Last week on the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series, Peter Quill (Will Friedle) did something very stupid. To regular viewers of this show, that’s not a surprise. The only shocking part is that other characters call out Quill’s stupidity in this episode…but that doesn’t make his actions any less asinine.
To briefly recap, the Guardians spent the bulk of the season chasing the Cosmic Seed, only to discover that it was stolen from Asgard decades ago by Quill’s father, J’son of Spartax (Jonathan Frakes)…and then the Cosmic Seed was stolen again by Loki (Troy Baker) as a pretense to bring Asgard and Spartax to war in the present. There, that’s all you need to know about this season. In fact, I may have made it sound more interesting than it’s actually been.
“Asgard War Part One: Lightnin’ Strikes” picks up where last week’s episode left off, as Quill burst into an intergalactic council meeting to accuse his father of stealing the Cosmic Seed without leading with the more important revelation: that Loki has it now. So, in short order, Thor (Travis Willingham) declared war on Spartax and J’son had the Guardians arrested for treason. As plans go, that was not a well thought out move by Quill. And even Quill’s half-sister, Captain Victoria (Cree Summer) told him how foolish he’s been.
It would have been great if the show had successfully set up the bond between Quill and Victoria in her previous appearance, but the childish writing wasn’t very convincing. And does this series have any setting for female characters that doesn’t include shrill? It’s disheartening to see some promising characters like Victoria and Mantis lack even a single dimension of characterization.
The reason I bring this up is that Victoria believed in Quill despite his lack of proof, and she enabled his escape with the other Guardians. Again, that would be a nice character turn, if it had been earned. Instead, it’s just a convenient way for the team to temporarily get out of trouble. When even Drax (David Sobolov) comments on how stupid it is, then that should really say something. The writer of this episode clearly knows this, and yet here we are.
There are actually some good parts of this episode, primarily in the confrontation between Quill and J’son, which turns into element gun fight with shades of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Jonathan Frakes is just really good at playing a Machiavellian schemer, although J’son doesn’t have the benefit of the great writing that David Xanatos had in Gargoyles. Even so, J’son has emerged as the most interesting person on this show. He sold out his own son to make him a better thief and heir, and J’son even destroyed Quill’s evidence of Loki’s guilt because he wants a war with Asgard. And J’son thinks he can win this time.
A great villain can do a lot for a show, even this one. Although it was pretty shameless for the episode to use the old “hero falls to his death, only to be saved by his ship” trick. It was in that moment that J’son showed even a hint of concern for Quill’s life. At the end of the episode, J’son didn’t even seem to care when Quill was seemingly killed in the battle.
Ah yes…the battle. Let’s get back to that. Rather than send a fleet to Spartax, Thor led a contingent of his best warriors – but no Volstagg? – and the Destroyer while Loki seized the throne on Asgard. You know, standard Loki stuff. It’s what he does. And it was almost funny the way that no one gave a s*** when Loki confessed his crimes at the end of the episode. You’d think that at least Angela (Nika Futterman) would have something to say about her brother betraying their other brother. But nope! That was a head scratcher.
Also, the episode tried to build up Victoria as almost a match for Thor in single combat, and it was hard to buy into that when the Asgardians were taking out the Spartax fleet with swords, mystical hammers, and maces. Some of that action was occasionally diverting, but it wasn’t as epic as the show seemed to think that it was.
After Loki inevitably took control of the Destroyer while Rocket (Trevor Devall) attempted to recover the footage of Loki stealing the Cosmic Seed, Quill and Thor faked their deaths. That led to the incredibly awkward final scene in which J’son and Loki declared a truce and tried to blame the war on the Guardians…who were standing right beside them without being under guard! And then Rocket presented his recovered evidence of J’son and Loki’s guilt…and J’son did nothing to stop him. Come on! Sometimes, this show’s not even trying.
For the first installment of a multi-part episode, this one seemed to wrap things up too quickly…until Thanos (Isaac C. Singleton Jr.) and his fleet arrived in orbit of Spartax in support of J’son. And that’s not a bad cliffhanger.
In the hands of more talented writers, this could have been so much better. This show’s problems almost always circle back to the creative team behind it. Either they aren’t up to the challenge, or they are deliberately writing down to the show’s intended audience under the assumption that they’re morons.
Not every series can have the epic scale or writing of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. But that’s not an impossible standard! Guardians of the Galaxy has great characters and a fantastic premise, both of which have been badly mishandled through its current run. I’m not expecting a miracle finish from the first season, but it seems too much to ask for this series to even aspire to a higher level of quality.
What did you think about this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image Credits: Marvel TV/Disney XD