Episode: 112 "The Missing Links of Moorshire!" 5/19/18
Starring: Scrooge McDuck, Dewey Duck, Huey Duck, Launchpad McQuack, Flintheart Glomgold, Louie Duck, and Webby Vanderquack
Featuring: Bramble and Briar
Setting: Moorshire, Scottland
Plot: During a golf tournament, Scrooge and company are transported from Scotland to a magical, yet dangerous, realm
Walt Disney built his empire on creating both art and experiences that are generationally inclusive. He valued (and monetized!) the idea of young and old participating in activities together as opposed to each of them going off and doing their own thing.* Ever since moving into McDuck Manor, Scrooge has made it a point to include his nephews in everyday pursuits as mundane as taking the kids to a day at the office or as fantastic as oversea adventures tangling with ancient gods. In keeping with this pattern, Scrooge brings his family all the way to Scotland to watch him compete in the Duckburg Billionaires’ Club Classic. In the midst of being transported to a “mystical fairy realm” of sparkly ponies** and deadly mist, Dewey’s surprising knack for the game leads him and Scrooge down a winding and fraught path that takes them from tutelage, to competition and jealousy, and, finally, all the way to pride and acceptance. Also, Dewey’s unquestioned and recent rise to prominence provides an opportunity to check in with the triplet’s distinct roles in the show thus far.
Scrooge bringing the family to Scotland for the annual Duckburg Billionaires’ Club Classic may seem like an altruistic gesture of family bonding and travel but evidence suggests he may have ulterior motives. Dewey jumps at the “chance to learn the sport (their) family invented from the greatest player who ever lived.” But Does Scrooge truly and selflessly want to pass down the family tradition or, does he merely want to court an audience in showcasing his peerless skill and expertise? It’s not a clear cut “yes” or “no” answer but Scrooge’s ego definitely bogs down whatever good intentions he initially had. When Dewey first exhibits his natural talent for golf, Scrooge is not only impressed, but thrilled to share his passion with his nephew. Things quickly turn though when the “brash young upstart (becomes) destined to surpass his aging mentor.” Scrooge wants to chalk up his teeth-gritting bemusement to simply valuing “experience over raw talent” but it’s really his own insecurities that cause him to lash out. Instead of an avuncular drive to nurture potential, Scrooge is straight-up jealous. Dewey doesn’t have much tolerance for Scrooge’s petulance either and ends up quitting the match. However, once all their lives are in danger due to the impending and quickly approaching stone-transforming*** mists-of-death, cooler heads prevail with Scrooge literally and figuratively elevating Dewey to hit the shot that saves the day and wins the priceless Druid’s Cup for “best golfer in every realm of reality.” Scrooge realizes the error of his ways and graciously invites Dewey to participate in next year's invitational to offer him with some real competition but he declines in lieu of continuing to play with his uncle just for fun.
While Huey is off earning his Jr. Woodchuck merit badge for Sports Commentary with Launchpad**** and Louie goes mercenary in caddying for Glomgold, Dewey once again finds himself firmly implanted with Scrooge in the A-storyline. In breaking away from the triplets’ classic characterization of three ducks completely indistinguishable from each other (aside from colour coding), it’s only inevitable that one would rise in importance and utility above the rest. Where Huey is straight-laced and happy-go-lucky and Louie is an aloof weirdo, Dewey is the moody center and emotional heartbeat of the trio. Because of this, he’s more prone to bond with/challenge Scrooge and investigate their mother’s whereabouts. Just by the numbers, Dewey is the only character to appear in every episode while also acting as the unquestioned lead or co-lead nephew in six of the first twelve.***** This isn’t damning commentary on Huey and/or Louie either – they’ve each had a handful of satisfying and entertaining moments too but it does make one wonder if Dewey will be the most important nephew for just this season or if his heightened role will hold true going forward. It would be really cool if the triplets took turns in anchoring whatever the particular season’s main through-line is with each of their distinct personality traits lending itself to and highlighting the action at hand. For example, with his book smarts and intellectual curiosity,****** Huey would be perfect in a time travel storyline that reimagines the Bubba the caveduck arc. Meanwhile, you could go in some truly offbeat or subversive directions with Louie. He could conceivably become anything; from some sort of diabolical super villain or an intergalactic hobo, hitchhiking his way across the universe.
Despite the fact that he’s in his nineties, Scrooge is not a finished product nor is he perfect (even as I recklessly suggested as such in last week’s write-up). That’s the great thing about welcoming a youthful presence into your life. The nephews, primarily Dewey, have become a mirror of sorts, in reflecting some of Scrooge’s lesser qualities back onto himself. In “Woo-oo!,” the nephews reinvigorated Scrooge into snapping out of the doldrums he had succumbed to and gleefully announced “you kids are nothing but trouble. Curse my kilts, I love trouble!” In “The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest!” (S1, E9), Huey helps Scrooge eschew his stubborn and myopic ways in learning to appreciate the journey rather than the results. And, in this episode, Launchpad perfectly articulates the influence Dewey has on his uncle: “Scrooge let go of his ego and learned that a teacher’s pride should be in his student and not himself.”
(*) This line of thinking shaped both his animated features as well as Disneyland. More on this in our review of the "Pilot."
(**) This isn't the first time Scrooge and co. have encountered a stone-transforming entity. Back in Carl Barks' classic comic "The Mysterious Stone Ray (1955)," Donald, Dewey, and Louie are tuned into stone by... a mysterious stone ray.
(**) The expository Briar and Bramble, the two obvious My Little Pony stand-ins, didn't contribute much and are mostly forgettable. The most interesting thing about them is their true identity as “kelpies” – legendary Scottish shape-shifting water spirits with a penchant for drowning unsuspecting victims.
(****) Launchpad once again shines as the episode’s comedic relief in his pairing with Huey, who, has his best role since “Terror of the Terra-Firmians!” (S1, E5) New pairings like this one continue to elicit unique and inspired performances from the ensemble.
(*****) It should also be mentioned that Webby is right there with Dewey in terms of importance especially since she is heavily involved in the season’s two prevailing story arcs in Della /The Spear of Selene and Lena/Magica De Spell respectively. The only thing she’s missing is her lack of one-on-one screen/bonding time with Scrooge.
(******) Huey immediately figures out the where and why of being transported to the interdimensional golf course the druids built to escape King James' golf ban.
It’s starting to become clear that Scrooge and Flintheart are less like enemies and more like best friends who hate each other. It’s common for friendships to exist and be fueled solely by fierce competition and constant squabbling. It’s evocative of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau’s relationship in the Grumpy Old Men series.
The first caddy Flinty hires is a red-shirted tiger who is referred to as the “greatest golfer in the world.” It’s pretty obvious who this is in reference to.
Black Donald McDuck, Scrooge’s ancestor who invented golf, was so bad at the sport that his ensuing temper tantrums forced King James to ban golf across all of Scotland. He sounds a lot like another duck and relative named “Donald.”
As Flinty’s caddy, Louie’s general disinterest, refusal to look up from his phone, and constant handout waiting for cash is a hilarious and effective bit of characterization.