Woo-hoo! We have new episodes again!
It’s been a long time since we had a fresh DuckTales to talk about, with the most recent episode prior to last week premiering last December. To put some more clarification on that, the series made its Disney XD debut in August. Now here we are, nearly a year later, and we’re only on episode 10 of the show’s first 26 episode season. Does Disney like to frustrate its fans that much?
There could be reasons for the extreme delay, with the chief among them being the studio’s decision to move the show from Disney XD to its much more popular (and available) Disney Channel. DuckTales was Disney XD’s most popular series…maybe too popular as far as the Mouse House was concerned. With merchandise set to hit store shelves this summer, the DuckTales switch could be a sign that Disney XD is looking to rebrand itself entirely, with Big Hero 6: The Series also making the move to Disney Channel later this year, and the upcoming Star Wars: Resistence also set to premiere there this fall (Star Wars Rebels, for those doing their homework, was a Disney XD series).
In any case, we have DuckTales again now, with “The Spear of Selene!” not serving as a follow-up to any particular episode, except that it does continue Dewey’s quest to learn the secret of his mother’s disappearance, with him and Webby using the titular spear of the title as their only clue. That carries the “dramatic” weight of the episode, with the majority of the comedy coming from Scrooge and Donald, who are thankfully paired with each other for this adventure, even if they are both reluctant participants.
That’s because everyone has found themselves on a mythical Greek island, a place where Donald and Scrooge have both apparently spent plenty of time in the past, given their warm greeting from Storkules, who affectionately refers to Donald as his best friend in the world. Unfortunately, with Storkules comes his father Zeus, who is less than happy to see the duo of ducks and almost immediately starts throwing lightning bolts. There’s a bit of a red herring going on here, as the audience assumes by default that Zeus must hate Scrooge because Della Duck (Donald’s sister) stole one of his treasures, but it turns out that the reasons for his hatred are much more petty: Donald and Scrooge are the only visitors to come to Zeus’s realm who have ever been able to beat him at his games.
There’s a lot of great material involving the two of them here. Since the pilot, Donald and Scrooge haven’t quite been able to get along with each other, but this time for once they are on the same page, in that they are both so over Zeus and the various tournaments he forces them to play. Donald doesn’t respond to Zeus’s insufferable demands with anger so much as sheer underwhelmed annoyance, and one gets the impression he’s been through this countless times, always able to beat the good-natured Storkules because he’s simply too gosh darn nice to be efficiently competitive. Zeus is voiced by guest star Michael Chiklis (The Thing in the Tim Story Fantastic Four movies), with his usual level of lovability coming into play on a subtle level here, essentially playing the ancient God as a 5,000-year old toddler.
But back to the “meat” of the episode, which is centered around learning more about Della, though no major answers are provided for any head-scratching questions about her. Instead, the steps taken forward here are on a character level for Dewey, who keeps insisting that Della must’ve had a good reason for what she did, while Webby remains suspicious. Eventually the two of them reach a stand-off once the mystery regarding her appears to be within solving, with Dewey finally confessing that he’s not sure he wants to learn any more about his mother, since it might risk finding out she was a horrible person. Webby concedes, admitting that this isn’t her case to pursue, but Dewey, in the heat of the moment, grabs her and drags her into the secret chamber which is seconds away from shutting its doors. In the end, they find…not much of anything, as it turns out “The Spear of Selene” isn’t something that belonged to Zeus–or the Gods–at all, but instead a code word for something else which will have to be solved another day. Webby and Dewey do, however, come into contact with a friendly goddess with fond memories of Della, who reassures Dewey that his mother may have been many things, but that evil wasn’t one of them.
The biggest question asked by this episode, though, isn’t what the “spear” ends up being, but what exactly is Della’s current status. Is she…dead? Donald’s reactions throughout the story would appear to imply so, and in a rare moment of genuine sadness for one of Disney’s wackiest characters, he sadly tells Storkules why he isn’t eager to go adventuring with Scrooge anymore. “Someone gets hurt,” he says regretfully, not able to look his friend in the eye. “Someone always gets hurt.”
In the end, though, Donald–who Webby boasted was one of the “greatest adventurers of all time” in the pilot–finally embraces his reputation when he beats a siren-controlled Strokules in order to win Zeus’s final challenge. Nothing exactly “moves forward” in this episode story-wise (if anything, in the case of the search for Della Duck, things take a step backwards), but both Donald and Dewey become more content with themselves and their situations, even if it’s for entirely separate reasons.
* This show is still working on establishing the three nephews’ individual personalities, but I like that one of Louie’s defining character traits is that he’s kinda lazy and most reluctant among his brothers to get into conflict. To me that makes him the most relatable of the boys.
* Having said that, this continues to more or less be Webby’s series. If DuckTales has a “star,” it just might be her.
* Dewey and Webby probably didn’t need to pull off an elaborate trick in order to get Launchpad to crash onto the island. He almost certainly would’ve done that anyway!
* Though it was played for laughs, Storkules being such a good sport about losing competitions over and over and over again was something positive for kids to see. I also liked how the only way for Scrooge to be able to “beat” Zeus was to allow for him to win a game.
* The siren scene was a nice combination of funny and creepy. Also great: Storkules being thrown into a turmoil over stealing in order to be a champion.
* Gizmoduck this Friday!