To quote Scrooge: “Finally, a proper adventure!” The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra! is very much an episode of classic DuckTales, bolstered by the contemporary wit and heart offered by the 2017 revamp. The only detriment is its lack of connective tissue to the season’s ongoing plots. This is minor on its own, but after 6 solid episodes of introducing tantalizing threads, it’s a little disappointing that The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra! makes three episodes in a row with no mention of Della Duck, Magica de Spell, or even the Project Blatherskite tease. Still, this is a quibble—the episode stood well on its own and was a very entertaining one-off.
We open in media res with Scrooge emerging from a deadly quicksand trap, shortly followed by a rather traditional DuckTales crew: Launchpad, Webby, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. They are in the tomb of Toth-Ra, Bringer of the Sun—the last of the lost pyramids, as Scrooge puts it. Just as they get their bearings, another trap springs, separating Webby and Louie from the rest of the group. The errant kids are deposited in a grand treasure chamber, while everyone else finds something altogether unexpected: a community living inside the pyramid.
The titular living mummies turn out to be descendants of the great Toth-Ra, eking out a miserable existence in service of their “ever-living” pharaoh in exchange for brief bouts of sunlight—their “golden reward.” It’s pretty clear from the outset that these folks are being played—though, by episode’s end, this is subverted in a fun way. The servants of Toth-Ra play on typical “sheltered society” tropes well enough—butting heads with the ever-rational Huey in particular—though none of the rabble really make an impression of their own. Which, I suppose, is the point, given that it isn’t Scrooge’s talk of freedom and the outside world that spur the “living mummies” to challenge Toth-Ra, but rather the exotic allure of Launchpad’s scrumptious burritos.
And why does Scrooge need to rally the servants of Toth-Ra? They’ve told him that Webby and Louie have likely ended up on Toth-Ra’s treasure chamber, none of whom that enter may ever leave, of course. And they are correct on the first point: the missing kids have indeed ended up in the grand chamber. Here we see an interesting conflict play out between Webby and Louie. Webby is in her element, full stop, warning Louie not to touch anything after reading an inscription warning of a curse. She knows what to do, but Louie, ever the smooth talker, only gets them into deeper and deeper trouble as the episode progresses. Even when his seemingly successful charisma check outs Toth-Ra as a sham—the pharaoh’s remains, as it turns out, are being puppeteered Wizard of Oz style by a descendant of Toth-Ra’s personal guard—Louie ends up pushing the con too far.
Toth-Ra falls from the rigged throne and across a great seal on the chamber floor, triggering the curse that Webby warned. In a swirl of heretofore unseen magic, Toth-Ra reanimates, becoming the episode’s true living mummy and giving chase to Louie, who of course has absconded with the pharaohs’ golden khopesh. Louie’s silver tongue predictably has little effect on the mummy, and cornered, Louie attempts the one thing that he almost never relies on: sincerity. This is actually a great moment for a couple of reasons. First, sincere Louie is something I personally appreciate, hearkening back to his support of Donald in The House of the Lucky Gander!. Second, it turned into a surprisingly straightforward moment of horror for DuckTales. Louie asks the looming mummy what he can do to make things right. Toth-Ra considers the question for a beat, then responds by snarling “die…”
Louie only gets out of the jam when Webby enacts her plan. Together, they blind Toth-Ra in the glare of the sun, causing the pharaoh to fall prey to the servants’ newfound burrito wrapping skills (delivered in an earlier scene by the most focused Launchpad we’ve seen to date). Louie and Webby have a refreshingly frank discussion where Louie admits he should’ve listened to Webby from the start, and I’m sure it’s something that had plenty of DuckTales’ female viewers nodding in understanding.
I haven’t really mentioned this yet, but The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra! was a particularly funny episode of DuckTales, and that’s saying something given how sharp the writing has been thus far. Even weak episodes like The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks! have had their fair share of laugh-out-loud moments. Seriously, I had to perform some major trimming-down of the Random Amusement quips this time around, or the list would have been nearly twice as long.
Really, there’s not much more to say. The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra! was fun, adventurous, and continued pushing the characters forward. If we’d gotten a breadcrumb for any of the season’s ongoing threads, this would have been a perfect episode. Still, it was a fantastic standalone episode and a fine example of what the new DuckTales has to offer. Next week’s offering hasn’t been revealed yet—here’s hoping that means something is exciting in store! Until then, readers!
Race Cars, Lasers, Aeroplanes: 9 living mummies out of 10
I have been enjoying the Duckburg-centric episodes of DuckTales thus far, don’t get me wrong—but the cartoon-Egypt presented by The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra! was a boatload of fun. The subversion of the charlatan mummy being revived into a “real” mummy, so to speak, was great. Ancient tombs, deadly traps, faraway lands—this episode was very satisfying in this regard. Sort of a serving of high adventure comfort food.
Might Solve a Mystery (or Rewrite History): 1 burrito out of 7
That’s three in a row with no connective tissue. Maybe I just need to adjust my expectations, but the early episodes of DuckTales were driving ongoing threads so reliably that getting three in a row with nothing in this regard is disappointing. Hopefully next week’s mystery offering will turn this trend around.
Smarter than the Smarties: 3 ignored curses out of 5
I really liked the interplay between Webby and Louie. We’re not sure at this point as to why Louie is so insecure—one gets the feeling that he could turn that silver tongue to good use with a little direction—but that insecurity plays well against Webby’s surety. That Webby is ultimately vindicated, though not vindictive towards Louie in the end, shows how the kids are growing closer with each adventure.
- “And that’s why you don’t scream while sinking in quicksand.” “Webby, please don’t tell me how to die.”
- Whether it’s just a fun nod between animation teams or lingering training from watching Gravity Falls, it’s hard not to see Bill Cipher in this particular hieroglyph:
- Huey consoling a disappointed Dewey was a cool little moment. I’d be disappointed with the promise of only one mummy too.
- “Hey, if those are mummies, I’d hate to see the daddies, am I right?”
- “I never thought I’d die in a pit of spikes. I mean, I always hoped, but…”
- “New strategy: what do you know about…Frankensteins?”
- “This is the dumbest rebellion I have ever been a part of.”
- “Ooh, hate to pull rank, chief, but ah, I’m commander of the whole universe, which kind of includes the Sun, so…”
- “Aw, don’t worry Webs. You’ll get ripped apart by a real mummy someday.”
- “Mummy squad, show ‘em what you got!” While amusing, I’m not sure how to feel regarding the implications of a Michael Jackson equivalent in the world of DuckTales.
- “Coincidence. That beetle could have said anything.”
- “This was never about burritos.” “It wasn’t?”
DuckTales airs Saturdays on Disney XD.
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