DuckTales, Season 1, Episode 14, “Jaw$”

Okay. As you’ve probably heard by now, Disney has been airing the episodes of DuckTales out of their intended order. While this hasn’t caused any major confusion so far, it has led to a handful of continuity problems, particularly when it comes to the character of Lena, who has come and gone periodically. With “Jaw$,” we get what is by far Lena’s biggest chapter to date, along with the introduction of her aunt Magica De Spell. Kind of.

I say “kind of” because…well, we still don’t get to see her, with the villain instead communicating with Lena via a magical shadow which apparently connects them (more on that later). It’s possible that this is Magica’s natural form, and that her endgame may be to get herself back into a mortal body, but I have a hunch she’s somewhere out there waiting to strike at Scrooge when she’s ready. Magica, with her red eyes and creepy appearance, is probably the closest thing DuckTales has to a “scary” bad guy so far, but she’s still largely played for laughs in many cases here, but maybe that can’t be avoided when the character’s main goal ultimately is to merely steal a coin.

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But we’re getting ahead ourselves. Lena is spending the night at McDuck Manor, invited there by Webby for her very first sleepover (Webby, being the enthusiastic but socially awkward young woman that she is, thinks that a highlight of the evening will be “brushing teeth”). Lena has other reasons to be there, however, as she places a magical gem into Scrooge’s money bin without knowing what exactly its for. Turns out the jewel is an enchanted “Money Shark” (ha, ha), a magical beast which consumes Scrooge’s fortune and his nephews, getting larger and larger as it seeks out his Number One Dime. Lena tries to play herself off as obedient when in front of her aunt, but her relationship with Webby is starting to get the better of her (then again, Lena has rescued Webby in every single one of her appearances on the show to date, so maybe she’s always cared about her). Magica eventually grows wise to this, informing Lena that sentimental fools are the very biggest fools of all before threatening her that she will never get…”something” without her help (again, more on that later).

Before I go on, I would be a bad reviewer if I didn’t get into the episode’s terrific B-story, which has Scrooge, going through some bad press following all the damage his treasure hunting has caused Duckburg, agreeing to do a TV interview in an attempt to soften his public image. Mrs. Beakley, knowing how easy it is for her employer to lose his temper, attempts to get him ready to show his “positive side” to the world, but everything turns out to be a trap as Scrooge is hammered by a reporter with an extremely negative slant towards him, even siding with Glumgold when he joins in to take another shot at his nemesis (and make another embarrassing attempt at killing him).  Scrooge is someone who can handle a life-threatening situation far better than he can handle the press, and the jokes are great here, particularly when they involve his Scottish accent being (perhaps intentionally) mistaken for Irish.

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The two plots merge when the Money Shark leaves Scrooge’s bin and begins terrorizing the city. Both Webby and Lena end up being swallowed (but are both okay, because I guess the creature digests its food extremely slowly), resulting in Lena reluctantly agreeing to do a magical “friendship chant” to save Webby which reveals Lena’s actually…well, it’s hard to tell what she is exactly. Her eyes become possessed and her entire body turns blue (similar to something which happened in a previous episode, but to a much greater extent here), which would kind of suggest that she’s a ghost. Webby, however, doesn’t notice Lena’s transformation, meaning her secret (whatever it is) is safe for now.

It is not, however, safe from her aunt, who scolds her for choosing Webby’s life over the dime. Lena tries to feign selfishness on the matter, but Magica is having none of it, giving her a final warning that her freedom–her “dark heart’s deepest desire”–depends on it. Bitterly, Lena drops the friendship bracelet Webby made for her into the abyss below. She agrees to obey her aunt from now on.

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It’s going to be interesting to see where the show takes Lena from here. From the beginning, she’s been the most conflicted character on the series, even if we still don’t know what exactly she’s been torn over. Sure, Magica is family, but she’s also an abusive control freak, and Lena appears to have nothing even resembling affection towards her. Lena’s sweater also says a lot about herself as a person, its horizontal stripes suggesting a prison uniform, which can imply that she’s either a troublemaker or someone who is simply trapped. In her case, she may be both, but since this is a Disney cartoon, friendship probably will prevail over her evil relative’s wishes. Probably.

Other stuff…

* I loved how casually everyone in the family took that Scrooge had apparently raided the beanstalk of Jack fame at the start of this episode.

* This show has been great at the comfortable relationship it has established between the three brothers. They feel so natural among each other, whether they’re bickering or simply goofing around while “swimming” inside of Scrooge’s money bin.

* “Not all of us can afford top hats, Scrooge!”

“What are you talking about? You’re rich!”

* Magica was such a delightful presence on the original DuckTales, and was as daffy as she was devious. The new Magica is holding onto to at least some of her humor, but also appears to be much more of a threat.

* “Scrooge hates magic. He won’t even allow books about magic inside his house. Guess what I’ve sneaked inside the house?”

* Donald Duck napping on his raft was funny for whatever reason.

* Scrooge struggling to be more concerned about the citizens of Duckburg than he was over potentially losing his fortune was like a joke about Mr. Krabs straight out of golden age SpongeBob SquarePants. 

* I will eventually get around to reviewing the episodes of DuckTales I have missed, including the one with the Murder Ponies.