April 4, 2020

Danger 5 “Final Victory” Review | Off the Beaten Path

After 5 epic episodes that are elephantine in length and scope (or, you know, half-hour long romps) we’ve made it to the first season finale of Danger 5, Final Victory. As the season finale, Final Victory is our last taste of the 60’s pulp fiction inspired WWII we’ve come to know and love. I have at least.

So Final Victory to do a few things to be successful. It has to stick the landing on ending the war. It has to show how the team defeats Hitler, at least temporarily, in a convincing way. Lastly, it has to leave us with a lasting impression for this style the creators of the show have created. Sadly, I think this episode stumbled on that front, and I’ll tell you why.

The Episode Summary

The episode starts with some sailors, enjoying some sailor shenanigans when a trio of giant monsters rise out of the sea. Danger 5 is enjoying a ping pong game when Chestbridge arrives. More agitated than normal, he gives them the bad news. A trio of invincible Nazi kaiju has started attacking the world, prompting Allied Command to almost surrender to Hitler. The only hope to stop the monsters is a man named Gibraltar. Gibraltar not only claims to be from Atlantis but also claims to have the technology to defeat the Nazi monsters. The mission becomes clear; find this Gibraltar, give him the uranium needed to power his machine, stop the Nazi monsters, and damn well kill Hitler.

They then take a submarine to the city, and the gang as per tradition gets separated. First, Claire is dared to kill a giant crab outside the sub, and Jackson goes to rescue her when a shark starts attacking her. Once they’re outside, the sub is attacked by one of the monsters, and after some quick thinking, the others escape, finding Atlantis but losing Jackson and Claire. They’re also joined by Kilroy, a cell animated dog who acts like a 90’s surfer, and heretofore unmentioned Danger 5 member.

The remaining 4 meet Gibraltar, who shows them the technology to defeat the Nazi monsters aka an Atlantean giant mech, powered by uranium. After some initial drama from an unhinged Tucker, the quartet rest for the night. During the night, Tucker and Claire are visited by visions (or so it seems) of Claire and Jackson respectively. Tucker, mad and paranoid from grief, follows the trail of the vision. It’s here he stumbles across the scheme. Hitler is working with Gibraltar, using clones of Danger 5 to pilot the Atlantean mech. He has two reasons for this. The first is pretty standard, namely to conquer the world. The second is to destroy the reputations of Danger 5 in one fell swoop.

The rest of the group is captured and brought to Hitler, who explains the scheme to the rest. Pierre both frees the group and murders most of the clones (only the Ilsa and Claire clones survive) in a berserker rage after Kilroy is killed in a rescue attempt. After some debate, they figure out who’re the real Ilsa and Claire. They then finally manage to kill Hitler (or so they think) and take the mech to fight the Nazi monsters. During the fight with the monsters, they learn that not only the real Hitler is still alive, but he’s piloting the most dangerous monster. What follows is a battle of good vs evil, with the fate of the free world in the balance.

My Thoughts

So, what’s there to love with Final Victory? First and foremost, I loved how pulpy this episode got with the greater plot. I mean, as a fan of the ridiculously fun Showa era Godzilla movies, giant monsters wrecking cities and fighting each other is my jam. I mean, how can you not have fun watching some costume-clad performers stomp around miniature sets while essentially pro wrestling each other and flailing around?

Plus, I haven’t even got to Atlantis yet. Atlantis, being a lost city-bound endlessly in myth and occult thought, has been a breeding ground for pulp fiction adventure stories over the decades, and even before pulp fiction became a thing. It’s fitting then Danger 5 visits the lost metropolis, giving it the perfect 60’s treatment the first season has created for itself. We also got a clone plotline, multiple betrayals, at least one giant squid. In other words, the works. Since this will be our last look at Danger 5’s weird 60’s style WWII, it’s fun to see Russo and Ashby go all out with the fun wackiness.

The other thing to love with this episode is the main characters themselves. As the season finale, it’s expected we get some closure on the plot lines between the team, namely the romance. Safe to say, Final Victory delivers on that front. We get two big damn kiss moments between the two romantic pairs that have developed over the show. Plus, both kisses result in situations that feel true to the characters as we’ve gotten to know them.

Let’s start with Tucker and Claire. They get their big moment after Tucker decides to nut up and be brave for once. In this case, Tucker sacrifices himself so the Danger Warrior can operate and defeat Hitler’s Victory Demon. Because of the high emotions of the scene, Claire reveals her feelings for him, and they end up together. With Tucker and Ilsa, they get their big moment earlier in Atlantis. When the men were trying to determine which female team member is a clone or not, Jackson shoots the clone based on how well he knew Ilsa. She then kisses him to prove him wrong, since he said the real Ilsa doesn’t care for him. This doesn’t lead to anything however, what with Ilsa making out with Il Presidente while Jackson watches glumly.

It’s a dichotomy that highlights each pair and how they’ve grown over the show. Claire and Tucker, being the more traditional and straightlaced getting their happily ever after. Conversely, Jackson and Ilsa don’t. Well, Ilsa does at the very least. We also get hints at how the characters will progress in season 2. I’m looking at you, Tucker and Jackson. I won’t spoil these for now, since it’s incredibly funny to see as we get to them, but they’re there.

That said, there’s a lot I didn’t like in Final Victory. For example, a lot of the humor didn’t land for me. It seemed like a lot of the humor was a retread of better jokes from earlier in the season. The big offender of this to me was the toupee joke. It’s the same joke as the Stalin mustache joke in Kill-Men of the Rising Sun but it doesn’t land nearly as well. To me at least, this is because Il President isn’t a real historical figure, so comparing him to Stalin and his famously strong mustache is misguided.

Speaking of Il Presidente, I’m not sure how I feel about him as a character and a concept. I mean, the idea of there being a president of the world makes sense in the world of this show. The problem is we’ve already seen other countries and heads of state, like Stalin for example. This means fitting Il Presidente into this wacky world of politics just muddles things for me.

If there’s one character I don’t like in Final Victory, it’s the previously unmentioned 6th member of Danger 5, Kilroy. You know what, a better way to sum up my feelings would be that I fucking despise him. Kilroy is a cell animated dog that sounds like a perpetually stoned 90’s surfer who just cracks wise and hangs with Pierre aka the one character who can stand him. What’s more, after he’s killed by Hitler, he’s forgotten as quickly as he’s introduced. Seriously, he’s never brought up again.

Again, I can understand why Kilroy was added. I just find that his presence is just a true tonal shift, and not in a good way. The best moment involving Kilroy is Hitler blowing his brains out, causing Pierre to go on a rampage (man, Pierre doesn’t get much to do this episode). It’s saying something that in a world as surreal as Danger 5, there can be a character whose presence straight up doesn’t make sense.

Speaking of Hitler, I ought to devote some words to our oftentimes effective and often bumbling villain. With this week’s scheme, Hitler falls into a weird area between Kill-Men of the Rising Sun and Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace. Namely, he’s both effective and not effective at all. On the side of being effective, he devised and ran the scheme involving the monsters, Gibraltar, and the clones. This was a scheme with true, immediate stakes for the world just like in Kill-Men of the Rising Sun. He even takes on Danger 5 and the Danger Warrior single-handedly in his Victory Demon and was moments away from victory.

On the not effective side, Hitler succumbs to some true Bond villain stupidity. Namely, he tries to humiliate Danger 5 through the clones while achieving world domination. This, of course, gives the team plenty of opportunities to foil his schemes, he instead gloats. This gives Danger 5 not one, but two opportunities to stop him. The first was when they are captured and the second is when his Victory Demon is about to deliver the killing blow. This always drives me nuts. I mean, I understand why it’s done. It oftentimes makes for less compelling stories if the villain is too effective, but still. At least we know Hitler will be back for some season 2 shenanigans.

In Conclusion

So what do I think about Final Victory? As a season finale, Final Victory does some good work. It closes out the season arcs, gives us one last good taste of the world of a 60’s pulp-inspired WWII, while quietly setting up the 80’s inspired post-WWII we’ll get in season 2. As a single episode though, Final Victory is saddled with some serious baggage. Namely, characters that range from confusing to outright annoying, along with some recycled humor.

In a way, it’s a bittersweet farewell. This episode could have been great, and all would take to do so are a few changes. That said, prepare yourselves for the dialed up insanity that is season 2 of Danger 5, preferably not with a perfect “Beyond Thunderdome”.

My Recommendation: Recommend With Caveats 

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Joseph MacMaster

Writer extraordinaire in progress who hangs out with the Chicago Film Scene crew. I screenwrite for my fellow CFS filmmakers. I also write TV and movie reviews, and am a co-host/main writer of the Chicago Film Scene: Live! podcast.

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