In which I begin to suspect that Man-at-Arms has recently suffered head trauma.
Our story opens with a ragged man called Nepthu crawling through the desert towards the Temple of the Sun. Once he gets inside, he engages in a frantic search for a piece of gold called the Sun Scarab; when he finds this, he uses its powers to transform himself into a strong powerful individual, and announces his intention to rule the universe. As a demonstration of his power, he captures the Sorceress, who happens to be flying around in falcon form. It’s a typical Thursday on Eternia.
Meanwhile, over at the Palace, Man-at-Arms is demonstrating another of his miraculous inventions. This one’s called a “communicator”, and it works in exactly the same way as a radio. Eternia has been shown as possessing radios right from the very first episode, I’m sure. This is the second week in a row that Man-at-Arms has “invented” something that already exists. It’s entirely possible that at some point offscreen, he sustained a serious head injury, and this flurry of inventing things is just part of his re-education programme.
This fascinating and completely irrelevant scene is interrupted by Adam, who receives a telepathic communication from the Sorceress informing him that she is a prisoner in the Temple of the Sun. Cue inspiring music and the entry of He-Man – though curiously, Cringer demands not to become Battle-Cat and to come along in his usual form instead. This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately we only get about halfway through the next scene before Cringer decides to be Battle-Cat after all.
Our heroes arrive at the Temple without too much difficulty, where they are greeted by a whirlwind. He-Man employs a technique we’ve seen before and spins really fast in the opposite direction, which somehow enables him to throw the whirlwind into outer space. I feel the writers of He-Man should stay away from whirlwinds. It brings out their most mental side, which is saying something.
The next hazard to be faced is a giant scorpion, which He-Man defeats by rubbing the desert sand so much that it heats up and forms a nice big pane of glass, behind which the scorpion is trapped. This bit genuinely seems to be included simply so that He-Man can explain to the audience that glass is made from sand, which is nice to know but seems completely random.
Meanwhile, Nepthu has occupied himself in creating a bunch of sand monsters, which he describes as being “as hard as rock and completely invincible”. If you want to nip off to Ladbrokes now to place bets on whether these monsters will defeat He-Man, I’m happy to wait for you to get back. The Sorceress attempts an escape, but Nepthu turns her into solid diamond and laughs crazily.
Before Nepthu can be spurred to further mayhem, He-Man lets himself into the Temple and enters into a difference of opinion with the sand monsters. Once this is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction (except, obviously, Nepthu’s), Man-at-Arms manages to swipe the Scarab out of Nepthu’s hand. He-Man destroys the Scarab, returning the Sorceress to life and Nepthu to his ragged form. The episode ends with the revelation that Nepthu gets a job as a gardener in the Evergreen Forest.
In today’s adventure…
He-Man considers the take-home lesson this week is that Nepthu used power for his own selfish ends, and thus wasn’t a very good leader. He-Man reminds us that being a good leader takes a lot of responsibility, but then seems to remember that the target audience of this cartoon isn’t a symposium for CEOs of multi-national companies, and correspondingly adjusts the direction of the moral by informing us that it’s also important to be responsible when following a leader – i.e. don’t do something wrong just because someone tells you to. Sage advice, actually.
There aren’t many characters to entertain us today. It’s only Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko and Nepthu doing the rounds.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
The writers seem to have settled into a comfortable pattern of only including Man-at-Arms and Orko in these stories, thus negating the need for Adam to explain himself to anyone.
The only insult this week is Adam calling Cringer a “big furball”, and he sounds mightily cross when he does so.
Does it have the Power?
This episode is neither particularly good nor particularly bad – in fact, it’s almost wilfully average. The only part that’s even a bit interesting is the bit where Cringer refuses to become Battle-Cat and insists on helping by himself; there’s always a slight undercurrent of resentment from Cringer when he has to be Battle-Cat, and it was a fun notion for him to demand to contribute on his own merits. The problem is this is undermined almost immediately by him changing his mind shortly thereafter, before he’s had the chance to do anything. A bit of a missed opportunity, really.
Nepthu is not a very interesting villain, and without any background on him, his ambition of conquering the universe seems like it comes from nowhere and isn’t very convincing. The scenes of He-Man facing the whirlwind and the scorpion are nothing but time-wasting, as is the really odd scene of Man-at-Arms inventing the communicator. One nice touch was seeing Nepthu at the end of the episode actually happy with his lot, which is probably a first for a defeated baddy. On the whole, though, I wouldn’t really bother with this episode.