Back in the ‘80s, the fictional private military organization known as G.I. Joe fought against an evil terrorist organization that called themselves Cobra. In a two-part episode, the audience got a glimpse of a world where the good guys were gone, and the terrorists had not only won the war, but had fully entrenched themselves in the government.
Worlds Without End sends a small team of Joes into a parallel universe where their teammates were either dead, or in hiding. Cobra has taken over world. The dome of the Capitol building in Washington has been replaced by a cobra’s hood, and Mount Rushmore features the heads of the villainous duo, Cobra Commander and Destro. Things are looking grim.
With a lot of the show’s flashy military action, and the unlikely help of this universe’s Baroness, the Joes are able to turn Cobra Commander and Destro against each other to save this new world before returning to their own.
The alternate universe in this episode gave the writers an opportunity to take the abstract notion that Cobra are the bad guys, and manifest it in a literal way. Without episodes like this, Cobra doesn’t pose a real threat to the world, because the Joes never lose. If there are no stakes, the action can ring hollow.