I think it’s safe to say that there are very few series that would even try an episode like this one, never mind actually pull it off. I’ve always felt that Jormungand was at its very best when the focus was on the interplay inside Team Koko and the larger plot leaned towards the simple and straightforward rather than the Byzantine, and this ep was very much in that vein. But considering the subject matter and the amount of graphic violence, to stage it as effectively a comedy episode is pure Jormungand.
Everyone inside the team gets their turn in the spotlight (though you may have noticed one major player who’s seemingly always important in other character’s arcs, but hasn’t been the focus of one of his own – yet) and this time it’s Wilee, AKA William Nelson or Wile E. Coyote. Up to now we’ve seen him largely as the mostly silent driver, but it turns out driving isn’t his specialty – it merely puts him in the best position to engage his real talent, the spotting and disposal of explosives. It was when a Delta Force squadron (which includes Echo) under the command of Captain Lehm Brick (naturally) recruited him to blow up a chemical plant in the first Gulf War that Wilee’s life course changed to the one we see him on now.
When Jormungand has a relatively uncomplicated storyline, it allows the series to focus more heavily on the subtleties of the relationships. While this certainly wasn’t one of the show’s deeper or more philosophical episodes, there was nevertheless a lot going on as Team Koko rolled through the desert in a truck convoy, on their way to deliver materials to build an elementary school (because only selling arms is bad PR). We see Jonah very much as the impressionable boy here, first being swept away in Wilee’s tale of how he came to part of Koko’s team, and the realities of life on the ground in Iraq during the second Gulf War are becoming apparent outside the cab of the trucks.
It’s something of a Wild West scenario, with corporate armies running roughshod over the landscape, murdering civilians. The group hired to protect Koko’s convoy, provided by the Excalibur Corporation, is far from a flight of fancy – groups of mercenary soldiers like them were encouraged to be major players in Iraq by the U.S. Government (though there were those in the military that saw the incredible downside to corporate armies in the field). After they needlessly murder an Iraqi civilian Koko sends them packing, though their translator, Dr. Nazar (Umezu Hideyuki) stays behind to spy on Koko’s team – though none of them are fooled for a moment, and realize the Excalibur goons will surely be out for revenge.
Wilee’s story is a pretty good one, but it’s hard to include Lehm in the plot and not have him dominate the episode. The scenes where he slips into the role of the canny old soldier sharing his wisdom with Jonah are always fantastic and this week’s are no exception – Jonah is something of a sponge anyway, but he’s learned that when Lehm speaks he really needs to be paying attention. Perhaps the most striking thing he shares with Jonah about Wilee is that there are only two members of the team on the FBI blacklist – Koko and Wilee. Lehm’s own “superhuman skills” are one thing, but Wilee’s own are not to be underestimated, as the results of his Delta Force debut prove.
The result of all this is that Jonah is now rather scared of Wilee, which Wilee is rather dismayed about – but it’s easy to see why Jonah would feel that way. Wilee isn’t just a madly skilled sapper and demolitions man, but he enjoys his job a little too much, and he has a weakness for showing off and poetic justice. All this spells trouble for the Excalibur goons, who like so many before them have no idea what they’re up against with Team Koko. We also see that the war-torn country of Iraq is full of enterprising men like Nazar, who’re smart enough to know where to stand and when, and do what they have to do in the insane world created by an insane war. It’s a measure of just how diverse and dangerous Koko’s team is that they never seem in any real danger here – they’re all frightening in different ways, and completely committed to supporting each other. Like another group who intersperse acts of charity with those that skirt the law, this team has a leader whose great skill lies in understanding the strengths of her people, trusting them to do their job and making sure they’re willing to do anything for each other. And you definitely don’t want to piss either one of them off.