This DuckTales review contains spoilers.
DuckTales Episode 18
What happens when your mind is running ten thousand miles a minute AND you’re being pulled in just as many directions? It’s a problem that has a lot of layers and “Who Is Gizmoduck?!” does a solid job at addressing them, especially with Fenton as the focus character.
In his debut appearance Fenton mentioned that all he does is think “all the time” and while that was incredibly endearing then we now get to expand on it. Fenton is trying to put all his brain power into making the Gizmoduck suit work so he can be a hero, but along the way he’s distracted. Distracted by Gyro’s put downs, his mother’s expectation for him to get a real job, Mark’s promises of greatness, and even Huey’s hero worship.
When your mind is influenced by all those expectations you can go a little haywire, which was perfectly represented in the always-malfunctioning Gizmoduck suit. I can’t get enough of that thing. How does it keep that many pies in there? That’s the kind of question that will keep the hardcore DuckTales fans up at night. Are all pies available on command? What about cake?
Anyway, when Fenton gives into others expectations for him that’s when things get really bad. He lets his mom’s words get to him and he takes a job for Mark, who instantly corrupts the Gizmoduck image into the far more corporate “Waddleduck” (complete with flawless 80’s power ballad.)
Fenton quickly loses any control over his own actions. He’s a slave not just to Mark but the entire city. It’s a great encapsulation of the inner struggle Fenton’s feeling; between doing what he knows is right for him and what others want. It’s only when he shakes all of those off and embraces who he is that he finally gains control back.
It’s a powerful emotional journey to pull off in a half hour but this is DuckTales so it handles it with ease. When you can’t get inside the characters heads you have to show it all externally and every single scene with Fenton helps drive home just how conflicted he is. Particularly strong were all the scenes with his mom and Mark Beaks.
His mom’s advice seemed fine on the surface but were more about what she wanted for him and less what Fenton hoped to do with this life. She wasn’t totally wrong in what she said or her advice but sometimes you have to disregard the words of those close to you and forge your own path.
Mark Beaks on the other hand was a complete dick throughout. Not only that but also genuinely menacing towards the end there when he stole the suit. I know DuckTales really leans into the comedy but it’s great to see its villains can quickly rebound back into evil when the plot demands it. It helps add a little more weight to scenes like this, where Mark flat out calls Fenton “chico” and “amigo”.
Real world touches like this, Mark hitting Fenton with some micro aggressions, might seem out of place in a wacky world of Ducks but it helps keep the series rooted in some form of reality. DuckTales might be zany but its emotional core is very real and it has done ample work to keep it intact. For all the zany pie throwing and magical girl style transformation sequences, you can emphatize with its characters emotional journies.
Occasionally throwing in an exchange that feels like it was pulled right from real life, like Marks casual micro aggressions, keeps us locked in with these characters. It reminds the viewer these Ducks are just like us. We may not get to wear spectacular armor like Fenton but we can appreciate him shaking off the words of others and embracing what everyone makes fun of him for, his overactive brain, and using it to his advantage.
He’s turned a seeming negative into a positive. We can all root for that.
That and Glomgold getting a painting of himself. Bless.
DuckTales Quotes To Make Your Life Better
– “Why are we wearing masks over our other masks again?”
– “THE MONEY IS ON FIRE!!!!!”
– “You saved me! I cherished it!”
– “Oh ho ho you glorious fool!”
– “That’s a robotics badge AND a philosophy badge right there!”
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter!