Episode One – The Descent (Part 1)

Episode Synopsis

A collection of military operatives escorts an intelligence agent in an investigation of Cobra Industries, a publicly visible pharmaceutical company with a shiny reputation.  But something sinister lurks under the surface, forcing these operatives to go “Renegade”.

Offering no hesitation, the episode thrusts us right into the middle of the action, as the familiar Cobra Industries promo is rudely interrupted by gunfire and before we can even catch our breath, the Joes and Cobra Troopers are in a pitched gunfight.

After a quick snippet of battle, we’re pressed 6 hours back in time and spend a chunk of the first episode getting introduced to these various military operatives.  Duke, Ripcord, Tunnel Rat, and Roadblock are all referred to by their file names, which was a nice touch (something this series already does better than the Rise of Cobra film did).

Immediately we get familiar with not only those Joe members, but also Lady Jaye, who has an instant chemistry with the rest of the team.

Intelligence Agent O’Hara is next to be introduced, and she bumps heads with Duke and you can tell there is some barely concealed disdain between her and the standard military folks.  They get their mission to Cobra Industries and proceed forth.

Cobra clearly isn’t expecting them, and when a minor confrontation explodes into gunfire, we get our first look at the mysterious Snake Eyes, who appears just in the nick of time to keep the team alive as they head for a secret sub-basement, which was a big reason why Scarlett was after them to begin with.

As this first episode progresses, we’re introduced to Baroness, General Abernathy and Adam DeCobray, and we start to get an idea of just how many layers this more modern Cobra organization has.

In the Cobra basement laboratory, they discover exactly what dirty secrets Cobra is hiding…secret genetic experiments enough to make skin crawl.  We also meet up with Dr. Brian Bender and his pet Bio-Vipers.  More gunfire takes place and the Joes manage to blow up the lab…  but not without a casualty.

With the lab destroyed and the team on the run, public perception of the battle has already turned decidedly in Cobra’s favor.  But Cobra’s reach isn’t just with the public…enlisting the help of a high ranking military official, Cobra tries to grab the Joes before they can even make their getaway, but unhappy with the service of their subordinate, The Baroness dispatches him with disturbing suddenness.

As the episode wraps, these Renegades seemingly have nowhere to turn, and nobody they can trust.  They are fugitives who have lost a man, and are in way over their head.  Not only that, but Scarlett’s apparent deception, leading them into the belly of the beast without so much of a warning, has already put the team against each other as well as against the world.

Episode Review

After months of speculation, endless discussion about the art style and animation, and we finally have something solid to base our thoughts on.  By the time episode one was over…  I thought it was pretty good.  Not terrific, but pretty good.

That’s not to say there was anything glaringly wrong with episode one…it was a pretty standard “set up” episode, introducing all of the characters to each other, getting everyone familiar and setting the scene.  I loved the dynamic between Scarlett and the rest of the team, and the way they integrated code-names into the soldiers was pretty good as well.  Tunnel Rat, Roadblock, and Ripcord end up having some form of comic relief without being childish or stupid, and there really is some nice chemistry between all of the various characters.

The designs of the Cobra Troopers are great.  I love that they explained why everyone is using lasers, and acted like it’s NOT standard issue.  Snake Eyes was a bad ass, leaping through Troopers and actually using his SWORD against the small team of Cobra operatives within the Pharmaceutical company.  That was a surprise.  Not only that, but Ripcord’s unexpected demise, and the surprising disintegration of Hidalgo are all clear indications that this is not your father’s G.I. Joe cartoon.  You wouldn’t see this level of violence in the Sunbow days, yet they manage to pull it off without over-the-top carnage or censor-defying bloodshed.

I also loved that Scarlett coerced the team into going into the Cobra lab without giving them the full details, obviously willing to bend the rules to get what she wants. Of course what she wants remains a mystery.

So why didn’t the episode blow me away?  Well, it left an excellent foundation to build on, but I wasn’t thrilled that the Bio-Viper played such a huge role.  It’s still so early in the series, I don’t want to start wondering about *insert your favorite character here* but as a starting point, it left me wanting a bit more.  But just a bit.

In the end, was I satisfied with what I saw so far?  Absolutely.  Was Renegades pretty much what I expected?  For sure.  Do I think it’s only going to get better?

Well, here’s the thing.  Even though I wasn’t knocked out by Episode One, that’s not to say it didn’t do its job.  I think the foundation is definitely here.  I think the universe they’re building has gotten off to a great start.  I’m loving all of the characterization, all of the voices, and the animation has looked really nice, at least to me.  The concerns about unrealistic proportions seem to be unfounded, and everyone looks very “human”.  So while, as a standalone episode, this left me wanting a little bit more, I think it does a fantastic job as a set up for this universe.  On to Episode Two…

Screenshot Gallery (Courtesy of HissTank.com)

Episode Details

Original Air Date: November 26th, 2010
Writer: Marty Isenberg & Henry Gilroy
Director: Randy Myers

Easter Eggs

  1. “Knowing is Half the Battle”, which is the slogan for Cobra Industries was also a well-known catch phrase from the 80’s Sunbow series.