If you know me at all, you probably wouldn’t think Red vs Blue is something I’m interested in in the least. The crass humor isn’t normally my scene, I couldn’t care less about the Halo games or lore, and I usually prefer more strong ladies in my cast than RvB, especially the early episodes, sports. However, we can all blame my very first boyfriend for getting me hooked on the show at an impressionable age. Really though, the backstory here is quite irrelevant. The whole point I want to make is this: RvB14 is here, ladies and gentlefolk! So without further ado, the spoilerific review of episodes 1-4!
Episode 1 – Room Zero
Season 14 of RvB is an anthology series, and as such, it is going to be showcasing episodes that focus on different stories, use different mediums, and are written by a vast number of different people. Episode 1 of the season starts us off with the much teased RvB Animated series, or, well, episode, as the case may be.
I’m sure it’s safe to say that while not everyone has seen this, a fair number of RvB fans have. The majority of the episode was featured as an extra on one of the DVDs a few seasons back. However, for the sake of this review, I will operate under the assumption that not everyone has seen it.
Basically, we have Church, Simmons, and Grif working together to run a mission to rescue Sarge and Tex. They are, of course, an absolute dream team. If by dream team you mean bickering bunch of morons. They do at least realize this, as Church himself says Tex and Sarge will be dead by the time they can even reach them.
Grif, in true Grif fashion, makes the attempt to talk the others into just giving up and going home. Unfortunately for Grif, he’s stuck with two smart guys who Have A Plan(TM). Grif sulks off, bitching solely about Simmons, because of course, only to manage to open the door to a room filled with alien enemies. Way to go Grif, aces. Truly aces.
(insert graphic here)
Chaos ensues, and yet they still try to go through with The Plan(TM). The Plan(TM) being strap a remote controlled rocket to Church and guide him through. It goes about as well as you’d expect, resulting in Grif and Simmons having their asses handed to them while Church makes like Team Rocket and blasts off into the sky.
So what’s with this set up, you may ask. You may also ask why is Rooster Teeth starting off season 14 with something many have seen before. All perfectly reasonable questions, and ones I can give you rather exciting answers to. It all goes back to the end of season 8/beginning of season 9 when Epsilon!Church got stuck in the memory unit when he ran in after Tex. We finally have some new content that gives that context to the animated short.
Church is doing what AI (presumably) do and running different scenarios on how to save Tex. We’re treated to him arguing with another version of himself in the glorious way that only Church could, followed up with a transition to a beautifully animated Blood Gulch that feeds right into the beginning of the Blood Gulch sections of season 9.
Episodes 2-4 – The Blood Gulch Prequels
I think the best way to talk about these episodes is as a lump sum, as these three episodes lead into season 1 of RvB. The focus is mostly on Red Team, and while I’m Blue Team for life, I do love me a Red Team centric story.
From Stumbled Beginnings
We start off telling the story of how Grif and Simmons met during basic. Of course, I’m always down for some Grimmons, even if I’m a little disappointed that I can no longer pretend they were already married when the series started.
Also, can I just go ahead and say that Vic’s intros kind of give me goosebumps. They are thrilling and really tie the season together cohesively.
I do kind of wish we knew why Simmons and Grif have different colored armor than everyone else when in basic. It was my understanding that they got the unique armor for accomplishments. Granted, I guess that was a bit of a stretch. Not sure what accomplishments they would have under their belts before the show started. They were pretty useless back then.
At any rate, I digress. At the least, we know Grif has always been a troll. Poor Simmons never stood a chance against him. As Gif says, “This is the start of a singularly beneficial relationship.” But we all love it, right? So no complaints here!
Unless of course you’re Hammer. And who can blame him. It takes a special kind of crazy to deal with these loons. Hammer was never really cut out for it, as proven by his death. Ah, farewell to the wonderful trio of Hammer, Grif, and Simmons. We barely knew ye. But your demise has given rise to the glorious duo of Grimmons. I think we’re all winners here.
At least he still got to die a hero. At least as Grif and Simmons tell it, anyway. And Grif and Simmons get sent to a “special outpost.” History was made this day, my friends. History was made in Danger Canyon.
Also, I spy with my little eye a pretty, teal flower.
Fifty Shades of Red
Now onto the history of Sarge.
So who knew there were so many variants of red armor. Or so many variants of Sarge impersonations. Or that Sarge’s name is actually Sarge. Or that maybe one Sarge is plenty of Sarge.
The first training exercise is for them all to play a game of Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes. I always thought it seemed like such a fun party game, though I’ve never played it myself. I thought to myself, “self, you should get a copy of this game the next time you can deign to be in a room full of that many people.” However, I never realized it could be so dangerous! But maybe since I won’t be playing with Sarge, no one will actually die.
Sarge does at least seem to inspire his fellow soldiers…
Meanwhile, behind the scenes of the Red Army’s version of Survivor, it’s time for gool ol’ Cappy Flowers to interview candidates for his next hit show! May I present to you Over Eager People Pleaser, Sir Listens Talks A Lot, and Lavernius Tucker. I think we all know who wins the starring role here. I will say though that the vetting process for Blue Team seems a lot less rigorous than the one for Red Team.
Speaking of which! Time to visit back in with our lovely contestants on the island! Seems we missed a lot during that commercial break because Sarge has managed to kill all but one of his fellow contestants. And poor Lemons has just lost all control. Definitely not a good idea for him to leave the army and go host a game show. Nope. For his own sanity, would not recommend.
Finally, through some savvy talking, Sarge convinces his only competition left to shoot himself, naming Sarge the victor! Congratulations! You win a trip to Blood Gulch, in which you get to take two complete strangers! You three enjoy! I hear it’s lovely in the box canyon this time of year!
But first, we must kill the host. Now onto Blue Team Problems!
Why They’re Here
Today! Today, friends, we answers a very important question! Today, we answer a question fourteen years in the making! Today, we answer the question that built a legacy.
“Do you ever wonder why we’re here?”
Even poor Private Jimmy, who we thought never made it due to being beaten to death with his own skull by Tex, was in fact with us from the very beginning.
We also answer the lesser question of how the hell did Church not know he wasn’t a real person. Ironically, a friend asked me that just the day before this aired. I should probably fill him in.
I digress! We were talking about Private Jimmy, of course! Brave Private Jimmy, who was such a good kid and volunteered for a very special mission. He, unwittingly, volunteered to have what amounts to an AI parasite implanted in his head so that it could take over his body.
Ya know, it’s kind of depressing when you put it like that. Also, Florida might be a lunatic. Or, well, I guess we already knew that, but a sociopathic lunatic? Is that a newer idea?
I can honestly say that I don’t think I ever realized Vic was a virtual intelligence until this episode. So there’s that.
There are so many call backs to the follies of the BGC that it makes my nostalgic, fangirl heart flutter.
Ah yes, the story of how Private Jimmy was killed by Tex is finally backed up as wrong. It’s just Church’s shitty memory. Shitty aim, shitty memory. I was going to make a joke, but given that those probably became other AI fragments, that just seems in poor taste, so…
Oh look! Tucker! Yeah, let’s talk about Tucker. Tucker immediately invokes distaste in Church and complains about looking like a teletubby due to his regulation blue. And Church wants to get Tucker shot. Tucker, be glad Church is a bad aim. So yeah, let’s spy on the Reds!
We are revisiting the Vegas Quadrant inside joke! Grif is trying so hard to convince Simmons to go, and Simmons steadfastly refuses. And poor Simmons. He keeps getting thrown under the bus by Grif. And Sarge is buying it hook, line, and sinker. Curiouser, and curiouser.
Poor Tucker. Such a placeholder on Blue Team. For now, anyway. Of course that all changes later. Also, love the meta moment (not to be confused with a Meta moment) of Church and Tucker commenting on the oddity that is Captain Butch Flowers and cinematic moments. Oh you poor, sweet, innocent cupcakes. You have no idea.
Back down into depths we go to talk to Vic. FYI, Vic’s start up sound is the Windows start up sound, which confused the hell out of me when I was watching it on my PC.
“This war will be in a stalemate for a long time. Maybe even up to fourteen seasons.” So much meta! I love it more than you can ever possibly know. And then the quick explanation of preferring to think of the passage of time in reference to the four seasons. Can I just tell you that there is nothing not beautiful about this prequel trilogy? Does that sum it all up enough? No? Well fine! I’ll finish out the episode.
So there was a list of back-up Freelancer soldiers to be sent to Blood Gulch in the case of Florida’s death. So where are they, you ask? What happened? Clumsiness, that’s what. Florida tripped over a cord, which scrambled up Vic, resulting in his personality changing to the Vic we now know today, as well as a scrambled list of the complete (lovable) morons we get in Blood Gulch instead of competent Freelancers.
Aaaaaaand, scene! With the traditional “Blood Gulch Blues” theme song! Chills! I have chills!
However, wonderful as this all has been, might I say, that for as many answers as this prequel offers, it creates an even bigger question. Just how did Sarge come to hate Grif? A question we may very well have to wait another fourteen years to learn the answer to.
I went into this season unsure just how I felt about the whole anthology thing. Then the first episode was basically a repeat, which while I tried to remain positive, I will say that I know for many, doing that was a hard feat. Now though? Man, I’m all in and in love with this season! I don’t even mind the cliffhanger at the end of last season. I can definitely wait on wrapping that up for all this!