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Recap / Tangled: The Series S1E21 "Secret of the Sundrop"

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I'm ready as I'll ever be!

Something dark is coming for you!
Varian, to the residents of Corona
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The fate of Corona hangs in the balance as Rapunzel embarks on a final showdown against Varian, who, still angered and hurt about the fate of his father, has now decided to do anything it takes to try to free his father—including endangering the royal family. King Frederic reveals some background on the Sundrop Flower to Rapunzel. Eugene, Cassandra, Frederic and Maximus join Rapunzel when she is forced by Varian to go to Old Corona.


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This episode provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: While disguised as Rapunzel, Shorty couldn't get Pascal's name right.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Among all the action, the most emotional scene comes after the Queen is taken by Varian, with Rapunzel finally understanding the pain of losing a loved one and Frederic not only going in depth about what happened the night Rapunzel was born, but also coming to terms with the consequences of his choices that night.
  • All for Nothing: It turns out Rapunzel’s hair won’t free Quirin as Varian thought, which makes him furious.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Done by the heroes. The Royal Guard, led by Cassandra and Eugene, stage an assault against Varian's home.
  • And Then What?: Arianna asks Varian what he's going to do after he frees his father, hoping he will think about what he's doing. Unfortunately, this line of questioning doesn't work on him, and he replies that Corona will pay for abandoning him.
  • An Aesop:
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    • What you thought was dangerous might turn out not so dangerous after all.
    • Don’t be afraid to follow your destiny.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Varian put up a dummy because he knew someone might try to capture him from the inside, so he could ambush them later.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Cassandra manages to bring down the first automaton by removing the music box that powers it. Varian subsequently protects the music box components with a metal cover, preventing them from being disabled in the same way. While that makes it more difficult for everyone else, it still doesn't stop Cassandra.
  • Avengers, Assemble!: During Cassandra and Eugene's segment of "Ready As I'll Ever Be" everyone is preparing to storm Varian's lair.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Downplayed. As shown in Varian's segment of "Ready as I'll Ever Be", he is well aware he's gone off the deep end, but clearly cannot handle the pressure of being ruthless. In his worst act, he kidnaps the Queen, which worsens any chance that he might have had at making amends with everyone—after which point he's shown as being emotionally unstable. All in all, Varian has effectively made his lot in life worse in his obsession with justice, and it seems as if he knows it.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: A big battle ensues between Cassandra, Eugene, Max and the Royal Guards on one side, and Varian's army of automatons on the other side. It's the toughest fight Rapunzel's friends have been in so far, and they have to give their all.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": When Arianna tries to intervene during Varian's verse of "Ready As I'll Ever Be", he simply yells "QUIET!" to shut her up, as he's too hurt to even listen.
  • Big "WHAT?!"/Big "WHY?!": Varian screams "What?! Why?!" in exasperation when he realizes Rapunzel's hair won't break the amber which encases Quirin, because he had thought her hair was the one thing that could save his father.
  • Birthday Episode: "Secret of the Sundrop" takes place during Rapunzel's 19th birthday. Just like her last birthday, it's filled with excitement.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The story takes place on Rapunzel's 19th birthday, her first with her true family. Lampshaded when, after Rapunzel risks her life to save her mother and Cassandra from Varian, Eugene embraces her and quips, "We have got to start finding better ways to spend your birthday!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Even though Corona and the queen are saved, not only is Varian now in the dungeon for four charges of high treason, but his father still hasn't been freed yet.
  • Black Guy Dies First: More accurately, Asian Guy Gets Knocked Out First, but he's still the first minority to go down.
  • Blatant Lies: Cassandra says that Rapunzel's escape plan involves launching Eugene to the tower with a catapult. Eugene rightfully questions it, saying he doesn't see that written anywhere in Rapunzel's letter.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Even if you disregard the fact that Rudiger gave Pascal the means to free Frederic, Varian didn't confiscate his weapon, and we can see that free or not, he was still at decent throwing distance towards his wife.
  • Call-Back: The paper lanterns appear toward the end of the episode, officially marking Rapunzel's birthday. In Tangled Rapunzel went to see these lanterns on her birthday.
  • Cliffhanger: This is the last episode of season 1, and it entices the viewer by setting up many questions that will only be answered next season. Just from the very last minute of the episode, there's the following Wham moments:
    • The blacks rocks, that were previously thought to be purely evil, might actually be good for Corona. At least that's Rapunzel and Frederic's working theory now.
    • Rapunzel decides to walk off to where the rocks point to. Where will that be, and why are they pointing to there?
    • The appearance of a Mysterious Figure who's associated with the black rocks, and who bears the same symbol as Quirin on their hand. Who are they and what do they want with (for?) the black rocks?
    • The fact that the Mysterious Figure can cut through the rocks with his sword. So the rocks are not indestructible after all! But what does this say about the sword, and the Figure's relationship to the rocks?
  • Crazy-Prepared: Varian anticipated every possible outcome that could happen when he kidnapped Arianna, and he set everyone up for the ambush for their lives.
  • Damsel in Distress: Queen Arianna is taken prisoner by Varian and Frederic and Rapunzel come rescue her.
  • Darkest Hour: Definitely. Time is running out for Corona, Varian has got one big surprise ready for them, so it's our heroes' time to do or die.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Rapunzel learns to control the black rocks just in time to save the day.
  • Distant Duet: The song "Ready As I'll Ever Be" is sung in three different places: one by Cassandra, Eugene, Lance and the Royal Guard, one by Varian, and one by Rapunzel and Frederic.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: So... the black spikes popped up after an important item was removed from their ecosystem?
  • Dreadful Musician: The guard who plays the accordion. Justified in that while he's always wanted to play one, he never actually has before and doesn't know how. It clearly strains Lance's eardrums.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Just before Varian's giant automaton can crush Cassandra and Arianna, the black rocks begin responding to Rapunzel's will.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Varian does this after Rapunzel and Frederic apparently fell for his trap.
  • Eureka Moment: Rapunzel suddenly has one when the rocks react to her hair and realizes her connection with them as well as Varian’s message from her nightmare, inspiring her to use the rocks to defeat him.
  • Extra-Long Episode: This episode serves as the third and final hour-long feature of Season 1, following up from Before Ever After and Queen for a Day.
  • Fastball Special: Vladimir launches Attila at the automatons to push them towards the spikes with his horns.
  • Foregone Conclusion: No matter how serious things get, it's a given Rapunzel's mother will be fine, given that she appears at her wedding in "Tangled Ever After".
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Varian was introduced in the series as a geeky, awkward alchemist who showed Rapunzel respect by calling her, "Your Highness," upon first meeting her, giggled giddily when he first met Eugene, being a huge Flynn Rider fan, and tried impressing Cassandra with his invention at the Exposition of Sciences. Flash-forward to this episode, and Varian has become an extremist in his single-minded obsession to save his father. He commits high treason by attacking Corona and kidnapping the Queen, throws caution to the wind and puts Rapunzel's life in danger when trying to use her hair to free his father, and even attempts to crush both Cassandra and the Queen to death with his giant automaton in order to make Rapunzel suffer. It makes watching previous Varian episodes a little bit hard seeing how far from grace he has fallen.
  • The Gloves Come Off: It's clear from the promos that Varian is done playing nice and will throw everything he has against Rapunzel, even using her mother as leverage against her.
  • History Repeats: Albeit in reverse order, and on Rapunzel's Birthday no less; Rapunzel finds herself confined to a tower, then at night, the villain kidnaps someone very dear to King Frederic, but this time it's the Queen.
  • Humongous Mecha: As a last-ditch effort at revenge, Varian breaks out and pilots a building-sized automaton.
  • I've Come Too Far: Varian acknowledges that even he's crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: This is how Varian justifies his actions, claiming his morally questionable decisions are for a good cause. In the same vein, King Frederic also uses this to justify his confining Rapunzel to her room.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Rapunzel knew Varian would anticipate a full scale attack by Corona, so Rapunzel wanted to make him think his plan would work, but Varian already knew Rapunzel would try to go one step ahead of him and prepared accordingly.
  • I Warned You: It's revealed that Varian's father warned King Frederic not to take the flower, but Frederic was desperate and took it anyway.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: The Captain is incapacitated, and says this word per word if he tries to lead the assault. Which is why he leaves the job to Cassandra.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Said by Varian when he is furious upon realizing Quirin cannot be freed with Rapunzel’s hair as he thought and emerges in his giant atomaton:
    Varian: If I can't have a happy ending, then neither can you!
  • Impact Silhouette: Eugene leaves one on the wall after getting attacked by the automaton.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Lance pulls one on the guards by making them think he's sneaking in something to help Rapunzel break out in present boxes. He gets them to open all the presents...only for one guard to find an accordion, which he's always wanted to play. Lance encourages it, and suddenly the guards are too distracted to notice the real breakout going on from outside.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: King Frederic wrongfully assumed he was dealing with a punk kid and that he's confident he and the royal guards can handle him. Rapunzel tries to warn him that Varian isn't someone to be taken lightly and that brute force tactics won't work, but Frederic ignores her and confines her to her room for protection. Turned out she was right, and the king played right into Varian's hands which resulted in the kidnapping of Queen Arianna.
  • Lighter and Softer: While dark, this special isn't quite on par with "Queen for a Day", particularly since it's resolved positively, with Rapunzel's mother and Corona saved.
  • Lured into a Trap: The invading forces find out the hard way Varian set up an army of automatons.
    Cassandra: It's an ambush!
  • Knight of Cerebus: Varian is far from the joke he started the series out as, and is a disturbingly dark threat here.
  • Meaningful Echo: Eugene confronts the king over his over-protectiveness of Rapunzel, insisting she can take care of herself. At the end of the episode, the king and queen allow Rapunzel to venture out of the walls of Corona to discover the secret of the stone spires, leading to this exchange:
    Eugene: I'll take care of her, Your Majesty.
    King Frederic: Eugene, you should know by now that Rapunzel doesn't need anyone to take care of her.
    Eugene: [Chuckles] Touché.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe and acknowledged in "Ready As I'll Ever Be". Varian has crossed this threshold by kidnapping the Queen in an attempt to lure Rapunzel in, and he's well aware of it.
  • Morality Pet: Sadly defied. The queen tries to appeal to Varian's conscience, as she knows what it's like to lose a loved one, but Varian is not in the right mind to listen. Meanwhile, his actual pet is used as an experiment, and actually turns on Varian to help save Rapunzel and her parents (although heartwarmingly enough, he still stays with Varian as he's being carted to prison.)
  • Mythology Gag: In "Ready As I'll Ever Be", Varian declares, "I'm the bad guy, that's fine." Similar to Mother Gothel in the movie when she sheds her motherly facade and announces, "Fine, now I'm the bad guy." The only difference is that Mother Gothel knew she was acting out of selfishness, whereas here Varian believes what he is doing is for a good cause.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Just as Varian’s giant automaton begins to destroy Cassandra and Arianna, the black rocks respond to Rapunzel’s hair and she uses them to destroy the automatons and defeat him in return. Had not Rapunzel used this power, nor did the rocks react to her hair when they did, Varian would’ve won.
  • Never My Fault: Varian still insists it's not his fault he is on his current path, and still doesn't see that was the result of his own actions from "Queen For a A Day". This line from the song shows just how bad it is:
    Varian: I'm the bad guy, that's fine, but it's no fault of mine.
    • Later, his Villainous Breakdown is kicked off by him desperately trying to convince himself that everything that happened wasn't his own fault, ending with him placing the blame squarely on Rapunzel instead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The black rocks were caused when Frederic removed the sundrop flower from the ground to heal Arianna so she can give birth to Rapunzel.
  • Not So Different: It's clear Varian and King Frederic are a lot more similar than one realizes, especially once you learn the full backstory of the King; they've both been willing to do anything to save their loved ones, even if it meant endangering others.
  • Oh, Crap!: Rapunzel has one when she sees Varian’s giant atomaton about to destroy Cassandra and her mother. Varian himself gets one minutes later when Rapunzel is about to use her connection with the rocks to defeat him.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Plays after the final battle as some of the rocks are forming a pathway out of Corona.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Eugene, Lance and the Pub Patrons execute a carefully-planned escape for Rapunzel. The attempt succeeds so they can go confront Varian on their own, and in the worst timing possible, Varian himself shows up at her doorstep with a sickly purple mist and his mutated pet raccoon, and takes out a number of the Royal Guard, rendering the whole escape meaningless.
  • Pep-Talk Song: Cassandra’s part of “Ready As I’ll Ever Be” is where she steps in for the wounded Captain and rallies up the rest of the guards for the ambush.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Arianna has one from her point of view when Varian releases a knockout gas on her before abducting her.
  • Power-Strain Blackout: Happens to Rapunzel briefly after defeating Varian's automaton with the black rocks.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Varian has his when he is unable to free his father and sees Rapunzel reunited with both her parents, prompting him to emerge in his giant automaton.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Varian uses his giant automaton to try and crush both Cassandra and Queen Arianna, but his main goal in doing so is so Rapunzel feels the pain of losing her loved ones.
  • Schmuck Bait: Varian would not let himself get caught that easy, so he put a dummy of himself looking out the window, in case anyone tried to take the stealthy approach and take him from the inside.
  • Season Finale: The last episode of Season 1.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Rapunzel realizes that the black rocks are trying to lead her somewhere.
    • A mysterious figure appears in the final scene, wielding a sword fashioned from one of the black rocks, and bearing the same marking on the back of their hand as Quirin does.
  • Shout-Out: Varian's chemical orbs bring to mind Honey Lemon's chemical orbs.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The green potion on Varian's staff is casting a sinister glow onto his face as he steps out of the shadows to appear before Rapunzel and Frederic.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Despite having an important role, Varian is nowhere to be seen in the promos (save for the "Ready As I'll Ever Be" promo).
  • Slasher Smile: Varian gives one as he appears before Rapunzel and Frederic after they fall for his trick.
  • So Proud of You: Not verbalized, but this is the expression on the Captain's face when Cassandra starts ordering the guards to help contain a threatafter her father as been injured.
  • The Stinger: The last scene before the credits shows a mysterious figure of ambiguous gender, who has the same moon tattoo as Quirin, using a special sword to break the rocks.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Eugene had the idea of using Shorty as a decoy to fool Varian into thinking he still has the upper hand. Apparently, Varian had a similar idea to put a decoy of himself to make them think they had the element of surprise.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Even Queen Arianna can't help but feel so much pity for Varian, and Rapunzel also does, even requesting that he not be treated too harshly in prison and also to give him actual help despite him having attempted to kill her and her loved ones.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: While disguised as Rapunzel, Shorty briefly sings "Wind in My hair", before being told to put a sock in it.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Rather than "More of Me", an instrumental version of "Set Yourself Free" is played over the credits.
  • Undying Loyalty: Despite helping save Rapunzel and her parents by freeing Pascal earlier, Varian's pet raccoon Rudiger decides if Varian is going to the dungeon, so will he, even patting Varian on the face comfortingly.
  • The Un-Reveal: While Frederic reveals the rocks sprouted when he removed the magic flower from the ground and they’re leading Rapunzel to follow her destiny somewhere, we’re still left to wonder why Rapunzel’s hair grew back after she first came into contact with them.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Varian is arrested for what he tried to do and is taken to the dungeon, but not before remaining true to his word.
  • Villain Song: In Varian's segment of "Ready As I'll Ever Be", he explains his motivations for his villainy.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Varian fails to free his father while Rapunzel is able to save both her parents, he loses it and tries to kill everyone with a giant mech suit.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Rapunzel’s hair touching the tip of one of the rocks, causing them to destroy one of the automatons, revealing they’re not as dangerous as she thought they were.
    • The rocks forming a pathway outside the Corona walls.
    • In the very last shot of the episode a mysterious stranger is shown easily slicing through one of the black rock spikes; up until now these rocks were thought to be indestructible.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Eugene angrily calls out King Frederic on confining Rapunzel in her tower room "for her own protection". He says what the king was doing is no different from what Mother Gothel did to Rapunzel in the movie. Of course, Frederic gets an even more brutal one from Varian regarding the fact that he kept the whole kingdom ignorant of a major problem. Before all that, Rapunzel calls Frederic out on invading her privacy by going through her journal, which was how he found out Cassandra was the one who snuck her out of the kingdom, and as a result he terminates her of her Kingdom duties.

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