Episode: 321 "The Lost Cargo of Kit Cloudkicker!” 3/1/21
Starring: Dewey Duck, Della Duck, Don Karnage, and Huey Duck
Costarring: Peg Leg Meg and Hardtack Hattie
Featuring: Kit Cloudkicker
Introducing: Molly Cunningham, Rhinokey, and Butterbear
Setting: Cape Suzette
Life is easy when you happen to love what you’re good at. However, most of us aren’t fortunate enough to line those two things up in a way that’s both fulfilling and practical within the context of making a living. That’s why when you find that thing, you need to hang on to it for dear life. For Kit Cloudkicker, it’s “cloud kicking” that he’s best at. But because of expectations from others (Baloo?), he square-peg-in-a-round-holes himself into being a pilot - something that he’s not so good at. Meanwhile, it’s Dewey who takes this moment of clarity from Kit and applies it to his own flightiness (pun INTENDED) in realizing his true talent of being a pilot.
With Kit Cloudkicker, we just have to assume that his backstory lines up with the original incarnation of TaleSpin - orphan and former Sky Pirate (yet, there doesn’t seem to be that past relationship with Don Karnage) who gets more-or-less adopted by a cargo pilot named Baloo, becoming his navigator under the employ of Higher for Hire. And, while his hobby and defining characteristic is air surfing, his ambition in life is to become a pilot and own his own aircraft.
In DuckTales, it’s revealed that Kit’s achieved his goal but the kicker is that he’s quit “cloud kicking” and is a lousy pilot to boot. Because of this, his personality and joie de vivre have suffered as well. In his youth, Kit was sharp and had an edge to him. But, above all, he was as competent as he was brash. This adult version of him doesn’t feature any of those qualities. He’s laid back to a fault, may even be suffering from depression, and is pretty much a screwup who, like Baloo before him, is on the verge of losing his business and plane. The only difference is that Baloo loved flying and was awesome at it. He was just a crappy businessman who was lucky enough to get bailed out by Rebecca Cunningham (more on that later…).
With Dewey, he still hasn’t found what he’s good at (although, I’d argue that he’s an awesome talk show host and should probably be pursuing that). It’s when his mother, Della, is giving him flying lessons that it becomes apparent that he has a knack for it. Except that Dewey’s fear of being “basic” undermines his talent and he insists on showboating or, just “Dew-ing” it, nearly wrecking the Sunchaser in the process. Then, upon meeting Kit, he immediately takes to the flashiness of cloud kicking. But, of course, Dewey’s just as awful at that as Kit is as flying. Or, maybe, it’s okay to not be great at something right from the outset and, instead of just sticking to what comes easiest, challenging yourself to put in the work to become better at the thing you’re more interested in. But that’s not really the message the episode is trying to get across.
It’s in that moment when the stakes are at their highest that Kit finally comes to terms with his own shortcomings and wasted talents. When Huey pleads with them to just “do your thing,” Dewey squawks back about how easy it is to fly a plane. Kit then realizes that he can’t let Dewey go down that same, doomed path of unfulfillment and wasted talents that he’s currently on. Like Kit was in his youth, Dewey’s a hero and giving up on the thing he’s special at will just get in the way of reaching his full potential. With that, Kit makes quick work of Don Karnage and the rest of the pirates by cloud kicking the crap out of them “like a gazelle prancing in the sky.” And then it’s Dewey’s steady hand that catches the Stone of What Was on the nose of the Sea Duck in midair while also providing a safe landing spot for Della to disembark the Butterbear.
At episode’s end, in a nice piece of symmetry that echoes TaleSpin’s pilot, Rebecca’s daughter and Kit’s childhood friend, Molly Cunningham, swoops in to purchase the Sea Duck and give him a job as her “flashy new attraction” and “sidekick” as a cloud kicker in Danger Woman’s Death-Defying Circus. Dewey’s future looks bright as well. Under Della’s tutelage, he will presumably continue to grow as a pilot and get to do what he loves in perpetuity. But, most importantly, we learn that what really makes one “special” is the PRIVILEGE of having super rich and successful friends who will bail you out of your dead end job and suffocating debt with a super cool gig as a stuntman. It also doesn’t hurt to have a bazillionaire uncle who allows his twelve-year-old nephew to take his private plane out for a spin. Must be nice…
Kit Cloudkicker was first introduced in TaleSpin (1990), a Disney Afternoon show that was loosely based on the live-action sitcom Cheers (1982 - 1993). The show also famously used the characters from The Jungle Book (1967). Kit was the stand-in for Mowgli as the impressionable orphan who was taken under Baloo’s wing (pun intended).
The Stone of What Was, another Lost Treasure of Isabella Finch, has the power to fuse two living creatures together and bears the carved likeness of Bumblelion.
Bumblelion is a character from The Wuzzles (1985), a Saturday morning Disney cartoon that featured double-specie’d animals such as Bumblebear and Rhinokey who also feature in this episode. However, those Wuzzles were cute, cuddly, and anthropomorphized while these incarnations are more beastly.
The Wuzzles lived on the Isle of Wuz and their existence was independent of any magical stone or mysticism. There was also no Goat-Chicken character.
That first scene where Kit lost the Stone of What Was occurs a few years prior to the present action at hand.
One of the past due notices taped to Higher for Hire’s door is dated “August 8, 1991” which was the date that the final episode of TS aired.
Baloo’s surname of “von Bruinwald” is taken from the TS episode “The Balooest of the Bluebloods” where he learns that he’s a long lost baron and has a claim to a large fortune.
Kit and Della attended the same flight school together where he was known as “Kid Sky Prancer” because of his skill with the airfoil.
The Sea Duck’s lavatory has a sign on the door that says “The Woods,” answering the famed, rhetorical question about bears and where they do their business.
Baloo gave the moniker of “little britches” to both Mowgli and Kit and now Kit has bestowed the same title onto Dewey.
The names “Rhinokey” and “Butterbear” are never actually said. Instead, they’re haphazardly called “Rhinocerilla/Gorillarocerous” and “Grizzlyfly/Bear-Butterfly-Thing.”
Della and the boys may have won their battle against the Sky Pirates in procuring the Stone of What Was but a sizable enough chunk off the old block found its way back to Don Karnage and I get the feeling he’ll be making his delivery to F.O.W.L. after all.
What happened to the rest of Karnage’s Wuzzl’d-out crew? Were they left marooned on the island in their monstrous states?