Episode: 14 "Jaw$!" 6/16/18
Starring: Lena, Scrooge McDuck, Webby Vanderquack, Magica De Spell, Huey Duck, Louie Duck, Dewey Duck, Launchpad McQuack, Mrs. Beakley, Flintheart Glomgold, and Roxanne Featherly
Costarring: Donald Duck
Featuring: Tiffany/The Money Shark
Appearances by: Ma Beagle, Big Time Beagle, Burger Beagle, Bouncer Beagle, Hack Smashnikov, and Slash Smashnikov
Setting: Duckburg (McDuck Manor, Donald's Boat, and the Money Bin)
Plot: Lena disrupts hers and Webby’s sleepover by conjuring a Money Shark through Magica’s sorcery. Concurrently, Scrooge embarks on a PR crusade to repair his deteriorating relationship with the city of Duckburg.
All currents and cash flow lead to Tiffany the Money Shark. But our Monster-of-the-Week is just that; a mere MacGuffin that enables our characters of diverging storylines to intersect in an epic showdown that’s both revelatory and thrilling. More substantively, it’s Lena’s friendship with Webby and her fraught, materteral relationship with Magica De Spell that provide the emotional center and most intriguing elements of the story. Meanwhile, Scrooge’s clumsy attempt at rehabilitating his image through a sitdown interview with the local media generates some of the best comedy the series has had to offer thus far.
What exactly is going on with Lena and Magica? The intrigue therein fuels the episode while also further laying the groundwork towards the inevitable and climactic resolution to one of the season’s two main throughlines.* Plot-wise, the arc is straightforward enough: Lena has been tasked with gaining Webby’s trust in order to steal Scrooge’s Number One Dime so a newly-voiced Magica** can then use its powers to enact her revenge on her old nemesis while also presumably reanimating herself from her present shadow-state back to a full-feathered, mascara’d duck. Specific to this episode, Lena plants the Hunter’s Stone in Scrooge’s recently procured beanstalk stash that’s set to deliver to his Money Bin… thus, creating Tiffany the Money Shark that will now “hunt” Scrooge’s fabled dime. Of course, the plot is foiled when, in a true act of friendship, Lena chooses to save Webby from Tiffany in lieu of absconding with the coin.
Demanding a closer look, though, is the true nature and mechanics of Lena and Magica’s relationship. Sure, they are related but Lena is hardly a willing and eager participant in Magica’s skullduggery. We’ve seen hints of this in prior episodes but nothing close to the insubordination we see here.** It’s also revealed that Lena is only doing Magica’s bidding because she’s indebted to her and is essentially her slave. Magica has no allusions that Lena is helping her out of any niece-ly obligation or because she believes in her cause either. To that end, the terms of their alliance are made clear when Magica mockingly chastises Lena, “You can’t get rid of me, I’m the only one who can give you what you truly want. Your dark heart’s fondest desire, you’re freedom.”*** So, there’s the rub and the internal conflict that plagues Lena: serve Magica in getting her revenge on Scrooge while betraying Webby in return for her freedom. Or, betray Magica and suffer whatever life of magical and perpetual servitude she’d be beholden to. Although, it does seem that both the literal and figurative properties of Lena and Webby’s friendship foreshadow some supernatural loophol’ing to a seemingly impossible situation.
Fresh off Scrooge’s latest treasure hunt where his exploits lead to a beanstalk**** crashing down upon the city of Duckburg, his board of directors have required him to go on a media apology tour to “boost his character.” This premise sets in motion a comedic performance by Scrooge unlike any we’ve seen. From his opening diddy of “Beans, beans the magical fruit… just plant some beans and grab some loot” to feigning concern over the well-being of Duckburg’s citizens during the shark attack, Scrooge is spinning comedy gold. This situation doesn’t just yield some laughs, it also provides keen insight into the juxtaposing practicality and mania that makes Scrooge such a compelling character.
Initially, it’s during his impromptu media training session with Mrs. Beakley that Scrooge reveals his sense of economics; “Adventure leads to treasure… treasure helps the company… the company helps the town through appreciating investments in long term, civic fiduciary interests.” Then, we watch Scrooge suffer a near psychotic break while witnessing both common folk and criminals alike make off with his money. The genius of this, though, is that it’s all happening through the literal lens of a TV interview where he must contend with the combative and gotcha interview stylings of Roxanne Featherly. For public figures like Scrooge McDuck, they can either use the media or get used by it.***** The latter, of which, yields the best jokes and Scrooge plays the proverbial butt quite nicely.
This is some truly heavy stuff Lena is dealing with. Weighing between right and wrong is all the more difficult when the most ethical decision conflicts with the well-being of your very soul. Then, there’s Scrooge who will surely survive his public relations SNAFU and substantial loss of funds. It’s telling and significant that the reclamation of his Number One Dime makes the whole mess with Featherly and Tiffany melt away. There will be some major hell-to-pay if/when Magica gets her hands on that coin.
(*) Our other arc is that of Della and the Spear of Selene. Wouldn’t it be amazing if these two were somehow connected???
(**) In Terror of the Terra-firmians, Lena’s saving of Mrs. Beakley’s life was an obvious harbinger of her conflicted feelings towards her aunt’s scheme.
(***) I can’t help but be reminded of the Genie and Merlock from DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp when I hear themes of “freedom” and “servitude” being bandied about. I’m also getting a Voldemort/Horecrux vibe. We’ve seen that Magica’s shadow has some sort of physical attachment or even dependency on Lena beyond the talisman around her neck which makes me wonder if Lena’s body is a host for Magica’s spirit or if she’s even real at all (considering all those cryptic “what you really are” barbs Magica throws at Lena as well as the fact that she mimes her “sentimental fool” line).
(****) The beans, beanstalk, and treasure are an obvious allusion to Jack and the Beanstalk. Even though Scrooge isn’t as prone to warm and touchy-feely moments like he was in the 80s, it’s telling that he makes it a point to bring the nephews along on all of his adventures.
(*****) Featherly shows how fickle and rigged the media game can be when she begins the interview by calling Scrooge a “multimillionaire menace who values profits over human lives” but then ends the story by characterizing him as a “tarnished tycoon turned humble hometown hero.”
I don’t mean to give the nephew’s and Launchpad’s Jaws parody short shrift but the other storylines just happen to be so much meatier. Nothing too important was gleaned here except for the fact that LP continues to be a veritable fount of comedic beats especially when he calls Louie and Huey “Dewey’s brothers” and lands Donald’s boat into the Money Bin while abandoning the helicopter to its own unmanned devices.
Magica De Spell has certainly evolved through the years. Like Scrooge, Magica is a creation of Carl Barks’ and first appeared in a 1961 issue of the Uncle Scrooge series of comic books. She was originally a seductive enchantress of Italian descent and was inspired by buxom actresses "Gina" Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren. In the original DuckTales, she became Eastern European and was voiced by June Foray who famously provided the voice for Russian spy, Natasha Fatale, from Rocky and Bullwinkle. And, here, she’s continued her transcontinental evolution and is now British.
The stone bust in the Money Bin looks a lot like the Incan Sentinel head from the Amazon level of the 8-bit Nintendo DuckTales videogame.
Scrooge calls Glomgold a “Tam O’ Shanter wearing terror.” Here, a “Tam O’ Shanter” is in reference to Glomgold’s cap but it was first a Scottish poem about a drunk who gets spooked by a haunted castle. But, even more fascinating, is that the Tam O’ Shanter Inn is an old Los Angeles eatery that also happened to be the favourite restaurant of Walt Disney.
There is a new addition to Webby’s bulletin board since we’ve last seen it: a picture of Santa Clause drawn in crayon under the heading of “Lifelong Foes” (which looks a lot like Winnie-the-Pooh for some reason). This is a callback to The Impossible Climb of Mt. Neverrest! (S1, E9) where it’s revealed that Scrooge and jolly ol’ St. Nick have an old beef.
Not only does Scrooge refer to magic as a “supernatural shortcut to hardwork” but Magica calls their vendetta a “centuries old blood feud.” There will definitely be a lot more to unpack once these two ol’ birds finally renew their rivalry in kind.
Webby has been studying from an ancient book of magic called “Grimoire du Merlock.” This is, of course, in reference to Merlock, the aforementioned villain of DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp.
I love it when Webby calls Lena “you beautiful idiot!” It totally reminds me of something Leslie Knope would say to Anne on Parks and Recreation. To that end, there’s a LOT of Leslie in Webby… she seems to be channeling her whole “charmingly naïve but overachieving genius” vibe.
Glomgold dressed as Steven Spielberg puts a cherry on top of the whole Jaws (1975) parody.