Cobra Strikes Back! We've talked about how the evil terrorist organization of Cobra conjured up possibly the worst ways possible to take over the world before here on the site, but I'm not sure even the most devout followers of our favorite commander's shenanigans can justify his plot this time. Yes, it's time to take a look at G.I. Joe: The Funhouse Episode.
Now this one will really throw you for a loop. Cobra Commander has all the resources in the world available to him. He's got money, troops, and more weapons than he could ever need. Taking care of the Joes would be an extremely simple endeavor: fly a few Cobra jets to their headquarters, shoot a few missles, mission accomplished. But Cobra Commander's an artist. Let's face it, nothing can be that cut & dry with a terrorist who keeps himself that color-coordinated. So if Cobra Commander wants to destroy the Joes, he has to do it in such a way that'll make even Dr. Mindbender's plot to steal the DNA of dead war greats to create the superhuman Serpentor seem normal. And what could possibly be more esoteric and ridiculous than cloning instead of shooting? The plot of this episode:
* Contact Joes on their video screen. Cackle.
* Demand 60 Billion Dollars for the safe return of said scientist.
* Lure the Joes to a secret monument base in South America.
* Boobytrap the base with fun house robots who have worse aim than the Cobra soldiers, or even Stormtroopers!
As you can see, the Commander really hit all the bases with this one. No Cobra plot is complete without adbucting a white-haired scientist that even the Joes can't fake caring about. I don't know what alternate universe all of this takes place in, but there's no way the world has that many scientists in it. Almost every episode has the scientist-to-general public ratio outweighed 5 to 1. And that works in Cobra's favor, since the only people seemingly worthy enough to take hostage were those wearing white labcoats.
Now while the prospect of Cobra killing a scientist we've never seen or heard of doesn't seem too critical to us, the Joes usually took it pretty seriously. Five days a week Beachhead would be sitting down at the Joe video monitor for his morning coffee, when lo and behold, Cobra Commander magically appears on it pointing to some old guy tied to a chair. It's no wonder the guy was so cranky.
But in this episode, even the Joes weren't concerned. Cobra Commander demands 60 billion dollars, (the going rate) ...and Bazooka just pulls out his credit card to mock him. And you know what happens when you mock Cobra Commander. He doesn't get mad...he doesn't even get even. He just screams. So the Joes are standing there doing their best to make the situation look even remotely dire, and Cobra Commander's on the video wall doing his terrorist screaming dance of doom. It doesn't help that this is one of the earlier episodes. It wasn't until season two that they toned down the Commander's voice to a subtle screech, but here he sounds like that noise your car makes when you hit the breaks after realizing you've just run a racoon over. It's bad news.
Even the Joes realize that standing around their headquarters making sex jokes about Flint and Lady Jaye won't cut it for a 20-minute toy commercial, so they bite the bullet and head off to South America. Another funny note: Lady Jaye states that there's 'something fishy' going on once they find out Cobra's in South America. Isn't that where all the terrorists hide out? Christ, you watch American television and you really get the vision in your head that Chile is full of nothing but greasy haired guys walking around in trenchcoats with dynamite underneath. In any event, the Joes get in their jets and head south of the equator, into a whole world of trouble.
Unfortunately, this whole battle is for a lost cause. That wasn't really a scientist. It was Zartan in a mask! Which just proves my theory that the Joes placement in military rank depended on three things: their battle know-how, their stamina, and their overwhelming ability to perpetually get their asses tricked. Anyway, despite having an army of thousands, Cobra Commander decided it'd be best to only take Zartan and the lovely Baroness along for this...very special mission. Of course, there's tons of Cobra troops outside the base, but the Joes shoot 'em all within five seconds of arriving.
Now that an elite force of Joes has managed to get inside the Cobra base, it's time for Cobra Commander to unleash...The Worst Ways To Kill A Joe! Let's take a look..
Yes folks, Cobra Commander is one silly wackadoo. What better way to spend embezzled funds than to create a chamber with a giant electric bowling ball and a set of official Cobra pins?
The most amazing thing about this fucked up plan is that it actually worked. Joe soldier: down and out. Maybe Cobra Commander was on to something. Cross the line from stupid ideas to absolutely fucking ridiculous ideas, and the Joes'll be too shocked to do anything about it.
For this idea to work, Cobra had to assume that the Joes were idiots. They did, and they were right. When the Joes are walking through a Cobra base and a robotic Cobra ringleader points them to a suspicious roller coaster, I tend to think their first reaction would be not go to on the ride. But noooo, Bazooka and friend hop right on board, living under the false pretense that, for whatever reason, an honest to goodness amusement pier ride happens to be in the middle of Cobra's ancient monument converted base in the middle of South America.
So the Joes go for a ride, and obviously, these aren't just twists and turns. They're twists and turns and dozens of Cobra soldiers shooting at 'em. And, shockingly, one of them actually hits their target. This is a first in Joe lore, a Cobra soldier who can do something other than get his face busted against the wall.
It's no small coincidence that Destro's not in this particular episode. It's pretty clear that even he was too embarassed to be associated with this one. This really makes you wonder if even the voice actors complained about the script. I understand this show was meant for children (hence all the terrorism and industrial espionage) ...but c'mon, Bucky O'Hare made more sense than this.
If you thought Nemesis Enforcer posed a big threat to G.I. Joe's stability, you ain't seen nothing yet. These aren't just giant mechanical Cobra jack-in-the-boxes. They're giant mechanical Cobra jack-in-the-boxes with newspapers and glowing baseball bats. Again, Cobra Commander was on to something. What kind of strategy can you come up with to overcome that?
Also, you'd imagine all this would take some time to produce. I sincerely doubt the Cobra warehouse is stocked with giant bowling balls and jack-in-the-boxes. So Cobra Commander literally spent weeks having this shit made up. And in that time, you'd have to think that some rational member of the Cobra team told the Commander that maybe this wasn't that great of an idea. Then again, that wouldn't accomplish much. As we've already established, telling Cobra Commander anything he doesn't want to hear only results in him doing his wild screaming dance.
But now, here's the ultimate worst way to kill a Joe...
Imagine, if you would, balloons that, when popped, unleash a pink mist that makes anyone exposed to it hallucinate monstrous snake creatures. Now this one was tricky...not only did you have to time it just so that they'd fall on the Joes' heads as they passed...but you also had to take the chance that one of them would be stupid enough to pick one up, and keep squeezing it till it popped in his face. Luckily, some Joes don't know any better.
Ultimately, what we get is the greatest sequence in the cartoon's history. A Joe soldier not believing his eyes as his comrade first morphs into Cobra Commander, but then, into a giant pile of snakes. As if it couldn't get any better, his comrade punches him unconscious so he'll stop screaming.
After seeing this, I'm pretty sure Cobra had to be a laughing stock among other assorted criminal/terrorist groups. Other organizations use bombs, missles, political threats...Cobra uses balloons. Watching this episode will make you swear Rip Taylor's under Cobra Commander's hood.
The weirdest thing about all of this...all these plots actually worked. Think of all that time Cobra wasted trying to figure out how to beat the Joes using anything but their nation-scale arsenal of weapons, when the answer was right under their noses all along: balloons and roller coasters.
In the end, Flint was able to save the day. Not really, Cobra escapes and the Joes manage to deactivate the bomb set to make the base explode. A hollow victory, but the Joes'll take it. The episode ends with Flint and Lady Jaye flirting, which somehow leads to a room full of 20 people laughing like crazy as the show fades out.
And here's how this episode ranks on the charts:
Action: 10. Most episodes features both sides shooting at each other and missing until enough time goes by that Cobra decides to retreat. This one has Joes getting hit by clowns with hammers.
Storyline: 10. It's the stupidest story of all time, but you've got to give credit to whomever it was that had the balls to actually turn it into an episode.
Characters: 3. Being an earlier episode, nobody seemed to have found their niche quite yet. And no Destro? That's minus five right there.
All in all, a memorably ridiculous episode. I'm surprised they didn't market those balloons for birthdays.