Episode Eleven – The Homecoming (Part 1)

Episode Synopsis

(This Episode was originally aired as “Episode 6″, even though it’s actually “Episode 11″ in continuity)

It’s obvious from the beginning of this episode that the drama is going to be kicked up a notch.  Intercepting a communication identifying Duke’s family, the Joe team halts their current escape plan.  Though Scarlett isn’t sure she believes that Duke’s family is actually a target, Duke isn’t so sure.  While he takes off on a recently acquired motorcycle, the other Joes plan on infiltrating a Cobra Christmas Party in order to try and reveal their secret plans.  Duke arrives at his childhood home, and a brief flashback shows some of his high school years.

Using some unique infiltration techniques, the G.I. Joe team is soon inside the Cobra mansion, and inside their communications center.  Just at the right moment, Adam DeCobray broadcasts a statement to the attendants of the party, but a technical glitch affects the hologram…and Cobra Commander appears to be revealed.  The Baroness quickly cuts the communication, but the Joes have already seen it, and immediately begin attempting to download it to a hard drive.   Cobra agents are dispatched to stop the Joes, and they narrowly evade capture, going right through the front door and sneaking back into a Cobra Transport truck, slipping out right under Cobra’s nose.

Once again, we see Duke’s flashback, showing him playing football, and almost winning the state championship until he is tackled at the goal line by Flint…a tackle that injures the former star quarterback and completely changes his life.

In the present time, Duke runs into his kid brother on the football field…a kid named Vincent, which also seems to tie into the fact that Duke’s brother in the Sunbow era was Lt. Falcon (who’s first name is also Vincent).  A very cool link and an awesome tribute to the old school universe…something that not many folks would pick up on.

In the truck, the Joes are contacted by DeCobray/Cobra Commander himself, who offers an exchange.  The hard drive they stole for the lives of Duke’s parents.

Duke returns home just in time to see his parents captured.  Not willing to accept this event, he chases them down on his motorcycle and enacts a daring road rescue, freeing his parents and appropriating their transport.  The Joes head to the meeting point to make the exchange, and of course, it’s a trap.  Cobra immediately launches an arctic assault!

Fighting off some Cobra airborne drones, and troops on snowmobiles, the Joes meet up with Duke, who arrives just in the nick of time, after sending his parents to a safe location.

The Joes manage to pull a swerve on Cobra, and they all end up meeting together, trying to catch their breath.  However, the calm does not last long as Duke’s brother Vincent arrives…  with the government in tow.  Flint and Lady Jaye join them, and the Renegades are arrested.

To Be Continued…

Episode Review

When the shortly written synopsis for this two-parter was first revealed, I will admit that I was somewhat discouraged.  So far, Renegades has really been able to maintain a very serious tone, and while it effectively works humor into the series as necessary, by and large, its a fairly straight-shooting series.

A two-part installment about the Joes infiltrating a Cobra Industries Christmas Party?  Uhh…  thanks but no thanks.

Yeah, I was wrong.  Holy crap was I wrong.  Not only was this episode not your typical cheesy-humored fare, it was dramatic, action packed, and probably the most exciting episode to date.  Sure, there were elements of humor, especially with the Joes disguised as Santa and a pair of elves.  But the humor was well placed, well timed, and certainly did not detract from the level of drama and action prevalent throughout.

We also managed to find out a lot about Duke in this episode.  No longer is he the typical two-dimensional boy scout.  A highly regarded high school quarterback, he gets beaten by Flint’s team, their long time rivals.  And yeah, at first glance, the rivalry sounds forced…two long time Joe comrades who just happened to be football rivals?  Yeah, right.  But in truth, it goes much deeper than that.  When Flint injures Duke in the state championship, Duke’s scholarships all dry up.  No colleges are interested in him.  He’s reduced to a job at a fast food restaurant.  However, when Flint sees what position he suddenly is in, he has some sympathy, and talks up the Army.  Flint’s heading to West Point, and as he takes Duke past the Army recruiting office, he asks if he’s going to just stay in town his whole life.

It’s a fascinating dynamic.  Flint seems to be the driving force behind Duke joining the military…it goes beyond simply being high school football rivals.

Bringing “Vincent” into the whole thing as Duke’s brother is pure brilliance.  This kid is a spitting image, attitude-wise to the brash and resentful Falcon from the ’87 Sunbow film.  It’s so obvious that this is a tribute to that character (right down to the same first name) and I love it.  Add in the fact that Duke’s parents are BJ Ward and Michael Bell (Scarlett and Duke from the original Sunbow cartoon) and there are so many great “fanwanks” in here…  and I haven’t even gotten to the second installment yet.

The action is very well done.  No Bio-Vipers here, just simple human Cobra Troopers.  The animation is quite fluid and realistic.  I loved the slo-mo action of Snake Eyes kicking the Cobra Trooper off the snowmobile.  Everything just flows together.  The dialog is kid friendly, yet not dumbed down, and the action follows suit.

Fantastic, fantastic episode…and there is still another 30 minutes to go.

Screenshot Gallery (Courtesy of HissTank.com)

Episode Details

Original Air Date: December 24th, 2010
Writer: Marty Isenberg
Director: Kevin Altieri

Easter Eggs

  1. Duke’s father Max’s voice actor was Michael Bell, who played Duke in the 80’s Sunbow series
  2. Duke’s mother Connie’s voice actress was BJ Ward, who played Scarlett in the 80’s Sunbow series
  3. Duke’s father’s name was Max, which was also his name in the Devils’ Due America’s Elite series
  4. The logo on the helmet of Duke’s high school football team was reminiscent of the “Rise of Cobra” G.I. Joe logo
  5. Cobra’s delivery company, “ASP” is a snake themed name, and a tribute to the classic Cobra vehicle
  6. Duke’s little brother’s name is Vincent (or Vinnie) which is also the first name of Joe character Lt. Falcon.  In the Sunbow series, Lt. Falcon was Duke’s half-brother.