This week’s episode isn’t a movie reference, it’s a full on conspiracy panic brought on by a movie.
The kids (witch kid Lena included) go see a movie with Mrs. Beakley and Launchpad. Lena duped Beakley into thinking they were seeing an educational flick, but they really went to go see a horror movie about evil mole men eating peeps. That leads to three instances of conspiracy-level hysteria:
- Mrs. Beakley’s distrust of Lena intensifies, and she tries to arrange it to where Lena never hangs out with the kids again. Likewise, Lena goes extra-anti-authoritarian on Beakley.
- Webby is reminded of the Terra-firmians, a cryptid species she claims lives under Duckburg. Huey, finally having something to do, doesn’t believe these things exist because nothing in his Junior Woodchuck Guidebook talks about Terra-firmians.
- Launchpad goes bonkers and thinks everyone, especially Dewey, is a mole man trying to eat him.
The Beakley/Lena stuff is the least interesting part of the episode. Lena and Webby run off to find Terra-firmians. Beakley gets pissed. Lena gets pissed back. They bicker and say things about being future-less scum and stuck-up, respectively. Lena does something heroic. Beakley has a bit of a change of heart. The only real cool part is when we see Lena bust out her magical powers to save Beakley, and she has to argue with Magica’s spirit over whether she should do it. Lena says she’s playing “the long game,” but she clearly wants to be friends too, and is willing to go against Magica’s wishes. It’s pretty much what you’d expect there.
Webby and Huey plays out like your classic true believer/hardcore debunker scenario. They both want to run off into the subway to “prove” their take is correct. They both blindly believe their take on the situation not because either one has proof, but because their respective ideologies tells them how to believe. Webby’s the sort who believes in this sort of thing because she wants to believe. If she hears a story about Terra-firmians having an age-old civil war and a lost prince, she’ll buy into it because it’s awesome and she wants such things to exist. Huey doesn’t buy into it because his lone source of guidance never discusses it. It isn’t so much about absence of proof or the concept being silly, because the Guidebook talks about things that do fall along those lines, it’s about placing faith in the semblance of logic and order rather than an actual method of inquiry and research. When you get into all that cryptozoology stuff in conspiracy circles, that’s the way such “debates” play out– you have one talking head who believes in it totally and another talking head casually blowing off all possibility because even the possibility is absurd according to their perspective. Both sides care less about proof and more about preserving an assumed ideology. Seeing cartoon ducks enact that dance piles on to the absurdity. It’s beautiful.
Of course, the truth ends up being more in line with Webby’s viewpoint. Terra-firmians, or something resembling them, do exist. Thing is, they’re just as goofy and hung up on their own beliefs as the surface dwelling ducks. We only get a few snippets of dialogue from them, but they’ve apparently had a similar discussion about the surface world. One of them has heard some silly rumor about surface world civil war and princes and stuff– the same exact conspiracy theory that Webby believed, except with the roles reversed. Turns out they were just goofy kids trying to one-up each other as well. It doesn’t feel like a cop-out “the truth is somewhere in the middle” situation, since this is the world of DuckTales. This sort of thing has been shown to exist, so it’d almost be sillier for it to not have some element of truth to it. So it isn’t so much about proving Huey’s Guidebook wrong so much as it is showing how hilarious the extremes can be when they butt heads and refuse to have any real level of self-awareness.
Also, Louie gets a funny bit where he doesn’t care who’s right, he’s just in it for the thrill of seeing them bicker. Also, he just wants whatever sounds cooler at that moment to be true, and freely changes his opinion on who’s true. True Satan there, buddy.
The Launchpad bit is another good conspiracy dig. He isn’t thinking about the Terra-firmians. He’s completely consumed with the idea of mole men really existing and infiltrating society in order to kill us all. It starts off innocently enough. He’s freaked out by the movie and starts seeing mole men behind every corner. Then he’s convinced they’re after him. Then it escalates to the point where he thinks everyone with him is a mole man, and especially targets Dewey. There’s some talk about them being friends, but we haven’t seen much of them hanging out so far so it doesn’t quite click. Maybe they’re setting up that friendship or whatever. Anyway, it’s because of that perceived deception by his “friend” that Launchpad focuses on Dewey’s “betrayal.” Stuff happens, and it leads to Launchpad screwing things up. Finally, Dewey turns the mole man thing on Launchpad. If anyone can be a mole man, then maybe Launchpad himself is one. Being who he is, Launchpad buys into this train of thought. That leads him to realizing that if he can be a mole man, and if he’s a good guy, then even a mole man can be a good guy. Maybe not every mole man wants to eat people?
It’s a fun riff on the whole lizard man/alien/whatever “they’re interbreeding/trying to control us from the inside” bit you hear a lot. The theories used to relatively simple– aliens are here to kidnap/dissect/study/control us. As time went on, ideas circulated, and more people had “encounters” with what they believed were outside races interfering with humanity, we started to get clarifications and classifications. Some aliens are good. Some are bad. Some want to help us but can’t directly interfere. Some are trying to subjugate us through politics. Some are just biding time before invading. Maybe not all aliens and lizard men are bad, because this one person’s “experience” was positive and uplifting. Launchpad goes through all those steps as if they were stages of grieving in the course of an episode.
Maybe he should call in to Duckburg’s equivalent of Coast to Coast AM or Ground Zero Radio to tell his story. That’s an episode I want to see.