Jormungand – 12 (Fin)

Gregoire gets the jump on Ugo, but Lehm is able to incapacitate him, while Liliane is dealt with by Koko herself. Ugo drives Koko out of danger, but Dominique follows and a chase ensues, ending in Dominique’s car being wrecked. Koko lets him go if he tells her who hired him, and he does. Meanwhile, Valmer drugs Jonah and asaults the refinery on her own, cutting her way through Daxinghai until she reaches Cheng and kills him. Later, Karen catches up to and shoots her, but Jonah shoots Karen back, and gets both women help in time to save their lives. Valmer vows to stick with Koko henceforth. A CIA chief with many nicknames meets in Paris with R.

With Valmer and Jonah out of the picture for the time being and Lehm, Lutz and Ugo in deep shit, Koko & Co. looked decidedly vulnerable last week, but to our surprise, Team Dominique is dealt with in the first five minutes, and no one is killed or maimed. Huh. So much for lasting consequences! The balance of the episode was about Valmer. She’s a big strong Finn on a mission to avenge her comrades – and her eye. We like how she tries to keep Jonah out of it, but he’s a harder kid to shake than she’d thought. Her rampage through Daxinghai’s refinery is thrilling, especially, because it’s such a cathartic, cleansing event for her.

It’s good that Valmer can put (the majority of) her past behind her, because new threats are on the horizon that spell trouble for Koko in the future: the fact she has a CIA mole in R is most disturbing – up until this point, we’d assumed everyones’ loyalties were secured , if not by Koko’s reaching out to them (as she did with Jonah, Valmer, and Ugo), but by the big bucks she pays them. Alas, there’s a chink in her armor. That mitigates the ease with which she dismissed the threat of Dominique (though he and his are still alive). There’s a lot more to cover in the second season, which won’t arrive until October. We’ll be waiting anxiously.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Jormungand – 11

As the team prepares for a small-time job with the mafia, Valmer reaches a breaking point with her dreams and goes off on her own. Suspecting something like that might happen, Koko ordered Jonah to follow her. She is after Cheng Guo-Ming, Karen’s boss, who was the one who massacred her UN unit and took her eye in Africa. Meanwhile, a group of hitmen prepare to target Koko & Co., led by Dominique, who proposes they take out one of her men at a time, starting with Ugo. When the mafia deal goes sour, Koko shoots the boss and her men kill the rest. Afterwards Dominique, Gregoire and Liliane make their move at Koko’s hotel.

Just last episode we brought up the fact that Koko and her team have handily succeeded in pretty much every mission they’ve taken on, with no loss of men and minimal consequences. Well, scratch all that, because consequences come hard and fast in this episode, and a distracted Koko never sees it coming. Orchestra and Chinatsu weren’t very, uh, discreet in their attempted hit on Koko (they mostly just emptied clips in her general vicinity). Their brazenness was beated by the skill and discipline of Koko’s team. This time, the hitmen not only have their shit together, but are led by someone who isn’t going to make any rash mistakes. This time, people die. This time, Koko looks like she’s in some real trouble.

The first thing she says in this episode is that the 3-truck mafia thing is “no big deal”, but she’s fine with a small job since there’s a bigger missile deal on the horizon. We knew right then and there this wasn’t going to be the piece of cake she expected it to be. The loss of Valmer and Jonah meant a serious hit to her strength, while her decision to kill the mafia boss – who offered drugs instead of cash – led her men to momentarily question whether it was such a good idea. That, and the fact they exerted themselves that night, and their missing comrades made them ripe for an ambush, and that’s what Dominique gives them. Like we said, this is quite the pickle, and there will be lasting repercussions.


Rating: 9 (Superior)


Car Cameo:
There’s no clear shots of the whole car, but Team Kill Koko is definitely riding in a BMW 7-Series (F01), judjing by its headlamps and other styling cues.

Jormungand – 10

Koko’s men take out the Dragon’s escort force without any difficulty, but Dragon manages to escape with the injured Dr. Riviere. The Dragon mobilizes more men to mount an antiaircraft assault on Koko’s plane, but they’re ready for it, with infrared jammers, flares, and a 122mm gun mounted to the back of the plane by Mao. After depositing the doctors near the refugee camp, Koko calls Scarecrow and Chocolade offering the Dragon for the $5 million international bounty, they agree. Lehm, Wiley and Mao ambush the Dragon’s convoy and retrieve Riviere, then leave the dragon tied up for the CIA to pick up.

One criticism that can be leveled against Jormungand thus far is that sometimes it feels like Koko’s band of merry men have it a bit too easy; that they’re a little too perfect, and that the outcome of any particular mission is never in serious doubt. Furthermore, all their success has led to an atmosphere of warm comraderie that has yet to feel the drama or sting of serious losses. It’s been ten episodes, and not one of Koko’s ten bodyguards have been killed, or even seriously wounded. So…DO they have it too easy? In our humble opinion, no. We’re having a blast watching them succeed. They succeed because they’re pretty much the best at what they do, and those they’re up against usually aren’t.

Take this week’s adversary: the “Dragon.” He’s just a spoiled little shit whose position was handed to him by his father. He has a militia of guys who likely fight for him to put food on their families’ tables and because they fear him. Meanwhile, Koko has a squad of elite special forces who fight for her because they love her, and (with a couple exceptions) simply love fighting, too. They’ve got the skill, resourcefulness, experience, and toughness to defeat just about anyone when they’re humming on all cylinders, and Koko makes sure they always are. The daring aerial escape was the perfect exclamation point on the notion that you do not fuck with Koko, unless you want to get burnt. She’s a Dragon too.


Rating: 8 (Great)


Car Cameo:
The Dragon may command his own militia, but rather than splurge on an S-Class or A8 or hell, a camo’d Lambo, he has a relatively modest Mercedes C-Class (W203).

Jormungand – 09

Koko is hired to smuggle by air a group of humanitarian NGO doctors called ODH into Republic T, Autonomous Region X, where a brutal, petulant militia general known as “The Dragon” holds sway. The Dragon arrives to inspect the cargo hold after the plane touches down, but Koko won’t allow it. Riviere, leader of the ODH, comes out to try to reason with the Dragon, but he is shot in the shoulder and cheek for his trouble. Koko orders her men to open fire on the Dragon’s militia.

A good arms dealer always has an escape plan in place just in case things go sour. Koko is good at dealing arms, which is why both she and her crew are weary of aerial missions. A plane can get to remote places with ease, but it needs time and space to take off and land, and these are resources that can all too easily be taken away. Koko, Lehm, and others continually mention how they have a bad feeling about this week’s doctor-smuggling mission…and they turn out to be absolutely right.

As Jonah has learned, for all her weariness about flying missions and shrewd business acumen, Koko is also a risk-taker who’s often reckless with her well-being, which explains why her force of bodyguards is so numerous and fierce. But far from just the military thugs they often go up against, many have a bit more nuance to them, like Mao, for instance, who even has a family back home he’s supporting. But when things indeed go sour and the country’s Number One Asshat shows and sticks his nose into Koko’s business, she isn’t the slightest bit cowed. She trusts her people to keep her safe, even if she sticks her head right into a dragon’s jaws.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 08

In England, Koko leads a HCLI bid for Predator UAV sales to “Country B.” She’s up against Euro Group, represented by the accomplished former actress and heiress Amalia Tolokohovsky. Amalia gets a head start on Koko, closing deals with nearly every potential client. Annoyed but undefeated, Koko holes up in her hotel room and orchestrates numerous deals at the 25th hour that flip all of Amalia’s customers. The tables now turned, Koko meets with Amalia. Third-party snipers by angered clients are neutralized by Lutz. Amalia announces Euro Group will pull out of negotiations, and then agrees to a buyback at a 5% premium. Koko is victorious.

Arms dealing is simple business: show your wares to the customer, they buy some, and you go on your merry way, right? Well, not exactly. With past episodes focusing on the prowess of the bodyguards Koko surrounds herself with, all of them were bystanders for her not-so-little UAV war with Amalia, who started it by getting greedy and trying to outmaneuver Koko. That was enough to fire Koko up for some serious laptop-piloting and junk food-munching. Arms dealing at this level is less a simple transaciton and more an intricate Swiss watch with millions of moving pieces, and she simply manipulates those pieces better than Amalia this week, and at the right times.

It’s fun to watch her initially get stood up at client meeting after meeting, and then see her bear down and do the hard work that’s necessary to defeat one’s adversary. She utilized her new CIA friend Chocolade, kept her eye on the prize, and showed former actress Amalia that she’s a pretty fine actress herself, when she needs to be. Her efforts result in pulling a stunning, absolute victory from the initial jaws of defeat, and nobody is hurt or killed in the processs. It’s no wonder why everyone seems to love working for the “princess”. This episode aptly demonstrated what happens when she harnesses her potential.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Car Cameos: Lots – this series doesn’t skimp on recognizable vehicle models. Team HCLI seems to have adopted the Volkswagen Touareg as their go-to car, though they also ride in a Mitsubishi Montero. In one scene a Toyota HiAce drives alongside the ‘Reg. Amalia travels in a white Mercedes-Benz S-Class (a W221). There are also lots of recognizable cars in the airport parking lot: A Subaru Forester and Legacy wagon, a Peugeot 406, Toyota Prius, Lancia Delta, Mitsubishi Montero and Lancer EvolutionToyota Progres and a Volvo C70.

Jormungand – 07

Valmer breaks formation and goes straight after Karen; the two duel in the snow with guns and knives. In the meantime, Jonah suggests they stay quiet until their inexperienced foes come out of hiding so they can pick them off. In the city, Koko enjoys a Chinese dinner with Chang, while Hugo has her back and both Scarecrow and his sidekick Chocolade eavesdrop. Chang asks Koko to join forces; she refuses. When Valmer is finished with Karen, all of Chang’s men are dead, and they phone it in. Koko tells Chocolade about a trap waiting for them. In exchange for her warning, Scarecrow lets Koko and Hugo escape with them. In the end, Doctor Miami gives Koko the slip once more.

We like Sophia Valmer. She’s a complicated lass; simultaneously infatuated with her beautiful young boss Koko and haunted by voices and images from her bloody past. In a way, she reminds us of Roberta from Black Lagoon, only before she went totally apeshit crazy. She makes surprisingly quick work of Karen, who’d we’d only seen in action against small fries, and whose gunblades proved ineffective against her older, wiser, stronger opponent. Valmer didn’t get a lot out of Karen, but she did see a little of her younger self in her, and gained a new enemy who will try to kill her when next they meet. Let’s face it, you can never have enough off them!

We liked the A/B stories running in tandem, cutting from the cold night in the mountains to the warm, luxurious restaurant in the city. Koko and Chang are really only sitting back and waiting to see whose team will be left standing. We like the addition of Chocolade to provide a pragmatic voice to Scarecrow, and Koko’s little meeting with her in the toilet stall was pretty funny way to confide. We also like how Hugo had to keep an eye on how much Koko had to drink. As for Doctor Miami, she was able to stay a step ahead of all the arms dealers for another day; at least in this two-parter, she was merely a McGuffin.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 06

After successfully repelling pirates, Koko’s freighter makes it to South Africa. Her aim is to meet with the eccentric roboticist Amada Minami AKA Doctor Miami at the DIESA weapons expo. Miami’s a no-show, but they get the GPS of the location where she’s searching for rare butterflies (probably in the Drakensberg). Koko runs into Curry & Co., who plans to pull out of Southern Africa. She also meets Chang of the Daxinghai Group, who invites her to dinner. Her team heads to the mountains to retrieve Miami, but Chang has sent a force ahead of them, led by his lieutenant, Karen, who wields the same gunblades (though not the same wielder) that took Valmer’s eye.

One criticism that can never be leveled against Jormungand is that it lacks strong female characters. In most cases, they’re stronger than their male counterparts. The only problem is, most of them are also a little nuts. After this episode, we can add Karen Luo (Lo? Low?) to the already healthy roster of badass hot chicks with guns. Not only can she bring down Scarecrow’s massive bodyguard with her bare hands (and garterbelted legs), she also reprimands underlings who give away their positions by killing them herself. This lady isn’t going to tolerate incompetence, and if she has to do the job herself, she seems willing.

Karen wants revenge for friends killed in the past under Koko’s brother’s orders…starting with Doctor Miami. If Koko’s guard gets in the way, she aims to sweep them aside. While there’s certainly a personal side to this job, she’s also working on orders from Chang, who is polite and kind to Koko, but probably has not-so-savory plans in store for her if Karen can wipe out her aegis. That makes us wonder  just what Kasper would do (if anything) if an enemy indeed captured his cute little sis. Also, we’re in Africa, so far better known as “The Place Where Valmer Lost Her Eye and Endured Other Hardships.” When she sees those gunblades in Karen’s hands, she drops her rifle. That can’t be good.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)


Car Cameo:
Most of Koko’s team piles into a Volkswagen Touareg 2.

Jormungand – 05

Koko and her team are aboard a container ship when word comes that her brother Kasper’s ship will be paying them a visit. Koko has Jonah hidden away, but he meets Kasper anyway in the head, tries to kill him, and is stopped by Kasper‘s bodyguard Chiquita. Flashback to three months ago, Jonah was being held on an army base in Western Asia when an associate of Kasper’s visited. The soldiers took away Jonah’s friend Marka and he never saw her again; he finally blew his top and shot up the entire baseto avenge her. Kasper arrives to assess his work, and stated he wanted the base wiped out all along. After imprisoning him in a container for several days, he lets him out and gives him to his sister, who promises to treat him better.

The Hekmatyars are not your typical family. For one thing, both Koko and Kasper were born and raised on container ships at sea, so they have no homeland, and no patriotism for any particular country. They’re nomads. Here we were thinking Kasper was going to make life miserable for Koko & Co, but it turns out they’re fairly nice and cordial to one another (he even lets her push him around). It turns out Jonah was a gift from Kasper, and this episode deals with his backstory, which, as we suspected, was quite traumatic.

Kasper didn’t mince words or hide behind riddles when he met Jonah: he was the one who arranged the sale of weapons to the people who destroyed Jonah’s village and killed his family. He gave Jonah time to find his place in the world and decide how he’d live it out. Considering all that shit happened just three months ago, Jonah has made great progress, and he has Koko and her warm, kind team to thank for it – we like the idea that they’re taking turns educating him. He’s in a good place now. Part of him probably wishes he could stay on that boat in the sea forever.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 04

After a car chase in which both cars are wrecked, Orchestra ignores Chinatsu’s warning and goes out in the open and is shot by Lutz with a sniper rifle from 900 meters. Chinatsu manages to escape on a passing truck. A CIA agent named Jerry Schatzberg AKA Scarecrow arrests Koko, but her father has connections with the police, and she is released. Something Scarecrow says reminds Koko she’s being hunted, and after an evening stroll with Jonah, she correctly predicts Chinatsu showing up on the roof of her hotel. She offers Chinatsu a job, but Chinatsu goes for another gun, and Lehm kills her.

Both episodes in this assassin two-parter have had very effective, efficient cold opens. Part one’s showed us exactly who Koko & Co. would be dealing with, while part two’s showed us how Chinatsu met Orchestra. The latter is not for the faint-hearted; Orchestra literally murdered every single person in an opera house, including Chinatsu’s family. Only Chinatsu survived, and picked up a gun to try to kill him. That warmed him to her, he took her under his wing, and she bonded with him through the trauma he caused her. When he’s killed – in a very well-orchestrated sniping that left no doubt – she is alone again, with nothing left but her hate for Koko.

We were kinda surprised the series wasn’t going to keep these two around, but we suppose it has other, bigger fish to fry, and certainly other assassins, organizations, and governments who’d like Koko in pieces (including Mr. CIA, who automatically loses points for sucker punching her). After Chinatsu’s final explanation for why she always goes commando (psychologically, it made her a better shot), followed by Koko telling her why she deals arms (which we can’t hear, but startles Chinatsu), she too is killed, and Koko instantly moves on to other business. We also liked her talk with Jonah, about how kindness is a weakness, and how 60% of the worlds weapons are in the hands of civilians. The more you know!


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Jormungand – 03

Unhinged assassin and self-described “musician” Orchestra and his sidekick Chinatsu target Koko while she and her team are in a middle east city (probably Dubai, from the look of the police cars). They get the jump on Koko when she and Valmer are shopping, but Jonah, having escaped Tojo’s lessons, foils their initial attack, leading to an extended firefight. Lehm provides backup, allowing Jonah to lead Koko away. Orchestra and Chinatsu run out of ammo and retreat, but plan to complete their mission.

Being an arms dealer is no picnic, as “you get free hatred for everything you sell”, but Koko manages pretty well with her positive attitude and upbeat outlook, both of which are infectious, and are probably a reason why she and her team work so well. But Lehm warns Jonah that it might not be wise to get too close to Koko & Co. if he intends to continue hating arms dealers for all eternity for callously selling “demonic” weapons that turn even peaceful people mad. Of course, Jonah is finding he doesn’t hate Koko, and goes out of his way to tail her in case trouble brews.

And boy howdy, does it ever brew. Fresh off another job in Oman (in a very violent and unsubtle cold open), Orechestra and Chinatsu arrive on the scene, and they’re quite the characters, content to spray copious ammo in the general direction of their targets, and not above launching grenades at the cops. If arms are a drug, they’re straight-up junkies. They’re a tight duo, and pretty much as good at surviving as Koko & Co., which explains why the showdown is only half-over by episode’s end. But Koko is her usual cool collected self, and she’s confident she and her beloved team will get her out of this mess.


Rating: 9 (Superior)


Car Cameos:
The Dubai (?) cops show up in a BMW 5er, but it doesn’t last long. Orchestra and Chinatsu regroup in their Big Red Truck, a GMC Sierra

Jormungand – 02

Koko’s team is travelling along Russia’s war-torn southern border when they’re intercepted by troops loyal to Major Polluck, who is locked in a battle for a local pipeline. He wants to continue doing business with HCLI, but Koko is hesitant. She also bumps into Curry of British rival CCAT, along with his soldiers, Mildo and Lew. Polluck’s men escort both Koko’s and Curry’s team to an area where they’ll have reception to contact their suppliers. Koko captures her leash, while Mildo kills hers, and Polluck sends more men after them both. Koko pretends she and her men will fight them off, but they drop their weapons and let the troops move in on Curry & Co. Everyone ends up escaping unharmed, and the border war fizzles out the next day.

Koko is a very interesting young woman, and people assign her a bevy of labels: princess, nuts, hysterical, magnate’s daughter, lucky girl, vixen, unpredictable wench. We’d simply label her a badass and a born leader whose followers all love and respect her. This episode is a showcase of her cool under pressure and fire; she’s in the middle of a war zone and is strafed by attack helicopters on more than one occasion, but her sly smile never leaves her face. She’s also sharp enough to think ahead, sparing the lives of soldiers, and refusing to do business with small-time soldiers who want to prolong pointless battles.

Is she morally equivalent? Sure, but she’s not out to be a saint; she’s a merchant, and she won’t accept credit as payment. Her instincts tell her Polluck’s cause is a losing one, so she wants to get out of there as soon as possible. And sure enough, once she and Curry’s team are out of there, the little war ends. We enjoyed the rivalry between Koko and Curry as well as the duel between the unhinged Mildo and the collected Valmer. These two groups respect each other, and are content to let one another alone; after all, it’s a big world and there’s plenty of business to be done.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Car Cameo: Curry’s team rides in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class…a W203 to be exact. Koko seems partial to her armored Volvo S80, one of the safest cars around.

Jormungand – 01

Arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar initiates child soldier Jonah into her outfit, now nine strong excluding Koko. Jonah takes the initiative while they’re engaged in a violent car chase, and in a subsequent mission to cancel a rival arms dealer’s deal with the local government, he acts as her wingman during diversionary negotiations with the rival’s leader, Kroshkin, and the mission succeeds.

With all the hiatuses this week, we decided to finally crack open the action/adventure series named after the norse world serpent. And after one episode, we’re fairly impressed. As haven’t been watching anything quite so focused on guns and crime and other adult themes this season, Jormungand scratched an itch we didn’t even know we had. Better late then never, right? Since the second season doesn’t air until October, we’ve got plenty of time to catch up.

Jonah the child soldier is a bit wooden (he reminded us of a Darker than Black doll) but young Koko, the ringleader, is full of energy, panache, and gumption. We really dig her design – she looks like a sci-fi villain or a snow goddess: pale complextion, ghostly white flowing hair, and hauntingly blue eyes set in a foxy face. She sleepwalks, and you get the sense she has a bit of a screw loose, so we look forward to learning more about her. She’s ably voiced by Shizuka Itou, and she’s just plain fun to watch (She can also take a coffee carafe to the head like a champ).

The series is packed with cars, chases, guns, shooting, and coordinated plans. The other eight members don’t get much screen time, but I’m sure we’ll get to know them in time – standing out are the eyepatched Valmer and the laid-back veteran Lehm. The pace is fast, and the soundtrack – by Taku Iwasaki, one of our favorite anime composers – complements the style of the series perfectly. Stay tuned for more belated reviews as we definitely plan to keep watching.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Car Cameos: SO MANY. Koko and Jonah start out in a new Volvo S80, while Lehm and Valmer follow in a first-gen Honda CR-V. They’re tailed by BMW 5-Series, an old Chevy Van (armored), and eventually, a Humvee. In their second mission, Koko drives a stylish Citroen C4 3-door hatch.