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It takes a literal monster for Louie to learn humility on shrugworthy, penultimate DuckTales

Screenshot: Disney (DisneyNOW)
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Let’s just go ahead and state the obvious: like Louie’s whole approach to acquiring an enormous amount of wealth, there is just something weirdly lazy in utilizing a monstrous behemoth to goad Louie into accepting the fact that he not ready or worthy in being the richest duck in the world. It’s just a bit insincere that he ends up having to accept his limitations at the risk of being killed. It’s a fine, strong lesson, and it’s great to see Louie finally work hard at a thing (shining shoes), but that he learns it at the risk of life and limb takes away any really personal insight or re-evaluation of what he wanted most in the world. Also, does this mean that Louie will no longer hone his gifts for manipulations, which, morals aside, does have its benefits, especially in the cutthroat, adventurous world these ducks live in? And I guess we are done with any more explorations of the tricky, walking-on-eggshells conflict between Della and Louie?

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It isn’t that this episode is bad, per se. But of all the narrative and thematic options that were available to portray the folly and dilemma that would arise from the concept of “greedy, self-centered child with sudden access to wealth and resources realizes he’s over his head, can’t handle responsibilities, and needs to humble himself,” this is best the show could offer? And why is it that no one else seems at least somewhat concerned about this? Not even Della? It’s admittedly just a baffling direction for this narrative to take, this late in the season. “The Richest Duck In The World!” itself is entertaining on its own, with Louie cutting the magical defenses budget so he can fund the Ottoman Empire reunion, but inadvertently freeing this Bombie monster, a cursed being that chases the richest person in the world unless they learn humility. But it’s hard not to wonder about all those other potential ideas as this episode unfolds.

Louie, Launchpad, and Owlson head to Falcon Island upon hearing about an emergency, only to be chased around by the creature for good couple of minutes. It’s odd that the bulk of this episode takes place there, since it feels like Bombie would still be an isolated issue had they not bothered to go. (Bombie hitches a ride on the plan to get most of the way back, which is how they get Bombie back to the city, otherwise it would be wandering the ocean floor for years.) The episode does perks up during two parts: once, when Owlson absolutely gives up on working for an assortment of child-brained, scheming, reckless characters, striking off to do her own thing. It’s a funny bit of self-awareness (and relatable, to be honest). The second is the third act, in which both Louie and Scrooge end up battling the beast, only to both learn that they need to humble themselves. It’s an endearing moment but it lacks weight, since the episode, nor the season really, put much emphasis on either Scrooge’s haughtiness or any juxtaposition between him and Louie. The episode, in its broadest, most hokiest terms, just says rich people need to be responsible and modest. Well, yeah.

Screenshot: Disney (DisneyNOW)

The B-story isn’t much either, but it at least offers a bit of insight into Della’s time on the moon, and a bit of a teaser into tomorrow’s season finale. Della tries to get touch with Penumbra and the Moonlanders, recruiting Dewey, Huey, and Webby to help. They do all this on Dewey’s fake show, which is cute and has a couple of solid gags (the raccoon runner in particular), but this mostly done so Della can somewhat work through the abject loneliness she felt on the moon. Early in the episode she mentions how she looked in the mirror for three straight weeks for some sort of companionship, to the point she actually can’t see her reflection as just a reflection anymore. This does explains why she may have taken to Penumbra so quickly–the poor woman was desperate for a friend, for someone to talk to. It’s a small but rewarding moment, something to pull from the midst of everything else.

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The Louie side of things, however, really just kills all the momentum this season was building up. It feels so arbitrary, so random, and it makes the final episode less exciting to look forward to. There’s a chance that “Moonvasion!” could tie it all together, that it could pull some kind of trick and produce a stellar, shocking episode that blows us out of the water. But I’m struggling to see how, really, especially since the Moonlander stuff isn’t all that interesting either. Here’s to seeing if this season can pull a bang out of this whimper.


Stray observations

  • The Bombie is a monster from the old Scrooge McDuck comics, which has a bit of a dated, sordid flavor. I do like he’s more of an old school zombie, which were not the undead come alive, but more wandering, possessed humans under the control of some warlock or magical being.
  • I originally liked Owlson as a competent foil to Glomgold, and to be clear, I still like her a lot, but there’s a chance she may be too sobering, self-aware of a character if she just ends up being rich and... normal.
  • How was the other richest person in the world surviving the Bombie before Scrooge became the richest? The answer is, because cartoons, but it shouldn’t that have been addressed somehow? I feel like a large amount of this episode was... ill-thought-out.
  • This episode never really laid bare any comparisons between Louie and Doofus either, which is an idea that never really clicked, despite that being something the creators strived for. I won’t say more about it unless people in the comments are curious.
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About the author

Kevin Johnson

Contributor, The A.V. Club, with a clear preference for all things cartoons; check out his main blog at http://www.totalmediabridge.com.