In the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, James Gunn did a pretty spectacular job of fleshing out the five heroes of the team in relatively equal manner. But so far, the animated series is struggling a little more in this regard—when it gets it right, it’s every bit as fun as the movie. When it gets it wrong though, it kinda falls apart.
Spoilers ahead, of course.
The last two episodes of the show, “One in a Million You” and “Take the Milano and Run,” aren’t connected in terms of story, but in their approach to how they handle different characters in the show feels thematically linked, in so much as one is a pretty good look at a character Guardians of the Galaxy already has a firm handle on—Rocket Raccoon—and the other is the direct opposite. In this case, it’s not just one, but two Guardians: Drax and Gamora.
From the get go, “Take the Milano and Run” feels off. The main thrust is that Star-Lord wants to visit Conjunction, a self-maintaining space station run by an alien called the Grandmaster, as the team continues its quest for crystals to help unlock the cosmic doohickey they found in the opening two-parter. Said doohickey now serves as a series arc for the show that exists solely in the opening and closing scenes of an episode: the first reminds us that they need crystals to help open the doohickey, the second to remind us they got a crystal that will help open the doohickey. The doohickey does have an actual name, but as long as it’s just going to show up in such a perfunctory manner, that’s what it is: a doohickey.
But the sidestory to this is that, for some reason, Drax and Gamora are always fighting each other—mainly Gamora, constantly racing against and teasing Drax, and treating every little thing as a competition or a battle. This is because, she says, as Thanos’ daughter, life is nothing but battles: you win or you die. Considering Gamora spent the entirety of Guardians of the Galaxy desperately wanting to escape that existence and be more than just someone’s fighter, it seems bizarre to see her act like this, especially to Drax. It doesn’t feel like Gamora at all. It feels like the cartoon has no idea how to treat either her or Drax, so here comes an arbitrary conflict. They’re thrust together into a story for no other reason that the show doesn’t know what to do with them other, than put them together and hope for the best.
Said conflict eventually spills over into the main plot: upon landing on Conjunction and meeting the Grandmaster, Drax and Gamora are eventually forced into the station’s battle arena to duke it out. The Grandmaster wants to see two of the cosmos’ greatest warriors face off, and is insane enough to hijack the Milano, and capture the arena crowd under threat of death if Drax and Gamora don’t fight... also to the death. It’s meant to ratchet their personal conflict up a notch, but without seemingly anything in that conflict in the first place, there’s no tension at all.
You’d expect “Take the Milano and Run” to then use the battle for Drax and Gamora to settle whatever differences they have, ruminate, and then work together to save the day, everything right as rain. But it doesn’t—it basically ditches the fight in the background, serving as a distraction while Star-Lord, Rocket, and Groot liberate the Milano and free the arena from the Grandmaster. It ditches it, because thankfully, the show’s writers actually realize that while it doesn’t really know how to handle Gamora and Drax’s characterization beyond “they like fighting”, they do know what to do with the rest of the team.
It’s frustrating, because it’s actually the best part of the show so far. When Guardians of the Galaxy focuses on these goofy wannabe heroes relationships, and their banter with each other, it’s a joy to watch. Although I still don’t entirely agree with Will Friedle’s Star-Lord, he’s settled into the role extremely well, and the chemistry between him and Trevor Devall’s Rocket is a delight to hear. When these characters are together, Guardians of the Galaxy becomes genuinely fun to watch, and the quips and jibes are thick and fast.
It’s just a shame that it comes at the cost of completely ignoring two major characters in the team—characters who should have a lot more to them than “they fight”. But hey, at least three fifths of the Guardians of the Galaxy stop the bad guy, save the day, and are fun to watch, right? For now, it’s alright—and it is fun to watch—but sooner rather than later the show is going to have to actually do something with Gamora (who so far feels like a terrible waste of the wonderful Vanessa Marshall) and Drax. There’s only so many times you can cut them out of the story.
In the end, you don’t really get any resolution to Drax and Gamora always fighting each other in “Take the Milano and Run.” By the time the team is leaving Conjunction, they’re still going at it, and as a viewer you’re not quite sure why. I’m not quite sure Guardians of the Galaxy knows why, either.