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Recap / Tangled: The Series S3E16 "Once a Handmaiden..."

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Disguised in a magical cloak, Cassandra sneaks into Corona with the intention of making amends with Rapunzel. But Zhan Tiri isn't about to let that happen without causing some chaos first!

Tropes in this episode:

  • Aesop Amnesia: As she did not too long ago, Cassandra's fear of vulnerability and hesitance to talk about her feelings with Rapunzel ends in disaster.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Cassandra and the Brotherhood attack Corona and overwhelm their defenses, forcing Eugene to call for an evacuation.
  • Ambiguous Situation: In "Race to the Spire", Cassandra mind controls the members of the Brotherhood. However, it's implied to have not worked on Quirin, as his eyes only glow momentarily before returning to normal. Here, he isn't seen with the possessed Adira and Hector, instead standing with Varian and King Edmund once everyone had fled to the village, further implying he wasn't mind controlled.
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  • Awful Truth: Varian tells Rapunzel that although Cassandra was their friend, she's made her choice to be their enemy and she's willing to hurt them, so they have to be willing to hurt her too in order to defend themselves.
  • Badass Normal: The person who comes the closest to defeating Cassandra is none other than Varian, who fires at the black rocks with a firearm (weaponized with the amber Quirin was trapped in) and nearly targets Cassandra. However, it still gets destroyed, and Varian is forced to evacuate to the village with everyone else.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Zhan Tiri tricks Cassandra once more, and Cassandra becomes Corona's evil queen.
  • The Bus Came Back: Cassandra uses the mind-controlled Adira and Hector against the people of Corona.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Cassandra wants to mend fences with Rapunzel but can't just approach her and tell her so.
    Cassandra: Maybe it's not as easy for everyone to say how they're feeling. Not everyone can look someone else in the eye and say, "I'm hurting," or, "I'm sad," or even, "I'm... I'm sorry."
  • Chekhov's Boomerang:
    • The missing mirror shard from "A Tale of Two Sisters" is found by Cassandra, and she learns that Mother Gothel never loved her.
    • The shapeshifting cloak introduced in "Race to the Spire" is used by Cassandra in order to hang out with Rapunzel without causing a panic.
  • Citywide Evacuation: The citizens of Corona are forced to flee the kingdom when Cassandra and the Brotherhood attack.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cassandra uses the black rocks to her advantage during her battle against Eugene, who himself states that it isn't fair.
  • Continuity Nod: Not unlike Varian, Cassandra admits she believes that she's come too far to hope that people will take her back after all the mess she's made.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • When the guards assume that Cassandra is attacking Rapunzel, Cassandra attacks them with her black rocks instead of doing something to show that she doesn't mean to cause any harm. Is it any wonder said guards (along with Varian and Eugene) viewed her as a threat?
    • Subverted with Zhan Tiri. Initially it appeared as though her throwing the shard from "A Tale of Two Sisters" away instead of keeping it with her would come back to bite her, especially since Cassandra confronts her over it and discovers who she is... but she is unfazed by the turn of events and still manages to manipulate Cassandra via lies and interference, with her eclipse plans still coming along splendidly. Really, nothing changed the fact that Cassandra was just that spiteful.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Downplayed and played for laughs with Varian, who runs off to let Eugene be reprimanded by Rapunzel after confessing to her their intentions to destroy Cassandra.
    • Apparently, Cassandra would rather knowingly and willingly endanger the lives of dozens of people and brutally conquer her home kingdom than apologize to Rapunzel face-to-face and take responsibility for her actions and accept the consequences.
  • Downer Ending: Just as it seems like Cassandra will finally start to become good again, Zhan Tiri once again pulls the strings by having the Obsidian fire at her in secret, with Cassandra thinking they were trying to attack her. She then takes over the kingdom. This leads to the Grand Finale which comes up next.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Cassandra genuinely fears Rapunzel not forgiving her, even though Rapunzel kept trying to make amends with her every time they encountered each other despite all the bad things Cassandra does to her. She also interprets the citizens of Corona trying to protect the kingdom from her as them not accepting her, and uses this as even more reason why she should attack the kingdom.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Owl gives a disapproving glare at his former master when they reunite in the woods.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Lance ends up fighting against his crush Adira.
  • Foil: "Be Very Afraid" had the red rocks showing Varian's greatest fear, which was his father being encased in amber and the people of Corona deeming him a traitor, which is something that has happened, and Rapunzel's greatest fear was Cassandra taking over Corona with the black rocks and losing her as a friend forever, which is something that came true in this episode, meaning that, at the time, it was something that will happen. In short, Varian feared the past, whereas Rapunzel feared the future.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: When Faith (actually Cassandra in disguise) calls Rapunzel “Raps” out of habit, Rapunzel just dismisses it and says it reminds her of an old friend, and tells her she will allow it.
  • Funny Background Event: While Rapunzel and Eugene are talking about how Shorty knew where to find the gophers and that he got married there, one of them steals Cassandra's cloak, causing her (and the gopher) to transform into several characters. She even cringes when she briefly becomes Eugene.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: By the end of the episode, Cassandra has overthrown Corona with the black rocks, and now rules the once happy kingdom as its queen, while the people were forced to evacuate.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: Regarding what is going on between Rapunzel and Cassandra along with who "the bad guy" is, the two women admit that the matter is very complicated.
  • Heel Realization: Downplayed. Cassandra finds out she's been unwittingly serving Zhan Tiri and realizes she hasn't been the nicest person lately, as she puts it. She understands she probably won't be welcome in Corona and even asks herself what is she doing to her home and her friends. And yet, when she finds out that now, Corona has a defense weapon in case of her attack, it offends her so much that she is ready to turn on Rapunzel all over again and attack everyone with her black rocks instead of doing something to show that she means no harm. Cassandra ends up blaming Rapunzel for everything and taking over Corona.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The whole episode is a Hope Spot for Season 3: Cassandra almost realizes the mistakes she's made and almost reconciles with Rapunzel, only for everything to end in disaster.
    • Just when it looks like Cassandra is ready to come clean after asking to speak with Rapunzel in private, Zhan Tiri takes away the cloak, exposes Cass' true identity to everyone, and provokes her into attacking Rapunzel and her friends.
    • Rather sad Hope Spot happens when Varian almost traps Cassandra in the ember. At least, they could have stopped her and saved the city.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: It takes an entire season for Cassandra to ask the Enchanted Girl who she is!note  And even then, she still falls victim to Zhan Tiri's manipulations.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Cassandra finally learns the Enchanted Girl is Zhan Tiri, and that she's been used as an Unwitting Pawn throughout the season.
    • Cassandra finds the mirror shard that reveals to her what we already know about Mother Gothel: she was the furthest thing from a good mother, and even before she abandoned Cassandra, she never had a loving bone in her body.
    • Assuming Varian hasn't already been informed, King Edmund standing next to him and Quirin implies Varian is now aware of his father's past in the Brotherhood and Dark Kingdom.
  • Ironic Echo: Cassandra unwittingly quotes Mother Gothel’s line about being the bad guy.
  • Irony: Cassandra is a skilled and effective fighter, especially with the Moonstone at her disposal. And yet, as Zhan Tiri so puts it, she's a coward for being afraid of the simplest thing in the world: apologizing to Rapunzel and admitting her wrong-doings.
  • I've Come Too Far: Cassandra fears that her attempts to atone would be for naught if Rapunzel and the rest of Corona won't forgive her for what she has done. She's proven half right about the rest of Corona when Zhan Tiri exposes her identity, but half wrong since Rapunzel (up until Cass goes on the offensive) proves she's still holding out hope.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Eugene and Varian flee the castle when it's made clear they can't defeat Cassandra, with the former urging the citizens to do so as well.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Project Obsidian is a plan to destroy Cassandra...’s self-esteem.
  • Last Straw: Rapunzel has been hoping that Cassandra could be saved all season despite the constant attacks, but seeing her kingdom covered in Black Rock spikes made her visibly angry.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Uncle Monty asking who the bad guy of the story is and Rapunzel and “Faith” responding “It’s complicated” alludes to the Gray-and-Grey Morality setup of Season 3.
  • Lonely at the Top: Cassandra has finally conquered Corona, but at the cost of driving away everyone who ever cared about her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Cassandra finds out she's been unwittingly serving Zhan Tiri and sees a wanted poster of herself, she curls into a ball and asks herself what is she doing to her home and her friends.
  • The Needs of the Many: While Rapunzel doesn't like it, she reluctantly approves of Eugene and Varian's defense weapon against Cassandra so that they can at least protect Corona should she decide to attack.
  • Never My Fault: At first, Cassandra places all the blame over her villainous deeds onto Zhan Tiri, even if they were still of her own doing. Happens again later, where it's shown she hasn't thought of herself as a bad guy/villain... until now.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Eugene assures Rapunzel the last thing he and Varian want to do is use the weapon on Cassandra, all the while Varian is giddily testing out said weapon on targets shaped like Cassandra.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Zhan Tiri tells Cassandra they were both cheated out of their destinies, even claiming they're more like sisters than she and Rapunzel ever were.
  • Pet the Dog: Cassandra is overjoyed to see Owl again.
  • Sadist:
    • Zhan Tiri gives off an Evil Laugh while watching Cassandra destroy the city and attack the citizens of Corona.
    • While Cassandra associates her effectively committing major terrorism against Corona with Then Let Me Be Evil, she expresses clear pleasure towards what she's doing on a few occasions.
  • Shrinking Violet: Faith is a servant girl who is rather timid and is very shy, reserved, and lacking in self-esteem. When Cassandra impersonates her, no one seems to really notice something's wrong, and think “Faith” is finally breaking out of her shell.
  • Shadow Archetype: Had Varian not let go of his anger, bitterness, and hatred towards Rapunzel, he would've become like Cassandra and/or Zhan Tiri.
  • Slouch of Villainy: At one point, Zhan Tiri makes herself comfortable on Cassandra's throne while eating grapes.
  • Special Edition Title: The fourth and last of the series to have a mournful orchestra in place of "More of Me", and the only one that isn't an Extra-Long Episode.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The last few minutes end with Cassandra attacking everyone in Corona, destroying everything with Black Rocks, and has taken over Corona, which means Rapunzel's vision had come true.
  • Super Gullible: Cassandra finally realizes the little girl she had been following was Zhan Tiri and that she had been manipulated. Despite that, she winds up believing Zhan Tiri again in thinking Rapunzel is out to get her despite the play scene earlier and Zhan Tiri’s previous manipulations.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Cassandra wants to make things right with Rapunzel, but because she did a lot of horrible crimes, people will understandably attack her or create measures against her. If Varian actually pushed the trigger on the weapon (which was Zhan Tiri’s doing) such a reaction would’ve been expected in any case.
    • While it would be easy to label either Rapunzel or Cassandra "the bad guy", the girls make it clear that their relationship was a little more complicated than that.
  • Swapped Roles: During the play, Faith!Cassandra takes on Rapunzel's role while the princess takes on Cass' role as they talk about their issues.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Convinced that Rapunzel and Varian want to destroy her, Cassandra sheds all restraint left in her and conquers Corona.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Downplayed. While Rapunzel still doesn’t want to hurt Cassandra, Varian and Eugene are less optimistic about her returning to their side and, while admitting that they don’t want to hurt her either, are willing to come up with a contingency plan to take her down for good should the need arise.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In "Cassandra's Revenge", Cassandra spared Varian and only kept him in her castle to lure Rapunzel. Here, she openly attempts to kill him.
  • Trash the Set: The episode ends with Cassandra taking over Corona and covering the city and the royal castle in black rocks.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Cassandra curls into a ball as she asks herself what is she doing to her home and her friends.
  • Understatement: Cassandra admits to Owl that she hasn't been the nicest person lately. And she has spent the better part of this season attempting to brutally murder Rapunzel multiple times, harming innocents who have done nothing to her, and plotting a war against Corona in hopes of taking over the kingdom.
  • Villain Has a Point: Zhan Tiri admits that she did manipulate her, but points out that Cassandra has no one to blame but herself for the choices she made, and how she's a coward for not going up to Rapunzel and apologizing face to face. Also, while Cassandra may have wanted to make things right with Rapunzel, her retaliating at others who have every right to attack her proves Zhan Tiri’s first point that Cassandra is unwilling to take responsibility for what she did.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Creating an amber gun to take down Cassandra is pretty extreme for Varian, especially considering his own past experiences with the stuff, but he’s honestly just convinced that Cassandra may be too far gone after all she’s done, and there’s clear sadness in his voice when he tells Rapunzel he doesn’t want to hurt her either. This claim is proven to be true when she attacks later on and he’s clearly much less eager to pull the trigger when he has her in his sights than he was with the training dummies and even attempts to reach out to her again.
  • Wham Episode: Cassandra has taken over Corona, mostly destroyed the castle with her black rocks, and forced the royal family to evacuate the village.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • One can’t help but wonder what exactly Cass did to the real Faith, unless she DID run away after hearing what Crowley said.
    • The Captain of the Guard is nowhere to be seen in the evacuating crowd during Cassandra's rampage.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Varian, and to a lesser extent Eugene, are willing to harm Cassandra and possibly even kill her if necessary. Considering the things she's done and the threat she poses, though, it's sadly justified.