Rewatching DuckTales! The show does another attempt to bring ancient mythology to life in episode 41, “The Golden Fleecing.”
Here’s what happens: After his airplane is attacked by harpies (!) Launchpad’s psychiatrist tells him he needs to reduce stress in his life. At Scrooge’s mansion, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are reading Greek myths about harpies guarding the Golden Fleece. Scrooge suspects the treasure is real and enlists Launchpad’s help in seeking the fleece, while Launchpad insists that the harpies are figments of his imagination.
Scrooge, the nephews, and Launchpad fly to an uncharted island in the Black Sea, where the harpies abduct Launchpad. But, they mean him no harm, and instead invite him as their dinner guest. Scrooge convinces Launchpad to trick the harpies into revealing the location of the Fleece. This takes Scrooge and the boys into an underground maze, and a confrontation with a fire-breathing dragon. The boys distract the dragon while Scrooge nabs the fleece.
The harpies reveal that Launchpad was their dinner guest only to fatten him up to feed him to the dragon. Scrooge and the boys flee from both the dragon and the harpies. When the dragon corners Launchpad, Scrooge sacrifices the Golden Fleece to save him. Back in Duckburg, the psychiatrist is shocked to discover one of the harpies has followed Launchpad home.
Humbug: My hypothesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning that his friends and family are more important than his money. This episode goes along with that, in that he gives up the Golden Fleece to save Launchpad. It goes a little farther, though, in that Scrooge’s nephews question him on whether treasure hunting is technically stealing. Despite his change of heart, Scrooge doesn’t exactly answer that question.
Junior woodchucks: To get around the island, Huey, Dewey, and Louie build a flying quadruple tandem bicycle. I get they’re ingenious kids and can come up with something like this on the spur of a moment, but this pushing it.
Fasten your seatbelts: Looks like Launchpad is moving up in the world. He’s fixed up that little shack he lives in. There’s now a sign out in front of it reading “Launchpad Unlimited.”
Foul fowls: We’re supposed to think that the harpies aren’t so bad at the end, even though they tried to feed Launchpad to a dragon.
Down in Duckburg: Launchpad’s psychiatrist is a classic Disney character, Ludwig Von Drake. First appearing on The Wonderful World of Color in 1961, Von Drake is the first Disney character created specifically for television. Canonically, he is another of Donald Duck’s uncles. We don’t know if that also applied to DuckTales continuity, because this episode is his only DuckTales appearance.
Reference row: The Golden Fleece is of course the treasure prominently featured in the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. Although modern interpretations show the fleece having magic powers, it was originally a symbol of rightful kingship, which is why King Pelias sent Jason and company to after it.
Thoughts on this episode: It’s always fun to play around with the Greek myths, but this feels more like going through the motions. Also, behind the scenes this one was farmed out to a Taiwanese animation studio, so the animation is a little clunky and the characters look slightly off model. This group will take over the series once we get to season 2, so we’d best get to them. For now, “The Golden Fleecing” isn’t DuckTales at its best.
Next: Yee-haw, y’all.
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