Friday, November 25, 2022

The Tales of Flynnigan Rider

When Disney Plus first came out, I thought it would be fun to watch the Tangled TV series entitled Rapunzel’s Tangle Adventures. I remembered watching Aladdin, Timon and Pumbaa, and other Disney cartoons while growing up, so I expected a low-key Disney kids show to watch with my newborn. What I got was much more than a kids show. In fact, some of the scenes were dark enough that I was kind of surprised it was for children. 

The story follows Rapunzel and Eugene following the movie Tangled. It goes into this deep mythology of where Rapunzel’s powers came from and what her destiny would entail. However, as intriguing as the mystery of the Sun Drop was, I was more interested in the development of the conman formally known as Flynn Rider. 

In addition to the backstory of Gothel’s magical flower, we got some backstory on our beloved rogue. Before he was Eugune or Flynn, he was Prince Horace of the Dark Kingdom. Without giving too much away, baby Prince Horace was sent away from his father for his protection and was raised as an orphan named Eugene Fitzherbert. 

Now I could take a super cheesy twist on this and create an analogy of Eugene as a prince with no knowledge of his heritage being like us in mortality… but instead I’m going to focus on how agency is involved with his story.

When we first met Eugene in Tangled, he was a low life thief who was only out to help himself. By the end of the movie, he’d found something (and someone) he wanted to fight for. Throughout Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventures, he spent the years following making a name for himself in Corona, as the princess’s boyfriend and as a reformed man.

Later when he found out his true heritage as Prince of the Dark Kingdom, it could have been easy for him to get wrapped up in that. With this pride, he could have gotten a big head about being a prince, when he always believed he was a lowly peasant. He could have demanded respect from the castle staff because of his title. Alternatively, with how mad he was at his father, he could have let his pride swing him to the other side of the pendulum and forget what he learned in the Dark Kingdom. 

Instead, he kept being Eugene. He didn’t let the way he was born or the circumstances of his life define his life. I mentioned this before in reference to Rise of Skywalker, but who we choose to be has little to do with our genetics or our upbringing. Your family name only speaks to your history, not your future. And just like Eugene left behind the names Prince Horace and Flynn Rider, there’s a future, change, and progression for all of us.

Contrast Eugene’s experience with Cassandra. When Cass found out the identity of her birth mother, it sent her spiraling. She let her history and her mom put her into a dark place that pitted her against her closest friends. Because she craved her late mother’s love, she became like her mother, instead of forging her own path like Eugene and his smolder.

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