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 prime time on the Disney Channel proper. So, let’s dive in! In this week’s episode, the gang crash lands on Ithaquack, an island inhabited by mythological heroes and creatures. Dewey and Webby head off to investigate the boys’ mother’s disappearance, while Scrooge and the rest engage in a series of challenges with Zeus and Storkules.
1. More Della Duck details.
It was exciting to finally get a little more progression of the mystery of what happened to the boys’ mom, Della Duck. She’s been looming over the series since the beginning, and almost forgotten since then. This episode was a good blend of furthering that story, while also tying it into the adventure of the week in the rest of the episode. There actually wasn’t too much information revealed about what happened, but it was a catalyst for some great character work and introduced the “Sphere of Selene,” which will hopefully come into play later.
3. Storkules! Storkules! Storkules!
Everything about DuckTales‘ take on Zeus and Hercules was really great. The fact that Zeus is so petty that he’s been holding a years-long grudge against Scrooge for losing a contest fits with the classic depiction of the god. Michael Chiklis’s voice-work as Zeus was perfect. He portrayed him with just the right amount of false pride and insecurity.
The episode provided a great misdirection in how Storkules idolizes Donald, a character who has been a little less than heroic (at least while we have known him), and not Scrooge the famous adventurer. Since Strorkules is only meant to be a one-note character, that idolization of Donald, and now his family, never waivers even when faced with what should be disappointment of his idol not living up to expectations. It then becomes a great frame of reference for Dewey’s struggle with a similar dynamic when it comes to his mom.
2. This is getting heavy.
Bringing Della Duck back into the story was a great opportunity to really explore what drives the characters in more depth, providing some serious emotional development for some of them. Dewey has to come to terms with the possibility that his mom may not live up to the idealization of her that he’s created in his head. It turns out that he probably doesn’t need to worry, but making the choice to seek out the truth, even at the risk of being severely disappointed, is an important milestone for his character. It’s also a big moment for Webby. Up until this point, she has been driven to seek out facts and information no matter what, even when it gets her into trouble. So when she agrees to stay outside the closing entrance to Selene’s garden, in order to support Dewey, it’s a huge progression for her.
Della’s disappearance also supplies context for why Donald quit adventuring, and his over-protectiveness of the boys. Donald’s anxiety is not just a character quirk, it’s the result of the deeply traumatic experience of losing his sister.
4. “It’s so adorable I just want to slay it!”
Zuess and Strokules weren’t the only great pieces of Greek mythology to get the DuckTales treatment. This episode had some amazing designs for the various creatures the gang encountered on the island. My personal favorite was the little manticore that popped into frame a few times throughout the episode, without anyone even taking notice. Even an inanimate miniature chimera provided one of the best Webby moments of the episode when she professes her adoration of it by threatening to slay it. The little Pegasus and baby siren were also super cute, and now I’m just disappointed that they were probably just one-off creations. Although, hopefully Louie’s deal with the siren gets followed up on, since deals with gods and demi-gods can’t usually be casually dismissed.
The first part of this series was pretty uneven when watching as an adult’s perspective, but if this episode is any indication, I think it’s on the right track. It was a good example of how an all-ages show can be successful. There are a ton of gags and physical humor for younger viewers, and plenty of good emotional beats and overarching narrative storytelling to keep older audiences engaged.