DuckTales has been kind of busy during its first season, hasn’t it?
I mean, I’m not complaining. The series has remained one of the most entertaining of its kind since its premiere last year, and the original 80’s cartoon certainly had a lot going on as well. But a key difference between the two is that the first DuckTales wasn’t interested in drawn-out story arcs which lasted for an entire season–or continuity in general–whilst the modern show has a fairly dramatic one going on surrounding the disappearance/potential death of a beloved relative. I understand the need to have fun–the creators certainly have a massive toybox they can play with–but there’s still the risk that the reboot is going to become too loaded with characters and plots for its own good. So far, that hasn’t been an issue, but with the introduction of yet another new character this week, I’m starting to get slightly concerned.
That character would be Goldie O’Gilt, an old (very old) flame of Scrooge’s who he bumps into at a gala held by Glumgold showing off his latest treasure. Scrooge claims he only goes to these events for the fun of eating off of his sworn enemy’s dollar, but it turns out the loot he’s displaying–the skeleton of a woolly mammoth–has more value than Glumgold realizes, and its skull is promptly snatched up by a thief. Scrooge immediately figures out that it’s Goldie who’s the culprit, as she has a history of stealing from him and others repeatedly, but he also understands why she took it in the first place: as a result of a past squabble between the two of them, the mammoth has half of a treasure map stuck between its teeth, one which leads to a river literally flowing with gold.
Scrooge goes home to find Goldie digging around his mansion for the map (as he expects), with Webby and Mrs. Beakley tied up in the closet, and here I guess is as good as time as any to talk about this updated version of the character. On the original DuckTales, Goldie was indeed a con artist, but she also developed a reasonably dependable form of integrity once she became involved with Scrooge. Though he accused her of robbing him just before they were set to run away together, it turned out she had been framed for the crime, and Scrooge was forced to swallow his pride and apologize for the years wasted between them. The new Goldie, by contrast, comes across (in this episode at least) as a pretty terrible person, constantly stabbing Scrooge in the back over and over again after emotionally manipulating him into doing what she wants. Sure, she’s charming and even kind of sexy (well, for a duck), and guest star Allison Janney helps greatly in making her appealing and fully capable of going webbed toe-to-toe with Scrooge. Still, she remains a very unhealthy companion for him, even though he–and the episode itself to a certain extent–more or less gives her a pass for her behavior.
But anyway, Scrooge reluctantly agrees to team up with Goldie to find the treasure, leaving everyone else–including the nephews, who are enamored with curiosity and excitement over their uncle having had a “thing” in his past–at home. This makes this episode the first truly Scrooge-centric adventure for the rebooted DuckTales so far, allowing for us to witness the character on his own without having to worry about the safety of any children. Due to the company of Goldie, though, this makes him both more confident and more vulnerable, eventually confessing to her that he allowed for himself to truly fall in love with her shortly before she left him for dead. Goldie brushes his proclamation of affection aside, claiming that she knew he would be okay because he was Scrooge McDuck, the master of cheating death. Death is pretty much the only thing Scrooge is willing to cheat for, as in spite of his greed he does have a pretty solid moral compass, earning every penny he’s made in a fair way. Goldie, of course, has turned to crime to get where she is today, and her excuse that Scrooge liked her because she loved gold more than she loved him comes across as just that: an excuse.
Eventually, Glumgold shows up once they find the river of gold to gleefully inform Scrooge that he had teamed up with Goldie in order for her to betray him, though he elaborates on certain details in order to make it sound as though they’ve been having a steamy affair with each other (the “flashback” done in comic book panels illustrated in the style of the original Carl Barks tales that inspired DuckTales is terrific). Goldie and Scrooge briefly sword fight with pick-axes, but when the cave starts collapsing she shoves him out of the way of falling rubble, resulting in her falling into the molten gold below. Believing she’s been killed, Glumgold takes her gold-covered “body” and victoriously gets ready to try to destroy Scrooge once again, but Goldie was wearing a magical amulet that protects her from burns, and she shows up to save her unofficial boyfriend…and steal all the gold from the river for herself.
I’m…torn on this ending. On the one hand, Goldie saves Scrooge not once, but twice, but on neither occasion was she risking her own life in order to do so, and she still betrays him again even as he’s thrilled to see her alive. There is an implication during the final scene that Goldie is willing to “owe Scrooge one” down the road, and perhaps this will allow her true redemption whenever she shows up again. But for the time being, I think that Scrooge should maybe seek out a new love interest.
* Scrooge being able to talk to a bear and then tying Goldie to the back of it was a great callback to the first Goldie episode on the original DuckTales cartoon (in which she had a pet bear).
* Speaking of the original DuckTales, I suppose it makes sense that Goldie is no longer allowed to shoot a shotgun at Scrooge repeatedly.
* The amulet that saves Goldie from a horrible death may sound like a cheap cop-out on paper, but the episode handles it extremely well by having Goldie casually mention acquiring the item to Scrooge at the start of the story, making it an effective “Ahhhhhh” moment when she survives.
* Allison Janney fans should seek out 2006’s animated comedy Over the Hedge if they haven’t already, in which she’s absolutely hilarious as paranoid suburbanite out to destroy the woodland critter heroes.
* “We’re still in your will, right?”
* In the next episode, Doofus will show up. Yay?