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Headscratchers / Into the Woods

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    Rapunzel's fate 
  • Is there any reason why they let Rapunzel live in the film version? They killed Jack's mother and the Baker's wife, so it can't be merely censorship.
    • Disney probably had problems with having one of their princesses going insane and committing suicide.
    • Her death and instability are also pretty dark, even compared to the rest of the already-dark play, without really adding much to the story. They had to compress quite a bit just to fit into the film.
    • Also, letting her ride off with her Prince to (presumed) safety means that Rapunzel's Prince is also out of the picture, so that's one fewer character to account for during Act II.
    • There is some small merit to sparing her here in the film. In the original version, she's banished to a desert and her prince doesn't find her until she's already given birth to twins. So in that she's been forced to fend for herself in the desert, while pregnant (and possibly not even knowing what pregnancy is), and has to give birth to two babies all on her own. Here she doesn't appear to be pregnant and the prince finds her before the end of the third midnight. So in the film her Trauma Conga Line doesn't happen, so she has no reason to have become so broken that she lets the giantess kill her.
  • If the Baker never meets her, how does he know she's his sister while narrating the story?
    • He probably put two and two together eventually.
    • It's possible that the Baker's narration that we hear is from him telling the story some time later. He also narrates certain events he didn't see or should have any reason to know about. So presumably since Rapunzel survives, she and the Baker reconcile. This would also explain why he knows about what the Witch did to her and the prince at all.

    Witch's knowledge 
  • It might just be that I've only seen the stage show, but how omniscient is the witch? Early on in act 1 she can show up whenever she wants during the Baker and his Wife's quest, and she seems to know exactly what they've achieved. Later, they have to tell her the cow's dead. And for that matter, why didn't she just come with them? She could have certainly been helpful, as long as they were the ones to touch the items.
    • She could have put the Baker and the Baker's Wife on their quest more than three days before they needed to collect all four items, but didn't do so despite living literally next door. She may just not be very stable, she might have restrictions on her powers we're not aware of, or other complications. The restriction on touching the items in particular seems complicated: she's able to revive Milky White without violating that rule, but Rapunzel's hair is disqualified and she doesn't ask the Baker to give the red cloak in a bag or placed somewhere safe.
      • As for why she didn't start them on the quest sooner, it's possible maybe she only just found out how to make the potion.
      • When this troper watched it, she had thought the potion had to be started and completed within just three days, the specific three days before the blue moon (as a sort of complement to the King's three-day festival), but in retrospect, it doesn't really say that anywhere. I kind of just assumed.
    • I can't remember if we saw much of the moon in the film - but if it was a full moon, maybe the spell could only be completed over three nights of the full moon cycle? Or the witch just one day realized that the blue moon was coming up and told the couple they would only have three days to do it. Perhaps the reason she isn't as 'in the know' about the cow is because she's still reeling from Rapunzel's 'betrayal'? She just found out her daughter was seeing a prince on the side and banished her to a faraway swamp. It makes sense that she wouldn't be paying attention if she was focusing on that.

    Rapunzel's magic 
  • So, Rapunzel's tears are magic and they un-blind her prince. But is there any explanation for her magic in this universe? Did the witch somehow give her powers? Did the Baker's mom eating greens from the witch's garden while pregnant give her daughter special abilities? Or is the magic just supposed to be an inherent part of Rapunzel's character that her brother doesn't seem to share?
    • Holdover from the original fairy tale. Call it The Power of Love. Her having magic that comes from the witch's garden would fit in with Tangled, but of course, the play predates the Disney film and went with the fairy tale's resolution.
    • It could be from her mother eating vegetables from the witch's garden while pregnant. If the witch's vegetables are enchanted somehow, a pregnant woman eating them could pass on some of the magic to her daughter.
    • Or else tears just have that kind of power in this universe. Cinderella's tears are able to make a magic wishing tree grow.

    When you're dead, you're dead... unless you're a cow. 
  • Bringing Milky White back to life is a piece of cake, but later on the witch says "When you're dead, you're dead" with utmost finality. Yes, she didn't have her powers any longer but surely she's not the only magic user in the world, and even then you'd think the Baker would have at least brought it up. What about Cinderella's mother being able to grant wishes from beyond the grave? Could enough tears grow a magic wish-granting tree for the Baker's wife?
    • Well do you see any other witches in the area? They're trying to solve a very time-sensitive issue. The longer the Giantess is stomping around the place, the more people are going to be hurt. The witch is thinking of the obvious - hand Jack over to the Giantess and she'll go away.

     Cinderella's prince's plan. 
  • This may be a movie only problem, but if the prince was smart enough to put sticky stuff on the steps to catch Cinderella why didn't he think to just put some guards there to stop her? Or even maybe put some guards at the doors?
    • Maybe he worried putting guards there might scare Cinderella too much(not something he wants, considering at that point he really wants to marry her and she might be too upset if she'd been seized by guards and brought back to him), or that she'd spot them and look for another way out.
    • It seems more like he wanted to slow her down so he could catch her himself.
      • He can capture is OWN damsel, thank you!

     Why beans? 
  • The Baker and his wife trick Jack into trading for some random beans they had while ignoring the obvious solution: they are bakers. They make food. Jack and his mom were hungry. Take the kid back to the bakery, give him some free bread in exchange for the cow, and tell him he gets a lifetime discount as well. Problem solved.
    • Because they were in a time limit and didn't have time for thinking it out.
    • And earlier in the film, just before the Witch bursts in and gets the plot going, the wife says "we've sold our last loaf of bread" - so they have no more bread in the bakery, and can't spare the time to make more.
    • They do, however, have money. The very first scene shows Little Red Riding Hood buying not only their last loaf of bread, but also a whole basketful of sweets. And surely other people must have been buying from them throughout the day for Red to have bought the "last" loaf. When the Witch told them they would need to get a cow, a cloak, a slipper, and some hair, why didn't they gather up every coin they had in case they needed to purchase the items?
      • Little Red doesn't buy the food. In the show, there's nothing to say she hands over any money (and most productions even have the scene Played for Laughs with her taking as many things as she can carry and running out at the end without paying), and in the film the Baker explicitly calls her a thief. They're a bakery in a small village - their shop and living space is in the exact same (fairly small) building; it's highly doubtful they're a hugely profitable business so they wouldn't necessarily have had an awful lot of spare money themselves (remember, they were doing all this to have a baby; that means they're definitely going to need money once the quest is complete). And then there's the fact that they've got a very strict time-limit and the Witch orders them to "go to the wood" once she's disclosed the items - hence, all four items are somewhere in the woods and the likelihood of them having to buy the items as opposed to just finding them would probably seem fairly slim given that information.
    • And let's be real - the Baker's wife is not a saint. She's a flawed human being who sympathetically wants a child, but does a few mean-spirited things to get her wish. She rips a chunk of Rapunzel's hair, causing her a lot of pain in the process. She tries to outright steal Cinderella's shoes first as well, only using a more diplomatic option when that doesn't work. So tricking a little boy into trading his cow for beans just goes along with that. Her motivation is she wants a baby, fulfilling the Witch's spell will get her one and anything she does in the service of that can't be bad because it's the only way she'll have a child. Adding to this, her Karmic Death happens later when the giantess —who she unwittingly brought to the land by using beans as bargaining currency — crushes her by accident but has no remorse, the way the wife had no remorse about scamming a kid.
    • Didn't Think This Through: the Baker didn't take any coin with him into the woods, only his wraps and he even forgot his scarf. If he had, then he could have paid Jack what Red paid him for the bread; the 2002 Broadway revival has Red paying several coins to them. Before he could barter with Jack or show him the way into the market to be disappointed and counter bargain him —perhaps offering him and his mother free bread every day for the rest of their lives— his wife jumped the gun and offered magic beans as a price. In fact, in Act Two during the Blame Game this is pointed out that his wife chose to take the beans.

     Rapunzel's pregnancy 
  • How was Rapunzel able to become pregnant in the theatrical production? I thought the witch had cursed the Baker's father so that he and his descendants would never be able to reproduce...Isn't Rapunzel the Baker's sister? Or did she not become pregnant until after the curse had been lifted? (Apologies, I haven't seen the play.)
    • This troper thinks that it may be a case of Exact Words. This could work out in one of two ways:
      • The Witch stated that she specifically cursed the Baker and his parents: "I put a little spell on them. You too, son." Additionally, the Witch considered Rapunzel part of her family, not the Baker's, which may have excluded her from the curse.
      • The Baker and his wife keep reiterating "The spell is on my/our house", which this troper always assumed was meant in the metonymic sense of using "house" to refer to "family", but it could possibly mean that the spell is literally on the house itself. Rapunzel didn't live in the house, so she wasn't cursed.
      • By that same logic, lets not forget that if Rapunzel has chidren they wouldn't be part of the Baker family, the would be part of the Royal family
    • It's also possible that the Witch lifted the curse from Rapunzel after taking her.
    • Another question I have might be, why would the witch revoke the curse's effect over Rapunzel? I don't know if her circumstances were different in the stage show, but keeping her locked in the tower would seem to suggest that the witch didn't intend for her to ever meet anyone else, and I heard that she flipped out upon finding out Rapunzel was pregnant. So why would she allow her to become pregnant if she hadn't ever wanted her to?
      • Maybe that's exactly why the Witch would lift the curse on her. Rapunzel clearly wasn't going anywhere and the Witch figured that no one knew where she was so there wasn't a danger of her getting why bother to keep her cursed to prevent something that (as far as the Witch was concerned) would never happen anyway? The other thing to consider is that the Witch tells the Baker that the nature of the curse was that "[his] family tree would always be a barren one". It's entirely possible the curse only ever applied to the male members of the family (the Baker and his father) since technically they're the only ones who could carry on the family tree (i.e. the family name).
    • And re: the pregnancy possibly happening after the curse...that is actually plausible enough. The curse is lifted the day after Rapunzel is banished, and it generally takes as long as six days for the sperm and egg to do their thing.

     Jack's mother pulling off the scam for a cow 
  • If Jack's mother knew that their cow Milky would be rejected by anyone in their village because they knew Milky was infested with parasites and has visibly huge sore wounds, what made her so sure someone else simply outside the village would take Milky for 5 pounds?
    • She was desperate and had maybe talked herself into believing that Jack might meet some idiot who couldn't tell the difference. Since the Baker's Wife knew instantly that the cow was worthless otherwise, it seems the narrative doesn't favor Jack's mother.
    • Maybe this is referencing the stage production, but in the film, it's said that Jack is sent to the next village "because everyone in this village knows the cow hasn't given a drop of milk in weeks." It's never said how the villagers knew this, but it's more likely to be from gossip or something than there being anything visibly wrong with the cow, since if there were issues obvious enough for the entire town to know about them somehow, going to the next village would seem extremely pointless and futile.

    How old is the Baker? 
  • The Baker clearly has no memory of Rapunzel, or his mother's second pregnancy, or anything of his parents at all, implying that the backstory went down when he was four years old, likely even younger. (You forget a lot from that age, but probably not the presence of a baby sister.) Later, Rapunzel says she was locked in a tower for fourteen years, and it's very clear that the tower is the only home she's ever known. So this would make the Baker... eighteen or nineteen, at the outside? Ah, Writers Cannot Do Math, you strike again...
    • Maybe Rapunzel spent the first few years of her life somewhere else, and was later locked in the tower when the Witch became overprotective. Let's say for the sake of argument that she was first locked in the tower when she was five. Add fourteen to that and that makes her nineteen or twenty, so the Baker could be twenty-four or twenty-five. He could be Younger Than They Look due to his poor upbringing or genes. I know a seventeen-year-old who looks like he's thirty.


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