EPISODE REVIEW: GI Joe Renegades: “Union of the Snake” (Episode 18)

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The hub has been jiggering its Friday night schedule around for nearly a month now, and as a result I’ve missed several episode, or caught them a bit out of sequence. Sorry about that. I’ll try to be better.

PLAY BY PLAY:

Following last week’s episode in Scotland, we find the Renegades still tooling around in Europe. They get word that Cobra is planning something at Chateau Cisarovna, which sounds French Alpine, but is actually in Russia somewhere. Cobra has invited the presidents and CEOs of a whole bunch of major communications companies to visit a demonstration of a new technology which, they say, will revolutionize, you know, stuff (There’s doubletalk involved), and Cobra is allowing them in on the ground floor.

The Joes crash the party, and start slinking around. They come into contact with a crazy Russian dude calling himself “Red Star,” who’s infiltrated the Chateau to gain revenge for something the Cisarovna family did to his own people “Generations” ago. They get into a fight, and everyone excepting Tunnel Rat and Snake Eyes gets captured. Turns out the plan is to use Tomax and Xamot’s telepathy via Mindbender’s latest Doubletalk Device to take over the heads of various corporations, and thus gain control of them for Cobra. Snake and Rat free everyone, however, and with the grudging assistance of Red, they blow up the transmission antenna for the Mind Control device, thus freeing the pissed-off corporate types, most of whom refuse to have anything to do with Cobra from here on out.

The unexpected blowback from this is that Tomax and Xamot are freed, and immediately use their powers to have the Baroness and Mindbender kill each other. They escape, along with the executives (Who never realized how much danger they were in, they just thought it was a Cobra boondoggle) and contemplate going into Telecommunications themselves. Red Star is now an ally of the Renegades, and implies that his friends are now their friends.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

Firstly, I’m really digging these “Overseas” episodes. They’re just inherently more interesting than the US-based ones, more exotic, and it makes sense as it’s harder for the US to track ‘em when they’re outside our own borders. (Note that we haven’t seen Flint and Lady Jaye since they left our country for Canada).

Secondly, was that chase down the mountain cool or what? Cobra combat pods versus skiers and jetpacks? Wow! That was straight out of the original cartoon, only, you know, cool. (Much as I like the original cartoon, it was never cool) There was a swashbuckling quality to it that was really engaging, and holds up upon repeated viewings. Also, we get our very first inklings of a romance between Scarlet and Duke.

“Red Star” was a member of “The October Guard,” the Soviet equivalent of the GI Joe team. They only appeared in the comics, but were as likely to be enemies as allies. Oddly, he was a Naval Officer. Red himself was in that terrible 2nd GI Joe cartoon from the early 90s, though he used his real name. Less said about that better. His beef here appears to be personal: The Cisrovna family evidently conducted massacres that killed many of whatever ethnic group Red belongs to (He’s Ukranian in the comics, I assume he is here as well). I’m gonna’ go out on a limb and say that’s a reference to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_genocide#Great_purge_.28Yezhovshchin...
Since the Baroness says it was “Generations ago.” She also says that her people have ruled forever, under the Czars, under the Soviets, and now. I think we’re supposed to believe they’re a power-behind-the-throne kind of thing, but this begs the question: are they *still* in charge of mother Russia, or on the outs, or in charge of a little former-Soviet Bankruptistan republic? The episode is vaguely fuzzy on this.

What’s also fuzzy is in what capacity the October Guard exists. Red makes it clear he’s working with an organization, but never says the name. He also makes it clear that they’re renegades as well, which is fitting in this context as the Guard has always been the exact counterpart of the Joes. He mentions that they’ve been hiding out in these mountains for a long time, which implies they might actually be a Soviet force that refused to stand down, or went rogue, or whatever. I find that idea kind of exciting, but then I’m a Republican so obviously I would.

This episode marked the first major reversal of Cobra’s fortunes. Up until now, the Renegades have been an expensive annoyance, but nothing more. This time out, they screwed Cobra’s plan for economic domination, seriously hurt their standing in their legitimate business deals, *and* they released the amazingly dangerous Twins, who are clearly, clearly, clearly an equally large threat to the Joes and Cobra alike. Everyone is screwed now.

I’ve accused this new iteration of Mindbender of being too Wheedony. Indeed, all the interactions between him and The Baroness play out as if they came straight out of “Dollhouse.” Mindbender = Topher, Baroness = Adell. Speaking of which, what is Enver Gjokaj up to these days? He really should be a star now, you know, he’s an amazing actor.

Finally:

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Assuming they can find it on the erratic Friday Night Hub schedule, yes. There’s a whole lot of noble warrior stuff here, with the Joes refusing to accept civilian casualties, or even inordinately high enemy ones.

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