Presumably the Guardians of the Galaxy in the animated series came together in a way similar to their big screen live-action counterparts. The TV series hasn’t directly come out and confirmed this, but certain things are the same. Take for example, the apparent death of Ronan the Accuser.
By now, the Guardians should have some degree of trust with each other. Or at least a bond that’s strong enough to withstand a cursory accusation against one of their own members. But apparently not, according to the seventh episode of the series, “The Backstabbers.” And because of that, the Guardians leave the episode in much worse shape than they were in before it started.
The episode began with a Glenn Close-ish Nova Prime (Tara Strong) as she gave the Nova Corps a briefing about the power vacuum that exists in Thanos’ organization because Ronan is dead. Both Nebula (Cree Summer) and Korath (Dave Fennoy) were vying to be Thanos’ new general. This led to my favorite Drax (David Sobolov) line of the episode: “Where is this power vacuum? I will find it and use it to cleanse the galaxy of all those scum.” Are vacuums even used in Marvel’s version outer space? Or are vacuums an alien invention? I could totally buy James Dyson as an alien.
For the most part, this was not a great Drax episode. The writer, Andrew R. Robinson, overused Drax’s lack of metaphor humor in the first scene and he came off like an idiot when he indiscriminately waved around Ronan’s power hammer a.k.a. the Universal Weapon and damaged the ship.
Come to think of it, this wasn’t a great episode for any of the Guardians. Acting only on Nova Prime’s suggestion that Gamora (Vanessa Marshall) was also trying to become Thanos’ new general, Drax and Rocket (Trevor Devall) immediately turned on her. It was incredibly jarring, especially when the Nova Corps has no credibility with the team after the Titus debacle. Peter Quill (Will Friedle) even pointed that out and mentioned Titus by name. But Nova Prime’s insinuation was enough to shatter the fragile bond between the Guardians.
Now, let’s move on to the show’s weirdly dickish portrayal of Quill in this episode. It’s almost as if the writers don’t realize how much of an asshole that Quill looked like when he taunted Drax for sleeping with a doll that belonged to his late daughter, or when he let it slip that Rocket has been eating out of the ship’s garbage (and cleaning it with his tongue?!). Quill even mentioned a fungus on Groot’s (Kevin Michael Richardson) butt for some reason. All of which was meant to portray Quill as someone who can’t keep a secret in order to justify what came next.
After following the map to the Cosmic Seed (an image of which Gamora copied on to her wrist tech), the Guardians encountered a single cell organism big enough to threaten the Milano. And while Quill, Rocket/Groot, and Drax took to the space pods to get the ship loose and destroy the creature, Gamora ditched them and left her teammates behind with only a single working space pod between them.
They quickly landed on the planet and found the damaged Milano and the Spartaxian Cryptocube missing along with Gamora. Only Quill held out hope that Gamora hadn’t actually betrayed them. Rocket also revealed that he puts trackers on everything (even Groot’s butt?!), which allowed Quill to use the last space pod to find Gamora. At first it appeared that Gamora had been injured in an attack, but she quickly became agitated when Quill tried to aid her…moments before Nebula showed up.
By now, Gamora’s plan should have been obvious to everyone watching…but not to Quill! In a misguided attempt to build drama around the episode, Quill didn’t immediately comprehend that Gamora was trying to blame her faked attack on Korath to set Nebula against her “sibling.” So, Gamora kicked the crap out of Quill… and revealed to Nebula that only Quill can activate the map in the Cryptocube as a pretense for not killing him. That was still a major miscalculation on her part.
On Nebula’s ship, Quill had a brief period of competency when he easily escaped his cell. Meanwhile, Nebula stalked Korath’s ship as Gamora told her where its weak points were. Suddenly, Korath contacted Nebula and demanded to know what she was doing there. Korath even accused Nebula of serving Ronan’s agenda, and she admitted a “fondness” for him. Is this an example of evil love?
Nebula was the first to realize that Gamora had played them both, but Korath was still ready to attack. Gamora then revealed that Groot was her partner in the con, much to the anger of Rocket. That led to the second best Drax line of the episode: “Explain yourself, Tree!” Groot dropped the Cryptocube, which didn’t make Rocket or Drax any less angry…and can you blame them? Gamora’s plan already left them in a crippled ship.
When Gamora and Quill were reunited, she explained that she wanted her siblings to destroy each other and there was a nice moment when he told her that he never doubted her true loyalty even as she was kicking his ass. But then Quill lost all redemption points when he blabbed about the location of their downed ship within earshot of Nebula, who immediately formed a ceasefire with Korath. Bad Quill, very bad!
On the desert planet, Rocket and Groot tried to fix the Milano’s malfunctioning cloaking device (thanks, Gamora!), but they had to rely on Groot’s natural camouflage to hide the ship…which really shouldn’t have worked, but whatever. Quill and Gamora made their escape on Nebula’s ship and Gamora fired on Korath’s vessel, sparking a shooting war between the siblings. The subsequent pounding of Nebula’s ship was a cool piece of animation.
Back on the Milano, Drax used the Universal Weapon to power the ship. But it was too much power for the Milano to handle and it sent the ship screaming into space and bouncing off of the shield of Nebula’s ship?! Okay… that was silly. Nearby, Korath actually seemed formidable (for once!) when he fought Nebula to a standstill. Quill shot Korath out into space, but not before Korath grabbed Gamora’s wrist tech.
I did like the epic moment for Drax in which he single-handedly finished off Nebula’s ship by tossing the Universal Weapon at it. However, the Guardians had to flee Korath’s fighters before Drax could reclaim it, leaving Nebula with the Universal Weapon.
For those of you keeping score at home, now Nebula has one of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy and Korath has at least a partial map to the Cosmic Seed. Clusterf*** doesn’t even begin to describe how badly this plan went. Weirdly, the final scene plays out as if Drax and Rocket weren’t justified in their anger towards Gamora. She was appropriately contrite and remorseful, but it doesn’t change the fact that Gamora has dramatically made things worse for the entire team. The ending fell flat as it tried to make that realization into a joke.
Putting the Guardians on their heels wasn’t a bad idea, as the show was running the risk of making its villains look too weak. But there has to be a balance between the competency of the villains and the heroes. Every member of the Guardians looked bad this week, and they made some very stupid decisions that simply existed to move the story along. Frankly, this was not a good episode and it was even terrible at certain points. This show can and should be better than this.
What did you think of this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy? Share your thoughts below!
Image Credit: Disney XD/Marvel TV