REVIEW: ‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,’ Episode 9 – “Head Games”

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The Mighty Ducks Episode 9 - But Why Tho?

The Mighty Ducks Episode 9, “Head Games,” is easily my favorite yet. Starring Lauren GrahamEmilio Estévez, and a team of young actors on Disney+, this episode seems to have heard just about everything I’ve been saying for weeks. The Don’t Bothers have made it to States, but not without some coaching drama. Meanwhile, romance gets in everyone’s way, but not how I expected it at all.

I’ve said this since day one about The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers: its tropeyness is its strength for now, but if it didn’t evolve and start to subvert expectations, it was going to lose its luster. Well, The Mighty Ducks Episode 9 hit that nail on the head completely. Not a single one of this episode’s plotlines follows an overly predictable plotline, save for one simultaneously cute and cringy moment at the very end. This ability to flip so well from comfortably predictable to challenging norms is what makes it such an excellent show.

The first norm-dodging to praise is how the episode handles the Don’t Bothers’ romantic entanglements. I have made no secret of my concerns over the way that shows about middle schoolers tend to portray romance. First of all, the fact that Bombay (Estévez) essentially starts the whole road trip off by telling the kids he’s not there to babysit them is perfect. Because you know that he is totally going to be responsible, but he’s giving the kids room to just be kids. It’s a genius coaching tactic.

Second, the romance going on here is in the most quintessential middle school way. It’s not about trying to smooch somebody; it’s not about trying to go on some date. It’s just about crushes and feelings. And that’s perfect. I want children’s television portraying relationships like this. Because Evan (Brady Noon) and Sofi (Swayam Bhatia) are kids. They don’t need to be worrying about anything so serious besides just what does a crush feel like and what I should do when I have one. And while they get it all wrong at first, it’s how the saga concludes that makes it an excellent teaching moment. I just hope that this plotline stays appropriate to the kids’ ages as they grow through the show’s seasons.

It’s also nice seeing a few other ways that middle school crushes might play out. Nick (Maxwell Simkins) and Maya (Taegen Burns) each get their own unique chances at it. Meanwhile, there are so many other types of relationships being portrayed that flip usual scripts. Sofi, Maya, and Lauren (Bella Higginbotham) agree to make the tournament a girls’ weekend only for the boy drama to get in the way. But rather than Lauren getting upset about it, she just remains a stalwart friend and supports them both without question. It’s so awesome to see that example being shown.

Meanwhile, back at home, Alex (Graham) and rival mom Stephanie (Julee Cerda) have their own chance to come to understand each other better. While the enemies to friends move is not unprecedented, it’s really nice to see it among adults. It’s a great show that even they can admit when they’re wrong and be given a chance to change. This theme is amplified through an inspirational moment at the end on Bombay’s behalf, egged on in part by the fact that Coach T is simply not a nice person and not somebody who has shown any capacity to change. His antagonism and the bait and switch over who would ultimately be the bad person, Stephanie or him, is well played.

The Mighty Ducks Episode 9 is the best one yet, as it deconstructs several important themes and lessons for its middle schooler main characters and adult mentors alike. I’m more than looking forward to the end of the season and hopefully many seasons to come.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is streaming now on Disney+ with new episodes airing on Fridays.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers Episode 9 - "Head Games"
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TL;DR

The Mighty Ducks Episode 9 is the best one yet, as it deconstructs several important themes and lessons for its middle schooler main characters and adult mentors alike. I’m more than looking forward to the end of the season and hopefully many seasons to come.