EPISODE REVIEW: GI Joe Renegades: “Return of the Arashikage, Part 1” (Episode 4)

Republibot 3.0
Republibot 3.0's picture

I can’t help but think it’s a bit early to be revealing all the mysteries surrounding Snake Eyes. The show hasn’t quite earned my faith that they’re rushing to establish all this for some larger arc-driven purpose down the road. Just the same, this was a really good episode. I really enjoyed watching it, even if it didn’t quite allay my fears.

PLAY BY PLAY

Years ago in Japan, there was a homeless blonde American (I assume) kid who happened to stumble across some thugs apparently trying to kill an eight year old girl, and her cousin, a tween-aged boy. The American kid steps in, and saves the girl’s life. Her father was the leader of the Arashikage, a thousand-year old clan of ninjas. (Not the motorcycles, the people.) In gratitude for saving his daughter’s life, he took in the homeless kid, adopted him into the clan, and gave him the new name “Snake Eyes.” The tween-aged boy, however, was shamed that someone else had saved the girl, and saw Snake Eyes as a rival.

Years pass, and the Japanese kid - now calling himself “Storm Shadow” - starts playing with a forbidden sword that is the spiritual symbol of their clan. The Chieftain/Master walks in and finds them, but Snake Eyes covers for his rival, and claims to have been futzing with the thing on his own. While the master punishes him, the little girl runs out, and blows the secret. The Chieftain abruptly decides to swing the clan in a more peace-and-love direction, rather than the more traditional killing/assassination/death thing.

It’s a bold career choice which, predictably, fails badly. He’s killed by Storm Shadow. Snake Eyes rescues the girl before she, too, can be killed since she’s the heir to rulership of the clan, and they escape to the US. He can no longer speak from an injury he sustained during the escape. He trains the girl - now calling herself “Jinx” - to be a ninja. (Ninjette? Ninjix?)

Years pass, Snake Eyes takes on Scarlet as a pupil. He treats her differently. He cares for her. Jinx is jealous. While Snake Eyes is away with his new girlfriend doing GI Joe stuff, Jinx heads back to Japan and tells Storm Shadow - the new clan Chief - that Snake Eyes is dead. She’s forced to take the mark of the clan, give a few speeches on how great Storm Shadow is to the local Ninja Jay Cees, and so on, it’s not a bad life, as bad lives go. Storm Shadow finds a picture of Snake Eyes on Breaker’s anti-Cobra website. He smiles, and lets Jinx go to track her.

Snake Eyes brings the Renegades to his secret log cabin to train them. Jinx and Scarlet don’t get along. Amidst some humorous training sequences, we’re given the flashbacks I detailed above. Duke suddenly realizes Jinx is being tracked, at which point Storm Shadow steps out of the…uhm…shadows and subdues them all. He takes an unconscious Jinx with him, sets fire to Snake Eye’s cabin while everyone is unconscious inside, and leaves…

To Be Continued…

OBSERVATIONS

As I say, pretty good. I told it in linear form as I’m in that mood today, but it worked well with the flashbacks, and they played up the whole “Can we trust this guy or not?” thing very nicely. When Storm Shadow tells Jinx the death of her father wasn’t exactly as she remembered it, I get the feeling he’s telling the truth. I don’t think Snake Eyes killed the old guy, of course, but I’m willing to bet there’s a third party involved that neither side is aware of. (Zartan, perhaps? A little tip of the hat to Warren Ellis, there.) And while I have no doubts that Snake Eyes is ultimately a good guy, I have no reason to believe he’s *as* good as the other good guys on the show.

So what really did happen when the master died?
Why was the young Snake Eyes homeless in Japan, anyway? Since his origins were first retconned, I haven’t seen anyone explain this.

Snake Eyes’ origins change a bit over time. My memories are fuzzy, but I seem to recall the original ‘80s iteration was an army ranger who got a flame thrower in the face in Vietnam. Disfigured, and mute, he wears a mask. The Ninja thing presented discipline or whatever to deal with his injuries and recover somewhat. I might be a bit off in that, but obviously as time passes and he stays the same age, they need to retcon his origins a bit.

The brotherhood/rivalry with Storm Shadow has always been there, though, as is his love of Scarlet (Which she reciprocates in earlier versions of the stories), which becomes a romantic triangle when she meets Duke.

Scarlet: “Why won’t you people trust Snake Eyes?”
Tunnel Rat: “Because he’s a Ninja. By definition, Ninjas are criminals, traitors, assassins. What? Look it up!”

The first time we met Jinx, back in “GI Joe: The Movie” in 1987 ( http://www.republibot.com/content/staturday-afternoon-b-movie-crapfest-%... ) she was a Hispanic woman who’d been trained in Ninjitsu by Zatoichi, essentially, and thus could only fight when blindfolded. She was regarded as unlucky by the other Joes, hence the nickname. She had no particular relationship to Snake Eyes in that iteration, she was just one of seemingly a million billion Ninjas in GI Joe at the time (Seriously: Snake Eyes, Scarlet, Jinx, Cobra Commander’s One-Legged Son, and more. I think I counted six in one issue of the comic). Turning her Japanese, tying her to the Arashikage clan, and making her Storm Shadow’s cousin and the daughter of his dead master is one heck of a retcon! It kinda’ works, though. It tightens up the story considerably, and drops a few never-seen, superfluous characters. I like it.

Tunnel Rat is actually pretty funny. This iteration of him is really the first time I’ve ever liked the character (Who was *also* introduced in the 1987 movie). He’s genuinely smart and genuinely funny. He’s like the Sokka of this show. God knows, the world needs more Sokkas.

Ok, so two of the characters introduced in the movie have shown up now. Is Big Lob next? http://www.bscreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/big-lob-gijoe-e12665... and http://media.photobucket.com/image/gi%20joe%20big%20lob/gunslingercbr/DS... Probably not. It’s just funny that no one remembers the character except me. We’re more likely to see Chuckles than we are Big Lob.

Flint and Lady Jay were completely absent from this episode.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

There's nothing here to give offence, even if it's not particularly flag-waving. It's interesting and suitably dramatic, and I like the idea that America is a land of second chances for those who've come to a bad end elsewhere. We're Americans. We do things right. Eventually. So: Yes. Conservatives should like it.

Tags: