Thunderbirds Are Go – Season 1 Episode 23
“Chain of Command”
Thunderbirds Are Go kicks off 2016 with an episode that explores International Rescue’s relationship with the Global Defence Force.
Both organisations have been a fixture since the series began so I’m surprised that it took this long for the show to deal with the agendas of both of these agencies. International Rescue comes from a wholly altruistic place with a genuine desire to help others because it’s the right thing to do where the Global Defence Force is Government sanctioned so therefore has certain expectations placed on it.
The whole issue comes up when a rescue comes to something of a messy end. There’s no loss of life but it’s enough for the GDF to question International Rescue and the fact that they don’t actually answer to anyone. Naturally the Tracy brothers aren’t best pleased by this as they naively believe that their desire to help is enough to excuse the damage as long as there is no loss of life. It’s a tough argument that isn’t really dealt with in this episode but I do like that the Tracy brothers have a naive desire to help unconditionally and that mindset causing legitimate Government agencies to become irritated with them.
This issue is represented by the character of Colonel Martin Janus (Kayvan Novak) who definitely seems to have a vendetta against International Rescue. He is quickly established as a force to be reckoned with as pointed out by Lady Penelope as well as Colonel Casey. Everyone knows him as someone who doesn’t compromise and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This isn’t just told to the viewer with lots of evidence to support this in the episode itself. Lady Penelope’s conversation with Janus about the worth of International Rescue shows just how set in his position he is. This is backed up by him pointing out that a chain of command is important as it keeps things working smoothly.
International Rescue do work outside the law but their relationship with Colonel Casey has meant that they are free of any complications from their broadly unsanctioned meddling. The idea of an organisation doing right by people without reporting to anyone is an interesting debate that unfortunately is never dealt with in this episode.
One thing that comes across really well is how committed the Tracy brothers are to saving lives. The fact that they are forced to ask permission before undertaking any rescues is a source of frustration to them especially when their request is declined. It’s clear that they can live with not being involved as long as the GDF is equipped to handle it but when they do nothing it’s hard to understand what reason there is for declining the request.
Janus’ plan to capture Thunderbird 2 undermines the position of the Global Defence Force massively. The fact that he is working for the Hood is disappointing as this episode would have been much stronger if this had been International Rescue vs. the Government without any outside intervention. This show has proven that the Hood isn’t required to tell interesting stories so it wasn’t necessary to have him here.
Despite that the Hood was portrayed really well. It is shown that he doesn’t tolerate incompetence and his threat to Janus seemed genuine. I fully believe that the Hood is capable of carrying out these threats and the fact that he has managed to infiltrate such a high level of government shows how effective a villain he is. The “less is more” approach” to the Hood is working really well.
The set pieces were some of the best shown on this show. The opening sequence was particularly impressive with a good amount of tension and peril keeping the whole thing interesting. I have mentioned in the past that the best rescues are the ones that don’t go according to plan and that’s what happens here. All the lives were saved but there was equipment failure as well as some unintended complications. It all creates a level of unpredictability that shows just how resourceful the brothers are when forced to think on their feet.
A strong episode that doesn’t quite develop an interesting argument as well as it could have to get the most out of it.
The Global Defence Force has been a main fixture in this show from the beginning so I’m surprised that it took so long to do a story where there is conflict between them and International Rescue who operate outside the law. It’s a conflict that works as the Tracy brothers naively believe that their genuine desire to help others excuses the damage caused by their rescue efforts. Since International Rescue don’t actually answer to anyone they can potentially cause a lot of problems for the GDF who have to answer to the government.
Sadly the episode doesn’t develop the argument as well as it could and undermines it by having Colonel Janus have a secondary agenda as well as being one of the Hood’s agents. It would have been much more interesting if the conflict had just been between International Rescue and the GDF.
One thing that does work really well is the frustration of the Tracy brothers as they now have to ask permission to save lives. If the GDF can handle it then they can clearly live with it but when they do nothing it really upsets them and shows a lack of understanding. This was a great idea and could have been developed so much further.
Despite his presence being out of place the Hood was portrayed really well here. I like that he can infiltrate high levels of government and his attitude to incompetence is exactly what it should be. I fully believed that he could follow through on his threat so there are no complaints from a villain perspective.
The set pieces were excellent and show a bit of fallibility for International Rescue. I prefer it when things don’t go exactly to plan as it makes things more exciting and less predictable as well as showing how resourceful the Tracy brothers can be when put under pressure.