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Any TV show that begins and ends with the classic Marvel monster Fin Fang Foom menacing the team is off to a good start. The third episode of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy began with Fin Fang Foom chasing The Milano after Star-Lord a.k.a. Peter Quill (Will Friedle) inadvertently released him while searching for the Cosmic Seed.

It became clear early on that the focus of this week’s episode would be on Rocket Raccoon (Trevor Devall), as he felt put upon when the other Guardians demanded that he repair vital systems on their ship in the middle of the chase. The team blamed Rocket for dismantling parts of the ship for his gadgets, and he responded by taking over the helm and nearly getting them all killed while effecting their escape from Fin Fang Foom. It was a good action sequence to open the show, even if the characterization of the Guardians in this scene was a little one note.

Rocket’s frustration boiled over in the next scene as he attempted to attack Drax (David Sobolov) for telling him to stop treating Groot (Kevin Michael Richardson) so badly. The fact that Rocket couldn’t actually hurt Drax with his fists gave the scene a comedic touch and I loved Drax’s deadpan reaction when Rocket threw a space wrench at him.

Groot’s attempt to finish the repairs by himself ended up spacing Quill and Gamora (Vanessa Marshall), before the ship and the Guardians were saved by the outer space Liberace known as the Collector (Tom Kenny). It seems like Marvel’s animation team looked at Benicio Del Toro’s performance as The Collector in the movie and decided that he wasn’t flamboyant enough. His appearance in this episode kicked off one of the week’s best running gags as the Collector identified Quill as “Land-Lord” and he openly assumed that the Milano was just a derelict vessel that he could strip for parts.

The ongoing storyline of the Cosmic Seed and the Spartaxian Cryptocube slightly moved forward this week as the Collector clearly coveted the Cryptocube and he revealed that the team needs Pandorian crystals to unlock its secrets. So, it’s basically one macguffin on top of another. But it was really just an excuse for Rocket to temporarily leave the team. The Collector offered the team repairs for their ship, a repair drone, and the location of a Pandorian crystal in exchange for Rocket joining his employ.

I think that the show is getting better at using Drax, as his contribution to convincing Rocket to stay with the team was only a reminder that he has “resisted the urge to feast on [Rocket’s] roasted carcass, so far.” Rocket angrily took the job, and it hit Groot hard. In another movie callback, Groot grew two flowers and he gave one to Rocket as a goodbye gift. But it turns out that Groot has the ability to monitor Rocket through the twin flowers…really?! I’ve got to call BS on that one. This episode basically invented a power for Groot out of thin air because it needed some way to get the Guardians to eventually come back for Rocket. Gamora and the other Guardians even seem to know about this power even though it has never been shown before.

In addition to playing the Collector, Kenny also voiced Droney, a subservient repair drone whom Star-Lord embraced as a superior technician to Rocket even if it couldn’t seem to get his name right. Droney was also revealed as an unwitting spy for The Collector who sent the team down an asteroid cave to retrieve a Pandorian crystal. But the cave was alive! That’s right, it’s the old Empire Strikes Back trick as the team tried to escape the jaws of the creature before they closed. It was lifted almost verbatim from Empire, until Quill realized that the best way to escape was by flying out of the creature’s ass…and then a space fart happened. Well, that was disgusting.

Back on the Collector’s ship, Rocket loved his new job and the access to weapons and technology. He even created Oblitobot, a walking battle droid that wrecked havoc on the Collector’s lab…and inadvertently revealed that Rocket’s freedom was an illusion. Rocket was never an employee of the Collector, he was just another collectible. Here’s why the Groot flower power was so unneeded: the Guardians were already headed back to confront the Collector for sending them into a trap. Groot’s pantomime (or Lassie impression) was amusing, but redundant.

By the time that the Guardians returned to the Collector’s ship, Rocket had already escaped his cell. But it did lead to a nice character beat in which Quill looked like he was willing to meet the Collector’s demand for the Crypto Cube in exchange for Rocket’s freedom. Rocket had other ideas, as he released all of the Collector’s living specimens…including Fin Fang Foom, who was identified by name! I loved that touch.

The second battle with Fin Fang Foom was even better than the first one. This series seems to have a good handle on its action scenes. In the course of the battle, the Collector lost so many of his collectibles that the team was able to blackmail him into letting them take all of his living specimens (including a subdued Fin Fang Foom) and return them to their homes. That was actually a pretty heroic beat for Rocket, who also successfully took charge during the team’s battle with Fin Fang Foom. This episode was largely effective at building up Rocket’s character. Outside of Rocket, Drax showed the most improvement as the writers seem to be getting a better idea of how to mine him for comedy.

I’ll miss Droney, who turned out to be a pretty funny presence in the episode. Droney even got the Star-Lord name right before Rocket destroyed him! But the final beat of the episode revealed that the Collector still coveted the Cosmic Seed, and he intends to take it for himself after letting the Guardians do the dirty work of finding it for him. The Collector was so easily beaten in this episode that it’s a little hard to take him seriously as a threat. But he does have some potential as a recurring villain.

Next week’s episode will finally bring in a threat that didn’t appear in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie: The Grandmaster. I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out.

Marvel fans, what did you think about the second episode of Guardians of the Galaxy? Let us know in the comment section below!

Image: Marvel/Disney XD

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