“Curses!” begins with Rapunzel and the gang crossing Lombard’s Pass when her telescope, a gift from her father, falls down the mountain. Rapunzel, Eugene, and Hookfoot climb down, and they do find the telescope, but it’s with Vigor the Visionary Monkey and his owner, Madame Canardist. Rapunzel takes the telescope, but Vigor lays a curse on her that she’ll never have luck or success until it is returned. At first, the group tries to brush it off as an empty threat, but soon misfortune does find them. It escalates from Rapunzel falling in a puddle to the caravan being plagued by flash floods. Hookfoot finds a recipe to dispel curses, and Rapunzel performs the ritual. Eugene looks for Rapunzel in her room, but only Cassandra is there and wearing a horseshoe for luck. Eugene says that the curse talk has gone far enough and asks where Rapunzel is. He finds her and Hookfoot dismayed, as their counter-curse has just turned into a big mess. Rapunzel resolves to return her telescope to Madame Canardist in the morning. Just as she’s about to leave, Eugene offers her his lucky charm: a moose tooth. The group resumes crossing Lombard’s Pass, and things are going well until Shorty tells Rapunzel that it’s his tooth, rather than that of a moose. Eugene observes that Rapunzel never had bad luck until she thought she was cursed and had good luck once more when she thought the issue was resolved. Rapunzel decides to proceed with a positive attitude, and they make it safely across.
It seems strange to bring back characters from an earlier episode and under-utilize them so. Madame Canardist is a bit too much of a caricature for my taste too, and her voice and attitude are irritating. Honestly, at the end of the day, I’m not sure why Vigor and his disagreeable owner needed to be re-introduced at all. The plot of “Curses!” doesn’t relate to the series’ overall story arc, and I don’t think we should be diving headfirst into filler episodes with the show fresh off of a months-long hiatus. As I mentioned last week with “Max and Eugene in Peril on the High Seas,” a lack of focus is what largely led to my disinterest in Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure throughout the first half of season two. I was cautiously hoping the mid-season premiere was a sign of good things to come, but it doesn’t appear that that will be the case.
Another thing that bothers me about “Curses!” is that the ritual Rapunzel and Shorty perform has no lasting effect on the characters or story. It seems like it should have some kind of backfire effect, and it even looks like it will at first as it bubbles and starts flying away, but the whole thing is only ever mentioned again at the very end when Rapunzel uses a similar spell to propel the caravan across the bridge. As a small nitpick, I still hate it when Cass calls Rapunzel “Raps,” and this time Eugene does it once too!
However, the voice acting is great in “Curses!” as it always is, and I love the interplay between Rapunzel and Eugene. Eugene gets some great one-liners in this episode, and effective serious moments too. Hookfoot gets a couple of funny lines as well. Shorty is annoying, and Cassandra doesn’t get to do much, but there’s no surprise there. Lance is basically a non-entity in “Curses!” Rapunzel’s scenes are mostly good, but the one where she decides to believe she isn’t cursed is a little silly. The animation is something I’ve always appreciated about this show; they do a great job at meshing the hand-drawn medium with the character designs and overall aesthetic from the original film. The original score by Kevin Kliesch is bouncy and fun, harmless but nothing too memorable. “Curses!” doesn’t feature a new song, but being a filler episode near the middle of a season, I’d be surprised if it did.
Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure doesn’t seem to know how to balance its characters; I don’t have an issue with an episode focusing on one or two characters, but the problem here is that they tend to give the others nothing to do. Lance and Cassandra have both been useless in this and the last episode, with Shorty simply providing unfunny jokes. I don’t think it’s fair to blame the runtime of the episodes, either, as Big Hero 6: The Series and Star Wars: Resistance are both Disney Channel TV shows with similar episode counts and runtimes, and they don’t have this issue. Admittedly, I don’t care much for Cassandra or Shorty in particular, so this is somewhat easy to overlook, but it would be better to make them likable than to sideline them. It seems odd to have this large group travel together and ignore most of them week-to-week.
“Curses!” is full of juvenile humor and annoying distractions. However, it also features lovely visuals and great voice acting. It’s not the worst episode Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure has ever put out, but it’s not quite the best either. I will give credit where it’s due and say that this show’s worst episodes are just mediocre, rather than being completely unwatchable. What really bothers me is that this series is based on such a great movie, and even the first season was vastly superior to this one. It feels like they don’t know exactly what to do with the characters and story, but I’m not sure why, as they outlined a clear narrative path in “Beyond the Corona Walls.” I wish that if this series were going to be a slice-of-life adventure/comedy, they would have made that clear from the beginning. Season one had filler episodes, but it also had an overarching narrative that it followed through to the end. Eventually, season two is going to have to reconnect with the main plot; surely they wouldn’t have a whole season of side-quest filler episodes. As far as that sort of thing goes, “Curses!” is pretty good. I just would have liked to see more of an epic quest toward Rapunzel’s destiny similar to what season one and “Beyond the Corona Walls” set up.