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    Five Thoughts on DuckTales‘ “From the Confidential Casefiles of Agent 22!”

    By | July 10th, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    DuckTales is back from hiatus to finish out the first season of the reboot, and now it’s made the jump from Saturday mornings on Disney XD to the Disney Channel proper. So, let’s dive in! In this week’s episode, Mrs. Beakley’s secret agent past is finally revealed in her first team-up with Scrooge.

    1. Mrs. Breakley’s backstory. Finally!

    It feels like I’ve been waiting the whole series for this episode. Mrs. Beakley’s secret agent past has been teased since the beginning, and I’m so glad they actually delivered a solid backstory for her. (I’m still waiting to learn about Launchpad’s ninja ex-girlfriend though.) The juxtaposition of Beakley and Scrooge’s first meeting against Scrooge and Webby’s first adventure together made for one of my favorite episodes of the series, and probably the best since the premiere episode. The events that took place in the past provided more emotional weight to Scrooge and Webby’s budding relationship, while also filling in much needed holes in our characters’ histories. The way the episode intercuts between the two timelines was very effective. The action scenes were extremely well animated, while also furthering the plot and character development. The writers even threw in a great bit of nostalgic reference to Adventures of the Gummibears in a way that fit organically with the story.

    2. From Duckburg With Love

    Mrs. Beakley and Scrooge’s time in S.H.U.S.H. was a great homage to classic British spy stories. The character design is most reminiscent of The Avengers (the Steed and Peel variety, as opposed to what most of us now think of with that name), with Scrooge’s bowler and Beakley’s beehive hairdo. The design of Black Heron in both timelines was great as well. I’m not super familiar with Steed and Peel’s exploits to have caught any other references to them, but there was a great reference to another famous British spy franchise. Scrooge had to trade in his cane for the “Von Drake Action Cane PPK,” mirroring the scene in Dr. No where James Bond must trade in his weapon of choice, a Beretta 418, for the iconic Walther PPK that most people associate with the character. Using Ludwig Von Drake (who shows up in various classic Disney cartoons anywhere a professor-type is needed) as the director of the spy organization was a nice touch as well.

    3. Creepy Webby

    This was a great Webby episode, in general, but my favorite part was her initial scene with Scrooge. Creepy Webby is my favorite Webby. It was gloriously awkward as Webby rattled off everything she knew about Scrooge as she perfectly executed his exact tea preparation preference. Scrooge is too narcissistic to really care how uncomfortable that interaction should have been. The title of Scrooge’s biography, “The Man With the Golden Everything,” was another nice reference to a James Bond story. The scene also allows us to see more of penny-pinching scrooge, revealing an additional gross detail about him: that he likes to use the same teabag for a month.

    4. “Bouncing here and there and everywhere!”

    The integration of elements from classic Disney cartoon, Adventures of the Gummibears, was expertly done. They took Gummiberry Juice, The Great Book of Gummy, and even references to Dunwyn Castle, and worked them organically into the episode. If you had no idea what all those things were, the premise of a villain trying to get their hands on a secret “alchemist” recipe from an ancient book for a powerful potion wouldn’t seem out of place. My only complaint about it is that like the tease for Darkwing Duck a few episodes ago, this just had me longing for an Adventures of the Gummibears reboot as well. With all the old school Disney callbacks in the episode, the emphasis on bouncing, and Scrooge’s fancy new cane in the old timeline, I really thought they were teeing up Scrooge for his signature videogame move of using his cane like a pogo stick, but I guess we’ll have to keep waiting for them to throw that in somewhere.

    5. Timeline jumping done right

    The storytelling in the episode was the strongest part. Timeline switching can be jarring if not done properly (as Westworld fans are all too familiar with), but I think the points that the show chose to switch back and forth at really worked for the story. We learn a lot more about Beakley, Scrooge, and Webby in the episode because of how the scenes intercut. We see versions of the same events, first with Beakley in the lead with Scrooge as a new recruit, and then with Scrooge leading Webby. Beakley is revealed to still be performing the same role as handler for Scrooge, she’s just found a new way to do it. Scrooge has grown in some ways but stayed the same in others. He still uses his wealth as a barrier to keep people at a distance, but has started to let people close, as is evident by his now trusted relationship with Beakley, and newfound paternal feelings for the boys and now Webby. He’s also still working on taking other people’s advice, as he completely forgets how Beakley dispensed the incendiary blob, and Webby uses the same exact technique. As for Webby, she’s slowly becoming less timid and confident in her many skills. I feel like that’s a pretty crucial part of her character, so it will never completely go away, but at least there is progress.

    Continued below

    The other component to the story being so successful was that they dropped any kind of b-plot. The flashbacks kind of serve that function, but since each scene directly fed into what was happening in the current timeline, there was no need to contrive a way for them to come together in the climax of the episode. The rest of the cast was quickly dispensed at the beginning, so this was just a tight, focused episode. The show is much better for it. (Although I do wish they would find a use for Donald at least a little more often.)

    Afterthoughts

    • “When the going gets tough, the tough gets tufting!”
    • “So, what are your thoughts on sword-horses? You know, unicorns.”
    • “Great sacks of delirium!”
    • Launchpad blindfolding himself to keep their location secret is very on brand.

    //TAGS | DuckTales

    Justin Beeson

    Justin Beeson is a dad, husband, DevOps engineer, and comic book and Android enthusiast. He covers news, TV, and does the occasional review at Multiversity Comics, and can be found on Twitter at @thisJUSTin816.

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