Episode 20: "Sky Pirates… in the Sky!" 7/28/18
Starring: Dewey Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Louie Duck, Webbigail Vanderquack, Launchpad McQuack, and Huey Duck
Featuring: Don Karnage
Introducing: Peg Leg Meg, Ugly Mug, Hardtack Hattie, One-Eyed Linda, Stinky Boots, No-Name, The Nameless Parrot, Two-Toed Jack, and the Summer Intern
Setting: The open air and jungles of Pato Pisco
Plot: Feeling slighted by his family, Dewey joins a crew of singing and dancing Sky Pirates who have their sights set on pillaging Scrooge McDuck.
Guys, we have to talk about Dewey... in an episode highlighted by the brilliant reimagining of TaleSpin’s Don Karnage,* the “blue one” still yields the greatest fodder for discussion. Even though he’s received the most screen time amongst his brothers,** Dewey is still squawking about being ignored. The moody and sensitive one can now add “needy” and “self-absorbed” to his personality profile. I’m only half kidding, of course… Dewey is a delight! But his lack of self-awareness has become an issue.
After stowing away with Don Karnage’s crew of musically inclined Sky Pirates, Dewey bonds with them over their frustration of being “stuck in the chorus.” Ironically, the very characteristic that sets this Dewey apart from all previous incarnations*** is that he’s no longer a part of the quacking chorus of identical triplets whose only distinguishing trait is the colour of their clothes. Dewey is retroactively complaining about a problem that’s already been solved.
The source of Dewey’s beef is his family’s refusal to indulge him in his storytelling. Not only is his tale about his hat**** overly rehearsed and shamelessly self-indulgent (it hinges on him being the “chosen one” *eye roll*), but it’s obviously exaggerated if not entirely fabricated. Before this, Dewey’s narcissism has manifested itself as charming and endearing. This rings true with his faux talk show, Dewey Tonight, from "The Day of the Only Child!" (S1, E16) as well as “How Does He Dew it,” his own theme song that he’s fashioned from his name. Here, he’s just a jealous brat who’s desperately trying to carve out his own sad little corner of glory after everyone else is still aglow over Scrooge’s latest haul.*****
Meanwhile, the Air Pirates and their issues with Don Karnage are completely warranted. Sure, Karnage is the unquestioned captain and maestro of this band of outlaws but the “chorus,” if you will, is doing all the heavy lifting and doesn’t deserve the abuse (he wantonly throws a pirate off the ship!) they receive from their foppish leader. The arrival of Dewey to their ship is serendipitous in the sense that he and the crew become kindred spirits in their roles as background performers (except Dewey isn’t!). His empathy, albeit unearned, acts as the catalyst for their mutiny and newly found self-respect. Then, in turn, the pirates quickly offer Dewey the captain’s hat, making him the “main attraction” that he so lustily desires.
Of course, the power goes to Dewey’s head, leading the pirates to mutiny for the second time this episode. This allows Don Karnage to take back control of his ship and crew… thus, allowing Dewey to redeem himself as the real hero of this story (that he created by being a selfish jerk). He out-swashbuckles and out-choreagraphs Don Karnage, leading to his family’s escape, the partial reacquisition of Scrooge’s treasure, and the Iron Vulture crashing into the side of a mountain.
If there’s been a main character or protagonist this season other than Scrooge or on the level with him, it’s been Dewey. And, it’s his flawed character that lends itself to carrying multiple episodes while also acting as the driving force behind solving the season’s biggest mystery: Della Duck and the Spear of Selene. The moody blues of Dewey Duck have even affected the normally aloof and emotionally unavailable Scrooge.****** In what acts as the best close we’ve had to an episode, Scrooge sits with his nephew and simply says “I’m listening.” Their relationship has come a long way since Scrooge called him “Bluey” in the Pilot.
(*) As the main villain in the FANTASTIC Jungle Book/Cheers/Casablanca mashup, TaleSpin, Karnage is more or less the same character – a wolf of Latin descent. The brilliant tweak here is the singing and dancing which adds a musical flair that’s eluded DuckTales to this point. Also, they went from Air Pirates to Sky Pirates. And, although many in his crew resemble the pirates in TailSpin, they’re all new characters for DuckTales. Yet, their ship, the Iron Vulture, has retained its name and design.
(**) Dewey has now been the lead or co-lead of six episodes ("The Day of the Only Child!" (S1, E16), "The Lost Links of Moorshire!" (S1, E12), "The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks! (S1, E7), The Spear of Selene! (S1, E10), and Woo-oo! (the second half of the hour-long pilot).
(***) The series Quack Pack (1996), was the first to give them distinct looks and personalities (Huey was the ambitious leader, Dewey the prankster and techie, Louie the jock and into comic books) while also aging them up to pre-teens. But no one watched that show then and it has very little cultural relevance now (don’t @ me).
(****) While Louie refers to his hat as a chapeau (French for “hat”), it is, in fact, a Peruvian headpiece called a chullo. They are usually multi-coloured, ear-flapped, and made from wool from Alpacas as to provide warmth and protection from the harsh Andean climate.
(*****) This is the second time this series that an episode opens immediately following Scrooge and co’s. offscreen acquisition of treasure (previously occurring with the Beanstalk haul in Jaw$ (S1, E14). Perhaps the reason for this is the problematic and likely scenario of Scrooge fleecing or taking advantage of some indigenous or ancient group of peoples in order to add his own fortune.
(******) Scrooge has been becoming less aloof and more emotionally available as the series has gone on. In "From the Confidential Casefiles of Agent 22!" (S1, E17) Scrooge has a similar bonding sesh with Webby where he gets a little more warm and fuzzy than we’ve previously seen this series.
The civilization Scrooge and co. pillage is called Duckachuquack. And, based on Dewey’s story, we can surmise that it’s located in Pato Pisco (a stand in for Peru) on Mt. Peligroso. These words are all in Spanish; pato = duck, pisco = a Peruvian or Chilean brandy, and Peligroso = danger.
This story is foreshadowed all the way back in the Pilot when we see mention of Sky Pirates on Webby’s bulletin board. Also, in the Pilot the boys refer to Cape Suzette, the setting for TailSpin.
We’ve had a quick reference to Goof Troop (when Scrooge mentions Spoonerville in a meeting with his board), a brief appearance by Darkwing Duck and a few of his foes, as well as the introduction to the mythology from the Adventures of the Gummi Bears but the inclusion of Don Karnage and the Sky Pirates is, by far, the most meaningful and fun callback to the classic Disney Afternoon lineup. The only show that was a part of the “Big 5” that has yet to be included is Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers.
Huey gets blue oil on his shirt which leads to Scrooge mistaking him for Dewey.
As the “Master of Disguise in De Skies,” a marooned Don Karnage makes an unconvincing turn as “Dr. Tom” the caterpillar-mustachioed plant doctor.
While Dewey is “sweet and sensitive and full of secrets,” Huey shows that he’s the more mature and practical duck in suggesting that none of this would’ve happened if Dewey had “communicated his needs more clearly.”
The B story doesn’t do much other than Webby tricking and condescending to Louie about being honest while they do inventory. *Yawn*
Fittingly, Launchpad is more affected by and impressed with the Sky Pirates’ musical performance than he is concerned with the fact that they took down and damaged the Sunchaser.
We love Disney. Period.