Finally! Here we are. The season finale. 22 episodes in and we finally get to learn the secret of those mysterious glowing rocks. And that secret is...
...they're pointing Rapunzel in a direction somewhere outside the kingdom.
Okay, so it's not exactly the answer that we've been anticipating. In fact, many secrets that were expected to be revealed by now still remain a secret. What exactly is the connection between Rapunzel's hair and those rocks? What was the secret society that Quirin's a part of, and what do they know about the rocks and her hair? What was Quirin trying to tell Varian in that letter? And more importantly, when will he be free from that crystal? What will free him from that crystal?
All these questions and more remain unanswered. On the one hand, that leaves this finale feeling a bit hollow, as many of us were expecting these questions to be answered by now. On the other hand, it does leave plenty of plot threads open for the upcoming second season, and thus makes us anticipate it all the more.
As for the season finale itself, even for a Disney Channel show, it managed to really feel grand like a finale should, especially with the action scenes and the big musical numbers. The songs especially were great, and they not only prove that Alan Menken can still make good music, even for lesser projects, but that many of the actors can really sing. This is especially true for Varian, though less true for the King.
Speaking of which, the weakest part of the finale, if there was a weak part, was with the villain himself. On the one hand, kudos to the show for creating a villain that we can both sympathize with while also oppose. We know why Varian is doing what he's doing, but we still realize that what he's doing is wrong and that this isn't the way for him to accomplish what he wants.
On the other hand, what makes him a weak villain is exactly what makes him his character. Varian is a teenager, and an adorkable one at that. So when he tries to make himself look menacing and threatening, it has the same effect as a little kid dressing up in a Halloween costume trying to make himself look scary. You can't really take him seriously as a threatening villain, try as he might, because, well, he's still the adorkable Varian that we all know and love.
That's probably why I'm hesitant to see him turn to the dark side. I like this character. Since he was first introduced I liked him. I don't want him to be a villain. I want him to be the adorkable geeky sidekick to the other characters. Then again, I'm sure this is what the writers wanted everyone to feel. So I can only hope they manage to give him a proper redemption.
Anyway, this season finale strongly hints that the next season will involve Rapunzel and the others going on a grand adventure outside of the kingdom in search of whatever those glowing rocks want them to uncover. How much traveling will they do? Well, let's hope they get to see more of these Seven Kingdoms. And let's even hope that their travels will involve running across other Disney characters. (Frozen crossover! Disney, do it!)
Also, that mysterious gray haired lady at the end? The one who's allegedly a part of the same secret society that Quirin was a part of? The one who can cut through those rock with her big ol' sword? I really hope she's going to be a supporting character and not the villain. She'd be cooler in a supporting mentor role rather than as yet another antagonist.
For a scene-by-scene recap of this episode, click READ MORE:
Hey look, the little girls are drawing a big golden sun in chalk, just like they did in the original movie. Callback!
Apparently, bounce houses existed back in the…um, late 18th Century, I believe?
Flynn: How are you doing?
Rapunzel: How am I doing? I found out that my father has been lying to me for the past few months, a secret squad hunted us down in the dead of night, I destroyed my childhood home, and most recently, I committed treason while helping an extremely unstable alchemist steal the most powerful object in the seven kingdoms.
Don't forget that you and your kingdom almost froze over and that you trusted its fate on a fairy tale that may or may not have been real, and which may or may not have nearly cost the life of your closest childhood companion.
Speaking of which, one good thing this series has done has been revealing the trauma that such events would have had on a normal person like Rapunzel, and not simply scrubbing it all away like most other shows would.
I wonder if she'd be eligible to get returns on any of these presents. Don’t tell me the concept of "customer returns" doesn't exist in this world. If walking metal automatons controlled by music boxes exist, then at the very least, stores should be able to accept returns.
Flynn: And this is…clearly something that shouldn't have been shaken.
And this is why you don't have a job at the post office. Would have worked as well as your job as a cobbler and cab driver.
Well, this isn't the least bit conspicuous. You might as well give her a drink labeled "drink me." Cleary, it can't be poison because it doesn't say it's poison!
Calling it: Belle from Beauty and the Beast is one of the princesses in the Seven Kingdoms, and she gave Rapunzel that dress as a present. I'm really starting to believe that the rest of the kingdoms are also ruled by other Disney princesses. Disney, do it!
Also, I'm starting to believe that Freeborg has a job for the sole purpose of making Rapunzel look prettier in comparison. That's what a lot of ladies-in-waiting existed for.
Ah, what a beautiful day. The sun is shining. The children are playing in the lush green grass. The only thing that can ruin this is…
Cassandra: Seems like your dad found out that I was the one who snuck you out of Corona before your coronation, and, well, here I am.
Rapunzel: That's impossible. How would he even know. The only possible way that he could have found out is if…he read my journal.
Ooh! The king done messed up now. Keeping secrets from her and sending a secret squad of soldiers to nearly kill her is bad enough. But reading her private journal? Now that's going too far!
BTW, it's been more than nine episodes since the king glanced through Rapunzel's journal, and only now is he doing something about Cassandra and her escapades with Rapunzel?
Cassandra: I'm being sent to a convent tomorrow.
Well, look on the bright side: hopefully, you'll be sent to one of those friendly convents like in Monty Python. I hear the girls there have a lot of fun!
Hey, look, a Big Daddy. As long as you don’t try hurting the Little Sister that it's trying to protect, you'll be fine.
I know that this is a dire situation for these characters, but all I'm thinking about is how cool it would be to fight something like this in Kingdom Hearts 3. That game is going to feature Corona, so why not slip something like this in as a side boss? Square Enix, do it!
Well, wrapping it up in your hair would have accomplished the same thing, but this works as well.
When you need to throw a monkey wrench into the works, but you don't have a wrench to throw, a sword works just as well.
Shortie: Congratulations. You just won a magical fish. Oh, wait, I forgot, I ate it.
You ate a magical fish? Was it really magical? If so, you just wasted a magical fish. Who knows what you could have done with it. You could have used it to wish for more magical fish. You could have wished for more fish. And you ate it!
King: In light of this vicious assault, it is with heavy heart that I make this decision. Until the threat of Varian has been neutralized, you are to remain in constant surveillance in the most secure room in the castle.
Oh, don't tell me this is leading to where I think it's…
Yup! Trapping her in the tallest tower. Irony is clearly lost on King Frederic.
Flynn: How is what you are doing to Rapunzel any different than what was done to her for the past 18 years of her life?
King: I realize how this situation may appear, but you must trust that I have no choice.
Yeah, it’s like when a politician decides that the best way to teach people how not to kill other people is to kill them for killing other people. Or how we need to stop the terrorists from taking away our freedom by taking away our freedoms. Clearly none of that is in anyway contradictory whatsoever!
Rapunzel: What is dad so afraid of? Why is he doing this to me.
Queen: During the two decades that you were missing, not once did your dad sleep through the night.
Oh, well that explains it: he can’t think straight because he's been sleep deprived!
Monty: Oh sugar…
...honey ice tea!
This song is…okay. It's not really the power ballad like "Wind in my Hair", but both it and the montage do a good job of conveying Rapunzel's current emotions as she comes to the realization that she's capable of helping herself.
Flynn: Quick question: I don't think I see the part of Rapunzel's escape plan that specifically says that I have to be the one that gets launched from a catapult.
It’s called reading between the lines. Also, it's the most comedic outcome!
Why do I get the feeling that Rapunzel could have easily MacGyver-ed here way out of her room with these random gifts?
You know, the way that Stan is ogling that dress, it almost seems as he wants to wear it. Wouldn't be surprised if he did.
No, no, of course it didn't end there.
Who knows. If you practice long enough, you could end up making a fortune playing humorous parody cover songs.
Hookfoot: This is the reason you needed me? Couldn't you have used a regular hook?
Yeah, but it's the same reason we needed to catapult Flynn: it's more comedic that way.
Good thing that random cart of teddy bears was carted out right there and then. Though there goes Attila's plan for a Build-a-Bear workshop.
Okay, I know Varian is smart and everything, but enveloping the entire kingdom in ominous fog? You'd need more than one fog machine to do this. Did he just plant hundreds of them around the kingdom while everyone else was looking?
Gee, it's almost as if ignoring a problem only makes it worse. Why won't politicians understand this? Oh wait. It's because they wouldn't have a job if they ended up solving all the problems they said they would solve. That's why!
Oh no! Varian has created something truly horrifying! Steven King's The Mist! (Wait, that has a rating of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's not really bad!)
Look. There's only one way to handle a big raccoon. Quick. Somebody get a large garbage can!
It was rather fortunate for Varian that he managed to make it to where the Queen was without running into any of the other guards. Because it's not like the guards would leave any of the other monarchs unguarded during an attack on the castle like this, right?
You really have to wonder how Varian managed to create a serum to turn his pet raccoon into a were-raccoon. Making a truth-telling serum and automaton is one thing because he reverse-engineered all that from other things we've seen in the series up until now, but how did he manage to create something like this?
You know, kudos to the show to actually creating a villain that we can sort of sympathize with, but still oppose. I get Varian wanting to help free his father at any cost, but everything that he's been doing in order to accomplish that goal has simply been too overboard.
As much as it's refreshing to finally learn about the secret that the King has been keeping all this time, it’s still rather dickish that he only decided now to divulge this very secret when there were plenty of opportunities beforehand for him to do just that.
Sorry, but this is all on him. Had he mentioned something earlier, he could have avoided all of this. The only reason he didn't was because of plot convenience.
King: No king would put the welfare of his family before that of his country.
Wouldn't it be nice if we had real-life leaders who followed such advice rather than, you know, putting their own needs before everything else.
At least give the king here some credit, at least he wasn’t irresponsible enough to do something completely stupid like…oh, I don't know…playing a game of golf during a potential missile strike.
Cobbler: Oh, we're doomed. Doomed!
Old lady: We're doomed, I tell you.
Had to make that reference!
King: I look at you and I don't just see subjects. I see friends, family, strong brave individuals who have stood by each other's side and have never ever backed down from a fight. Today we face a danger like none before. As your king, your friend, and as your brother, I ask you to fight one more time…for Corona!
We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to...oh wait! Wrong charismatic speech from another fictional leader.
So they're going to stop Varian by giving him exactly what he wants? I won't criticize that plan as being stupid, because there are far dumber plans. Like, well, stopping an evil villain from compressing time by allowing them to compress time.
Oh wow! That disguise is fool proof. It's like I'm actually looking at Rapunzel! /s
Now this song, this song right here, this one is the best one in this special bar none. It's like "The Mob Song" from Beauty and the Beast decided to have a kid with that one song from West Side Story where everyone is singing different songs together. It really gets you pumped up and ready for the big action scene.
Also, Jeremy Jordan has real pipes! :D
The king, not so much. He sounds like he's doing less singing and more speaking.
Thank you, Flynn, for making Shorty put a sock in it, quite literally.
Gee, this seems too convenient, almost as if…
It's a trap!
I know that Varian is trying to be intimidating, but it's hard for him to come across as anything other than his adorkable self.
A music box? That can only mean one thing? Freddy Fazbear is coming!
You really have to wonder how Varian has been able to make all of these automatons. Where did he get the time, let alone the resources, to make them all?
Varian: Her hair. It should have cut through it. Why didn’t it work?
Because clearly the creators of this show need to keep your father out of the picture for future episode potential in the next season. Otherwise, it beats me.
Varian: It's not my fault. None of it is. It's…it's her fault.
Okay, all joking aside, this very scene, this line delivery, is just pure genius. It really does show that Varian isn't acting rational and that all of his motivations are motivated purely by spite.
Varian: Sorry, princess. But if I can't have a happy ending, then neither can you.
Ah, yes, the old "if I can’t have nice things, nobody should" mindset that fuels all pathetic villainous sociopaths…like the Democrats!
Varian: Cassandra, I always knew I could sweep you off your feet.
You know, this is why I love Jeremy Jordan in everything he does.
Rapunzel's going super sayian. Her power is over 9000!
Forget Mr. Gorbachav! Rapunzel is the one who's going to tear down this wall.
Anyone else hoping that Varian here gets a decent redemption arc?
Rapunzel: It's like the rocks want us to follow them.
King: I think you are right. At first, I thought that the rocks' purpose was to destroy Corona. I was wrong. I can see now that they are pointing in a direction, pointing you in a direction.
Sounds like a convenient excuse for a second season story arc, but, eh, I'll accept it.
Aw, it’s another fitting movie throwback!
Impa, is that you?
In all seriousness, now this little end scene is raising questions…questions which will obviously be answered (or not) in the next season. When it finally comes out. Eventually. Maybe. Hopefully.