Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Fifty-Four: "Nothing to Fear"

Scrooge and company start hallucinating their--apparently--primal fears: Duckworth is chased by Scrooge's limo-turned-panther; HDL are threatened by the villain from their videogame, Commander Gander (who, in spite of his name, is a pig-creature); Doofus is threatened by a giant, evil banana (no comment); and for Scrooge, of course, it's bill-collectors. All of this is actually kind of cool and interesting; the only problem is that it's so painfully obvious right from the start that Magica's gonna turn out to be behind everything, and that makes it really a lot more boring. I suppose it would've been asking rather too much for the whole thing to just be an inexplicable, existential nightmare, but still…

Magica actually doesn't play an overly intrusive role for most of the episode, however, and there's some neat stuff in the meantime, as when Scrooge and HDL encounter 'evil' versions of one another who presumably represent their worst fears of what the other could think of them, which is actually pretty distressing even though you know they're just fakes. And yeah, okay, fuck you, it's a little bit heartwarming when they realize that they don't really hate one another. Also, even if her plan is as banal as you could possibly imagine, she does look pretty cool lounging on top of a black storm cloud with an umbrella. The ending is very much rushed--quick, everyone, just stand up to your fears and they'll all disappear like that, poof--but that's ultimately for the best. Dragging this out would be a rather unpromising thing to do.

Stray Observations

-The kids' teacher is an evil-looking vulture, apparently.

-"I'm sorry I didn't believe you about the giant banana or Commander Gander."
"What about the limo monster, sir?" "Don't push it, Duckworth."

-The videogame HDL are playing is simultaneously too advanced and too primitive to actually have ever existed except possibly as some sorta postmodern flash parody game.


  1. I made a sequel to this episode on my blog

    HURRAY! :D

  2. This is one of my all-time favorite episodes (top 3, easily), primarily because of the escalation. The fears start off incredibly silly (the video game villain coming to life, the "limo monster", the bill collectors) -- nothing special there. Then Scrooge hallucinates all his money is gone -- nothing surprising there. This leads to said bill collectors Scrooge, "You're penniless, McDuck! So we're gonna take your nephews away from you!" ... Wait, is that supposed to be funny or serious? Is it a joke -- they're going to seize his property and assets to pay his bills, but he has none left, so they're gonna take 3 people as payment, like comic strips where debt collectors strip a character of the clothes he's wearing and leave him wearing a barrel? Or are they threatening to take away custody of his kids because he can't take care of them anymore? In context, it's impossible to tell if it's meant to be a joke or a more serious, realistic fear.

    This is followed by genuinely chilling, heartbreaking, very personal and realistic fears: 3 kids who have already lost their parents and been separated from their first guardian seeing their new father-figure say he can't stand them and wants them out of his life, and an old man with no kids of his own seeing the kids he's come to love as his own telling him that the only thing they care about is his money.

    For me, the perfectly paced and structured build-up leads to these 2 final fears and the characters' reactions packing an extremely powerful emotional punch. The "face our fears" scene may be cliché, but the preceding scene where they realize it's all an illusion is very strong and very effective imho. I bet all 4 of them had trouble sleeping that night.