Good Friday? This is going to be an incredible Friday! Why? Because I will be seeing the new G.I.Joe: Retaliation movie! In honor of this sure to be instant classic, I decided to review another episode of the classic cartoon series.
I’d provide a basic rundown of the show, but you probably either already know what it is about, or you stopped reading at the beginning.
For those of you who need a refresher, here are my first two episode reviews:
I was having a hard time deciding which episode to review as there are so many classics to choose from. Then I asked myself: What was the most memorable episode? Which one stands out in my mind for its pure insane ridiculousness?
And so, here is The Viper is Coming!
We start out at the house of Barbecue, the G.I.Joe firefighter. He’s throwing a party and invited all the Joes over. Naturally, they showed up in full uniform.
Being in uniform doesn’t stop the Joes from having a good time. Just check out Gung Ho getting funky on the dance floor:
When the Joes party, they party hard. As a result, Barbecue’s place is getting a little trashed. For instance, Roadblock is playing basketball, and he gets tripped and falls through a window.
For some reason, Barbecue actually seems kind of happy about the destruction, and declares the party to be a success.
I guess it makes sense. Remember back in high school when a not-so-popular kid would throw a party and all the cool kids showed up? Sure, the house might have gotten trashed, but it was still nice to be the center of attention for once.
The team’s firefighter probably isn’t exactly the most popular member of the team, so he’s probably glad that his teammates even bothered to come by.
The hilarity is interrupted when Barbecue receives a phone call from a mysterious caller named “The Viper.” The Viper says he’s coming at “575.”
Naturally, the Joes suspect that this is a Cobra plot. Scarlett decides that Cobra is challenging the Joes to figure out where they will strike next. Cobra’s tendency to sabotage their own plans is so well-known that the Joes automatically assume that Cobra will do something self-defeating.
Back at Joe headquarters, Barbecue comes up with the brilliant idea that “575” might be a set of coordinates. Lady Jaye plugs them into the computer and discovers that the coordinates are for a location in Antarctica. For some reason, she assumes that this is where Cobra will be making their next attack.
Why would she make that assumption? What the hell is there to attack in Antarctica? Heck, I’d say if Cobra wanted to attack Antarctica they’d be better off just letting them.
Barbecue is upset because he thinks this means that he’ll have to go into the cold weather. Why would Barbecue expect to be sent on this mission? There are about a thousand Joes on the roster, and Barbecue might be the least qualified to go on a mission to the South Pole.
It’s questionable why the Joes even need a firefighter on the team at all. I suppose that there’s a lot of flammable material at their base, so he could possibly come in handy there. But what is he going to accomplish by going on this mission? Make sure a Cobra base DOESN’T burn down?
Despite having no logical reason to do so, Barbecue and the rest of the Joes head on down to Antarctica. In a rare moment of clarity, Roadblock asks what Cobra could possibly be after in Antarctica. While he should have raised this complaint long before they sent a team halfway across the planet, it’s nice to see that someone is actually showing some evidence of thought.
While searching the area, Alpine decides that a random snow-covered rock would look good in his collection. Conveniently, this rock triggers a hydraulic lift which lowers one of the Joes’ vehicles to a hidden underground Cobra base.
The three Joes inside the vehicle – Lady Jaye, Gung Ho, and Barbecue – are greeted by a robot who welcomes them to Cobra’s Rest and Recreation base.
The Joes head into the “Cobra Commander Gymnasium” where they find a bunch of Cobra soldiers working out and playing pool. Naturally, they’re all still wearing their helmets and face masks.
When the Cobras notice the three intruders, how do you think they react? By sounding an alert that will bring armed guards to the scene…or by throwing pool balls and dumbbells at the Joes?
Despite being shown with guns just a minute earlier, none of the Joes think to use them. Sure, it might be cold-blooded to shoot unarmed men, but the threat alone might make the Cobras give up. As we’ll see a little later, it doesn’t take much to make Cobra surrender.
Instead, the Joes use “alternative” methods of combat. These include:
- Throwing pool balls back at the Cobras (Fight fire with fire!)
- Wrapping a few Cobras up in a volleyball net (As seen in previous episodes, nobody in the G.I. Joe universe is capable of escaping from a giant net.)
- Having Barbecue spray his fire extinguisher on the floor, causing the Cobras to slip into the pool. (What do you know? It WAS useful having a firefighter around!)
The Cobras correctly assume that there may be more Joes located outside. They send out a battalion of tanks and jets and take the revolutionary step of actually firing their weapons. While the weapons are completely ineffective, this is at least a step in the right direction.
This made me laugh: The Joe tanks can shoot torpedos that ride along the ground on skis. Naturally, these are known as “snowpedoes!”
Even with the advantage of snowpedos, it seems like the Joes are outmatched due to the Cobras actually having air support. While it hasn’t happened yet, you have to think that given enough chances, even Cobra pilots will eventually hit their targets.
Not to worry, the Joes had a full squad of Skystrikers waiting in the area, and they make quick work of the Cobra aircraft.
Let’s review: Based on an anonymous phone call, the Joes sent a whole squadron – including a fleet of Skystrikers – down to Antarctica. As a taxpayer, I shudder to think how much this mission cost. I kind of wish that they hadn’t stumbled onto a Cobra base, as this is only going to encourage them.
Once the Cobras outside have been neutralized, Scarlett leads a team into the base where they run into a room full of armed Cobra soldiers. The Cobras were expecting them and had established superior position, yet as soon as Scarlett screams “Drop your weapons,” they drop their weapons and surrender.
See what I mean about the Cobras giving up at the slightest opportunity?
Scarlett wonders why Cobra sent a message tipping off the location of their base. The Cobra in charge denies that anyone in Cobra sent the message.
By the way, this is the guy in charge:
The Joes gather back at Barbecue’s place trying to get to the bottom of the Viper mystery.
It’s noteworthy that despite not being featured in the episode, Flint still manages to do something dickish. While all the other Joes are trying to solve the mystery, he falls asleep.
Barbecue receives another call from “The Viper” announcing that he’s “coming on Friday. West Corner.”
Scarlett uses that big brain of hers and deduces that “West Corner” means West Point. On Friday, the academy will be holding a graduation ceremony with several high-ranking military officials in attendance.
At West Point, security appears to be high with several tanks bordering the ceremony grounds. Scarlett still feels the need to tell one of the tank drivers to “be on guard.” I guess she thought they were just chilling out and relaxing.
Hey Scarlett, just because your team spends most of its time hanging out at someone’s house playing basketball, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the country’s military is undisciplined.
Naturally, the tanks are all being driven by Cobra soldiers led by the nefarious Major Bludd!
Despite the presence of added security, the Cobras were somehow able to infiltrate West Point and commandeer a platoon of tanks. It isn’t clear how they managed to do this since they weren’t even wearing disguises. (This is especially surprising because Cobras love wearing disguises)
If Cobra displayed this kind of competence more often, they might actually win some of these conflicts.
Now that they’ve been discovered, the Cobra tanks head towards the bleachers so that they can capture some of the VIPs in attendance. All that stands between the tanks and the bleachers are the academy cadets, and they look ready to crap themselves.
The Joes jump into their jeeps and pursue. They begin firing their weapons at the tanks, showing no concern that they were firing in the direction of the bleachers. If there was any indication that Joe or Cobra lasers actually hurt when they hit people, the death toll might be catastrophic.
During the battle, Scarlett gets thrown from her jeep and is accosted by a Cobra soldier. Things look bleak until the cadets actually decide to do something and tackle the Cobra. So maybe there is hope for the future of our military.
Surrounded by the Joes and cadets, the Cobras surrender, much to the pleasure of the crowd. Yes, despite the imminent threat to their well-being, everyone decided to stay in the stands and watch the battle.
Later on, Scarlett and Barbecue are back at Barbecue’s house where she complains that “today has been too much” and she’s going straight home and to bed. So why did she even stop at Barbecue’s house? Did I miss the scene where Joe headquarters was destroyed and Barbecue’s place became their new base?
Before she can leave, the phone rings again! Barbecue doesn’t want to answer because he’s “had it with phones today.”
Are they implying that this all happened today? Okay, maybe the West Point battle happened earlier that day, but the Antarctica battle? Either the Joes have some sort of teleportation device or the writers aren’t too good with geography.
I’m not sure why Barbecue doesn’t want to answer the phone. The calls have been providing them with key Cobra intelligence. Isn’t that a good thing?
Scarlett answers the phone and sure enough, it’s the Viper. The Viper tells them that he “comes tomorrow. Top floor first.” When she questions who he is, he merely mysteriously answers “I AM THE VIPER.”
In an insane display of deductive reasoning, Scarlett suspects that the Viper was referring to the Extensive Enterprises building since it is the tallest building in the world.
Were the writers watching episodes of the old Batman show before writing this episode? This feels like an unused plot from an episode where he fought the Riddler.
Longtime viewers will recognize that the Extensive Enterprises company is actually a Cobra front. I thought it had been established that the Joes knew that too, but I guess not.
We see the top floor of the building and – hey hey! It’s Destro! Business just picked up!
Destro is accusing Major Bludd of being the Viper. Bludd claims innocence since he was almost captured during the West Point battle.
How the hell did Bludd avoid being captured? Cobra was surrounded, and there should have been no way for him to escape. If I was Destro, I’d be suspicious too.
It is worth noting that the top floor office is a mess and Tomax and Xamot are present, but wearing ragged, torn up suits. There is no explanation provided, and at this point, I wondered if my DVD player skipped a whole section of this episode. Sadly, it did not.
While the rest of the team waits outside, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Barbecue enter the building to check things out. They are riding the elevator to the top floor when it begins to fill with gas.
Remember how I questioned the wisdom of bringing a firefighter on missions? Well, this seems like a perfect time for Barbecue to shine. He’s got a helmet, and presumably an oxygen supply. That gas shouldn’t have any effect on him, right?
Wrong! Barbecue breathes in the gas and gets knocked out like the others. Congrats, Barbecue. You are officially useless.
If you’re a terrorist organization that is running a legitimate business front, how do you react when some soldiers come to investigate the building? By hiding all evidence since the soldiers have no real legal right to conduct a search? Or by gassing and capturing the soldiers, giving the rest of the group outside a reason to come charging into the building, weapons ablaze?
I know a lot of cartoons make claims that they provide educational value. PSAs notwithstanding, I don’t recall G.I.Joe ever making such a claim. That’s a very good thing, because the only lesson they seem to be teaching is that any problem can be solved by blindly charging in with weapons firing.
Keep in mind that as far as the Joes know, this is a legitimate corporate building. Even if there were Cobras present, there were likely to be several innocent bystanders in the lobby. Between this and the West Point battle, the Joes have shown terrifyingly little regard for public safety.
Fortunately, the only person in the lobby was a shocked looking security guard. And as it turns out, that was really Zartan in disguise. But the Joes didn’t know that! For all they knew, they were firing lasers at some poor old guy just trying to earn a pension.
Sigh…but it was Zartan. And of course there was a platoon of Cobra soldiers hidden behind him. Once again, I wish the Joes weren’t receiving positive reinforcement for their recklessness.
The Joes show such little regard for the Cobras ability to shoot them that they don’t even bother taking cover. I’m wondering if the lasers they’re shooting actually have any effect on human beings.
Meanwhile, in the penthouse, Destro is interrogating Scarlett, Snake Eyes and Barbecue about the Viper. The Joes don’t seem too concerned, probably because Cobra’s prisoners have a 100% escape rate, usually due to some incompetence on the part of Cobra.
Right on cue, a Cobra helicopter fires a missile into the side of the building. In his defense, he was aiming for the G.I.Joe helicopter, but considering that Cobras almost always miss, he really should have held his fire.
The explosion gives the Joes a chance to escape. In the resulting confusion, Snake Eyes demonstrates some badassery by knocking Destro the f*** out.
In the lobby, despite the ineffectiveness of both sides’ weapons, the Cobras decide that the battle is going the Joes’ way. Zartan makes his escape by running against a wall and camouflaging himself. The rest of the Cobras do what they do best: Surrender.
Once the battle is over (with the high-ranking Cobras somehow escaping), the Joes question their prisoners about the identity of the Viper.
They are inexplicably anxious to find out who the Viper is. It seems to really bother them that someone inside Cobra is supplying them with crucial information. THIS MYSTERIOUS INFORMANT WHO IS HELPING US WIN MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS! Fortunately for them, nobody in Cobra seems to have any clue as to who the Viper really is.
Later on, the Joes are back at their new headquarters (aka Barbecue’s house) to await another phone call from the Viper. It’s worth noting that they’ve made no effort to hook up any monitoring equipment or trace the call.
Finally, they get the call that they were expecting. The Viper calls and tells Barbecue that he will be there at noon. The Joes react by setting up a large defensive barricade around Barbecue’s place complete with giant laser cannon.
The Joes are probably ecstatic that they’ll get yet another chance to endanger civilians.
At noon, an old man with a thick foreign accent shows up with a bucket and announces himself as “The Viper.” It was just the window washer, and the Joes misheard him due to his accent.
The Joes get a hearty chuckle at the misunderstanding, comfortable in the knowledge that they just wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.
While they got a hearty laugh out of it, this “Viper” affair was probably the beginning of the end for the G.I.Joe team.
The government is constantly looking for ways to get the budget under control, and it is inevitable that someone would eventually turn their attention to military spending.
The Joes have made themselves a very inviting target for budget cuts by the way they act like an undisciplined rogue unit:
- They fly off to foreign lands despite the lack of any real evidence of a threat.
- They send unqualified team members on missions.
- They have a state of the art headquarters which they don’t even use, preferring to hang out at a firehouse instead.
- They show absolutely no regard for public safety.
Considering Cobra’s incompetence and tendency towards self-sabotage, it is really difficult to justify G.I.Joe’s existence.
It wouldn’t be a G.I.Joe episode review if I didn’t finish up with a look at one of their PSAs. Since he was featured so heavily in this episode, I chose one that stars Barbecue:
Did there used to be random fire alarms set up in the middle of the street? It seems like they’re asking for some false alarms by placing them there.
The one boy is about to show what a cool guy he is by pulling the alarm. Fortunately, Barbecue is there to stop him!
I think this illustrates just how unimportant Barbecue is to the team. While it is possible that he just happened to be in the area – in full firefighting gear – it is much more likely that the other Joes assigned him there simply because they had nothing else for him to do.
Barbecue: Hey, Duke! Got any missions that you want me to go on?”
Duke: (Sigh) No, we still don’t have any missions that require a firefighter.
Barbecue: I see. Well, have there been any fires in the base?
Duke: Once again, no. There are still no fires.
Barbecue: Oh, that’s too bad. Well, is there anything else I can do?
Duke: (Thinks for a few seconds) There is a fire alarm set up in the street, and somebody needs to make sure that it doesn’t get pulled as a prank.
Barbecue: I’m on it!
Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!