DuckTales Season 2 Episode 16 Review: The Duck Knight Returns!

A tribute to Darkwing Duck becomes a powerful message about the impact of media.

This DuckTales review contains spoilers.

DuckTales Season 2 Episode 16

There’s a separation between the people who make media and the people who consume it. For the consumers, the fans, a piece of media can be a beacon of hope. A distraction from the world around you. An escape. Something to get lost in. 

That’s not to say those who make the media don’t have that same level of involvement but it’s of a different sort. When you’re behind the scenes and privy to all the inner workings of a show it can lose its shine. The inner workings are exposed. While you can of course take great pride and joy in the making of it, it’s just not the same as consuming it as an average watcher.

At least that’s how it used to be. For those who made TV in media in generations past being a FAN wasn’t quite as common as it is today. Oh sure, you had people who really liked what they worked on but fandom as we know it today wasn’t as prevalent. That kind of hyper specific knowledge and love of a piece of media was much harder to have back in the day. Now it’s far easier.

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Of course you still have creative’s in the business who don’t have the same love and passion that fans do, but even the most radical of remakes for instance will pay homage to a franchise’s roots.

We see this divide between the new and old generations of media makers in ‘The Duck Knight Returns!’ The new DuckTales is run by fans. Frank Angones, writer of this episode, is a huge fan of both the original DuckTales and Darkwing Duck. It’s delightfully obvious. Even those on staff who aren’t die hard fans were brought up to speed but I could have guessed this was written by Angones even if his name wasn’t on it.

You can see Angones’ inner fan boy throughout not just in Launchpad but especially in Drake. The speech he gives about the Darkwing Duck lunch box feels incredibly personal and even if it didn’t exactly happen to Angones the sentiment still hits home.

Drake just wants to inspire people the same way his favorite show inspired him. He wants to not only pass on his love but also share everything the show meant to him. Sure he may not get it all through with the dark and gritty reboot but he hopes at least a little bit will make it. Can you tell this was written by someone with a deep passionate love for media?

On the flipside you’ve got Jim Starling. The original Darkwing Duck is only in it for the fame and attention. He wants to be relevant again. He doesn’t care about the people he inspired; he just wants to keep his career going. It’s easy to lump him in with Allistair but there’s a crucial difference. Alistair is just following his creative vision. He at least has something to say. Jim Starling is only in it for himself. 

Jim represents the previous generation. The people who didn’t take media like this seriously. Drake is the new generation. People who want to pass on the media they loved and imbue it with everything that inspired them.

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The scene between Drake and Launchpad as their fight starts and stops because of all the Darkwing Duck merchandise is not only hilarious but a celebration. A celebration of anyone who’s loved something so much they just wanted to share it with others. We may not all get to work on the big budget reboot of a thing we loved as kids but that doesn’t negate our passion.

Critically, Drake doesn’t want Darkwing Duck to remain exactly as it was. He’s more than willing to work on the new version because he understands things can’t stay the way they were. Sure he’ll lovingly display all his old merch but he’s willing for Darkwing Duck to change. Jim on the other hand refuses for it to be anything but a tribute to him.

In a way, this whole DuckTales episode could be seen as not only a message to fans but also other creators. For fans? Pass on the love of your favorite things. Don’t try to enshrine them in amber. Don’t automatically hate a new version of the media you love. Don’t make it all about you.

For creators, especially those who work on reboots? Remember what you loved about the original series. Remember what it inspired in you and make that the driving force of the new version. Media is powerful and we should use it for good, not to stroke our own (or the stars) egos. 

This is all wrapped up in not just a tribute to Darkwing Duck but a new start for the terror that flaps in the night. We have a real life Darkwing and now Negaduck! Frank Angones, Tanner Johnson, Emmy Cicierega, Vince Aparo, Ben Holm, and everyone who had a hand in this delivered an episode that was more than just a love letter to Darkwing Duck but a powerful message about media. It matters to so many people and we should make sure it inspires. We shouldn’t let it consume our souls and turn us into evil Duck villains.

DuckTales Quotes To Make Your Life Better

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-“You have a movie studio that could fulfill a starry eyed boys cinematic dreams! Why didn’t you tell me???”“To avoid this exact conversation?”

– “Aw, cool! A big budget reboot of a thing I loved as a kid! Those are always great!”

– “Help! I’m trapped in a prison of guilt!”

– “What did you do to my psychological masterpiece?”“I added chainsaw jugglers. You’re welcome.”

– “Which is the bad guy? If only one had a blasted mustache!”

Keep us with all our DuckTales season 2 news and reviews here!

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Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter! Read more articles by him here!


4.5 out of 5