EPISODE REVIEW: GI Joe Renegades: “Going Underground” (Episode 24)

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There is very little in this world that is cooler than a ninja wearing a duster riding a chopper. A Ninja being chased by an angry robotic sandworm from “Dune” through tunnels while wearing a duster and riding a chopper is one of those very few things.

PLAY BY PLAY

There have been thirteen minor earthquakes along the east coast in the past couple of weeks. Feeling this has to be Cobra’s work, Scarlet leads the team (Grudgingly) to the place she thinks the next one will strike. While stopping at a diner, one does indeed strike. Several civilians almost fall into a….hm. What do you call ‘em when the ground opens up in a hokey way in a cartoon that it never does in reality? Well, whatever it is, we’ll call it a “Quakehole.” Anyway, to rescue the civilians, Ripcord has to use his Mister Fantastic powers (You see, you Marvel-reading hippies? I’m trying to meet you halfway!*), and Roadblock has to transfer all the coyote’s energy to the drive system. They do save the day, though.

Scarlet has intel on the location of several secret Cobra facilities, so she leads them to the newest one, which appears to be completely automated, and bluff their way in using the Coyote’s camouflage abilities. They drive onto a hidden deck elevator, and descend rapidly and far.

Roadblock: “In case you’re wondering, farms in Virginia don’t have basements.”

They find a vast network of tunnels, and Snake Eyes rides off to check it out. Scarlet and Duke head off together, Tunnel Rat, Roadblock, and Ripcord hang out together. A massive Cobra tunnel-digging machine - “The Excavator” - shows up and higgledy piggaldy** breaks loose. Duke and Scarlet get cut off from the others in a TV movie cave in, which pins her leg, while still allowing plenty of light and air so they can discuss stuff. She’s taken a blow to the head, and has a concussion. She can’t stay awake. Duke tries to call for help and to blast their way out, but neither option works. Their weapons were drained to power the Coyote in the quake, and since the weapons get their power from the coyote, well…

He puts her to work telling him how to rewire the communicator to get a better signal, which she does. She starts to fade, and he tells her to keep talking about her family.

“I don’t like to…”
“Ok, Ok, uhm…your friends. What about your friends?”
“My work takes up so much of my….you Jose are the only friends I’ve had.”
“Well then soldier, when we get out of this, the first thing we’re gonna’ do is get you a life.”

She gests worse, though, and fades faster. She gives Duke her locket, and says it was a gift from her father. “I don’t want it buried with me.” She hallucinates that he’s her dad. Duke grabs her in a wraparound hug, trying to hold her up and keep her awake…

MEANWHILE, the Frank Herbert-styled excavator keeps attacking the rest of the Joes, the truck is badly damaged, they’ve still got no power to their weapons, and Roadblock is injured. Were it not for Ripcord’s increasing Elongated Man powers (I’m sorry. I tried. I really did. I tried to reach out to you Marvel*** people, and you just slapped me down. Slapped me down!) they’d all be dead. Presently they realize - presumably since they’ve read Dune - that they can attack the thing from above and ride around on it and force it to do all their monster-worm related biddings. This they then do.

The Baroness is driving the Excavator by remote control and is about to kill Roadblock when Tunnel Rat takes command of the thing. After some more running around and stuff, they save the day, they blast through the rockslide, and find Duke and Scarlett apparently embracing.

Tunnel Rat: “Hey, Duke, we got your S.O….ah. Well, I guess we shoulda’ seen that coming.”
Snake Eyes: [Stares tensely]

Afterwards, the team is repairing the coyote while Scarlett sleeps in the back. She wakes up to find Duke staring at her. He gives her some information he pulled from the Excavator, a list of all the Cobra tunnel network stuff. He also gives her back her locket - unopened. Uncharacteristically overcome with emotion, she thanks him “For everything” and gives him a big, lingering hug, a real one this time, not one of those “Stay awake soldier or you’re gonna’ die” ones.

Snake Eyes sees this, his body language is…shall we say ‘interesting?’ - and he tears off on his bike.

Duke: “Snake Eyes! It’s not what you think!” [To Scarlett] “He’ll be back.”
Scarlett: [Looks very unsure of that]

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

These are obviously the tunnels we saw briefly in the first episode, and which they’ve made several references to since. Destro is working on them. They’re intended to allow Cobra to move masses of supplies and personnel from place to place rapidly and without anyone knowing. They use maglev trains.

The Joes actually have real hard evidence for the first time, and it would be easy to check it out: Just have the authorities dig in specific places for tunnels that aren’t supposed to be there, and when they find ‘em - bang! Vindication! I’m assuming this’ll come into play in the season finale next week.

In the comics there has been a Duke/Scarlett/Snake Eyes romantic triangle since day one. In the ‘80s cartoon this was overlooked. In “GI Joe: Resolute” they actually resolved it, with her choosing Duke, and Snake Eyes basically going on a suicide mission as a result. Tonight, in Renegades, they finally touch on it. There have been some hints between Scarlet and Snake Eyes: She always knows what he’s thinking, Jinx was *extremely* jealous when Scarlett was around, and even says stuff along the lines of “Don’t think that it’s love just because he pays you more attention than me.” There have been furtive scenes of Snake Eyes checking her out, and coming to her rescue, rather than the others.

Interestingly, we’ve never seen *her* reciprocate these. She seems in the final scene to be aware that he loves her, but she may not love him. Meanwhile, up until tonight, we’ve had no real romantic tension between her and Duke. Their relationship has become less adversarial, and they genuinely respect each other, but until she hugged him more-than-affectionately tonight, we’ve never seen anything romantic. And: there’s no indication that Duke feels the same way.

So, interestingly: Snake Eyes loves Scarlett, who’s not interested in her, and instead she loves Duke, who’s not interested in her, because he’s in love with Snake Eyes.

No, wait, forget that last bit. Anyway: This is in keeping with Renegades’ general modus operandi of taking the shopworn conventions of the Joeverse and spinning them in new ways.

Ripcord - who looks just like Will Smith - is basically a superhero at this point, though he can’t really control his abilities.

The diggers really did look like Sandworms. I wasn’t the only one who noticed it.

The Baroness tasers a guy who disagrees with her at one point, knocking him unconscious. She’s really kind of disturbing in this iteration, though it doesn’t *quite* work for me. I’m not sure why, but the performance is a bit too mannered to be really effective. There’s an element of “Hey, look at me acting like a badass!” as opposed to “I’m a badass.”

Cobra Commander is still a good object of menace - he’s managed to stay credible in this series longer than in any one before - but the writers really need to be careful of these “Why I oughta’” lines they keep giving him. Tonight he threatens to kill the Baroness, but doesn’t. A few weeks back, he threatened to kill Mindbender, but didn’t. There was one with Destro, too, wasn’t there? Anyway, the more he does this *without* killing anyone, the less credible the threat becomes, and if he’s not credible, we end up with the same buffoonish CC we know and love from the old shows. (Which Zartan did a spot-on impression of a few weeks back).

This episode was quite a bit funnier than most of the others, dialog-wise, particularly the repartee between Roadblock and Ripcord. The Bat Poop/Lichen thing was pretty funny, as was the “You know, I still outrank you” bit.

Tonight’s episode made it very clear that neither Duke nor Rat have any kind of technological abilities. Scarlet and Roadblock do, however.

So that’s pretty much that. Can’t wait for the Season Finale next week!

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Heck yeah! If they don’t, then they hate America, and the terrorists have already won.

*- Obscure Richard Nixon paraphrase
**- Higgeldy Piggaldy means “A real mess.”
***- Actually, GI Joe comics are a Marvel property

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