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 (or at least, I have). So Final Victory has to stick the landing on ending the war, defeating Hitler (at least temporarily), and leaving us with a lasting impression for this style the creators of the show have, well, created. Sadly, I think this episode stumbled on that front, and I’ll tell you why.
The episode starts off with some sailors, enjoying some sailor shenanigans, when a trio of giant monsters rise out of the sea. Danger 5 are enjoying a ping pong game when Chestbridge arrives, more agitated than normal, and gives them the bad news. A trio of invincible Nazi kaiju have started attacking the world, prompting Allied Command to nearly surrender to Hitler. The only hope to stop the monsters is a man named Gibraltar, who claims to be from Atlantis, who 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 (including heretofore unmentioned Danger 5 member Kilroy, a cell animated dog who acts like a 90’s surfer) escape, finding Atlantis but losing Jackson and Claire.
The remaining 4 meet Gibraltar, who shows them the technology to defeat the Nazi monsters; their own giant mech, powered by uranium. After some initial drama from Tucker (who’s freaking out thinking Claire is dead), 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, and stumbles across the scheme; Hitler is working with Gibraltar, using clones of Danger 5 to pilot the Atlantean mech to both conquer the world and 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. After an attempted rescue by Kilroy that results in his death, Pierre both frees the group and murders most of the clones (only the Ilsa and Claire clones survive initially) in a berserker rage. After figuring out who’re the real Ilsa and Claire, they finally manage to kill Hitler (or so they think), and take the mech to fight the Nazi monsters (one of whom is piloted by a not dead Hitler), hopefully to end the war once and for all.
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 a number of costume clad performers stomp around miniature sets while essentially pro wrestling each other and flailing around? And that’s just the beginning, since 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 (I mean, honestly, how chill does Atlantis look?) while tying it to the Nazi monsters. 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 good to know the show creators go all out with the fun wackiness.
The other thing to love with this episode are 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), and this delivers on that front. We get two big damn kiss moments between the two romantic pairs that have developed over the show, and they both result in situations that feel true to the characters as we’ve gotten to know them. With Tucker and Claire, they get their big moment after Tucker decides to nut up and be brave for once, sacrificing himself so the Danger Warrior can operate and defeat Hitler’s Victory Demon, which causes Claire to reveal her feelings for him, and they end up together. With Tucker and Ilsa, they get their big moment earlier in Atlantis, when the men are trying to determine which female team member is a clone or not (it makes sense in context), with Jackson shooting the clone based on how well he knew Ilsa, and she kisses him to (kinda) prove him wrong. At the end however, this doesn’t lead to anything, 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; with Claire and Tucker being the more traditional and straightlaced getting a happily ever after, while the other two 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), which I won’t spoil for now, since it’s incredibly funny to see as we get to them.
That said, compared to a lot of other episodes this season, there’s a lot I didn’t like in Final Victory. For example, a lot of the humor didn’t land for me. In fact, 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, which was the exact same as the Stalin mustache joke in Kill-Men of the Rising Sun, but didn’t land nearly as well (probably doesn’t help Il President isn’t real compared to Stalin and his famously strong mustache). 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, but we’ve already seen other countries and heads of state (like Stalin), so 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 (actually, a better phrase would be fucking despise), it’s the previously unmentioned 6th member of Danger 5, Kilroy. 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) before getting killed by Hitler (and is forgotten as quickly as he’s introduced). Again, I can understand why Kilroy was added, but his presence is just a true tonal shift, and not in a good way. In fact, the best moment involving Kilroy is Hitler blowing his brains out, which causes 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 often times effective and often times bumbling villain. With this weeks scheme, Hitler falls into a weird area between Kill-Men of the Rising Sun and Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace, in that he’s both effective and not at all. On the side of being effective, he devised and ran another scheme (the monsters with Gibraltar and the clones) 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 (which always drives me nuts, even though I understand it often times makes for less compelling stories if the villain is too effective), trying to humiliate Danger 5 through the clones while achieving world domination. This of course gives the team plenty of opportunities to foil his schemes, and when he has the chance to destroy them (when they are captured and when his Victory Demon is about to deliver the killing blow) he gloats, once again giving the team enough time to defeat the Fuhrer. At least we know in the end Hitler will be back for some season 2 shenanigans.
So what do I think about Final Victory? As a season finale, Final Victory does some good work closing out the season arcs, giving 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 (which I’ll cover then). As a single episode though, Final Victory is saddled with some characters that range from confusing to outright annoying, along with some recycled humor. In a way, it’s a bittersweet farewell, since this episode could have been great with 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 Chunderdome” .
Final Rating: C+