Relieved to be Asked
Let me set the scene. Lonnie (Mulan's daughter) drops by the dorm room of Mal (Maleficent's daughter) and asks for Mal to do her hair. Being from rival groups (good vs. evil) Mal asks Lonnie why she should help. Lonnie offers $50, which might be a lot in this universe since Mal is from a prison island and all (long story). Mal's friend Evie (the Evil Queen's daughter) accepts the money and convinces Mal to help Lonnie, who has been perfectly polite and friendly while asking for the favor (and not acting like she is buying the services of the prison girl - which would have been a terrible take on the scene). However, here is my problem with the scene: Mal is acting like she doesn't want to help the whole scene through, even when her friend Evie is asking her to help Lonnie. Yes, Mal does help in the end, but in a very reluctant, and slightly annoyed, way.
This is a perfect example of a scene that could have been way more interesting and character-building if the director had told the actress playing Mal (Dove Cameron) to be reluctant, but relieved to have been asked, in the moment when she finally says okay to helping her fellow teenage girl. This small change in the way that 1 second was presented would have given the character the sense of humanity that the movie struggled to inject subtly in so many other scenes, since the character is supposed to be from an evil family while still being a good person deep down. Making this change would achieve the thing the movie was trying to do anyway, but it would tell the story of the character through how she felt when doing good acts in addition to, or instead of, her doing separate good acts later on. It is not black and white. You can have your "evil" character do good acts, while on paper being against it, but in the moment portraying a sense of relief that she is allowed to do good. Subtlety makes all the difference.
This concept of reluctantly doing something, while actually being relieved that you were asked/told to do so, is not only relevant to Disney Channel movies - or media in general. A lot of people probably recognize the feeling of wanting to do something, but being afraid of how that act would affect how you are viewed by people who know you and if it would be "uncool" or whatever. However, then if a friend asks, tells, or dares you to do it anyway, this hesitation might disappear and you might do the "uncool" thing anyway - acting like you are doing it reluctantly, while actually being relieved that you got the opportunity to do it, without losing your "cool" demeanor. Some might notice the relief in you, most probably won't, but in the moment you are showing a tiny bit of who you are without actually doing anything different - but by simply feeling differently about something you're told to do. This subtlety is important in real life and I appreciate when movies are able to use such kinds of subtlety to build characters, since it doesn't require any change to situations - only to how the actors portray their characters in these situations in the most subtle of ways.
In conclusion, it is possible for Maleficent's daughter to help Mulan's daughter do her hair while seeming reluctant to do so, but actually being glad she was asked.
Let me set the scene. Mal (Maleficent's daughter), Evie (the Evil Queen's daughter), Carlos (Cruella de Vil's son), and Jay (Jafar's son) are laying out their plan to take over the kingdom - which their unloving parents are forcing them to. Part of the plan was to give a love potion to the prince to force him to fall in love with Mal; that part of the plan has already been executed. Now Evie notices that Mal is reading up on how to break a love spell. Mal explains that after the villains have taking over the kingdom, kicked people out of their homes, imprisoned the current leaders, and destroyed everything that is good and beautiful, then still having the prince be under the influence of the love potion just seems a little too cruel.
I loved this scene. It perfectly showed character depth and understanding of two different kinds of evil - external effect, like imprisoning someone, and internal effect, like taking away someone's agency and control over themselves. Mal recognizes this distinction and, while might having been desensitized to the external effect of evil by growing up as Maleficent's daughter, she does not feel comfortable with having removed a person's ability to control their own thoughts and actions - having removed their free will. That just seems a little too cruel.
I fully understand and agree with Mal. There is something extra cruel about taking away another person's agency - being it by using a love spell, erasing their memories, or through psychological abuse. You are taking away what makes the person themselves and turning them into something else. While under the effect they are not their true self. You are your mind - and when someone has taken that away or over, what's left of you?
Mal recognized the cruelty of taking away a person's agency - but what if there is no agency in the first place? This is a general problem with too many movies and series not giving their characters agency at any point - or removing it along the way in order to drive the plot forward or even just because of lazy character writing.
I should probably mention what I mean when I talk about character agency. A character has agency if they have the ability to make decisions and affect the story they are part of. They have their own motivations and are active rather than just reactive. They help push the plot, possibly even more than the plot pushes them; the plot might even only exists as a direct result of the character's actions. This is character agency; and that sidekick, who the story would be exactly the same without, has none - even if their witty commentary makes you smile once in a while.
Not giving certain characters any agency has several negative effects. Most noticeable might be that the characters feel stale and boring. A lot of stuff can happen to them, but their actions don't seem to matter - because they don't. The characters haven't been giving the opportunity or ability to affect the world they are part of; they are just flowing along, making no ripples in the water. These stale characters can feel off-putting, which sometimes leads to the viewer starting to be annoyed with them - or even hating them. The character has been given no agency by the writer and, as a result, you dislike the character - and too often forgetting why. The character did nothing wrong - in fact, the character did nothing at all - and that is the problem.
In conclusion, even the daughter of Maleficent recognizes that taking away someone's agency is just a little too cruel.
Let me set the scene. Mal (Maleficent's daughter) is making love potion chocolate chip cookies in order to become some prince's girlfriend, so she can steal a stick or something (long story). The recipe calls for one tear of human sadness, which is kind of a difficult ingredient since Mal "never cries". Carlos (Cruella de Vil's son) suggests cutting onions to create tears, which Jay (Jafar's son) agrees with as "a tear is a tear" - but then Evie (the Evil Queen's daughter) drops a knowledge bomb about how an emotional tear differ from a reflex tear on a molecular level. Long story short, Lonnie (Mulan's daughter) ends up shedding a tear when realizing that the others grew up with parents who didn't love them - and the love potion chocolate chip cookies are complete.
The aspect of this scene that I would like to talk is Evie's sudden in-depth knowledge about chemistry despite her showing no sign of similar interests or knowledge in the rest of the movie (and even if there were, there are plenty of other movies/series with this character trope). This is something that happens quite a lot in movies and series, where the "dumb blonde girl" character is attempted redeemed by, in one single scene, saying or doing something impressive - most often something viewers would associate with high intellect, like dropping a knowledge bomb about chemistry. In this way the movie is kind of saying "no, she is not a dumb, superficial girl stereotype - she knows science!" - As if that somehow makes up for a boringly written character.
I like when characters surprise me by another aspect of the character being revealed and explored. The series Teen Wolf did this in a good and interesting way with Lydia, who not only allowed the viewer to know her better, but with her friends going through a similar character exploration with Lydia allowing them to see her true self. However, when such character exploration isn't an ongoing thing, but only present in one singular moment, then it simply doesn't work. A 1-dimensional character does not become 3-dimensional by saying one unexpected line one time; it is a cop out, with the writer trying to excuse the lack of character complexity by throwing one single curveball. The moment feels out of character and not as a character trait, as it should, because there is no real character for the moment to be a reflection of. It is just a moment with the blank object doing something unexpected and then going back to being a blank object. No character exploration or development - just an out of place moment. Characters without character are boring.
In conclusion, if the Evil Queen's daughter had character, then her knowledge about proteins in human tears might not seem all that out of place.