Episode opens with a dogfight above DC. Animators get the model for Cobra Commander's monument wrong. Should be wearing the hood, not the dome. Wonder how often they goofed on this over the years. I imagine the overseas crew pointing to the Commander model, incredulous. "What do you mean, it's the wrong mask?"
Because, seriously, why would this character have two masks, aside from having two versions of his toy already?
The geography here is insane. The Joes' base is apparently a short flight from both Mt. Rushmore AND Washington DC. Presumably, Pasko was taking advantage of a kid's ignorance of geography and just writing in shorthand.
You want to show Cobra's taken over America, so the Joes have to run across the big landmarks. Who cares if the geography's off? Between the Commander, Ripper, and Steeler, there's a lot of Chris Latta in this two-parter. Steeler, succumbing to his illness, wanders through the woods, contemplating the futility of war. Disturbing stuff for the times.
Later, Steeler and Grunt come across their own corpses. It's horrific in a way, far more intense than anything else in this format.
The goofy reality of the show is still here. Joes captured by a laser net, later hooked up to an absurd death trap. Wisecracks are also there. Cobra's turned the Washington Monument into a slave labor camp: "Heckuva way to solve unemployment!"
The voice of Baroness' female aide reminds me of Lady J's. So could the actress just turn off that rasp on her voice?
The "good" Baroness of this world, breaking down in tears when it's confirmed her Steeler is dead--memorable scene. It's amazing Pasko brought so much emotional honesty to these episodes.
Even for Steeler's earlier doubts, the story affirms the Joes' battles are important. Doing anything else would undermine the entire series.
Steeler declares he has no one back home, decides to stay with his alt-reality lover, the Baroness. Clutch and Grunt decide to stay, which isn't justified nearly as well. Does this mean Flint and the others are traitors to the resistance for leaving?
The plot mechanics of how the Joes return home are just waved away, but it's largely forgivable. The episode works because 1. it's premise is so outlandish and 2. the emotional beats are executed incredibly well.