“Head Games” is the penultimate episode in season one of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. It skillfully continues the series’ trajectory towards an inevitable final showdown between the Don’t Bothers and the Mighty Ducks. It’s a great episode that entertains without an iota of hockey action.
NOTE: This review contains minor spoilers.
The Don’t Bothers have made it to the Minnesota State Championships, but Evan tells his mother that the team no longer wants her to coach because she has put too much emphasis on winning over having fun. Alex understands and is supportive of her son. Gordon Bombay agrees to chaperone the team and coach at the tournament.
For many of the Don’t Bothers, this is the first trip that doesn’t involve any parents, and they are excited. Maya gets Sofi and Lauren to agree to make the trip a “Girls Weekend,” complete with makeovers, but then bails on them as soon as a better offer comes along. Evan asks Sofi, via text message, to accompany him at the pre-tournament party. Sofi texts a response that Evan misinterprets as being “friend zoned,” which sets off a game of Evan and Sofi trying to make each other jealous.
Gordon and Coach T. try to get into each others’ heads — by acting like they are NOT trying to get into each other’s heads.
Meanwhile, Alex goes to the office on a Saturday to get caught up on work, and runs into her boss Stephanie, who confides a secret in her.
As the title implies, “Head Games” is all about the characters playing mind games; trying to outthink each other, while trying to understand what the other is thinking. Anyone who remembers being young, having a crush, and/or getting a little too wrapped up in your own emotions will probably enjoy this episode. The head games that the kids play are due to a lack of social skills, but their hearts are in the right place.
Of course, with this being the episode right before the State Tournament, something has to happen to keep us on our toes. Game Changers does just that, as not all the head games in “Head Games” involved awkward tweens.
Now, we are practically screaming for a final showdown between the Don’t Bothers and the Mighty Ducks.
For an episode that has zero hockey action, “Head Games” is a darn-near perfect, character-driven story. It also raises the stakes for the 10th and final episode of the first season.
BONUS: Duck Eggs
Each week, I’ll share a few Easter Eggs, callbacks to the Ducks films, and interesting observations about the episode.
The Minnesota Igloo rink that is shown at the end of the episode is actually the PNE Agrodome in Vancouver, BC. The multipurpose arena seats 3,260 when used for hockey. The PNE Agrodome was also used for several hockey movies, such as Miracle and Slap Shot 2.
Gordon tells Coach T. that he used to be an NCAA hockey coach at St. Paul State University. In reality, no school exists.
While sitting at the bar, Gordon drinks soda pop. Recall that Gordon got arrested for drunk driving in the first Ducks movie, then confided in Charlie during D3 that he used to have a drinking problem. So, it is reassuring to see that Gordon still does not drink alcohol. (And yes, he was drinking water at the bar in “Cherry Picker.”)
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■