The “Descendants” timeline is chock-full of inconsistencies. Weirdly, the film refuses obvious opportunities to fix this: A throwaway line about all characters being subject to an anti-aging immortality spell, for example, could explain certain characters existing alongside each other. But no such explanation is ever offered. As a result, we watch Mulan’s daughter reference her mom winning a war that happened hundreds of years ago in a class with Cruella’s son. In what world could someone who skinned dogs in the 1960s and a warrior who lived centuries in the past have children the same age?
Things only get more confusing from there. None of the characters’ clothing makes any sort of sense, given the eras they’re meant to be from. The movies’ location is even more confusing: According to their own lore, Belle and the Beast united many different fantasy kingdoms into the United States of Auradon. However, Auradon appears to cover a very limited area and contain a small number of people. Where did everyone go — and when?
If your parent spent your entire childhood spewing ridiculous tales about the evil nature of dogs, you’d probably end up afraid of them. Cruella’s son Carlos has indeed absorbed his mother’s many batty, dog-hating ramblings, and, having never actually met a dog before, he’s inclined to believe her. Yet when he meets the Auradon Prep pup, Dude, he’s given some “alone time” with the animal with zero monitoring.
Sure, the whole point of Ben’s mandate to let some villain kids enter Auradon is to give them a second chance. But this is still a pretty bad idea on multiple levels. These kids have had their sense of self (and sense of the world) warped by the most notorious villains around — it’s not exactly a swell idea to immediately put them in a position to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Carlos certainly deserves the chance to prove himself, but maybe not right away, or at the potential expense of an innocent dog. There’s giving someone a second chance, and then there’s straight-up negligence.
The moral of “Descendants 2” is accepting yourself for who you are. But in the end, Mal gives her book of magic to the Fairy Godmother to embrace her “goodness.” The entire movie suggests that magic doesn’t make anyone evil — it’s what you do with it that counts. Moreover, magic is a big part of Mal’s life, and were she to embrace it, rather than shove it away, she could use it to help Auradon. But Auradon would rather Mal reject magic altogether. This leaves the land defenseless against people who use dark magic, like Mal’s mother, in addition to being in total opposition to the movie’s moral.
The “Descendants” movies’ magical message is murky, to say the least. We see Mal go back and forth between embracing and rejecting who she is, sending a confusing and convoluted message to the young audience tuning in. Everyone has something they struggle to accept about themselves, but Mal’s actions are out of step with the story’s purported themes. Given that this is a Disney production, you might expect them to do a better job.
This entire duet is a terrible message to send to young viewers, many of whom are dealing with the same sort of issue. At one point, Hades actually says, “You’re stronger with those daddy issues.” Yikes doesn’t even begin to cover it. No, Hades, you haven’t given Mal everything by giving her nothing. She spends the entire series unlearning this. Let’s not give abusers credit for the hard work their victims do to become stronger individuals. Hades has taken enough from her — he doesn’t get to steal this too.
It makes sense that after years of unfair treatment on the Isle, Mal would want to make things better. But Mal’s solution to Auradon and the Isle’s discord is simply letting all of the villains out of the Isle. Her hastiness to take down the barrier between Auradon and the Isle is an overcorrection done on a whim, with no provisions provided to make things safe for everyone — the villains included. This is pretty much guaranteed to backfire.
Denizens of Auradon are full of disdain for Isle kids — and they aren’t even the ones guilty of villainous crimes. This divide will inevitably cause animosity between the two groups. If Mal had done an ounce of planning ahead of time, she could have created programs for Auradon’s newest citizens, put safeguards in place, and worked on getting the people of Auradon on board, ensuring a well-informed transition. But none of that happens. Taking down the barrier without a plan in place isn’t just a bad idea — it’s setting the people of the Isle up for failure. You can’t just sing “Kumbaya” and expect everything to be perfect, especially when you have a lady who skins dogs for fun and a queen who enjoys poisoning people with apples!
This content was originally published here.