(This Episode was originally aired as “Episode 11″, even though it’s actually “Episode 9″ in continuity)
In every G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero mythology since the 80’s, Cobra Commander has always had Destro. The fact that we don’t see Destro “in the flesh” until Episode 11 is telling, proving that G.I. Joe: Renegades is indeed going for the “slow burn” approach as it marches towards the mid-point of Season 1.
This episode starts with the Joes attempting a not-so-subtle infiltration of a Cobra office building, hoping to find Mindbender. When it becomes clear that he’s not around, Scarlett hastily blows a comm tower (for no apparent reason) which brings the Cobra Troopers out of the woodwork. The team quickly makes their escape, though Duke and Scarlett end up at each other’s throats.
Inside the building, we get a look at how Cobra Commander deals with failure…right before he arranges to meet with James McCullen, under his familiar guise of Adam DeCobray.
There is obvious friction between James and Mindbender right off the bat, however the interaction between McCullen and the Baroness is quite the opposite. With Mindbender being the genetics expert and McCullen being the tech guru, there is a clear division of specialties. They all seem united, however, when security footage of the Renegade Joes is shown…Destro identifies them from his Chicago mishap, and Mindbender from the fracas in Springfield.
The Joe team is, as usual, somewhat conflicted. Scarlett expresses her displeasure at running and hiding, wanting instead to take the fight to Cobra. They discover a barge that might provide some intel, and end up in pitched battle with a tentacle-laden Bio-Viper mutant. More important than the Bio-Viper, though, is a glimpse at the new and improved Scrap Iron.
Dispatching of the creature, Scarlett separates from the group to meet up with Breaker’s snitch, who has promised some information. A masked man in a trenchcoat gives them details on the Bio-Viper program and seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
Soon the Joes find themselves at a MARS Industries manufacturing plant, going toe-to-toe with Destro’s Exo-Armor suits (piloted by Iron Grenadiers enhanced by Mindbender’s neural dampeners) and Cobra’s Bio-Vipers. Quite often, though, the Bio-Vipers and the Exo-Armor end up fighting each other! In the Cobra office building, Destro is attempting to sabotage Mindbender’s project, and twists things around to try and get Cobra to purchase his Exo-Armor suit…but Mindbender has other plans, and right before their eyes, a strange hybrid of Bio-Viper and Exo-Armor is revealed, and they bare down on the Joes, gunfire exploding throughout the plant.
Scarlett is determined to make a difference…but just in the nick of time, Duke and Snake Eyes arrive. Distracting the new Mecha-Vipers and disabling their computer control systems, the Renegades make their escape, and as they drive off, they can’t help but remember that even as they fought robots and genetic anamolies, MARS and Cobra were also battling each other…
McCullen and DeCobray have an exchange of words, and DeCobray reveals that he is fully aware of Destro’s sabotage attempts and that he is, in fact, the mole who passed information along to the Joes! McCullen attempts to escape, but is pinned by a giant cobra (cleverly named Serpentor). DeCobray reveals his true “face” and bares down on McCullen, a vicious iron mask in hand. Referencing an earlier proclamation by McCullen himself, the Commander calls him Destro and brutally clamps the mask to his head, controlling it to slowly drill screws into his skull.
Destro is born.
So at this point we’ve received a handful of “filler episodes” which did little to pass the overall story along, but did manage to feature some cool characters and provide some entertainment. As such, it was only a matter of time before we got more story progression, and we got it in spades here.
Fans who have been clamoring for more Cobra certainly got their wish, as this episode starts and ends with the evil organization. Cobra Commander makes his presence known in several different ways and to very sinister ends, and it works amazingly well. I was somewhat surprised that the Joes still seem to really be fighting amongst themselves, specifically Scarlett and Duke. I figured since this episode takes place after the Arashikage 2-Parter (I believe) that perhaps they would have become a bit more of a cohesive unit.
Snake Eyes is background noise for the most part, sweeping in and out of various scenes, tossing his normal smoke bombs and skewering circuitry with his sword. It’s probably just because we got Busted and this episode back-to-back, but good grief, he must own stock in those smoke bombs…that certainly seems to be his thing. But it was all right this time around. He was certainly present and doing things, but he didn’t take over the episode, and much of the focus was on Cobra and the Joes (as it should be). I did wonder somewhat about Scarlett’s motivation for blowing up the comm tower, but beyond these little nitpicks, this was a terrific episode.
Cobra was in full assault mode, the inner conflict between McCullen and Mindbender was obvious and palpable. Destro’s attempted double-cross was easily picked out by Cobra Commander, and the weapons dealer was punished quite severely for his actions. The scene with those screws slowly drilling into human bone was truly chilling and surprising, considering the intended audience. How Cobra Commander controls Destro from here remains a mystery, of course, but he is certainly looking more like his metal-headed self.
I found myself liking the Exo-Armor a lot more than I thought I would, but mostly because it was better than the alternative (the Bio-Vipers). I’m still not a big fan of the catch-all genetic tissue Cobra Troopers, but in a series like this, the Joes simply have to have someone to shoot. It does almost seem like they’re making a slow progression towards android troopers, which would be pretty cool.
This was definitely one of the better episodes we’ve seen, which is really saying something. Destro’s interaction with Cobra Commander was intriguing and totally in character. He and the Baroness are already deeply intertwined, and the quick glimpse of Scrap Iron’s savaged face was chilling. Mindbender calling him “Scarface” was absolutely an easter egg to the Marvel series as well. Speaking of Scrap Iron, he looked pretty impressive in his new uniform. Menacing and imposing, even in his brief appearance.
From a pacing standpoint, it felt like the past few episodes were a bit stuck in the mud, but if Enemy of my Enemy is any indication, those slow-plodding days may be over, and we look to be right back on the fast track now. This episode brought that spark back that had been fading (just a tiny bit, though!) and I have fully fallen in love with the Renegades universe again. Not only that, but we have the whole concept of this mysterious “whistle blower”… is there still a story to uncover there?
Bring on Firefly in Episode 12!
Screenshot Gallery (Courtesy of HissTank.com)
Original Airdate: February 4, 2011
Writer: Scott Sonneborn
Director: Nathan Chew
- Mindbender refers to Scrap Iron as “Scarface” a clear tribute to the character from the Marvel Comic series
- Cobra Commander’s oversized snake is named “Serpentor”, just like the would-be Cobra Emperor from the vintage days