With Rooster Teeth’s Internet sensation Red Vs Blue entering its historic tenth season – a landmark most live-action broadcast shows never come close to reaching – it seems silly writers aren’t giving this modern sci-fi comedy classic the analytic treatment it deserves. I’m here to solve this problem with an in-depth review of the Season 10 Premiere of Red Vs Blue. As always, spoilers if you haven’t seen the episode…
“I think I just got dumped by Caboose!”
As great as Red Vs Blue is, it often takes time for seasons to really start moving, and as such, it’s been a while – probably the start of the fifth season – since I feel we’ve had a truly memorable premiere.
Season 10, though? Season 10 started out rather fantastically, didn’t it?
This was an episode that showcased much of what this series does so incredibly well, from the clever, funny, effectively tense opening that returned us to the world of Project Freelancer with a literal bang, to the second half that brought back the Reds and Blues we know and love with one of the show’s all-time best comedy sketches. As with most Red Vs Blue episodes, there’s not a lot of time for ‘story’ in just six minutes, but in terms of reestablishing this universe and several of its most wonderful characters, I can’t imagine being more satisfied with the premiere.
Opening with a close-up of a small, square TV playing the UNSN Sports Network’s coverage of Grifball – a callback to the several Grifball miniseries Rooster Teeth has produced – was a very nice touch, and the A.I. Delta’s back-and-forth with the extremely inept guard felt like a fresh, quippy way to get things going.
Delta’s appearance also helped solidify where we are in the Freelancer timeline; Season 9 mostly showed the Freelancers before their A.I. days, with Delta’s birth occurring at the tail end of the season. It seems we’ve jumped forward a fairly significant amount of time, as not only is Delta out running operations, he’s been assigned to York, which means agents have already started receiving A.I. units. From the history related during Season 6, 7, and 8, this period in Freelancer’s history is the most tragic and fascinating, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how several established characters, like Washington and Tex, operate when they first get their A.I. We’ve heard so much about Epsilon and Omega did to these characters; won’t it be fascinating to see it in action?
Anyway, with Delta on the scene, that meant York had to be nearby, and it put a smile on my face to see York at the center of the season’s opening. None of the Freelancers, with the possible exception of Agents Tex and Washington, have ever been as fleshed out as the classic Reds and Blues, but York has always been one of my favorites to watch. I like his laid-back personality, which creates a great contrast in otherwise tense sequences like these. It figures he’d be the one to get flung out into space, doesn’t it?
The Freelancer story obviously hasn’t really gotten going yet, but for now, this was a nice taste of how shady the organization can be. The scene also provided a glimpse of what Rooster Teeth can do with a ten-person animation staff (Season 8 was animator Monty Oum working solo, and he had only one assistant for Season 9), and even though we haven’t encountered a major action set-piece, the results are nevertheless breathtaking. Previous seasons often (thought not always, especially late in season 9) mixed character and prop animation in with existing backgrounds, but unless York was operating in a Halo map I’ve forgotten about, that sequence looked like it had been animated from the ground-up. When Rooster Teeth can create their own sets, it adds to the unique, inventive flavor of the series, and that was a pretty stellar set design for the needs of the sequence. Character animation also appears to be more fluid and seamless than ever before, and I can’t wait to see what this animation team can do when the action starts rolling in.
But it was in the present – where Sarge, Caboose, Washington, and Agent Carolina had just “rescued” Church from the Epsilon unit – that this episode truly shined. For starters, it’s just nice to see these characters again in their original form. The ‘Blood Gulch’ material in Season 9 all took place in the memory unit, which meant only Church was the character we’d previously known; everyone else was a projection, and though they were largely similar to their original incarnations, they had none of the experiences or character development as the people we’d spent eight seasons watching. That bothered me to a certain degree last year, so it’s very nice to see the real Sarge and Caboose in action once again; I’m definitely eager to see what Simmons, Grif, Tucker, and the others have been up to in the meantime.
With these characters returning, we also got to revisit the present-day status quo established at the end of Season 8, where the Blues took a fugitive Washington on as a team member. Writer Burnie Burns mined every possible bit of comedy out of this idea as he could, with a confused and angry Church expressing outrage over Washington “replacing” him on Blue team. This was comedy writing at its very best, rising organically out of the characters – Caboose, for instance, calls Washington Church because they’re the same color now – and relying on well-paced spoken interplay. This is the hardest I’ve laughed at Red vs Blue in at least a season, and that skit, more than anything else, made me overjoyed to have the show back.
As I said before, not a lot of story for this premiere, but when the execution is this fantastic, I’m okay with that. This first episode did a tremendous job reintroducing us to this crazy, exciting, supremely funny world, and I suspect there’s nowhere to go from here but up.