For reasons unknown to anyone but television’s programming Gods, Disney XD ran the first episode of the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series three weeks ago and it didn’t roll out the second episode until the one-hour “official” series premiere Saturday night. You can read our recap of the first part here, before moving on to “Knowhere To Run.”
Picking up where we left off, Star-Lord (Will Friedle) a.k.a. Peter Quill just found out that he was half-Spartax when Knowhere’s biological functions were reanimated by the power of the Cosmic Seed. Because Knowhere has no mind to guide its actions, it indiscriminately attacks the Guardians, the Ravagers, and the forces loyal to Korath (James C. Mathis III).
Two things quickly became clear in this scene: Cosmo (James Arnold Taylor) is a great character, and Yondu (also voiced by Taylor) is wearing out his welcome. Yondu was a lot of fun in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but his role in this episode was limited to hitting Korath up for payment after betraying Quill and alternately badgering Quill into giving him a share of the Cosmic Seed. When Yondu got knocked out and didn’t get back up, I didn’t miss him.
On the other hand, Cosmo is just a joy to watch. He demonstrated some telekinetic powers during the tentacle attack, but Cosmo’s real strength is his interplay with the Guardians. Even when Cosmo’s Earth-based humor falls flat with the Guardians, he’s still very amusing and he gets to be heroic without being too clownish.
The second episode also cemented my impression of Will Friedle’s Peter Quill. Friedle may not be trying to ape Chris Pratt’s take on the character, but he never sounds right for the roll. Quill also came across as even more of a man-child in this episode. Pratt’s Star-Lord is a mature adult compared to the Peter Quill on this series. So far, the writers of this show have regressed Quill’s personality and it is not appealing.
Following the battle with the tentacles, the Cosmic Seed turned baby Groot back into regular Groot (Kevin Michael Richardson), before he quickly lost control and attacked the team as a super berserk Groot. It’s a good action sequence as Drax (David Sobolov) and Rocket (Trevor Devall) subdued Groot while Korath got away with Quill, Gamora (Vanessa Marshall), and the Cosmic Seed.
On Korath’s ship, Thanos (Isaac Singleton Jr.) remotely sent his displeasure to Korath, much to Quill’s amusement. I could see the Chris Pratt version of Star-Lord taunting a villain, but the writing of Quill’s insults was really juvenile and disappointing. Korath used an alien parasite to torment Gamora with the memories of her sins before turning it on Quill when the Crypto Cube container of the Cosmic Seed turned out to be empty. Quill proved to be immune to the parasite because he has no shame, but it wasn’t as funny as the writers were probably going for.
Back on Knowhere, Cosmo explained to Drax, Rocket, and Groot that Knowhere’s tech allows him to directly teleport them anywhere in the universe through the Continuum Cortex. On Koarth’s ship, they wasted little time rescuing Quill and Gamora before Drax gave a beaten Koarth a message for Thanos: stop hiding behind your lackeys.
But first, Quill nearly killed his team by spacing them because he wouldn’t take the time to let them explain that they didn’t arrive by ship. Rocket shooting Quill when they safely arrived back on Knowhere was a good joke that was almost completely ruined by the fast edit away from it. That pacing issue seems to be a recurring problem on this show.
Surprisingly, the interlude between action scenes was one of the better parts of the episode. Quill seriously considered selling the empty Crypto Cube as a way of running away from his Spartax heritage, but Drax encouraged him to not throw his ties to his people away…right before he expressed a desire to meet the Kangaroos on Earth because he assumes that they are great warriors. Now that’s the movie Drax that we love. That touch of humor was missing from the first episode, and it even gave Drax a moment to reflect on the loss of his own family without shouting Thanos’ name.
Speaking of which, the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series finally gave fans something that wasn’t in the movie when Thanos arrived to answer Drax’s challenge…and he was backed up by a fleet that had the firepower to destroy Knowhere if Quill and the Crypto Cube weren’t surrendered to him. That means that it was time for Drax vs. Thanos, but it was extremely one-sided in Thanos’ favor. He’s simply too powerful for Drax, but even Thanos can’t easily destroy Drax the Destroyer.
Back inside Knowhere, the show evoked the movie once again when Quill took control of Knowhere’s weapons, but he can’t control it well until Rocket and Gamora join him in the Continuum Cortex. Seeing Knowhere shoot giant lasers out of its eyes was a great visual, and it was also a nice touch that Knowhere was still doomed even with that kind of fire power.
To save the station, Cosmo initiated an emergency teleport that sent Knowhere to a remote system and safely away from Thanos’ fleet. Cosmo let the Guardians know that they are welcome at Knowhere, but they elected to leave rather than making it their new home. Also, points to Cosmo for the “Knowhere like home” joke. It’s cheesy, but Cosmo has a great “bad joke” delivery. It was also amusing that no one took Drax seriously when he wanted to be teleported back to fight Thanos and he was completely oblivious to the reason why.
In the final scene of the episode, Dobie Gray’s classic song “Drift Away” felt completely tacked on as the other Guardians encouraged Quill to explore his Spartax heritage. Quill also discovered that the empty Crypto Cube has a hidden holographic map that can lead the team to the Cosmic Seed.
I really want to like the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series more than I currently do. But the second half of the series premiere was a little lackluster. The action was pretty good and the animation style is pleasing to look at. But the characterization and the writing feel off. It’s a rare TV show that gets everything right off the bat, and Guardians of the Galaxy is not among them. But there is definite potential here, especially if the series can get past the constant callbacks to the movie.
Marvel fans, what did you think about the second episode of Guardians of the Galaxy? Let us know in the comment section below!
Image: Marvel/Disney XD