Welcome to the thrilling conclusion of our dive into the original mini-series that ended up being the springboard for GI Joe becoming a full-on phenomenon in the mid-80s! It’s been a very fun to look back and watch these episodes for the first time in decades and I’m sure the closer will deliver today.
I’m not even just saying this stuff to kiss the people at Hasbro’s ass either. I mean, if they want to send me some of those new Classified Series figures to review on my YouTube channel that would be great, but I’ve already been opening my wallet a bit for those anyway. (You should too. They are really spectacular.)
Back to today: we’re in the final chapter of this intro and the Joes, despite Scarlett being kidnapped by Destro, feel like they finally have a shot of being able to defeat Cobra by having collecting all three of the necessary catalytic elements needed by Dr. Vandermeer to power his own M.A.S.S. Device.
It’s high stakes! High octane! High energy! And it starts now!
Episode 5: The M.A.S.S. Device, Part 5: A Stake in the Serpent’s Heart
Original Air Date: September 16, 1983
We pick up where we left off: with Destro and Scarlett hurtling to their doom after Scarlet had used her crossbow to knock out the controls of Destro’s sky ship. Destro is pinned to wall and unable to move to attempt to ignite the balance controls so Scarlett goes (Mia) HAMM and kicks her crossbow to Destro telling him to use her tractor arrow to pull himself back to the control panel so he’s able to right the ship and deliver him, his prisoner and the element back to Cobra Temple.
Destro turns Scarlett over to be imprisoned and is greeted by the Baroness who tells him that things have not gone well at home since he went out for smokes. She informs him of Cobra Commander’s failed attempt to destroy New York City and Big Daddy D is none too pleased about the Commander’s loss of credibility in the eyes of the public as well as his waste of the elements that they did have. Destro’s had it with Commander and tells him he’ll be taking full authority from now on because the Cobra leader is a royal boob.
Scarlett is thrown down a flight of stairs by some Cobra Trooper and suffers a broken spine in four places. She’s alive, but only momentarily and clings to her final breaths before being found at the bottom of the staircase by Selina, the slave girl, who holds Scarlett’s nose closed out of compassion to let her die peacefully.
What? You believed that? C’mon, now. Yeah, these maniacs threw her down a stone staircase, but she just no-sold it and dusted herself off like she was Taz in his ECW heyday.
She is greeted by Selina the slave girl who immediately takes Scarlett for a Cobra spy. Scarlett is able to convince her they’re on the same team once she notices Duke’s ring on Selina and they share a girl’s moment where they chat about a boy. Then, to prove their allegiance to sisterhood, they karate chop furniture.
That last part is not made up.
Destro, in his new role as Cobra leader, becomes immediately frustrated with not being feared by the world so he decides to show his newfangled power by shooting off the M.A.S.S. Device which is exactly why he got mad at and then usurped Cobra Commander’s lead. GI Joe, always paying attention, sees this bolt of energy being shot into the sky and knocks it away by using a blast from their own M.A.S.S. Device. There’s reason to celebrate, but Duke tells his team to pipe down because they still have to rescue Scarlett, but can’t until he remembers where Cobra HQ is.
Speaking of Cobra HQ, Scarlett and Selina have teamed up in freeing the other slaves in an attempt to overthrow Cobra, but their little mutiny is immediately squished out. Scarlett and Selina are then shackled in the dungeon and now can only hope that this idiot Duke can fucking remember anything about the location of Cobra Temple. Is it too much to ask where they fucking found him when he was unconscious and brought back to base? Odds are, it wasn’t very far from the super secret Cobra base and you were probably in close enough proximity to look up and see a giant Cobra logo carved in stone somewhere. But that’s me applying logic to the illogical.
Doc gets the bright idea that they should dunk Duke in a sensory deprivation tank to try to jog his memory. We see clips of Duke as a kid protecting the weak from bullies and then slightly older Duke playing football and being a gymnast and dating girls and…oh, yeah: BEING FUCKING CAPTURED BY COBRA! Glad all we had to do was get through Duke studying by lamp light to get there.
They see the clip of Duke giving Selina his GI Joe ring and it’s Doc’s “eureka” moment. The ring has special circuits inside and they can lock on to it like a tracking device and starting knocking on Cobra’s door. Shit is fucking on now. The Joes use the power of their own M.A.S.S. Device to transport themselves right outside Cobra Temple and the battle has been waged! We get a pretty fun and different type of fighting sequence on the side of a mountain as the Joes try to climb it to get into Cobra’s base and gives us some cool visuals such as tanks climbing the mountain on a lift with something similar to metal spider legs that dig in, lift higher and then continue to climb. It’s fun.
Obviously, the Joes get there and Cobra Commander, viewing this from the balcony with the Baroness at his side, immediately begins blaming Destro’s leadership for this, but thankfully he has a backup plan: giant Cobra robots which can probably be compared to the Sentinels in X-Men only with a Cobra motif. They get a little shine, but Snake Eyes has some “magnetic grenades” that absolutely decimate the robots rather quickly. The Commander decides it’s time to flee and pushes the Baroness out of his way so he can get a head start.
Honestly, I don’t blame him. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.
The Joes rescue Scarlett and Selina and begin making their way through the headquarters to chase down and round up all the Snakes they can. They finally find Destro who’s now joined by the apparently not fully-fleeing Cobra Commander. The devious duo barricades themselves in the room with the M.A.S.S. Device and – instead of beaming themselves out – Destro aims the device at the Earth’s core and runs off to save himself while the Commander is left alone to incur the wrath of the on-rushing GI Joe team. The Joes see the device pointed at the center of the Earth and Gung-Ho makes the executive decision to just start shooting at the machine which, rather than blow it up, seems to just cause a short-circuit and stop it from destroying the whole planet. Yo Joe!
They round up all the Cobra minions they can including one Cobra Commander who swears his revenge while being led away. One item remains outstanding and that’s Destro who was able to snag a copter and head for the hills while also swearing his revenge. I believe them both. They said it with conviction and if they believe it, so will I.
In the meantime, GI Joe has won the day and put a capper on this wonderful introduction into a new wave of American pop culture.
When people like me look back and wax nostalgic about the 80s cartoons and toys they grew up with, this mini-series feels like a perfect encapsulation of every reason why we do. Yes, it’s silly, it’s corny, it’s – at times – simply ridiculous, but it’s supposed to be. We loved the characters, the action, the swearing of revenge, the absurdity of nobody ever getting shot, but somehow accepting that it could happen and, of course, the toys that came out of this allowing us to create our episodes at home when we couldn’t watch the show because DVDs and on-demand and streaming services wouldn’t come around for decades.
This was a wonderful look back on something that has personal meaning for me and to have it still be something I can enjoy and watch fondly is such a fucking win. So many times you’ll look back and the things you loved as a kid and come away with the bitter-beer face saying, “Eeek, this is not very good.” Trust me, I’ve reviewed countless shows and episodes on this site that are forever ruined for me now. But GI Joe is not one of them. This five-part series was packed with everything I remember and loved about it and didn’t disappoint.
As I’ve said during the week, I don’t know how it would hold up if I continued to watch into the regular syndicated series as the tropes could become tiresome and boring in a non-regimented setting outside of a mini-series, but for now, this was great and if you have the time and have debated watching, do yourself the favor and watch. It’s good.
Main Man Standings:
Obviously, I think I liked it based on the above, so – boom – QUADRUPLE MAIN MAN! Four stars for what was a fitting and deserving conclusion to a nice week of solid storytelling. Good stuff.
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