Rewatching DuckTales! Instead of the haves versus the have-nots, it’s haves versus other haves in episode 58, “The Status Seekers.”
Here’s what happens: While playing backyard football with his nephews, it occurs to Scrooge that he although he’s stinking rich, he has no rich friends or clients. He sets about establishing himself as a proper member of high society. He eventually gets inside a fancy dinner party run by the Status Seekers, a group of super-rich folks known for their outrageous purchases. Scrooge becomes a member by purchasing the ugly-but-valuable Mask of Kuthululu.
Charles Upstuck III, a snooty member of the Status Seekers, plots to take down Scrooge, so recruits three rich Beagle Boys, Bernaise, Bicep, and Bonaparte Beagle. The mask leads Scrooge to a remote island where there is a treasure in emeralds waiting to be found. Scrooge and the family head out to the ocean, with the Status Seekers and the Beagle Boys pursuing him.
Scrooge and the villains negotiate with the island native chief for the emeralds. Scrooge wins, and after a battle at sea against the Beagle Boys, he’s finally accepted as the new leader of the Status Seekers. But the other Status Seekers turn on him almost immediately, fearing he will embarrass them with non-highfaluting ways. Upstuck and the Beagle Boys attack, only for Scrooge and his family to fight them off in front of the Status Seekers. The Status Seekers reject Scrooge again, so he leaves them to fight among each other for the mask.
Humbug: My thesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning the people in his life are more important than his money. This episode hits that point in a big way, where Scrooge eventually decides that playing football with his nephews is better than fancy dinner parties with rich snobs.
Junior woodchucks: In a pretty pointless middle-of-episode action scene, Scrooge’s ship is attacked by a giant squid, and the nephews use pepper, chili powder, and other spices to drive the monster away.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad embarrasses Scrooge while at a fancy restaurant, which endangers his standing among the Status Seekers. Later, Launchpad pilots Scrooge submarine, although he insists he’s better off in the air.
Maid and maiden: While Scrooge and Upstuck try to bride the island chief with gold and valuables, Mrs. Beakeley figures out what the chief really wants – ordinary peanut butter.
Foul fowls: It’s the first appearance of the wealthy Beagle Boys, with no mention of why they’re not helping the rest of the family. They live in luxury in a resort-like minimum security prison. During the final fight, Upstuck dons a Beagle Boy mask, suggesting that maybe he’s been adopted somehow into the Beagle family?
Down in Duckburg: Among the Status Seekers, we meet a hobo who accidentally lucked his way into owning a rare and valuable painting. I kept waiting this character to come back later in the episode and do something, but nope.
Reference row: The Mask of Kuthululu is a reference to classic and controversial horror author H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulu series of short stories. Lovecraft is equal beloved for his wide-influencing writing and frowned upon for his appalling personal beliefs. (Could the giant squid in this episode be a reference to Lovecraft’s tentacle-y monsters? I’m probably overthinking.)
Thoughts upon this viewing: This feels more like a Richie Rich cartoon than a DuckTales one, in that the jokes are all based on what outrageous things a person might do with millions of dollars. Even though it hits on what the series is about overall, it’s still a lesser episode.
Next: Fear is the mind-killer.
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