Screenshot from “The Golden Lagoon Of White Agony Plains!”
Photo: Disney

Goldie O’ Gilt, AKA Glittering Goldie, may be the most interesting and complex character within the DuckTales world outside of Scrooge McDuck himself. I’m not familiar with the character in her comic incarnation, but in the original show, Goldie was portrayed as a figure who betrayed Scrooge at one point, but then it’s revealed the betrayal was a misunderstanding, that it was him who betrayed her? It’s a he-said, she-said situation, a comedy of errors or a romantic tragedy depending on how show shifts its tone around the situation. Even her name plays with the ambiguity surrounding her–“gilt” is referred to an appearance or layer of gold, of faux-authenticity, while “gold” is the real thing. Fake gold on top of real gold–who’s to say what’s real with her and her relationship to Scrooge? (It’s worth noting that the original show ultimately sided with Goldie being genuine and provided the rich lovebirds a moment of affection between them, while also understanding that the relationship could never work long term.)

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“The Golden Lagoon Of White Agony Plains” brings out the modern take on Goldie and that relationship, moving away from that tragicomic misunderstanding and trying something more weirdly complex. It doesn’t quite work. It’s tricky to explain why it fails, but I think it mostly stems from the show’s heavy-hand with its comic and meta moments. We learn that Goldie charms Scrooge often enough to also betray him just as often, and their last falling out involved tearing a treasure map into two, chasing said treasure as reluctant partners, and being frozen in ice for five years, staring at each other. Goldie thaws out first, and leaves Scrooge behind, which breaks his heart... more so than past betrayals, for some reason (something something Scorpion and Frog). It’s pretty messed up, but Bob Snow’s script attempts to layer the still-passionate relationship with a perverse, dangerous admiration with each other. Scrooge is titillated by the extent of Goldie’s betrayals, her abilities to keep up with him but also keep one step ahead. Goldie admires Scrooge for just being him and his penchant to escape any predicament. None of this is healthy love for sure, but even in the exaggerated world of DuckTales, it doesn’t work.

Part of it is that so far the show has portrayed Scrooge as fairly disinterested in reliving past exploits with past characters from his life. Believe me, I get it–reignited passions from a long-lost ex can make anyone do anything, but there isn’t really a sense that that ice moment was truly the last straw, something that Scrooge needed to push past to place himself in such a vulnerable position again. And Goldie herself is both enigmatic and predictable. Allison Janney does the best she can with the material but Goldie is never provided an opportunity to open up beyond the admiration I mentioned earlier. The scene where the two are supposed to dramatically profess to each other (which involves a bear, the classic iconic symbol between them), falls flat. Scrooge quickly overcomes what should have been a truly painful break, and Goldie’s exclamations of “You’re Scrooge McDuck!” comes off more like the writers expressing their admiration than any indication of what Goldie, herself, loves about that in him. And that one beat–that Scrooge loves the fact that she keeps trying leave him for dead–bucks up against the fact he’s bored by it from everyone else, and is never given the disturbing weight it deserves.

It also doesn’t help that Glomgold is in the middle of all this, who has officially become way too overwrought and annoying. For a brief, brief moment, the underlying darkness of his idiotic obsessions become clear, when he yells about refusing to be a third wheel, causes Goldie to fall into the molten gold, and straight-up knocks Scrooge out. (When the show narrows the villains’ broad comic personalities into specific terrifying moments, they become much more interesting!) But outside that moment, he’s just a bundle of easy gags and self-owns that downplays even the scant moments of dramatic tension that occurs. “The Golden Lagoon Of White Agony Plains!” lacks the full adventurous enterprise of last week’s all out money shark battle, leaving it up to the characters to drive the this one. But the shaky backstory between a wishy-washy Scrooge and a Goldie who feels like a writers’ mouthpiece than a real character fails to prop up the story being told and the danger that that relationship holds, now and in the future.

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Stray observations

  • Officially there will be no more screeners so expect later-in-the-day recaps.
  • Ultra-cheapskate Scrooge is back, with him stealing hors d’oeuvres at the gala, and pouring dip into the plastic lining of various suit jackets. The show hasn’t gone down this well a lot so it comes off a bit off, but it’s more true to the character.
  • It was an overall average Scrooge-focused episode but I can’t say I missed the nephews. (Once again I’m wishing Donald was involved somehow, but I’ll wish that every week.)
  • There’s no way Goldie could capture Webby and Beakley like that. That was just a lazy plot contrivance.
  • Props to whoever storyboarded/animated the sequence where Scrooge is chasing down the burning gunpowder. There’s a lot more blurs and smears and exaggerations in that sequence alone that make it pop with an energy that stands out.
  • I don’t know if I buy the fact that Goldie was a step ahead of everyone the entire time. It’s one of those narrative twists that requires everyone acting and doing exactly the things that Goldie would expect, including falling into the molten gold. Goldie just lucking out of that entire situation would have been cooler, funnier, and more exciting.
  • Thinking about this more at the end of the review, the whole “I’m going to put you in this dangerous situation cause you’re Scrooge McDuck and I don’t have to worry about anything else” really undercuts any sense of tension or drama overall. I hope the show cools it with that in the future.

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