Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 24: Mephisto's Magic

No days off this time—we start in media res with Rambo and company flying a biplane through the skies above Philadephia. It seems Col. Trautman got a hot tip that SAVAGE was trying to steal the Liberty Bell, and indeed! The Force of Freedom spots the bell being towed away through the sky by a SAVAGE plane. Rambo does the only logical thing: he jumps onto the bell, shoots the rope, then, while plummeting toward the ground, he attaches an American flag parachute to the bell with suction cups and deploys it, gliding slowly to freedom. Excuse me: to liberty.

The life this man leads!
But this is only the tip of the iceberg! Trautman gets a multi-page, single-spaced letter from General Warhawk claiming that SAVAGE is going to destroy ALL of America's symbols of freedom unless they receive a payoff of $10 million, which feels like a super reasonable ransom amount.

Before the team can do anything to stop this plot, they run into thorny mess of jurisdictional red tape when a U.S. general demands that the Force of Freedom be replaced by military personnel. What is Rambo, I ask you, if not military personnel. Even worse, that cocky-ass bastard refuses to cancel today's magic show at the Washington Monument!

The magician in question is none other than Mephisto,
whose voice is literally identical to Freddie's from Scooby Doo, and
whose Egyptian-themed show is the perfect cover for smuggling the turbaned Nomad into the area. Eh, close enough. For his first trick, Mephisto somehow conjures Rambo and a leopard into a cage together. (Hilariously, the general sees this as Rambo interfering with his orders to stay away.) Shockingly, despite the fact that wrestling jungle cats is one of Rambo's favorite hobbies, he chooses to escape rather than fight the beast. But he's not in time to stop Mephisto from straight-up vanishing the Washington Monument, which I definitely did not think he had in him.

Rambo gives pursuit in the attack jeep, even driving straight through that famous reflecting pond by the monument. When that's not enough, he commandeers a police scooter under the pretense of a "Pentagon Priority!" He promptly drives it straight into the subway (that famous DC subway!) almost gets run down by a train, and then pops out at the exact part of town where Mephisto and Nomad have driven their jeep. Rambo's internal compass and urban tracking abilities are unimpeachable.

Mephisto only has one option left. He drives to the pier, and he and Nomad hop in a barrel, which has a false bottom and is sitting over a trap door on the dock, underneath which they get into a speedboat and drive away. Couldn't have just left the speedboat by the side of the dock, mmmmmmnope.

But it was worth it to fool this corncob pipe bystander!
It all leads up to a one-man assault on a freighter, which I swear to god Rambo ends up doing at least once or twice a week. But in another twist of fate, Mephisto swaps the Washington Monument in the ship's hold(!) for a bunch of dirt, leading that U.S. general to call for the Force of Freedom's disbandment.

Trautman buys the team one more day by waiting until his secretary has gone home for the day to try to file the paperwork, and then clumsily putting the order into his paper shredder instead of his fax machine because he's extremely unused to having to handle routine office tasks by himself. Perfect deniability.

It all comes to a head at Mephisto's palatial 20-acre estate in Virginia, which is described at times as a fun house, a haunted house, and a magical mansion. Its booby traps include:

  • Machine gun-wielding skeletons that pop out of coffins
  • A trap door that turns into a massive wooden slide populated by ventriloquist dummies created in the visages of famous SAVAGE members that throw huge knives at whoever's on the slide
Sleep when you're dead
Sadly, Rambo busts into Mephisto's computerized control room and captures him before we get to see any more of his frankly outstanding home, then reveals that he didn't even steal the Washington Monument after all—he just somehow built another goddamn trap door underneath it, hiding it from view.


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