Rewatching DuckTales! Episode 39, “Working for Scales,” is the fourth and final part of the “Cash as Cash Can” multi-parter, so the animators brought out all the stops with a floating city, airplane action, and huge piles of cash.
Here’s what happens: Scrooge and Glomgold are competing over the rights to sell the amazing glowing fruit of Macaroon, which could potentially replace the lightbulb. To do this, Macroon’s leader, the Grand Kishke, had decided that the two must physically weigh their fortunes on giant scales to determine who is most rich and successful duck. (I question whether this is how the economy actually works.) Glomgold is in Macroon, ready to go, while Scrooge is still retrieving his lost gold from the ocean floor. Glomgold has the Beagle Boys transported to Macaroon to help him prevent Scrooge from delivering.
Scrooge arrives hiding in the clouds, where the lost city of Atlantis (from the last episode) has been converted to a huge airship. Huey, Dewey and Louie search for the mythical treasure of Atlantis in hopes of helping win the contest. The Beagle Boys spot the floating island and pursue in three fighter jets. Gyro offers Launchpad a briefcase that unfolds into a tiny airplane, which he can fly to chase off the Beagle Boys.
In all action, Scrooge and Gyro go over the side of the floating city. Gyro saves them, and Launchpad while he’s at it, with his hankerchief parachutes. The nephews think Scrooge is dead (!) so they set out to win the contest in his place. They dump Scrooge’s gold on the scales. After some back-and-forth, Scrooge and Glomgold’s fortunes appear evenly matched. Then the boys find the Atlantis treasure adding it to the pile. This lets Scrooge win the contest. Further, it’s discovered that Glomgold’s secretly snuck lead bars in with his money to weigh it down. Our heroes are reunited as Glomgold walks off in shame.
Humbug: My thesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning his family is more important than his money. I’m not sure whether this episode aligns with that. At the start of the episode he’s angry with the nephews for messing up the cloud machine. By the end, though, he doesn’t really apologize for his words, but merely thanks the boys for getting his money back. So maybe Scrooge is just a rich jerk.
Junior Woodchucks: The nephews stand up to the Beagle Boys at the end, making a deal with them to save their lives, but actually tricking them into opening the Atlantis treasure vault.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad and his briefcase airplane don’t do much to stop the Beagle Boys, but he doesn’t quit. No matter what the Beagle Boys do, he pursues them.
Best brain: When searching for his hankerchief parachute, items in Gyro’s pockets include a tire pump, a yo-yo, a book, and an alarm clock.
Foul fowls: If we take those lead bars and the Atlantis treasure out of the equation, who really won this? At one point, some of Scrooge’s money ends up on Glomgold’s side, but then Glomgold adds some more he had in hiding. The results seem inconclusive to me.
The Beagle Boys in this episode are the classic trio of Big Time, Burger, and Bouncer.
Reference row: I can’t be certain, but I suspect that Launchpad’s briefcase-airplane is a reference to Little Nellie, James Bond’s teeny airplane from You Only Live Twice. In reality, Little Nellie was a Wallis WA-116 Agile Series 1 gyroplane.
Thoughts upon this viewing: Nothing in this episode makes any sense, from the idea of weighing all the money, to the logistics of a floating city, to why the glowing fruit was never seen again after this. But there’s a real sense of adventure to it all, and there’s a great concept in having an ancient city in the clouds that’s all yours to run around in.
Next: The shape of duck water.
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