Episode Fifteen – Whiteout

Episode Synopsis

So, here we are…about 36 hours after the announcement that Hasbro and The Hub are ceasing production of G.I. Joe: Renegades as Season One finishes this summer.  So, the question is, where do we go from here?  Is there anything left to be invested into the rest of Season One?

In my mind, absolutely.  There are still twelve episodes left in the “can” for Season One, and still plenty that can happen.  Am I disappointed that the show is ending after season one?  Of course.  Disappointed is actually a massive understatement.  The decision really floored me and disappointed me.  But, the show goes on, and as I said, we have almost half a season still to air, so I don’t plan on changing my formula from this point on.  We’re going to proceed as normal, and tonight, the 15th episode aired.  We saw Storm Shadow return, we saw Snow Job show up, and a new range of Bio-Vipers (called the Shadow Vipers) made their dramatic first appearance.

So let’s get on with this!

We start off in a secret Cobra Laboratory where Mindbender is attempting a new form of Bio-Viper.  Using Storm Shadow as the physical source material and with Tomax and Xamot lending their psychic brain waves, Mindbender creates the mysterious “Shadow Vipers”, which are dark, sleek Bio-Vipers with the martial arts accumin of Storm Shadow, and linked to him via the Twins’ psychic prowess, so totally under his control.

Storm Shadow seems in no mood to deal with Mindbender’s normal quirks, but The Baroness interrupts to tell him that Snake Eyes and the other Joes have been spotted approaching Canada.  Storm Shadow takes his Shadow Vipers in pursuit.

The Renegades, meanwhile, approach a border checkpoint, and make it through, but not without stirring up the hornet’s nest from Canadian authorities.  In hot pursuit through the winter forests, they make a narrow escape over a chasm, and when Tunnel Rat reveals that he has an old Army buddy in the area, they decide to head to Snow Job’s cabin.  Once they arrive, though, Snow Job certainly doesn’t appear to be a “friend” to Tunnel Rat or anyone, brushing off their company, and only allowing them to stay for a night to patch up the Coyote, and be on their way.

As Snake Eyes assists with cutting firewood, he hears the sorrowful moan of an animal in pain, and goes to check it out, coming across a wolf in a trap.  Setting the wolf free, the Joe ninja soon finds himself the subject of a Shadow-Viper ambush.  Accompanied by Storm Shadow himself, Snake Eyes does battle, coming to a stop at the edge of a deep pit.  He breaks off the ledge with his swords, and sends them all down to the base of the chasm.

Back in the cabin, Snow Job and Tunnel Rat are reminiscing, but when Roadblock arrives with a pair of Snow Job’s ski’s, his attitude once again turns sour.  Tunnel Rat tells a story of him, Snow Job, and Frostbite back in the Army.  The three soldiers were in the same arctic unit, and while skipping out for an “unsanctioned” ski trip, an avalanche buried Snow Job and Frostbite, while Tunnel Rat remained at base.  Snow Job was the only one who made it out, which likely explains his anti-social behavior.

As Roadblock fixes up the Coyote, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow have evidently been going at it, and the two sword brothers are limping through the chasm.

Back at the cabin, Scarlett’s earpiece is going off, and they discern that Snake Eyes is trying to warn them of incoming doom.  As the Joes spread out into the surrounding forest, they are ambushed by the mysterious Shadow Vipers and battle their way back to the cabin.  Snow Job bails tem out and they barricade themselves inside, doing verbal battle with Storm Shadow…soon Snake Eyes is inside with them, and they prepare for their defense.

It doesn’t take long as the Shadow Vipers are quickly on them, trying to claw, slice, and chop their way inside.  The battle grows intense, and the Joes wonder how to get out…when Snow Job reveals a cache of explosives, volunteering to lead them in and blow his cabin to pieces.  Showing his newfound teammates an underground tunnel to get to the garage, it seems to only alternative, especially once the Shadow-Vipers begin tearing apart the walls.  Unfortunately the timer on the explosives is broken, and Snow Job forces the Joes into the tunnel, staying behind to blow the place himself.

Sneaking up to the roof as the Shadow-Vipers attack, Snow Job narrowly avoids an assault by Storm Shadow, tossing the explosives down his chimney.  They strike the fire place and explode, blowing the cabin sky high.  The Joes come flying out in the Coyote, attempting to mop up the Shadow-Vipers as an avalanche bears down on them all.  With Snow Job riding the rush of snow on his ski’s, the Joes scoop him up, pull him into the truck, and tear down the mountain as the snow buries Storm Shadow and the Shadow-Vipers alive.

Down in town, the Joes manage to scare up a snowmobile for Snow Job, as he agrees to look after Snake Eyes’ new friend, Timber.  As the Renegade Joes move on to their next mission, a single hand with a sword thrusts through the fallen snow…  Storm Shadow lives.

Episode Review

So how was this episode?  Are my feelings any different knowing that things are wrapping up after Season One?

I can’t really answer that, but I can answer that this episode was really, really good.  Snow Job is obviously a fringe character, designed to kind of pass through, but they managed to give him so much character and make him so interesting, even in just the short time we got to meet him.  He is far from a typical cookie cutter “guest star” and like many of the other large cast of Joes that have shown up, he actually has a reason for being there, and works within the context of this universe.

One thing I wasn’t especially happy about with his backstory was the use of “Frostbite”.  I’m not sure why they didn’t just call him Iceberg.  Same race, used a snowboard (that was white and green, no less).  Seemed like Iceberg was the obvious choice, so why the switch?  Copyright reasons?  I dunno, but it would have added that little extra touch of coolness if the character was Iceberg instead of Frostbite.

But as cool as Snow Job was, to me, the highlight of this episode was, believe it or not, the Shadow-Vipers.  That’s right, me, who cannot stand the Bio-Viper concept is actually warming up to the idea.  Just a little.

In this episode, mainly it was because by using the Bio-Vipers, they were really able to let Snake Eyes “cut loose” so to speak.  Kevin Altieri directed this episode, who obviously has a pretty strong martial arts or hand-to-hand combat background, because it seems like every issue he directs is consumed with some awesome fisticuffs.  Snake Eyes goes absolutely ballistic on these Shadow-Vipers, almost to the point that you feel sorry for them.  Hacked up into little pieces, chopped up, decapitated, it’s actually surprisingly brutal, especially considering how humanoid the Shadow-Vipers look.

Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes have some nice back and forth, though nothing ground breaking here.  We learn that The Baroness is going to help Storm Shadow grow his clan into a national syndicate, and I just really liked how the story evolved with the Shadow-Vipers and you got the sense that the Joes were really kind of helpless against them.  They used some really neat ideas to get the better of them, and Snow Job’s sacrifice of the only thing that means anything to him any more was a dramatic moment of tension.

Yes, once again, this episode felt like a “one off” episode that didn’t necessarily progress the story (and really, they’d better progress the story soon, before they run out of time) but it was captivating, exciting, had some extremely well written characters, and totally delivered in pretty much all phases.  Even as a standalone, comparing this episode to some of the earlier ones, it’s like night and day…things have come a long way, and it’ll be a rough three week wait until Episode 16.

Screenshot Gallery (courtesy of HissTank.com)

Episode Details

Original Airdate: March 25, 2011
Writer: Dean Stefan
Director: Kevin Altieri

Easter Eggs

  1. The wild wolf that Snake Eyes rescues is a clear homage to Timber, and is even named as such at the end of the episode.
  2. Snow Job’s teammate “Frostbite” uses Frostbite’s name, but seems to be a much more direct homage to Iceberg.  He uses a snowboard, as Iceberg did in the 90’s, and the snowboard is even white and green as Iceberg’s original uniform was.  Why he uses Frostbite’s name is uncertain.
  3. There are many parallels between this episode and Marvel Comics Issue #31, “All Fall Down” which involves a pitched battle at Snake Eyes’ remote mountain cabin.  In that issue, Snake Eyes survives thanks to a trap door as his cabin explodes while Cobra forces attack him.  It’s uncertain if this episode is a direct tribute, but there are enough similarities that they’re tough to ignore.