Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Red vs. Blue 1x04 - Review

The following is a review of Red vs. Blue season 1, episode 4, “Head Noob in Charge”.

Summary

The episode starts with Church, Tucker, and Caboose hanging around the tank. Church tells Tucker that he has a girlfriend back home and that they were going to get married but it didn’t work out. Caboose interjects that he’s not going to get married himself because his dad told him “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” This attempt at socialization backfires when Church thinks Caboose is calling his girlfriend a cow and Tucker interprets it as Caboose calling her a slut. Church and Tucker—like Simmons and Grif with Donut—decide to give Caboose a fool’s errand to get him out of their hair, and tell him to wait for the General by the flag, which Church indicates is highly important.

Caboose asks what’s so important about the flag. Church and Tucker falter as they try to explain it. “It’s complicated,” Tucker babbles. “It’s blue… we’re blue…”

“It’s just important,” Church asserts, and that’s the end of that. He orders Caboose to stand at attention by the flag for as long as it takes for “the General” to show up.

Caboose hurries off, but pops his head out of Blue Base to apologize for calling Church’s girlfriend a slut. Church loses it and screams for Caboose to get lost. Tucker laughs and turns away. Church turns to look at Tucker… and Donut comes up behind Church when they’re both facing the other way.

Donut tries asking for assistance in purchasing the items he came for, but Church of course thinks he’s Caboose and harshly tells him to go in the base. Donut goes inside, and Caboose takes him for the General. Because Church described the flag as the most important part of the base, Caboose assumes Donut’s there for it. Donut first tries to get elbow grease and headlight fluid, but when it turns out “the store” is out he decides he might as well return with the flag so at least he’s not empty handed. Caboose doesn’t see a problem with it, so he lets Donut take it.

Cut to outside. Church finally decides they’ve admired the tank enough and tells Tucker to get in and take it for a spin. Tucker asks why he should do it when he hasn’t received training for it. Church becomes flustered because he’s not armor certified either. “Holy crap! Who is running this army?” he cries.

Caboose pokes his head out to let them know that the General arrived and took the flag. Church just yells at him to shut up. He turns to Tucker and swears he’ll kill Caboose. Then he realizes what Caboose said as the episode ends.

My Thoughts

This episode is the first to take place exclusively at Blue Base and center on the interaction of the Blues, as well as the first to feature interaction between the Red and Blue Armies. It’s still in the predictable comedy routine, but it’s advancing the plot forward.

The whole ‘Church’s girlfriend’ conversation sets the stage for Tex, although it’s unclear if Rooster Teeth knew what Church’s girlfriend would be like at this point. At this point, Caboose and Donut are like carbon copies in terms of personality and armor in that they each have the regulation color. Neither of their eventual characters are in there. Caboose, while not the brightest, is nowhere near the total idiot of future episodes, and he seems to follow the conversation about having sex, whereas in later seasons there’s a running joke about how he doesn’t understand how babies are made. Donut is eventually made into a gay stereotype who makes his straight companions uncomfortable, but that (rather fortunately) hasn’t developed yet.

As for the ‘Church’s girlfriend’ conversation itself, it seems like Church just wants to be offended. Yes, it’s rude for Caboose to intrude on the conversation, but what he says (“I’m not going to get married. My dad always said ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?’”) really isn’t an insult. He’s not talking about Church’s girlfriend; he’s talking about how he’d view his girlfriend. That makes him a jerk of a boyfriend, but it doesn’t really relate to Church’s relationship at all. If anyone’s being called a slut, it’s Caboose himself because he cares more about sex than commitment.

The flag bit continues the mockery of Halo multiplayer, which is fun. The whole point of Capture the Flag is to have red and blue teams protecting their flag and trying to bring the opponent’s flag to their own base, which makes some sense as a military exercise but makes no sense if you think about it seriously. At this point, Red vs. Blue is the world of Halo multiplayer, so all those oddities are mocked.

From a technical standpoint, it makes sense to have Caboose and Donut in their regulation colors. In order to put the flag in there, Rooster Teeth needed to use the actual Capture the Flag gametype, which forces colors to be either red or blue. With a blue Caboose and red Donut, these two can interact with the flag and drive the plot forward with it, while all other characters would have to appear in separate shots using the Slayer gametype.

I like the bit where Church and Tucker are freaking out because their superiors sent them the tank but no one there knows how to drive it. According to Rooster Teeth, that’s a popular sentiment in the military—that the superiors have no idea what they’re doing—so it’s a joke to appeal to their veteran audience. More than that, though, it sets the stage for the total absurdist view of things to come in later seasons.

Quotes

Church: “Man, that guy’s dumber than you are.”
Tucker: “You mean he’s dumber than you are.”
Church: “Wow, Tucker, that was a great comeback.”

Donut: “Man, they’re going to give me so much shit for coming back with just this stupid flag.”

Church: “Holy crap! Who is running this army?!”

Church: “Why would they give us a tank if nobody here knows how to drive the damn thing?”

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