This DUCKTALES review contains spoilers.
From the opening moments of DuckTales’ final episode it feels like the end. Almost everyone is here. There’s an extra care put into the scenes, a knowledge that we are in the last hour of their adventures. A last moment of uncomplicated joy before things get messy. And at the center of it all?
Webby. In the beginning she seemed to be the POV character of DuckTales, the one everything seemed to focus around. Some of that was caused by the original air dates of the episodes accidentally putting all her focus episodes at the start but it was a feeling that never left me. The show was an ensemble piece but there was something about Webby that kept her at the forefront. Something that made go, “if anyone had to lay claim as the main character of DuckTales, it’s her.” Boy, was I right about that!
The finale puts her in the middle of everything and finally pays off the mystery set-up at the top of the season. We finally learn about her past and as its slowly revealed it tugs on Webby’s biggest heartstring. Family.
Her clones May and June press her with questions about the family. How none of the people she has connections with are related to her by blood. They aren’t her REAL family. Scrooge’s family isn’t hers. Her friends aren’t family. They play on a fear that’s been deeply held within her, that for all the talk of family is what you make it they still aren’t REALLY family.
It calls into question that critical core element of this new DuckTales. One could argue the show has done a LOT to say family is what you make it and this shouldn’t be a problem for Webby but come on, she has two sisters right in front of her. That would mess with her head and make her feel insecure.
This question of family extends out of Webby’s plotline and to all the others, especially Donald and Della. Donald wants to go off on a big trip with Daisy, intentionally leaving the family behind for the first time in who knows how long. This is a major step for him. He gave up his life to help raise Huey, Dewey, and Louie. He’s stuck by them even as they lived at the mansion. The guy deserves some time with the person he cares about without the weight of responsibility he’s carried for so much of his life.
Della though can’t take it. She tries to get him to reconsider. She has excuse after excuse but the real reason comes out, she doesn’t want to lose any more time with him. She was gone for so long why can’t he stay and make up for that lost time? He could, but as much as Donald loves Della he’s finally putting himself first. Of course Della accepts it because she’s Della and she’s great. I’m so happy they did this with Donald, the guy deserves it. Just because Della wants to spend more time with him doesn’t mean he HAS to. He can take time for himself, he can be his own person, he doesn’t have to be defined by the loss of Della anymore. Of course he’ll still see her and the rest of the family, he’s just going off to start his own part of the family. That’s a crucial element of family as well; you don’t always have to be together.
But of course when Webby and Huey get kidnapped Donald is right there to help and so is everyone else. The whole family rallies together, though Beakley is off on her own. Earlier in the episode Beakley revealed to Webby that she retired specifically because of her. That Webby was more important than anything else and, as we later learn, she gave up taking out F.O.W.L. to do it. There’s a running theme of how much you’ll sacrifice for your family here, as Beakley puts it, “when you find your family you’ll give up everything for them.” It’s well threaded throughout the episode, the biggest example of it of course being the giant mission to storm the temple.
It’s here the family comes up against the biggest nemesis of the series, Bradford. Bradford’s whole deal is that he was the first Woodchuck (and a terrible one.) He wants to rid the world of adventure, contain all the chaos it brings. What does all this mean? Why is he doing this? On first watch it’s a little unclear but when you zoom out Bradford wants to keep the world in order, in check. No deviations, nothing unexpected, no challenges, nothing unpredictable. He claims he’s a businessman, not a villain… but of course he’s a villain because a LOT of business people ARE villainous. Wanting to keep the world in check and playing by their rules is how they keep control. How they stay in power.
Adventures threaten that. They give power to those who don’t have it; they allow a wonder and mystery to fill the world. To give people hope, to bond them together. For Scrooge, it helped create his family. So of course Bradford would try to shut that down, he’s better served if people are unhappy and under his thumb as a businessman. Controlling Scrooge’s money was also a great bonus.
Bradford threatens the very heart of the series, adventures. He uses Webby specifically to gain the ability to take Scrooge’s adventures away… but of course he underestimated the family. He thought creating Webby’s clones would tear them apart, that separating everyone into cages would keep them from rising up… but you can’t stop the Duck family and Webby is the heart and soul of that. Even when she learns she was just another clone that doesn’t stop her for long. For anyone else that might have been a bigger blow but when she learns that Beakley saved her when she was a baby? That Beakley gave up everything for her so that someone would love her? That keeps her going.
That and the fact she’s (more or less) Scrooge’s daughter. Yeah she was made by F.O.W.L. but WHATEVER SHE’S REALLY A BLOOD PART OF THE FAMILY! At this point I was taken aback. Why does Webby NEED to have a blood relation to the family? Why can’t she just be a friend who became a part of the family? Isn’t that what DuckTales has been preaching for its entire run, you don’t have to be related by blood to be family and even if you ARE related by blood that doesn’t always mean you’re like family to someone else.
Some might consider this an easy cop out, a way for Webby to get what she always wants… but it’s so much more than that. Okay yes, Webby was sort of made from Scrooge’s DNA but that still doesn’t automatically make her a part of the family. They could easily reject her for not being “real.” But everyone in the McDuck family loves her and that’s why she’s family, blood or not. Plus, the rest of the episode goes out of its way to show that damn near every good person the team has met is part of the family. So yes, Webby is now confirmed to be related by blood but that doesn’t undercut DuckTales’ message about family. Lena and Violet are part of the family, Gizmoduck, Darkwing Duck, Gosalyn, Launchpad, EVERYONE. As Webby tells May and June,
“Family are the people who stick by you. Fight for you. Blindly invade a sinister villain’s secret strong hold for you. Family would do anything to keep you safe and sacrifice everything to love you no matter who and what you are. Like Scrooge, like my granny, like you two.”
That’s family and that’s DuckTales. Scrooge is willing to sacrifice it all, to give up adventuring… but FAMILY is the greatest adventure of all! It’s so powerful it breaks the most powerful magic contract of ALL TIME. BOOM, FAMILY!
‘The Last Adventure’ was nothing short of an absolute masterpiece, the closest thing to a true 2017 DuckTales movie we’ll ever get. The action was big, damn near every character from the show made it in, and it capped off everything so beautifully. It’s stunning how many references and characters are squeezed in here but it never feels rushed or over bloated. All the references work, whether you know the deep cuts or not. My personal favorite was the revelation that Manny is no intern… he’s actually The Headless Manhorse of the Apocalypse AND HE LIVES AGAIN… voiced by Keith David. It’s such an elaborate Gargoyles reference but even if you don’t know that it’s hilarious to see this new side of Manny.
There’s too many moments to talk about. So many little bits that could deserve full articles on their own. Della using her leg like an axe, B.O.Y.D. being just a head, or Launchpad becoming Gizmoduck! If you’ve been reading all my DuckTales reviews you know how much I’ve loved the character of Lena and just seeing her there at the end as part of the family made me smile and warmed my heart. She went through so much and look where she is now, she has people who love her AND she’s a superhero.
As the credits rolled and all the characters we’ve all grown to love soared past the screen for the final time, it hit me just how much I’m going to miss DuckTales. I’ve reviewed every single episode of the series and it has been an immense privledge. The level of care and creativity that went into every single aspect of the series did not go unnoticed. The people behind the scenes truly delivered something special, a series that will stand the test of time as not just a worthy entry into the Duck universe or just a Disney cartoon series, but as an absolutely wonderful show all on its own. It was incredibly funny, joyously warm, and knew how to hit you with some major life lessons. Lena’s story arc in particular will always stick with me and works as a gut wrenching portrayal of the effects of abuse. Her story was just an example of DuckTales as its strongest, when it was able to use it stories to hold up a mirror to our own lives and safely let us explore them. While also giving us a lot of laughs.
DuckTales has power; it’ll keep having power. Now that the show’s ended I have no doubt more people will check it out on Disney + and realize how special it was. How great it was. How even if it still had more stories to tell it still gave all it had.
Thank you for everything, DuckTales. You’ll never be forgotten.
DuckTales Quotes To Make Your Life Better
-“No, no maniacal laughter! We are not common villains.”
-“Come with me if you want DEW-live.”
-“Yes I was right! …. Oh no, I was right.”
-“I LIVE AGAIN… Again.”
-“Please hold all startled utterances of disbelief for the end.”