Episode 7: “The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks!” 10/21/17
Starring: Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Mark Beaks, Scrooge McDuck, Flintheart Glomgold
Costarring: Falcon Graves
Setting: Duckburg (Billionaire’s Club and Waddle)
Plot: When almost-billionaire, Mark Beaks, bursts onto the scene, Scrooge McDuck and Flintheart Glomgold immediately feel threatened. Meanwhile, Huey and Dewey battle to become Beaks’ newest intern.
This episode has all the makings of a corporate thriller, pitting the billionaire establishment against a young upstart, but instead devolves into a trite and beakless critique of millennial tech culture. The opportunity is there for some actual commentary on the growing conflict between old and young money but the episode doesn’t quite take its premise or archetypes seriously enough. Rather, Scrooge and Glomgold come off as a couple of petty, bumbling gray beards while Mark Beaks, founder and CEO of Waddle,* is nothing more than a vapid charlatan. The nephews do provide a semblance of substance though in their competition to become Beaks’ intern. Dewey’s method of “fake it till you make it” butts up nicely against Beaks’ own flim-flammery but it’s Huey’s resourcefulness and work ethic that wins out in the end.
Scrooge McDuck and Flintheart Glomgold have long been rivals, famously competing over the title of “Richest Duck in the World,” but we’ve never seen them in league like this. This newfound alliance isn’t necessarily a good look either. These old captains of industry come off as tired, antiquated, and petty. Their time has passed them by – now content to waste their days away engaging in a “vision based battle of wills” at the Duckburg Billionaire’s Club. The only thing that ruffles their feathers to the point of action is almost-billionaire, Mark Beak’s, sudden interest in joining their musty old club filled with suits of armour, plaid, and gold accents. Now they’re scheming to kidnap young Beaks. Why? Sure, he’s annoying, obnoxious, and a complete phony but they’re mostly threatened by his youth, wealth, and upward mobility.
In short, Beaks has momentum while they’ve given in to the stagnancy of complacence. All this is fine from Glomgold… but Scrooge? All season, Scrooge has been a paragon of progression, espousing for innovation and creativity while also valuing the youthful exuberance his nephews have recently injected into his life. Sure, Scrooge bows out of this evil plot once it’s clear that Glomgold is taking it too far (including the reveal that he is the true target of the plot) but for him to even entertain the machinations of volcanoes and sharks belies everything he stands for. You can even hear the regret and disappointment in Scrooge’s voice when realizing that he had been “wasting a whole day obsessing over someone I don’t like – and it almost got me killed!”
Mark Beaks, in all of his #YOLO hashtagging and Segue riding**, is a bit of a cliché. His character and company (Waddle) parrot every negative stereotype society holds towards Silicon Valley and millennials. Beaks holds little respect for the older generation and has no interest in hard work while valuing his social media presence and “buzz” above all else. He even admits as much in his rhetoric to Huey and Dewey: “why go through the trouble of inventing something when you can just fake it?” He’s completely unflappable too, never showing a crack in his smarmy façade except for when his backup cell phone is in danger. Beaks is such an empty vessel that he hires a corporate saboteur to steal his own product (Project Tah-Dah!) of which doesn’t even exist. He’s just your run-of-the-mill conman.
As far as parody and satire goes, it ultimately falls flat. It’s just a paint-by-number representation of an industry and culture that feels stale. This is Silicon Valley light***. Maybe the introduction of Beaks/Waddle could’ve worked better if there was more of an emphasis on juxtaposing him with Scrooge - the antithesis of everything Beaks stands for. Instead, Scrooge is playing on the margins, wrapped up in a ridiculous and nefarious plot spearheaded by Flintheart Glomgold. I love the idea of old versus new money with tech and internet becoming a threat to Scrooge’s Rockefeller like sensibilities. Are they setting up Beaks to be a villain in the same vein as the aforementioned Glomgold or Magica de Spell****? If so, he’s gotta be less buffoon and more tycoon.
The part of the episode that lands though is the competition between Huey and Duey. This is just yet another example of how certain pairings do so much in illuminating and establishing character and relationships. The continued delineation between the once monolithic nephews continues to be a high point of the series. Their conflict and, later, collaboration is what I wish we could’ve gotten from Scrooge and Mark Beaks. Maybe that’s the point; putting Dewey in the “faked it, maked it” mold of Beaks while Huey’s diligence and shrewdness channels Scrooge. Even still, it’s a nimble bit of storytelling having Dewey immediately sniff out the “goofing around” aspect of Waddle and, in turn, also be the one to curry favour with Beaks when it’s Huey who idolizes him. Then, once the jig is up, it’s Huey who concocts the plan to save Beaks from Falcon Graves.
Sure, this episode wasn’t the best the series has to offer thus far but it does hammer home the intrinsic value of Scrooge’s ideals when contrasted against Mark Beaks – even though this lesson is, instead, communicated through Huey and Dewey. Let’s just hope that in Beaks’ next appearance he’s able to present some sort of threat to Scrooge’s status as “Wealthiest Duck in Duckburg.” That garbage “everything you think it is and nothing you’re expecting” plan he was peddling has no chance against the likes of Scrooge McDuck.
(*) An African grey parrot, takes his namesake from facebook CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, while Waddle has a Google feel to it. Even the music accompanying the nephews’ tour of Waddle sounds like it’s been lifted from an Apple commercial.
(**) Are Segues even a thing anymore? This feels very 2012ish.
(***) Incidentally, Josh Brener, the voice of Beaks, also stars in the aforementioned sitcom as a bit of a doofus who unintentionally fakes it until he’s the head of a tech company.
(****) Maybe they’re not. I’m just assuming as much since he appears with the rogue’s gallery of villains trying to chase down Scrooge in the show’s intro.
With Webby and Louie’s exclusion, Dewey remains the only cast member to appear in every episode of the series thus far.
The diminutive butler in the white tuxedo at the Billionaire’s Club looks a lot like Herve Villachaize’s Tattoo from Fantasy Island.
As Mark Beaks puts it, Waddle is “where imagination and innovation get married and have babies.”
Gyro Gearloose and Beaks feel like they’d be a good pair - as either rivals or collaborators.
The “W” emblazoned on the Waddle t-shirt cuts the unflattering figure of a pair of manboobs.
Flintheart Glomgold is fantastic here with his archaic slide show and Dr. Evil-esque, convoluted plot. He’s the comedic pulse of the episode.
In both iterations of DuckTales, Glomgold appears as a bizzaro Scrooge of sorts who surrenders himself to his greedier, more selfish, and evil inclinations. Their similarities even go as far as both being Scottish. But, did you know that in the Uncle Scrooge comics, Glomgold is South African and even has a Money Bin located deep in the Sub-Saharan jungles? His heritage was changed in the 80s due to South Africa’s problematic (racist) politics.
Also, we learn that Glomgold’s beard is FAKE!
A defeated Falcon Graves has the best line of the episode when he exasperatedly tells Beaks he is going to “un-tag himself from all the photos” he took and posted to his social media.