This is a really strange episode, but it might be my favorite so far. It’s a strange episode because it’s the first episode “adapted” from source material. I say adapted because it’s a remarkably loose adaptation but inspired by The Three Musketeers and the man in the iron mask legend both of which were written about Alexandre Dumas. Dumas is definitely a unique type of source material to use as the first source for an animated children’s show because I don’t think of him as child based writer.
The episode was written by Donald F. Glut, who I’d have to nominate as having the most interesting IMDB photo ever. Glut’s main photo looks a lot like the zodiac killer. But Glut writes animated children’s tv shows and films so it’s all okay.
The episode opens with Huey, Louie, and Dewey playing a baseball game to a packed crowd. It almost looks like they play professional baseball rather than little kid baseball. The main struggle in this episode is that Dewey grows frustrated with being mistaken for Louie or Dewey. Huey, Louie, and Dewey are so confused about their identities that apparently that they can’t even tell each other apart, which is not something I think is a real type of arguments that twins have.
In the middle of this identity struggle, Scrooge and Launchpad plan to go to Mount Dumas (yet another clue this episode was inspired by Dumas). Mount Dumas is, a mountain kingdom ruled by Count Roy. While planning the visit, Scrooge recalls the old days with Count Roy. Scrooge and Count Roy used to fence in castles like a couple of rich ducks. The two would conclude their fencing episodes by slapping their butts together. I’ve addressed this issue before, but it bears reiteration, why does Scrooge wear spats? Scrooge is the only duck in this universe that wears spats. Does Scrooge have weird feet issues that we’re going to learn about?
As Huey, Louie, Dewey, Scrooge, and Launchpad prepare to leave for Mount Dumas, Dewey reveals his plan to maintain a unique identity. Dewey starts dressing like a pimp. I wish that Dewey dress this way for every episode.
Near Mount Dumas, Launchpad’s plane crashes due to a clogged fuel line. While Launchpad is a bad pilot, is a fuel clogged line really the fault of Launchpad? This error is more likely due to bad plane maintenance than Launchpad being a poor pilot. This crash results in Launchpad and Scrooge being fined $2,500. Scrooge then visits with Count Roy who either has forgotten Scrooge is or just doesn’t like Scrooge. The meeting with Count Roy ends with Scrooge and Launchpad locked in a tower. In the tower, Scrooge and Launchpad encounter the duck in the iron mask. Meanwhile, Louie, and pimp Dewey are placed in the “uninvited guest room”. Why would someone have an uninvited guest room? This isn’t funny and doesn’t make sense.
The duck in the iron mask is actually the real Count Roy. The duck posing as Count Roy is Count Roy’s disgruntled brother, Count Ray, who grew up in France. Screenwriters should never name characters with such similar names. It didn’t even occur to me that one duck was Ray and one duck was Roy until I read the IMDB episode credits. The only key to Count Roy’s mask is worn around Count Ray’s neck.
Huey, Louie, and Dewey create a plan to rescue Scrooge and Launchpad. Ducktales often depicts Huey, Louie and Dewey as saving the day because Ducktales is geared towards children and it’s empowering for children to watch younger ducks escaping from prison. This decoy involves placing Dewey in front of several mirrors to look like there are multiple ducks in the uninvited guest room. After escaping the room, Huey and Louie disguise themselves and sneak into a tower. The disguises were entirely unnecessary, but why should Dewey be the only one who gets a cool costume? Scrooge and Launchpad end up jumping from the tower into a haystack placed by Huey and Louie. This jump was from such a great height that Scrooge and Launchpad should’ve gotten killed, but they didn’t. So apparently, Ducktales doesn’t use real world physics.
The episode builds to a sword fight with lots of people. The whole sequence, though, is lackluster and ends quickly. It reminds me of a bad fight scene from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Angel. But, you can’t really depict a Dumas episode without a sword fight. Count Roy is given back his rightful throne and in reward fills Scrooge’s plane full of treasure. This is the first time in Ducktales that Scrooge has actually made any money off of any of his hijinks.
The episode ends by noting that Dewey is one of a kind and no longer needs to dress like a pimp. While true, Dewey arguably did nothing this entire episode. He got mad, dressed like a pimp, and sat in front of a mirror. Was that really courageous or helpful?
The Duck in the Iron Mask has solid plot structure, a little action, some thematic tones, and a few classical references. It’s a very well done episode. Maybe not the most entertaining episode, but the writing was great and the logic less confusing than many other Ducktales episodes.