I wasn’t ready for the end of Ducktales. Neither were a lot of people according to what I saw on social media. While I do feel that sometimes a show has run its course and that ending it complies with the creator’s wishes, this is not the case. The adventures aren’t over for the characters in-show, but we won’t be watching them for a while.
Of course, Disney has done this before. They forcibly canceled Wander Over Yonder and didn’t let fans know until the middle of season 2 had passed. Coincidentally, Frank Aragones also worked on that show and was witness to that nonsense. Despite fans launching a campaign to save the show and give us season three, that didn’t happen. At the least, we gave it our best shot. Ducktales didn’t even give fans time to launch a protest begging for season 4, with a handful of episodes to go before the adventures ended forever.
Season three felt rushed. It was supposed to be Huey’s focus season, and you can tell with the early episodes that he’s meant to face some character development about this knowledge, and the fact that he thinks he knows everything. Huey is forced to face that he is flawed and imperfect, and he doesn’t know everything. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Then the series finale tosses that arc out of the running, as do the later F.O.W.L. episodes. The storytelling isn’t bad, and the individual episodes are great, but you can feel a whole missing from the sum of its parts. Huey doesn’t get a full arc where he grows into a fuller person, the way that his brothers do. Neither does Webby, and the series finale focuses on her. Instead, we get two mismatched puzzle pieces that try to be smashed together.
Season Three Highlights
Most of season three focuses on F.O.W.L. learning that Scrooge is interested in Missing Mysteries, a series of magical objects that Woodchuck founder Isabelle Finch discovered, cataloged and collected. F.O.W.L. wants the same mysteries — the Blessed Bagpipes, Harp Of Mervana, and so forth — to take down the Ducks and rid the world of adventure.
Gosalyn Being A Delight In “Let’s Get Dangerous”
Generally, Darkwing Duck fans will say that you need a Gosalyn to balance out the hero’s negative traits. Frank Aragones said as much, that “Darkwing Duck without Gosalyn is no Darkwing.” She grounds him by making him face parental responsibilities and concern for her well-being. Anyone can see clearly that Gosalyn needs to be on the show for Darkwing to be a hero. In one timeline where he thought she “ran away,” he became the antihero Darkwarrior Duck and a tyrant to boot. Even when Gosalyn explains she got trapped in a time machine, Darkwarrior dismisses her and wants to use the machine to rewrite history to his liking. Jim Starling in season 2 became Negaduck with no child to reign in his worse impulses.
(Rip, Christine Cavendish, for giving us a sweet Gosalyn. You were gone too soon before your time.)
In this incarnation, Gosalyn is not a “spirited” preteen that wins over everyone with her bubbly personality. Instead, Stephanie Beatriz’s interpretation shows a scared and tough teenager that is investigating Taurus Bulba, as well as her grandfather’s disappearance. She feels that she can’t trust the police, and goes to Darkwing for help after kicking him in the face and breaking into Bulba’s lab. Despite Darkwing pointing out reasonably that they can’t randomly accuse a scientist and she hasn’t proven herself as trustworthy, he agrees to help her find the proof. This leads to their bond, as Darkwing sees firsthand that Gosalyn is right and that Bulba did something to her Grandpa Waddlemeyer, before trying to kill them in turn for exposing him. Darkwing saves her life, and takes her back to his lair to recuperate. They realize they’re in over their head when Bulba summons the Darkwing supervillains from a parallel universe, with Darkwing pointing out that fighting common crooks is different from tackling these guys. He gets his butt kicked when trying to confront them.
The bond between the two strengthens despite the ups and downs, and Gosalyn insisting she needs to be tough on Darkwing to save her grandfather. Darkwing becomes determined to save Grandpa Waddlemeyer, and talks with Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera night after night about how to find him in another dimension. When Gosalyn finds out, as well as the fact that Darkwing has been running on days of no sleep, she gently tucks him into bed as he mutters that he needs to keep his promise. When Darkwing goes out to face the Fearsome Four alone, getting captured, Gosalyn is both angry and worried, saying that it was not going to end well. She and Launchpad work together to save the hero, and ends up dismantling the Ramrod to keep it from destroying reality.
The Quack Pack Episode
Don’t @ me, I was a fan of Quack Pack when it was running. To this day, I still think it’s funny when watching the episodes. You sometimes need a reimagining where a bunch of formerly innocent kids get some puberty, and decide to snark their way through more wild adventures. From participating in a sports car race to stopping Daisy’s pet lizard from going on a Godzilla rampage, you get some honest sibling rivalry and hilarious slapstick. We also have moments of primal fear, and some pretty fluid animation.
Thanks to a run-in with an active genie in a lamp, Donald accidentally lands his family in a sitcom world. He seems to prefer getting a bad haircut to facing scorpions, but the family doesn’t. Huey can’t stand a world where his Junior Woodchuck Guidebook is a stage prop with blank pages, and Mrs. Beakley is seriously insulted on learning her catchphrase is, “I’m not a spy!” To top it all off, when Scrooge leads the demand in figuring out how to leave, the studio audience attacks them. The Ducks are more weirded out by how humans look than about the attack. All too soon, this mundane wish becomes into an exciting nightmare.
The sitcom episode wasn’t exactly a reference to the actual Quack Pack — 2017 Donald would throttle his 1996 counterpart for being irresponsible and immature — but it showed homages to it. We get the suburban home where the Ducks lived, and a reference to the actual humans that could cause trouble if the ducks let them have their way. Goofy appears, as a guest star, to reassure Donald that no one has a normal family, and sometimes you can’t control the chaos that comes your way.
We’ll get into it more below, but Magica gets some depth beyond being an abusive aunt to Lena. We find out that her body count and history of sadism had a price, in that she accidentally created the Phantom Blot as a F.O.W.L. operative. Then the viewers — and Louie — learn why Magica has an unending grudge against Scrooge. It didn’t start with the dime, and it was never about the dime or power.
What’s more, season 3 makes us feel sorry for Magica. She’s a monster, a textbook abuser, and a petty sorceress. The show doesn’t deny that she was always like that. What we see instead is that Scrooge had a chance to send her on a different path, and he squandered it for pettiness. While he wasn’t wrong that she attacked him first, he also struck back at her lowest point, when she was willing to bargain with him. More on that below.
This especially becomes true when Scrooge gains the decency to apologize to Magica. She doesn’t accept it, but the series finale has her assist against a common enemy and leave the Ducks in peace, along with Glomgold and Ma Beagle. It provides hope that Scrooge won’t spend his whole life fighting sworn enemies over petty grudges.
The Rest Of Disney Afternoon Characters Making A Cameo
Some people theorize that the Ducktales reboot is meant to be a precursor to an ultimate Disney universe. It would make sense, given how the Marvel Cinematic Universe started with Iron Man. The show has laid the groundwork, and a Darkwing Duck show is in the works. Boo for airing on Disney Plus, yes for the Duck Knight getting a solo outing.
We have the Rescue Rangers appear, and Launchpad helps them escape from F.O.W.L. Goofy as mentioned makes an appearance, in his Goof Troop persona without Pete. We even have Kit and Molly from Talespin ally with Della Duck while recovering a stone that merges bodies.
The cameos are endless but show that the heroes are active in their own stories. It means that the adventure isn’t over, and the Ducks aren’t alone. We nerds can celebrate, as Darkwing and Launchpad did while recounting the theme song to their favorite show.
The Episode Ideas That I Wish They Had Been Able To Do
Since the show is over, I have regrets. There were so many avenues they could have taken. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to do it. Below is my wishlist.
Webby And Donald Duck Bonding — We know that Donald considers Webby one of his kids. He said it outright when Magica’s shadows tried attacking her and the triplets. Yet, the two never have a whirlwind adventure of bonding or character development. Part of it may have been due to the fact that Donald had his own arcs while dealing with his sister’s disappearance and the fact that he can now seek his true passion or purpose.
Donald loves Webby. That much is obvious. Even in the sitcom world, he is more than happy for her to wield her grappling hook and beat up photographers under the mistaken belief that they are spies. Webby also considers Donald Duck as “the bravest adventurer of all time!” Yet we don’t see them having an episode interacting. It’d be nice to see Donald reminded of Della.
A Follow-Up On What Happened To Poe DeSpell — “The Life and Crimes of Scrooge McDuck” introduced a giant whammy of a plot thread courtesy of Magica DeSpell. We learn that she hates Scrooge because he accidentally got her twin brother turned into a raven forever. Long story short, they tried stealing the dime, and Poe realized that Scrooge was a threat if they crossed him but otherwise it wasn’t worth angering him. Magica didn’t listen and let Scrooge goad her into stealing Poe’s amulet. Scrooge managed to block her transformation spell that would have turned him into a nonsapient raven. Poe saw the danger and jumped in the way, taking the blow.
It’s absolutely one of the saddest moments in season 3. Magica has never said sorry, even though she should be sorry for a lot of things that have happened over the course of the show. Yet here, she was willing to give up everything for her brother. It shows how much she cared about him.
I was screaming, “But what happened to Poe?!” as the episode wound up. Part of me was hoping that the series finale would answer that question, but alas no. Logically speaking, Poe if he was turned into a raven may have died of natural causes, at least according to some fan theories. Even so, that’s never confirmed or denied.
The counterpoint is that Magica is alive and kicking 130 years later. So is Scrooge, and Goldie O’Gilt. If Poe were dead, that would be a dour way to leave this hanging. Plus, leaving that plot thread hanging provides hope that in the Darkwing spinoff, that they can resolve it. Magica has fought Darkwing and his on-off girlfriend Morgana in the comics. It would be a cool way to bring Catherine Tate back, to show off her acting range and reuniting with Poe.
Donald Glover making a cameo as a one-shot character — if you’ve seen Community, then you will love the chemistry between Donald Glover and Danny Pudi’s characters. The two bounce off each other well, and they seem happy to enjoy each other’s company or improvise silly gags. People agreed that when Donald Glover had to leave due to his music career, something was missing from the show.
Having Donald Glover make a short cameo in a Ducktales episode to bounce off Danny Pudi’s Huey would have been a great homage to this friendship. Ideally, you would have the whole Community cast, at least the main 6, but if you have to settle for one I’d say Donald Glover.
Huey doesn’t really have friends, or even sworn enemies. He has his family and is fine with that while bonding with Violet and Gizmoduck. An episode about that would have been interesting.
The Ducktales show was the reboot we needed. It may have gotten unceremoniously canceled before its time but did its best to give us a fair ending. We found most of the plot threads resolved for the Ducks, even some that were introduced in this episode, and then they just decided to cut the knot and acknowledge that all’s well that end’s well. (Yeah, I’m talking about Webby trusting May and June despite Huey saying that he saw them stealing the Missing Mysteries.)
I’m going to miss hearing David Tennant as Scrooge. He added vibrant energy and youth to a centennial Duck that refuses to lay down and die. Tony Anselmo as Donald built great chemistry with him. What’s more, all of the triplets, along with Webby, made for quite a delightful ride. Ben Schwartz and Bobby Monighan did great in their roles, conveying comedy and angst when appropriate.
There are always histories to rewrite, and mysteries to solve. The Ducks will keep finding adventure, even when F.O.W.L. tried erasing it from the world. They just need to know where to look: in front of their eyes. For, as the kids said in a cheesy and awesome moment, family is the greatest adventure. The Ducks will never have a boring moment or normal problems. And that is fine.