This has got to be the second-most insane episode of GI Joe I’ve ever witnessed (the first will be recapped on Thursday). It involves sci-fi shrink rays, Christmas, and lots and lots of Shipwreck and his parrot, Polly. I’m convinced Shipwreck was the writers’ favorite character. He’s just so ridiculous. He sounds like Jack Nicholson but talks like Popeye. He’s a sailor but they put him in lots of missions where that specialty wouldn’t matter at all. In fact, in the intro sequence for this era of the cartoon, he’s flying a jet.
(You can skip ahead to 2:10 minutes for the right intro)
The episode is called “Cobra Claws are Coming to Town” and features GI Joe going about a toy drive for sick children. The strange episode is written by Roy Thomas, who was the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics following Stan Lee, and Gerry Conway, a long-time Spider-Man writer who created the Punisher and killed Gwen Stacy among other credits. Read on to see where this episode deviates from the real-world premise of helping sick kids (hint: right away).
Polly is singing Christmas songs and Shipwreck shuts him up. There’s a fair number of Joes that get to have pets (ok, work animals) but none of them have the antagonistic relationship that Shipwreck has with his bird. He holds Polly’s beak closed and tells it to shut up.
Shipwreck is in an AWE Striker with Dusty and Cover Girl and they tell him to chill out and get in the holiday spirit. Cover Girl brags that GI Joe gathered more toys for the children’s hospital than last year. Do you think Navy SEALs and Army Rangers do toy drives? Or Black Ops agents? I wonder. Anyway, the toys are in their little wagon which is helpfully labeled and wouldn’t surprise me if it was found on toy shelves back in 1986.
Just then, Wild Weasel flies in and shoots at them, shouting, “Happy Holidays from Wild Weasel, you Christmas turkeys!” I hope he didn’t think too long and hard about that one since there’s no way the Joes would be able to hear him.
Shipwreck and Dusty return fire and order Cover Girl to head for cover in the mountains. They think they’re safe but narrowly avoid getting hit by a missile. Polly helpfully shouts out that that was a close call. Polly, you see, doesn’t just repeat stuff. Polly is at least as smart as the Joes.
While they hide out in the mountains, a wall opens behind them and Firefly walks up and donates some presents! The Joes, despite looking everywhere for the Rattler above, fail to notice him stroll up.
Firefly pushes a button on a calculator watch and Wild Weasel gets a blinking light, calling in to Cobra Commander that their mission was accomplished. I would love it if the episode ended here and their mission was just to give away some toys.
One of the toys is a hobby horse with blinking eyes. Almost like a Trojan horse but no, it couldn’t be that. By the way, I’m writing this recap as I’m watching so there’s a chance I could be wrong but I doubt it. The Joes return to their headquarters which has a giant blinking “Merry Christmas” sign on it. Are there any Jewish or Muslim GI Joes? I bet there have to at least be some atheists. The Joes drive in past junk piles which are probably supposed to be toys.
One of the firefighter Joes (OK, looked it up and his name is Blowtorch but I can’t remember him) takes the rocking horse out and says that he always wished he had one as a kid. He has a Scottish accent which I never noticed as a kid. Aren’t these guys all real American heroes? Meanwhile, Cover Girl mentions to Duke that the base looks empty. Duke explains that most of the Joes took holiday leave. Nice of terrorism to calm down for them like that. Duke says that they should be okay because they have an automatic defense grid which he helpfully turns on just then. It consists of red lights and rotating radar dishes.
Dinner time! Roadblock says, “Smack your lips and feast your eyes! Roadblock cooked you a big surprise!”
Lacking any table manners, Wild Bill jumps up, throws his hat in the air and shouts, “Yeeeehaw! Hombre, you outdid yourself.” Dude, relax. No one even tried it yet. Maybe he overcooked it for all you know.
Duke slices the turkey and asks who wants a leg. Junkyard the dog barks and Duke says he might’ve guessed. And look at the size of the leg he gives the dog! Guess they won’t need him on duty. That much triptophan should put the dog to sleep for about a week.
Duke comments on how hungry Junkyward is but his owner, Mutt, glumly agrees and says he wants to be alone and leaves. Junkyard actually drops the food and follows him. Now that’s a functional relationship with a pet. Moping around the base, Mutt explains to Junkyard that he always gets sad this time of year because his parents ignored him every Christmas. Suddenly, the rocking horse walks up to them and Major Bludd and dozens of Cobra Soldiers eject out of it! They’re doll-sized!
Some teddy bears explode and little Cobra robots walk out. Some balls pop and the Dreadnoks ride out on tiny motorcycles. It’s adorable. Major Bludd shoots Junkyard in the nose but apparently their lasers are not lethal at this size. Nevertheless, Mutt is terrified of the tiny Cobra Rattlers and Fangs that buzz about him as he tries to sound the alarm.
The planes release green fart gas that knocks Mutt out but he trips the alarm lever on his way down. The Baroness shoots a Rattler laser at the defense grid switch and blows it up, turning off the entire base’s automated defense systems. Wild Bill asks if the little jets are Cobras and Cover Girl snaps back, “They’re not Santa’s elves!” So the Joes take this about as seriously as if they spilled the gravy at their dinner.
Firefly shoots the Cobras with a gun and the rays enlarge them to normal size. Roadblock shoots Firefly down from the wall and his gun breaks. But it’s too late. GI Joe is completely surrounded by the entire Cobra army. Cobra Commander makes his best entrance ever:
Cobra Commander calls Duke by his full name and title, Sgt. Duke Hauser, and says he’s relieved and that Cobra has occupied them. Then, barring any sense of reason, Cover Girl shouts at him, “No way, Tin Face!” and the Joes all start shooting. Cobra stands around uselessly, taking it!
Gaining their senses, and despite everyone being at point blank range, Cobra begins fighting back and no one gets hit. A random Cobra soldier judo chops Cover Girl into unconsciousness and a Cobra robot bear hugs Duke but he wheezes out a witty bon mot: “I… didn’t… know you cared…” and blasts his face into oblivion.
Baroness shoots the Joes with the green gas and they all pass out.
We cut to the Joes being brought in front of Cobra Commander, handcuffed. Cobra Commander has changed to his hood for some reason. Wild Bill taunts Destro over his broken gun and Destro grumps that his molecular enlarger/reducer (catchy) represented decades of work. DECADES. He bagan work on that thing at least 20 years before going up against GI Joe. I want to know what inspired him to do that!
Did you think conquering GI Joe was Cobra’s plan? Because it wasn’t. They have a second level to this plan. They will use the GI Joe weapons to attack Keystone City and they’ve somehow forced Duke to record an announcement that they’re tired of serving their country and it’s time for their country to serve GI Joe. I still can’t see anyone belieiving that. The Joes are stunned when Duke walks in and calls Cobra Commander “master” but of course it’s just Zartan wearing a mask. Cobra Commander decides to have the Joes held in their apparently-massive walk in freezer because it’s thematically correct for the holidays. The firefighter Joe says they’ll be Joesicles soon. No one laughs. Shipwreck says he could have a meaningful relationship with the side of beef near him. I’m not joking. He really says that.
Cover Girl asks if his brain has frostbite but he says she has no imagination and grabs it between his legs and starts humping it. Cut to: Major Bludd telling Cobra Commander that his soldiers will know how to fly the GI Joe Skystriker jets in one hour. Back in the meat locker, Shipwreck is still rubbing up against the meat. Eventually he is able to hop off of the meat hook that he was hanging on. Outside, Baroness tells Cobra Commander that gloating is childish but he replies that he just wishes to give the Joes a fond farewell. I have no idea why Cobra would keep them alive even this long. Shipwreck simply holds the hook to keep up the deception and Cobra Commander says he has a present for them. He shows them the key to their cuffs and hangs it on a hook “just out of reach” and leaves. Ugh. Cobra Commander is realllllly asking for it.
Shipwreck immediately runs for the key once Cobra Commander leaves. And Destro isn’t helping himself much either. He comments to himself how he’s fixed his enlarger/reducer “not that I’ll need it now that the Joes are finished.” The Joes then burst in and capture Destro but he gloats that Cobra has already left in the Joe vehicles. Destro then picks up his gun and says that he has the Joes. The Joes stand around with their guns aimed and wait for Destro to get out a good long laugh before he shoots at them. Destro begins shrinking everything in the room as the Joes desparetly dive for cover which keeps getting shrunk. But then he’s attacked by Polly.
Destro shrinks Polly and Shipwreck shouts out a brilliant tactic: “Smother him. SMOTHER HIM!” and the Joes all dogpile on Destro.
Cover Girl picks up the weapon but it’s sparking and seems to be broken. Wild Bill says not only has Cobra stolen their vehicles but they gave them flies and is about to squash Polly. Shipwreck stops him just in time and Polly lands on his nose and screams: “Help!” The Joes are about to get really nutty. Follow me on this one.
Tripwire says “Gimme that!” and snatches the gun from Cover Girl. He aims it at Shipwreck and Wild Bill jumps in the way saying, “Are you nuts?! You’ll hit Shipwreck!” Polly flies up in the air and Tripwire says there’s a two-way setting and blasts Polly to regular size. Then Polly falls into Shipwreck’s hands and cries out, “I feel dizzy…” Polly passes out and Shipwreck lays him down saying that he’ll miss him during the battle with Cobra… but not very much!
The second the Joes leave, the passed out Polly begins enlarging.
Outside, the Joes hop in the Cobra’s vehicles which they helpfully left behind. Wild Bill says it’s not a problem because they could beat Cobra (or “them owlhoots” as he calls them) in flying cardboard boxes. I would pay good money to watch Wild Bill try to fly a cardboard box.
Meanwhile, two truck drivers are heading to Keystone City and one of them is reading a paper and sniffs at it, saying, “This paper sez Martians took over Hoboken. He says he could believe Newark but not Hoboken.
Then the Cobra army drives past them in Joe vehicles and shoot their tires. The man complains that he thought GI Joe was supposed to be on their side. I can understand questioning politics but no faith in your military? For shame, random large dude. By the way, Cobra Commander is keeping Duke in handcuffs in the copilot seat of his Skystriker. I question that logic.
Cobra does a strafing run down the city street and a boy cries that he thought GI Joe were heroes. His father tries to hold his mustache steady while quivering out, “So did I son. So did I…”
Zartan yells at his Dreanoks that they’re not being paid to miss the battle but then some missiles blow up their vehicles, completely destroying them but simply tossing the Dreadnoks and Zartan onto the street. It’s GI Joe in a CLAW hangglider and Cover Girl in a Rattler. Meanwhile, Polly breaks through the Joe headquarters’ ceiling as he sings “Jingle Bells.”
GI Joe keeps blowing up the Cobras. Mutt is shocked that Cobra forces are in their jeeps, asking if nothing is sacred. Roadblock blows the Joe vehicles to pieces, costing taxpayers millions (but probably saving innocents).
Cover Girl lets Wild Bill know there’s a Joe Dragonfly on his tail so he breaks the laws of physics and makes his helicopter barrel roll behind. Wild Weasel says no one can do that and Wild Bill breaks any remaining laws regarding how acoustics travel, as well as any grammar rules, by commenting that he ain’t nobody.
Cover Girl radios Cobra Commander to give up but he tells Duke she’d never shoot him down and risk killing Duke as well. He loops behind Cover Girl to shoot her down and is attacked by Duke. Obviously.
Cobra Commander actually manages to fire a missile anyway and blows a wing off of Cover Girl’s Rattler. It’s going down but a caroling Polly flies in and catches her and sets her down safely. The bird’s a genius.
Cobra Commander refuses to surrender, to his credit. But then he sees the gigantic Polly and hits the eject on his seat AND judo throws Duke off.
But Polly catches Duke. The Joes celebrate but Shipwreck says, “Oh no. My worst nightmare come true!” Yup. His worst nightmare is his pet bird getting enlarged. The man fights terrorists but his dreams are occupied by his pet bird.
The Joes seem to opt not to capture Cobra Commander who is presumably floating down nearby without any backup. Duke asks Cover Girl what they should do with their very large bird. She replies whatever he wants. Duke is amused. She says they’ll simply fix Destro’s gun. The thing that took him decades to create. They’ll just fix it. Then Cover Girl says she got Duke a present. What is it? The key to his handcuffs. Duke laughs like that’s the funniest shit he’s ever heard.
Junkyard realizes that it IS Christmas and he doesn’t feel bad. He and Mutt embrace.
All the Joes shake hands and exchange holiday wishes. And Polly screams at a terrified Shipwreck: “Merry Christmas!” Shipwreck slouches away, declaring: “Bah humbug.”