Welcome back, readers! After a month-long hiatus, DuckTales has returned to deliver a straightforward adventure romp with The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest!. While this was a fine episode to ease back into the series with, it also carries the dubious honor of being another episode that fails to push forward the tantalizing plot threads introduced in the first of the season’s episodes.
Yet I think the blame here lies less with the production crew of DuckTales and more with the scheduling at Disney XD. Per the Disney/ABC press website, The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest! was actually episode 104. Not only that, but a number of other airdates were shuffled—Terror of the Terra-firmians!, for instance (which has a rather important Lena/Magica tease) is actually episode 110, despite having aired fifth. While DuckTales isn’t strictly a linear narrative, there are overarching plot beats that are developing, which due to broadcast shuffling have been frontloaded. Here’s hoping that the broadcast team doesn’t mess with the order any further.
Alright, enough about airdate woes. The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest! sees Uncle Scrooge bringing Webby, Huey, Dewey, and Louie to the base of the titular Mount Neverest in order to be the first ever to summit the hostile peak. It’s a fun gag when they arrive only to find a throng of tourist traps at the base of the once-remote mountain. Here in this unexpected hamlet of motels and souvenirs the group splits: after finding out there is no “Treasure of Mount Neverest,” Louie stays (naturally), with Launchpad bumbling his way back after being conned into believing he is dying of “ice fever.” This subplot wasn’t terribly interesting on its own, but as I have stated before, Launchpad is always good for a solid laugh. Louie using his grifting for good (“No one cons my family but me!”) is also something I always appreciate.
Of course, The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest! is all about the mountain, so our A-plot sees Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Webby make the climb on their own, though each has their own motive for doing so. We’ll start with Dewey and Webby, as their drive is pretty simple. At first they are simply interested in the climb. But after Webby purchases what is essentially Chekov’s Sled at a souvenir shop, things predictably move to getting as high as possible to get the best run in. Well, there is some conflict here, but it’s minor—Webby just wants to sled so she can cross it off her journal’s list of life goals (which also include “pilot airplane” and “high five a brontosaurus”), but Dewey insists that they get as high as possible first. It’s admittedly minor, but I do like that this adventure highlights that Dewey is the adventurous triplet. Dewey is perhaps the least well-defined of the kids thus far, and this was a nice data point.
The real conflict presented by The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest! is between Scrooge and Huey. Scrooge is unusually driven to summit the peak, to the point that he becomes overly reckless. Huey is attempting to earn his Junior Woodchuck cartography badge by charting the unexplored peak, but Scrooge’s drive is violating the safety tenets of the Junior Woodchuck handbook. It’s a side of Scrooge we haven’t really seen yet, but makes a certain amount of sense given that The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest! was supposed to air earlier in the season. Scrooge is much more cavalier with the kids than in later episodes like The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra!, and I suspect this is intentional. After all, it is inferred that Scrooge’s recklessness is why Donald cut ties with his uncle, and if production order is to be believed, the climb up Neverest would be the first adventure that Scrooge took the kids on after Atlantis.
Scrooge does have a reason, at least, for his zealousness—it turns out he was the “Neverest Ninny,” an incompetent climber that cost famous mountaineer George Mallardy his life in a failed ascent seventy-five years ago. This makes sense as a motive for his reckless drive—Scrooge is such a successful duck that such a public failure has really grated, even if paradoxically nobody but himself would ever truly know. Given that Scrooge is a self-made success, it only follows that naturally he’d want to rectify such a self-caused gaffe.
Also, as South Park infamously said, “The Simpsons already did it.” It took me a bit to figure out what was tickling my memory as I was watching The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest!, but thanks to TV Tropes I figured out it was ninth season The Simpsons episode King of the Hill. Grampa Simpson’s failed attempt to summit the infamous Murderhorn (a name unfortunately out of DuckTales’ purview) and subsequent backstabbing of his partner C. W. McAllister is an odd, yet appropriate, parallel to draw here. At least Scrooge didn’t directly cause the death of Mallardy. Nor did he and the kids ride the duck’s frozen remains down the mountain a la Homer Simpson.
There was no need, after all—they had a sled. Plus Mallardy was a skeleton, the long-approved visual staple for showing a cadaver in family-friendly television programming. He wouldn’t have made for a good toboggan anyhow.
Macabre detours aside, Scrooge gives up just before the peak, acquiescing to Huey’s pleas that he was going to get them killed all to pointlessly prove himself to, well, himself. I know I’ve been harping on the airing order plenty, but I’m glad this episode was supposed to have aired much earlier—this is a Scrooge character beat that makes much more sense early on rather than ten episodes in. I do appreciate that Huey gets a chance to be right and not have the narrative subvert it, unlike in Terror of the Terra-firmians!.
So in the end, what did The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest! deliver? The episode was a solid adventure in an interesting locale—scaling the summit is a popular trope, but the portal-ridden avalanche climax was a genuinely fun sequence—and it gave us some minor character development. All in all a good standalone episode. Now, let’s hope that the next episode gets back to the meat of Della Duck, Lena and Magica, or maybe even Gyro Gearloose’s Project Blatherskite. We do have a certain terror that flaps in the night awaiting a guest appearance as well…until then, faithful readers!
Race Cars, Lasers, Aeroplanes: 7 mountainside portals out of 10
The perilous mountain ascent is an often-used device in fiction, and DuckTales uses it to strong effect. Had the episodes aired in proper order, it would have been a good palate cleanser in the early string of Duckburg-centric stories. The episode suffers a bit for airing directly after The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra!, which was a much stronger episode in a more interesting locale, but not by too much. The screen gags with the portals before Scrooge and the kids realized they were there were fun—such as Webby exiting stage right, yet entering back immediately from stage left in the cave.
Might Solve a Mystery (or Rewrite History): 2 cases of ice fever out of 5
I give The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverest! a bit of slack due to the fact that it seems to have been intended as a break of an episode, but as aired this makes four episodes with no mention of any ongoing plot threads. At least with Scrooge, we get some hint as to why Donald may have cut ties.
Smarter than the Smarties: 3 Mount Neverest souvenir shirts out of 4
Really, this episode didn’t drive too many of the characters forward, save for Scrooge and his willingness to give up the summit. Again, bearing in mind this was intended to be an earlier episode, it did offer some moments to help define the kids—Huey’s concern and preparedness, Dewey’s thrill-seeking, Louie’s silver tongue, and Webby’s drive to experience new things.
- “That man is not allowed in my home. He knows what he did.” I desperately want to see the episode that explains why Scrooge has a hatchet to bury with Santa Claus. Maybe Nick Frost can do a guest voice?
- “Why is the sun wearing sunglasses? Is he looking at another, brighter sun?” Funny enough, I’ve been rewatching Gravity Falls recently with the younglings, and Dipper just made more or less this same quip.
- “Man, they never have Dewey.” I’m sure the gift shop was out of Bort keychains too, Dewey.
- “But it could take several minutes to climb Neverest. Maybe longer!”
- “That depends. Do you want your eyes to freeze out of your head?” “That would make flying harder.”
- “Just because it’s a myth doesn’t mean it’s not true.” “Well, actually…” I continue to appreciate Huey the skeptic.
- “Hmm. I’m still going to call it Bunny Rock.”
- “No! This is not the end of Launchpad McQuack! It will be by plane crash or not at all!” I’m not exactly sure how to unpack this statement, except to say that it’s likely accurate.
- “If I had a nickel for every person who cursed me with their dying breath I’d be twice as rich as I already am.” Mallardy’s carving of “CURSE YOU MCDUCK” makes just about as much sense as “He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of Aughhh…”
- “So, that’s sledding, huh? Meh.”
DuckTales airs Saturdays on Disney XD.
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