Episode: 203 "The Ballad of Duke Baloney!" 11/3/18
Starring: Flintheart Glomgold, Louie Duck, Webbigail Vanderquack, and Scrooge McDuck
Costarring: Zan Owlson, Fisher, Mann, and Roxanne Featherly
Setting: Duckburg (the docks and McDuck Manor)
Plot: When Flintheart Glomgold reemerges with a case of amnesia, Webby and Louie attempt to get to the bottom of his newfound identity.
DuckTales has a dense flock of players and, with its episodes mostly focusing on Scrooge and his nephews (plus Webby), an origin story/study on one of the series’ tertiary characters, and a villain at that, is a welcome treat. Flintheart Glomgold has been self defined by his rival, Scrooge McDuck. But where does his cultivated and contrived identity as a warped version of Scrooge end and where does Duke Baloney* begin?
If you look back, Glomgold’s ambiguity has been hinted at throughout the series. A master of disguise, we’ve seen him as a humble delivery man, an unassuming pastry chef (both in S1/E7 “The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks!”), Julius Caesar (S1/E13 “McMystery at McDuck Manor!,” and even Steven Spielberg (S1, E14 “Jaw$!”). This mere bit of play acting may seem innocuous but it also speaks to a pliability that borders on inauthenticity. For example, we learned all the way back in episode 7 (“The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks!”) that even his beard is fake. The bread crumbs have been left for us to find and here it finally pays off.
Webby is onto something with her “reverse werewolf” theory. Glomgold is suffering from a case of reverse amnesia where his communion with the sea washes away his “phoney baloney” alter ego and returns him to his humbler origins as Duke Baloney. As Scrooge observes, Glomgold has “never been happier or more at peace” so there isn’t a rush to glom him back onto his less pleasant persona.
But what of his true identity? We learn that Duke Baloney isn’t a Scot at all but an Afrikaner** and, as a young boy, is a shoeshine much like Scrooge*** was. But that’s where the differences end. Baloney is ever much the scheming, stubborn, ne'er-do-well that Glomgold is. His encounter**** with Scrooge didn’t change his nature, it just shaped the focus of his obsessions. Once Baloney lifted Scrooge’s money clip, his goals crystallized much like the tip of his subterranean drill. His revenge on Scrooge isn’t as much about acquiring wealth and fame as it’s about embodying and literally replacing the richest duck in the world.
Sure, Duke Baloney may seem happier and more at peace but it’s never enough. He’s still diabolically drafting up half-cocked schemes and never feels so alive and vibrant than when he’s chasing Scrooge with an Ahab-like***** obsession. Glomgold may not be Scrooge’s biggest threat but he’s definitely the most ubiquitous******* and would probably waste away to nothing without his “white whale” ever looming, just out of reach, on the horizon. Baloney can change his accent, strap on a beard, and drape himself in all the plaid he wants, Glomgold is still the same as he ever was.
(*) Incidentally, the Duke of Baloni is a comic character created by Carl Barks who is Italian and the second richest duck in the world. His debut in 1953 predates Glomgold’s by three years.
(**) Glomgold, a creation of Barks’ in 1956, is from South Africa and even has a Money Bin located deep in the Sub-Saharan jungles. His heritage was changed in Ducktales ‘87 (as much is referenced to when it’s revealed that he showed up in Duckburg during the ‘80s) due to the country’s problematic (racist) politics.
(***) We also learn that Scrooge is AT LEAST 40-or-so years older than Flinty. While Scrooge is old, Glomgold may be faking his age as well.
(****) Scrooge DOES stiff young Baloney. Afterall, the fee is $1 and Scrooge’s bit on “self-reliance” does read a bit self-indulgent and hollow.
(*****) I knew that beard looked familiar.
(******) Appearing in a whopping 9(!) of the show’s first 26 episodes - by far, the most of any villain or anyone not employed by or related to Scrooge.
The episode takes place four months after the events of “The Shadow War” (S1/E24).
This is the first time Dewey is completely absent from an episode.
Scrooge mentions the Rain Queen of Balobedu which is the real life title for the matrilineal ruler of the Limpopo Province of South Africa.
Louie nails it when he calls Haikus “vague garbage that structurally makes no sense.”
Cheapskate Scrooge attempts to downgrade Zan Owlson’s Dimes for Ducklings charity to Nickels for Newborns and Pennies for Pipsqueaks.
Speaking of Owlson, it will be interesting to see if she will continue to be a corporate thorn in Glomgold’s side or if both her and her “community is the greatest treasure of all” mentality has gone the way of the dodo.
Also, Owlson graduated Mouseton University which is the town that Mickey Mouse inhabits in the Mickey Mouse comic-verse.
Glomgold’s dream sequence is amazing both in terms of animation and storytelling. The tone is delightfully ominous and creepy.
The shot of Scrooge and Glomgold scurrying up an ancient pillar, attempting to retrieve a golden lamp is straight out of the opening sequence from DuckTales ‘87.
Could Scrooge’s and Glomgold’s wager be a season long arc or is this just a one-off gag?