In “Max and Eugene in Peril on the High Seas,” Rapunzel and her friends are preparing to depart the island after they’ve been shipwrecked there for six weeks. Eugene and Maximus quickly start bumping heads over rules and regulations, all of which Maximus insists they follow. The two get into a scuffle over Eugene leaning on the ship’s railing, which is prohibited, and they both fall into the ocean. Soon another ship comes by, and they hitch a ride. Much to their surprise, it’s a prison barge. It turns out that this particular ship has experienced a mutiny and the criminals are now in charge, with the crew in the cells below. At first, Eugene says this shouldn’t be a problem, but the criminals onboard turn out to be Lady Caine, the Stabbington Brothers, and every crook they’ve ever put away.
Maximus wants to fight the bad guys, but Eugene says there are too many of them to take and he wants to find a lifeboat and escape. Trouble arises when they’re unable to lower the rowboat into the water. Eugene tries to cut it down, but the boat ends up sinking, and they’re stuck on the barge after all. They knock one of the criminals out and question him, good-cop-bad-cop style. Meanwhile, Hookfoot pulls a crate out of the water and sees that it has Eugene’s knife stuck in it. The captain refuses to turn back and find the guys, but Rapunzel uses his fear of Pascal to get her way. Meanwhile, the crook Maximus questioned informs Lady Caine of their presence. The Stabbingtons find Eugene below deck just as Axel finds Maximus stuck under a giant crate. They tie the two together to the ship’s anchor, but just before they get to drop it, Rapunzel and friends arrive and start throwing fruit at them. However, it’s a special kind of fruit that attracts the huge firefly from “King Pascal.” The criminals are re-captured, and the heroes return to their ship to head home.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had new episodes of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and to be honest, after the last few, I haven’t missed it. “Max and Eugene in Peril on the High Seas” isn’t an amazing episode, but it is an improvement on the ones set on the island and the few preceding those. The island could have been a cool setting, and it’s unlike anywhere Rapunzel and her friends had gone before, but it simply proved to be another distraction from the main plot. I also hated the leafy inhabitants of the island, and they won’t be missed. I’m hoping that, going forward in the season, they’ll focus on the enchanted rocks and Rapunzel’s destiny. They set this all up in “Beyond the Corona Walls,” and it seemed like it would be the narrative focus of season two, but ever since then, the series has been very-slice of-life and extremely inconsistent.
“Max and Eugene in Perils on the High Seas” brings the series back on a high note, beginning with an old-timey title card reminiscent of classic Disney animated shorts. Maximus and Eugene bring a lot of the slapstick they shared in the original film to this episode, and it’s more than welcome. It’s also interesting that they develop the animal side characters like Maximus and Pascal in Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, rather than just using them for comedy relief. This episode is very light on characters like Shorty and Cassandra, and suffice it to say, you won’t hear a complaint about that from me. I like Cassandra’s character design (and I’ve always wondered if there’s a reason she looks so much like Mother Gothel), and even the idea of giving Rapunzel a human, female friend has merit. However, pretty much from day one they’ve made Cass a kind of snarky, mean foil for Rapunzel. I’d like to see her develop a little more, and maybe eventually become likable, but sidelining her as in “Max and Eugene in Peril on the High Seas” is OK with me too. As for Shorty, all of his scenes in this week’s episode involve him seeing Eugene and Maximus in the water and not helping. At first, it seems like he doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but he later tells Rapunzel outright that he saw them and heard Eugene call for help. I realize that he’s a comic relief character in a series largely marketed to children, but this isn’t the kind of joke I find funny. You have to wonder why the other friends even keep Shorty around, because he’s never helpful, frequently causes problems like this, and says things that don’t even make sense. This being said, I enjoyed scenes with Hookfoot, Rapunzel and Lance. It felt like they could have added a couple more scenes with these guys and had two subplots, rather than just the small reminders that this group exists and is looking for the others.
I love that they brought back some of the series’ major villains, like Lady Caine, and the Stabbingtons from the original Tangled. Maximus and Eugene dealing with and eventually fighting these guys is one of the best aspects of “Max and Eugene in Peril on the High Seas.” Ron Perlman returns to voice the speaking Stabbington brother, and that’s one thing I do really appreciate about this series in general. Barring actors who have passed on (RIP Richard Kiel), they’re really good about getting the original cast back. There is one aspect of this episode, or lack thereof, that I can’t make my mind up about; I feel like season premieres, midseason premieres, and season finales of this show, in particular, should have a big musical number. Now, I say I’m not sure in this case for two reasons: the songs in Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure are the very epitome of a mixed bag, and this episode is very action-oriented, with a mix of comedy. Thankfully, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater returned to write songs for the series, but some of them are not great nonetheless. I could do without songs like “View From Up Here” and “Hookfoot’s Ballad.” I’m also not sure where or how they’d fit a song number into “Max and Eugene in Peril on the High Seas,” given the tone and subject matter. Honestly, maybe this particular episode shouldn’t have been the mid-season premiere, but I admit that’s honestly gone beyond nitpicking.
Overall, “Max and Eugene in Peril on the High Seas” is a pretty good episode of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure. I have some complaints, such as Shorty’s behavior and the lack of a big musical number. But all things considered, I like the focus on Maximus and Eugene’s friendship, and I like the kooky adventure-comedy tone of the episode. I really enjoyed the classic feel they try to give the episode with things like the title sequence and overall, this episode is reminiscent of old serials and adventure movies. I wish I could say this could be a sign of improvement for the series, but I never had many major problems with Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure until the last few episodes of season two, and they were preceded by a great season premiere in “Beyond the Corona Walls.” I will say it’s great to hear Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi again, and I hope the series does continue to improve, and maybe even get back to the main plot.