Episode: 315 "The Split Sword of Swanstantine!” 11/2/20
Starring: Huey Duck, Lena Sabrewing, Scrooge McDuck, Dewey Duck, Webby Vanderquack, Louie Duck, Violet Sabrewing, Black Heron, Steelbeak, Gandra Dee, and John D. Rockerduck
Costarring: Ugly Mug
Appearances by: Hack Stabnikov, Stinky Boots, Peg Leg Meg, Clown and Capsule
Introducing: Christoph and Fluffy
Setting: Instanbird (the Grand Bazaar and the Spice-A-Torium)
As with most MacGuffins, it’s not about the treasure, it’s about the character development and growth from which it inspires... or, as Dewey puts it, “the friends we made along the way.” The McDucks’ bid to beat those “feculent F.O.W.L. agents” in a race to acquire the missing parts to the eponymous Split Sword of Swanstantine is no different. In this instance, the treasure hunt is about the kids discovering their respective inner strength of which the Sword supposedly channels. Or, to look at it even deeper, the Split Sword represents the Duality of Man - especially as it pertains to Huey Duck.
To paraphrase Greek philosopher Plato, the Duality of Man is the idea that one part of man lives in his mind, thinking and observing, while another part moves and creates. Huey, the nerdy triplet, has always been more about preparation and planning. Even when he does spring into action, it’s under the guidance of his Junior Woodchuck Guidebook or within the parameters of whatever list he’s formulated to best maximize efficiency and success. Rarely does Huey move based on instinct or impulse.
However, this approach proves to be woefully ineffective when Huey and Lena find themselves up against the unhinged brutishness of Steelbeak. Even when Lena freezes time and transports them into Huey’s mindscape, he doubles down on his efforts of analyzing every scenario to create the perfect plan. Lena wants to appeal to his baser, more physical nature but Huey stubbornly clutches to order, refusing to “give in to the animal within.” Of course, Steelbeak cuts through these overthought, milquetoast attempts like a sharpened blade through roast duck.
This is where the Duke of Making a Mess steps in. Like Dewey’s Dude Popular, Huey also has an alter ego. However, he’s been suppressing this side of himself because it gets “in the way of (his) thinking” and “is against everything (he) stands for.” The Duke is his exact opposite. It’s a snarling, sharp-toothed creature born from “pure, chaotic rage” (think Donald in fight mode) that serves as an antidote to his more cerebral and frustratingly ordered inclinations.
Luckily, Huey is paired off with Lena who has recently battled and conquered her own demons. As the Duke bangs against the steel door locked inside the deep recesses of Huey’s mindscape, Lena pleads with him to let it out. “You can’t ignore the parts of yourself you don’t like, even the parts you’re afraid of. You have to own them.” Huey reluctantly listens to Lena, sucks it up, and lets the Duke out. By channeling his inner strength, Huey ultimately reaches a communion with the aforementioned “animal within” and is able to draw upon his newfound duality of order and chaos to pluck the threat of Steelbeak.
Dewey (confidence), Webby (friendship with Dewey), Louie/Violet (honesty), and Scrooge (the kids) also managed to channel their inner strength but, lest we forget, this is Huey’s season and his journey was much more fraught and emotionally resonant. Plus, the reveal of the Duke of Making a Mess will almost certainly prove to be a character altering development for Huey.
And, while F.O.W.L. is severely lacking in regards to inner strength, coming home with the Sword wasn’t exactly their endgame anyway. During the course of her episode-long-duel with Scrooge, Black Heron was able to accomplish their larger mission by plucking a plume from Scrooge’s pinfeathers. What it’s for, we don’t know, but it most certainly has to do with some nefarious plot by which to gain an advantage over Scrooge and his family.
Last week, Mrs. Beakley put on quite the emotional and violent performance all for the sake of impressing upon the children how dangerous F.O.W.L. is. Yet, she is nowhere to be seen in this episode, seemingly feeling good about letting Scrooge take six kids to a foreign land to treasure hunt and fight highly trained agents. She must be protecting McDuck Manor or something…
Who flew the family to Instanbill? We don’t see or hear any mention of either Della or Launchpad. Surely, Scrooge could’ve used another adult to help fight off F.O.W.L. or, at the very least, supervise the children.
The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is actually a real thing. It’s one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, boasting 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops.
Scrooge promised the reward of shish kabob once they found the Sword and he delivered at episode’s end
From Isabella Finch’s Journal of Missing Mysteries, “Swanstantine the Great was a warrior-king. The mystical sword channeled the bearer’s inner strength. When he died, the king ordered the sword be divided into three pieces and hidden within the very city he founded centuries ago.”
Also from the Journal, the three parts to the Sword can be found in the “Heavens” (the handle), the “Underworld” (the guard), and the “Splendor of the Earth” (the blade).
In real life, Constantine was the Emperor of Rome from 306 to 337 who, most notably, was the first ruler to adhere to Christianity.
The Sword of Constantine is an actual 2007 historical book that documents the split between Judaism and Christianity - fun stuff!
Apparently, Scrooge interrupted another McDuck Manor sleepover (the sixth!) by yelling “everybody in the plane!” and that’s why the pajama’d Sabrewing sisters are present on the trip.
In the Spice-A-Torium, there’s a poster of Flintheart Glomgold with the message of “Do not accept checks from this man!”
Christoph has a Sallah (from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark/Last Crusade) vibe going for him.
Louie references the Spoonerville Feisty Fiesta Cook-Off which, of course, took place in the town where Goof Troop (1992) took place.
Among the ne’er-do-wells hanging out at the Spice-A-Torium are:
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of the Duke of Making a Mess. He was first mentioned in “The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks” (S1, E7). When Huey loses out on the internship to Dewey, he breaks, descending into multiple zany characters - the last being the Duke of Making a Mess!