Episode 049 – Return of the Gryphon

In which a lion-headed dragon gets thrown into space.

Skeletor has formed an unusually subtle plan this week: he despatches Beast-Man and Trapjaw to steal the Jewel of Protection from the Shrine of the Gryphon, and instructs them to hide it in the Palace grounds, knowing that the Gryphon will destroy everything in its path to get the jewel back. Astonishingly, these two clowns achieve their part in the plan without a hitch.

The episode now takes a turn for the irritating with the introduction of Thad, a royal page boy with a massive chip on his shoulder about no one knowing who he is. He indulges in a long and infuriating monologue that made me suspect everyone knows precisely who Thad is, and they simply don’t like him because he’s a whining brat. Thad then finds the Jewel of Protection, and concludes moronically that it will make him into someone important.

gryphon-1
Thad: “Maybe if I stand here pouting, someone will like me.”

In the Palace laboratory, Man-at-Arms proudly unveils his latest invention: a freeze ray. Really, Man-at-Arms? Are we supposed to be impressed? You’ve had freeze rays since at least Episode 13, and this is Episode 49. And to top it off, this latest freeze ray doesn’t even work. This time-wasting interlude comes to a halt when a call comes in from Chandor village, reporting they are under attack from the Gryphon.

He-Man leaps into the Attack Trak and heads for Chandor, where he finds that the Gryphon is a pink dragon with a lion’s head, and is consequently pretty amusing. Knowing he has many ludicrous ways to defeat a monster, this time He-Man opts to divert a river at it, and then returns to the Palace, where he solemnly reports he doesn’t think they’ve seen the last of the Gryphon. Well, why didn’t you stay in Chandor and finish the job then, you oaf?

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Gryphon: “Don’t laugh at my ridiculous design! I can breathe fire!”

Discussing the situation, He-Man concludes that the Gryphon must have attacked because the Jewel of Protection was stolen; he, Man-at-Arms and Teela all realise that the jewel now in the possession of Thad must be the missing bauble. With the Gryphon now headed for the Palace, He-Man and Man-at-Arms prepare the defence, while Teela is sent off to find Thad.

Thad has of course overheard all the discussions and decides that he doesn’t want to give up the jewel, because it will make him a nobody again. In his tiny mind, running away with the jewel is a preferable option. Once Teela finds him, Thad once again whimpers about no one liking him if he doesn’t have the jewel. Frankly, no one likes him with or without the jewel. He’s a waste of space and he should be fired from his page boy job. Teela, however, shows infinitely more patience than I would have and eventually persuades Thad to give up the jewel.

Man-at-Arms tries to use his allegedly new freeze ray, but it still doesn’t work, so He-Man has a really good fight with the Gryphon, in the course of which he hurls it into outer space. Luckily, the Gryphon is able to breathe in a vacuum so comes roaring back through the atmosphere, making this whole sequence completely gratuitous. It’s as if someone in charge said, “Well, yes, it’s a good fight, but it’s not insane enough. Could you put something mental in it?”

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Gryphon: “I am having a very bad day.”

Thad and Teela return with the jewel, but by this stage the Gryphon has started a forest fire, which He-Man puts out by throwing a mountain into a lake. This proves to be a mistake, since Thad has idiotically dropped the jewel, which is now lost somewhere in the flood that He-Man has caused. To make matters worse, the jewel turns out to be the Gryphon’s egg, which hatches, giving life to a baby Gryphon which is afraid of water. To everyone’s surprise, Thad risks his life to save the baby, and the Gryphon makes a weirdly smug face at the camera before flying away. Then everyone congratulates Thad for being so heroic. Yay.

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms states that today, when Thad realised he must face his own responsibilities, it was the moment that Thad turned from a boy into a man. I understand the message, but it really is a strange way of putting it.

 

Character checklist

A pretty standard line-up greets us today, consisting of Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Thad, Trapjaw, Beast-Man, and a parade of nameless villagers.

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Nameless Villager With Beard: “It is pretty plain to see that my village is inhabited primarily either by clones or by the product of many centuries of intense inbreeding.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam becomes He-Man in the laboratory, with only Orko and Man-at-Arms present. There is a Palace Guard on the other side of a Skype link, but Adam obviously considers that since this isn’t a character with a name, he won’t be telling about the transformation.

 

Insults

It starts off fairly promisingly, with Trapjaw calling Beast-Man a “fool” and a “hairy fool” in rapid succession, but after that no one says anything unkind, even though Thad deserves every insult ever devised.

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Trapjaw: “I’m a master at hide-and-seek.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I can’t say that it’s exactly one of my favourites. I don’t like it whenever they trot out an irritating child who needs to learn a lesson of some sort, and Thad is smarmier than most. It’s incredibly difficult to sympathise with him even before he finds the jewel, and once he does get the jewel and opts not to give it back, he becomes even less relatable. Not even his “becoming a man” at the end of the episode makes up for it.

Otherwise, there’s nothing too annoying, but nothing all that interesting either. I had high hopes at the start when Beast-Man and Trapjaw appeared, but they vanished from the story after the first scene. I also have to wonder, why didn’t Skeletor take advantage of the Gryphon-related chaos to attack Grayskull? Having set this whole thing in motion, he completely failed to capitalise on his initial success.

So in summary, I’d call this one slightly below average, and you’d be more than welcome to skip it.

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One thought on “Episode 049 – Return of the Gryphon

  1. Return of the gryphon is an episode that is usually known and rated as I’d say just your average he man episode or even slightly below but for me this is criminally underated and quite possibly one of the most underated episodes in the series imho my reasons well the gryphon one of the best monsters of the series 2nd only to mulcrum he seems really menacing and you get to see some real destruction i.e. The gryphon destroying buildings in its path and plenty of fire! I also think this is a really nice story (and a unique one) Thad the boy I’d have to agree is quite annoying at times but certainly no more than any of the others i.e. Jeremy from the Royal cousin ep omg!! There’s some really nice animation in this episode too and the writer wise delivers a well rounded story not quite on the Paul dini level but some nice enough character development as well, what return of the gryphon does that’s do unique is treat he man fans to life at the royal palace that you wouldn’t usually see i.e. Thad the page boy being treated like a number and altho he was a little annoying I did personally feel his pain at being ignored it was a refreshing change to see the activities at the Royal palace from a different angle, you got to see he man getting a bit frustrated with man at arms when he says he mans claim the gryphon attacking the village because an egg was stolen I really liked this and the writer wise did create some brief tension here, also the twist at the end when you realise why the gryphon is so angry the egg is the baby gryphon!! I love the fact that it was Thad that saved the day and not he man i.e. He hand the baby gryphon to its mother, he mans battles with the gryphon were some of the finest actions scenes and for a cartoon I thought they used this too the full getting the most out of it! Overall return of the gryphon altho wouldn’t quite make my top 10 I really do believe (imo) is a very underated episode that I’d personally recommend, there are a few beefs with say maybe skeletor could of made an appearance but if your willing to put this aside I’d say return of the gryphon is a really unique story and fine episode that I’d score 8/10

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