St. Canard is in the grip of a heatwave that has lasted 25 days and counting. Drake, styling himself "the original Mr. Fix-it", is trying unsuccessfully to install a sprinkler system in his lawn, losing a piece down a storm drain and causing chaos when he tries to get by without it, to the amusement of two nearby road workers, who, along with Herb Muddlefoot, recommend that Drake use a 3/4 pinckney flange. Gosalyn, meanwhile, profits from the heatwave by giving away free over-salted potato chips and then charging $1 for a cup of "natural mineral water" obtained from a garden hose. As Drake runs inside to ask Launchpad what a pinckney flange is, he sees a Soft Copy report by Tom Lockjaw on the growing problem of bottled water brands suddenly tasting terrible - all except for Bud Flood's Sparkling Crystal Pure Flood Water. Flood claims that the problem is bad taste molecules getting into the water of his competitors, but Lockjaw notes that suspicion is growing that St. Canard's bottled water is being tampered with.
Darkwing decides to investigate these suspicions, which are further stoked when he and Launchpad try to stop for bottled water and find that only Flood's water and his and Launchpad's favourite brand, Coo-coo Fizzy Water, are still selling, and he reasons that one of them will be the next sabotage target. Sure enough, he and Launchpad find Bud Flood emptying toxins into the vats at Coo-coo Fizzy Water, and as Darkwing confronts Flood, the water magnate falls over a railing into a contaminated vat, dissolving before Darkwing can rescue him. The next day, Herb Muddlefoot's elaborate sprinkler system gets attention from Better Than Your Home and Garden magazine, while Drake's system backs up and floods his house. He finally goes in search of a pinckney flange, but as he fumes to Launchpad over the lack of flanges at three hardware stores, a hand made of living water reaches out of a fire hydrant and grabs him, pulling him into the city drains. A shadowy figure in a trenchcoat and hat declares that he was once Bud Flood, but since Darkwing knocked him into the vat of contaminated water (Darkwing corrects him: he fell into the vat), he has become the Liquidator, a supervillain made of living water. Easily absorbing Darkwing's punch, the Liquidator throws him into a wall and traps him in a circular waterfall of boiling water.
Fortunately, Launchpad tracks Darkwing down and accidentally hits the Liquidator with a door, turning him into a puddle. However, the advantage is temporary, and the Liquidator escapes through the pipes into the St. Canard Waterworks. Darkwing uses his self-proclaimed plumbing expertise to block the villain's paths through the pipes, but overlooks one leak through which the Liquidator escapes. When Darkwing wonders how stopping a water-based crook could be so hard, the Liquidator gets an idea: hard water. He proceeds to transform all the liquid in St. Canard's water system into a yellow solid, including Gosalyn's bogus bottled water and the water in the Muddlefoots' kitchen sink and swimming pool. The Liquidator knocks Darkwing and Launchpad into the bay with a giant ball of hard water; when Darkwing taunts him with the fact that they can drink the bay water, he simply transforms that into hard water as well, leaving the two heroes trapped from the waist down and leaving his bottled water, now priced at $5000 a bottle, as the only drinkable water in the city.
After paying a construction worker to cut them out with a chainsaw and jumping off the top of a 96-story building to break the hard water encasing their lower halves, Darkwing (now dressed in more summery clothes) and Launchpad confront the Liquidator at his bottling plant. Darkwing uses a giant sponge to intimidate the Liquidator into fleeing into the pipes, and then he uses his supposed plumbing know-how to direct the supervillain into a heating tank. However, the steam escapes and simply re-forms into the Liquidator, and the now empty tank overheats and explodes. The Liquidator opens a door to leave - and ends up walking into a freezer. As the water in a nearby shelf of bottles comes to life and attacks Darkwing and Launchpad, the Liquidator gets out of the freezer and is smashed into crushed ice by Darkwing before he can finish thawing, causing the water monsters to dissolve. However, the supervillain bursts the pipes in his bottling plant, and the two heroes flee the advancing wall of water by jumping into the sewer. As they run, Darkwing finds the missing piece of his sprinkler system - which Launchpad identifies as a 3/4 pinckney flange - and realizes they are in the storm drain opposite the Mallard house. After the duo emerge from the drain, closely followed by a Liquidator-created torrent of water, Gosalyn tries to charge the thirsty heroes $2 for a cup of water. Liking Gosalyn's style, the Liquidator has his water monsters try to kidnap her as a potential partner in crime, but Darkwing grabs a bag of dry cement left by the road crew and empties it over the Liquidator, who soon hardens into a concrete statue, causing the water monsters to dissolve again and the hard water all over St. Canard to revert to liquid form.
With the 3/4 pinckney flange, Drake finally gets his sprinkler system working, and the Better Than Your Home and Garden photographer takes a picture of it. Gosalyn compliments her dad on his handiwork, and he says he couldn't have done it without the pinckney flange - or the Liquidator, now a fountain on his front lawn.
This episode involves examples of the following tropes:
- Accidental Hero: While looking for Darkwing, Launchpad unintentionally "splooshes" Liquidator, disrupting his control and keeping him from boiling Darkwing alive.Launchpad: D.W.? D.W.?Backup Dancers: ♪ Darkwing Duck! ♪Launchpad: Aah! Lobster women!Darkwing: Never mind the seafood, old pal! You just splooshed the bad guy!
- Be Careful What You Wish For: When Darkwing had him on the ropes, he demanded Liquidator make water wet again. As Liquidator put it:Liquidator: You asked for it, you've got it! Wet water! [Produces a tidal wave]
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Liquidator was quite amoral even before his supervillain transformation, thinking nothing of getting to the top of the bottled water game by sabotaging his competitors' water and then raising the price of his own water when it becomes the only drinkable brand.
- A Day in the Limelight: Liquidator's Origins Episode is the only episode in the series where he's the sole villain. This was because the writers had trouble constantly writing his slogan-based dialogue, so they found it easier to pair him up with other villains: hence why he was a part of the Fearsome Five in all subsequent appearances.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Bud Flood wasn't exactly harmless before his accident (what with the whole "poisoning the water" thing), but he becomes much more difficult to deal with after his transformation into the Liquidator. He even lampshades with his supervillain introduction to Darkwing."I was once a meager but brilliant water bottle salesman in the beautiful city of St. Canard".
- I'm Melting!: Bud Flood yells this word-for-word after falling into the contaminated vat. Darkwing things he's being a baby as he tries to pull him out...until he sees that the pole he was trying to grab him with had dissolved. This is a unique instance of this trope as not only did the person survive, but actually benefited from it.
- Making a Splash: Bud Flood turns into a water-based being with the power to control all water.
- Meaningful Name: Before his transformation into a supervillain, Liquidator was known as Bud Flood, befitting both his business and the superpowers he would soon gain.
- Mirthless Laughter: Darkwing has a brief bout of nervous laughter after it looks like Bud Flood had offed himself.
- Never My Fault: Liquidator claimed Darkwing was responsible for his accident, saying he merciless threw him into the contaminated vat. Darkwing rightfully got miffed.Darkwing: Threw you?! You fell into that vat!
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Soft Copy, itself a spoof of Hard Copy, is presented by Tom Lockjaw, a parody version of then-NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw.
- No Ontological Inertia: Once Liquidator is defeated, all the things he's been doing to St. Canard's water supply are undone. While this makes sense for the water monsters and other things that were directly controlled by Liquidator, the hard water (which was presumably altered at a molecular level) is a little harder to explain.
- Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: The episode's title is a pun to Die Hard.
- Save the Villain: When Bud Flood fell into the vat, Darkwing attempted to pull him out, but the broom handle he was using dissolved. Darkwing even tells Liquidator he tried to save him when they meet again.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Liquidator attempted to do this to escape Darkwing, only to realize he went through the wrong door.
- Self-Disposing Villain: When Corrupt Corporate Executive Bud Flood falls into a pool of chemicals, Darkwing tries to reach him with a pole, only for the pole to melt. Darkwing is a little upset about it, but tries to hide it by telling Launchpad that "it saves a lot of time when the villain does himself in like that!" (Bud is not dead, however; the accident turns him into the Liquidator, making him far more of a threat than before.)
- When he falls into the water, Flood says "I'm melting!"
- Bud Flood falls into a vat of chemicals and is transformed into a villain. Now where have we heard this before?
- After being told yet again that he needs a 3/4 pinckney flange, Drake references The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by saying "I don't need no steenkin' pinckney flange!"
- Better Than Your Home and Garden magazine is presumably based on Better Homes and Gardens.
- While dumping toxins into the competition's water, Bud Flood remarks, "Slop, slop, fizz, fizz," referencing an old Alka-Seltzer jingle, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz."
- When Liquidator flees through the water pipes, he says, "Away goes Licky, down the drain!", a reference to a Roto-Rooter jingle.
- Summon Backup Dancers: A very weird example; Liquidator, as part of his sales shtick, can summon two female dancers who don appropriate costumes, dance, and sing along with whatever he's doing. They only appear a couple of times in the episode.
- Taken for Granite: When Liquidator attempts to kidnap Gosalyn, Darkwing pours a bag of quick-dry cement over him. Once it takes effect, he has the Liquidator as a stone statue (which he uses to spruce up the garden).
- That Man Is Dead: Upon meeting him again after his accident, Liquidator tells Darkwing that he is no longer Bud Flood, now calling himself the Liquidator.
- Traveling-Pipe Bulge: The Liquidator passes through the pipes of the city waterworks, leaving a bulge. ("Followwwww that piiiiipe!")
- Water Source Tampering: The Liquidator started out as an unscrupulous bottled water magnate who was contaminating the competitor's water in order to corner the market. He fell in a vat of his own poison and became a liquid being who could control all water.