Episode Twenty – Prodigal

Episode Synopsis

Once the episode synopsis was posted for this episode on TV Guide and MSN TV, speculation immediately began…  who is Patient X?  There have been rumors and hypothoses, and tonight we find out for sure.

The episode begins with the Joes getting back on US soil thanks to an ambulance, some stolen uniforms, and their siren.  Scarlett has successfully decrypted the files she intercepted in Mexico, and the Joes are hot on the trail of Patient X, immediately approaching a run down hospital where he is apparently being held.

Making their way through a handful of Cobra Troopers, the Joes reach the mysterious room and find…


Yes, the hypotheses are correct, Ripcord is the mysterious “Patient X”.  Obviously surprised, the Joes nonetheless elect to break him out, even though at this point Private Weems doesn’t remember much beyond his time in the hospital bed.  Tunnel Rat seems a bit uncertain, but loading Weems in an ambulance, the Joes take off, under fire from Cobra Troopers.  Meanwhile, we see Cobra Commander, absolutely infuriated that Patient X has been liberated…and it would also appear that Cobra Commander is not quite himself.  Choking and coughing, for the first time in the series, we see the Commander don his full battle helmet facemask, with the purpose of alleviating whatever ails him.  Mindbender elects to “road test” Patient X in an attempt to figure out if he will help Cobra Commander, and also to take out the Joes while they’re at it.

With Ripcord in tow, the Joes have stopped to take a dinner break.  Scarlett is of the opinion that he should go back to Abernathy, but the rest of the team isn’t quite convinced.  Later that night, Ripcord wakes from restful sleep with nightmares and dashes off into the woods, with Duke hot on his heels.  Duke doesn’t get far before he comes face to face with a Bio-Viper, and he fights him to a standstill.  The Bio-Viper disappears, and Duke finds Weems lying not far away.

While Tunnel Rat grows suspicious, the rest of the team just wants to make tracks to avoid another Cobra assault.  A Cobra Drone is sweeping towards them, so they board the Coyote to leave, and quickly regret that move, as Ripcord suddenly transforms into the Bio-Viper himself!

As the Joes scramble, Tunnel Rat destroys the drone with the Coyote cannons, and Ripcord changes back into human form, completely forgetting what had just happened.  Checking over Private Weems, they notice a recent scar, which seems to indicate a control chip in his head, triggering the transformations.  They all agree that Rip should be given back to the military for safe keeping, and Ripcord is more than willing to go along for the ride.  Calling in the government, soon enough, military helicopters are swooping in over the trees, with Flint, Lady Jaye, and Wild Bill leading the charge.  However as the choppers come in, Cobra Drones are also arriving.

Duke straps on his jetpack and takes off, intercepting the Drones and taking most of them out.  One chopper pilot, Sikorski, branches off to see what’s going on.  Flint and Lady Jaye have Ripcord in their copter, and Cobra triggers another transformation.  Weems takes out Flint and leaps from the vehicle, growing wings under his arms and gliding through the air…right towards Duke.  They both crash to the ground and tussle, with Duke encouraging Ripcord to fight Cobra’s control.  As Ripcord fights back, we flash back to what really happened during the explosion…  Ripcord, essentially surrounded by Bio-Vipers, is caught in the explosion and encased in Bio-Viper material.  The explosion fuses him to this material, and Cobra elects to use him as a lab rat to test the potential for human/Bio-Viper bonded DNA.

Pushing himself through the flashback, Ripcord fights the Cobra control chip, much to Cobra’s dismay.  The Coyote swings through and picks up Weems and Duke, with government choppers hot on their heels.  Sikorski has a shot, but Lady Jaye calls him back, concerned that Flint is injured and needs an EVAC.  Begrudgingly, Sikorski returns to the group and the Joes narrowly escape.  It is decided that not even the military is a safe place for Ripcord, so the Joes take him back under their wing to try and further understand how he can fight Cobra’s control.

Back at Cobra HQ, the Commander is further furious, and threatens to feed Dr. Mindbender to Serpentor…  Mindbender reminds his boss that he is his only chance at recovery, and that he should be concerned about his underlings seeing him as weak…  Cobra Commander zaps him with a charge from his staff, but reluctantly agrees, warning him that failure to recapture Patient X will potentially cost them both their lives.

Episode Review

Okay, I’ll admit it…I’d gotten myself all keyed up that perhaps Patient X really WASN’T Ripcord, and part of me is a bit disappointed that it was the obvious choice.  The writers of G.I. Joe: Renegades have proven to me already that they are capable of thinking outside the box and adding some twists and turns, but this particular twist was seen miles away.

That being said, even though Ripcord was the most annoying character, I found myself not minding that he returned.  Granted, his death was a high point moment of drama in the series, and his return does understate that somewhat, but it makes sense within the progression of the story.  Yes, his transformation into the Bio-Viper was also somewhat transparent, and as the episode went on, I kept on expecting him to maybe die again…but it was not to be.  Not because I hate the character, but just because I wanted that moment of dramatic tension back.

Ripcord immediately had a good rapport with the team, and I really like his conflicted nature.  He wants to fit in with the Joes, but he knows how dangerous he is and how he is now totally an outsider, which is a pretty powerful piece of writing.  The action throughout this issue was fast-paced, exciting, and well choreographed.  I like how the Joes are slowly building up their little motor pool with the Coyote, Snake Eyes’ motorcycle, and now Duke’s jetpack.  Very neat.

By far the best part of this episode was Cobra Commander.  We see shades of the Rise of Cobra version with his apparent respiratory issues, though there is no indication that this continuity falls anywhere near the Rise of Cobra one.  One extremely positive result of these health issues is that we see his full-faced battle mask for the first time here, and I LOVE that.  I never had major issues with his half-face mask, but the full mask is fantastic.

I also absolutely love how ruthless he is…without hesitation he was ready to feed Mindbender to his snake, but Mindbender made valid excuses as to why he shouldn’t…it did absolutely nothing to weaken the Commander’s spirit, though, and I continue to marvel at how insidious this Cobra Commander is.  A very far cry from the over saturated idiocy from the Sunbow days.

We also got a nice cameo in this episode by “Sikorski”, a pilot working alongside Flint and Lady Jaye, who of course, is really Lift Ticket.  They gave him some great personality even with only a few seconds of screen time, and it seems evident that Flint’s team is really growing into a force to be reckoned with.  A team that certainly seems likely to morph into the fully fledged G.I. Joe team down the road.  Too bad the show won’t be on the air to showcase that.

Screenshot Gallery

Episode Details

Original Air Date: May 14th, 2011
Writer: Andrew R. Robinson
Director: Scooter Tidwell

Easter Eggs

  1. Helicopter pilot “Sikorski” who works for the Government, is Victor Sikorski, also known as “Lift Ticket”
  2. Cobra Commander wears a full face battle helmet, which is an homage to his original mask from the 80’s