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Recap / Tangled: The Series S1E16 "Queen for a Day"

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She thinks she’s got this...
...while he tries to make his father proud.

When her parents go away for two days for their anniversary, Corona is left to Rapunzel, despite that she doesn't know anything about ruling. But then when she has to contend with a destructive snow blizzard, she is soon faced with gut-wrenching decisions. She hears of a legend that this catastrophic weather has to do with an ancient curse, and could mean the end of Corona. Frederic and Arianna get stuck in the snow storm and are in danger, leaving Eugene to form a search party and save them.

Meanwhile, the black spiked rocks are still multiplying and Varian must find a way to deal with them before they destroy all of Corona, while his father opposes him investigating it further. He reaches out to Rapunzel for help, but this happens at the worst time possible as she has to deal with the decision of whether to evacuate Corona or not.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Arc Symbol: The various symbols that Quirin shows to the audience, just before being frozen.
  • Art Shift: Xaviar’s story of the legend of Zhan Tiri is presented as 2D photo illustrations.
  • All Myths Are True: Xavier the Blacksmith says that all legends have a bit of the truth in them.
  • An Aesop:
    • Being a leader means making difficult decisions, but it’s worth it.
    • The issues of someone else may be more important than your own.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Pascal was able to stand the snowfall as well as Zhan Tiri's blizzard perfectly, when he wouldn't have in real life since chameleons are cold-blooded.
  • Anti-Sneeze Finger: When Big Nose is about to sneeze, Eugene puts his finger under his nose to successfully stop him from sneezing. But, in this case the sneeze that follows comes from Hook Foot.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    Rapunzel: I hope I'm making the right decision.
    Cassandra: You're not, are making the only decision.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Rapunzel happily reuniting with Eugene and her parents, all having survived the blizzard.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The blizzard is destroyed, Rapunzel saves her family and everyone arrives home safe, but Rapunzel still doubts her duties as future queen, while Varian is devastated over the imprisonment of his father.
  • Book Ends: The special starts and ends in Old Corona.
  • Braving the Blizzard:
    • When Arianna and Frederic get lost during Zhan Tiri's blizzard curse, Eugene, Lance and the Snuggly Duckling thugs form a search party to find them and save them, even if it means facing possible death themselves.
    • Varian also does this by himself to reach the palace and ask Rapunzel for help saving his dad, but it becomes All for Nothing when Rapunzel cannot come to his aid because of the state of emergency the kingdom is in.
  • Break the Cutie: Rapunzel when her duties as queen are not what she expected, and Varian, when his dad is frozen inside a crystal block, swears revenge on the people of Corona who turned down his pleas for help.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Before he leaves, Frederic tells Rapunzel that she should follow the voice in her heart in spite of the many voices that will demand to be heard. However, a true leader/ruler should listen to the concerns, grievances, and opinions of others. Rapunzel not checking on Varian following the blizzard, as well as Frederic himself making crackdown on crime overly harsh after Rapunzel's kidnapping just because of his own feelings, demonstrate this.
    • Rapunzel being unable to help Varian during the blizzard is supposed to demonstrate that everyone has their own issues to deal with, but just because they can't help you at the moment, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't want to, and that Varian immaturely fails to understand this, but the fact that Rapunzel never checks on Varian after the blizzard is over, and Varian is an emotional, still-developing young teenager who lost his own father in an accident, makes this Aesop fall flat.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: This episode marks the point where the series shifts from a Slice of Life to a more story-heavy show.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Frederic's advice to Rapunzel to "follow her heart" just before he and Arianna leave is what gives her the confidence to realize this is Zhan Tiri's blizzard curse and to find the Demanitus Device and end it forever.
  • Cliffhanger: The episode ends as Varian plans to free his father someday, while at the same time, swears revenge on those who turned their backs on him, setting him up as the Arc Villain for the remainder of the season.
  • Continuity Nod: The arc centered around the mystery of the rock spires continues in this episode. Rapunzel has come no closer to solving it.
  • A Crack in the Ice: Just as the King and Queen are in their carriage, the ice bridge below them cracks, and they plummet a hundred feet below.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The only reason why Varian cements a Start of Darkness in the final scene is simply because Rapunzel refused to come help him during Zhan Tiri's blizzard.
  • Crystal Prison: Quirin is frozen in translucent yellow crystals near the end, as a result of Varian's alchemical experiments on the black rocks.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: When Lance refuses to traverse a small ledge, he tells Eugene he'd sooner find a horse before anyone gets him to go on that ledge. Immediate cut to Max leading the way.
  • Curse: The blizzard bestowed upon Corona by Zhan Tiri, which destroys anything in its path and will strike should Corona be at its weakest.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to most episodes, this special has much higher stakes. However, the Foregone Conclusion that Rapunzel's parents, Eugene, and Pascal must survive eases things a bit. Of course, there's the fact Varian is taking a much darker path.
  • Dark Reprise: Varian's "Let Me Make You Proud" returns in a more somber reprise at the end, with its ending hinting at a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Darkest Hour: The blizzard has grown even stronger, Frederic and Arianna are in fatal danger, Eugene, Lance and the thugs have not yet returned, and all of Corona is forced to evacuate the island.
  • Descent into Darkness Song:
    • Varian's song, which was originally chipper at wanting to have his dad see him for what he really is, ultimately descends into a more sinister tone during the Dark Reprise.
    • Earlier on, Rapunzel's song "I've Got This" starts out as a sense of optimism as she settles into her Short-Lived Leadership, but when it becomes apparent she has no knowledge of ruling and her suggestions in going From Bad to Worse, it sinks into a dull and gloomy tone.
  • Didn't Think This Through: It evidently didn't occur to Rapunzel that she could've just left someone else (such as Eugene, Cassandra, Nigel, and/or the Captain) in charge of her duties regarding the snowstorm while she went with Varian. Even worse, she has no possible reason not to go check on Varian and his father immediately after the snowstorm crisis is over and her parents return.
  • Disney Death: Pascal nearly sacrifices himself when helping Rapunzel activate the Demanitus Device to stop the storm, but he manages to survive.
  • Dramatic Irony: While Varian is trudging through the blizzard while singing his "I Want" Song, the audience already knows he’s too late, as Quirin is shown being engulfed in the amber right before the song even begins.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: This is technically the first appearance of Zhan Tiri, as the blizzard ignited when Rapunzel was put in charge of Corona was revealed to be an alternate form of her late into the final season.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Rapunzel and the gang manage to stop the blizzard and free her parents, saving Corona. In a subversion, while Rapunzel earns her happy ending along with all of Corona, only Varian doesn’t earn his.
  • Endless Winter: The blizzard that came was the result of an ancient, unworldly curse that was cast by an evil wizard named Zhan Tiri. According to legend, the blizzard would strike when Corona is at its weakest, and will last until the whole kingdom is destroyed.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Rapunzel when she remembers her father told her earlier to follow the advice in her heart, allowing her to realize this is Zhan Tiri's blizzard and only the Demanitus Device from the legend can destroy it, and decides to ask Xavier to lead her to the device and use it to stop the blizzard.
  • Extra-Long Episode: This episode runs, at 44 minutes, for more than twice as long as the normal 22-minutes-episodes; this is due to the special serving as one of the "tentpole films" of the season, much like Before Ever After and Secret of the Sun Drop.
  • First Snow: After her first day as ruler, Rapunzel experiences an unexpected snowfall and enjoys it; she then declares a snow day for the kingdom residents. It eventually all goes downhill once the snow is revealed to be part of Zhan Tiri's blizzard curse.
  • Foil: This special effectively demonstrates that Rapunzel and Varian go through very similar struggles, wanting to be the best at what they do, trying to make everyone (especially their parents) proud of them, but the way they deal with things makes them foils to each other; Rapunzel takes risks, but only with foresight, and is willing to listen to others, whereas Varian doesn't look before he leaps and is too stubborn to take other people's advice or even acknowledge his own faults.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As high as the stakes are this episode, Rapunzel's parents, Eugene and Pascal have to survive as they make it to Rapunzel's wedding in Tangled Ever After which takes place after the series.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Quirin hints at several things that will come in the future, from the tattoos on his bodies to writing a note before being completely encased in the crystals.
    • While most of the main cast wear winter wardrobe of various bright color schemes (Rapunzel’s is pink and red, Eugene’s is shades of green and teal, Cassandra’s are beige and brown), Varian’s is predominately colorless, mostly grey and black, and its hood almost completely obscures his head when worn up. Also, the scarf he wears is red, which in some cultures, is considered bad luck. This is a subtle bit of foreshadowing to him being rejected by the castle, ignoring Quirin’s advice and undergoing a Start of Darkness.
    • When we first met Varian, the inside of his lab is a vibrant brown; when he accidentally traps Quirin in the amber, it is a very dark blue hue, which gives viewers a Mood Lighting hint toward his vengeance.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had not Varian tried to get rid of the rock spires himself, then the conflict he experiences wouldn’t have occurred in the first place.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the last shot after Varian delivers his Wham Line, he gives a Death Glare to the camera while lit as a shadow by the ceiling light, almost as if he’s staring at the audience.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Rapunzel promises Varian she’ll help him, but her promise is suddenly brought to the test when he barges in on her during the blizzard, begging for her help back in Old Corona. Rapunzel, knowing that she never breaks a promise, is forced to break it as she’s too focused on trying to stop Zhan Tiri’s blizzard curse and her own parents are missing, which is even worse than Varian’s problem. Of course, he isn’t happy about it, but she sticks with her choice.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Quirin gets frozen inside a crystal block, causing Varian to completely snap, going from geeky and smart to complete fury. When Cassandra described him as "dangerous" and "not good" in "What The Hair?!", turns out she wasn't completely off the mark.
  • Guttural Growler: Downplayed. In the Dark Reprise of "Let Me Make You Proud", Varian starts off sorrowfully reiterating his goal to save his father before rapidly shifting into anger as he swears vengeance on Rapunzel, ending by snarling out the last word in an uncharacteristically menacing tone.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Pascal risks his life by jumping into the gears of the Demanitus Device to remove a stone jamming some of them, getting injured in the process. Fortunately, he survives.
  • Hostile Weather: The snowfall in Corona which suddenly grows faster and more dangerous, revealing it to be a deadly curse placed upon the kingdom by Zhan Tiri.
  • "I Am" Song: Rapunzel has "I've Got This", showing how she can handle herself being queen but it spirals out of control.
  • "I Want" Song: Varian has one, "Let Me Make You Proud", as he is rejecting over his father's judgment of his character and wants him to see him for what he really is.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Hit by Varian in an impressively high key at the end of his "I Want" Song.
  • Kubrick Stare: The last shot of the episode is Varian, after the Dark Reprise of his song, with his forehead lowered and looking directly into the camera with a rather displeased expression and his Face Framed in Shadow, when he is next to the encased form of his father.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The special starts as a regular Slice of Life comedy as Rapunzel tries to adjust to being a substitute queen while her parents are away. Then when the blizzard hits, it becomes darker.
    • The ending scene appears to be soft as Eugene cheers Rapunzel up after the events and she thanks him...then it changes to Varian, still brokenhearted over his now-frozen father and vows revenge on those who let him down.
    • Played straight with Varian’s "I Want" Song; while initially gloomy and subjective with a few hints of optimism, the reprise starts out as such, but suddenly becomes rather furious and coldhearted sounding as he delivers his Wham Line.
    • Averted by the ending credits. After the dramatic and chilling ending, rather than cutting to the usual happy pop music for the credits, a more somber theme plays.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Rapunzel felt this way after she was forced to turn her back on Varian because of the state of emergency Corona is in. Even though she sadly had to, it still left her heartbroken.
  • The Needs of the Many: Nigel argues that there is too much at stake to take care of Varian's problem with the black rocks encasing his father (which only she can deal with due to their connection with her), and if she leaves now, it will be at the cost of her and the entire Kingdom's safety.
  • Never My Fault: Varian blames Rapunzel and the entire Kingdom for letting him down, but really, he brought it on himself by tampering with the spikes despite his father's warnings not to.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: As much as the trailers and DVD descriptions would tell, this special is not much of a lighthearted adventure/comedy for families, and it all goes downhill throughout the second half when the king and queen nearly die in the blizzard. Varian's scenes are almost completely excluded, and the scene where he is unfairly ejected from the castle plays it out like he’s kicked out of spite, when in the actual film, Rapunzel is unable to come to his aide as she’s too focused on trying to save Corona and he is taken out as a result as she watches sadly.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Rapunzel’s suggestions for the townsfolk during “I’ve Got This” turn out to be less than effective.
    • Varian wouldn't be in the mess he was in if he had just taken his father's advice and not tampered with the rocks.
    • Frederic and Arianna putting Rapunzel, who has no knowledge of ruling the kingdom in the first place, in charge while they go away, is what causes Corona to fall to its weakest state, thus initiating Zhan Tiri's Endless Winter.
    • Rapunzel is forced to turn her back on Varian because of the blizzard getting even worse; because of this, Varian turns against her and swears vengeance.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Rapunzel has a minor version when she sees the snow suddenly become stronger and faster than it did earlier in the day, prompting something strange is going on.
    • Varian gets this when his failed experiment with the black rocks begin to trap Quirin within, followed by another when he comes home to see Quirin completely frozen.
    • Rapunzel has a really big one when she sees Pascal jump into the gears and un-jam the Demanitus Device.
    • Varian's raccoon Ruddiger gets one of his own as he is looking up at Varian from under a bench during the Dark Reprise, realizing what he is going to do.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Rapunzel destroys the blizzard with the Demanitus Device, Eugene rescues Frederic and Arianna and Rapunzel reunites with them, but Varian's father is frozen in amber and since Rapunzel couldn't come to his aid, he vows revenge. Varian's is also the only problem that wasn't resolved by episode's end.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At the end of the episode, Varian sits alone in his lab staring at his father encased in amber. He begins singing a reprise of "Let Me Make You Proud" that starts off quiet and somber before quickly escalating into rage as he swears vengeance on Rapunzel in a menacing voice- a far cry from the cheerful kid he usually is.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The shot of Varian standing under the ceiling light and framed in shadow is from Ruddiger's perspective, looking up at him with real fear from under a bench in the previous shot.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Quirin being encased in mutated rock could have been avoided if he had explained his history with them to his son and that he knew directly that experimenting on them was a bad idea.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Varian lets one out when Rapunzel says she cannot come to his aid because of the blizzard and Corona's people currently relying on her. He lets out another when he returns to his cottage to find Quirin encased in amber as a result of his failed attempt to stop the rocks.
  • Rule of Three: During "I've Got This", Rapunzel encounters three of the townsfolk with issues of their own. She comes up with solutions for each of them, but they end up causing bigger problems.
  • Sadistic Choice: Rapunzel faces one. As the blizzard worsens threatening Corona and Varian comes begging for help for his father, she has to choose between abandoning her kingdom in a crisis or breaking her promise and turning her back on a friend in need. She chooses the latter.
  • Say My Name:
    • Varian repeatedly shouts Rapunzel’s name in anguish as he is ejected from the castle after Rapunzel is forced to refuse his help.
    • Rapunzel screams Pascal's name in sadness as Pascal pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to un-jam the Demanitus Device.
  • Short-Lived Leadership: Rapunzel becomes temporary queen of Corona while her parents leave town for their anniversary; however, she has no knowledge of ruling and her suggestions end up making everything worse. It is to the point it causes Corona to fall to its weakest state, and Zhan Tiri's blizzard curse strikes, and Rapunzel is forced to make the toughest of decisions to save the kingdom from being destroyed.
  • Silence Is Golden: During the entire scene where the kingdom is going back to normal after the blizzard has been destroyed, in addition to Rapunzel reuniting with her parents, not a word or sentence is spoken out loud, with the exception of a relieved gasp from Rapunzel when she sees Eugene return with them. This somewhat mimics the feel of the big reunion scene from the original movie.
  • The Song Before the Storm: "I've Got This", the song Rapunzel sings as she struggles with her Short-Lived Leadership just before the snowstorm hits, which then transitions to Zhan Tiri's blizzard.
  • Snow Means Death: Since the whole special takes place in a blizzard, there's a high chance someone is going to die, and it looks like the King and Queen will either die from the fall, or freeze to death. Thankfully, they survive.
  • Special Edition Title: Instead of the upbeat end credits theme "More of Me", the credits feature a slow, ominous theme to indicate Varian's Start of Darkness.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: What seems like a lighthearted ending for all Tangled fans gets more disheartening when we see that Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs and Rapunzel is still left with doubts and regrets over the events of the special, even questioning whether or not she wants to become queen for real one day. Then it suddenly turns into Nightmare Fuel when Varian, still devastated at his father's magical imprisonment, vows revenge on Corona.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • As Rapunzel is singing “I’ve Got This”, she quickly solves three of the townsfolk’s problems, but by the next verse, the same people return with more problems caused by her solutions.
    • Because Corona is in a state of emergency, Rapunzel is forced to tell Varian she cannot help him now. Had she left, her own parents would still be in danger and it could be at risk losing them.
    • Varian is the only citizen who did not bother to evacuate the island, instead going straight for home to find his father frozen.
    • And when all of this is over with, Varian's is the only problem that wasn't solved, thus leading to his Start of Darkness.
  • Take a Third Option: When a stone jams the Demanitus Device, Rapunzel tries lowering Pascal into the gears with her hair to pull it out, but it isn't long enough. She suggests finding another way, but Pascal takes an unexpected third option and jumps right into the gears, removing the stone and reactivating the device, ending the blizzard and getting injured in the process, but survived nonetheless.
  • Tearful Smile: Pascal gives one to Rapunzel just before he jumps into the Demanitus Device to remove the stone jamming the gears, possibly sacrificing himself. Later, Rapunzel has one herself when Pascal emerges, alive and well, though injured from the job.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • After Hook Foot sneezes and causes an avalanche, Eugene's reaction is nothing more than subdued disappointment.
    • While Varian is delivering his Wham Line, his pet raccoon Ruddiger backs away under a table in complete fear, knowing what's happening isn't gonna be good.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer spoils the climax with the Demanitus Device activating and ending the blizzard.
  • Trash the Set: Zhan Tiri's blizzard, which gradually destroys Corona building by building, and it's said it won't stop until the entire kingdom is gone completely unless the Demanitus Device is used to send the blizzard away.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The main plot of the show is Rapunzel stepping in as queen while her parents are away and tries to save the kingdom from a blizzard. The subplot is Varian discovering the black rocks and trying to make his father proud, but it goes out of control.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Frederic and Arianna leaving Rapunzel in charge while they go away causes her to make more problems out of her suggestions for the townsfolk. It also eventually causes Corona to be at its weakest state thus initiating Zhan Tiri's blizzard curse. Also, Rapunzel being forced to turn her back on Varian is what causes him to have a Start of Darkness.
  • Weather-Control Machine: The Demanitus Device can change the direction of the wind to divert the blizzard away from Corona.
  • Wham Episode: The kingdom of Corona is nearly destroyed, Frederic, Arianna, Eugene and Pascal all nearly die, Varian experiences his Start of Darkness, and Rapunzel is so shaken by the day's events that she begins to seriously question if she even wants to be queen.
  • Wham Line:
    • Rapunzel realizes there's still hope to stop the blizzard:
    If [my dad] were here, he would tell me to...follow my heart.
    "And I swear right now, that no matter what comes of me, anybody that stands or has stood in my path, they're going to pay!"
  • Wham Shot:
    • The snowstorm increasing after the "snow day", showing something is not quite right.
    • Varian returning home to see Quirin frozen in amber from the failed experiment.
  • When Life Gives You Lemons...: After Rapunzel’s first day as acting queen, Eugene tries to cheer her up by using this expression, which Rapunzel doesn’t get at first since she can think of many other uses for lemons (pie, soften hair, clean tough stains, juggling, etc.) and isn’t a fan of lemonade. When it begins to snow, Rapunzel (who had never enjoyed snow outdoors) cheerfully proclaims she is enjoying life’s lemons.
  • World-Healing Wave: When the Demanitus Device activates, it unleashes a wave of energy which wipes out all traces of the blizzard and makes everything clear again.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When Varian makes it to Corona castle and begs Rapunzel for his help, Rapunzel is unable to because she’s too focused on trying to stop the blizzard and save her parents. This prompts the guards to forcefully eject Varian from the castle and by the time he returns home, it’s too late.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Eugene’s words to Rapunzel following the blizzard, knowing being queen is a long way away and no matter what happens, he’ll be with her.