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Call to Arms
Episode written by Phil Harnage

     The episode begins with the mayor of Metro City holding a press conference, where he announces that the city has just passed a law banning the sale and possession of hand weapons.
     We cut to a rundown warehouse, where a long line of people is waiting to buy Mini Plasma Cannons from an enthusiastic Trigger Happy.  At the front of the line is Trey, a young thug.  The Shadow Master, looking on, tells Ice Pick that soon, everyone will have to carry MPCs for self defense.  Chaos and anarchy, he says, will rule in Metro City.  His prediction seems to be accurate as we then see members of Trey's gang use MPCs to commit various thefts and vandalism.
     Meanwhile, in the Dragon Dojo, Billy and Jimmy are training with their students, Michael and Jason.  Jason has to leave to take care of his little sister.  Jimmy tells him to be careful as his neighborhood is rough and the word on the street is that a gang war is brewing.  Sure enough, as Jason's sister runs to greet him, Trey leads a drive-by shooting.  Jason's sister gets hurt (although we don't actually see her being shot) and lies unconscious.
     Later, in the hospital, a doctor tells Jason, Billy, Jimmy and Michael that Jason's sister will be in critical care for 24 hours, and only time will tell if she'll make it as "those hand weapons are deadly."  The doctor then has to go, stating that victims of plasma fire are pouring in from all over the city.  Billy is convinced that the Shadow Master is behind all this.
     That evening, Billy and Jimmy receive a distress call from Marian.  They transform into the Double Dragons and zoom off to her rescue (again).  The Double Dragons find Marian and some other cops pinned down by Trey's gang and their MPC fire.  They are then told that cops are similarly pinned down everywhere with gang wars and riots breaking out all over town.  Jimmy prepares for action, but is warned by Marian to be careful with the thugs as they're just kids.  Jimmy scares them off by deflecting all their shots with his sword.  Despite the victory, he laments being attacked by kids half his age.
     As we then watch Metro City burn, we hear the mayor's announcement that the police have the situation fully under control.
     Back at the hospital, Jason promises his unconscious sister that he's going to find the one that did this to her and "get him."  Jason then buys an MPC from Trigger-Happy, noticing the Shadow Master as he leaves.
     Returning to the Dragon Dojo, Jason proudly shows off his MPC stating that no one will push him or his family around anymore.  Billy tells him that no one who follows the Code of the Dragon would carry a weapon like that, but Jason replies that on his street, the Code of the Dragon "doesn't mean doo-dah."  He goes on by saying that "all the fancy karate moves in the world won't stop a plasma blast or a bullet."
     Despite Jason's conviction, Jimmy convinces him to turn the MPC over in exchange for showing him how to stay out of trouble using only wits.  Jason gives his MPC to Jimmy, who then leaves his sword in the Dojo.  As Jimmy and Jason prepare to go, Jason reveals that he saw the Shadow Master at Trigger Happy's warehouse.  Billy immediately calls Marian to inform her of this, only to discover that supposedly law-abiding citizens all over Metro City are being arrested for possession of illegal hand weapons.
     Jimmy (in disguise) and Jason arrive at the warehouse, where Jimmy notes that business is booming.  Sickle barks at them to get in line or get out, which makes Jimmy want to attack him immediately.  Jason pulls Jimmy aside, reminding him that he doesn't have his sword and that they're surrounded by Shadow Warriors.  But Jimmy would still rather fight.  Trigger Happy offers Jimmy the last MPC, but then Trey recognizes Jason as a junior Dragon.  Jimmy and Jason try to flee but are cut off by the Shadow Warriors.  Trey then reveals Jimmy's identity.  Everyone attacks Jimmy, who tells Jason to get out of there and get Billy.  Jason escapes, and Jimmy puts up a good fight (with no sword!), but is eventually captured.  The Shadow Master says that Jimmy will be the perfect subject on which to test the new, improved MPC.
     Jason calls the police from a public phone, giving them Jimmy's whereabouts.  He then delivers an angry soliloquy, saying that he told Jimmy he needed a weapon, and now he's going to do things his way.  Jason vows that he'll get Trey for shooting his sister (confirming that she was actually shot earlier).
     Marian raids the warehouse with Billy, but they arrive too late.  The Shadow Warriors have moved Jimmy to the MPC factory with Jason secretly watching.  The Shadow Master tells Trey that he and his gang will be assigned to attack the Dragon Dojo.  Jimmy, bound and furious, asks why the Shadow Master is bringing kids into their conflict.  Trey spits that he is not a child, but the Shadow Master tells him that he is indeed, according to the law.  The Shadow Master goes on, asking Trey what is the worst that could happen.  He then answers his own question: Trey would spend a few years in Juvenile Hall, then be back on the street, "ready to rule."  In conclusion, the Shadow Master says that if Trey does this for him, he will become the new Shadow Boss (although it's unclear if the Shadow Master is referring to attacking the Dojo, or doing jail time).
     Outside the factory, Ice Pick is startled by a two-headed mutant cat and drops his MPC, which Jason retrieves.
     Back inside the factory, the Shadow Master reveals the secret of the MPCs to Trey: they can be fully charged by placing them under the charge coil.  Jimmy, looking on, realizes that the coil must be "loaded with energy."
     Jason calls Billy, informing him of the situation, but ends the call before he can tell him where Jimmy is.
     Trey and his gang attack the Dojo, but its defense system holds, and Chop (the Dragon Warrior), using his cybernetic arm as a giant magnet, relieves them of their MPCs.  Without their weapons, they instantly flee.  Trey runs into an alleyway where he is confronted by Jason, who is still armed with Ice Pick's MPC.  Trey, teary-eyed, begs on his knees for his life.  Jason finds he doesn't want to kill Trey, and throws the MPC away.  As soon as Jason is unarmed, Trey attacks him and gets clobbered.  On the ground again, he begs Jason not to hurt him.  Jason tells Trey that without a weapon in his hand, he's a lousy coward.  Trey then dives for the MPC, but Jason removes it from him and destroys it.  Marian and Billy (carrying both Dragon Swords) arrive, and Marian arrests Trey.
     Jason leads Billy to the factory.  Billy goes inside, frees Jimmy, and gives him his sword.  Together, they transform into the Double Dragons and easily take care of the Shadow Warriors. The Shadow Master fires a blast of energy from his scythe at them, which Jimmy deflects into the charge coil, causing the whole factory to go up in flames.
     At the hospital, the doctor tells Billy, Jimmy, Marian and Jason that his sister will be fine.  Jason says that Jimmy taught him how to stay out of trouble: by avoiding bad situations, not jumping into them like Jimmy.  He goes on by recounting that when it came down to it, he couldn't pull the trigger.  He doesn't want to shoot anybody, not even someone he hates.  The episode ends with Jason asking Marian to tell the judge to go easy on Trey.

     Eddie MountainGoat's Review: It's obvious from the start that this is going to be an anti-gun episode.  It even recycles the message-epilogue from "Over the Line" (except that it's actually relevant, this time).  But while still remaining kid-friendly, it actually deals with the issue fairly well, and relatively grittily.
     Firearms are bought by "kids," not generic bad guys.  Jason wants one to defend his family, not to be a big shot.  Despite this, we are told that people are getting hurt.  The reality that martial arts don't deflect bullets is brought up.  There is some realism (and maybe cynicism) when an idealistic code does not mean (insert replacement for "doo-dah" here) in a violent neighborhood.  A big swipe is taken at the juvenile justice system.  We even see a politician clearly lying to the public.
     In short, the message is not just simplified into "guns are bad, heroes are good, all problems can be solved by resisting the bad guys."
     I think even detractors of the cartoon will enjoy the "doo-dah" comment (I'm beginning to suspect that even Phil Harnage was sick of hearing Billy say, "As the code of the dragon says…"  At one point, even Jimmy cuts him off from quoting the code!).  It could have used a little more action, but all told, this is one of the best-written and darkest episodes I've seen.

Rating: A-