Initial thoughts on Game Changers: S01E06 – Spirit of the Ducks

this is the episode all the oldies have been waiting for, and I’m kind of glad it’s over, because I’ve had one eye on this episode the whole time. “Yay, first episode, how exciting! (five more episodes to go…)” That kind of thing.

Now I can enjoy the series that it is, not as a stop-gap to see the old Ducks. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying it, but in a “HURRY UP!” kind of way. Now I can relax.

Fulton’s (re)introduction was absolutely perfect. Obvious, but absolutely correct. And Bombay’s use of his favourite word, “I barely noticed” was exactly right.

Also, loved the way Fulton had to explain who he was. I know it’s for the audience, but if we go meta, Elden auditioned for the role with his natural look (blonde hair) and got the feedback that he wasn’t intimidating, so he dyed his hair dark and auditioned under a different name and got the role. (He looks much more like his brother with blonde hair – who got the role of Guy Germaine.)

Also, it’s perfect that Fulton is the first person to see Bombay, even before Charlie, if he was an option, because Fulton was the first person to say, “I’ll be a Duck” when they got rebranded from District 5.

The downside was went we cut back to the Don’t Bothers, my feeling was, “Oh, sod off, we’ve had a whole season of you”, which was amazingly uncharitable, because I’ve very much enjoyed the season thus far, and Nick is by far my favourite Don’t Bother, and everything he says or does is a win.

Alex and Stephanie’s interactions are still pure joy. Stephanie gets the weirdest lines – they’re bitchy but odd – and she sells them perfectly. I haven’t mentioned her before, but she’s a big win. Carla expressed concerns (privately in our squeeful discussions) about the main woman of colour being a bully to the Nice White Woman, and I’m not going to dispute or mitigate that point. It definitely stands. I am going to just say that what she’s given, she’s killing, and I really enjoy her as a character, so it might be an unfortunate choice, but she’s working it, so I’m not really sure how to feel about that, other than applaud the actress for her delivery.

Bombay being deliberately not invited to the Spirit of the Ducks Gala is yet another example of him being chewed up and spat out by the sport he loves. That hurts. And much as I love you, fuck you Stephanie.

The reunion with the Ducks

The pictures on the walls. OMG, the pictures. (Pretty much screen caps from the movies and the few promotional stills they circulated back in the day.) But still. The feels.

Pretty sure Bombay’s still on water, while others have beer.

Genuine surprise that Connie and Guy are happily married with children. I was always of the opinion that they would break up, because who meets their spouse aged nine? Connie and Guy, that’s who.

I guess all my angsty breakup fics have been debunked. And all the happy marriage fics (not my me) have been vindicated. (Actually, why not both?)

Connie is kicking ass in her career – State Senator, Connie for President 2024? – and Guy is her adoring husband – that’s exactly what I thought would be the case once I found out they’d stayed together. It’s exactly right.

(“We named our kid after that guy.” – I love you guys.)

Also, I retract my statement about Fulton and Guy looking like brothers. Adam and Guy look like brothers.

Thank the heavens Connie’s book character never made it on screen. She was a ~not like other girls~ girl who didn’t like Julie because if there was another girl on the team, then she was a threat. And Connie heartlessly flirted with Luis and Dwayne and was pissed off Luis was flirting with other people. A billion thank yous for that Connie never being on screen. We needed a kickass girl/woman on screen. And teaching the girls how to knock dudes over on the ice legally was a nice touch of old Connie. “I’m no lady, I’m a Duck!” Connie, you’re both.

Adam became a lawyer – I’ve seen at least one fic where this is the case, although nobody called Public Defender, so kudos, Adam. Also, I feel evil because I mocked Adam fans for pretty much the entire run of my fandom (probably because there were so many of them). That dude grew up to be pure sass on skates. #NewFavourite #NotReally #ButKindOf

I kind of wish he was coaching the Hawks, because that would be a nice circle – as Carla said, why aren’t the teams allocated by area anymore? – but if there’s one thing I know about lawyers is that they don’t have a whole lot of free time.

Ken – I am delighted to see him and now I want to know, what are you doing in Minnesota? Ken was from San Francisco. Ok, he probably flew in for the Gala, but I’d also like to see some kind of AU where he actually moved there for some reason. Any takers? Aqua Lion, haven’t seen you for a couple of decades, but you used to write Ken fics! Also: breadsticks, gloves, shirt. Nice. You sweet (not so) little Bash Bro.

Averman – I fucking love Averman. Hi, Steven Brill, thank you for letting Averman talk scribble because he knows Bombay liked it. (I’m pretty sure everyone flashed back to Bombay chewing down a bottle of Excedrin during the first game while Averman babbled, “Hum goalie-goalie…”) Also, his hair was enormous. “Kid. Heed.”

And finally Fulton’s comment about Charlie. Fulton was the right person to bring him up. Ok, it sank my theory, and I’m ok with that. He was mentioned. If anyone’s going to be hurt by Bombay’s lack of contact, it would be the guy who believed in him the most, and stuck around for two walk-outs when Bombay was being toxic. Well, one toxic (D2), the other was a misunderstanding (D1) where the kids who live and breathe sarcasm suddenly didn’t know what it was.

Fulton was the person who walked out with Charlie in D3, and it feels like they’d stay in contact. So now I’m hoping that season 2, if the COVID situation eases, can have at least one episode where Bombay makes things right with his surrogate son. This matters to me and to every old fan. So Disney, do the right thing. Renew. And also, dump all the episodes at once, because the weekly waiting isn’t working for me.

bat (that lowercase b is correct, btw) linked to a very interesting article on Charlie’s absence and is anyone else absolutely charmed by the fact that Big Dean Portman couldn’t be there because he’s a therapist IRL and didn’t want to leave his patients? (Ha, take that reviewer from about 12 years ago who said I made him too thoughtful. I WAS RIGHT. Ok, I wasn’t. Aaron Lohr isn’t the Dean Portman, he just plays him. But still. Not sorry.)

I loved the thoughts about Bombay/Casey’s relationship too. Fandom pretty much agrees that the D1 kiss and the remarriage in D3 was not all there was. In fact, we mostly ignore the existence of Casey’s remarriage in D3, since we never met the dude.

Did anyone else want Gordon to fake a cut finger when he was sharpening skates when Evan went to him for advice? And then hold up that one finger, like Hans? God I miss Hans. I know the character passed away, but the actor’s still here. Can we somehow make that work? Probably impossible, but I’d love to see it. Even if it didn’t work. Nostalgia, y’know?

The Gala

Banks calling the Ducks a bunch of cake-eaters is obvious and AWESOME. And his dig about how he would have fitted right in with the assholes before he became a Duck was just lovely. (But, dude, you were ten, and your dad was a terrible example – he sided with the other team – so give yourself a break.)

Evan telling the Ducks to fuck off was equally awesome. As was Alex’s delighted babble at a disinterested stranger about it. Coach T telling his team to go for Evan… is this going to end up with his neck wrapped around the goal in the season finale like Adam?

Evan telling the Ducks that he googles them all the time was both adorable and sobering. As a fandom, we did some hardcore googling back in the day. Especially when the D4 rumours were abound. There was a girl with a geocities website that claimed to be married to Mike Vitar and got very angry when anyone asked for more details, or maybe a picture of the two of them. Fandom was a bit creepy back then. I remember someone left a link to Tales from the Shoebox on Matt Doherty’s myspace for his band. That was fucking awkward. Thankfully, nothing came of it.

Matt Doherty seems like a delight. I watched a video of a fan signing and every time someone walked up, he said, “Hi, I’m Matt.” Utterly humble and charming.

LIMO ON THE ICE! FUCKING EPIC! Also, Averman can drift. And did anyone else think, “That car’s not gonna stop in time and we’re going to bust Bombay’s knee all over again!”

There is nothing more Duck than disrupting a “very nice” well-to-do event to do the right thing.

Connie calling Coach T “cardboard cut-out guy” was pure joy.

The Practice

I was genuinely surprised at how much I got kicked in the feels when the old Ducks skated out in their green jerseys. I kind of teared up. Jeez, Star, get it together.

I wanted to see if either Connie or Guy had changed their surname on their jersey. I could see it going absolutely any way. Connie could surprise us all by changing her surname to her husband’s. Or she could be very Connie and keep her own. Or Guy could change his. Any of these options are totally plausible, so keeping Moreau and Germaine was the right call. Along with any other option.

(Connie’s character shares her surname with her actress because Connie didn’t have a surname in the script, so Marguerite asked to use her own surname so her family could easily see her on the ice in the movie.)

I also tried to see Fulton’s name, because he inexplicably went from Reed in D1 to his first name in D2 when Jan gave them the iconic white jerseys. I’m rewatching now to check. Yeah, that’s why I’m rewatching. Not because I’m a creeper. I think it does say Fulton. Nobody seemed to know why this name switch happened. I’m assuming a costly error that they had to embrace for money and time purposes.

Matt Doherty (Averman), by the way, still plays hockey. He says he got on the local team because of being that kid from those Duck movies.

Good god, Ken can still move! If that was a body double, it was well cut. And also, it was unnecessary, so I’m going with Justin Wong’s still got those moves and they wanted to show them off.

And now Bombay’s officially the assistant coach. I’m here for it.

You know what I want now? A DVD release with a commentary track.

Make it happen, Disney. I know hard copy media is going the way of the dinosaurs, but indulge me. One person’s wants totally justify a hard copy run.

Also, Evan, you’re not the team captain until the entire team has walked out on you in disgust at least once. Maybe when Charlie comes back, you two can bond over it?

Edit: Another article about the reunion, this one tells us where Julie Gaffney and Dwayne Robertson are now.

[bat: Because Star has already mentioned me, I’ll just chime in down here, at the end of the post.

Justin Wong did indeed have a body double for those skating moves; Canadian gold medalist Patrick Chan! A good interview/article with the cast here where Justin mentions it.

Other articles of interest in relation to the returning cast:
Cast interview with Slashfilm
USA Today article
Another EW article about the return of the original team members

This is a really great interview with Estevez, which touches on Game Changers and ideas he had for the series that Disney didn’t want to do. It kind of ties into the deleted plot line in the recent The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series. Not literally tying them together, although Mighty Ducks mixing with the MCU would be weirdly interesting?]

Final edit from Star: Added this clip from the article bat linked just in case the article moves/gets archived/whatever, because it’s pure joy seeing everyone talk about Game Changers.