EPISODE REVIEW: GI Joe Renegades: “Return of the Arashikage, Part 2” (Episode 5)

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Ever notice how the second part of a two-parter is never as good as the first?

PLAY BY PLAY

We pick up exactly where we left off, with the Joes in a burning log cabin, and Stormshadow hauling Jinx off.

Snake Eyes, who’s spend the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder, wakes up first and helps out the others. Scarlet suffers an allergic reaction to Storm Shadow’s poison and starts suffocating. Snake Eyes is just about to give her a tracheotomy when Tunnel Rat gets her some random plant that solves the problem. Foreshadowing: Your key to quality literature.

Abandoning the Joes, Snake Eyes starts tracking Jinx and Stormshadow. Meanwhile, Stormshadow tries to make her believe that he didn’t kill her father, that Snake Eyes did. We see various flashbacks to them training as tweens, Snake growing more and more in favor of the Hard Master, Stormshadow less and less so. Hard Master announces that their dishonorable past is behind them - which he’s realized thanks to Snake Eyes’ basic good nature - and that they’ll be changing things quite a bit in the coming months. Jinx refuses to believe it.

Snake Eyes catches up, a battle erupts, and Jinx falls into a snake pit. (Not a metaphor) and is rescued by the Joes. The rest of the episode is a running swordfight culminating in a Cliffside face-off in which Snake Eyes admits he cut Hard Master’s throat, but didn’t kill him. Horrified, Jinx changes sides, and Snake Eyes falls to his doom. Or would, had Duke not bungee-jumped using a ninja chain to save him.

Jinx agrees to go back to Japan and rule the clan in Storm Shadow’s absence while he goes on to hunt and kill Snake Eyes. They Joes escape, and Snake Eyes formally joins the team.

In a final flashback, we see that the Jinx’s dad’s drink was poisoned, and Snake Eyes tried to give him a tracheotomy to save his life, but just then Storm Shadow blundered in.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

Not as good as part one, probably the weakest episode they’ve done thus far, but still really good.

It’s interesting that both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow both believe the other did it, but there’s some third force in play here. Who? Well, it’s gotta’ be someone from Cobra, right? But who and why? I really dig that the enmity between them has always been real, but that the actual fighting is based on a misconception.

Jinx changing sides was unexpected. Totally didn’t see that coming. Nicely filmed, too. I’m not crazy about the character design of Storm Shadow, however. He’s just kind of goofy looking, particularly when seen from a low angle. When you can’t tell if the character is off-model or badly designed, you’ve got a problem. Granted, not as bad as, say, *anything* from a Babylon 5 comic book (He said randomly), but still…

Jason Marsden continues to really impress me with his delivery as Duke. He’s basically doing a dead-on impression of the voice Michael Bell did as Duke in the original series thirty years ago, but he’s doing in a more nuanced, grown-up way. I’ve mentioned this before, of course, but it bears repeating: He’s doing a great job. Matthew Yang Kim is also increasingly impressive as Tunnel Rat, taking a hokey-jokey comedy relief character that could easily turn in to Joey Wheeler, and keeping it human. I’m not as thrilled with Kevin Michael Richardson, but I think that’s just how he’s been used thus far. Roadblock has basically been used as comedy relief for the comedy relief. Give him more to do, and I’m sure he’ll grow on me.

So: Scarlet’s from Atlanta, Road Block is from Misissippi. Duke is Midwestern (like me!), Tunnel Rat is from Brooklyn (Obviously). Disproportionately large number of southerners on the team.

Some good character humor, particularly Tunnel Rat’s near-gross-out at the tracheotomy, and Duke’s “Of course. You don’t take order,” like to Snake Eyes. Better than being snide, it set up a great line at the end when he tells the Ninja, “I’d appreciate if you’d keep this with you,” rather than ordering it. They’re doing a really good job of believably turning the team into a team, and quickly. None of this seems terribly forced which, given that it’s GI Joe, the most contrived thing in the history of things, is pretty impressive.

Obviously there’ll be repercussions down the line from this episode. That’s right: The new Joe cartoon is arc driven!

The Scarlet/Snake Eyes romance angle kinda’ pops up here. Jinx clearly loves her master. That’s new. There’s a line that *might* imply Snake Eyes has gone through a few women in the past.

Man, are they relying on Tunnel Rat a lot, or what?

One thing that I started picking up as of this episode, but which has been there since the beginning, is a quiet sense of nobility: Duke will *not* leave anyone behind, even if it means risking his own life. Snake Eyes likewise, and he clearly still feels a debt of honor to his fallen master. Saving someone’s life means you’re indebted to them, but voluntarily. Tunnel Rat whines and complains a lot, but ultimately does the right thing. Jinx’s decision to change sides was actually driven by honor and misconception. She did the wrong thing, but she had faulty information. The Joes are criminals and renegades, but there are still things they won’t do. It’s not something they’re really pointing out or waving flags over, but the running theme of the series is one of non-preachy morality: Do the right thing because it’s the right thing. There is no other reason.

This, of course, runs along with the undercurrent of rule-breaking. Do the right thing, even if the law says otherwise. Cobra is a perfectly legal organization, insofar as anyone knows. The Joes are outlaws as far as anyone knows. The difference - and the thing that puts our heroes in the right - is that they disobey the law in service of a greater good, and Cobra obeys the law in service of a greater evil.

Interesting, huh?

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Of course. The whole morality angle of it puts it over the top.

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