On the Irken-ruled planet Conventia, the beginning of a galactic conquest campaign known as Operation Impending Doom 2 is about to start. The Irkens want all the races of the universe to serve under their already vast Empire, so they plan send Irken Invaders to make the planets vulnerable so the Irken Armada can easily invade and conquer them. Zim arrives uninvited, and it is revealed that Zim single-handedly ruined the original Operation Impending Doom by stealing a Frontline Battle Mech and unwittingly annihilating a portion of his home planet, Irk.
Reluctant to have Zim involved with the new operation, the Almighty Tallest, the two leaders of the Irken Empire, send Zim away to a distant planet on the other side of the Galaxy, represented on their galactic map as a sticky note with a circle drawn onto it with a question mark in the circle. It turns out to be Earth, thus ending the assignment process. On Earth, a boy named Dib intercepts a signal and hears about the Irken invasion plan, but his sister and father do not take any interest in this.
Invaders are receiving robot assistants called SIR (Standard-issue Information Retrieval) units. Not wanting to give away advanced technology to Zim, he is given a robot constructed of garbage named GIR. It is not known what, if anything, the G stands for. GIR appears unintelligent and Zim comments on this, but the Almighty Tallest lie and convince him that "it's not stupid, it's advanced". Zim and GIR head for Earth, and upon their arrival Zim picks disguises and constructs a base. (The disguises scene involves cameos of the creator, Jhonen Vasquez, and the director, Steve Ressel.)
The next day, Zim attends the local school as he believes he will learn about his enemy there. Dib is there and recognizes Zim as an alien, but nobody else does. Dib makes an attempt to capture Zim but gives up when Zim gets to his base, as the front lawn is covered in laser firing lawn gnomes.
- This episode was ranked #36 and #26 in The 100 Greatest Nicktoon Episodes countdown.
Home video releases
- Nickstravaganza! 2
- Nickstravaganza! 2
- Invader Zim: Volume 1 - Doom Doom Doom
- Invader Zim: Season 1
- Invader Zim: Operation Doom
- Invader Zim Wiki: The Nightmare Begins
- "The Nightmare Begins" at TV.com
- "The Nightmare Begins" at the Internet Movie Database
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