The GeeksverseGI Joe: Renegades episode 5 (“The Return of the Arashikage, Part 2″) review

GI Joe: Renegades episode 5 (“The Return of the Arashikage, Part 2″) review
Published on Monday, December 20, 2010 by

Okay, so last week, I declined to give a verdict regarding the fourth episode of GI Joe: Renegades, the first part of a two-part story, the reasoning being that it would ultimately be more fair to give a verdict for the two-parter as a whole. Things weren’t looking so good last week, however. I felt that the quality of the animation was not up to the standard set by the first three episodes of the series, the story (such as it was) struck me as trite and uninteresting, and the new designs for the characters of Storm-Shadow and Jinx looked uninspired.

Was the overall story/animation redeemed by the two-parter’s second half?

Well, yes and no. On one hand, the writers failed to salvage the already shaky plot established last week. If anything, the story descended further into pablum with the employment of so many contrived story situations and plot devices, you’d think they were deliberately channeling O. Henry or something. I mean, I’m not expecting Masterpiece Theatre or anything like that, but neither do I want a story that makes the act of suspending one’s disbelief a chore. I want to be emotionally invested in the drama surrounding Storm-Shadow, Snake-Eyes, and Jinx, but it’s hard to do that when the most pivotal element of that drama, Jinx’s doubts about Snake-Eyes’ innocence with regards to her father’s death, stands on the flimsiest of grounds. If knowing for sure whether or not he was responsible for her father’s death was that important to Jinx, why didn’t she ask Snake-Eyes about it before in all the months or years (presumably) that Snake-Eyes has been training her in secret in the woods? So what if Snake-Eyes can’t talk? He can’t write down a few sentences explaining to Jinx that he was actually giving the Hard Master an emergency tracheostomy when he appeared to be slitting his throat? No pen and paper in the forest? What, he couldn’t scribble it out in the dirt or carve it on a tree? Or is he illiterate now, too? To be blunt about it, the two-part story hinges on a rather insipid plot contrivance that is very, very inconsistent with the more psychologically realistic tone set in the writing of the first three episodes.

On the other hand, the fight sequences between Snake-Eyes and Storm-Shadow were some of the best action scenes we’ve seen in the series so far, at least matching the quality of that first firefight against Cobra during the series premiere. I’d even go so far to say that this episode had some of the best martial arts fight sequences I’ve seen in an episodic, weekly, made-for-American TV animated series since Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender ended two years ago. Figure rendering was more consistent this time around compared to the previous episode, with the returning members of the original cast looking more like the way they did earlier in the series in terms of internal and external proportions and for some reason I’m not sure of at the time of this writing, even the Storm-Shadow and Jinx designs didn’t bother me as much, although that could probably just be because I’ve grown inured to them after re-watching this episode and the last for the purpose of reviewing them.

So where does that leave us? The unresolved plot threads regarding Jinx and Storm-Shadow fill me with apprehension for their future appearances on the show. I’d rather just forget about the silly business with the Hard Master’s assassination and the absurd plot the writers have built around it to generate a forced and transparent sense of drama but I’m certain it will come up again sooner than later. This week’s strong technical animation showing still leaves me more optimistic than pessimistic about the show’s future episodes, though (but just barely).

The Verdict: The Return of the Arashikage features a hackneyed plot with more holes in it than a slice of Black Diamond Swiss, the introduction of a pair of largely uninspired designs in Jinx and Storm-Shadow, and ends with the potential for more of the same in the future. But it’s still early in the series, and the fact that there were around twenty minutes of some seriously top-flight made-for-TV animation buried in the 44 minutes of dreck that was The Return of the Arashikage fills me with a measured sense of hope for the future of the show. I wouldn’t recommend watching the entire two-parter, but episode 5 features some thrilling moments that are quite enjoyable when viewed out of the story’s context.

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