Jump to content
Awoo.
  • entries
    29
  • comments
    30
  • views
    500,457

The DuckTales '17 Season Three We Should Have Gotten


Lorekitten

259 views

This article contains MASSIVE spoilers for the DuckTales reboot, including ending spoilers.

Spoiler

While not my favorite season of the series (that honor goes to season one because Lena), the DuckTales reboot's season two was and is my golden standard for peak consecutive storytelling in children's media. Every episode of that season either progressed one of several(!) continuing story arcs, furthered at least one character's arc, and/or introduced a new character. If I were to choose a single episode to replace in season two, it would be Treasure of the Found Lamp, since the character introduced in that episode didn't really have any further impact on the series aside from a brief cameo in the season finale -- and I would have replaced it with The Life and Crimes of Scrooge McDuck, a season three episode that by all rights ought to have occurred before the season two finale because it just makes more sense for Glomgold's character arc in season two and also provides the possibility of resolving the dangling plot hook of Poe de Spell's transformation into a non-anthro raven and subsequent disappearance sometime in season three. Other than that, there were no true 'filler' episodes in DuckTales season two. Everything tied into the larger narrative in some way or another, and the season was that much richer for it. (Also season two had A Nightmare on Killmotor Hill, an episode that has special meaning to me and my own psychological issues, but that's another story.)

The pinnacle of season two, however, was its last five episodes. Starting with what seemed like a standard 'filler' story of Louie accidentally causing a temporal storm by using a time machine to steal lost treasures before they were lost, the episode wraps up with a scene you rarely see in children's media: the protagonist gets grounded. Yes, Della puts her metal foot down and lets Louie know that she can't just ignore him breaking the fabric of reality, an action that leads directly into GlomTales by putting Louie in prime position to con his way into Glomgold's plan to destroy his family, manipulate half the villains in Duckburg into pooling their fortunes with Glomgold, then make off with all their combined wealth through a technicality and, thanks to an ill-advised bet between Scrooge and Glomgold with their companies on the line, become CEO of both McDuck Enterprises and Glomgold Industries. Oh, and of course he saves his family in the process, so it's not entirely for personal gain, but the boy has tasted wealth and he's not going to give that up easily.

And that's when the zombie shows up.

The Louie arc essentially ends in the third-to-last episode, where Louie (and Scrooge to some extent) learns humility and makes peace with the zombie's curse (it makes sense in context, at least so much as a kid's cartoon about duck people can ever make sense). But the season doesn't stop there, as Della's 'friends' from the Moon, led by the treacherous General Lunaris, invade the Earth in the two-part season finale, which neatly ties up Della's arc, Donald's arc, Glomgold's arc, and pretty much anything in Season Two that hadn't already been resolved. (Except of course for Negaduck's appearance at the end of The Duck Knight Returns, which never got any resolution because we never actually got the Darkwing Duck spin-off that everyone wanted.)

So when the final moments of season two played out and FOWL was revealed as the new antagonists of season three, I was like, "Cool!" but also like, "How can the writers possibly top season two in terms of storyline?"

Short answer: they didn't. Not even close.

I'm not going to go too hard on the writers for this one, given that no one could have possibly predicted the global pandemic or its impact on media without the aid of divine revelation. But in many ways, DuckTales season three was easily the weakest season of the series. While its highs were among the show's best, with Let's Get Dangerous being my favorite DuckTales episode ever made (I could probably write an entire article just about that one) and the series finale being exactly what the show deserved, season three still suffered from a barrage of mixed-quality filler episodes, a lack of proper character development or even screen time for half the show's cast, and the severe mishandling of FOWL itself. When I first saw those final few moments of season two, I was so excited about being introduced to a new cast of colorful villain characters for the heroes to match wits with, but the only two FOWL members to really get the development they deserved were Bradford Buzzard and Black Heron, with the rest essentially relegated to occasional appearances. And we never did get any payoff to Magica de Spell and the Phantom Blot being work partners without Magica realizing that Funzo of all people was out to kill her. That would've been spectacular.

Worst of all, though, is that for much of the season, there was no real arc to season three. Sure, there was hunting down the 'Missing Mysteries' of Carmelita Finch, and eventually the reveal of FOWL to the main cast and a few breadcrumbs towards the Papyrus of Binding that would be important in the series finale, but there was little sense of actual progression for most of the season, and few if any of the big plot twists in the series finale really felt earned or properly led up to.

Even Huey, the central character of the season, never actually got a character arc like Dewey in season one or Louie in season two. While Huey featured in a lot of episodes, they were simply that. Episodes. There was no sense of an overarching goal with Huey's character development in the same way Dewey was trying to find his mom and Louie was trying to get rich. And while that doesn't mean there wasn't any goal at all, as stopping FOWL was definitely intended to be that very goal, it wasn't any more Huey's goal than it was the rest of the family's, so there was no sense of that goal driving Huey. Even the big reveal of Bradford Buzzard having been the first Junior Woodchuck didn't have nearly as much of an impact on me as it was clearly intended to because aside from the first episode of season three, Huey even being a Junior Woodchuck didn't feel nearly relevant enough to matter to his character arc, and he didn't even have a character arc. Just a collection of episodes.

I can't help but wonder at the end of it all: what was the point of having Huey be the central character of this season instead of Webby? Yes, I know that Huey is the third triplet and he deserved his due before the show ended, but let's be frank. Huey wasn't the central character of the series finale, Webby was. And while it's very much probable that a season four centered around Webby was originally planned before the show ended, and that the writers had been planning her plot twist from the very beginning and wanted to make it official before the series' end, it did feel like Huey got the short end of the stick when it comes to seasonal character arcs or lack thereof.

The intended theme of DuckTales season three was 'Legacy.' This was touched on in the beginning of the first season three episode, and the writers tried to make it come full circle in the reveal of Bradford's backstory in the series finale, but aside from a number of mostly forced cameos from other Disney properties set in Donald Duck's universe (I want to know who wrote those ridiculously bad jokes for the Quack Pack episode and if they cringed as much as I did at them), the season itself didn't do nearly as much with that theme as they could have. So how about we fix that by giving season three an actual arc or three?

---

A big part of what made DuckTales season two a triumph in sequential storytelling is that its main arc built off of what came before it, namely the revelation of Della Duck's disappearance in space a decade before the show began. This affected both Louie's arc and Della's arc, and even Glomgold's arc had ties to the season one finale in that we got to see what happened to him in the aftermath of the Shadow War. But while Season Two left several dangling plot hooks such as Glomgold becoming the Hero of Earth while having also pissed off half the villains in Duckburg (the other half being FOWL), not much came of the first point aside from a single episode where Glomgold tries to leverage his fame as an excuse to strike back against Scrooge McDuck (of course), and nothing ever came of the second point.

So why don't we change that?

The Set-Up

It's the aftermath of the Moonvasion, and Flintheart Glomgold is reveling in his new status as the Hero of Earth. Now that everyone loves him, he's going to naturally use that to further his two main goals in life: become the richest duck in the world, and destroy Scrooge completely. And what better way to accomplish goal #1 than by accomplishing goal #2?

Naturally, Glomgold's original plans to accomplish this are all needlessly complicated schemes that are doomed to humiliating failure. But then he gets a call from a certain shadowy figure that reveals that he shares the same goal of destroying Scrooge in every way possible, and can help Glomgold get what he wants. While Glomgold doesn't know it, this figure is none other than Bradford Buzzard, who sees Glomgold as an useful idiot and distraction from FOWL's full plans.

With Bradford's help, Glomgold begins a media smear campaign to point out all the damage the McDuck family has done over the years in their adventures. Given what we've already seen in Jaw$, especially with reporter Roxanne Featherly being a metaphorical two-faced snake (which may or may not be a thinly veiled social commentary on the erosion of media trust, but I won't assume anything here), this shouldn't be too difficult. Bradford of course has access to all of Scrooge's old records, given his position as Scrooge's most trusted business partner, but when Clan McDuck turns on the TV and sees an 'expose' of every adventure they've ever had, Huey becomes determined to crack the case of who's the traitor at McDuck Enterprises.

Meanwhile, the villains that Glomgold pissed off in GlomTales are planning to get their own back on the man for stealing their fortunes. Magica de Spell and Ma Beagle are of course having a literal bitch fight over which of them gets to be the boss, with Ma Beagle calling Magica a has-been that has to resort to parlor tricks because she's lost her amulet to her own familiar (Lena) and clearly can't control her own kid. Magica nearly comes to blows over this when Don Karnage points out that infighting isn't going to solve anything and they need to work together if they want to succeed in their revenge. On that note, Karnage manages to catch Mark Beaks trying to sneak out of the meeting because the parrot can clearly see that he's in over his head and should quit while he still has one. (Some of the villains question why they're even keeping him around, given how completely useless he was in GlomTales.) What the villains need is a plan of action. Glomgold is loved by pretty much everyone on Earth that isn't them, so it's going to take some thinking just to get to him.

And then they also get an anonymous call from Bradford Buzzard, who has every intention of manipulating them into his schemes as well. Playing both sides against the middle, and that middle is Scrooge. But none of them know that.

Bradford's scheming takes a new turn when (in a plot twist that my bestie Redwings1340 came up with when I shared my initial ideas with him) Bradford actually pretends to aid Huey in helping to find the mole in McDuck Enterprises, revealing a part of his backstory from the actual series finale. Huey is awestruck to meet the grandson of Carmelita Finch, and the first Junior Woodchuck to boot -- but neither he nor the audience knows the full truth of Bradford's childhood past. (The season would put more emphasis on Huey being a Junior Woodchuck, with him seeking to prove himself as worthy of becoming a Senior Senior Woodchuck despite having lost to Violet in the first episode of the season.) Bradford becomes something of a mentor to Huey, even a father figure, but slyly starts to plant doubt in Huey's mind as to whether the McDucks' pursuit of adventure is really the right path. By the midpoint of the series, Huey has to ask himself: is his family legacy tarnished by greed and wanderlust?

Of course the original plot thread of Carmelita Finch's 'Missing Mysteries' and the Papyrus of Binding is still in the plot; the first two seasons of DuckTales proved that the writers are capable of balancing multiple plots within a 25-episode series. The standard FOWL members still appear, but preferably they'd be given more screen time and development, especially with some of them aiding the other group of villains in their attempts to get back at Scrooge and Glomgold both. Naturally they wouldn't always play nice with each other, especially Magica and the Phantom Blot, who still fully intend to kill each other.

Character Arcs

I'd more or less keep the basic plots of a few of the major and less major episodes from the original season three, including Challenge of the Senior Junior Woodchucks, Astro B.O.Y.D., They Put a Moonlander on the Earth, Let's Get Dangerous (of course), The First Adventure, Beaks in the Shell, and perhaps surprisingly, Louie's Eleven (which I hold to be the best 'true filler' episode in season three because it gave so much of the cast the attention they deserved). However, I'd replace most of the 'filler' episodes that focused on the main cast with episodes that included main cast members but also gave the supporting cast more time to shine. Boyd only got one episode to his name in season three, and characters like Lena, Violet, Penumbra, Gandra Dee, and even freaking Daisy Duck of all people were similarly shafted, even though there was plenty of room in the season to give them a bit more. Heck, I wanted to like the reboot's version of Gandra Dee, but we barely get to see any of her apart from two episodes, and both of them are overshadowed by Mark Beaks being Mark Beaks. I'm not against female characters being love interests, but if you want to get me attached to a character, show me enough of them to form an attachment to.

(Gosalyn is not on my list of characters that got cheated out of screen time because despite her only appearing in Let's Get Dangerous and the series finale, her character arc in Let's Get Dangerous was probably the best succinct character arc the series has ever produced, so I don't consider her to be shafted the same way the other characters I've listed were. Don't get me wrong, I'd still want to give her at least a little more screen time, but I think the writers did her justice with what they gave her. And on the subject of Darkwing Duck characters with little to no screen time in the series, I'm not sure if I'd even put Negaduck in season three because we have enough characters to juggle already and in all honesty he kind of deserves better than just an episode or two, which is all he could reasonably be allotted given how many other characters there are to balance.)

I don't have time to detail an arc for every one of these shafted characters, but since Lena and Poe are the ones I have the most ideas on and their arcs tie into the larger narrative, I'll focus on them as an example of what I'm going for. I would absolutely have an episode where Lena discovers Magica working at Funzo's, gets royally pissed that her abuser is allowed to work with small children, and goes to the manager to complain, only for Funzo to take off his mascot head, reveal himself as the Phantom Blot, and attempt to murder her for being a de Spell. (Magica, upon learning that she's been working with the man who's sworn to kill her and destroy her entire bloodline, promptly has an episode. I can't say I blame her.) This leads to a massive fight sequence at Funzo's, which everyone present mistakes for a floor show, until the actual manager comes out and throws Lena and Magica out of the restaurant, telling Magica she's fired. There would also be a B-plot to this episode but I'm not sure what that would be. Maybe this arc would run concurrent to the A-plot of the Double-O-Duck episode, since that was also set at Funzo's Fun Zone and involved (different) members of FOWL.

Lena's arc would also involve Poe de Spell's fate, perhaps revealing that the Phantom Blot has already hunted down and 'eliminated' Poe in his raven form, leading Magica to snap. Or perhaps Poe does appear in raven form, and Lena's out-of-control magic restores his mind but not his body or memory, leading to conflict when Magica learns that Lena has her brother but Lena has no way of knowing that this talking raven is her uncle. There's several ways this might go, but a certain plot point later on hinges on Poe being present in raven form and, while still not the most moral individual and Lena knows it (and is not shy on saying so), he's considerably more sympathetic to his shadow niece than Magica ever was. It'd be an interesting dynamic between the three de Spells if Poe was close to both Magica and Lena, but Lena and Magica still hate the heck out of each other and despite his best efforts to reunite the family, Poe slowly realizes that's never going to change.

There's also no small amount of conflict between the Sabrewing family that's adopted Lena as their own and the less than savory wizard that's her biological uncle, which is to be expected. At first, the Sabrewings' suspicions seem justified when Poe convinces Lena to take off and hide her amulet so as not to keep causing so many magical accidents, then makes off with the amulet himself and gives it to Magica (in his defense, it belonged to Magica to begin with). But when Magica tries to use her regained powers to destroy Lena, Poe dive-bombs Magica to defend his niece, having developed a familial bond with her not dissimilar to his bond with Magica. Of course Magica is enraged at her brother's 'defection,' but she can't bring herself to hurt him after having lost him for so long, so she and Lena call an uneasy and resentful truce; meanwhile, the Sabrewing family is still somewhat mistrustful of Poe, but acknowledges him as a legitimate part of Lena's family. This episode would be titled "Nevermore!"

While Lena retains a level of resentment towards her uncle for restoring Magica's power, Poe recognizes that his niece needs to learn how to defend herself and soon becomes the source of Lena's magic training. Said training by all rights should never have been constrained to a single episode; Lena going from a magical disaster to holding her own against the Phantom Blot and Magica herself over the course of a single montage sequence (okay, technically three montage sequences, but all in the same episode) was the very definition of rushed pacing. Also, I kind of feel better about Poe teaching Lena magic than Magica, given the hell that woman put my girl through in the first two seasons. She really shouldn't be around children at all. Or anyone, really.

The Climax

Later in the season, the 'evidence' that Huey and Bradford have 'gathered' points squarely to Gyro as the traitor within McDuck Enterprises (another idea from Redwings). Everyone knows Gyro's a terrible boss and not a pleasant person to be around; he's the perfect fall guy. Huey, meanwhile, has grown more and more conflicted as Bradford's gaslighting has led him to doubt whether the pursuit of adventure for its own sake is really a good idea, especially considering that it left him without his mother for the first ten years of his life. This leads to conflict with the family, especially Scrooge, as Huey actively protests against Clan McDuck's way of life so vehemently that it unintentionally leads Scrooge, and the others, to suspect that Huey is the mole at McDuck Enterprises.

Which is exactly what Bradford wanted.

Huey now realizes that he's been framed, and he has to clear his name. Louie, on the other hand, is the first to sniff out that Bradford's clearly set Huey up for the fall, and Dewey of course believes them both because they're brothers and nothing will ever get in the way of that. But Webby isn't quite so easy to convince, and she could easily take all three of them unprepared, so trying to get past her will be easier said than done. It's ultimately Lena who manages to convince Webby to trust the triplets again, pointing out that she's known her share of terrible people, and Huey clearly isn't one of them.

Webby, Lena, and Violet, with Poe's help (and possibly Gosalyn's and Boyd's as well), agree to help the triplets vindicate Huey, but this is where May and June (the Webby clones) come in, claiming to have 'escaped' from FOWL as their experiments. They know where FOWL is keeping the lie-detecting Lost Harp of Mervana, and they can lead the kids to it. Lena smells a rat here, Huey has been burned before, and Louie expresses doubt at the group's competence in taking on two Webby clones if they should turn violent, but given that the grown-ups don't exactly trust them at the moment, they don't have much in the way of options.

This of course leads to all the kids being led into a FOWL trap, with Bradford revealing himself as the Big Bad and even boasting about having created Webby as 'April' in order to procure the Papyrus of Binding, which manifests anything written on it into reality (a plot point from the original season three, where Scrooge wrote on the Papyrus that it would disappear until his 'true heir' appeared to claim it; again, it makes sense in the show's context). The truth of Bradford's backstory would also be revealed, as his childhood trauma from being dragged along on his grandmother's 'adventures' shaped the man he would become and reinforced his ruthless perspective on eliminating all elements of 'chaos' from the world.

The kids try to protect Webby, but are overwhelmed by FOWL's agents, with Lena almost killed by the Phantom Blot's magic-draining gauntlet before Poe flies in its path and, with Magica's spell on him reversed by the gauntlet's power, unexpectedly regains his 'human' form. Lena, realizing that someone has to make it back to McDuck Manor to warn the adults of what's happened, and not having enough magic left to save everyone, reluctantly has to abandon her friends by using the last of her power to escape. (This is painful for her because if you know anything about Lena, she never abandons a friend in need, especially Webby.) The others are quickly captured, with the Blot particularly pleased to have his arch nemesis's brother in his possession as leverage in his revenge plot.

This is where Bradford's alliance with Glomgold's enemies falls apart completely. Magica is violently enraged at the Blot threatening her long-lost brother, so much so that she betrays Bradford's own treachery to Glomgold, telling him that he's a fool for trusting the buzzard to begin with. Thanks to Beaks' extensive collection of selfies taken with the FOWL members (let's face it, he totally would), there's plenty of evidence to indicate that Scrooge's 'most trusted business partner' is the head of FOWL. Glomgold is equal parts furious at being played and giddy at the evidence he now has to completely ruin McDuck Enterprises, so of course the revelation goes viral and Bradford's cover is blown straight to Hell. It doesn't help that Scrooge has rallied all of the other major characters to raid Bradford's base and rescue the kidnapped children, including Lena getting a final round against the Blot and finally attaining her full-powered sorceress form to save Poe. (We'd also totally still get a sequence with Manny the Headless Man-Horse transforming into a gargoyle. It came entirely out of left field and I love it.)

Except that it's too late. Bradford has the Papyrus of Binding, and he has Scrooge's family as hostages. He's got the dimensional void machine he had in the original finale that erases things from existence, and he's not above chucking a few kids in there. The only way for Scrooge to save them is to sign a contract forbidding him from adventuring ever again if he wants to remain with his family, with the Papyrus of Binding as its final, irrevocable page.

We all know how this goes. Scrooge signs the contract.

Huey, however, knows how to break the contract. The contract requires Bradford to return Scrooge's family safely in order to be binding; therefore, as soon as he's freed, Huey attacks Bradford straight-out, forcing the buzzard to defend himself, with Dewey, Louie, and Webby joining in. Bradford, as you'll remember in the canon finale, has the Split Sword of Swanstantine on him, but he knows -- knows! -- that doing any physical harm to Scrooge's family will break the contract. Backed into a corner against the gaping maw of the dimensional void machine, he tries desperately to convince the children that he's not the villain... but Huey's not falling for Bradford's deceit this time. Bradford, however, has other ways to harm the children besides injuring them, revealing that he's the one who told Della about the Spear of Selene, the spaceship she stole the day that she got lost in space.

This is the tipping point. Huey, channeling The Duke of Making a Mess (his more aggressive alter ego as seen in The Split Sword of Swanstantine), leaps at Bradford, pushing them both into the void machine of certain death.

Which has already been deactivated...

By Flintheart Glomgold.

Scrooge, of course, is absolutely surprised at this, but Glomgold and his former villain army have called a truce long enough to gang up on Bradford. Glomgold's heard enough to know that Huey's attempted sacrifice would break the curse of the Papyrus of Binding, and considers this a win against Scrooge as well as Bradford until he realizes that Scrooge cares more about Huey's safety than his own adventures. "After all," Scrooge says, "family is the greatest adventure of all."

As in the canon finale, this admission is enough to break the contract of the Papyrus of Binding.

Bradford's fate remains the same as the canon finale -- Magica, now with her powers restored, turns the buzzard into an actual animal buzzard and leaves with him as her new familiar, warning Scrooge that while she's letting him go for now, she will return. She's also reunited with Poe in 'human' form again, an emotional moment to be sure, but when Poe tells her that Lena rescued him, she first refuses to believe it and then halfheartedly remarks that Lena is 'not entirely useless after all,' making Lena angry, so nothing much changes in the Magica/Lena dynamic aside from Lena now having the power to stand her ground against Magica. Some people just won't mend their ways.

Glomgold, of course, is infuriated that his attempts to 'ruin' Scrooge McDuck have all failed, to which Mark Beaks reveals that he's managed to hack FOWL's records and leak everything to social media, including all the details of Glomgold's smear campaign and his working with the head of FOWL. The villains Glomgold's ticked off have finally had their revenge on him, and from the most pathetic of the group to boot. And there's nothing Glomgold can do about it, because they outnumber him. Magica wants to just outright kill Glomgold, but Poe convinces her that it's far more satisfying to let him remain miserable for the rest of his life.

Scrooge and Huey reconcile, with Huey admitting that he'd misjudged his family. Donald expresses concern as to how these recent revelations from Glomgold and Beaks will affect McDuck Enterprises' bottom line, questioning if Scrooge will still remain the richest duck in the world. Scrooge answers that as long as he has his family, he will always be the richest duck in the world.

There's also a scene with Webby and Mrs. Beakley addressing the whole 'stolen from FOWL' thing Webby had going on, with Webby thanking her adoptive grandmother for rescuing her and taking her in, stating that she's still the 'world's best grandma.' I felt like the scene where Webby and Beakley reconcile was missing something because Webby should have addressed Beakley as still being her family, because one criticism some fans had with the finale was that Webby being Scrooge's genetic daughter kind of undercut her 'found family' status within the McDuck clan. Also I have an adoptive sister so I have strong feelings on the subject.

In the end, we see a montage sequence of life going on after the whole FOWL scare, narrated by a voiceover from Huey. Gizmoduck, Darkwing Duck, and the police are working to capture any FOWL members that escaped the incident, Glomgold's stocks are tanking as his popularity takes a nosedive from the bad press, Scrooge is working to rebuild trust in McDuck Enterprises, and Huey himself receives a special Junior Woodchuck badge for his heroism, finally rising to Senior Senior Woodchuck. The episode -- and the series -- ends with Gyro Gearloose (who's regained his job and reputation after being framed) revealing a new and improved Reality Altering Mechanism (aka 'RAMrod,' as seen in Let's Get Dangerous) to open portals to other dimensions in what he insists is an entirely safe and stable manner. There's an entire multiverse of adventures left to have, and in this cosmos, family truly is the greatest adventure of all.

And if the end credits sequence could show the ducks interacting with various other Disney Channel cartoon universes, I'd consider that a win.

 

  • Thumbs Up 1

0 Comments


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.