Guardians of the Galaxy: Jingle Bell Rock (2016)

My continuing quest for more science fiction holiday content led me to this episode of the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series. The series uses the team from the movies, but as far as I know, it isn't in continuity with anything else.

The episode opens with the team tracking down a fugitive alien. Peter Quill is in a bit of a funk because it's Christmas back on Earth (how or why he knows this isn't clear from this episode), but he still gets the drop on their bounty. The alien begs for mercy and claims that the charges against him aren't fair, but they set off for their reward.

The other team members do some research on Earth Christmas in the meantime, but other than briefly decorating Groot, this doesn't come to much. Quill claims that everything is fine, Christmas isn't worth being upset about anyway.

When they deliver the fugitive to a snowy planet, he asks once more for their help, then asks them to at least tell his family where he's gone. The Guardians return him and an item he stole to a guy named Neeza, who turns out to be a local rich Scrooge-type, complete with treasure hoard and fleet of evil robots. Neeza is some sort of regional governor who oppresses the locals. He double-crosses the Guardians, but they escape and declare that they're going to bring Neeza down.

Rocket and Quill come up with a silly plan based on A Christmas Carol, to try to convince Neeza to either give them the key to the treasure vault or change his ways. However, instead of spending the rest of the episode on this ruse, it fails almost immediately. Neeza is afraid of spirits, but that just means he keeps a special gun to shoot them with. The Guardians steal the keys and split up, Rocket and Groot to clean out the vault and Drax, Gamora, and Quill to free the prisoners.

Everyone escapes on a hover platform, but between the riders and the treasure, they're too slow to outrun Neeza's robots and his vicious giant pet beast. Groot adjusts his body into a sort of sled (callback to Quill's memory of childhood Christmas wishes) and Quill, Gamora, and Drax ride him down the mountain in a snowy action sequence.

Neeza sends a threatening message to Rocket on the hover sled and reveals the presence of an antimatter bomb on the vehicle. Rocket manages to extract it and throw it off the side. Neeza's alien pet thinks the bomb is part of the stolen treasure and returns it to its master just in time for them to get sucked into an antimatter vortex.

When they reach the town, the Guardians and the freed prisoners distribute the treasure to the villagers, and a holiday is had by all.

This is far from great television, but it had some fun moments. We especially liked how quickly and utterly the Christmas Carol plan failed. It was a bad plan, but many shows would have leaned into it, instead of just letting the team do what they do best: blast their way out of trouble.