Am I once again discussing a movie that came out long enough ago that no one is looking at articles on it? Yes I most certainly am. Because this is one that has always and probably will always bother me. That would be the misconceptions around Audrey’s story in Descendants 3. Today I’m going to look at two of the main misconceptions I see, and my own personal thoughts on the storyline. Let’s get into it.
Misconception one: Either Audrey was right or completely utterly wrong!
I’m grouping this into one misconception because it essentially comes down to the same thing, which is missing the entire point of her story. People will say that Audrey is completely in the right, and miss the fact that frankly she really isn’t. She still hurt people and terrorized an entire kingdom. People will also say that she was totally wrong and thus evil and deserved no redemption and this isn’t right either.
The Descendant’s storyline has very much always been a metaphor for children of convicts, or children just existing below the poverty line and how they don’t get the entitlement or opportunities the well off, or rich get. These children HAVE to be perfect, or else they’re written off as just like their parents. And even when they are perfect, they often get written off anyhow, until they get so desperate to have ANYTHING that they do become more like their parents (Uma anyone?) not because they were inherently that way, but because the system failed them.
Audrey’s story was not to show her being inherently good or bad. It was not about her being a vindictive bitch, nor someone who was just pushed too far. It was meant to be about a kid who screwed up because she was in pain and lashed out, and it was meant to show how differently she was treated for this versus the villain kids. This is why Hades comments on this fact as he leaves.
The point was never whether Audrey was truly awful. The point was that none of these kids are inherently bad, but society treats them differently for how they are born anyway. Audrey did deserve help and for people to be there and listen when she spiraled, but the villain kids ALSO deserved that. Audrey was not inherently evil, nor an angel. She was just a confused kid who needed someone to actually be there for her, rather than tell her she was a screw up, or ignore her entirely.
Which brings me to my next misconception.
“But Audrey SAID she wanted to hurt them! Obviously she was evil!”
This is a misconception that actually blows my mind, because it makes me wonder if we watched the same film. Audrey went and broke into the museum not specifically to grab the scepter and destroy Auradon. She went to grab the crown and do a few villainous things because in her mind, Mal was a villain and was getting everything she wanted, so why couldn’t she? In that moment she WANTED to be Mal. Which is exactly why her hair and clothes change to be closer to Mal’s style and hair colour when she gets the scepter.
And that’s the thing, the scepter had a grip on Audrey. There’s a reason it whispers to her in Queen Of Mean and why the song changes when she is pulled toward it. Listen to the lyrics.
“Something is pulling me, it’s so magnetic, my body is moving now sure where its headed. All of my senses have left me defenseless.”
The scepter is putting this whole ruling the world thing into her head. I truly believe that if she hadn’t had the scepter there, she would have simply stolen the crown and that pretty much would have been the extent of her villainy.
She wanted to be Queen because she’s been training for it her whole life, and knows nothing else. She doesn’t believe Mal deserves the crown, so she wanted to steal it from her. That’s honestly as far as I think she would have gone. But as Audrey says in the song,
“The darkness around me is promising vengeance.”
the scepter whispered about vengeance, and made that her only goal. It took a desire that was already there and amplified it until she wasn’t herself anymore. There’s a reason she goes from saying “I will be the leader of the dark and the bad” in the beginning to “I will be the RULER of the dark and the bad.” after she takes the scepter.
Her entire viewpoint has been changed by the scepter, it’s completely taken her mind and filled it with nothing but hatred and anger. Which is exactly why when her life is saved by Hades she wakes up so disoriented, and looks so genuinely distraught when she says “I wanted to hurt you.” Because she wanted to hurt them like she hurt from the beginning, but not to this level. She wanted to be the petty mean girl she always was, just to more of an extreme than before, but she didn’t want to hurt the entirety of Auradon. However, the scepter made her want to.
Now there’s a thousand things I think Descendant’s could have done better, and that’s an analysis for another time. But when it comes to Audrey I think they handled her arc beautifully. My only critique is I think it should have happened in Descendant’s 2 rather than 3, but unfortunately the actress wasn’t available anyway.
Audrey’s arc was a masterful portrayal of how rich kids are allowed to screw up, often even worse than poorer children, and get away with it simply because of their social standing. But make no mistake, her arc is not about how awful she is for having this privilege. It’s about how lucky she is for it.
Well, this concludes another episode of Rev’s rants. Why don’t you tell me in the comments, am I right or wrong? Did I miss something? Would you like to see more analyses like this in the future?
As always, this is Rev, signing off.