Final (Tangled Before Ever After)
It had very good parts and really eh no parts. A lot of it is funny. Rapunzel’s introspective scenes have heart. Some of it feels like Tangled. A lot doesn’t.
I blogged about the latter half posts ago, but I’ll reiterate:
1) Eugene tells Rapunzel that no one expects her to get into her princess role overnight even though it has been six months. Why does Rapunzel not know basic etiquette after six months? Isn’t being a fast learner one of her strengths in Tangled?
2) The show loses sense of Eugene in crucial areas:
*At the campfire in Tangled, he unveiled a fleeting moment of regret over choosing his thief career. While he makes an excuse for why he chose it, you can hear the shame in his voice, the tone that says, “I realize it’s wrong.” So, after shedding his alias, you would think someone who is returning to their genuine self would have moments of sitting in that regret and taking some responsibility for their own inner peace. Instead, he calls himself “a misunderstood good guy” and proceeds to make excuses for his crimes in a manner “Flynn” would do; unlike the Eugene under those stars, he doesn’t see anything wrong with his old ways.
If not, then what is the point of him adopting new ones?
*Rapunzel is depressed because royal life has been her prison for what has technically been six months. She doesn’t tell Eugene this, who miraculously doesn’t understand why her new life, an existence which compromises her individuality and social freedom, is not everything she dreamed it would be. From his POV, she has a family, him, and luxury, so “what the heck?” While she never verbally says she longs to see the world despite that adventure-hungry expression he saw her wearing in the opening, he clearly knows she does. He tells her in this exact same convo that he’s been all over the world and nothing compares to what she has now, pretty much undermining the importance of her seeing that world with her own two eyes. No matter how tender he sounds, he is essentially saying her desire is unjustified because he’s already had 20+ years to travel and that gaining new experiences beyond her gilded cage isn’t relevant to her life.
This plot device doesn’t sell because:
A) Eugene has been living with her for six flipping months. He just helped her escape a grittier version of a sheltered lifestyle in Tangled. TBEA is telling us Rap had less than 48 hours to be her own individual with no rules for all 18 years and six months of her life, and you’re telling me Eugene is “oblivious” to her needs? And for six months? He claims that his 9-5 job is keeping an eye on Rapunzel, which should mean he has witnessed what she has been going through at some point in all of those six months. He can not be clueless to why she feels trapped (it’s in broad daylight). He would not tell her she doesn’t need to see the world after already being trapped.
B) Eugene understood that Rapunzel needed to get away from her first sheltered home environment, see the world for herself, and exercise her own agency in Tangled’s campfire scene. That’s why he softens up on showing her around Corona in the first place. They also have a clip of him showing her the world map to further drive this point home. He even makes a speech about Flynnigan Rider “going anywhere he wanted to go and doing anything he wanted to do” to tell us why he sought the global tourist life, too. Personal freedom and agency not only defines Eugene’s role, it defines his appeal.Tangled’s directors basically said they are “well matched” because he’s seen everything and she’s seen nothing, which suggests that Eugene built up an innate drive to show her the world. One of the first things he ever tells her is that “a little freedom/rebellion/adventure” to get some distance between herself and her overprotective parent are all a healthy part of growing up.
TBEA omits this very foundation for no other reason than to feed Rapunzel’s drive to get away from the castle. The omission gives us an Eugene who is not in tune with Rapunzel, which is the same thing as him not being in tune with himself. While it makes sense for him to glorify his end of the new lifestyle, it doesn’t make sense for him to be this disconnected from her or his Tangled characterization.
In my head, I picture him wanting to talk to her father no matter how scary he is, because Rapunzel is suffering from a watered down readaptation of Gothel’s rules. Eugene not only knows what that looks like, he saw what that created: a naive girl who was 18 years behind in life.
Additionally, his ability to read her and other people like an open book was terrifyingly uncanny in Tangled, which also makes oblivious Eugene unconvincing. His reading skills are shown once but not in the department that really matters (Rapunzel’s heart). They pretty much deleted the whole point of their connection in favor of plot drivers. It’s an interesting relationship blockade, but it’s not Eupunzel relationship canon, and in the midst of it, TBEA fails to incorporate the benefits of Eugene’s con artist psychology.
*There’s a touch of flanderization in the comical relief department. Eugene’s immaturity is almost laid on thicker than I recall. The weird lack of togetherness (I thought he should’ve mentioned how “the story of how he died” was really the beginning of his and Rapunzel’s new lives together instead of bellowing, “heaven,” and the songs don’t give me a sense of taking on the journey together) makes him come off self-centered. To overcompensate for it, the show attempts to drop fluff to please some fans in the ship’s fanbase. The worst part is Cassandra goes out of her way to tell Eugene he’s being self-centered, as if to remind us that Eugene’s current perspective of Rapunzel’s feelings is more of a plot driver than a take on an in-character post-canon portrayal.
*Why is he so comfortable with proposing to Rapunzel if the king and some of the guests are sending “we don’t fully accept you yet, sonny” airs? 🤔 If canon Eugene sensed even the slightest ambivalence from her father, I don’t think he’d be confident about surprising Frederic.
*I also think it’s weird that he’s 26 and so romantically adolescent here. He is pushing an 18 year old girl who hasn’t even lived her life or grown up yet to marry him and settle down with him in a castle forever. I know Tangled implied that he was the jumper in the marriage field, but I don’t think he wouldn’t let her have a chance to live and grow first. If he was a Disney Princess this rushed attitude would get a lot of criticism and less, “aw, that’s cute.” I honestly thought canon Eugene would act like more of an adult about it by recognizing how much maturing Rapunzel needs to do because she’s 8 years younger than him and lived in a tower for 18 years, rational stuff that’s in your face. Rational stuff practical Eugene would say.
In conclusion, Eugene can have all of the feelings he has in TBEA while not being oblivious to Rapunzel’s. Like this: “This is what I want, but I totally get what she needs without her saying a word….yet that doesn’t change the fact that I feel this limbo inside because I want something different right now.”
2) Rapunzel’s King Triton daddy doesn’t match the man I saw tiny yet telling glimpses of in the movie or the short film; it’s easier to headcanon her mother as the matriarch. Again, withholding physical affection, pressuring her, suppressing her personality because she’s a princess without even doing it in a loving way (he makes her feel incompetent), letting his guests belittle her for being ignorant, and exuding this outright restrained exterior doesn’t make him seem like that sensitive, teary-eyed, bear-hugging king who had his daughter hidden from him for 18 years. It doesn’t make him seem like ANY father who just had their abducted daughter returned to them, actually. It reads like Rapunzel never went missing at all.
He’s somewhat cold towards her and it’s uncomfortable. It’s a little silly that the reason why the king wouldn’t let her interact with villagers was because she was royalty, not because she had been kidnapped. That reason didn’t really become a reason until the end.
The ending of Tangled takes place after Rapunzel was returned as far as I am aware. The king lets her touch and mingle with everyone without chaperones or that strict “you are royalty” rule, so this REALLY doesn’t fit.
I was never keen on Rapunzel getting her hair back, but these eh’s are way too iffy for me to look past, especially because these flaws are what a gooood chunk of the plot revolves around to actually make a storyline. I’d be pretty surprised if a Tangled fan (especially a Eugunzel fan) called this flawless or something Tangled’s team would’ve written line for line. The general plot about Rapunzel wanting more seems like something the Tangled crew would write, but not most of the execution or a lot of the characterizations (or the hair coming back, for that matter). This definitely feels like isolated TV canon to the point where I can kind of see why this series didn’t land an actual movie for the theaters.
The TBEA plot could work just fine with Frederic being a hugger. A dad who is very affectionately attentive towards a daughter he hasn’t seen for 18 years while still being dramatically overprotective (if not for the ending of Tangled showing how free Rapunzel was to interact with everyone, which I’m still led to believe was present tense footage with present-to-future narration from Eugene. Fred could still lock her in after the hair comes back, though). Eugene can still want to get married, romanticize his new security blanket, and feel impatient inside because Rapunzel isn’t on that level with him without being-out-of-touch with her need for agency or surprising Daddy Dearest with a proposal. He can, you know, have some forethought and caution. Thus far, the project’s direction has a “because the plot demands it” syndrome, making me question what the point currently is if it’s going to rewrite some of the characters and themes just to make the plot function.
For @butterflydrming in case she wanted to know what I thought afterwards. 😉 I can understand why you’d leave TV canon alone. 😅