As a fan of the Green Lantern Corp and its many members, all I have to say about this episode is it’s about damn time! More than half way through the first season and we finally get the lantern most of us have been waiting for since the show was announced: Thaal Sinestro (voiced by Ron F’ing Perlman!) While the presence of Sinestro and the actor voicing him automatically qualify “Prisoner of Sinestro” as the best episode ever, it succeeds even more by being a genuinely awesome and thrilling half hour of television.
While prepping the Interceptor for the inevitable battle with the Anti-Monitor, Hal and company receive a “distress” call from Sinestro. In case you’re wondering why the quotations, I consider Sinestro to be the Chuck Norris of the Green Lantern Corp in that any distress calls are probably coming from whoever Sinestro is up against. In this case, he’s fleeing a Spider Guild frigate after commandeering one of their prisoners and it’d be nice if he could hitch a ride on the Interceptor on his way out. Hal is more than happy to oblige even if Kilowog continues to grumble about Sinestro’s general lack of rule-abiding ways, hot-headed actions, and other obvious parallels to Hal. In what has to be one of the best animated chase sequences on this show, Hal pilots the Interceptor through the labyrinthine interior of the Spider Guild ship in what can only be an homage to Star Wars. Meeting up with Sinestro, the crew make their escape but are baffled by the Spider Guild captain’s decision to self-destruct the frigate.
On board the ship, Sinestro stores his prisoner, Neuroxas, in the science lab and wastes no time insulting the lackadaisical way in which the Interceptor’s crew conducts itself. A bit harsh, yes, but Hal respects his former mentor so he lets it slide. Kilowog not so much. But all is not well when, while researching the strange brain-like fish thing that is Neuroxas, the crew is attacked by Sinestro wielding one of the guns purloined from the Spider Guild ship! Quickly neutralizing him, Hal and Kilowog remove Sinestro’s ring and imprison him in the science lab next to his prisoner. In the aftermath of the short battle, the ship’s systems have been damaged and Sinestro has no memory of what he did. Deciding to keep Sinestro behind bars, the crew try to repair the ship, but find that everyone is beginning to act…out of character.
“Prisoner of Sinestro” elevates itself above other episodes in the series with its very distinct tone and mood. After the typical space adventure of the first act, the rest of the episode literally grinds to a halt when the ship shuts down, leaving our heroes trapped in a confined space with an alien being who can mentally jump from body to body. The episode then becomes an homage to suspense thrillers, specifically The Thing, as Hal and the crew try to determine who is and isn’t under Neuroxas’s control. Their test is actually rather ingenious, fitting the characters and their world instead of the other way around. But the truly sublime success of the episode is the presence of Sinestro as he disrupts the generally lighter atmosphere of the series with paranoia and suspicion. Only half of which is instigated by his prisoner.
Sinestro is easily one of the best anti-hero/villains of the DC Universe. His fall from grace within the Green Lantern Corps is the stuff of legend as much as his heroic deeds. Before Hal, Sinestro was the greatest and most respected amongst the corps, so I appreciate the creators’ decision to introduce him as a morally ambiguous hero instead of bringing him in as the villain-of-the-week. The methodology that leads to Sinestro’s defection from the corps has always been fascinating since he is – all joking aside – a parallel for Hal. Kilowog’s list of similarities between the two may be obvious, but the creator’s cleverly put the most important bit of foreshadowing at the top of the episode. While being incessantly quizzed on the Green Lantern code by Kilowog, Hal openly complains about the code’s purpose. Practically a throwaway exchange, it comes to resonate at the end when Sinestro blatantly twists the code to suit his decision to let Neuroxas die. Hal may play fast and loose with the rules, but he still respects the right of all sentient beings – even the bad ones – to live. Sinestro, however right in his actions, shows Hal that the codes and rules have a purpose and lays the groundwork for their eventual falling out.
Nitpicker’s Corner: Wouldn’t the yellow energy from the Spider Guild gun break through any Green Lantern construct? Yellow’s still a problem for them, right?
- I repeat: Ron Perlman is playing Sinestro!
- Construct tetris
- Hal’s fanboy admiration of Sinestro
- Sinestro riding the Interceptor like a boss!
- No one drinks as angrily as Kilowog
- Hal trying to have “the talk” with Aya about Razer