Before fancy graphics, coherent writing, and cultural sensitivity, the world was a badder place. Join us as we remember a time when having three frames of animation for your sprite was a luxury and the only requirement for rescuing the president from ninjas was being sufficiently bad.
Friday, March 11, 2016
Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 25: The Halley Microbe
Rambo and company are hanging out with KAT's brother, David, at a secluded science base on a tiny island in the ocean. They're watching David as he operates the jumbo refrigerator-sized guidance computer that's bringing a probe back to Earth after it's gathered some space dust left in the wake of Halley's Comet (which actually did pass the Earth in February 1986, well within in this show's timeframe).
Little do they know that they're about to be infiltrated by Black Dragon, who's set on cementing his position as SAVAGE's most successful operative. It's a low threshold to surpass. BD's choice of approach? Underwater! Having tied cinder blocks to his feet, he's walking on the ocean floor.
He's wearing a giant clay pot on his back that's presumably full of air. Upon reaching the island, Black Dragon scales the wall with handheld magnets and makes his entrance through a ceiling vent. In a reversal of traditional ninja tactics, he uses a smoke bomb to herald his arrival, throwing it into the control room and appearing when the smoke dissipates.
Black Dragon then does that classic anime move where you swing your sword once and cause a giant flash of light, then, a few seconds later, the thing you chopped falls apart, cut cleanly in half. His target: the guidance computer. Half of it falls on David and we get a deep close-up of Rambo's bulging muscles as he lifts it, which gives BD enough time to escape. This might be the most effective operation SAVAGE has ever attempted.
The computer being destroyed means that SAVAGE now has guidance control of the Halley probe. To stop them, Rambo and team try to fix the computer by pushing its two severed halves back together. When this for some reason doesn't work, Rambo lays his trademark knife across the keyboard and the computer springs back to life!
The squiggly technological energy lines prove it's working.
They've reestablished control, but it's too late: the probe crashes onto a small-town church somewhere in the middle of America, and the race is on to see who can retrieve it first. Meanwhile, in the town, the probe has sprung a leak, releasing the Halley space dust into the air. The microbe in the dust turns all the adults of the village into raging maniacs, which the Force of Freedom is tipped off to by all the Molotov cocktails the townsfolk start throwing at them when they arrive.
Rambo ends up getting chased through a cornfield on a motorcycle. Knowing he can't attack the innocent people, he lures them into a barn, drives his motorcycle up a ladder to the loft, jumps it out a window into a stack of hay bales, and then shuts the door, safely trapping all the people within. Because one of them touched him, he allows himself to be tied up for the trip back to base, knowing that an enraged Rambo would be a threat to the world. "Whatever you do," he tells David and Turbo, "don't untie me."
In the next scene, Rambo and company are walking around the base trying to figure out how the microbe works.
Rambo then goes off into the woods to look for some kids who ran away from town, leaving an opening for SAVAGE to attack the base and steal the probe. When Rambo turns the tables and invades their base to steal it back, he learns that the reason they were after it was to steal its guidance system so they could more accurately fire their missiles, which seems like a stunning case of misplaced priorities if you ask me.
Rambo proves he's not above biological warfare when he unleashes the microbe upon the SAVAGE forces and steals the probe back during the ensuing chaos. Upon returning to the States, David reveals that the microbe can't affect anyone whose adrenaline is pumping, then demands that those kids from earlier try to hit his inside curveball.