For GI Joe Week, here at the Robot’s Pajamas, we’re taking a small break from the Transformers: Headmasters recaps to bring you a GI Joe recap. We promise that it’s equally insane or we wouldn’t do it. You can see from the first moment how hectic it is as there’s a crazy air battle in progress before the title card can even go away.
GI Joe was a very sci-fi heavy show but trust us, this one mixes in more than one trope to be extra bananas. Would you like to know more?
“G.I. Joe and the Golden Fleece” was the 22nd episode of season 2 of the original GI Joe cartoon. There’d been 2 miniseries and a very long season one. This was the season with this intro/opening:
The episode begins with Slipstream fighting off some Cobra Ravens all by himself. There must have been some budget cuts because the USS Flagg is completely empty. General Hawk and Beach Head watch the fight and Hawk says that they have to protect the Suez Canal. This is one of those cases of people saying dialog that the other person should absolutely know. “As you know, we are fighting Cobra because we’re America’s daring, highly-trained, top special mission force.” Beach Head gives it right back, saying that if they lose, they can draw a big red X through the Middle East. At this point in history, the US was going back and forth with who to support in the Middle East. The only thing we really didn’t like were the Soviets trying to control the Taliban in Afghanistan. Go back and watch movies like Rambo III or the James Bond movie The Living Daylights. It’s bizarre compared to today.
Slipstream pretty easily blows up 2 of the Night Ravens while some Cobra Vipers are engaged in a firefight with Dusty, Recondo and Snake Eyes below. Don’t worry. Every Cobra jumps out of the plane in a parachute and no one is shot. What happens if you get shot with their lasers? I’ve seen them shoot vehicles but never people. Does it burn? Are characters like Zap and Sci-Fi completely useless in this cartoon since EVERYBODY shoots lasers? I’m genuinely curious. I read the comics and had a bunch of the toys but I don’t know much about the cartoon. This is the first time I’ve watched this episode.
Now that the Night Ravens are shot down, Lift Ticket and Lifeline bravely board a Tomahawk helicopter to give Slipstream some backup. What assholes. But before they can get very far, the battle is interrupted by an alien spaceship. Hmm, what’s that? Yes, I said an alien spaceship. It just flies in and the only ones who are shocked are Dusty, Recondo and Snake Eyes.
This leads to a pretty amusing sequence. Beach Head says it could be a Cobra weapon and they should shoot it but Hawk says that GI Joe doesn’t shoot first and ask questions later. Cut straight to Dr. Mindbender demanding that Cobra shoot first and ask questions later because it could be a GI Joe weapon. The Cobra Terrordrome below obeys and shoots at the spaceship. And now I gotta ask. Why did GI Joe wait to get involved until after Cobra had build a goddamn Terrordrome at the Suez Canal? You might want to intercept a potential problem like a terrorist organization building a massive base before they begin attacking a well-traveled oil shipping route. Just my 2 cents.
Cobra hits the spaceship and a golden object falls down onto a well-preserved but somehow tourist-free Greek ruins. Hawk orders Beach Head to take Lady Jaye and a team of Joes to recover the mystery object.
Aboard the Tomahawk, Beach Head tells the team they’re ordered to retrieve the golden object. The team he selects? Lady Jaye, Sgt. Slaughter, Leatherneck which all make sense. And Wet Suit. Who… could go for a nice swim while everyone else gets to work?
Wet Suit. He does jack shit in this episode, which I guess is better than Lifeline who actively gets in the way and fucks stuff up. Wet Suit. GI Joe has run out of names when they give you a code name based on what clothes you have on. “Flint! Take Trousers, Elbow Pad and Balaclava to the Mess Hall for dinner!”
Lady Jaye asks why they’re being asked to leave the battle for this. Sgt. Slaughter says it’s “strategy of denial” and that they may not want it but they don’t want Cobra to have whatever it is. No one seems at all interested, despite the fact that it’s PROOF OF INTELLIGENT LIFE OUTSIDE OF EARTH. Dr. Mindbender tells Baroness to recover the thingy and she takes a ton of flight pods and hydrofoils to go get it.
The Joes arrive first and Lady Jaye reaches for it but Lifeline immediately starts whining about how if it’s a weapon he doesn’t want to touch it. Lifeline, you see, is not just a medic but a pacifist. I can respect pacifist beliefs but you know where they don’t work well? On the front lines of America’s elite military. He comes off like a whiny bitch. Before they can grab the object, though, Cobra attacks and the rest of the Joes make a stand to hold them off.
In a shocking case of competence, a Cobra Viper hits the Tomahawk which is forced to land on the island. It’s not quite a crash, but Lift Ticket does leap out of the aircraft and do a hand-stand somersault into a run. It’s a very acrobatic and unecessary move. No one is there to applaud his sweet moves. Baroness is about to shoot Lady Jaye so Lifeline awkwardly tackles her. Baroness accidentally ends up shooting the golden alien artificat.
The object begins shooting off strange energy beams bathing everyone in the area in its rays.
In my favorite moment, the Cobra B.A.T.S. (Battle Android Troopers) begin banging themselves on the head and doing the running man dance.
The battle resumes and Lifeline runs away from the object, like the useless coward that he is.
A Cobra Viper puts it in the drone ship from Dr. Mindbender’s Night Raven but then runs away instead of piloting it or taking a ride. Lady Jaye jumps on it and in mid-air, pulls open the cockpit window. Think about the strength she has! She can cling to a jet with her thighs and rip open a shuttle’s cockpit with her bare hands. It’s astounding and terrifying. She shuts off the remote control and attacks Dr. Mindbender. Instead of finishing him off, she then opts to land on the USS Flagg.
Dr. Mindbender orders the Baroness and her forces to retreat since his ship is damaged. Lifeline notices that the temple isn’t damaged and looks like new. See where this is going? The Joes are surprised when someone sneaks up on them and meet two shephards in ancient Greek clothing. I guess they heard massive explosions and decided to CASUALLY WANDER OVER to investigate.
Lifeline doesn’t understand their language but Sgt. Slaughter tells them its ancient Greek and that they think the Joes are gods who froze the B.A.T.s. Ancient Greek is a written language so how he recognized it well enough to speak it is about as preposterous as the fact that the Joes and Cobras have just time traveled!
Lifeline wonders how Sgt. Slaughter recognized ancient Greek and Slaughter really gets in his face asking if he’s surprised he went to college. He’s really spitting in Lifeline’s face in anger. But Slaughter’s right. Is Lifeline really THAT surprised that the military’s elite have an education? Meanwhile, Lady Jaye can’t locate the USS Flagg and then her engines fail. Classic Cobra engineering.
Dr. Mindbender has a great line asking what happened to their beautiful battle. His pilot says that they’ve gone back in time. Yup, the jet pilot figured that out, not the mad scientist. The zip around overhead, confusing the locals and eventually make a water landing, meeting up with Baroness’ forces. Lift Ticket gets on the radio to get ahold of Lady Jaye. Would radios work? I can’t see how without transmission towers or satellites. I feel bad pointing out a logic error like that. It’d be like going to the Special Olympics and booing one of the athletes.
Lady Jaye holes up in a cave with the golden alien artifact and Beach Head says that to find her signal they’ll need to triangulate it and to do that, they’ll need a boat.
Meanwhile, Lifeline applies a simple bandage to a teenage boy. And the Greeks flip their shit. They start calling Lifeline “Asclepius” the god of healing. I’m pretty sure they had simple bandages even back then. Not to be outdone, Sgt. Slaughter carries a goddamn tree to use as a pontoon for the Tomahawk. The villagers start calling him “Heracles.” The teenage boy mistakes “Tomahawk” for “Argonaut” but Lift Ticket just sort of rolls his eyes. I think I like Lift Ticket, even if his name reminds me of the badge you need to go skiing all day.
The Cobra forces are running low on fuel so they land on a beach and storm the nearest city.
The city fights back by throwing napalm. This actually has historical context. The Greeks used a weapon known as Greek Fire which was said to burn even on water. While historians argue whether the weapon used saltpeter or lime as an ingredient it is accepted by the historical community that the main element was petroleum. Realizing that they could use this as fuel, Dr. Mindbender orders Cobra to lay siege on the city.
A huge group of soldiers head out to face Cobra but when they see they are about evenly matched, they just give up. Not buying it, but whatevs.
The Joes paddle their Tomahawk boat down the river when they are attacked by Baroness and troops using hanggliders. The teenage Greek boy calls them “harpies” and I gotta give it to the show. Calling the Baroness a harpy is kind of funny.
Beach Head orders the Joes to paddle for a nearby cove to get some cover. But Baroness drops a bomb that rocks the boat so hard Sgt. Slaughter falls into the rapids. The Joes shoot at the Cobras and they just give up and retreat.
Beach Head wants to head back for Sgt. Slaughter but Lift Ticket solemly says there’s no way even the great Sgt. Slaughter could have survived and Beach Head forgets the chain of command and gives up. A Greek man watches the battle from a nearby mountain and sees Sgt. Slaughter wash ashore. Sgt. Slaughter is so tough he can wash up face down because he doesn’t even need oxygen! When he wakes up he’s greated with a spear and an entire army facing him.
So Sgt. Slaughter picks up a piece of driftwood and begins taking the armed soldiers out without any trouble. The Greek man claps his hands and a horn is sounded, ending the battle. And that’s a good call because his army was just gettin’ they ass kicked by one man with a stick.
Sgt. Slaughter says he recognizes the man as King Augeas. Hoo boy. Here’s what Sgt. Slaughter could have possibly seen as art from the time that represented King Augeas:
Augeas is the guy on the far left. That’s Hercules and Athena in the middle. But Sgt. Slaughter recognizes him. It’s just as well since Augeus was mythological and not real. Anyway, Slaughter asks him to help find the Joes. Augeas proposes a contest. If Sgt. Slaughter can clean his stables in one day, he will help. If he loses, he has to be his slave for 8 years! By the way, this is one of Hercules seven labors, for whatever that’s worth.
Meanwhile, the Joes land their Tomahawk on a beach. They essentially stumble right onto Cobra.
Sgt. Slaughter gets to the stables, picks up a scythe and smashes a wall by the river. He should’ve tried a shovel, but whatever. The river floods through the stables. Then Augeas accuses Slaughter of not really being Hercules. He probably should’ve accused him BEFORE he did something amazing.
Sgt. Slaughter simply lifts him by his collar and THAT feat of strength impresses the King so much that he tells Sgt. Slaughter everyone is at the island of Minos and tells his men to obey Sgt. Slaughter. Who knows how the King figured out where everyone else was.
Lady Jaye is taking a nappy-poo in what must be a Cobra regulation sleeping bag. She hears a sound and reaches for her blaster but it’s the Joes. Beach Head asks if that’s any way to treat her rescuer and Lady Jaye retorts with this bon mot: “A girl can never be too careful.” Presumably, the Joes then spout cliches at each other for hours.
Suddenly, Dr. Mindbender and the Cobras attack. How did they find the Joes? Mindbender says the light from the golden object can be seen for miles! Lady Jaye never thought to put it under the sleeping bag! Of course, it’s probably leaking radiation like crazy… Regardless, the Joes grab the artifact and try to hold off the attacking Cobras but are outnumbered.
Lady Jaye tells the Joes they should escape into the cave and that there’s another exit. They exit on a pair of Vipers and easily knock them out. Presumably they plan on Cobra cleaning up their knocked out soldiers and that that part of keeping the timeline safe is someone else’s responsibility. Wet Suit is just glad he got to knock someone out and be mildly useful on this mission.
But the Joes aren’t in the clear. A pair of Cobra Hydrofoils spot them and Dr. Mindbender is close behind. On top of all that, the Joes run out of… ammo? Fuel cells? Laser food?
The Joes begin to get overwhelmed by Vipers when Sgt. Slaughter charges up with an army of Greek soldiers who he taught to shout “Yo Joe!” I guess that whole “preserve the timeline” idea was tossed right out the window as these soldiers, potential ancestors to any of the Joes or Cobras, run into battle against terrorists armed with lasers and bombs.
Sgt. Slaughter showing up gives the Joes the courage to punch the Vipers in their metal helmets, presumably breaking their hands with every blow. Only Beach Head is smart enough to kick them with his boots.
Lady Jaye says she’s got an idea but she needs a laser. The Baroness jumps down and says she can have the business end of hers. It’s a decent line, but Lady Jaye just kicks her and takes her gun, aiming it at the alien artifact.
The object glows again and the Joes and Cobras disappear. King Augeas sits around contemplating what happened. I’m curious, too. Why didn’t the Greeks also go back with everyone? They were bathed in the same lights. The teenage boy cries because he misses Lifeline. I bet Lifeline is crying, too.
The Cobras return to the present only to face a waiting squadron of GI Joe Conquests. Cobra retreats and Dr. Mindbender turns into a total coward screaming for them to wait for him. They don’t, but on the plus side for him, GI Joe seems to have not invested in missile lock so they all escape.
Aboard the Flagg, the Joes stare at the alien artifact until the spaceship flies overhead and takes it back. No one seems to care too much.
A voice says that next time it may not be so easy to recover the hyperdrive and that they are now a part of Earth’s history. Lifeline casually explains that that was probably telepathy. Lady Jaye says the aliens are part of their history just like GI Joe was part of Greece’s history and wonders how they viewed them. “That’s easy,” says Lifeline. “Just look in any history book.” And the Joes all chuckle.
Aliens. Time travel. Telepathy. Mythical figures. Worth a chuckle, but not much more to GI Joe.