Episode 003 – Disappearing Act

In which Orko first demonstrates his ability to hash things up.

This week, we open with possibly one of Skeletor’s most dastardly plans – he forces a volcano to erupt, which he expects will devastate the Eternian Plains and make everyone flee. Once everyone flees, Skeletor will make his move on Castle Grayskull. Clever, eh? A flawless plan, in fact, except for one factor – He-Man, who is immediately on hand to stop the eruption by shooting the volcano. This upsets Skeletor so much that he decides it’s time to use the Invisibility Helmet he just happens to have lying around.

In the meantime, we are treated to an extended vignette in which Orko is trying to clean his room by magic. Naturally, this goes wrong and the end result is that he makes Prince Adam’s magic sword vanish. This is bad news – without his sword, how will Adam ever become He-Man again? The situation becomes even more dire when Man-at-Arms arrives and says Skeletor’s Doom Buster is in the woods, meaning Skeletor himself must be nearby.

Disappearing Act 1

And so it proves. Skeletor is nearby. He’s also invisible. Despite being invisible, he’s hiding behind a curtain, which is considerate of him, because it means Adam and Orko can see him when he moves. There is a very short one-sided confrontation, in which Skeletor freezes Adam and Orko, takes Adam to the Banshee Jungle, and informs Orko that if our heroes want Adam back, they’ll have to send He-Man to collect him. This seems like a bad idea, since as far as Skeletor knows, the likely outcome here is that He-Man will indeed show up, punch Skeletor, rescue Adam, and that’ll be the end of it. But advance planning has never really been Skeletor’s strength.

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer consult the Sorceress, and learn that the sword has been transported back in time. Orko and Cringer are dispatched to the past to get the sword back, and it doesn’t take them long to discover that Adam’s sword is now in the possession of a distinctly dangerous looking large fellow, who seems to be using it to trim his fingernails. Despite attracting the attention of a huge collection of odd creatures, Orko and Cringer surprisingly competently retrieve the sword and return to the present.

Disappearing Act 4

Adam, in a cage in the Banshee Jungle, uses a plot device called a “bleeper” (possibly the least imaginative name for a machine in any animation ever) to attract the attention of his mate Stratos and also – less welcome – a horde of wolfbats. Once the wolfbats are dealt with, Adam tells Stratos to go away and find Man-at-Arms, who has been set to work building a remote-control He-Man. As soon as Stratos finds Man-at-Arms, he is told to go away and find Teela. I get the impression that no one really wants Stratos around.

Disappearing Act 2

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer take the sword to Adam’s cage. Instead of passing it through the bars to him, they helpfully place it just out of reach outside the cage. Once Adam points out he can’t reach it, Orko passes it through the bars like he should have done all along, and Adam congratulates him on righting his initial mistake. Yeah, well done, Orko. Anyway, once he’s in possession of the sword, Adam becomes He-Man and heads off to dole out some justice.

Disappearing Act 5

In the meantime, the remote control He-Man has been leading Skeletor on a merry dance through the jungle, but this comes to a sorry end when the fake He-Man’s face falls off. Even Skeletor is not fooled following this. The whole sorry saga comes to a satisfying end when He-Man literally huffs and puffs and blows Skeletor and Beast-Man down. Beast-Man is captured and Man-at-Arms claims he’ll be taken to a prison mine, which sounds excitingly like slave labour and calls to mind the possibility of war crimes. Skeletor, on the other hand, does a perfect forward roll, but this doesn’t deter He-Man, who somehow contrives to get those beastly wolfbats from earlier to chase Skeletor away. Beast-Man seems to find this rather funny, or as funny as someone who’s about to be taken away to a life of hard labour can find anything.

Disappearing Act 3

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that He-Man used his brain to beat Skeletor, which is better than using his muscles. It’s a fair point, but one which applies to any number of stories. A more appropriate moral would be that Orko tried to take a shortcut to tidying his room, and look how that worked out. We could have learned that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. But thanks to Man-at-Arms choosing an irrelevant moral, I never learned that important lesson. And now just look at me. I might sue Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

It would be bizarre if anyone offered one this week, given the whole point of the episode was that he didn’t disappear.

 

Characters featured

A new section here, requested by the good folks of He-Man.org. This episode features, in no particular order, Prince Adam, He-Man, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Stratos, the Sorceress, Teela, some farmers, and a selection of monsters from Eternia’s dim and distant past.

 

Insults

Yet another rough ride for Beast-Man, who is called “Furface” and “Fool”, both by Skeletor. What’s more, in neither case did it seem particularly deserved.

Disappearing Act 6

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, definitely. It’s a clever storyline, presenting a rather interesting dilemma – what if it’s literally impossible to do what needs to be done? Admittedly, the solution offered seems to be to go back in time and get your sword back from a giant, but there’s a limit to how these episodes relate to real life. Anyway, we are given three separate storylines running at the same time, giving each of our heroes something to do, and Skeletor and Beast-Man are entertainingly threatening. And when He-Man eventually does appear, it’s with a sense that in this case, it’s well-earned. Plus there’s that great bit at the start where we learn you can stop volcanoes erupting by shooting them with big-ass lasers. What’s not to like?

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