This week’s Guardians of the Galaxy episode opened with the hilarious visual of the team dressed as Nova Corps members as they infiltrated Nova Headquarters in order to steal the final Pandorian crystal they needed for the Spartaxian Cryptocube. How they even knew to find the crystal there was completely glossed over, which I’m willing to overlook because seeing Rocket (Trevor Devall) wearing a Nova helmet was unexpectedly amusing.
“Undercover Angle” was also the birth of method actor Drax (David Sobolov) as Peter Quill (Will Friedle) learned that Drax is is only capable of lying if he believes the lie. Hence Drax’s “I am Nova Corps, we are all Nova Corps,” and his “We hate Nova Corps” catchphrases from later in the episode. It was actually funny to see how deeply Drax convinced himself that he was in the Nova Corps, which included a heroic leap into danger and a quick moment of joy about potentially getting an official commendation on his non-existent Nova Corps record of Drax.
While in the middle of the initial undercover operation, Rocket accidentally released Supergiant (Hynden Walch), one of the more recent cosmic supervillains in the Marvel comic book universe…and also Quill’s ex in this world? Damn…Quill. The Guardians ended up giving Quill a lot of grief for that one, even though Supergiant was far more interested in escaping than in killing Quill. There was also an odd moment where it sounded like Drax did the Wilhelm scream after Supergiant knocked him off of his feet. That’s goofy, even for this show.
Gamora (Vanessa Marshall) finally got a chance to show off her “most dangerous woman in the universe” side in the way that she expertly took out Supergiant. But it was far more impressive to watch Gamora simply parkour her way out of trouble when the Nova Corps members caught her in the vault. That was one of the best parts of the episode.
Even though the Guardians got away clean, they were exposed because Quill couldn’t keep his helmet on and because the Guardians can’t entirely deny their heroic natures. A crashing spaceship needed help, and the Guardians answered the call even if they didn’t want to. This was also the third episode in a row to feature Titus (J.B. Blanc), the Nova Corps member who was apparently obsessed with bringing down the Guardians…for reasons that have never actually been adequately explained.
This episode tried to cover it with Titus’ remark about the Guardians as “lowlifes trying to be heroes.” Maybe…but that’s still not a good enough reason. Titus has played like three different characters every time he’s been on the show so far. There has never been any consistency with him. One week Titus is an intergalactic Javert and the next week he’s Alonzo Harris.
Titus recognized Quill back at Nova HQ and he was in position to arrest the Guardians after their disguises were exposed. Rocket took most of the heart for that, but Gamora was unmasked and Groot (Kevin Michael Richardson) was already out of uniform by the time Titus showed up. They were already going to jail.
However, Titus had an alternate plan: blackmail the Guardians into infiltrating the Black Order so they can retrieve a black market super weapon from the Nova Corps. So Supergiant’s appearance wasn’t just a coincidence. The entire Black Order team appeared in this episode, and it may be only the second time that they’ve been depicted outside of the comics! It’s good to see Guardians starting to branch out beyond the same villains that appeared in the movies.
Speaking of the movies, there was a pretty obvious callback when Quill did the the whole “I’m Star-Lord” and the Black Order had no idea who he was. Rocket said that never gets old, but it does. It really, really does. A much better joke was the way that Quill had no willpower to resist the mind control powers of Ebony Maw (James Urbaniak) and Quill immediately surrendered his weapon and outed himself as working for the Nova Corps. No one else on the team was susceptible to it, so they came up with an improvised plan to present themselves as friends of Supergiant who wanted to stop Quill.
In an intriguing turn, the MacGuffin of the episode was something that we’ve seen before: Ronan’s staff. Apparently Ronan the Accuser is dead in this reality, presumably in a similar way to his onscreen destruction in the movie. but I half expected Ronan to show up in this episode after being resurrected or respawned. I wonder if this show will resist the temptation of bringing Ronan back to life.
Once again, the mind-controlled Quill squealed on his teammates and he was even forced to fight them alongside the Black Order. The fight between Proxima Midnight (Kari Wahlgren) and Gamora was particularly well done, but the episode actually delivered an even more entertaining sequence when the Guardians and the Black Order teamed up against Titus.
The inconsistency of Titus was on display again. Three episodes back, Titus was a law and order kind of guy on Conjunction, then he was the maniac who would have killed the Guardians just because he didn’t like them. Now, suddenly, Titus was a dirty cop all along who never intended to honor his deal with Quill and the Guardians. It feels like there was a much better way to make all of those aspects of Titus work, but the show didn’t even try to make his personality consistent. If this was Titus’ last appearance for a while, he won’t be missed.
After bungling his way through the episode, Quill got the big hero moment of tricking Titus into confessing his crimes while he recorded and broadcast them back to the Nova Corps. I was half expecting that to be a bluff on Quill’s part, but it was apparently true. Quill needed that moment of redemption after being under Ebony Maw’s thumb, and it was a good callback to Quill secretly recording Titus near the beginning of the episode.
The episode ended on a strange note, as Quill revealed that he broke free from the mind control before he shot at Drax, which made the Destroyer feel a little homicidal towards his friend. There’s no moment in the animation that really supports what Quill is saying to Drax, but it seemed like an episode-closing joke that just didn’t work as intended.
I’m encouraged by the way that the show is getting better at featuring Drax and Gamora. Quill’s character still needs a lot of work, but I’m happy to close the book on Titus for now. The Black Order seems like a much better fit as recurring adversaries for this show.
Image Credit: Disney XD/Marvel TV