not wanting to share, or arguing over which game to play. The way Rapunzel responds to the spat shows how much she’s learned from her relationship with Cassandra. It’s gut-wrenching when she finds her old artwork of the two friends in the stuff for Red and Angry’s newly-repaired treehouse. You can tell from her look that Rapunzel’s reliving everything that happened in “Destinies Collide” and “Rapunzel’s Return.” “The Lost Treasure of Herz Der Sonne” is my least favorite episode from this first batch, but I still enjoyed it. The scene with the zombies is really cool, and I actually enjoyed the hunt itself. There are plenty of big things going on to justify Rapunzel wanting to play games and enjoy everyone’s company. Some of the pairings, particularly Varian with Xavier (who knows a lot of legends and myths) and Rapunzel with Feldspar, led to really good comedy and character moments. Feldspar is voiced by Eugene’s actor, Zachary Levi, and you almost can’t tell. He sounds a lot like Ed Wynn’s Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland (1951) and, consequently, Alan Tudyk’s King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph.
Altogether, I really liked these episodes, and look forward to seeing where the season goes from here. “Return of the King” is the best, pushing the story and characters forward, but the two more light-hearted episodes have plenty to offer as well.