In “The Return of Quaid,” the Baron’s lackey Anthony the Weasel shows up demanding money from everyone in Varaderos. Rapunzel tries to inspire them to stand up to him, but it’s to no avail. They find a statue of Captain Quaid, who Eugene explains was a pillar of the community and the town sheriff. They bribe local hooligan Vex to take them to Quaid, whom they find living in a humble cottage, raising honey bees and a garden. He starts out disinterested in helping the town, explaining that he gave up because of the people and their spineless nature. Throughout the episode characters frequently make reference to when Quaid “met his match,” but he says that he was always able to catch and detain crooks until he realized that the people of Varaderos wouldn’t stand up for themselves.
Rapunzel and her friends stage a fake mugging for Quaid to break up, and of course he does. This leads to a montage of Quaid catching criminals, amassing believers who follow and help him, and eventually deputizing Vex of all people. As they all celebrate at his cottage, Quaid spots the disguise the original mugger wore with the gang’s belongings, as well as coins in Vex’s bag, and realizes what happened. Disheartened, he retreats to solitude, leaving Vex and Rapunzel’s allies as Varaderos’ only defense against people like the Weasel. Sure enough, the Weasel returns with a hulking creature called the Collector, complete with bionic parts and a fearless attitude. Vex and Rapunzel initially get their butts kicked, but in the end Quaid shows up and together they send the Collector running.
I really dislike the trope where one character tricks another and there’s a big dramatic “reveal” when they realize what really happened. It’s a lazy way to create drama, it slows the story down and we all know what’s going to happen anyway: the wronged party will realize they’ve been deceived, pout for a while, come to see that the liar had good intentions and help them out anyway. If anything, I’m just surprised that Quaid didn’t recognize Lance and Shorty even with their costumes. The fight is clearly staged and Shorty’s face isn’t even covered; wouldn’t it be a little convenient for the victim of a mugging to be one of Rapunzel’s friends, and so soon after she tried to convince him to take up law enforcement again? And even with the cape and cowl, it’s obvious who Lance is; nobody else in the show looks like him. Either way, I really don’t care for this section of “The Return of Quaid” because I dislike the trope in general and they don’t do anything interesting or unexpected with it here. I also dislike that Rapunzel is the mastermind behind the trick because she’s usually more considerate than that.
“The Return of Quaid” also feels rushed. We don’t get to know Quaid very well, although he seems like a potentially interesting guy. I like that the reason he gave up on the people was because they wouldn’t stand up for themselves. They just expect someone else to fight their battles for them, which is why in the beginning of the episode they simply relinquish their goods and currency to Anthony. Why would anyone want to help people like that? I also like how he cares for and knows so much about the bees. Seeing as his name is in the episode’s title, I really wanted to know more about this guy. I will also say that, at times, something seems off about his voice. It sounds like two different guys, although only one, Reg E. Cathey, is credited.
This rushed tone also leaves little room for interesting fight scenes. I just finished watching “The Return of Quaid” and can barely remember what happens in the climax. The Collector shows up and kicks butt until Vex and Quaid douse him in pheromones, attracting the bees. Everything that happens before the bees escapes me. It also feels like Eugene and Cassandra are non-entities in this episode, despite being the second and third most important characters in the series. I’m not saying every episode has to focus on them, but here they’re in the background the whole time, doing essentially nothing. They follow Rapunzel and agree with her, and that’s pretty much it. You may as well have said they went to get supplies, leaving Rapunzel and Vex alone for this adventure. Since Lance seems to be the designated comic relief character in the series, I also wish they’d make him funnier. It seems like a common sense request, but I don’t find myself laughing at his antics and jokes very often.
It also feels like Vex’s turn from turd blossom to deputy crime fighter happens too quickly. In “Outside the Corona Walls” — and even in “The Return of Quaid” — she was making fun of Rapunzel (which I hate her for) and trying to make things difficult, and suddenly we’re supposed to believe she’s helping Quaid because she wants to and not because Rapunzel paid her to. Quaid’s initial disgust at seeing the coins in her bag is justified and represents how I feel about Vex altogether. I’m glad Cassandra is nicer and more tolerable this season, and it feels like Vex is taking over the position of resident jerk.
“The Return of Quaid” isn’t horrible but it’s not great either. Especially coming off the heels of “Beyond the Corona Walls,” the season’s second episode has little to impress the audience and feels like filler. Maybe if this had been a two-parter and the story and characters were fleshed out a little more it would’ve worked better, but as is this isn’t one I can see myself revisiting often. Reg E. Cathey’s voice acting is hit-or-miss for me, Rapunzel feels a little out of character, several of the show’s main characters have nothing to do and the story feels forced at times. There also aren’t any diverting musical numbers and nothing huge or life-altering happens, so I think it’s fair to skip this one.