Episode: 17 "From the Confidential Casefiles of Agent 22!" 7/7/18
Starring: Webbigail Vanderquack, Scrooge McDuck, and Bentina Beakley
Costarring: Launchpad McQuack, Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Louie Duck, Ludwig Von Drake, and Donald Duck
Featuring: Black Heron
Setting: Duckburg and London
Plot: After Mrs. Beakley is kidnapped, Scrooge and Webby team up to rescue her.
Juxtaposed against Mrs. Beakley’s and Scrooge’s flashback as spies in swingin’ London is the Webby story we’ve all been waiting for. Webby may not be a true point-of-entry character* but she still serves as our proxy. DuckTales is built on its mysterious past and Webby is the only duck who is keenly aware of this and is actively trying to put the pieces together.** She is a fangirl just like us.
Webby has been the best served by her modern makeover. In lieu of the toddler-esque, whiny little girl from the 80s is a spunky little tomduck who is equal parts naïve and capable which makes for the show’s most developed and fully realized character. Where it sometimes feels like the triplets take their new life for granted and are a bit too-cool-for-school, Webby is rightly wide-eyed and awed by her inclusion in Scrooge’s world of international action and adventure. This is why their long-awaited team-up is so satisfying, dynamic, and even emotional.
The episode starts out with, perhaps, the show’s best and most intriguing cold open. After being ambushed in the kitchen, Beakley is absconded with by a nefarious figure with a bionic arm known as Black Heron. Beakley’s past as some sort of operative or functionary of international intelligencia has been hinted at. But here, the layers of that onion are finally getting peeled back. Back in 1960s London, we learn that Beakley was once known only as Agent 22 and a part of the espionage agency called S.H.U.S.H.***
22 is assigned by Director Von Drake**** to retrieve a page from the legendary Great Book that’s been retrieved from Castle Dunwyn***** before chemist-turned F.O.W.L.****** Black Heron can. Joining her on the case is Scrooge McDuck, an old freelancer whose wealth and experience are supposed to be an asset to the mission. Instead, Scrooge fouls up the auction, cheaply refusing to outbid Heron for the elusive piece of text.
This sparks a chase to Heron’s secret lab on an uncharted island where she successfully interprets the formula from the page of Dunwyn to conjure up some Gummiberry Juice.******* Once Scrooge and 22 crash the party, an action sequence breaks out which leads to Beakley imbibing the juice, gaining super strength, and memorizing the formula before destroying the page. After their scuffle causes an explosion that takes Heron’s arm, Scrooge and 22 escape. Thus, beginning a relationship that ultimately leads to Beakley finding herself in Scrooge’s employ as his housekeeper.
In a case of history repeating, Scrooge and Webby travel to that same island to rescue Beakley from the clutches of Black Heron. Although, Webby has to stow away because of Scrooge’s refusal to bring her along. The entirety of the trip is intercut with the scenes from Scrooge and 22’s mission which highlights the growth of Webby as well as the fruits of her training under the tutelage of her granny. In fact, much of the moves and maneuvers Webby executes evoke that of her Granny from her days as a young spy. To that end, Scrooge also channels and uses a lot of what he learned from 22. This builds to an organic and well-earned partnership between Scrooge and Webby, culminating in them saving Beakley, besting Black Heron, and leaving with the juice in hand.
The button on this story, though, is Scrooge’s insistence that Webby now call him “UNCLE Scrooge” going forward. We’ve had episodes devoted to Scrooge bonding with each of his nephews******** but none have been this strong, successful, or heartwarming than his newly found relationship with and appreciation for Webbigail Vanderquack. He admits as much, bemoaning the fact that he knows so little about her and admitting that they should’ve gone adventuring together much earlier. He even gives his new partner one of his trademark hugs from the 80s!
This is exactly what Beakley has been both preparing Webby for and sheltering her from. And, this episode proves just how ready she is. Webby has been training her whole life for a McDuck-22 Adventure and it finally happens - right in the nick of time too. Because… Webby is heading for an inevitable showdown with Lena and Magica De Spell********* and Scrooge will need Beakley’s younger and spryer progeny if he wants to come out on the other end of whatever storm Magica has brewing for him and his family.
(*) Technically, that role belongs to the nephews since their introduction to Scrooge in the Pilot is the catalyst for the entire series. Yet, even though Webby has lived in McDuck Manor most of her life, she’s been sheltered and kept sequestered from all things Scrooge.
(**) As evidenced by her beak buried in “The Man with the Golden Everything: An Unauthorized Biography of Scrooge McDuck” as well as her insanely thorough, Beautiful Mind-like bulletin board detailing the history and mysteries of Clan McDuck.
(***) S.H.U.S.H. (acronym unknown) is born out of DuckTales spinoff, Darkwing Duck. It’s a super-secret spy agency that’s main objective is to thwart F.O.W.L.
(****) Here, Ludwig Von Drake is no longer a professor, but the director of S.H.U.S.H. Von Drake was created in the 60s and became a staple of various Disney productions, usually playing the part of narrator or host. He also appeared in one episode of the original DuckTales series in the episode The Golden Fleecing as Launchapd’s psychiatrist.
(*****) Castle Dunwyn is a reference to the Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the first cartoon in Disney’s storied Disney Afternoon lineup that also featured DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, and TaleSpin. Dunwyn Castle was the home of King Gregor and was protected by the “mystical creatures of untold powers” or “ancients” aka the Glen Gummies.
(******) The Fiendish Organization for World Larceny was also a staple of Darkwing Duck but actually first appeared in DuckTales during the Launchpad-centric spy-themed episode, “Double-O-Duck.”
(*******) Although never mentioned by its true name in the episode, Gummiberry Juice was a large part of the Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Almost acting like Popeye’s spinach, the juice was created and imbibed by the Gummi’s and would grant them the power to bounce the living f’ out of various villainy and unsavoury sort. The recipe that Beakley recited is also one-and-the-same as the formula Grammi Gummi would use.
(********) Huey in The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest!, Dewey in Woo-oo! and The Missing Links of Moorshire!, and Louie in The Great Dime Chase!
(*********) Methinks Webby’s vile of Gummiberry Juice will factor in huge here.
The Ottoman Empire is back… *yawn.*
Donald’s unseen-role this episode is relegated to him tantrum’ing in the locked pantry he is unable to escape from.
Launchpad is back, piloting Scrooge’s submarine and delivering some of the episode’s best laughs with the recurring joke of him blindfolding himself.
Jack the Tripper, the name of the crook Scrooge mentions, is a play on famed, real-life serial killer, Jack the Ripper, and the main character of Jack Tripper from the 1970s and 89s sitcom, Three’s Company.
Enough can’t be said about Scrooge’s smashing 60’s attire: complete with turtleneck, a jaunty bowler, and dollar sign belt buckle.
The scroll from the Great Book features silhouettes from the main cast of Gummi Bears. This is the fourth cartoon from the Disney Afternoon lineup that the show has referenced (Gummi Bears, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, and Goof Troop).
With its sixties motif, fancy gadgets, and stylized soundtrack, it’s more than fitting (dare I say, intentional…) that this episode dropped while The Incredibles 2 is in theaters.
During her Declaration of Harmful Intent, Black Heron divulges her plan to create an army of super soldiers with her concoction and, in miming lyrics from the Gummi Bears theme song, claims that “they’ll be bouncing here and there and everywhere…”
S.H.U.S.H Protocol #78: Get your opponent to underestimate your partner.