In which Skeletor surreptitiously steals Castle Grayskull.
Oh God. It’s Orko’s birthday. After the recent rubbish with Uncle Montork, I didn’t think this cartoon could sink to greater Orko-related depths, but the initial few scenes where all our heroes pretend to have forgotten the birthday really are hugely irritating. Luckily, Man-at-Arms interrupts the birthday plotline with news of problems in a province called Visilia. Adam and Cringer happily trot off to become He-Man and Battle-Cat, while Man-at-Arms summons Ram-Man, who he expects will be useful in some unspecified capacity. I don’t need to tell you this does not prove to be the case.
Our heroes arrive in Visilia to find a whirlwind causing havoc. He-Man opts to spin round really fast and create a second whirlwind, which he uses to throw the first whirlwind into space. I try to report on this sort of thing dispassionately, because if I got in any way animated about it, I’d turn into a gibbering wreck trying to explain the many, many reasons why this would and could not happen.
Anyway, in the course of this demented violation of the laws of physics, He-Man’s sword disappears into thin air. He returns to the Palace, where Orko pollutes my television screen again to report that Castle Grayskull has also gone missing. Our heroes pop along to check the truth of this statement; He-Man is happy to settle for “it’s gone”, while Man-at-Arms tries to sound all deep and interesting by intoning ominously, “At least, it’s not here in our dimension,” which basically equates to the same thing, as far as I’m concerned.
Man-at-Arms explains that he thinks Castle Grayskull has been sucked into a white hole, which is like a black hole but not as dense. I wish he’d said it’s like Ram-Man, but not as dense. He-Man spouts some scientific mumbo-jumbo to make it sound like he understands what Man-at-Arms is talking about, then endeavours to solve the problem the only way he can think of – by leaping into the white hole. Teela, being a bit of a specialton, slips off the cliff and falls in too.
If you thought that Plundor’s world in Quest for He-Man was the result of a bad LSD trip, then just wait till you see what’s on the other side of the white hole. It’s a completely crazed dimension of random colours and waving tentacles where our characters stand on conveyor belts being whisked about and occasionally falling off in order to be saved. He-Man follows telepathic signals from the Sorceress until he locates where Castle Grayskull has landed.
Upon entering, He-Man and Teela find Skeletor resplendent on the Sorceress’ throne, though he doesn’t appear to have actually put any effort into learning those secrets he’s always on about. Just as Skeletor appears to have the upper hand, He-Man’s sword falls out of nowhere into his hands and he starts wittering about the power of good.
Skeletor remains unconvinced by He-Man’s erudite argument, so He-Man pops outside again, crawls under Castle Grayskull, picks it up, and hurls it back through the white hole, where it lands back on Eternia, foundations evidently secure. You know how I mentioned earlier I try to keep quiet about little things like throwing whirlwinds into space? Well, genuinely, I fear total mental collapse if I try to talk about throwing an entire castle through a white hole to land precisely where it was.
Skeletor does a runner, pausing long enough to embark on a little rant about how this was his big chance. He sounds genuinely upset. Sometimes I wonder, would it really kill He-Man to let Skeletor have just one of the secrets of Castle Grayskull? Just a little one, one that couldn’t hurt anyone?
In today’s adventure…
Orko draws inspiration from the irritating subplot about his birthday to explain that it’s really not a great idea to eat too many sweets between meals. Well, fine, but given the inclusion of an early scene where Orko’s trying to tell our heroes that Grayskull was missing and none of them would listen to him, how about a moral on the importance of listening to others who might have something to contribute?
A pretty small core cast for us today, consisting only of Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Ram-Man, King Randor and Skeletor. Minor characters include the Palace chef Alan, some people in the province of Visilia, and loads of Man-at-Arms clones, otherwise known as Palace guards.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:
He doesn’t offer an excuse, but Adam at least pays lip-service to the notion of secrecy by going and hiding in a bush to transform, rather than his usual technique of doing it in the Palace courtyard where any Tom, Dick or Ram-Man could see him.
Skeletor offers a couple of tentative insults, specifically “You’re a fool if you think you can stop me,” and “You’re all fools if you think you can stop me,” which suggests that he doesn’t really want to be insulting anybody today but feels it’s only fair to warn his adversaries that insults will come thick and fast if they happen to oppose him. He-Man, on the other hand, seems needlessly aggressive when he comes right out and says, “You’re a loser, Skeletor.”
Does it have the Power?
I feel like my review came across as though I didn’t like this episode, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Once it dodged the bullet of concentrating overmuch on Orko’s birthday, it developed into an entertaining and inventive episode of the series. The animation of the evil dimension was very well done, and the animators did some quite impressive work with a panning shot of Battle-Cat leaping a chasm – all the more impressive given it’s not really something they could expect to re-use. The whirlwinds and white hole business, well, yes, that was stupid, but I suppose I have to admit I don’t watch this cartoon in the expectation of realism. I’m not that far gone yet. And you have to give Skeletor credit for the audacious plan of actually stealing Castle Grayskull. So I’m happy to issue a hearty recommendation for this completely demented outing.