"Water Way to Go" is a season 1 episode that debuted on September 18, 1991. It is the debut episode of J. Gander Hooter, Gryzlikoff, Steelbeak, and the Eggmen as well as SHUSH and F.O.W.L. in general.
At SHUSH Central, Chief Agent Gryzlikoff has the unpleasant task of having to report to an exasperated J. Gander Hooter on the death of their 24th agent assigned to Oilrabia to investigate threats of violence if the country does not give up its oil. The cause of death is drowning, which is unlikely to be an accident in a desert environment. With resources thinning, Hooter decides to put Darkwing Duck on the case, despite Gryzlikoff's protests. The Flashquack is sent out and nears Darkwing Tower at a time Launchpad is playing tic-tac-toe and Darkwing is testing and showing off his latest gadget. Launchpad is impressed and wants to get a go too, but him pressing the red button on the gadget's belt only causes Darkwing to crash through the ceiling. Launchpad apologizes, but Darkwing replies that his gadgets are F.H.O.: For Heroes Only, and Launchpad, in his opinion, is not a hero. Their argument is brought to a pause when the Flashquack enters the hideout and Darkwing is thrilled to be assigned the case. However, when he tells Launchpad to get the bags, his sidekick refuses both to get the bags and to pilot the Thunderquack. The bags are one thing, but Darkwing cannot fly a plane himself. Launchpad puts up the condition that he gets to be the hero this adventure if Darkwing wants him to fly them to Oilrabia. Darkwing knows he has no choice but to give Launchpad his way and reluctantly fetches the bags.
At Oilrabia, which is located on a plateau, Launchpad crashes the Thunderquack into an oil field. The two heroes are welcomed by the Princess of Oilrabia, a woman whose beauty attracts their attention. Launchpad reminds Darkwing of their agreement and because "the hero always gets the girl", Darkwing is forced to stand back while Launchpad makes his acquaintance. The caped crimefighter is woken from his jealousy by the ticking of his watch until he remembers that he has no watch. The ticking instead comes from a "megablaster fission bomb with Swiss movement timing and optional radials" that is tied to one of the drilling rigs. Delighted at a chance to show off, Darkwing gets to work selecting wires to be cut. Launchpad's catches wind of the predicament and solves it himself by ripping apart random wires. Darkwing is flabberghasted at Launchpad's feat and angered on how it makes the princess only more convinced Launchpad is the hero. He throws down the bomb in rage, setting it off at his feet. Later, a feast is held in Launchpad's honor during which the princess explains the worsening situation with the terrorists. Darkwing can't stand it and tries to impress the princess with big words while Launchpad works his way through a sandwich. He fails, as she politely points out that Launchpad is the hero and he the sidekick. Anger takes a hold of Darkwing again and he jumps on the table to declare his own greatness, but knocks over a plate in the process which causes a melon to drop on his head. The princess has a laugh about it and the situation only convinces her of Darkwing's sidekick status.
After the meal, two royal guards guide the crimefighting duo to the place where they recovered the body of the previous SHUSH agent. Launchpad is traveling luxurious in a car atop a dromedary while Darkwing is on his mount bareback. None of the four people that make up the caravan notice Steelbeak spying on them from afar. While initially annoyed he has to deal with SHUSH agent #25, his mood changes for the better when he spots his old enemy Darkwing. Having a weather machine at his disposal thanks to which he could easily deal with the previous agents, Steelbeak is all too eager to use the device against the caped crimefighter. He summons a sandstorm, which no one of the quartet is prepared for. The guards get themselves and Darkwing safe behind the animals, but Launchpad's car-compartment is pulled loose and flies off with its oblivious passenger. Darkwing rushes after him but is smacked against the windshield then blown away himself, which Launchpad takes note off. The hero-for-the-day gets out of his car-compartment and runs after his partner. Having lost sight of the two heroes and fearing the worst, the royal guards return to the palace to report to the princess. Unlike them, she has faith that Launchpad is still out there, alive and dedicated to accomplishing his mission goals.
The princess's trust is not misplaced. Both Launchpad and Darkwing are still alive, if covered in sand and horribly lost. With no other options, they start walking and by chance come upon the peculiar sight of several battleships in the middle of the desert. Closer inspection reveals that whatever the plan is, it is F.O.W.L.'s. The duo sneaks on board to learn more of the going-ons, being careful to elude the attention of the eggmen manning the ships. However, Darkwing trips over some ammo and does so loudly. He and Launchpad manage to escape the ship before they are shot, but they end up in artificial quicksand that delivers them into enemy hands after all. Once they are tied up, Steelbeak makes his entrance and explains the scheme. F.O.W.L. wants its hands on Oilrabia's oil reserves and in order to get it they've built a weather machine to turn the desert into a sea and attack the plateau on which the capital is located with their battleships. Darkwing and Launchpad are mirthfully skeptical and so Steelbeak gives a demonstration by conjuring up a personal raincloud for Darkwing. After that, the two are moved over to a jail cell. Darkwing tries to escape using mind tricks he has learned from Tibetan monks in his childhood.
- "Director Hooter, I am afraid our operative in Oilrabia has met with some, eh, difficulty."
- "Difficulty? In what way, Agent Gryzlikoff?
- "Uh, he is dead."
- "What? That's two dozen in two weeks. Do you know what kind of moral problem that creates!?"
- - Gryzlikoff and Hooter have a rough day.
- "Our SHUSH agents can handle almost anything. But this assignment seems beyond our resources. I'm going to call-"
- "Please, director, do not call-"
- "Darkwing Duck!"
- "I was hoping maybe his name would not come up."
- - Hooter's and Gryzlikoff's opposite opinions of Darkwing Duck.
- "C'mon Launchpad. Don't blow it buddy. Mess this up and you’re doomed. Everything depends on your next move."
- "I am the terror who flaps in the night!"
- "Oh. Now I'll never knew who won. Hey DW. Where are you hiding."
- "I am the spider who nips at your neck!"
- "I am Darkwing Duck!"
- - Darkwing's entrance speech and Launchpad concentrating on his game.
- "A hero does the undoable, risks the unriskable, and thinks the unthinkable."
- "Heh, big deal. I can go for weeks without thinking."
- "Believe me, I know."
- - Darkwing and Launchpad.
- "That's Oilrabia, alright. That plateau makes it virtually impervious to enemy attack."
- "And salesman too, I bet."
- - Darkwing and Launchpad.
- "You? But are you not just the sidekick?"
- "An unfortunate and very temporary misunderstanding."
- - The princess and Darkwing.
- "So I says to myself, 'ey, what kind of an adventure is it if we don't invite the comedy relief? How you doin', ducks?"
- - Steelbeak greets Darkwing.
- "So, before we get to the usual torture thing that I know you' re so fond of, let me explain why I'm stuck in this armpit of a desert."
- "You're obviously after Oilrabia's oil reserves."
- "You are sharp. Hey, I like that. But you step on my lines."
- "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the little mouse that eats your cheese! I am Darkwing... ...Duck!"
- - Darkwing.
- "Something tells me this is where the plot thickens."
- - Darkwing Duck.
- The title is a pun on the phrase "What a way to go."
- Darkwing mentions his childhood training by Tibetan yogis. He'll bring this up again in "Dances with Bigfoot".
- This episode marks the first appearance of J. Gander Hooter, Vladimir Gryzlikoff, Steelbeak, Eggmen, the Princess of Oilrabia, SHUSH, F.O.W.L., SHUSH Central, the Flashquack, and the weather machine.
- According to Steelbeak's profile in issue #3 of the Joe Books comic, this episode marks the first time Darkwing ever encountered him.
- Darkwing's mask temporarily disappears while he jumps off the table.
- Darkwing's mask is rarely drawn in while he is defusing the time-bomb.
- An eggman's visor clips in front of his arm when he protects himself from the sandstorm Steelbeak generates.
- The weather machine's design is mirrored in its first appearance compared to how it looks for the rest of the episode.