Season 2, Episode 6: "Last Christmas!" 12/11/18
Starring: Scrooge McDuck, Dewey Duck, Donald Duck, and Della Duck
Costarring: Mrs. Beakley, Webby Vanderquack, Louie Duck, Huey Duck, Duckworth, Launchpad McQuack, Bentley Buzzard, and Bradford Buzzard
Featuring: Christmas Past/Wendigo, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come
Introducing: Rhutt Betlah, Captain Farley Foghorn, Grandpappy Beagle, Bankjob Beagle, Baby Face Beagle, and Bugle Beagle
An Appearances by: Goldie O’Gilt
Setting: Duckburg (McDuck Manor)
Plot: It’s revealed that Scrooge secretly parties and time travels with spirits from beyond every Christmas Eve. But, when Dewey secretly tags along, things get complicated.
“Wendigo/when’d he go?”... in an episode that’s built upon a cleverly constructed pun, the story shifts from Scrooge and his oddly found communion with time to Dewey and Donald’s stubborn refusal to move on. The very notion of crafting a cautionary tale around “living in the past” and falling prey to “obsession and desperation” seems to, ironically, ignore much of the series’ own well-layed fascination with history. Even more so, it contradicts the very character traits that make Scrooge… Scrooge. Yet, it helps to further colour both Dewey and Donald’s issues while offering an optimistic path out from them.
“Last Christmas!” presents a Scrooge who is at ease with and courts his past, present, and yet to come to the point that he is literally partying with its spectral representations.* His time traveling is purely recreational and bereft of all the cliched, life-altering consequences that such stories are usually larded with. In fact, it’s such a casual affair that when he encounters his old self, it gets no more than a passing “young me,” “old me” tip of the cap.
This is fun and nice but a far cry from the Scrooge we’ve come to know previous this episode. For example, when we first meet Scrooge, he still hasn’t shaken free of the doldrums that the tragic events of Della’s disappearance left him in. Then, in “The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest!,” Scrooge obsessively chases the ghost of one of his greatest failures, putting his family in grave danger while doing so. And, in “The Missing Links of Moorshire!” Scrooge’s desperation for winning, puts him at odds with Dewey and, once again, puts the family in grave danger.
Obsession, desperation, difficulty in reckoning with the past… all qualities that Scrooge chastises Past for but more than exhibits himself. Is Scrooge a hypocrite? Did the show forget itself? The answer seems to be that Scrooge is reaching a turning point or having an epiphany of sorts. Afterall, the whole monstrous nonsense with Past is precipitated by Scrooge declaring that he no longer wishes to live in the past, citing the excitement that his family brings and wanting to return home to spend Christmas with them (but don’t be surprised if Scrooge has another bout with his past and/or “obsession” in the not-too-distant future).
Dewey, on the other hand, is acting well within his character. Like Scrooge, he too has removed himself from all Christmas Eve festivities. But, unlike his uncle, he’s not leaving one party for another but falling prey to obsessing over what, or who, he doesn’t have - his mom. Whether his sadness is well founded or not, it’s still taking him out of the present and leaving him desperate for a past he’ll never have.
The fact that Dewey’s moody and impulsive nature leads him to surreptitiously tag-along with Scrooge on his foray into the past isn’t a surprise. It’s the revelatory encounter with Donald’s and Della’s younger selves that is. Dewey’s obsession with his mother has led us to believe that it’s his connection with her that’s most important and profound. In “The Spear of Selene!,” even Selene tells him that he’s “just like her.”**
Once Dewey finds an “emo kid”*** all holed up in his room, playing woe-is-me grunge music on his guitar,**** it becomes clear that he has much more in common with his Uncle Donald than previously thought. Della, meanwhile, is out in the snow trying to draw Donald out of his state of melancholy and into a Santa-catching adventure. Like Dewey, Donald is prone to sulking - he’s emotional and a little too into himself. Della’s enthusiasm and spirit balance her brother out and helps to take him out of whatever brooding funk he’s in.
This says a lot for the current state Donald is in with the unemployment, the boat docked in Scrooge’s pool, and his self-imposed retirement from adventuring. Dewey’s a smart kid though and seems to have caught onto all this as evidenced by the big hug he gives his Uncle Donald upon returning to present time.***** It’s a touching moment of empathy and understanding. They both miss and need Della but they still have each other. Perhaps realizing that their grief and wanting isn’t exclusive to themselves will help these two moody introverts stop obsessing over their past.
(*) He and the spirits first met when they accidentally visited him while looking for a different Scrooge. Of course, this is in reference to Ebenezer Scrooge (of whom our Scrooge is based on) from Charles Dickens’ classic novella A Christmas Carol. In fact, the modern Scrooge made, for all intents and purposes, his animated debut in 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
(**) Similar to Huey’s connection with Fethry and Louie’s with Scrooge.
(***) Donald is clearly influenced by his universe’s of Curt Cobain and Nirvana. He’s wearing an unbuttoned flannel, laments the fact that he’s difficult to understand, and even wears a t-shirt evoking Nirvana’s logo. There’s even a poster of Nirvana’s famous album, Nevermind, on his wall. But, instead of a naked baby, it’s an unhatched egg. Also on his wall is a poster for a band called “Geezer” that’s a clear reference to Weezer and their self-titled first album.
(****) His inclination for music retroactively plays well into the fact that he was once in a band (The Three Caballeros).
(*****) It’s also worth noting that Donald is wearing the very same ugly Christmas sweater that Della gifted him those many years ago. In turn, Della is also wearing the same scarf Donald gave her.
DuckTales’ usual poppy theme song is replaced by a crooning holiday tune evocative of a 1950s Vegas lounge act.
The annual screening of “Christmas on Bear Mountain” is a reference to the title of the 1947 Donald Duck comic of the same name where Scrooge makes his debut. In the story, Donald and the nephews are invited to spend Christmas at his rich uncle’s chalet on Bear Mountain. There, Scrooge dresses up as a bear to test their courage.
We first learned of Scrooge’s beef with Santa Claus back in “The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest!” (S1, E9) Other than his disdain remaining as strong as ever, not much more is revealed other than Scrooge referring to him as a “traitor” and that Santa is depicted as a polar bear.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is donning the same green robe that Willy wore playing his role in Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
Also similar to Mickey’s Christmas Carol is the Ghost of Christmas past as an umbrella’d cricket much like Jiminy Cricket in that same part.
One of the many responsibilities Scrooge cites for needing to cut loose on Christmas eve is keeping the Jormungandr at bay. The Jormugandr is a sea serpent from Norse Mythology as well as one of Loki’s sons.
A few of the Christmas events Scrooge mentions visiting in the past are a “holiday happening at Andy Warthog’s (Warhol’s) factory and reveling with the rebels (George Washington) crossing the Delaware.”
Beakley’s/22’s presence as a guest at the first annual McDuck Enterprises Christmas Party adds some context to her appearance in “The Confidential Case Files of Agent 22!” (S1, E17) Scrooge’s role as a freelancer for S.H.U.S.H. means he lived a lifetime of wealth and experience before even founding McDuck Enterprises.
Present hits on 22 but to no avail. She prefers Yet to Come or “Death” as they refer to him as here.
Among the partygoers trying to talk business with Scrooge is professor Rhutt Butlah (a play on Rhett Butler, the character played by Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind) who has just returned from the Andes with a haul of square rocks.
This in reference to Carl Barks’ Donald Duck comic “Lost in the Andes” (1949) where Donald and his nephews (no Scrooge) travel to South America in search of the fabled square eggs of Plain Awful. During their travels, they discover that Rhutt Butlah had previously made the same trip and taught the locals to speak English with a Southern accent.
Another guest who approaches Scrooge with an investment opportunity is Captain Farley Foghorn who appeared in DuckTales ‘87 as as idiotic captain in “Bermuda Triangle Tangle” and “The Uncrashable Hidentanic.”
The Beagle Boys crashing the McDuck Enterprises Christmas party plays on the reveal from “McMystery at McDuck Manor!” (S1, E13) where we learn that Scrooge conned the deed for Duckburg away from Grandpappy Beagle who refers to the town as “Beagleburg.”
Also, making up his crew are Bankjob, Bugle, and Babyface - three Beagles from DT87 who have yet to make an appearance in this series (probably because they’re really old).
It’s not expounded upon but it’s worth noting that Donald and Della made up their permanent residence in McDuck Manor too just like the nephews. One can’t help but wonder what happened to their parents to make such an arrangement necessary.
Also to that end, both Nirvana and Weezer came to prominence in the early 90s which would put Della and Donald around the same age that Huey, Dewey, and Louie were in DT87 if you extrapolate their ages as 8 or 9-ish to pre-teens in the early 90s. This would put Donald and Della in their late 30s/early 40s in the present time.
Young Donald says “quack-a-roony!” which is a staple of the DT87 nephews.
When Scrooge arrives to save the kids from the Wendigo, he uses his cane to pogo onto its head in a clear homage to the “DuckTales” video game.
Once again, Launchpad steals the episode with his hilarious rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” while wearing a Hanukkah sweater. What’s more surprising: that LP is Jewish or that he can play the piano?
In Della’s first appearance of the season, we see her on the moon and she’s looking at that same picture of the eggs that Dewey has. She then says “see u soon” while repairing the Spear of Selene. Let’s just hope she doesn’t pass out from lack of oxygen first (no helmet?!?!?).
The end credits roll with beautiful artwork that’s in the same style as the paintings that appear during the opening credits of the aforementioned Mickey’s Christmas Carol. In fact, they were drawn by the very same artist, Mike Peraza.