Jormungand – 19

Koko’s team is on a delivery convoy in Iraq, and Wilee regales everyone with the story of how he first joined up with Lehm in 1991, helping Delta forces blow up a chemical weapons factory. When their Excalibur escorts get restless and destroy a passing car, Koko fires them on the spot. They show up later and launch a pincer attack, but Wilee, Koko & Co. are more than ready, and Wilee turns their IEDs and human bombs against them, as is his specialty.

This season we’ve seen more sides of Koko and her usually-merry band of misfit heavies. This steady, efficient, self-encapsulated episode is more reminiscent of the first season, when her team was a nigh-invincible, unflappable force of nature that You Do Not Fuck With Or Else; an episode constantly abuzz with bawdy chatter and hardy guffaws. Sure, they’re in Iraq, the land of ambushes and IEDs, but it’s really no sweat after all this group’s been through. Heck, many of them have already been here: enter Wilee.

Wilee is Wile E. Coyote if he was a human – obsessed with using explosives to achieve his goals. Only they never blow up in his face, and instead of road runners, he blows up other, less wily bombers. He’s a demolition expert’s demolition expert, scarily good at his job. We like the extra history and spice given to his story. All his character’s been in the past is “the bomb guy” and “Jonah’s math teacher” so this episode wasn’t just a means of the whole team kicking back, but a way to let his talents shine when the road gets bumpy.


Rating: 6 (Good)


Car Cameos:
HCLI travels across Iraq with their usual convoy of Scania R-Series trucks. The rowdy security team rides in Ford F-Series crew cabs and a Renault Koleos. The car they blow up is a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Nazar has a motorcade of Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUVs.

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Jormungand – 18

With half the SR Squad eliminated by Kasper’s team, Koko heads to Umihotaru with hers to seek out the other half. The designated meeting spot is a trap, and Jonah is ambushed. Koko and the others drive off, and when Tojo retrieves Jonah, he follows in a stolen car. A multi-car tunnel shootout ensues, ending when the vehicles exit the tunnel and Lehm, Wiley and Valmet mop up the SR Squad pursuers from a helicopter. After having their activities covered up, Koko and Jonah go to the Bahamas with Tojo, where he’s tracked down Colonel Hinoki – and the family he thought was a lie.

So, have we come out of this two-parter with a greater understanding of and appreciation for Akihito Tojo? Well, that would have been inevitable in any episode in which his past was brought up. We’ve only known him to be a calm, level-headed, generally decent sort of fellow who seemed more comfortable handling paperwork and diplomacy than guns and knives. Now we know he once had a similar role with Colonel Hinoki’s SR Squad, but became disillusioned. Little did he know Mr. Hino himself gradually got sick of the SR Squad too. When an opportunity arose to have it wiped out in the bloodbath his subordinates thirsted for, he took it. The other squad members took turns calling Tojo a traitor, but he didn’t really betray anyone per se. He stopped seeing SR as a place where he fit, and no one in SR other than Hinoki really ever liked him anyway, so why stay?

The organization got deeper into arms dealing and also grew more militant and chaotic. In hindsight, Tojo left a sinking ship, and left his mentor behind thinking their views had diverged. But it turns out everything Tojo assumed or expected about Hinoki – be it his actions or his motives – turned out to be the opposite of reality – his fake Thai wife is real, and he has an adorable daughter too. And at the end of the battles, Hinoki makes sure Tojo understands there’s something to be said for being the last survivor of the SR Squad, suggesting Tojo’s spy instincts and talent for survival are better than Tojo himself realizes.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 17

As per their family pact, Koko agrees to help Kasper in his dealings with the SR Squad, a rival arms dealers who work in the shadows. Tojo contacts his former bosss, Colonel Hiroki, who confirms the SR Squad provoked HCLI. He arranges meets for both Kasper in Jakarta and Koko in Japan. Kasper meets with his representative Ms. Kurosaka, but she turns out to be an assassin, whom Chequita swiftly dispatches. She and Kasper’s other men fight their way out of the hotel, and the battle begins.

When Tojo started talking, we were worried whether he’d ever stop. Even the episode acknowledges it’s quite a bit of exposition, as Jonah, Lutz, and others start to get antsy and nod off during the briefing. Why the talk is being held out in the airport parking lot and not a hotel room is also weird. But the result of this is, we now know what HCLI’s up against, though Hiroki and his SR Squad switch up their methods, deciding to come out of their shadows and hit hard, perhaps in an effort to scare off or beat down HCLI quickly.

They make a statement in their first strike with a friendly assassin with a flexible katana hidden in her belt. Chequita proves she may be the toughest, craziest of all the tough crazy women in the series, operating as a both a lightning-quick shield for Kasper and a one-woman SWAT team cutting and shooting through the SR Squad like butter (Ever shot at butter before? Not as fun as it sounds). The burst of action in the end makes up for all the dull exposition earlier on. As for Valmet undressing a drunk Koko and suggesting they shower and sleep together – their evening ends…ambiguously, so it’s anyone’s guess what ultimately happened there.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: Colonel Hiroki drives (himself!) in a Nissan Cima (F50) AKA Infiniti Q45, whose elaborate “gatling gun”-style headlamps were groundbreaking when the model was first unveiled in 2000. Other cameos include a Suzuki Wagon R, Toyota Prius, Toyota Vanguard, a Toyota AlphardVolvo S80 (not Koko’s) and a couple Toyota Hiace vans and trucks.

Jormungand – 16

Kasper, Chequita, and his team are in Jakarta, attempting to meet Colonel Nualkhair, but they’re stood up. They go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where he laments that a “phantom company” is trying to edge them out of southeast Asia. He orders an assault on Nualkhair’s son’s compound, which is made to look like an accident but will be seen by the phantoms as a declaration of war. The company based in Japan, which is where Koko and her team are headed. During the flight, Jonah reminisces about his previous life. They meet up with Kasper’s team at Narita, and Kasper takes Jonah to see his three orphaned friends at an international school. Kasper asks to speak to Tojo, who once worked for the Defense Intelligence HQ or SR Squad, whom he believes to be the “phantoms”.

With R and Hex dead and Bookman currently hand-less, HCLI moves on to other things, as they’re threatened to be pushed out of SE Asia by a mysterious company that’s messing with their would-be clients. Kasper, who is essentially a beefed-up, more ruthless version of Koko, isn’t going to take it sitting down, and seeks the wisdom of another one from Koko’s team, Tojo. Both teams are so eclectic in their composition, it’s not surprising that they all may have past connections that may prove useful. Tojo is more brains than brawn in ops, so we may be in for a more cerebral arc than the one with R and Hex – though the tidy raid on Nualkhair’s pad was a powerful statement that Kasper doesn’t play around.

This episode was a little weighed down by frequent flashbacks that amount to clips from the first cour’s fifth episode, chronicling how Jonah ended up with HCLI and Koko. This smacked of recapping, which we never like to see in regular episodes. The clips didn’t really reveal anything new, but only served as a large, padded segue to Jonah asking Kasper about the kids he promised would be cared for in Japan. He sees them, and their clean clothes smiling faces are a striking contrast to the abject misery of that wretched base. But Jonah just sees them; he doesn’t meet them. He’s almost confirming that he deems his existence incompatible with normal life and other kids in particular. He couldn’t bear it if the sight of him changed the look on their faces from contentment to fear.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Jormungand – 15

Renato pleads with Chief Black to call Hex off, warning that Operation Undershaft will be compromised if she kills Jonah. Black gives him Hex’s location, but leaves it up to him. While walking through Praha with Koko, Jonah senses danger, and they’re jumped by two of Hex’s ten men. Jonah is shot with a paralytic drug and can’t move. R confesses to Koko that he’s a spy, but helps her and Jonah escape. He and Hex face off; he misses, but Hex shoots him through the eye. Lutz and Leim take out all of Hex’s men but two, and she retreats. Black visits R’s grave and meets Koko, but then learns Koko used HCLI to track Hex down to Iraq, where the cave she’s hiding in was bombed by a B-52. Black starts seeing ghosts of R and Hex.

Chief Black’s left hand Hex told him Koko was a monster who must be methodically dismantled and destroyed. Chief Black’s right hand Renato told him Koko was nothing but a normal girl beneath her iron mask. The truth is, she’s both. We saw more sides of her this week than perhaps any time in the past, as she faces the prospect of losing Jonah, is told she’s been betrayed by one of her most-trusted bodyguards who taught her how to carry herself, and then loses that bodyguard shortly thereafter. The mask disappears the moment she hears the truth from R. Her viciousness returns when she orders Hex hunted down. And her mask returns for her meeting with Bookman, save a tear she sheds when leaving a bottle of liquor on R’s grave.

In a way, we like how this arc turned out. It didn’t cheat by letting everyone stay alive, or eliminating all threats around Koko and her crew. Hex is dead, but the rather strange scene of Bookman conversing with her and R’s ghosts tells us Bookman remains as dangerous as ever, and he vows to continue “dancing” with Koko “till she screams”, which is just creepy when accompanied by his attempt at dancing. Losing Jonah would have definitely had more impact, though. Koko’s loss of composure is only temporary, and she roars back fast after R’s death. We’re not so sure she’d so quickly forgive someone enough to give them so quick a death as she gave Hex if it were Jonah who was killed – nor do we think she’d forgive herself so quickly.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Car Cameos: The cars that line Praha (Prague) include a Peugeot 406, a BMW 7-Series, and many Mercedes-Benzes: an S-Class and GL-Class, plus Bookman’s CL-Class coupe.

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 – 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.