Terrible Pun Title: I thought this was just a play on “Garden of Eden,” but then I discovered there is a 1950s Western called Garden of Evil. Well either way, as a title for this episode it works fine.
Plot: Twenty years ago, the sultan took a flower from a mysterious garden. Now its owner has come to Agrabah to take the sultan’s most precious treasure.
Animated by: Our familiar friends at Walt Disney Television Animation (Australia). I think they did a good job with Arbutus and his creations, but I’ll be okay with them never animating Jasmine again.
What I thought then: I watched this episode a lot as a kid because I had it on an official Princess Collection VHS, but it wasn’t one of my favourites. I was frustrated by Aladdin’s refusal to listen and I didn’t love the “You killed a good guy but it’s not a complete loss” sort of ending. Even now I prefer a happy or a tragic ending to a bittersweet one.
Also I was always 100% certain that the sultan knew that Jasmine was his most precious treasure but was just too embarrassed to say so.
What I think now: Okay first off Ron Perlman did an amazing job as the voice as Arbutus. His character design is great too, and he even has a solid catchphrase! I’m really impressed by how memorable this character is even though he only appears in one episode.
Having said that! I know this episode is a decently popular one but I think it’s kind of a mess. There is a lot of running – attacking – getting caught – escaping – running – getting caught – attacking – escaping in this episode and I think at least some of that time would have been better served actually fleshing out the points they were trying to make. Basically, Arbutus is angry with humans because of the way they pluck or burn or otherwise destroy flowers and other plants. Jasmine’s response to this, if you’ll allow me to facetiously sum it up, is: “But we like plants!” And through THIS they reach some kind of mutual understanding? Arbutus’s legitimate environmental concern is supposed to be matched not by some kind of ~circle of life~ argument or an argument about how humans need to do some of those things to survive (but should learn to only take what they need) but by Jasmine’s “But flowers are pretty”? I feel like just a few more lines of dialogue could have gotten this conversation to a more appropriate conclusion but unfortunately that’s all we get.
And then!! The last lines of the episode are Jasmine presenting us with a moral: “Sometimes we only see how people are different from us. But if you look hard enough, you can see how much we’re all alike.” But is that really the moral of this particular story? The overarching problem in this episode didn’t come about because someone was too quick to judge someone else – that only came up after Arbutus brought Jasmine to his garden. Wouldn’t a moral about taking care of nature be more fitting? Or even a moral about not going into people’s houses and stealing their stuff?
Anyway, I’m glad Aladdin learned not to start hacking away at villains as soon as he sees them. I’m sure he’ll never do that again.
I mean, forget the moral. I feel like over the years the part of the episode that has stuck with me the most is the moment where Aladdin trips and crushes the harp in Arbutus’s garden and nobody even comments on it. Seeing a group of supposed heroes in a scene like that made a deeper impression on me re: respecting nature and other people’s belongings than much of the rest of the episode did.
This is your future queen, guys.
I kind of genuinely love how there are multiple episodes where Jasmine demands to be included in the latest dangerous mission, but when the very palace where she lives is under direct and immediate threat she’s like “Good luck guys, I’m going to bed.”
I enjoyed Genie, Abu, and Carpet’s royal guard outfits. If Carpet lifts his, uh, head(??), his hat will fall clean off! (Also how that sword-holder-sash-thing is staying on is something of a mystery.)
As a kid I always enjoyed how Jasmine’s sleepwear is exactly the same as her usual outfit — jewelry and everything! — just a different colour. But I guess going to bed all dolled up runs in the family since the sultan apparently sleeps with his hat on:
When the guys are guarding the treasury, Iago goes from fast asleep to wide awake and stealing the key to the treasury (complete with a song! like I thought this was gonna be a plot point) to fast asleep again. How have I watched this episode so many times and never noticed this before?! I wonder if there was a scene that got cut here.
Also where the heck is Rajah.
City of Mystery
Why is Genie brushing his teeth? Why is he yawning? Are sleep and tooth decay issues that genies have to worry about???
When Jasmine is being kidnapped, Carpet is nowhere to be seen until Aladdin jumps off the balcony. It’s like as soon as Carpet saw that they were going to a room with a balcony, he just went over there and waited, knowing full well that at some point Aladdin would be flinging himself off it. I assure you this is really funny in my head.
Villain Threat Level
Aladdin continuing to attack Arbutus even as everyone with better information is shouting at him to stop is an amazing allegory for human-created climate change … They were so bold to put that in here … Truly this show was ahead of its time …
Next up: “Much Abu About Something.”