In which we are treated to several million Stratos clones, none of whom are any more useful than the original.
In Stratos’ kingdom of Avion, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Ram-Man have arrived for a celebration, which involves showing off the Staff of the Elders and using it to create some fireworks. Not surprisingly, it transpires that the Staff is the only thing capable of releasing a scary-looking beast called Molchrum from a block of crystal, and consequently Skeletor is quite keen to get his inexplicably blue hands on it. His Viking-helmeted minions (introduced later as Torgs) attack Avion, and succeed in kidnapping Stratos and stealing the Staff.
The Sorceress provides a bit of exposition. Not only will Molchrum destroy Castle Grayskull if he is released, but if the Staff is used for evil and then not used to undo that evil, it will explode, taking half of the planet with it. I feel that even Skeletor would want to avoid that outcome, so here’s hoping this one can be resolved by simply talking things through.
He-Man and his crowd find Skeletor and the Torgs in fairly short order in a cave, but Skeletor unveils his most demented plan yet: he’s made about 50 clones of Stratos, all of which are under his spell. Exactly what he hopes to achieve with this is anybody’s guess. As expected, the real Stratos quickly breaks free of Skeletor’s spell, which makes all the other Stratoses vanish. Forgive me for not cheering.
This pointless interlude with multiple Stratoses has at least bought Skeletor some time, which he puts to effective use by releasing Molchrum from the crystal. Molchrum traps He-Man and co. behind a wall of rock, which is precisely the sort of prison He-Man can never escape from. Skeletor then commits a second tactical error by popping off with Molchrum to Castle Grayskull, leaving the Staff of the Elders in the hands of the King of the Torgs.
Sure enough, He-Man punches the rock wall and escapes. He takes Man-at-Arms and Ram-Man to Grayskull, leaving the others to retrieve the Staff. He-Man occupies himself in tying Molchrum up, while Man-at-Arms and Ram-Man go for Skeletor. Man-at-Arms advises Skeletor to surrender because “it’s two against one”. Who are you kidding, Man-at-Arms? Even I wouldn’t surrender to you and Ram-Man. Sure enough, it takes Skeletor only two seconds to trap these two clowns in a tree.
Teela’s contingent retrieves the Staff after a lengthy and not-at-all interesting fight with the Torgs, and Stratos takes it to Grayskull as fast as he can. He passes it to He-Man, who starts trying to imprison Molchrum again. Sadly, the Staff begins to explode, so He-Man instead hurls it into orbit. I’m not sure why, but the Staff’s subsequent explosion results in Molchrum being trapped in crystal again, and then the Staff returns to Eternia all in one piece, which makes no sense whatsoever.
The episode finishes with Skeletor escaping as usual, Man-at-Arms and Ram-Man being released from the tree, and all the heroes return to Avion for the festival, where Orko is molested by a bratty boy with a remote control spaceship. I don’t normally like bratty children, but this one has my sympathy and support.
In today’s adventure…
Orko reminds us that it’s best not to eat anything if we don’t know what it is. Then he salutes like he’s in the US Navy, and chuckles like he’s been really funny. He hasn’t. I don’t pretend to understand how this little adventure with Molchrum is relevant to safe eating, but equally I can’t see any sensible moral lessons that can be drawn, other than if you’re writing a He-Man episode, there’s no point having Ram-Man included if he’s not going to say or do anything.
Today it’s He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Stratos, Ram-Man, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor, some Torgs, and Molchrum, though I’m not certain quite how far a weird centaur-with-tentacles can be considered a character.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
The episode begins with He-Man already live and kicking, and Adam isn’t even mentioned. Perhaps He-Man’s finally realised there’s absolutely no point to this double identity lark.
Perhaps because Beast-Man isn’t involved, everyone is very polite. Beast-Man just brings out the worst in people.
Does it have the Power?
It’s a very meat and potatoes episode. Skeletor gets a monster, takes it to Castle Grayskull, and gets defeated. Stories with a plot like this need to have something a bit more to avoid being quickly forgettable, and Reign of the Monster doesn’t. I enjoyed the utter pointlessness of the multiple Stratoses, and I also liked He-Man rubbing his hands as if they were sore after he’d punched the rock wall – a surprisingly subtle piece of animation which is something of a rare concession to reality. But it’s not really enough. There’s nothing wrong with this episode, but neither would I ever bother to watch it again.