Episode Eighteen – Union of the Snake

Episode Synopsis

This episode is interesting…for the first time we are seeing a new episode without any preconceived notions about how it’s going to happen.  Much to many folks’ chagrin, The Hub neglected to air a promo for this week’s episode, and while that is annoying, it also adds a fresh perspective for the viewers.

The episode opens with the Joe team staking out a mysterious gathering of Cobra associates.  Their specific target is Wu Chang who is the CEO of a Chinese telecommunications company.  Apparently many higher ups are traveling to Baroness’ chateau, and the Joes plan to see how they can get involved.  Inside the chateu, Chang goes into a Sauna, but Snake Eyes and Scarlett emerge, quickly subduing him.

With Tunnel Rat disguised as Chang, and Duke and Roadblock as bodyguards, the trio of Joes goes directly into the chateau, while Snake Eyes and Scarlett sneak in through the back way.  However, the two covert operatives realize that they have some competition when they find Cobra Troopers bound and hidden in a closet.

Out in the Cobra gathering, the Baroness announces Adam DeCobray, who reports to the CEO’s gathered there that Cobra Industries is introducing the new “Black Adder” a communications device capable to transmitting subliminal messages directly into the target’s brain, for advertising purposes.  In another area of the chateau, Scarlett and Snake Eyes follow a trail into the kitchen, where they come face to face with someone disguised as a chef…but this chef carries a plasma weapon!  It’s obvious from the start that the chef is of Russian descent.  Subtly keying her comm unit, Scarlett talks to the chef, and the other Joes realize that there is trouble afoot, and begin to move in to assist.

Meanwhile, the Black Adders activate and begin a hypnotic process on all of the CEO’s in the group meeting, except for Tunnel Rat, who has seen this act before, with Tomax and Xamot.  Slowly, the rest of the gathering fall under the control of Cobra.

Back in the kitchen, Duke and Roadblock arrive, and all hell breaks loose with a firefight tearing through the small space.  Everyone is at a stalemate, when the Russian guard finally rolls a cart towards them with explosives on it.  As the explosives detonate, he shouts “Long Live the Oktober Guard!”  The resulting explosion knocks out everyone in the kitchen, and they are captured by Cobra agents.  As they are all led out, we see Snake Eyes hiding in the rafters.  Mindbender and The Baroness are confronting the prisoners, and the Russian chef (who we discover is Red Star) speaks of his family’s conflict with the Cisarovna’s, who are the Baroness’ lineage.  Deciding that the time to talk is over, the two Cobra’s begin the hypnosis process on Duke, Roadblock, and Scarlett.

Tunnel Rat is slowly making his way towards the other Joes, but runs into some opposition from Cobra Troopers, and narrowly avoids being gunned down.  Mere seconds later, Snake Eyes moves in to rescue the three prisoners, destroying the phone.  Next we see Mindbender with Tomax and Xamot, and we find out that the scientist is using their psychic powers as a battery, only further enhancing it with his technology to create this mind control system.  In another 20 minutes, the mind control for the CEO’s will be permanent, and Cobra’s plan is to deploy it worldwide.

Red Star leads the Joes to their weaponry, and Tunnel Rat also meets them there.  The Russian talks a bit about his bitter feud with the Cisarovna’s and that he is willing to destroy the entire chateau, with dozens of innocent lives, just to take out The Baroness.  The Joes, of course, are unwilling to take that chance.  They decide instead to take out the satellite at the base of the mountain, to cripple the satellite network delivering the signal.  Red Star gives them an ultimatum…they have nine minutes to destroy the satellite, or he will detonate the explosives which area already scattered throughout the chateau.

The Joes agree and quickly mount ski’s, a snowboard, snowmobiles, and even a jetpack to race down the mountain and destroy the satellite.  When The Baroness hears of their escape, she orders Cobra Flight Pods to launch and take them all down.  Moments later, this exact thing happens and the Joes look for creative ways to avoid death by Cobra Trubble Bubble.  Duke tries evasive action on his jetpack while the land-based troops use their own methods.  Racing off a cliff, Scarlett fires a grappling hook onto a Flight Pod and captures it.  In the end, the Joes take out the Flight Pods, but time is short, and Red Star begins detonating the explosives!

Snake Eyes is quicker and temporarily prevents it, but the Russian is determined.  Finally, Scarlett takes her captured Flight Pod and crashes it into the satellite, rescued by Duke just in the nick of time.

As the satellite signal breaks to static, the CEO’s begin waking up inside The Baroness’ chateau…along with the CEO’s, Tomax and Xamot also awaken, and in their moment of clarity, they hypnotize Baroness, Mindbender, and the Cobra Troops in the room, ordering Baroness and Mindbender to fight each other to the death.  Unfortunately, local authorities have started arriving, so the Twins must escape before they can see the results.

Within the wilderness, Red Star leads the Joes to an underground passage that they can use to escape, and they show each other great mutual respect, even if they don’t agree on the methods used to reach their end goal.

Back at the chateau as helicopters begin rescuing the dazed CEO’s, Tomax and Xamot mingle among the crowd and wonder aloud if perhaps using the Telecommunications industry is the best way to “spread their influence”…

Episode Review

As I said above, this episode was unique, because we had not seen a single second of footage prior to it airing…and part of me really enjoyed that!  I have a feeling we would have known all about the Oktober Guard already, and this was a great surprise.  The minute the chef spoke with a thick Russian accent, my hopes rose…and when he had a tattoo of a Red Star on the back of his hand?  Yeah, I was geeking out.

This was a great, great episode.  I love how the Joes are now going on the offensive, really tracking down Cobra operations and trying to put the hurt on the terrorist organization.  Bringing the mind control element into it is a nice tribute to the comics as well, and I really loved this little exploration into the Baroness’ lineage.  Of course the coolest thing about the episode was the action…there was action absolutely everywhere!  The firefight in the kitchen was quickly paced and realistic (well, as realistic as a firefight with plasma weapons can be, I suppose) and it really never let up from there.

I thoroughly enjoyed the banter back and forth between Duke and Red Star, and it was obvious they both had their own ideologies, but both siting the same military writer was a demonstration of some real intelligence and some very capable writing.  Long time G.I. Joe fan, former owner of YoJoe.com and experienced animated writer Eugene Son once again lent his talents to G.I. Joe: Renegades, and the end result was amazingly great.  It only serves to accentuate the cool things about this series.  It simply does NOT “talk down” to the audience.  It doesn’t.  Of course it’s not as mature as your typical TV show, but for a kid’s cartoon, it is stunningly “mature”.

And before anyone tries to argue the point, “mature” doesn’t just mean violence, bloodshed and harsh language.  In fact, many would argue, that’s more immature.  Mature just means sophisticated themes, natural and advanced language, and terminology.  No, obviously no Flight Pod pilots were killed during the battle, but Duke and Red Star had several conversations about Carl von Clausewitz, who was Prussian soldier well known for this thoughts on the morality of war.

Yeah, exactly.  I don’t think you’d hear his name mentioned on Transformers: Prime.

I absolutely loved the way Eugene wove the beliefs of Von Clausewitz into the story, and was able to balance his moral beliefs off of Red Star’s idea of “acceptable losses” and Duke’s concepts of “no loss is acceptable”.  Fascinating writing, and proof positive that G.I. Joe: Renegades deserves a far better fate than what is coming.

Of course, the Trubble Bubbles were terrific, too.  The action sequences involving them and the Joes racing down the mountain were exciting and well-choreographed.  I couldn’t help but chuckle at Scarlett calling Duke “her hero”.  There already seems to be something behind the scenes playing Duke off of Snake Eyes.  Very cool, but only serves to raise more “what ifs”.

Rounding off the episode with Tomax and Xamot escaping Cobra’ clutches and ending up in the midst of some of the highest ranking corporate officers in the world of course just opens the door for Extensive Enterprises.  Another awesome touch.

Fast-paced, well written, and progressing the story.  A great installment of G.I. Joe: Renegades, and it really shows just how much the series has picked up steam as it went along.  Great stuff.

Screenshot Gallery

Episode Details

Original Air Date: April 30th, 2011
Writer: Eugene Son
Director: Scott Bern

Easter Eggs

  1. In this episode “Red Star” is a member of a Russian rebel group called “Otkober Guard” who battles against the Cisarovna lineage.   In the original Marvel Comics series, the “Oktober Guard” was a Russian military organization, which often found itself faced off against the American G.I. Joe team.
  2. Tomax and Xamot escape at the end, and are in the midst of a number of corporate CEO’s, wondering how to spread their influence.  In the Sunbow cartoon, the Crimson Twins were already CEO’s of a company called Extensive Enterprises.  Could this be how they get their start?
  3. When the CEO’s are being brainwashed, on the screens of the phones and computers, the familiar COBRA logo is shown for the first time in the series.