In which the writers make an unexpected attempt at deep and meaningful characterisation.
A rather surprising revelation greets us in the opening scene of this episode: Queen Marlena is actually from Earth. She was an astronaut whose ship got caught in a cosmic storm and was forced to crash land on Eternia. Though she misses Earth, she says she has come to think of Eternia as home. Teela comes prancing in and concludes that the Queen is amazing, so she goes off to ask Man-at-Arms about her own parents.
Now, up to this point in the series, Teela has been referring to Man-at-Arms as “Father”. It thus gave me quite a surprise when Man-at-Arms began describing Teela’s father as one of the bravest men on Eternia. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-confidence, but this seemed extreme. All becomes clear a moment later though, when Man-at-Arms explains he adopted Teela. He also says that the identity of Teela’s mother is a secret, that one day Teela will learn.
Teela decides that today is that day, and resolves to ask the Oracle of the Crystal Sea who her mother was. Orko tries to dissuade her, warning her of the shadowbeasts and monsters that surround the Oracle’s cave, but Teela is dead set. Orko promises not to tell anyone where she’s going, then immediately goes and tells Adam, who feels that it’s time for He-Man to put in an appearance.
Teela finds her way through the perils of the Crystal Sea without any help from He-Man. Reaching the Oracle’s cave, she finds a crystal ball, in which the head of an old man tells the story of Teela’s origins. When Man-at-Arms was young, but still had a predilection for really stupid helmets, he came across Mer-Man trying to capture Zoar, who is the Sorceress in eagle form. Zoar could easily have flown away, but in her nest was something she was trying to protect. Man-at-Arms and Zoar defeated Mer-Man, who swore revenge. And in the nest was –
At this point, the Oracle senses evil and stops recounting the story, though I’m sure anyone with half a brain can work out what was in the nest. The evil in question turns out to be Mer-Man and a few weird sea creatures. Unfortunately, my dodgy eBay-bought DVD started stuttering at this juncture, and so whatever these great adversaries had to say to each other is lost to posterity.
Orko has floated off to Castle Grayskull to tell the Sorceress that Teela has gone to see the Oracle. This is fairly random behaviour, even for Orko, but it does help to keep the plot moving, so I suppose we can forgive it. The Sorceress transforms into Zoar and flies off to help.
In a scene clearly stolen from Greek mythology, Mer-Man has chained Teela up on a rock, and explains in his stupid blubbery voice that she will be sacrificed to Bakul, the mightiest of sea demons, and that Bakul will be under Mer-Man’s command once he has eaten Teela. Needless to say, this doesn’t happen. While Mer-Man does succeed in raising Bakul – who reminded me inexplicably of a giant red version of that cowardly tortoise thing from Disney’s Robin Hood – He-Man and Zoar show up at precisely the right moment to prevent things going any further.
Back at the Oracle, Teela learns that yes, there was a baby in Zoar’s nest. For whatever demented reason, the Sorceress had decided that a nest at the top of a pinnacle of rock was a good place to raise a child, as opposed to Castle Grayskull. Again, my DVD stuttered, but the end result of this scene was Man-at-Arms carrying Teela off, promising to care for her till the end of his days. This tale gives me a lump in my throat.
Then comes a Reset Button worthy of Star Trek: Voyager. The Sorceress reveals that one day Teela will become the mystic guardian of Grayskull, but until that point, she must forget the entire story, and wipes her memory. And then they all go home.
In today’s adventure…
Teela gives a quite sane little lecture on parenthood, explaining that no matter who your biological parents are, it’s those who love, protect and care for you that can be called Mother and Father. It’s actually quite sensitive and intelligent, and moreover actually ties into the theme of the episode.
This week features Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Skeletor, Mer-Man, Queen Marlena, Orko, the Oracle, and Bakul the big red demon.
He-Man interrupts an important demon-raising ceremony in order to call Mer-Man “Fish-face”.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:
I may have to retire this section if people don’t start giving stupid excuses soon. Once again, no one even tries to explain.
Egg on your face?
No, none of this either. In fact, from next week, this section is only going to appear if I have something relevant to say in it.
Does it have the Power?
It’s a valiant attempt to give some back story to these characters, but to be honest, the problem is that I don’t watch He-Man for its depth of characterisation. I watch it to see Skeletor get his ass whooped good. That doesn’t happen this week, what with Skeletor only appearing briefly to have a chat with Mer-Man. I didn’t mind the bit at the beginning where we learn about Marlena’s past, but the whole thing with Teela, Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress just seems pointless, especially since Teela doesn’t even remember it, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be relevant again. In addition, Bakul’s brief appearance is blatantly only here to give He-Man something to do while Teela messes about with the Oracle. Bottom line is, if you’re watching He-Man for a good fun Saturday morning cartoon, then this one’s not for you. If, on the other hand, you’re being a bit more obsessive about it and want to know character background, then this is probably the best the series has to offer.