REVIEW: ‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,’ Episdode 3 – “Breakaway”

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The Mighty Ducks Episode 3

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers Episode 3, “Breakaway” moves the show into a different gear this week as the Don’t Bothers attempt to recruit Sofi (Swayam Bhatia) and Gordon (Emelio Estévez) continues to pretend he doesn’t care. The Mighty Ducks airs weekly on Disney+ and is based on the original film series.

There are two very distinct components to this episode, one that I hated and one that I adored. I’ll get the part I hated out of the way first. The characters in this show are twelve years old. Nick (Maxwell Simkins) is hilarious, Maya (Taegan Burns), Koob (Luke Islam), Sam (De’ Jon Watts), Reilly (Keifer O’Reilly), and Lauren (Bella Higgenbotham) are slowly coming into their own. And I suppose Evan (Brady Noon) is doing fine enough as the main character so far. The actors are between 13-15 years old, but their characters are about 12. There should absolutely not be shoehorned, and contrived romances between any of these kids, and they especially shouldn’t be egged on by any adults.

As an educator, I am absolutely aware that 12-year-olds have romances, and there is absolutely a place in pre-teens’ lives to learn about romance and attraction and consent and so on. But there is a huge difference between kids naturally learning about these things and adults coming up to them and encouraging it. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, and it’s not healthy. And that’s what happens in this episode between Evan and Sofi. And while it absolutely happens constantly in real life to kids, it doesn’t mean that the television they watch should be enforcing it.

This is a show made by adults for children, and by implying in the third episode of your show that there is even a hit of romantic tension between two main characters via an awkward and inappropriate comment by an adult stranger is just gross to me. I’m not going to speculate on if or where this plot may go from here. It may go nowhere. It may take several seasons to develop. There are ways this can turn out relatively fine in the long run. But TV shows are human creations; their plots and scripts aren’t inevitable. The people creating them have the power to choose not to have adults make comments about their perceptions of children’s relationships, and they have the power just to let kids be kids. 

And sure, if romance happens in a natural, awkward pre-teen way, it’s one thing. But don’t go around encouraging kids to be in relationships when they’re not expressing their own volition that that’s what they’re interested in exploring and learning about. Kids are force-fed the heteronormative romantic ideal enough throughout their adolescence. Can we at least stop forcing it into their middle-grade television like this?

It’s a shame because several other romance-based plots mirror this one. Max is crushing on the teen who works at the concession stand, and there’s Gordon and Alex’s (Lauren Graham) clear chemistry and inevitable romantic direction. The former probably would not have bothered me so much had it not happened next to the Sofi and Evan situation. On its own, it led to a great moment for Gordon, some funny lines from Nick, and a mostly harmless circumstance. Next to the other plotline, though, it just felt like that moment in The Goonies where Andy kisses Mikey by accident, aka something that flew in the 80s and doesn’t belong on TV today.

I am totally compelled by Alex and Gordon, though. It’s annoying that by all standard rules of corny television, they’re the two most likely to wind up together (though I suppose Graham’s characters have a tough track record in that department). Yet, they are given fewer romantic undertones than the 12-year-olds in their charge do. But the moments they get together, especially in The Mighty Ducks Episode 3, are excellent, and their chemistry as actors has been great so far.

Now, outside of my gripe with forced romances, The Mighty Ducks Episode 3 features the team attempting to recruit Sofi and playing their first match against The Mighty Ducks. There are some fun hockey moments and funny bits as the Don’t Brothers try awkwardly to woo Sofi. I only wish members of the team besides Evan and Nick would get some personality outside of the single trait each starts with. I know it’s only episode three, and it’s a kids show, so archetypal characters are a norm. But they’re practically background characters in this episode, and I hope we see more of them as the season continues.

Despite my specific hangup, The Mighty Ducks Episode 3 is still a good episode. The emotional beats are well-played and remain fun in all of their cheesy glory. I just very badly hope that the show doesn’t continue down a path forcing its 12-year-old characters into romantic circumstances they’re neither ready for nor likely to get the proper adult support for. I’m more than happy to be proven wrong, but I’m very concerned as of now. Nevertheless, I’m still loving the show and hope the Don’t Bothers continue growing and bonding as a team.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers airs on Fridays on Disney+.

 

The Mighty Ducks Episode 3
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Despite my specific hangup, The Mighty Ducks Episode 3 is still a good episode. The emotional beats are well-played and remain fun in all of their cheesy glory. I just very badly hope that the show doesn’t continue down a path forcing its 12-year-old characters into romantic circumstances they’re neither ready for nor likely to get the proper adult support for. I’m more than happy to be proven wrong, but I’m very concerned as of now. Nevertheless, I’m still loving the show and hope the Don’t Bothers continue growing and bonding as a team.