"Heavy Mental" is a season 1 episode that debuted on November 21, 1991. It is uniquely animated by Freelance Animators, Ltd. and the debut episode of Sara Bellum, Major Synapse, Flygirl, and Hotshot.
After Launchpad is so kind to volunteer, he and Darkwing make a detour to deliver a package to a SHUSH laboratory in the Swiss Alps. Upon receiving the package, J. Gander Hooter takes them to the laboratory to introduce them to Sara Bellum, one of SHUSH's best scientists. She, in turn, takes them on a tour through the laboratory, showing them her latest invention in the process: the norma ray. The norma ray produces norma particles that are meant to induce psychic powers in whoever gets hit by the ray. Darkwing is skeptical, so Hooter and Bellum elaborate that they are in an arms race with F.O.W.L. over this technology and can't afford for them to get a device like this first.
Back in St. Canard, it is Major Synapse who is the head of F.O.W.L.'s Psychic Division. It's his punishment and single chance to redeem himself after unintentionally sending a number of agents to their deaths in an erupting volcano. He hates it, because all he has to work with for the Psychic Division are two undisciplined and wholly undangerous hippies who, when blindfolded, can't identify a single item even if they are allowed to touch it. This forces him to look for other methods.
At the SHUSH lab, Bellum explains that she is in need of volunteers. As before, Launchpad steps forward to help out. As the ray is prepared, he is instructed not to think while being subjected to the norma ray or his head will explode. Concurrently, Major Synapse has hooked up the hippies to a machine that is to improve their brainpower. They are to concentrate on levitating an anvil or face the horrors of latrine duty. The setup seems good at first with the machine picking up a worthwile amount of brainpower, but before long Synapse realizes the findings are coming from outside. It is, in fact, coming from the SHUSH lab, where Launchpad gets through the treatment without any head explosions. Bellum takes him and the entourage to another room to test Launchpad's theoretical new psychic powers. His first test is to levitate a balloon, which he fails to do. What none of the quartet notice is that outside, the trees are floating in the air. The second test is to light a match. Again, Launchpad's thoughts do nothing to the target, but the trees outside all catch fire. For the final test, Launchpad has to correctly guess the contents of a box. He picks up that it's a fire engine, which once more is incorrect, but is an accurate prediction of the vehicle that soon arrives to put out the forest fire. Hooter consoles Bellum over her lack of results and Launchpad suggests to Darkwing, who never beleieved in nor cared for the experiment, that they go home.
On the way home, they pick up The Trail of the Atomic Slug and Mutant Mechanics from Mars from the video rental shop for a family evening. Drake is too happy to notice the periodic growth Launchpad's skull undergoes, but he does notice Launchpad picking up a lamp. On inquiry why he does that, he explains that Drake wouldn't want it to break. Just then, Gosalyn comes storming in and knocks her father over, right to where the lamp used to be standing. Gosalyn is miffed they didn't get Spud Killers of Zombieland, which she forgets about as soon as Launchpad tells her the phonecall is for her, seconds before the phone actually rings. Drake grows annoyed about what he assumes to be trickery and dismisses Launchpad's suggestion he did receive psychic powers after all. He takes it back when Launchpad, who is thirsty, makes a glass of lemonade float his, then the entire refrigerator as Drake asks where he got the drink from, and finally makes it snow due to association with cold. Drake is sufficiently convinced by this display and fast-fantasizes about all the ways Launchpad's powers will benefit his own crimefighting career. The musings are put on halt when the Herb and Binkie Muddlefoot show up at the doorstep and invite the Mallards over for a cookout. The Mallards accept, only to spend the entire event running around to hide Launchpad's haywire powers. He sets Drake's tail on fire, steals the hamburgers, makes the punch float, makes Honker float, makes 539 Avian Way float, steals the refrigerator, freezes the barbeque, and finally sets the barbeque on fire. Drake figures that's about as much as they can take and leaves with Launchpad to undo his psychic powers. Launchpad concurs, casually noting that someone is about to steal the norma ray as his head undergoes a growth boost that makes its new size noticeable.
At the SHUSH lab, Bellum is performing another experiment on a reptile, Wayne, whose head does explode. Outside her window, Major Synapse and the two hippies are watching, having followed the signal with a mobile brainpower reader. They make their entrance when Bellum laments that she needs more human test subjects, with Synapse volunteering his troops for the experiment. Bellum happily takes them up on the offer, not realizing they are with F.O.W.L.. The hippies try to back out when they hear about the head exploding risk, which Synapse counters with latrine duty. As they scramble back into the seat, Major Synapse calls them proper F.O.W.L. agents, clueing Bellum in on their identities. She tries to pull Synapse away from the norma ray, but he is stronger and blasts the other two with the particle beam. They come out alive and superpowered. Even if too late, Darkwing and Launchpad reach the lab and Darkwing goes up first to ambushed them. It is he who is the one to get ambushed, however, since the hippies now have those psychic powers. Flygirl telekinetically slams the crimefighter through the window, with introductions following thereafter. The man has become Hotshot, a master of heat and cold. To demonstrate his abilites, he lights the nearby forest on fire. Bellum attacks him with her clipboard, so he freezes her beak shut and sends her off on a makeshift iced tracks. The woman has become Flygirl, a mistress of telekinesis. She demonstrated her abilities by dropping a person-sized snowball, a cow, and a local resident. Hotshot tag-teams to burn Darkwing's tail and then the trio tries to go after Launchpad. But Launchpad has the superior psychic abilities, keeping them at a distance with ease. An attempt to dump an entire house on them is a bridge too far and results in the two crimefighters being squashed instead. Darkwing crawls out from under it and is abducted by the villains along with their theft of the norma ray.
A little while later, Launchpad musters up the strength to get the house off of him. Darkwing is gone, his head has become selfconsciously large, all kinds of items are floating around his head - including Wayne, who has imploded back into existence; all he has to go by now is Major Synapse's wallet that the villain dropped during the action. He takes it with him to Gosalyn and Darkwing Tower. Gosalyn takes a look at the wallet to determine Major Synapse's whereabouts, but the Thunderquack is no means of transport the moment Launchpad thinks of it and accidentally flips it upside down. As backup plan, Launchpad lets his powers float him to the villains' hideout while Gosalyn surfs after him on her skates. The drawback, at first, is that Launchpad hides his head under a giant bag, assuming everyone stares at him for his huge head, and can't see anything. It takes Gosalyn pointing out people aren't looking at his head but at his floating for him to take off the bag. Their trip is paused when Launchpad receives a vision and needs to concentrate to project it for Gosalyn. It is of Darkwing, bound in a block of ice, about to be smashed into a pulp by a giant anvil nicknamed the Duck Smasher. Flygirl is the one ordered to raise it above him.
They hurry to the hideout, where they find the vision's future to be held off just a little by Major Synapse's demands to High Command for the favor of destroying the thorn in their paw. He wants a promotion, free lunches, parking space for his tank, every alternate Thursday off for recreational bayonet drill, free tickets to the F.O.W.L. Winter Carnival, and so on. Synapse is the weak link of the enemy team, made all the more obvious when Hotshot spots Launchpad and Gosalyn and bursts through the ceiling window to attack them. Launchpad counters his fire by making him float up into space. It works, but all three end up falling onto the anvil just below the window, causing Flygirl to lose control. She doesn't drop it, but the injury to her mental wellbeing makes it sway from side to side until it smashes into the wall. The passengers fall off, Gosalyn recovering quickly to push her father out of the target area. As he slides across the floor, he picks up Launchpad, who helpfully protects him when Hotshot tries another attack. Their flight ends by crashing into Major Synapse, who's stuck shielding the inopportune proceedings from High Command's sight. It frees Darkwing from the ice block and his team makes a run for it. They make the mistake of running underneath the anvil still hanging up in the air, prompting Hotshot to instruct Flygirl to drop it. She gladly does and that would've been the end of the heroes if not for Launchpad's superior powers. He catches the anvil at the last moment and throws it on the other two psychics as payback. The come out underneath flat as a dime. It is another demonstration that makes Darkwing try to talk Launchpad into keeping his powers, but the sidekick wants his normal-sized head back. Darkwing relents and searches the norma ray for a reverse switch, only to have Major Synapse steal the device from him to use it on himself. Launchpad is polite enough to remind him not to think and so, properly warned, Synapse blasts himself until he is a huge floating brain; pure thought, as he calls it. Darkwing's gas gun is ineffective and Launchpad's powers are nothing compared to Major Synapse's. This leaves only one option and it's an ugly one. Darkwing aims the norma ray at the major and blasts him, shooting him questions as he does so to force him to think. Gosalyn and Launchpad join in on the act and it isn't long until Major Synapse explodes. The force of his undoing is strong enough to destroy the hideout and it has the advantageous side-effect of removing Launchpad's psychic powers in one go. Launchpad is elated to have his own head back and Darkwing does it one better by proposing they get him a new hat at the aviator supply shop before returning home.
- "Troops?! You call these troops? Troops wear uniforms! Troops are disciplined! Troops kill things!"
- "Troops also perish when they're marched into erupting volcanoes."
- "It was, uh, necessary. We had to secure that volcano."
- — Major Synapse vs High Command.
- "Results? They're not even good enough for luaus and birthday parties!"
- — Major Synapse on his two underlings.
- "So, basically, we need a brave volunteer who's dedicated to SHUSH, but not covered by our medical plan."
- — Sara Bellum.
- "He doesn't look any different."
- "You're right. We'll have to slice open his skull and take apart his brain."
- "Just a little mad scientist humor."
- — Sara Bellum entertains the crowd.
- "The Trail of the Atomic Slug and Mutant Mechanics From Mars! Nothing like an evening with the classics."
- — Drake Mallard.
- "No one in their right mind could have psychic powers."
- — Drake Mallard.
- "Maybe we can help?"
- "Oh, wonderful. It's nice to have so many vic- uh, volunteers."
- — Major Synapse and Bellum.
- "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the-whohahaaaah!... misshapened blotch that stains your walls!"
- — Darkwing Duck.
- "I've got the norma ray, a killer psychic squad, and Darkwing Duck. You know what this means, troops?"
- "You dig our auras, sir?"
- — Major Synapse and the psychic hippies.
- "Some nerve gas ought to have an amusing effect on a huge brain."
- — Darkwing gets serious.
- The episode's title is a play on "heavy metal", a late 20th Century music genre.
- Darkwing will again try to improve his own heroic reputation on the back of a sidekick when Gosalyn becomes a mutant in "Slime Okay, You're Okay".
- As per "F.O.W.L. Disposition, Part 2", Flygirl and Hotshot remain in F.O.W.L.'s service after the events of this episode. Major Synapse returns too at some point according to "Orange Is the New Purple, Part 1", supposedly having been returned to reality like Wayne does within the episode.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Sara Bellum, Major Synapse, Flygirl, Hotshot, Wayne, and the norma ray.
- The window on the backdoor of 539 Avian Way is different when it breaks from how it was in shots prior; missing a bar in the middle.
- The statuette of Darkwing's chair set is missing when Darkwing and Launchpad leave for the Alps.
- Flygirl's necklace is white rather than red during the first shot of her in the SHUSH lab.
- Flygirl is missing her bandana after she gets blasted. None of the other accessories are affected and she has it back on when Darkwing enters.
- When the Thunderquack crashlands outside the SHUSH lab, half of the cockpit is white when it should be dark purple.
- When Darkwing first springs his entrance on Hotshot and Flygirl, they are uncostumed. Once they follow him through the hole, they have their new costumes on.
- Hotshot makes a hand gesture towards the unconscious Darkwing that makes it seem like he carries the crimefighter instead of Flygirl, who's the more logical agent to do that.
- Gosalyn has purple irises when she is horrified by the vision of the F.O.W.L. agents squashing her father.
- When Darkwing grabs the Norma Ray in the final scene it has a power cord. Then when Major Synapse grabs it from him, it does not have the cord anymore. It still works without it too.
- "Heavy Mental" was among those episodes assigned to WDA Australia, but that studio outsourced it to Freelance Animators, Ltd., likely because of schedule pressure. This is the only episode animated by Freelance Animators, Ltd..
- The reason that J. Gander Hooter keeps getting Launchpad's name wrong, calling him Lawnchair and Stamppad, is because this was supposed to be a trait of his as a result of being an adaption of J. Gander Hoover from the DuckTales episode "Double-O Duck", which is the episode from which Darkwing Duck was born. In "Double-O Duck", Hoover consistently mispronounces Launchpad McQuack's name, calling him things such as "Lunchpail" and "Launchquack".