Finally the quest for the Cosmic Seed leads the animated Guardians of the Galaxy to Earth. With Korath in pursuit, can Earth withstand this alien invasion? Find out after the jump in my review of this Star-Lord-centric episode, “Welcome Back.”
Did anyone else notice what I thought I saw in the first few seconds of this episode? Was that Jarhead and a Moloid in Knowhere Market? Easter eggs are cool, but it would be even cooler if it was them. Then again, cool is not something this animated series has been of late. More often than not subtlety has been pushed to the back-burner in favor of bludgeoning viewers with the obvious.
The Guardians have sneaked onto Knowhere (no air traffic control?) and Star-Lord wants to see Cosmo, the telepathic Soviet astro-dog who chills with the Collector. The showrunners again buck the continuity of the Marvel Animated Universe and inform us that Star-Lord hasn’t been back to Earth in 25 e years. Before we can say, “Wait, what?” Korath ambushes our heroes, cue opening credits.
Star-Lord? Who’s Star-Lord?
While it is brief, the opening fight between the Guardians (sans Star-Lord) and Korath and his goons is one of the better ones we’ve seen in quite a while. Gamora, Rocket, and Groot actually get some screen time, aren’t doing the same old things they always do in a tussle, and the animation veers from the usual with some varied camera angles. I was impressed.
Just when I was thinking it was about time someone realized this wasn’t the Star-Lord and Friends Show, Korath asks Gamora where the team’s leader Star-Lord was. Groan… I knew it couldn’t last, but she had the perfect comeback, and it made me smile, “Never heard of him.” More of this please.
Blast from the Past
Sadly all good things come to an end, and it does become the Star-Lord show, for reals. When he finds Cosmo, they get in the plot device, I mean the Continuum Cortex, and teleport to Earth. With Cosmo’s telepathic help, they can pinpoint the Cosmic Seed’s possible location to Peter Quill’s hometown. I can’t be the only one who immediately thought, “Why didn’t they just do this in the first place?”
There are some fun bits, as the pair walk through the pleasant small town, mostly concerning Cosmo being a dog, and Quill having been away 25 years. Cosmo feels naked without his spacesuit, and Quill wonders where the record store and comic shop went, and why people are talking into their tape players. Real Back to the Future stuff. It gets old quick however.
Bullies and Cops and Maturity
Like any good time travel movie, even though it isn’t, the bad guy follows the hero. Korath is after him, and doesn’t care who he hurts or blows up. Stealing a car that Cosmo drives and flies telekinetically, the pair evades Korath’s pursuit using Quill’s memories of Miami Vice. No, I couldn’t make that up. Even though it’s way more Dukes of Hazzard. They cannot, however, escape Coogan, Quill’s childhood-bully-turned-cop. Why is it bullies always become cops? Never mind, not the time nor the place.
After taking them to jail, being attacked by Korath, and saved by the Guardians, Coogan and Quill make up. It’s almost an adult moment, until we’re reminded what a child Star-Lord is. The act is getting old, why won’t he just grow up? You mean to tell me that all those years with Yondu and the Ravagers, he never once matured, even a little bit?
Coogan agrees to help and Quill agrees to let him, and off the crew goes to find the Cosmic Seed. They find that the old Quill farm has become a mall, an active mall. I found this odd. Aren’t malls, like Quill and record stores, a thing of the past? Anyway they believe the Seed may be in a tornado shelter still beneath the mall. Still? Seriously?? Doesn’t this mall have a foundation?
Nevertheless Korath pursues and brings reinforcements this time, and the fight is on in the mall. Like the earlier battle, the tactics and angles are refreshing, and everyone gets a chance to shine. Often when we get to the slugfest portion of the episode I get bored. This was different, smart, and engaging, and of course, the good guys won.
Yes, there were problems with this episode, and it was super-focused on Star-Lord, a character this series has made me dislike quite a bit – but this was the best one in some time. I’m looking forward to more, a feeling I haven’t had about this show in a while. We’re still looking for the Cosmic Seed (still!) but honestly, this time, I don’t mind.
Serious props must go out to writer Marsha Griffin and director Jeff Wamester for this one. The characters aren’t jokes, even though they may be funny. For instance, I loved Rocket’s discovery of duct tape, and more Cosmo please. I didn’t even mind that there was no John Sebastian song to match the title reference. This was one of the good ones; bring on the next episode!
And as an added bonus this week, we also got a first look at Mantis, who will be appearing in the film sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That’s her, between Nebula and Star-Lord. Yeah, I’m both thrilled and hesitant to see one of my favorite Avengers on the big screen. I hope they do her right.
Next: I’ve Been Searching So Long!