Daring to Dream

Wish Upon a Starfish

One of the most beautiful yet bittersweet episodes of the series, here we are introduced to Gabriella, Ariel's first true mermaid friend who just happens to be mute and deaf.

During one of her raids for human things on the surface, Ariel stumbles upon a musical ballerina. Enchanted by the ballerina (both the trinket and the real thing), Ariel suddenly wants nothing more in the world than to be able to dance the ballet, but she realises she lacks the "two tails" required to perform the dance properly.

As she laments her desire to dance, she meets Gabriella and Ollie, a pair of best friends not that unlike Ariel and Flounder. Ariel tells Gabriella of her dream to dance with two tails, and Gabriella responds that she, too, has a dream, and hers is to be able to sing. Ollie then tells them about the Magical Starfish who is said to be able to grant them a wish should they be able to brave Killer Crab Canyon and the Cave of Terror to get to the other side.

Ariel, of course, wants to go, and drags Sebastian and Flounder with her. Along the way (and between avoiding various dangers including a moment where Sebastian distracts the Killer Crabs by talking non-stop), Ariel and Gabriella bond in their alarming similarity of adventurousness. Soon enough they reach their destination, and make their wishes to the Magical Starfish.

However, it turns out the Starfish isn't as magical as advertised, and cannot grant them their wishes. Though they are sad, Ariel realises that what they really wanted in the end was to be able to express their inner feelings, which they thought they could only do through dancing ballet (in Ariel's case) and singing (in Gabriella's case).

Now, there are a number of reasons I find this episode bittersweet. Most obvious is that Ariel's almost careless wish for two tails is far overshadowed by Gabriella's intense desire for a voice, which (to us, the audience) is a far more feasible and noble dream and that makes it all the more painful when she doesn't get what she wants. Of course by the end of the episode Ariel is quick to realise that Gabriella never really lacked anything in the first place, despite not having a voice, and they celebrate what they already have in Daring to Dance. However! In the not-so-distant future, Ariel's number one dream would not be for two tails, but two legs, and not only does she get them, she initially trades her voice for them. (Oh, the irony.)

Beached after her wild ride through the storm.

As usual, Sebastian bears the worst of it.

Ariel manages to salvage her new treasure.

All she wants is to dance.

Ariel the dreamer.

Gabriella is the first merperson Ariel's known who's supported her outlandish dreams and desire for adventure.

Quotable quotes

Sebastian:No, Ariel, I'm not going to look in the human house. And that's final.
Ariel:Aww, just one little peek, Sebastian.
Sebastian:No no no no no and a thousand more times, no.
Ariel:You win. I guess I'll just have to find some other crab to help me.
Sebastian:Yes-I... some other crab? Huh, the idea! I'm the only crab who's gonna help you!
Ariel:Gee, thanks Sebastian!
Ariel:Isn't she beautiful?
Sebastian:Lying in bed with a hot water bottle on my bottom would be beautiful.
Gabriella:( As translated by Ollie. ) Dancing is freedom!
Ollie:The Cave of Terror. But I'm sure they just call it that to keep visitors away.
Gabriella:( As translated by Ollie. ) I wanted to sing to express my feelings. Happiness, sadness, love.
Ariel:You express yourself beautifully, Gabriella.

Flounder tries to figure out what the fuss is all about.

Gabriella spots Ariel singing.

Gabriella and Ollie.

The "Magical" Starfish.

They discover that they already have the gifts of song and dance.

Sebastian's parents are Claude and Claudia Crab (spelling?) who come from the coast of Jamaica.

This episode features the song "Daring to Dance".

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