Guardians of the Galaxy S01 E26: “Jingle Bell Rock”

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While we wait for their movie sequel later this year, Marvel’s animated Guardians of the Galaxy return to Disney X-D for a very special Christmas episode. Confronted by a miserly despot, the Guardians use a familiar theme to teach him a lesson A Christmas Carol style. Meet me after the festive jump for my thoughts on “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Christmas in Space

We open in media res as the Guardians are back on Knowhere pursuing a fugitive, Altru of Callu, but Star-Lord’s head isn’t in the game. It’s that time of year, and he’s getting nostalgic for Christmas. His friends try to cheer him up by researching and recreating Christmas for him but it’s just not the same, more or less because their source material is a bit wonky.

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Let’s face it, the worship of trees by cutting them down then decorating them is abhorrent to more than Groot. The fat man on a sleigh pulled by underfed moombas is almost as mysterious as the tale of a man haunted by three ghosts. Like many things from Quill’s past on Earth, Guardians just don’t get Christmas.

Scrooged

When the Guardians deliver Altru to their client, Neeza (oooh, that pun hurts), they discover he has no intention of paying them, but intends on keeping them as he does all of snowy Callu’s treasures, like the miser his name reflects. Or kill them, whatever comes first.

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Once they escape the clutches of Neeza and his robot soldiers, the Guardians encounter the family of Altru (now obviously the good guy for those not paying attention to the puns), and have a change of heart and plan. They’re going to free Altru and teach that Grinch Neeza a lesson Dickens style.

We Three Ghosts

As with most plans the Guardians come up with, this one is also ill-wrought and badly staged. Enthralled by A Christmas Carol in their research and memories, the trio of Quill, Rocket, and Groot visit Neeza’s bed quarters as ‘ghosts’ to try to get him to repent, hand over his treasures, or give them the key to the dungeon to rescue Altru. Perhaps a unified front would have worked better.

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What no one expects is for Scrooge, I mean Neeza, to pull a gun on the ‘ghosts.’ Once Neeza is subdued however, they release Altru and empty the vaults of treasure. Hmmm… despite all the holiday references dropped every few minutes, this does not seem very Christmasy. Taking off with all that loot kinda makes me feel like that terrible Jim Carrey Grinch movie did – that Christmas can be bought in a store…

Sleigh Ride

There is some fun here when Groot becomes a sled for the pursuit through the mountains, but it reminds me more easily of James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service than “Jingle Bells” or the Grinch coming down Mount Crumpit.

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In the end, while the episode really tries for a warm Christmas feeling with Quill’s childhood memories and giving some of the treasure to the people of Callu, it all rings untrue when Neeza – who learns nothing and gains no Christmas spirit – is blown up in an anti-matter vortex. Nice try, Marvel, but Merry Christmas anyway…

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