In “Destinies Collide,” a flashback shows everyone being evacuated from the Dark Kingdom to get them away from the Moonstone. In the present, Rapunzel and her friends arrive at the Dark Kingdom. Their caravan falls down a cliff, leaving them to travel the rest of the way on foot. Eugene, Rapunzel, and Cassandra decide that they can face anything together. Eugene confides in Maximus about Demanitus’ warning. However, Rapunzel sees the message and is quick to deny that any of their friends would ever betray her. Eugene mentions Cass’s hand, and Rapunzel begins to question if Cassandra could be the one to turn against her. Their conversation is brought to a halt as a group of ravens descends on the group. However, Pascal mounts one of the birds and uses it to lead the others away. Meanwhile, a shadowy figure is shown within the castle planning on how to prevent Rapunzel and her friends from getting in.
The friends are faced with an enormous cavern, and Cassandra decides to tiptoe across a cable to push the cable car to her friends. As they make their way across, the man from inside attacks them with an axe. Adira shows up and challenges him. However, he manages to knock her down, and she falls into the cavern. Eugene tells the others to run ahead; Rapunzel doesn’t want to leave him alone with the mysterious man, but Cass scoops her up and runs ahead as Eugene, and the man fall into the cavern. At the bottom of the cavern, the man says he can’t fight Eugene; as he unmasks showing the face of King Edmund of the Dark Kingdom, he says that Eugene is his son. Edmund tells Eugene the story of the Moonstone; Meanwhile, Adira tells Rapunzel and friends the story of King Edmund and The Brotherhood, the group of protectors to which she, Quirin and Hector belong. The group decides to continue, leaving Shorty with the horses. Edmund tells Eugene that the Moonstone killed his mother the Queen, and not to let the same fate befall Rapunzel. Eugene faces the group at the gates to the castle, and tells Rapunzel she can’t come in, severing the controls to the drawbridge. Rapunzel believes that this means Eugene is the traitor, but both Cass and Lance say that can’t be the case; whatever he’s doing, he must think he’s helping. Edmund shows Eugene the Moonstone and states that they can destroy it now and end its control on their family’s lives. Rapunzel and the gang find a way in through the sewer. Rapunzel’s hair causes moon rocks to grow, providing the group with a path to the Stone.
Meanwhile, Pascal sneaks into the castle and shows Eugene the message from Demanitus, prompting him to question whether he might be the betrayer after all. Rapunzel and her friends arrive at the Moonstone chamber, but Edmund senses their presence and attacks. Eugene appears and holds Edmund off, but as Rapunzel is about to make it to the Stone, the spirits of Eugene’s ancestors arise to stop her. Eugene convinces Edmund that he’s here to rescue him from this life, rather than to join him in it. Lance and the gang use Adira’s Moonstone sword to smash the statues of Eugene’s ancestors, thereby banishing their spirits. Edmund helps Eugene, Cassandra, and Rapunzel into the Moonstone chamber. However, just as Rapunzel reaches for the Stone, Cassandra snatches it, telling her that she’s fulfilling her own destiny. Stone in hand, Cass goes through a transformation, emerging with a new look and reminding Rapunzel that she warned her to be careful who she trusts.
“Destinies Collide” is nothing if not the perfect amount of excitement, intrigue, and revelation for a season finale. The beginning flashback featuring Bruce Campbell’s King Edmund is brief but extremely effective, reminding children and casual viewers that this is the culmination of the Brotherhood/Dark Kingdom storyline. We hear the sound of a baby crying in the background as Edmund orders a mass exodus from the Kingdom, the significance of which only becomes clear later on. The scene with the principal characters is a little less stellar; the song “With You By My Side” is incredibly cheesy and overall it just doesn’t sound good. Similarly to the season opener’s “Next Stop Anywhere,” “With You By My Side” features Cassandra, Eugene, and Rapunzel all giving their unique perspectives on the situation as well as expressing a sense of unity and mutual respect. I love songs like this in general, as we’re getting several points of view. It can make a moment seem that much more epic, as well as strengthen the audience’s understanding of and attachment to the characters. However, unlike “Next Stop Anywhere,” this song grants the three performers minimal opportunity to harmonize and show their vocal range(s). It’s also a much more forgettable song, with a “blah” melody and obvious, at times cringe-inducing, word choice. “Next Stop Anywhere” is as good as the songs in the first film and has become my favorite song the series has presented so far, whereas I hope to forget about “With You By My Side” as quickly as possible; I’ve watched the finale twice, and I was tempted to skip this sequence the second time. Likewise, the early action sequence with Pascal and the ravens is uninspired and boring upon re-watching. The birds are easily dealt with, and nothing terribly exciting happens in the scene. I will admit, however, that I did chuckle when an exhausted Lance said “nevermore.” The episode is mostly better from this point on, thankfully.
I do wonder why Cassandra would even help Rapunzel and friends cross the cavern if her ultimate goal is to seize the Stone. However, it could be that she’s debating throughout the episode whether or not to do so. I have a feeling that her ultimate betrayal was spurred on by whatever it was that she saw in Matthews’ house. We’ve also learned in recent episodes that Zhan Tiri had three devoted followers, only two of whom have been revealed or introduced by name; the third’s silhouette is that of a curvy woman with curly hair. It looks an awful lot like Mother Gothel, to whom fans have also noted Cassandra looks awfully similar. If Gothel was a follower of Zhan Tiri(which would be in line with her personality and use of the Sundrop flower), it’s possible that Cassandra may have encountered him in Matthews’ inn, and he may have informed her of her heritage if she is in fact related to Gothel. I have to say, though, that I’ve found Cassandra’s behavior of late to be somewhat confusing. She has expressed anger with Rapunzel in “Rapunzel: Day One” and the end of “Rapunzeltopia.”However, she has also expressed concern for Rapunzel’s wellbeing and even physically protected her as recently as earlier in “Destinies Collide.” While she doesn’t hug Rapunzel back in the Moonstone Chamber, she does smile at her and even allows Rapunzel to take her hand throughout the episode. I guess the creators were intentionally sending mixed signals to confuse the audience about who the traitor would be, but it’s frustrating and seems inconsistent. That being said, I think it was a bold narrative choice to make Cassandra an antagonist like this, and her new design looks fantastic(although I was already partial to her new suit of armor). It’s sad for Rapunzel to lose her closest platonic friend in this way, but Cassandra seems to think she’s doing the right thing, saying that she’s following her own destiny. It also makes sense with her personality and recent events, although I confess I didn’t imagine she would go this far. They’ve made a lot of their friendship this season, testing the strength of their bond and revealing more about them through flashbacks. In “Rapunzel: Day One,” I even got the notion that Cassandra was re-discovering her best friend in a new way, learning to appreciate even Rapunzel’s more difficult quirks. It interests me in “Destinies Collide” how Cass said “we never were” when Adira asked if they were all friends again; upon first viewing, I took this simply to mean that Cassandra doesn’t want to be Adira’s friend, which has been evident from the beginning. However, could it be that Cassandra really means that in her opinion, she was never really one of the group of friends in general? This may have been some foreshadowing for the episode’s end.
“Destinies Collide” delivers another shocking reveal in the form of Eugene’s father being King Edmund, making him the Prince of the Dark Kingdom. I wonder how the writers and directors of the original Tangled would feel about this reveal, or if they would even consider it canon. That being said, revealing that Eugene has a living parent doesn’t weaken what he’s already been through or the bonds he’s forged. This is another shockingly brave creative choice in the sense that it could be rejected as disingenuous by fans or even by the original film’s creators, and I respect it for that. I also enjoyed Edmund and Eugene’s interactions throughout the episode, and it’s clear where Eugene gets his charm and rugged good looks. This also creates an interesting internal conflict for Eugene and a much better song in “Everything I Ever Thought I Knew.” Edmund makes for a genuinely intimidating adversary at first; anyone who can best Lance, Adira, AND Cassandra in combat is a complete badass. The scene where Edmund tells Eugene the story of the Moonstone is gorgeous and chilling, both aesthetically and in terms of expanding this universe’s lore. It’s a perfect callback to the Sundrop story in Tangled without being too on the nose. At the same time, Adira tells Rapunzel and her friends about Edmund, the Brotherhood, and their quest to stop the Stone from spreading death. This also makes apparent just how high the stakes are, as Adira confesses that she doesn’t know what will happen to Rapunzel when the two forces are united. Ultimately, it’s unclear whose destiny was actually entwined with the Moonstone; it was set up from season two’s premiere to be Rapunzel’s journey, but Cassandra and Eugene both end up having unexpected connections to the powerful force of nature. Cassandra is, in the end, Rapunzel’s complete, perfect opposite; the dark to her light, the moon to her sun. I wonder what this will lead to down the road, and if they can somehow bring balance together. I now realize that Edmund could have been referring to Cass, rather than Rapunzel, when he mentioned that Eugene’s friend was being affected by the Moonstone. This cryptic comment takes on an entirely new, disturbing connotation in this sense.
It’s also worthy of note that both the musical score and visuals in “Destinies Collide” are some of the best featured in the series so far. The score harkens back to songs and score from the original Tangled just enough to tie themes and plot threads together in the viewer’s mind without losing that subtlety. The visuals in the Moonstone Chamber, particularly the colors and the way Rapunzel floats, her hair wisping through the air, reminded me of Kida’s transformation in Atlantis: the Lost Empire. If this was intentional, what a neat Easter egg for Disney fans. The comedy is also much better than usual in the finale; Shorty gets a lot of good lines here, and Eugene and Lance get a couple too. I even chuckled when Rapunzel says that she’s not trying to rush them, but that Lance and Cass need to get the gondola across faster. Eugene took the words right out of my mouth when he asked why Cass didn’t remove her armor before tightroping across the cables. However, in addition to the awkward cheesiness of the episode’s first song and a disappointing action sequence, I do have a couple of issues with “Destinies Collide.” Near the end, when Rapunzel decides to take Cass with her into the Chamber, they replay the audio of Cass asking Rapunzel when she stopped trusting her. I personally found this to be distracting; we can infer that Rapunzel does this to prove that she trusts her friend. We don’t need to hear her internal thought process on the matter to figure out what’s happening.