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One of the more intriguing aspects of the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series is that it has the ability to pull from Marvel’s comic book universe in addition to everything that was in the movie. If you happened to read the description for “Bad Moon Rising,” then you would have noticed that this episode was originally slated to introduce Ego the Living Planet, one of Marvel’s wilder cosmic characters.

But there is no Ego here, either the planet or the Freudian interpretation. Instead, the Guardians visited Mandala, which was much less interesting than an evil planet with its own goatee. This episode started as they always do, with the Guardians on a quest for the Cosmic Seed with the map that never actually takes them anywhere in time to do something about it. This show feels like a throwback to animated series that tease serialization but don’t actually have much forward progression.

As the show constantly reminded us, Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord (Will Friedle) is an immature man-child who can’t help but make himself look like an idiot. Here, Quill punched Groot (Kevin Michael Richardson) while attempting to educate his fellow Guardians about the living hell of “car games.” Gamora (Vanessa Marshall) actually threatened Quill with her sword to get him to sit down. By his own admission, Quill wanted to act like a child and navigate to a moon that was suspiciously not where it should have been. Instead, they found Nebula (Cree Summer)…or more accurately, she found them, Nebula was also armed with Ronan’s Universal Weapon, which Drax (David Sobolov) tossed at her ship a few episodes back.

While Groot kept the cockpit from being crushed, Quill spun the ship at high speed and used its momentum to slingshot Nebula out into space. Not a bad way to get her off the stage, but it was only a temporary solution. The Guardians proceeded to Mandala, the formerly barren moon that was now transformed by the Cosmic Seed into a lush planet. Quill added that “just maybe, the Cosmic Seed will be down there.” Spoiler alert: it wasn’t there.

On the surface, Quill was his usual annoying self, but the rest of the Guardians reverted to previous states in their lives. Rocket (Trevor Devall) went feral, Groot became a klutz, Drax became an arena fighter (complete with crowd noises that only he could hear), and Gamora once again became a loyal follower of Ronan and Thanos. Both Gamora and Drax turned on Quill when he tried to explain who they really were.

After Rocket briefly regained his senses while in the air, Quill figured out that it was the planet itself that was regressing his friends. Using his ice beam, Quill managed to get his team back in their right minds. Then the planet Mandala (Richardson) directly addressed them and said that it made them “young” because it wanted to play. Mandla also used hot spring geysers to melt Quill’s ice and once again reverted his teammates.

Meanwhile, things got a bit crazier when Nebula arrived on the planet, and Mandala called her a “friend.” Nebula then revealed that she planted a seed of her own inside the planet’s Cosmic Seed-infused soil…and out popped a suddenly resurrected Ronan the Accuser (Jonathan Adams). Wow… I was hoping that the show would resist bringing Ronan back to life. This episode also made more direct allusions to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie’s version of Ronan’s demise, including Quill’s dance-off.

Guardians of the Galaxy 110 part 2

In the present, Quill goaded the reverted Guardians into following him to Nebula’s location. And it has to be said that Quill’s childish taunts were really poorly written. They were every cliché, ever. Strangely, Ronan only recognized Gamora as his lieutenant and he attacked Nebula to reclaim his Universal Weapon. Amusingly, the reverted Drax refused to attack Ronan because he had no quarrel with him. He even advised Ronan that revenge was a waste of time!

But in short order, the Guardians were dumped in a crevice and Quill convinced them to work together to escape before it closed on them. At the same time, Ronan celebrated his new lease on life by dominating Mandala and making the planet go to Xandar, the home world of the Nova Corps. I swear, this dude has only one plan, and the episode is pretty shamelessly lifting it from the movie.

To save the day, Quill convinced Mandala to stop regressing his teammates. That led to one of the better Gamora vs. Nebula fights as Drax got his ass handed to him by Ronan. With an assist from Quill and Groot, Mandala managed to break free of Ronan’s control and throw Ronan and Nebula off of the planet.

In the aftermath of once again preventing the destruction of Xandar, Drax was upset that Ronan was among the living. But Rocket noted that Drax can destroy him again. Mandala also told the team that it wants to protect, and Quill named it an honorary Guardian. So…it’s a Marvel take on DC’s Mogo and not Ego?

Back on the Milano, Quill had the Guardians set him up for a slingshot into space for fun, and the rest of the team embraced his immaturity and car games…except Rocket. Not a great ending, or even a great episode. But the pacing was actually really good. The episode moved so quickly that it never had time to become boring.

However, the writing choices on this series continue to be suspect. It’s entirely possible to aim an animated series at children without treating them like they’re idiots. Through ten episodes, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has shown no aspirations of higher quality. And the show can’t blame Mandala for the childish tone that it has taken on.

What did you think about this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Marvel TV/Disney XD

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