Ducktales (2017) Episode 5: “Terror of the Terra-firmians!” Review
This week continues the trend of Webby centric episodes, this time further developing her friend, Lena, as well. This episode also begins the trend of spooky episodes to get you in the mood for Halloween! Is the episode going to make you cry in terror, or smile like a Grim Grinning Ghost?
The episode begins with Beakley, Launchpad, Lena, Webby, and the boys, leaving a movie theater after seeing a new horror flick. Their opinions vary which gives some fun insight into their characters. For example, Duey was completely bored by the film, but Launchpad is traumatized for the entire episode. There was a strange lack of Donald and Scrooge from this pack, however. I can understand that Scrooge would be busy working and couldn’t join them on a leisurely outing, but Donald is still unemployed, as far as we know, so he shouldn’t have anything better to do. Apparently, the show is airing some episodes out of order so that October can show more horror-esque episodes, which is causing some characters like Scrooge to essentially disappear from the cast. Unfortunate as that may be, seeing as he is one of the faces of the show, I didn’t find myself wishing he were there, I was plenty happy with the group we got.
Personally, I think this may be my favorite episode so far! Yes, it is missing two very important people from the cast, but it just does everything else so perfectly that I cannot be that upset with it.
Starting with the plot, it was so delightfully simple, being a pretty common story for cartoons: rumor about a monster, go to find it and see if it’s real. While this episode did have some plot elements (Lena and her weird shadow), and some very great character development, it can pretty much be considered filler. As far as filler goes, this is exactly what you want it to be, it is just perfect. Filler is often perceived as a useless episode that can be skipped, but this episode is so good, you wouldn’t dare skip it!
The setting was also very cool, being an abandoned subway tunnel, it reminded me a lot of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode: “Notes from the Underground.” (Let’s hope at least one of you out there understands that comparison… it’s the best TMNT series so go watch it if you haven’t!)
One of the standouts of this episode for me was Huey, who I felt had the least development up until this point. His educated and safe approach to the situations of the episode play off Webby and Lena’s rush-into-danger approach in a way that was hilarious and effective. Between Huey’s lines, and many of Launchpad’s, I found myself laughing more in this episode than any other, and that is really saying something! I also think I like Beakley a lot more after seeing her interactions with Lena, who she is very judgemental of at first.
Launchpad, who we have not seen since the pilot (he’s a pilot!) was such a joy to see again. Everything he says and does is just comedy gold, as far as I’m concerned. His ridiculous and nonsensical idea that everyone around him is a mole man from the movie he saw was so hilarious, and honestly reminded me of myself when I was a little kid, which I guess proves Beakley’s statement that he’s a man-child. (He’s a man? Not a duck…male duck…? Eh whatever)
The most important reason that I loved this episode was the overall message behind it: fear of the unknown. Launchpad’s comedic fear aside, the characters are genuinely afraid of these “Terra Firmians,” considering them monsters and hunting them down to see if they exist. There’s a great scene where Huey refuses to leave the light of the train because his book says he will be safest there. Huey feels safe because the book is familiar to him, and outside that train is something he has never encountered before. Overcoming this fear will be essential to Huey if he is to go on the adventures we have to look forward to in this show, so I loved that he actually had to face this fear early on. Without spoiling the end, the show actually has a very charming conclusion to this story that really drives home the issues with concepts like Xenophobia, while also maintaining its child-friendly roots.
As I said earlier, this is my favorite episode as of now. The story is great, the characters are wonderful, the jokes are hysterical, and the message is impactful. I definitely miss Scrooge and Donald, but I cannot fault the episode for removing characters it did not need. This show continues to go strong as one of the best shows currently running on Disney XD, and honestly kids shows in general!