Episode Nineteen – The Anaconda Strain

Episode Synopsis

Episode opens within a laboratory…a Cobra lab, where two scientists are performing experiments on unfortunate rodent test subjects.  They refer to reptile DNA being introduced airborne and infecting the mammals for the first time.  One of the scientists, Kurt, urges the other to attempt to convince Cobra to use their research to craft antidotes and further more cures.  The other scientist is not convinced.

As the rodents begin really showing the effects of the virus, the other scientist, Dr. Menov, discovers that Kurt’s suit is compromised.  He demands that he be immediately quarantined as Kurt begins coughing immediately.

Next we see the Coyote disembarking and rolling down a narrow dirt road, presumably in Central or South America.  The Joes meet with a young girl who speaks about her adopted father, Kurt Schnerr, and explains that he has been missing.  Her last conversation with her father did not go well, so she emails the Joes, fearing for her father’s safety.  He has been working as a biochemist for Cobra, but has been unhappy with the way his research is progressing.

The Joes (or Scarlett, to be more specific) decide to mobilize against the Cobra laboratory and see if they can locate her father.  Using the Coyote’s chameleon mode they infiltrate the lab and appropriate bio hazard suits to descent into the depths of the facility.  Snake Eyes quickly infiltrates a nearby server room and draws the Joes in there so they can use the computer to find out what happened to Schnerr.  They do find out, but the news is not good…  Kurt has apparently perished.  Determined to find out what happened, the Joes keep searching.  The search doesn’t take long as they quickly find that his keycard was recently used and continue investigating.

Roadblock is patched in via the comm link in the Coyote while Duke, Scarlett, and Tunnel Rat venture deep into Sublevel 4, approaching the quarantine area.  They soon run into Dr. Menov and find Schnerr himself, who is showing some signs of infection by the Anaconda Strain.  Schnerr is resistant to be released, for fear of infecting the entire world.  While Menov and Schnerr are concerned about the antidote, Scarlett informs them that their computer records show Cobra has crafted an antidote, they’ve just been hiding it from the scientists.

The Joes want to rescue Schnerr, but he is determined to stay where he is…Scarlett elects to use force.

The Joes start blasting their way out of the lab while Snake Eyes hunts down the antidote, facing off against some nasty Cobra robotics to do it.  The Joes are growing more and more closely to escape, and suddenly Dr. Monev shows his true colors!  He locks the Joes in level 4 and reveals his plan…release the virus and sell the antidote to the highest bidder!  Monev sabotaged Schnerr’s suit and has been using him as a test subject.  Scrambling to escape, the Joes narrowly make it through a sliding door, though Duke must expose himself to the virus to do it.

Inside the lab, the auto sterilization protocols go into effect, flash frying anything not made of metal.  The Joes narrowly escape in the Coyote, though Duke has been infected, and Schnerr is much worse for wear.  Luckily Snake Eyes had retrieved the antidote and uses it on the Joes and Schnerr, curing them of the fast-acting virus.  Returning Schnerr to his daughter, the Joes help the two leave Mexico, since they now know too much about Cobra’s plans.

The Joes are starting their long trek out of the country, while Duke tries to find out more about Scarlett’s past, obviously clued in by the way she reacts to Kurt and his daughter.  She reveals that she “lost” her father, but just as she’s about to talk more about it, she intercepts a mysterious message.  Information that says the Anaconda Strain was accidentally created while testing the regenerative qualities of reptilian DNA on “Patient X” in the United States.  Just as the Joes decide to try and track down “Patient X”, the lab rat that’s been traveling with them once again succumbs to the Anaconda Strain!  The rat is a carrier, and most likely, so is Kurt, who is currently about to fly to Los Angeles.  The Joes spin around and take the Coyote onto the runway, chasing down the plane, about to take off.    Scarlett and Snake Eyes get on board the plane as it takes off just in time for Kurt to start coming down with symptoms.  Determined to save the people on the plane and his daughter, Schnerr ejects himself from the cabin!  Snake Eyes acts fast and leaps out after him, parachute in hand.  The attempted rescue goes sideways as the parachute tears away, but Duke comes flying in on the jetpack and saves them both.

Up in the plane, the Anaconda Strain has already begun infected the passengers, and Scarlett must think quickly.  She hooks the antidote up to the oxygen supply and it flows into the air masks within the plane, saving the passengers.

Back down on the ground, we see Kurt Schnerr, more determined than ever to find a way to cure himself…he sequesters himself in an “Airtight” hazard suit and swears to his daughter that he will do whatever possible to cure himself.

Episode Review

I am truly astounded.  Truly.  It seems like it has taken so long for Hasbro’s media division to find the perfect balance between kid’s show, G.I. Joe spirit and captivating story, but they have certainly found it with G.I. Joe: Renegades.  Wow.

This episode was fantastic.  Start to finish, pure old school G.I. Joe love pretty much every step of the way.  In the first few minutes we met Airtight and Dr. Venom, and they’re working on the perfect Cobra type of experiment.  And come on…with the first words out of Monev’s mouth, I knew I was in for a treat.  Ben Linus of Lost fame doing Venom’s voice?  HELL YEAH.  It worked absolutely perfectly.

The episode was quick paced, exceptionally well written and featured an awesome cast of characters…though I could have used a few more.  Scarlett’s deep-rooted desire to save Schnerr and the beginning of the revelations about her past were perfectly intertwined.  Who wants to bet Cobra was responsible for her father’s death?  For folks who aren’t familiar with the history, Monev seemed genuine, which made his turn all the more shocking.  But the story behind his double-cross was pure evil Dr. Venom and Cobra perfection.  Using Schnerr as a test subject to they could unleash a virus on the world, only to offer the antidote to the highest bidder?  Nasty, evil, and straight out of the Cobra handbook.  Loved it.

We didn’t see many Cobra Troopers (with the exception of the dozens of scientists scattered around) but the story and the pacing kept things flowing and literally kept me on the edge of my seat.  It’s not often that a kid’s cartoon keeps me this entranced, but the whole sequence with Schnerr ejecting himself out of the plane with Snake Eyes and Duke coming to the rescue?  Awesome.  Hell, the whole contaminated plane portion of the episode was fantastic writing and executed perfectly.  I love the Airtight twist, too…the idea that he has to wear that suit or risk contaminating other people…such a cool twist and a great angle to the character.

And what about Patient X?  There is an excellent discussion thread on HissTank.com about just who Patient X might be, and the more I think of it, the more convinced I am that the consensus of that thread is correct.  I won’t reveal my thoughts here, but the whole angle with the “regenerative properties” of the reptile DNA only seems to further the thought processes there.

Most amazing to me with this episode, was probably just how captivating and exciting it was without a whole lot of “action”.  Sure, there were shots of the Joes running and blasting at automated weapons, but by and large it was mostly them fighting a “virus” which hardly could be considered must-see TV.  Somehow they made it that way, though.

This episode was terrific.

Of course, it had the potential to be even more terrific if the series was getting more love than just Season One.  Once again I find myself somewhat disgruntled by the fact that I know this show ends in another 7 episodes, and once again an episode comes and goes without any major revelations or story progression.  Granted, we are moving towards “Patient X” but really, I would hope to feel some sort of story culmination by now and we just don’t seem to be there yet.  If we were getting more than one season, it wouldn’t be a big deal, because you could hope they would have something to build upon, but as it stands, I just get nervous to see how this all will play out.

I will try very hard not to beat that dead horse, though, and just enjoy the episodes for what they are.  And they are fantastic.

Screenshot Gallery

Episode Details

Original Air Date: May 7, 2011
Writer: Bill Wolkoff
Director: Kevin Altieri

Easter Eggs

  1. The Cobra Scientist Kurt Schnerr is none other than classic G.I. Joe character Airtight.  He even wears a yellow and green uniform at the end in tribute to the original character.
  2. Schnerr’s partner Dr. Monev is inspired by and most likely is in fact the classic Marvel Comics character “Dr. Venom”.  If you flip the last name around, you can see for yourself, and a recent release of a Dr. Venom figure by the Collectors’ Club states his last name as “Monev”.
  3. The title of this episode is a tribute to Michael Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain” about an extraterrestrial virus that rampages through the human population