We’re at the final episode on Netflix, so our long and perilous journey is almost over. If you haven’t read the harrowing tales of Episode 1 and Episode 2, then go check them out right now! Now then, the final episode is the big three part special from the second season (chapter 2) of the webisodes. It’s called “True Hearts Day” and it’s about a Valentine’s day rip off. Seriously? We’re jumping on the Love Train this early? Alright, whatever. Who knows? Maybe they’ll find an interesting angle that the thousands and thousands of other cartoons that did a Nation Love Day episode haven’t yet. We can only hope.
The episode begins with a montage of characters trying to find love and/or friendship. Hunter and Ashlynn are spending time in together in the woods (which you’d think the school would have rules against and would be monitoring), Apple is being pursued by three studs simultaneously (none of which are Daring Charming), Raven is just trying to sit at a lunch table with some people (I’m guessing they’re Royals because they run from her like she’s Frankenstein’s monster), and Dexter continues to fail at both getting Raven and noticing Cupid. This time though, I can hardly blame him for failing to get the rebel because Lizzie Hearts intercepts him and fucks with his flowers!
So yeah, aside from the forbidden couple, there’s not a lot of love to be found here. Cupid ends up in the library, wasting her life away writing Dexter+Cupid in her notebook instead of, you know, actually TALKING to him!
I might be stereotyping here, but I figured that the daughter of the Greek goddess of Love (as well as taking on the moniker of Cupid) meant she would know some things about relationships. Then again, being an expert in something doesn’t mean you won’t fall into some obvious pitfalls when it happens to you. Okay; I’ll buy that, but she DOES belong in another universe, right? Does she have to return there at some point? Can she take Dexter with her if she somehow manages to win his heart? What the hell would he look like in a world full of monsters?
What the hell am I going on about? Anyway, the plot is moving at a breakneck speed, so let’s get through the bullet points. Dexter finds a book in the library for Cupid that describes a holiday that is no longer celebrated (how does she know about it if she’s new to this universe?). It’s obviously supposed to be Valentine’s Day but it’s called True Hearts Day, so maybe there’s a bit more magic involved. She goes to the headmaster’s office, where he’s ripping off Spaceballs bits, and asks him about reintroducing the holiday.
The headmaster seems surprised that someone found the book (it was in the library dude) and ominously forbids the school from celebrating the holiday because it’s somehow dangerous, while also telling Cupid not to discuss this with anyone. She meekly agrees to the headmaster’s command before turning right around and showing the book to Briar (why didn’t the headmaster take the book?). Actually, she does what every smart as does and finds a loophole. She performs overly complicated charades, and somehow Briar can figure out what she’s talking about.
Since the daughter of Sleeping Beauty is a party animal, she agrees to help Cupid put on a dance for this holiday (they still haven’t explain what it is yet) in secret. Let’s see. A bunch of girls performing secret love rituals they found in an old book? Isn’t this how most ‘witch’/’demonic possession’ horror movies start?
After that we get introduced to a new character that’s so obnoxious, that within 5 seconds of introducing him, I wanted to punch him in his stupid soul patch. He’s Sparrow Hood (son of Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, or Errol Flynn) and he plays an electric guitar in the woods with the skill of a four year old. The show also seems to be of the opinion that he’s an obnoxious jackass because ANOTHER new character (Duchess Swan, daughter of Natalie Portman) grabs him by his magic guitar (how else does it work without an amp?) and drags him away to berate him for being a dumb ass.
So it seems that Duchess is upset with Ashlynn because SHE gets to have a non-Royal boyfriend without it messing up HER happy ending, while Duchess can’t for some reason. I’m sorry, what? First of all, if all these characters are destined to recreate their parent’s story, why would the daughter of Cinderella be a Royal? She should be a poor kid who hooks up with one of the Royals, right? That said, if the relationship between Ashlynn and Hunter doesn’t fuck up their destinies, why would anyone have a problem with it? Why does Duchess care either way? Does she WANT to date a Rebel? Come to think of it, are Duchess and Sparrow an item? Does she want them to be an item, but they can’t? ALSO, wasn’t it proven in the first episode that it’s entirely possible to NOT follow your destiny? On top of that, aren’t all these fairy tales about people escaping the life that they were (more or less) destined to have? Most of these stories are about common folk becoming royalty, so why do they live in a society where a strict destiny is followed by everyone?
Look, I really like the idea of character’s being raised to fulfill certain roles, but the rules about this thing are insanely vague which leads to a lot of questions when they try to write a story around those rules like this subplot with Duchess.
Anyway, Duchess’ plan is to catch Ashlynn with Hunter and reveal it the school, which is why she’s in the woods looking for them. They eventually find the couple and sneak up on them having a romantic picnic AND NOTHING ELSE! Duchess can turn into a black swan which I guess means she’s either not the real Duchess, or she’s going to turn into a white one when she stops being evil. After turning back into a human, she uses her magic iPhone to record the two of them and proceeds to taunt Ashlynn, saying that she’ll take her place in the Royal Rankings (what?) and that means she’ll get Ashlynn’s Happily Ever After (what?). I have so many more questions, but they all seemed to disappear when Sparrow follows this scene up with a shitty guitar solo. Suddenly, all I want to do is smash him in the head with a brick which isn’t that far removed from what the other characters are thinking.
After this confusing and annoying scene, we cut back to the school where Cupid is doing a live video podcast (during class hours) that’s a love advice call in show that is ALSO being projected onto monitors within the school. Again, we start running into some issues that could have EASILY been fixed if they bothered to think this out. Set it in the evening so that we don’t wonder why Cupid (or anyone watching the show) isn’t in class. Done. Was that so hard? Anyway, Dexter calls into the show and is SUPPOSED to be digitized to protect his identity, but Cupid can easily tell it’s him. Once again he asks how to talk to Raven, and Cupid (pushing past her feelings for him) tells him to write Raven a note instead of trying to think of something on the spot. I actually liked this scene because it shows that Cupid is strong enough to not let her jealousy get in the way of doing what she needs to. A lot of cartoons would have her give bad advice in the hopes of sinking Dexter’s chances with Raven, but she’s a professional (to some extent) and handles this the right way.
After a pointless scene of Ashlynn looking morose at the shoe shop, we cut to Dexter putting his plan into motion. The note actually seems to work on Raven, but the dumb ass wrote “From D. Charming”, and Raven mistook it to mean his brother, Daring Charming. The thing is that he’s looking at her while she’s reading it and realizes that she’s made a mistake, but doesn’t take this opportunity to correct it.
We follow that up with a scene of Ashlynn and Hunter looking to Cedar Wood for advice about what to do. Naturally, the daughter of Pinocchio tells them that honesty is the best policy, and they decide to make their relationship known. The next day in school, we get some shtick with Cupid trying to hide a giant box of party supplies from the Headmaster before we get to Ashlynn and Hunter who walk into school with their heads held high and their hands firmly clasped.
Duchess is pissed because; to quote her “They can’t own it! Now I’ll never get my happily ever after!” I still don’t get how THEIR story affects HERS in any way, but whatever. Apple ends up seeing this and is somehow heartbroken that one of her Royal friends is dating a Rebel. We then cut to Blondie Locks doing a story about the two of them (apparently she has a school news show) and shows us some interviews of people reacting to the relationship. These are actually pretty funny, with Raven expressing her support while Apple cries in the background, Cerise saying that she’s happy for them while munching on a comically huge turkey leg (she’s half wolf if you recall) and Daring Charming trying to do the interview while fighting a dragon. Apple talks about why she’s not happy for them, and I gotta say that it actually kind of works. It’s like talking to one of those people who are actually sincere about their pro-life beliefs (the ones who DON’T protest women’s health clinics and yell at people in a tough situation). They don’t have all the facts which make their actions ultimately harmful, but you can see that they’re coming from a good place. Apple still buys into the idea that not following your destiny will mean you won’t get your Happily Ever After, and she’s worried about Ashlynn because of that. The rules are still too unexplained for me to say that she’s completely wrong, but I’d also say that just because Ashlynn’s closing one door, doesn’t mean a better door won’t open up. However, Ashlynn is starting feel ostracized by her old friends, so she says the worst four words you can say to a guy. “WE NEED TO TALK.” It’s even worse because he pulled out all the stops for their first lunch together.
After that sadness, we jump to the night of the big secret True Hearts Day dance. All the kids who got an invite (as far as I can tell, only two didn’t) leave their rooms and head to a secret location where the dance is being held. The two who didn’t get invites were Sparrow and Duchess because, well they’re both assholes. Since Ashlynn is back with the Royals, Duchess has come up with another plan, this time to knock Briar out of the pack. Sparrow is fed up with her, but still seems willing to go along (he doesn’t even really do anything) and they plan to ask Cedar where the dance is because she HAS to tell the truth. To reiterate something I brought up last time, WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO SPILL SECRETS!? If she said, “I can’t tell you because you weren’t invited” wouldn’t that be a completely truthful statement? Anyway, before the two antagonist put their plan in motion, we cut to the dance which is going pretty well despite the fact that Ashlynn and Hunter spend most of their time avoiding each other. We get introduced to another new character, Melody Piper who’s the daughter of the Pied Piper (the music teacher), who is the DJ for tonight’s festivities. Of course, the scene is almost ruined when rats start doing choreographed dance moves. Wait, are they her rats? Does she summon rats with her rockin’ beats like her dad does with his flute? They should really give her a brother and call him “Willard”.
We cut back to Duchess who has presumably acquired the location of the party from Cedar and is reporting it to Headmaster Grimm.
We cut back to the party where things start to unravel for some of our cast. Raven finally talks to Daring and finds out it was Dexter who sent the note. While this is happening, Dexter is sitting at a table feeling sorry for himself, and wondering why the universe has chosen him to be its current plaything. Cupid notices this and gives him a decent pep talk about not comparing your failures to other’s perceived successes, and to remember that no one’s going to like him if he doesn’t like himself. It’s a good moment from Cupid, and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite characters because she knows what’s she’s talking about and works hard to help others. She’s putting a lot on the line by having this party, but she never questions whether or not it’s worth it because she cares about everyone being happy. While the two of them are having this moment together, Raven sees them and assumes she’s too late to be with Dexter. I never got the sense that she was into Dexter that way in either of the previous episodes, but I guess that note of his did the trick.
After she’s done tending to Dexter’s wounds, Cupid get up on the stage and FINALLY tells us what this holiday is all about. So there was a tree that was called “The Heart Tree” which grew heart shaped flowers, and people would give them to the ones they love. The tree still seems to exist because a bunch of fairies storm the dance hall and drop the heart shaped flowers into people’s hands. If the Headmaster thinks this holiday is so dangerous, why does the tree still exist? Wouldn’t someone have burned it down at some point? I’m of course ASSUMING that all the adults in this world are of the same mind as the Headmaster, but if he’s the only one with a bug up his ass about it, then why do none of the other student’s know about it? Wouldn’t their parents have informed them at some point? Anyway, now that everyone has a flower, they start exchanging them, and Ashlynn gets up on stage to declare her love for Hunter. It’s a sweet little moment that ends with Apple finally accepting their relationship, even if she still disagrees with it, and the three of them have nice big hug.
Dexter very briefly nuts up and is about to give Raven his valentine but she… moves. Yeah, all it takes to shatter his confidence is for Madeline to take her to the dance floor. Lizzie comes by and takes his heart, which frankly he deserves at this point.
Aside from Dexter’s self-imposed misery, all seems to be going well, except that Duchess is still taking Headmaster Grimm to the party. They finally reach the building, and the headmaster kicks in the door like he’s Bruce Lee.
Turns out that it’s the wrong place! Cupid told Cedar a fake location, and left her a note with the real location to read later. For some reason, Sparrow’s band is practicing in there which I’m guessing wasn’t part of Cupid’s plan, but was a big middle finger to Duchess when he realized the location was a fake. Thus the party ends as a resounding success, and several couples are now leaving for their dorms, and there will presumably be a population spike nine months from now.
The problem I keep having with this show is its refusal to pick a damn lane. Are you going to try to be a decent competitor in the rapidly growing realm of decent cartoons aimed at kids, or are you not going to even bother and try to just sell us toys? There are moments and characters in this that really work, but they often rely too much on predicable story lines, and they have yet to give us a good idea of the rules that govern this world. If you’re going to have factions, and destinies and all that stuff, then you have to give us an idea of how it all works, so that when you try to have plot points revolve around them, we won’t be confused about what any of it means. If you’re going to set the show in a high school, then it has to follow the rules of a high school. Students have to go to class and rules have to be followed or at least explained so that we know when they’re being broken. All that said, I’m still hopeful that the actual series will give them a chance to work all this out which means we could have a decent show on our hands. Other than that, the humor in this episode is hit or miss, but the drama tends to be done pretty well. Cupid is coming into her own as a character, and I like that there’s the potential for future conflict between her and Raven over Dexter. That said, it’s also nice that Raven is barely in the episode, which let’s us know that they’re willing to try and explore other characters in detail instead of just sticking to the one ostensibly main character, and having all the events revolve around her in some way. It’s probably the weakest episode, but it still manages to be enjoyable.
Well that’s it for this series! There are actually a bunch of webisodes left from Chapter 2, but Netflix hasn’t put them on their service yet, and I don’t plan on reviewing them until that happens. Until then (or until the Netflix season shows up), I’ll just say that this series is actually pretty decent and worth checking out if you’re an animation buff. It’s not always good, but when it is, it really shines.