Review: Tangled - Secret of the Sun Drop

Yesterday was the long-awaited season finale of Tangled with a two-part episode called Secret of the Sun Drop. After 22 episodes, the season has finally come to a close. The hour-long special was a terrific payoff for a fairly inconsistent season. It was everything the previous Queen for a Day special was building up to. At last, learn the truth behind those mysterious rocks from the first episode and the connection they have to Rapunzel's magical hair. Varian's story, which has been foreshadowed since the previous special, also comes to fruition here, though I hope that this isn't the last we see of him. The season finale boasts two fantastic new songs, one of which I would love to see become the new theme song, as the current one could use some improvement. It also builds the groundwork for the second season, showing us that Rapunzel's story is far from over.

Secret of the Sun Drop takes place on Rapunzel's 19th birthday, marking a full year since her escape from Mother Gothel's tower. When Varian, the genius kid who recently turned evil, sends Rapunzel a killer robot as a birthday present, her father decides the best way to handle the situation is to lock her in a castle tower for her own protection. Since the beginning of the show, I thought that Rapunzel's relationship with her father was very similar to that of Ariel and King Triton. This episode solidified that for me, proving that King Frederick would do anything to ensure that his newly found daughter is safe, regardless of her own personal desires. Just like King Triton, Frederick must learn to trust his daughter enough to let her take risks and look out for herself. Unlike Ariel, though, Rapunzel also has a mother, who perfectly balances out her newfound relationship with her parents.

I liked the contrast of how Rapunzel handled her imprisonment in this episode compared to the original 2010 feature film. It makes it clear how much has changed in the year that has passed since she lived alone with Mother Gothel. Back then, she thought she couldn't handle herself out in the big scary world and needed Flynn Rider to protect her. Now, she is a fearless heroine who knows her own strengths but also isn't afraid to ask for help when she needs it. Before, the only person she thought she could trust was the wicked Mother Gothel, but now, she has a support system of loved ones who she knows will help her out when she needs them to. It was a pleasure seeing how much this escape contrasted that of her younger self from the film. The song she sang during this scene fit beautifully with themes of both the film and the series. I would love if they used it to replace "Wind in My Hair" as the new theme song.

This special also marked a turning point in the life of Rapunzel's lady-in-waiting, Cassandra. Cassandra's worst fear, which was foreshadowed in the Rapunzel and the Lost Lagoon novel, finally came true, forcing her to take control of her life her life and face her father, the Captain of the Guard. In some ways, it seems as though Cassandra needed to reach her lowest point in order to find her own strength and prove herself. Both the novel and the series put more focus into Rapunzel and Cassandra's growth than Eugene's. Even though he is a reformed thief, which should come with plenty of challenges, he was the only character who did not have any noticeable growth or have to prove himself in Secret of the Sun Drop as well as most of the series.

It's a little difficult to see Varian transition to becoming a full villain, even though it has been a long time coming. He started out as such a likable character, if not a bit eccentric. His youth and spirit made me as a viewer want to root for him despite seeing his downfall coming from a mile away. He was lonely and misunderstood but also very talented and could have accomplished great things with just a little more support. Varian could have become great friends with Rapunzel, and Cassandra if things had only turned out a little differently. I would love to see him come bathe in the second season and turn good again, but that seems unlikely to happen at this point. At least he got to be part of a terrific song in both this special and the last one.

Overall, Secret of the Sun Drop was a strong finale, and I think it makes up for the highly disappointing Queen for a Day special. It accomplishes this by placing more focus on the main cast and showing us that the writers have an idea of where they want to take Rapunzel's story from here. So much of the series up to this point was filler. The black rocks seemed to be a convenient excuse to grow back Rapunzel's magical blonde hair. This special shows us that Rapunzel is inherently connected to them and that their mysterious appearance dates back to the events of her birth. Though the finale does not solve the mystery of the rocks entirely, it is satisfying enough to conclude the first season. It is also nice to see Rapunzel's relationship with her father improve. If there's anything I would want from the second season aside from learning more about the rocks, it would be to see more depth to her relationship Eugene. He was the one thing that fell short for most of the show so far, even though he had the most growth in the original animated film.


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