When you read the title of this episode, how many of you read it as "The Frying Dutchman" - the seafood restaurant from the Simpsons TV series?
It was a dark and stormy night. [Literally this is how the episode starts.] The crew of a small ship trying to make its way to shore see something in between the bolts of lightning: The Flying Dutchman. From the shore, an elderly sea captain watches the events through his collapsible telescope. He looks directly at the audience and explains that the Flying Dutchman is a harbinger of doom to sailors. [Thank you Captain Exposition.]
This phenomena makes its way to the offices of the Daily Bugle. Jonah doesn't believe in ghosts, but sends Peter on an assignment to photograph whatever is actually out there. Betty facetiously asks if Peter can get the Captain to autograph a picture of the Dutchman for her.
Spider-Man appears on the beach and finds the old sailor that notified the authorities. After introductions are made, The Captain explains that during each storm the Dutchman appears over Smuggler's Cove. Spider-Man respectfully ignores Cappy's warning to stay away and follows the footpath down to the cove.
Moments after he arrives, he spots the Dutchman and photographs it. His spider-sense goes off warning him of an attack by a sailor later identified as "Jake". Easily able to dodge one man, he is knocked out by his accomplice whom I will named "Green Shirt Gilligan". They are unaware of who he is, but as a precaution, takes his camera with them to their hideout to show their employer.
Once inside the cave hideout, their boss is revealed to be Mysterio. He orders them back outside to watch for the scheduled submarine. When they explain what happened, Mysterio is immediately able to identify his enemy. He tells his henchmen that he will deal with Spider-Man.
Once Spider-Man awakens, he follows a very obvious trail of footprints that ultimately lead him aboard a small ship. When he boards and begins to investigate, Mysterio appears and goads him into a chase through the lower deck. When Spider-Man returns to the main deck, he finds the ship is adrift without any means of navigation. A sudden storm arises and threatens to batter the ship to pieces or drown him. Mysterio has made his way to the shore, laughing at Spider-Man predicament. Spider-Man then creates a makeshift sail and rudder with his webbing and begins to guide the boat to the shore. [Yes, this is very lame. This is also a very frequent deus ex machina, so we just go along with it.]
Back at their hideout, Mysterio reminds his henchmen that tonight is the night that the sub containing his shipment of gold will arrive in Smuggler's Cove. They must project the image of the Dutchman to keep all nearby inhabitants away.
As Spider-Man makes his way to the shore, he once again sees the Dutchman and a sub appear in Smuggler's Cove [They say "Smuggler's Cove" a lot in this episode]. He puts this all together and realizes that Mysterio is behind the appearance of the Dutchman as a way to mask the arrival of the submarine. He creates a giant web-net and throws it in the water completely covering the sub. [I have no idea why this happened. Is it possible for his webbing to interfere with the movement of a submarine? Especially when it's wet.]
The henchman meet the sub in a rowboat, load the cargo, row back to shore, and carry the chest of gold into Mysterio's hideout. Cappy watches them through his telescope referring to it as "tainted treasure". [I would have preferred that he'd refer to it as "tainted gold" because it would have been easier to make a Soft Cell joke. Oh well.]
Using his spider-sense, Spider-Man locates Mysterio's hideout. He makes his presence known and finds himself engaging Mysterio and his gang in a sword-fight. Spidey is naturally unarmed, but he creates one out of his webbing, claiming is tempered webbing is strong than their steel. [Oh sure when the story calls for it, it's stronger than adamantium. Normally it has all the strength of a wet paper towel. The non-Brawny kind.]
A fight sequence ensues, punctuated by sound effects like "tink", "clank", and whatever off-the-wall punching sound they chose ["bwoooonk"??]. Spider-Man is saved by Cappy who disarms Mysterio when he (Mysterio) tries to shoot Spider-Man in the back. Cappy congratulates him on a job well done. They contact the police to pick up Mysterio, his underlings, and the occupants of the submarine.
At the Daily Bugle, Jonah learns that the Dutchman was faked and vows to not pay Peter for any pictures of a fake news event. Sensing that he would pull this, Spider-Man uses Mysterio's equipment to project the Dutchman into Jonah's office, causing him to faint.
After several made-for-TV-villains, we make a much-welcomed return to the rogues' gallery. Since Mysterio is one of my favorite villains (when done properly), I'm always glad when he is used. It's nice to see them being somewhat creative after going through the motions for 3 of the last 4 episodes. As a bonus, this was a scheme worthy of Mysterio.
3 webs. This was a noticeable step up in quality, if you ignore the use of Spider-Man's webbing for a rudder and sword.
Those are the two items that make me shake my head the most about this series. The inconsistent strength and ridiculous usage of the webbing. If it can be formed into a sword, he should have been able to fashion a ship's wheel out of it. Didn't think of that, did you, show writers?
But I digress. I'm not sure why they can't come up with more episodes like this. Aside from some goofy parts (which are inevitable in this series) this was a reasonable and entertaining cartoon.