Final episode for Season 1 of G.I. Joe: Adventure Task Force 5, titled, ‘There Is No Enemy.’
‘General, you had the man at the top of every nations intelligence agency’s most wanted list, with multiple, million dollar contracts for his body live or dead, in my sights, why did you refuse to grant permission to fire? WHY?’ Says Ace, face reddened, as he reachers for his airman’s cap before slamming it down on General Joseph Colton’s desk.
‘Please, call me Joe. It’s time we spoke of something, something, very important.’ Replied the ever stalwart, stern-faced head of operations. ‘It’s time, I tell you, a little about myself, and a little, about Cobra Commander, it’s time I tell all of you,’ Joe promptly presses the intercom button before speaking into the microphone set into his desk, to call for assembly, and to bring extra chairs to his office.
Once all have assembled, the formal, meticulously neat office in a strange state of dissarray as it becomes crowded with so many, proficient, hulking warriors of many different castes, ethnicities, and countries, Joe takes a sip from a glass of water, remaining seated, before beginning his speach.
“It is time, I tell you, that Cobra, was once a young boy, who wished to be one of us. It’s time I tell you, that the man behind the mask, was a boy I went to school with, a boy, who was once, my best friend.”
“You mean he wanted to infiltrate us,” Snaps the ever vigilant and crafty Agent Faces.
“No, not in the sense you are thinking, anyway, Agent.” Replies the General, smooth, and calm despite the interruption.
“Then what do you mean?” Asks the group, the words falling from several slack-jawed mouths.
“I met Cobra, at Springfield elementary school, we were both outcasts in a sense, love for one’s own country was not, how did they call it, ‘hip,’ in that day and age. And Cobra, Cobra was silent, his nose always in a book.”
“Trying to find a way to use our words, our thoughts against us,” Retorts Infiltrator, once more, taking a step closer to the front of the desk, shoving aside Ace, who has remained standing, hands planted at the edge of the desk as he leans against it, intent, discontent gaze still firmly upon the General.
“Agent Faces, next time I’m writing you up for insubordination, and you are not to leave the room until I have granted permission, take a seat, please,” Replies the General, a furrowing of his brow the only sign of underlying frustration, his voice, ever calm, only raised in excitement when needed to do so for moral.
“Let the General talk,” adds Ace, grimly.
“I was not always a man, so well-trained in the martial arts by our military institutions. I was a boy. And once, I was a boy, being shoved to the ground, as two cowardly opportunistic brutes demanded my lunch money. Between their legs, I watched, still capable of feeling fear, as Cobra approached along the playground walls bushes behind them.”
“He stole your lunch money from them, to finance his operations,” Interrupts the ever ready Ambush.
Joe smiles, a warm fatherly smile, before responding, “No, he smacked the two in the back of the head with a fallen branch, in one blow, before I could even be submitted into reaching into my pocket for my lunch money. And then he invited me to talk, at his lonely corner of the lunch table, about our countrys history.”
“He tried to brainwa-” Adds Agent Faces, before being silenced by the General.
“Enough. That’s going on your record. Put down the linguistic weapons, I control the narrative here, Agent Faces.” Snaps the General, his cool voice, raised only slightly, his stern gaze, planted firmly as he stares into Agent Faces eyes.
-Fade out, commercial break, what have you.-
We are now, the audience, at the new Cobra headquarters, relocated after a devastating raid by GI Joes Adventure Task Force, to a generic tropical island, indiscernable whether it is Carribean, Latin American, or South Pacific. A sprawling military industrial complex already built using a natural cave entrance, camera zooms in from a birds eye view of the island, to the cave entrance, before the complex is revealed inside, Cobra troops rushing to assemble machinery and prepare their living areas, the camera traveling through the complex in a linear path, before reaching Cobra Commanders forward operating office, a black slab of a countertop dominating the center of it with a circular shape, the top being a digital screen displaying a map of the world, known remaining Cobra assets, and known GI Joe strongholds marked in red and blue, respectively. Cobra Commander is seated at one end, brooding as he watches over the screen, when suddenly, the Baronness slams open the door, to which Cobra Commander remains unscathed, his eyes still upon the table. Mindbender timidly pacing in behind her as she strides towards Cobra Commander, twisting his desk chair to face her.
“You coward. You are not the man I loved, not the man I signed up to fight with, to die with if need be,” She growls, voice laden with disdain, before slapping Cobra Commander across the face, the camera behind her back, far enough so Mindbender’s appalled reaction is visible before he takes cover against the obsidian table, cowering with arms over his head, visibly shaking. Cobra Commanders face concealed by the Baroness, his mask swiped away by the action. He remains still, for a moment, before reaching for the mask, and putting it back on before the camera displays his face.
“Baronness, please, let me explain,” Replies Cobra Commander, voice timid, a nervous vibe seeping into the normally brazen, enraged voice of his.
“Explain what? How you trashed Mindbenders ingenious scheme for global mind control just because Ace hesitated on his trigger finger?” She snarls back, before taking a seat at the edge of the desk, legs crossed, arms folded over her chest as she looks down upon Commander Cobra, who simply sighs in response, before pressing a red button on an intercom at one corner of the desk, speaking into it:
“Viper team, assemble in my office at once,” The authoritarian, demanding tone so normally used, instantly back in his voice. Once the team has assembled around the obsidian table, awaiting orders for yet another mission, Cobra Commander finally rises, to begin pacing around the table as he speaks:
“Many of you remember First Strike’s folly, many of you were members of First Strike, before I showed you the light,” Begins Commander Cobra, before being interrupted.
“You ruined Mindbenders scheme to contaminate the mind of the enemy!” Snarls the hulking, ever-gasmasked Body Bags, squad commander of Vipers biological warfare division, looking similar to Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy’s depiction of DC villain Bane. His gloved fist leaving a crack on the display atop the table.
“Interrupt me again, and the only contamination you’ll be dealing with this deployment, shall be in the latrine,” Grumbles Cobra Commander in response, briefly pausing his pacing about the room.
“You see, my beloved Vipers, I was not always, your stalwart, spiteful leader shaping your own hatred of the system that has plagued so many of us here. I once was, a boy, and a boy, who attended my primary level education, in the same institution, as General Joseph Colton himself.”
The assembled crowd gasps, several raising their hands to conceal their mouths.
“And why did you not wipe out the menace, then and there?” Exclaims an aghast Black-Out, the cowl of his jungle ghillie suit pulled back.
“You’re forgetting the fall of First Strike, you incompetent fool,” Snarls the towering Cobra Commander, who had quickened his pace to stand face-to-face with Black-Out. Once Black-Out has lowered his sight towards the sleek black boots of Cobra Commander, after an awkward silence of a mutual glare between the two, the Cobra Commander resumes his walk.
“Yes, Joe was then, weak, and vulnerable, but he also was, like myself, full of courage, and his home, full of media, culture of his people denied to me, by my own loving parents own background. So I befriended Joe, and we would watch pulpy action movies, horror movies together, and once, as we sat together before his screen, one sleepover, playing Phantom Recon on his Game Box, he shared with me his fear for the many spiders inhabiting his fathers garage, the fear that he would awaken to one on his bed.”
Mindbender, finally appearing to be relaxed, releases a small chuckle and says, “So you captured one, and placed it on his chest as he slept.”
Cobra Commander continues his pace about the room calmly, stopping behind Mindbender, to simply place his gloved hand upon the mad neuroscientists shoulder and calmly answer, “No, Mindbender, that is not at all what I did.”
-Cut to commercial break.-
Return to GI Joe HQ, similar overhead view of the complex leading back to Joe’s crowded office.
“So, I revealed, my greatest fear at the time, to Cobra Commander, as we played through a mission of Phantom Recon simulating a hostage rescue at a European museum.”
“You fool” Says both Barrel Roll and Agent Faces, in unison.
“You are insulting a superior officer,” Chirps in the now relaxed, and intrigued Ace, his gaze following the General as he walks to and fro behind his desk, unable to walk beyond it into the room due to the small crowd.
“My childhood home suffered from quite the spider infestation. Brown recluses, black widows seemingly under every tool you’d find in my fathers garage. That night, after we’d heeded my mothers insistence to turn off the screen and sleep, Cobra excused himself to go to the restroom.”
-Flashback scene depicting Joe’s words-
A young, athletic Joe wraps himself in sheets in a darkened bedroom, full of smalltown Americana regalia, sports posters, books on history, a photo of a deceased military father on his bedside table. Suddenly, the lights are turned on, and in enters a dark haired boy, eyes concealed by goggles, face concealed by a wrapped bath towel, arms entirely covered by adult-sized long latex gloves meant for cleaning. In one hand, is hairspray can of Joes mother, in one pocket, a bottle of strong adhesive pokes out. In his other hand, is a piece of cardboard, on one side of it, multiple writhing spiders are glued, seeming to look directly at Joe. Joe recoils, his legs pulling out of the sheets, suddenly jumping to a stand against the bedside table, leaning back against it, his hands on it. Unbeknownst to him, the framed picture falls, the picture unscathed but the glass frame cracked.
“W-what are you doing?” stammers a frightful young Joe.
The boy Cobra Commander cackles maniacally, “You see Joe, there is nothing to fear, but fear itself, within your home, are all the tools we need to vanquish these pests. Look how they squirm in fear of our might. Joe, you see, spiders are covered in tiny hairs they use to feel. With but a small hosing of your mothers hairspray, you can turn their movements sluggish, weak, make them easier to control.” answers the boy, with a voice quite smug before he tosses the slab of cardboard ontu the carpeted floor, which surpisingly lands face-up, the entrapped glued spiders looking up at the two young boys. Joe continues to stare at Cobra Commander, before looking down at the mess observantly.
“They’re suffering, stop, we must free them.” Replies Joe, regaining his compusure.
Cobra Commander simply snickers, “Joe, this industrial strengh adhesive will tear their limbs if you try to pull them out, all 8 of them,” He answers, before falling into another maniacal laugh.
Joe angrily leaps towards the cardboard slab of glued spiders, angrily stomping upon them, to which Cobra Commander giddily glaps his gloved hands, “Yes, yes! Put the scum out of their misery, dear friend,” He exclaims while observing Joe, voice elated.
Cut to the day after, the two are seated around Joes childhood home dining table with Joes mother as she is on the phone with Cobra Commanders parents, explaining how she will be taking him to the nearest medical center to cut him free of his glue splattered pants, and treat a chemical burn left by industrial strength adhesive, the camera behind Cobra Commander, so only his dark hair and a hint of ear is visible to the audience, his arms folded over his chest out of sight, as he winces, and cries, “It hurts.” Joe is opposite him, the cracked framed photograph of his uniformed father cradled against his chest. Joes mother hangs up the phone, and places her hand on Joes shoulder. “It was an accident honey, you should forgive your friend, come, let’s go buy another frame for your father after we take Darius to the hospital.”
The boy Joes hardened expression softens, and he releases a sigh, before finally looking up from his feet across the table to Cobra Commander.
-Cut to commercial break.-
We return to the present, within Joe’s office, the crew now clearly relaxed, intently listening to General Joseph Coltons tale. Several announce in unison, before looking at each other in surprise, “What happened next?”
Joe sighs, and continues, “We remained friends, but were never quite so close again. Come the following years, I convinced him to play football with me, and he was scarily effective, until he lost his passion for it…”
Joe’s voice fades out, to be replaced by Cobra Commander, now standing prominently at one side of the room, before a flag bearing the Cobra insignia. “And the hypocrite betrayed me, I was an immigrant to his lands, and my father was being discriminated by his ‘Joes’ for enjoying with his friends a past-time common to his people, owning firearms as a hobby and hunting. And he dared claim my schemes irreprehensible for simply being illegal when I came to him for help, for help uniting our people.”
“I’ve had enough of this cow dung,” retorts the Baronness, before rising from where she had remained seated in the same pose as before, eyes following Cobra Commander, and leaving the room.
Cobra Commander, and the remaining attendees, follow the Baronness with their eyes as she leaves. After she is out of sight, Cobra Commander calmly resumes his speach:
“And so, I did not falter, and returned proudly to my true home, where I did what I do best, my beloved friends. I laid chaos whereever I stepped, and that chaos brought forth change.” Declares the Cobra Commander proudly, to which several nod and murmur in agreement, before Mindbender begins to clap, inciting several to stand and cheer.
The scene returns to Joe’s office.
“And so, our laws banished Cobra Commander from my hometown. And we never spoke, face to face, again.” Concludes the General, with a grim, defeated tone.
“And where was he banished to?” Inquires the now interested Agent Faces.
“That does not matter, Agent. Commander Cobra’s home country is not the enemy here. You see, Commander Cobra, is truly the evil within us all. That is the enemy.” Replies the General firmly, before adding, “You are all dismissed. Now. I need to review intelligence reports and figure out where Cobra might strike next.”
The crew leave in an orderly fashion, after they have done so, Joe collapses his arms upon his desk after taking a seat, propping his head up on his hands. As if in introspective thought, before reaching down to a drawer in his desk, filled with manila folders marked confidential. He shoves his arm inside, reaching behind all of them, to tear a taped photograph free from where it was stuck against the cabinet interior. The camera is now behind his shoulders, looking down at his lap, at a photograph of two young proudly smiling boys, Joe, and a pale, green eyed, jet black haired lanky boy, the two proudly holding up a plump catfish, both gripping the reel leading into its mouth.
By Manuel Ignacio Mier Aguirre, Jr.