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Recap / DuckTales (2017) S1 E21 "The Secret(s) of Castle McDuck!"

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Scrooge takes the kids to meet their great-grandparents at Castle McDuck. But the reunion is not a jovial one. Meanwhile, Huey and Louie find the secret that Dewey's been keeping from them and they aren't happy.


Tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Donald and Mrs. Beakley are gone once again.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The triplets laugh when they realize that the elaborate search for treasure was a prank meant for their Uncle Donald because Della stole his hat.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: While Fergus believed in making Scrooge work hard and instill an ethic in him, he made sure to tell Scrooge how much he loved him, even when becoming a ghost. Here, Fergus takes a little while longer to come around.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Demon Dog. In the 1987 episode "The Curse of Castle McDuck" it was just an Angry Guard Dog covered in glowing paint as part of a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax, that became a Big, Friendly Dog once Scrooge fed it some sausages. In this episode, it's an actual Hell Hound summoned by one of the McDuck ancestors, and never becomes friendly towards the Ducks.
  • Adult Fear:
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    • It's implied that Scrooge might have made his parents immortal because he was scared of losing them to old age. Scrooge keeps claiming it was an accidental side effect of building the ancestral castle with mystical druid stones.
    • Dewey is scared that he'll upset his brothers by telling them about the quest to find out their mom's story. They do get upset, but more so that he was hiding it from them.
    • Meanwhile, Scrooge is trying to prove himself worthy to his father so as to get the secret treasure. He's trying very hard to be on his best behavior.
    • Fergus finally admits that he feels guilty that his gift to Scrooge — asking the ditch-digger Burt to pay Scrooge with a dime for shining his boots— led to Scrooge working so hard that he stopped visiting home. And he knows that his obstreperous attitude isn't doing favors to keep Scrooge close.
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  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Scrooge's mother shows off a series of paintings where the family got Scrooge a ball of hair called Whiskers as a pet. The triplets are appropriately amused. Scrooge isn't.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The demon dog guarding the dungeons of Castle McDuck is a literal Hell Hound, summoned by one of the McDuck ancestors.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Scrooge and Fergus settle their differences and stop arguing by the end of the episode.
    • After initially being upset, Huey and Louie agree that all the nephews need to find out what happened to their mom. They also protect Dewey from the Demon Dog.
  • Backup from Otherworld: When the kids are under attack from the demon dog, the ghosts of Clan McDuck appear behind them to scare it off.
  • Badass Family: Clan McDuck appears in ghost form to protect the triplets from the Demon Dog. The Demon Dog is appropriately scared away.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Launchpad does such a bad job of impersonating Donald even during the anger fit that it's surprising Scrooge's parents were actually fooled. Fergus apparently falls for it because he thinks "Donald" has become confused as a result of Scrooge "Neglecting" him.
  • Berserk Button: Keeping a secret about their mother is one for both Huey and Louie.
  • Big Brother Instinct: When the hellhound starts tearing through the door of a room the triplets are hiding in, Huey doesn't hesitate to hold the door closed himself (barely dodging its claws ripping through the wood) to protect his little brothers.
    • On a more significant note, Dewey tries making excuses to justify his actions when Huey calls him out for keeping secrets. But the instant that Dewey sees how hurt Louie is, he immediately becomes contrite. Louie is the only younger sibling Dewey has after all.
  • Big "NO!": As the family is leaving Castle McDuck at the end of the episode Webby gives out a big one when she realizes that she didn't ask Fergus and Downy anything about Scrooge and his upbringing.
  • Brick Joke: Scrooge's dad hits Scrooge with the same line Scrooge hit Donald with in the first episode: "Jettison that jalopy from my driveway, you deadbeat!"
  • Call-Back:
    • Dewey is looking at pictures of Della on the Sphere of Selene.
    • When confronted about knowing about Della, Dewey mentions going through Scrooge's library, going to Ithaquack and meeting Selene.
  • Companion Cube: When he was younger, the McDucks gave Scrooge a ball of hair they bought from the barber's named Whiskers, since they were too poor to afford a real pet. They treat it as if it was a living thing to this very day.
  • Conflict Killer: Arguably, the Demon Dog chasing the boys became this to Huey and Louie's fight with Dewey over the latter's secrets about their mom. While the initial conflict was still in full swing after the Demon Dog made its threat known, it was ultimately protecting each other from the beast that brought the brothers back together.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Exploited by Louie, who distracts Downy by offering her an excuse to pinch Huey's cheeks.
  • Description Cut:
    • Scrooge assures his parents that the boys are just doing something together and being supportive to each other. Cut to the boys fighting.
    • Then he calls Webby a very articulate young lass which cuts to Webby barely being able to speak as she's still freaking out over being in Scrooge's ancestral home.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Lampshaded by Dewey when he recounts his adventures of finding out what happened to Della, because it makes him sound horribly selfish.
  • Easily Forgiven: While they're still angry at Dewey, and angry at the fact that Webby knew about the quest for Della before them, Huey and Louie agree that they will work together with him to solve the mystery.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Downplayed. While Louie isn't "bad" so much as very lazy, scheming, and greedy, he is more visibly shaken Dewey's secrecy of their mother. While Huey calls him out, Louie can only sit quietly in a corner, forlornly cradling his mother's old aviator jacket.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Louie finds it messed up that someone made a premature grave for Uncle Donald, though he's able to laugh when he realizes that their mother made it as part of a prank. Then he and his brother are upset when learning that Dewey was hiding information about their mom. Louie tells Huey it was "not okay".
  • Failed a Spot Check: The kids think that they scared the Demon Dog on their own. If only they looked behind them, they would have seen the ghosts of the McDucks helping them out.
  • Foreign Queasine: Downy offers a plate of sheep's bladder to Launchpad, who eagerly accepts after considering for a moment.
  • Foreshadowing: How angry and hurt Huey and Louie get over Dewey keeping secrets about their mother is a preview of reactions in the next episode.
  • Friendly Ghost: The ghosts of castle McDuck scare the Demon Dog away in order to save the kids. And the kids are none the wiser.
  • Funny Background Event: At the dinner table when Fergus and Scrooge are staring each other down, the camera pans out to reveal their paintings are doing so as well.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Scrooge and his dad are estranged just like Scrooge is with Donald. And they've been that way for decades.
    • At the end, it's implied that Fergus was estranged from his father the same way Scrooge was to him. Unfortunately they never seem to have made up, but that only further strengthens Fergus to mend his relationship with Scrooge.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Scrooge has ancestors named Dirty Dingus McDuck and Swamp Hole McDuck. Huey and Louie are even shown outright snickering upon learning the former.
  • Ghostly Glide: The ghosts of the castle are all capable of it.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Downplayed. Fergus wanted to instill the value of self-reliance into Scrooge, but grew to regret this because it meant Scrooge eventually just stopped visiting him and Downy.
  • Good Parents: Unlike her husband, Downy McDuck is overjoyed to see her son, and wants to give him and his nephews a giant hug. She welcomes them to her home and treats them with hospitality. But then again, Fergus is glad he was able to impart the value of hard work in Scrooge.
  • Haunted Castle: Like in the original comics, the ghosts of the McDuck ancestor haunt here, protecting their descendants from danger.
  • Hell Hound: A demon dog is said to haunt the castle and protect the treasure of the McDucks. The triplets run into it while looking for treasure.
  • Heroic BSoD: In contrast to Huey’s angry outburst, Louie reacts to the Internal Reveal by sitting down in the corner of the room and cradling Della’s jacket, looking like he's struggling to hold back tears.
    Dewey: Louie? You okay?
    Louie: (Broken voice) You kept a secret about mom. That is not okay.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Huey is able to pluck out notes on a bow because he's first chair cello in the Junior Woodchuck Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Louie knows enough about the properties of gold to find the true key to the crypt - amidst a huge pile of fakes, no less - in seconds; he also apparently keeps a jeweller's loupe on his person for this purpose.
      Louie: Found it! Real gold weighs more than fool's gold, so you just search the bottom of the pile. Y'know, check the lustre and the karat quality and boom - pure gold key. [beat] What? You like nerd stuff; I like gold! C'mon.
  • History Repeats: The enmity between Scrooge and Fergus is very noticeably similar to Donald and Scrooge's own feud. It's suggested that Fergus himself had some scruples with his own father, Dingus McDuck, who hid the treasure elsewhere to teach the same lesson of self-reliance Fergus did for Scrooge. Scrooge and Fergus do manage to at least patch things up, and become more open to working with each other to find the treasure next time.
  • Immortality: Scrooge's parents can't die because Scrooge rebuilt the castle they live in with mystical stone that grants immortality.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Fergus McDuck talks about how his family was poor, but their ancestors weren't; they owned the giant castle, and ancestor Simon McDuck was an accountant for the Knights Templar. It was partly why he taught Scrooge how to work hard and value his money, so that Scrooge could feed himself and honor the family name. Fergus admits he feels guilty about it, because Scrooge's hard work meant he spent less time at home, although Scrooge bought and rebuilt the castle to give his parents a home.
  • Insult to Rocks:
    Scrooge: I take great care of my family!
    Fergus: You avoid us like the plague.
    Scrooge: Oh, come now, that's unfair... To the plague!
  • Internal Reveal: Louie and Huey find out that Webby and Dewey have being searching for clues about their mother, Della Duck.
  • Ironic Echo: Fergus greets Scrooge by yelling "Jettison that jalopy from my driveway this instant, you deadbeat!", the exact same thing Scrooge tells Donald back in the pilot.
  • It's All About Me: Huey accuses Dewey of not telling him and Louie about trying to find out the truth about Della's fate for selfish reasons connected to his need to feel special.
  • Like Father, Like Son: A major theme of this episode as seen in the title image. Fergus reveals to Scrooge that he arranged for him to have his first No1 dime in order to instill him the values he needed to become the man he was today. And then it turns out that Dirty Dingus McDuck's treasure was also a similar ploy to give Fergus values. It seems to be a McDuck thing.
  • Morton's Fork:
    • Dewey doesn't want to tell his brothers about the quest to find Della and the Spear of Selene because it might upset them. Webby points out that they may get upset anyway on learning Dewey kept the quest a secret. She's proven right.
    • A more Played for Laughs example: Fergus feels his immortality is a curse, but when Scrooge says it wasn't intentional, he grumpily snarks that Scrooge wants him to die. When Scrooge asks if he was supposed to give him immortality or let him pass away, he responds "Neither is satisfactory. A thoughtful son would know that."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Della's bag has Donald's old sailor hat inside it.
    • Launchpad pretending to be Donald may be a nod to how he was used as a substitute for Donald in the original show, especially when adapting classic Carl Barks and Don Rosa comics.
    • The McDuck ancestors that appear in the episode (either as paintings or as ghosts) are all from the family tree drawn by Don Rosa.
    • The triplets' birth week being 4/15/200- is a reference to their first appearance in the Donald Duck theatrical shorts occurring on 4/15/1938 (the premiere of Donald's Nephews).
    • The idea that Castle McDuck is built partly from druidic stones and is haunted by a demonic hound both come from "The Curse of Castle McDuck", an episode of the original 1987 series.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The boys have to look for a golden key in a huge pile of identical keys. While Dewey balks at this, Louie uses his knowledge of gold to find it in seconds; he points out that gold is heavier than pyrite and thus would be at the bottom of the pile, and then narrows it down by checking the lustre and karat quality.
  • Not So Above It All: Fergus flies into a temper much like Donald's when he gets one last note from his father mocking him for wanting a handout.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: We see more of the flashback where Scrooge earned his first dime. Fergus reveals that he asked Burt the ditch-digger to hire Scrooge to clean his muddied boots, and pay Scrooge the American dime, motivating Scrooge to work hard.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After spending the whole treasure hunt joking about his greed as usual, when Dewey finally tells the others about his investigation into their mother, Louie just silently sits in the corner somberly holding Della's jacket, and when Huey stops ranting long enough to notice him, he very seriously tells Dewey it was "not okay."
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Lampshaded by Louie when Dewey asks them to give up their treasure quest because it might be dangerous. Louie also calls out Dewey for acting "weird".
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Being immortal, Scrooge's parents will eventually outlive him. As of this episode, it's unclear if they already outlived his sisters.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Scrooge dresses up Launchpad as Donald Duck. Fergus and Downy are not buying it. Until he pretends to throw an anger fit at which point they become convinced he is the real Donald.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: It turns out that each of Huey, Dewey and Louie's unique talents are essential in uncovering the mysteries of Castle McDuck.
  • Practical Joke: The mystery the boys were trying to solve in the episode was all just an elaborate prank Della prepared for Donald.
  • Prematurely Marked Grave: The boys find Donald's grave in the McDuck catacomb.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster:
    • Dingus's note insulting Fergus leads to Fergus and Scrooge mending their relationship. Scrooge promises to help his dad find the treasure and they'll locate it together.
    • The triplets being forced to work together to survive being chased by the hell hound also helps mend their bond after Huey and Louie become (rightfully) furious with Dewey for keeping information on their mother secret.
  • The Reveal:
    • Scrooge's father is the one who got him his first customer for the shoe-shining business he had as a kid, even giving the customer the coin that would become Scrooge's #1 dime, so he could learn how to be self-reliant.
    • The Spear of Selene's image was on the back of Della's prank note to Donald, along with several dates, including the triplets' birth year. Dewey is relieved that at least they know what the Spear looks like and the quest wasn't another dead end.
  • Scared of What's Behind You: When the triplets scare off the demon dog by shouting at it, it was actually scared of the ghosts of McDuck Clan shouting behind them.
  • Secret Passage: Castle McDuck is filled with them.
  • Sensory Overload: Webby is so overwhelmed by being in the ancestral home of the McDucks that she undergoes "joy overload" and is unable to do anything but gibber incoherently. She doesn't snap out of it until they're already leaving and it'll be another five years before they can come back.
  • Series Continuity Error: Scrooge announces Donald as his parents' great-nephew. As Scrooge's sister's son, Donald is in fact their grandson.
  • Shared Family Quirks: As it turns out, Fergus's anger fits are a lot like Donald's.
  • Shown Their Work: Contrary to what they're most famous for, The Knights Templar mostly acted as the unofficial bank of the church (until they were brutally dissolved and their money confiscated). Scrooge's treasure hunt this episode is about finding the Knights Templar's hidden treasure vault.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Inverted. Fergus and Downy McDuck doesn't believe Launchpad is Donald until he throws one of his trademark temper tantrums.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Huey figures out that the first clue on Della's riddle is to play the notes B, A, and G on an old bow to open a secret passage.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the comics, Scrooge's parents had passed away long ago — Downy during the Klondike Gold Rush and Fergus after his children moved to America. Here, they're still alive because Scrooge used mystical druid stones while rebuilding the castle, giving them immortality.
  • Squee!: Webby's reaction to learning that she's at Castle McDuck.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: Dirty Dingus's chamber is opened by having two specific tiles being stepped on at the same time. Scrooge and Fergus discover it by accident.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Subverted. It seems Fergus doesn't appreciate that Scrooge rebuilt the castle and gave it to his parents so that they would have a home in their later years, and immortality. But he reveals that he actually feels guilty that his instilling the value of hard work and independence in Scrooge led to Scrooge working so hard that he stopped visiting. He and Scrooge promise to find Dingus's treasure together.
  • Vanishing Village: Castle McDuck is only accessible every five years when the fog of the moors clears up.
  • Wham Episode: Dewey finally figures out what the Spear of Selene is, getting a solid lead on the fate of his mother. In addition, Huey and Louie finally find out what he's been doing, and (while justifiably mad at first) agree to help him solve the mystery.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In a depressing case of Reality Ensues, Huey and Louie finally find out about Dewey's investigation into their mom. They are understandably not happy at being kept in the dark.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Part of the reason why Scrooge's dad is such a grump is because he actually is furious that Scrooge, against his wishes, rebuilt the ancestral castle with mystical stones that made him and Downy McDuck immortal. Scrooge claims he didn't know that would happen.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist:
    • When the triplets find Della Duck's bag, it doesn't have much of value inside, just her old aviator clothes and Donald's hat. The note that led them there, however, has a picture of the Spear of Selene and some relevant dates hidden in the back.
    • Fergus finds his father Dirty Dingus's hidden treasure chamber, but all that is inside is a letter criticizing him for being spoiled and not making his own fortune. There is a real treasure somewhere, but not in the chamber they found.
  • Year X: The date Huey points out is in the triplets' birth week is 4/15/200- with the last number completely faded out to the audience. This also applies to the other dates on the back of the prank letter.

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