We are in a somewhat unique position with Castle: Destro, considering most everyone who went to the G.I. Joe Convention earlier this month has already seen the episode. I’ve heard pretty much everything about it already, but it just made me want to see it more.
I voiced some complaints in my Shipwrecked review, mostly about the fact that we’re running out of time in G.I. Joe: Renegades way-too-short life, and it seems like we’re still getting some “filler” episodes. Things need to start happening, and happening quick, or there are just going to be way too many loose ends. I was seriously hoping Castle: Destro would be one of those “things are happening” episodes.
We start off with the Joes debarking from Shipwreck’s vessel, following the Techno-Viper’s GPS coordinates to Scotland. The Joes are driving in the Coyote through the Scotland mist and end up in the shadows of an ominous castle. Duke seems more introspective than normal as the Coyote stops and Duke himself exits to perform recon.
The rest of the Joes join him against his direction, and suddenly the castle doors and windows slam shut with steel shutters. As this happens, the Joe weapons power down, leaving them trapped inside.
The next scene shows a simulation of the Bi0-DAG Bio-Viper delivery system dropping down into a city street and swiftly deploying a squad of Bio-Vipers. Even though it’s a simulation, Cobra Commander likes what he sees and congratulations Destro and Mindbender on the project. He wants to launch a real field test…Destro mentions the prototype in his Scotland castle and says he can test it, but requests Baroness’ presence. Cobra Commander agrees.
Inside the castle, the Joes stumble across a portrait of James McCullen, so the immediately realize just who’s castle they’ve ended up in. Scarlett notices Duke’s different attitude and confronts him, and discovers that he takes full responsibility for the dangers of the team. Roadblock nearly drowning in the previous episode has had an affect on him.
Baroness descends towards the castle in the Black Dragon VTOL and is greeted by Destro and a warm fireplace, where he offers her some food and entertainment. Turns out, the entertainment is the G.I. Joe team, stuck within the castle without their weapons. But the Joes do stumble upon a weapons cache, which only contains dead weapons. However, Tunnel Rat locates some more old school tools of violence, including a mace, battle axe, and even an old school crossbow for Scarlett. Destro confronts the Joes via intercom and suddenly the suits of armor around them come to life! Turns out they’re not suits of armor, their Destro’s new prototype “Battle Android Troopers”, humanoid battle robots encased inside the suits of armor.
Destro and the Baroness are getting exceedingly friendly as the Joes scramble to avoid death by laser fire, and they finally barricade themselves inside a room within the castle. The barricade immediately starts falling apart around them, and they use a cannon (and their weapons battery packs) to blow a hole through the wall. Using their old school weapons, the Joes take out the B.A.T.s and end up near the Bio-DAG where they come face-to-mangled-face with Scrap Iron. Immediately more B.A.T.s flood in, accompanied by suits of battle armor and HISS Drones.
The Joes have grabbed some ornamental shields, and take cover, just trying to survive, when Duke spots the Black Dragon VTOL. He races for it as laser fire whips around him, but he makes it to the helicopter and takes off into the air, launching rockets at the robots around him. He puts up a valiant fight, but in spite of his best efforts, laser fire concentrates on the VTOL, and it explodes!
Stunned by the apparent demise of their team leader, the Joes are surrounded and taken in by MARS troopers and androids. Within the castle proper, Destro and the Baroness are drawing even closer, but are interrupted by Cobra Commander, who informs them of a target in Greenland…a competitor who he wishes to eliminate. Destro agrees, but first they wish to go down to the prison cell and ask the Joes a few key questions. Recognizing McCullen’s voice, Scarlett actually gives him some information, telling him about the Techno-Viper GPS system that they followed right to his door. Destro incredulously states that he had no GPS system installed, but realizes that perhaps Mindbender did, and was possibly going to use the Techno-Viper against him. The two Cobra agents casually order the Joes’ deaths at the hands of the B.A.T.s and walk away…but Duke has other plans!
Yes, Duke is alive, and he slams down through the ceiling, wearing a suit of MARS armor, and takes out the B.A.T.s threatening his comrades. He tells the Joes of his narrow escape from the burning Black Dragon, and they all decide to go take out the Bio-DAG, which is preparing to launch. Sporting their own suits of armor, the rest of the Joes and Duke storm the launch pad and begin unloading. The computer launch system is hit, but the Bio-DAG begins launching anyway. Destro realizes he must manually break the clamps so the rocket will launch and not kill everyone in the launching pad. Taking a futuristic laser axe, he begins wrecking the clamps, but is interrupted by Duke! Duke takes him out just as the DAG starts its final launch sequence. Duke leaps onto the launching rocket, slamming it with the laser axe, and causing permanent damage. The Baroness is struck and falls, and Destro swiftly comes to her aid, scooping her up and rescuing her. He vows to take full responsibility for the failure of their plan.
As Castle: Destro burns and crumbles to the ground, the Joes reconverge outside. They promise to work together and work as a team, and all agree that they will follow them to the end, if that’s what it takes.
Wow. Okay, I wasn’t a huge fan of Episode 16. “Shipwrecked” wasn’t a shining example of what G.I. Joe: Renegades could be, but really, it still wasn’t a bad cartoon. Even when Renegades isn’t as cool as Renegades can be, I still find it better than a majority of animated series out there.
But when G.I. Joe: Renegades is on a roll… when Renegades is doing it all right? It’s just plain phenomenal. And I’ll tell you, tonight’s episode was one of those good ones. One of those episodes right up there with Homecoming, The Enemy of my Enemy and Knock Offs. This was pure G.I. Joe: Renegades awesomeness.
First and foremost, we get the first real true “Destro” episode. Sure we’ve seen McCullen throughout the series a few times, but this is the first time he appeared with his metal mask and exuded “Destro” throughout the entire 30 minutes. He was Lord of his Castle, he was a technical wizard, coming up with state of the art weaponry for Cobra. And all the while, he’s charming the Baroness and planning how they can leave Cobra and work together for their own purpose. Yes, THIS is Destro.
Along with this awesome portrayal of the Cobra arms dealer (complete with fantastic voice acting by Clancy Brown as usual) we get introduced to the Renegades form of the Battle Android Troopers! These guys looked great. Colored in the Iron Grenadier color scheme of black, red, and gold, the B.A.T.s were completely and totally different from their Real American Hero counterparts, yet still looked fantastic. Animation was smooth, and they were imposing enemies without being totally indestructable. The Joes used their wits and used their weapons to win the day. The relationship between both The Baroness and Destro was totally perfect again. They were close confidants with a strong desire to be more, but with Cobra always getting in the way. The tech was cool, the battle scenes were great, and I felt like we really got some character evolution and dynamic.
I am really hoping we see the Bio-Vipers phased out in favor of the B.A.T.s, as I think it will serve the same purpose without being quite so funky. Frankly, it was nice and refreshing to get an episode without any real evidence of blue goo anywhere. The writers continue to really build the Joe characters well, giving Duke some excellent depth with inordinate concern for his teammates to the point where he’s willing to die himself rather than risk their lives. Sure, we all knew Duke wasn’t really dead, but the whole thing was still handled nicely and very suspenseful. The ominous tone of The Baroness at the end of the episode only served to further demonstrate just how twisted and evil this universe’s Cobra really is.
Fantastic episode. Spectacular even. It’s episodes like this that make the short one-season lifespan of G.I. Joe: Renegades all the more painful. Here’s hoping we have nine more episodes like this throughout the rest of the series.
Original Airdate: April 23, 2011
Writers: Mitch Rothenberg & Josh Eiserike
Director: Nathan Chew