DuckTales Season 3 Episode 21 Review: The Life and Crimes of Scrooge McDuck

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This DUCKTALES review contains spoilers.

Responsibility. It’s one of the most important lessons you can learn. It’s easy to think about yourself. To do whatever you want without worrying how it impacts others. For a rich billionaire, this is incredibly important to Scrooge’s character. In amassing all his wealth he can’t get off scot-free. He has to have hurt some people. The show has previously tackled this idea multiple times, especially when it came to Glomgold’s backstory.

‘The Life and Crimes of ScroogeMcDuck’ seems to set out to finally ask and answer the question for DuckTales, how responsible is Scrooge for the world around him? In his pursuit of wealth did he create the monsters that have caused endless pain for those around him? How responsible is he for what they’ve done?  

I give DuckTales a lot of credit for trying to tackle these incredibly complex questions that don’t have easy answers. At first it seems like Scrooge is getting off pretty easily. Glomgold and Ma Beagle have some sad backstories sure, but Scrooge shouldn’t be held responsible for their choices. Even if he was kinda dickish to them, they still deliberately made bad decisions all on their own. Scrooge refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing on his part here and it makes sense… but then we get to Magica.

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Giving her a sympathetic backstory leaves me conflicted. On the one hand it does give us the chance to see Scrooge doesn’t always have the moral high ground in these flashbacks. On the other though it feels odd to give a character that’s been a direct abuser to Lena a sympathetic side. Of course people who are abusers can also tragic backstories and the show isn’t absolving Magica of her awful actions solely because she lost her brother (the episode does portray Magica as being pretty terrible back in the day.) Still though, it felt odd to not even mention what happened with Lena here.

Even so, what Scrooge did was wrong. It wasn’t the worst thing ever of course but his pride got in the way. The way we see Scrooge react to this story shows it’s his version of the Spider-Man Uncle Ben story. He could have helped but didn’t and it haunts him… yet he never apologized for it.  One could question why he even needs to apologize to Magica since she’s done so many other awful things but I guess the episode is trying to go for taking the high ground. Even so, it feels like a grand simplification… but maybe that’s the point? 

This isn’t about the villains, it’s about Scrooge. The actions he never took responsibility for. He finally owns up to them, even the ones he has a reasonable explanation for. If you have that many sworn enemies, maybe you’re part of the problem. He says sorry and that’s a big deal for him… but because of it he has everything taken away. At this point I was excited. Whoa, it’s not just him saying sorry and he feels bad, there’s legit consequences for his actions! Yeah they’re a lot but taking responsibility isn’t always easy.

Then Louie gets Scrooge out of it by basically saying that yes, Scrooge did create his villains but in his response to them he became the better man (duck?) he is today. Scrooge is then acquitted for all his crimes and is set free.

I’m… conflicted about this. There is something to be said for Scrooge seeing the awful people Magica, Glomgold, and Ma Beagle became and rising to the challenge despite his past mistakes and becoming a better person. He rose above those mistakes and that’s admirable. This should feel big and important… but when the episode spends so much time showing that Scrooge really wasn’t responsible for who they became, it makes the argument Louie gives feel hollow. 

Yes, Scrooge rose above these villains but if he wasn’t REALLY responsible for who they were then why the need for apologizing? I sort of get it with Magica but the other two, not so much. I understand this was all done so Louie could learn a lesson and stop this cycle of arch nemesis’ by giving his own apology to Doofus… but again, DOES Louie really need to apologize to him? The core lesson is good in theory but it’s confused in its execution.

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Apologizing is important but do you really need to apologize to people who have legit threatened your life and the life of your family even if you wronged them in the past? Possibly, but this is such a morally complex area that I guess it was decided it had to be simplified, especially for the kid audience, to “apologize and take responsibility.” Again, that’s a good lesson in theory but DuckTales opened the door to a much deeper discussion of the moral grey area of when you should or shouldn’t have to take responsibility for someone else’s actions or your own actions and then breezed past it. 

It was still a decent episode but it feels like we missed out on something more. I would come down harsher if it felt like it the episode was conclusively saying, “no matter how bad the other person is, YOU need to apologize for any small bad thing YOU did” but it’s so confused in its messaging I can’t figure out if that’s intended or not. So I guess that’s in the episodes favor.

Other moments of notes were just how creepy Doofus Drake was (that lick before the commercial break) and the incredible BEAR hands pun with Magica. I wonder if the finale is going to do anything to resolve what happened with her brother or that’s just something her (and Scrooge) will have to live with. As interesting as that might be it probably won’t be touched on since this episode feels like it’s closing the book on some lingering questions about the villains so we can get to the big climax of the series. Where it goes is anyone’s guess.

DuckTales Quotes To Make Your Life Better

 -“Why is he restrained?” 
“He said it would be fun.”

-“Curse me kilts!”
“Oh, I’ll curse your whole outfit.”

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