Episode 059 – The Witch and the Warrior

In which that creepy idiot Malik makes an unwelcome comeback.

Malik, the stupid wizard from the less than exciting episode Wizard of Stone Mountain, seems to have branched out into a new career guarding the Fountain of Life, in the desert city of Arridan, from the evil wizard Kothos. As the episode opens, we find him deciding that Kothos’ attacks are becoming too frequent, and accordingly he contacts the Palace to request the help of He-Man and Teela.

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Prince Adam: “Why is there a massive picture of that twat Malik on your wall, Teela?”

As soon as He-Man arrives, Kothos provides a nice big sand monster for He-Man’s delight and delectation. While He-Man is thus occupied, Evil-Lyn sneaks into the temple with intent to steal the waters of the Fountain for Skeletor. Teela attempts to stop her, but during their battle, Kothos arranges for the entire temple to fly away with both Teela and Evil-Lyn inside it. Kothos then strips Evil-Lyn of her magical powers, and abandons both her and Teela in the middle of the desert.

Teela proposes a truce, at which prospect Evil-Lyn snarls and then accepts. They trudge through the desert, helping each other to find water, defeat a Sand Devil, and light a fire for warmth once night sets in. Around the campfire, the two of them grudgingly admire each other’s skills and bemoan the fact that they’re on opposite sides.

He-Man, in the meantime, has been distracted from Teela’s predicament by Clawful, who lures him into a battle in a cave. This battle does not go too well for Clawful, who ends up encased in concrete and hurled all the way back to Snake Mountain, where he is greeted with distinct displeasure by Skeletor. He-Man then gathers Man-at-Arms, Orko and Battle-Cat, and sets off with Malik for Kothos’ hideout to recover the stolen temple.

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Clawful: “I think I need to lay off the ketamine.”

Teela and Evil-Lyn sneak into Kothos’ lair, where Evil-Lyn recovers her magic powers. He-Man and his group also show up at this point, and there follows a not particularly entertaining fight with Kothos’ guards, while Evil-Lyn nips off to prevent Kothos drinking the waters of the Fountain of Life. She does this by turning him into a Sand Slug, but then passes out from her injuries sustained in the battle.

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Kothos: “I think my finger is exploding.”

Malik transports the temple back to Arridan, then uses some of the Fountain’s waters to heal Evil-Lyn. Evil-Lyn declares the truce over, but decides that she’s had more than enough of the Fountain, and heads back to Snake Mountain without trying to steal it again. Then He-Man revives one of his long-forgotten annoying habits and winks at the camera, which is clearly because the writer couldn’t think of a pithy line on which to close the episode.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela is the one delivering the moral, but instead of talking about cooperation, she decides to go off on one about making the best of a bad situation. Yes, okay, that was demonstrated in the episode as well, I suppose, but come on – this episode was a perfect showcase for working together with people you don’t like. I suppose the writers don’t want to make things too obvious, but if you’re going to have a moral segment at the end of the cartoon, it’s never going to be all that subtle, is it?

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Teela: “Look, writers! Me and Evil-Lyn are working together! Surely you can do something with that, no?”

Character checklist

Oh, there’s loads of people today. Of course, there’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Malik, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Clawful, Kothos, and a whole horde of nameless cannon fodder on both Malik and Kothos’ teams.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No excuse is given when Adam turns into He-Man. Later in the episode, He-Man transforms Cringer into Battle-Cat, and he does it right in front of Malik, thus completely blowing Cringer’s cover once and for all. Well done, He-Man.

 

Insults

There’s quite a bit of nastiness flying around this week: Teela calls Evil-Lyn an “evil witch”, and Evil-Lyn reciprocates with “impudent fool”. Teela also implicitly calls Evil-Lyn a “vicious creature” by suggesting that it takes one to know one when Evil-Lyn discusses her knowledge of Eternia’s beasties. Kothos calls his guards “fools” and refers to Evil-Lyn as a “nuisance”, but it’s perhaps He-Man who takes first prize this week with his outstandingly inventive “lobster lips” for Clawful.

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He-Man: “I’ve got a great insult stored up to use on you, Clawful. You’ll cry for weeks.”

Does it have the Power?

I must say, of all the characters who needed a comeback, Malik wouldn’t be my first choice. Wizard of Stone Mountain was rubbish, and I didn’t need to be reminded of it. Still, Malik’s presence was pretty much irrelevant, and I suppose it’s nice to see the writers creating a little bit of continuity in Eternia.

The Teela and Evil-Lyn plotline was very enjoyable, showing the benefits of cooperation and demonstrating that Evil-Lyn has quite a bit more depth than most of Skeletor’s clowns: I can’t imagine Beast-Man forming a truce with anyone, no matter how much he needed to. The story was complemented by a lot of excellent animation work going into Evil-Lyn this week: her disgusted grimace when she realises she has to work with Teela is superb, and when she’s at the campfire, she flicks her cloak to make sure it doesn’t go up in flames, which is a completely unnecessary attention to detail which I really appreciated in He-Man’s world of frequently recycled stock animation.

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Evil-Lyn: “What do you mean, you didn’t bring any marshmallows?”

And if you’re easily entertained, there was more Viagra voiceover work from He-Man, when he addresses the sand monster: “So that’s your trick, eh? Soft one minute and solid the next.” Probably worth watching for that alone.

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Episode 058 – The Once and Future Duke

In which four characters lose their memories, but regrettably I can’t forget about this episode.

An amnesiac boy rescued from a carnivorous plant turns out to be David of Abra, an old childhood playmate of Adam and Teela. What is odd here is that David is still 8 years old, while Teela and Adam have matured into however old they’re meant to be. The royal family take it in turns to ask David questions to which he clearly cannot remember the answers, so he responds every time with a whinging “I don’t know” which quickly becomes very annoying.

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King Randor: “Adam, do you have to look quite so much like a child molester?”

Adam contacts the Sorceress, who helpfully explains the entire plot. David did grow up properly, but just as he was about to become Duke of Abra and become the new Keeper of the Ring of Remembrance, his evil uncle Count Marzo cast a spell to revert him to childhood and erase his memory. Marzo now is in possession of the Ring of Remembrance, and David can only be restored to his proper age if the Ring is recovered.

Man-at-Arms uses his dementedly-named Eterniascope to detect the Ring’s current location: the Lake of the Lost. Adam and Teela set off to recover the Ring, while Orko plays hide and seek with David. But tragedy strikes – Marzo teleports into the Palace, kidnaps David, and erases Man-at-Arms’ memory. Orko opts not to bother with Man-at-Arms, and instead stows away in the Marzomobile as it departs the Palace. (I don’t know why the Marzomobile is even at the Palace; Marzo teleported in, if you’ll recall.)

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Man-at-Arms: “A spanner is unquestionably the right tool for getting a post-it note off my helmet.”

Once safely ensconced in Chateau Marzo, Orko overhears Marzo’s cunning plan to doctor the water of the Lake of the Lost so that anyone who swims in it will have their memory erased. Orko manages to escape on a friendly dragon, but moronically falls into the Lake himself and loses his memory. This is He-Man’s perfect opportunity to get rid of Orko once and for all, but does he take it? Does he buggery.

Instead, He-Man deduces that Orko’s memory has been lost as a result of his dip in the Lake, so he empties the Lake of water. He and Teela then discover that the Lake bed is covered in fake Rings, but for absolutely no reason whatsoever the real Ring is attracted to He-Man’s sword like a magnet, thus rendering this entire scene completely pointless.

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He-Man: “Who needs H. Samuel when there’s loads of rings just lying around here, eh, Teela?”

He-Man puts the water back in the Lake by a method which I’m not even going lower myself to discuss, then restores Orko’s memory with the Ring, and Team He-Man then all hurtle off for Count Marzo’s castle. Marzo arranges for some fog to appear, causing Teela and Orko to lose their way and head into a tunnel, while He-Man gets momentarily frozen in a giant ice cube.

Luckily, Teela and Orko’s tunnel leads directly into the castle, allowing them to rescue David. This is nice for a few seconds, before the whole incompetent bunch of them are recaptured by Marzo. Of course, He-Man shows up at precisely the right moment to rescue them all, and as an added bonus, he arranges for Marzo to fall into the Well of Forgetfulness where he consequently forgets to be evil, however that works.

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Count Marzo: “I may have forgotten who I am and what’s going on, but I imagine I can say with certainty that I despise the four of you.”

As the episode ends, Man-at-Arms’ memory is restored (ironically, I’d forgotten that he’d lost it), and David gets his memory and adulthood back. Then Orko manages to transform himself into a giant draughts board, which is just plain mental.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man takes time out from his busy schedule to reassure us that we won’t lose our memory if we go swimming (so thank Christ for that), but it is important to remember the rules of water safety, which he specifies, in order of importance, as: 1) don’t play jokes in the water, 2) swim near adults, 3) never swim alone, and 4) don’t drown.

 

Character checklist

We’re lucky enough to catch glimpses of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Sorceress, David, Count Marzo and some weird muscular grey monster with a bowl haircut.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

On being confronted by the afore-mentioned grey monster with the bowl haircut, Adam legs it, saying, “I’ll see if there’s a way around it.” The monster is no bigger than your average inhabitant of Eternia, so this does sound a little crazy.

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Teela: “Didn’t you used to be in the Stone Roses?”

At the end of the episode, Adam also offers, “Looks like I missed all the fun.” Don’t worry, Adam. It wasn’t fun.

 

Insults

It’s pretty quiet on this score today, the only insult being Orko rather enigmatically calling his friendly dragon a “buzzhead”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I thought this episode was drivel from beginning to end. I didn’t care about David, and still less about Marzo. I didn’t really follow what Marzo was trying to achieve: I assume he wanted to be Duke of Abra himself, but he never specified this, and his plot was a stupid way of going about it. It quickly degenerated into endless scenes of Marzo trying increasingly tedious methods of capturing our heroes, though again what he intended to do with them when captured went unexplained. Marzo also rubbed me up the wrong way by having a really unsettling animation effect on several occasions when the camera transitioned to him: the picture goes fuzzy and then spins round and round in an epilepsy-inducing spiral. Definitely don’t bother with this episode.

Episode 057 – Castle of Heroes

In which He-Man goes up against Hannibal. Not Hannibal Lector though. That would be weird.

This episode opens with an absolutely bizarre sequence – the sort of thing that if you half-remembered it from childhood, you’d convince yourself couldn’t possibly haven’t actually happened in He-Man. Skeletor and Clawful are dossing about at Snake Mountain, when suddenly Captain Blackbeard and Hannibal (riding an elephant) teleport in. Skeletor’s reaction is admirably calm: he merely comments, “You are trespassing.” Then a really short individual called Monty teleports in, and it transpires that he and Skeletor are best buddies from way back. They sit down, crack open the brandy and cigars, and reminisce.

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Skeletor: “I knew there was something a bit weird about those mushrooms Beast-Man cooked for me last night.”

Since they last met, Monty has occupied himself travelling through space and time, gathering the most powerful and/or evil people in the universe and forming them into an army. Apparently Blackbeard and Hannibal are among them, so it’s nice to have at least a cursory explanation for their random appearance. Monty has arrived on Eternia to add He-Man to his army, if He-Man can pass a mysterious test.

When Monty teleports into the Palace to request He-Man’s help against an alleged giant in Polonia, He-Man, Orko and Monty bundle into the Wind Raider and fly off. En route, Monty arranges for several tests of He-Man’s strength, including having to put out a forest fire, evading some ice cannonballs, and stopping the Wind Raider being crushed by a pair of clashing rocks.

Once in Polonia, Monty sends He-Man and Orko into a cave to find the giant, while he pops back to Snake Mountain to check in with Skeletor. However, there’s no giant in the cave, only Blackbeard and Hannibal, who idiotically explain Monty’s entire plan to He-Man, and then ambitiously attempt to make him walk the plank into a pit. I wasn’t concerned for He-Man for one second.

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He-Man: “This sort of thing is simply not worth my time.”

Seeing his servants’ failure, Monty returns to the scene, and briefly traps He-Man in a trench made of magic granite. Once He-Man escapes, there follows a good few minutes of watching He-Man and Orko being chased around an arena by Monty, Blackbeard, Hannibal and the elephant. Evidently deciding that this is boring, Skeletor chooses this moment to teleport in, though he doesn’t actually do anything other than stand about shrieking insults at everyone.

He-Man finally decides that enough is enough, and climbs to the top of a large cliff, where he opens a dome and frees Monty’s captured army, sending them back to their own space and time. Hannibal and Blackbeard thank He-Man for releasing them from servitude, then disappear – while in the meantime, Monty and Skeletor blame each other for the calamity. I don’t think Monty will be invited to any more convivial cocktail parties at Snake Mountain.

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Monty: “I am going to defriend you on Facebook.”

In today’s adventure…

Adam claims that today’s episode gave Orko an exciting lesson in history. No it didn’t, Adam: the history books are strangely silent on the bit where Blackbeard and Hannibal were teleported to Eternia and forced to fight in an intergalactic army of evil. What today’s episode actually did was give Orko an exciting lesson in complete lunacy.

 

Character checklist

This week’s devolution into derangement features Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Orko, Skeletor, Clawful, Monty, Hannibal and Blackbeard. I have the feeling some of these may be one-time-only characters.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“I’ll, uh, try to get word to He-Man,” Adam says, and wanders off. He then comes back in a minute later as He-Man. He really is ridiculously transparent.

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Orko: “Well, this is a complete mess of a screenshot.”

Insults

Skeletor has clearly doubled up on his unpleasantness pills this week, with insults issuing from his bony lips pretty much every other word. His favourite is as usual “fool” which he dispenses to Clawful twice, Monty once, He-Man once, and to Monty, Blackbeard and Hannibal as a group. He also describes Blackbeard and Hannibal as “ragamuffins” and “has-beens”, and calls Monty a “clod”. Not to be outdone, Monty calls Orko a “menace” and refers to Clawful as a “brute”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I think I’d give it a grudging pass. The opening scene is hugely entertaining with the surreal arrival of Blackbeard, Hannibal and the elephant in Snake Mountain, and I really loved Skeletor’s casual reaction. It was also a lot of fun to see Skeletor actually kicking back with one of his friends, having a drink and talking about old times when the two of them overthrew Good King Andrew.

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Skeletor: “More Baileys, Monty?”

Unfortunately, once Monty starts off testing He-Man, things take a turn for the less interesting. We all know He-Man can put out forest fires by diverting rivers at them, and he can escape ice cannonballs, and hold clashing rocks apart: we’ve seen all this before. The one entertaining aspect of this is that Skeletor is watching everything unfold on his magic crystal ball, and is rooting for He-Man, knowing that if He-Man wins, Monty will add him to his army and take him away.

As predicted, Clawful has lost his interesting personality seen in Dree Elle’s Return, and appears here really only as a stock villain, filling a role that Beast-Man could easily have taken. Monty himself isn’t very exciting, and the less said about Hannibal and Blackbeard the better. In conclusion, this one would have been a complete clunker if it hadn’t been for Skeletor, who steals the show and makes it just about worth watching.

Episode 056 – Quest for the Sword

In which He-Man deliberately does things the hard way in order to engineer a crisis for himself.

On a picnic expedition, a couple of children have a horrible day when Orko starts doing some magic for them. This is only marginally better than the subsequent eruption of a volcano which puts them on the wrong side of a chasm, under attack by a rock monster. Luckily, He-Man and Battle-Cat quickly appear on the scene, and rescue the children, but in the process He-Man’s sword is nicked by the rock monster.

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Orko: “Hey, kids! I’m here to ruin your picnic!”

He-Man makes a really, really shoddy effort to recover his sword, but the rock monster escapes into a tunnel, which is then blocked up by a convenient earthquake. The party returns to the Palace, where Teela bleats on and on about how cowardly Adam is for running away, and He-Man and Man-at-Arms exchange panicked looks when Teela comments that she never sees He-Man and Adam together. Uh oh.

Ram-Man volunteers his services to ram the tunnel open, but He-Man politely if forcefully declines, opting to use a machine called a Battle Ram which does the same thing. Ram-Man should probably form a union and demand a halt to the mechanisation of his job – though in fairness the next scene shows Ram-Man ramming the entrance open anyway, despite He-Man’s refusal.

Once inside the tunnel, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Ram-Man and Orko find a pit that leads down to the centre of the Earth – curiously, not the centre of Eternia. They also find that the rock monster who nicked the sword is called Ravar, and he is attempting to use the sword to set himself up as the leader of the otherwise peaceful rock monsters, who are sitting around looking miserable and making moaning noises.

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He-Man: “Just give me my sword back, and I promise not to smash you to dust like I would with any other rock monster.”

Once again, He-Man puts in a really poor effort in his attempts to get the sword back, resulting in himself and Ram-Man being easily captured. Luckily, the peaceful rock monsters won’t listen to Ravar, clearing the way for He-Man to make one of his trademark impassioned speeches about how the sword doesn’t make Ravar a leader – but this doesn’t persuade Ravar to give He-Man the sword back.

Now it’s Man-at-Arms’ turn to experiment with incompetence, allowing another rock monster called Togar to steal his laser pistol. Predictably, Togar shoots a pillar which is vitally important to the structure of the rock monsters’ caves, which is fortuitous as it gives He-Man an opportunity to force Ravar and Togar to cooperate to fix matters.

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Rock Monsters: “We are completely mindless. But we are very happy.”

With Ravar and Togar happily set up as joint leaders, they conclude that swords and guns are bad, and throw them both into the pit leading to the centre of the Earth. He-Man loses his mind entirely and decides not to bother trying to retrieve it, and in a scene of unexpected depth, begins to resign himself to the fact that he will never be Prince Adam again.

But of course, such a plot twist would be unthinkable. Orko soon reveals that he was skulking about in the pit and caught the sword as it came falling down. He returns it to He-Man, who transforms back into Adam and heads to the Palace to take the brunt of Teela’s incessant harping. So a happy end, of sorts.

 

In today’s adventure…

The not unexpected moral here is that swords, or any other symbols, do not make people into leaders. The qualities of a good leader are, in fact (pencils ready?), intelligence, respect for others, and an unselfish desire to do good. If you have all of these, you too can be a He-Man-approved leader in no time. Just sign up for the Eternian Masterclass in Leadership, now with a free bonus module on how to patronise people.

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He-Man: “Are you the CEO of an enormous multinational corporation? Then you should definitely take some leadership tips from me.”

 

Character checklist

It’s a relatively lengthy but unexciting cast list greeting us this week, consisting of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Ram-Man, Ravar, Togar, and the three children at the picnic.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam arranges an unusually complex plot to turn into He-Man out of sight; he instructs Cringer to run off and not come back when called, providing a sensible excuse for Adam to also run away. It’s nice to see that occasionally some thought is put into the realities of this scenario.

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Prince Adam: “Stop looking at the viewers, Cringer, you’re not supposed to know they’re watching us.”

 

Insults

At a relatively early stage, He-Man calls Ravar a “runaway windmill”, presumably in reference to him waving his arms about. I couldn’t see the resemblance, being honest.

 

Egg on your face?

Orko upends a bucket of water over Man-at-Arms’ head within a minute of the episode’s start, a tragedy made even more poignant by the fact that Man-at-Arms is trying to light a fire at the time.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a very worthy attempt, this episode. It has a good story and some extremely interesting territory to explore: we’ve seen Adam being unable to become He-Man, but the other way round seems to present some deeper psychological concerns. The message is quite clear that Adam is the “real” personality, and He-Man is only there when needed. He-Man’s inability to be who he really is actually seems to hang on him rather heavily: he asks to be alone while he contemplates the matter, and he gets cross with Orko – something he’d never normally do, no matter how deserved.

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He-Man: “I’ve been waiting to say this for a long time … SHUT UP, ORKO!”

The problem is that the episode really has to jump through some hoops to get He-Man into this situation in the first place. We start with a major plot hole that really beggars belief. At the beginning, He-Man throws his sword across the chasm as part of his plan to rescue the children; once the children are rescued, he attempts to retrieve the sword by flying over the chasm in the Wind Raider. Why on earth did he not just use the Wind Raider to rescue the children? This whole sorry situation could have been avoided.

In addition, in any other episode, He-Man would have easily won his fight with Ravar and retrieved his sword before Ravar even got into the tunnel. On this occasion, he literally seemed like he wasn’t even trying. His second attempt to get the sword back, once inside the caves, is an even worse effort. And there’s also the bit where Man-at-Arms lets Togar casually take his laser pistol, and the bit where He-Man doesn’t even try to get his sword back from the pit. I understand where the plot wanted to be with all of these points, but it came across as though the characters were taking stupidity pills, which sadly adds up to fairly shoddy writing.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend that you watch this one, because there are some very good moments, and it’s great to see an exploration of the identity crisis issue. But it’s likely that while you watch, you’ll be thinking how good this could have been if it had gone through a few more rewrites.

Episode 055 – Eye of the Beholder

In which Man-at-Arms develops a minor obsession with the Wind Raider.

Hello and welcome to 2017. It may be a new year, but it’s the same old me, I’m afraid. If you’re looking for sensible analysis, you’ll continue to be disappointed, but if you want sniping, immaturity, and occasional disproportionate spasms of temper directed at 30 year old cartoons, then you’ve come to the right place.

Out for a pleasure jaunt before breakfast, matters take a serious turn for Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms when the Wind Raider begins to lose power. A disaster is prevented only through He-Man’s quick thinking and surprisingly plausible solution – but He-Man feels as though he himself is also losing power. This feeling cannot be helped by the fact that Man-at-Arms makes him drag the Wind Raider all the way back to the Palace, not offering any assistance.

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He-Man: “You know what, Man-at-Arms? It’s your turn now.”

When He-Man suggests a link between his diminished strength and the Wind Raider’s lost power, Man-at-Arms ignores him in favour of doing a diagnostic on the Wind Raider. The pair then discover a dead tree that was perfectly healthy earlier, but Man-at-Arms’ priority is still the Wind Raider. Orko pops up to complain that he feels weak and can’t do any magic, but still all Man-at-Arms can say is, “Let’s check out the Wind Raider.” I don’t think it could be signposted any more clearly that this is not a problem with the Wind Raider, you idiot.

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Man-at-Arms: “He-Man feels weak, Orko feels weak, and a tree has died? Hmm. Must be something to do with the Wind Raider’s engine.”

After cheerily disassembling the Wind Raider and predictably concluding that there’s nothing wrong with it, Man-at-Arms starts to feel weaker himself and suddenly gives a whole lot more credence to the theory that maybe there’s something bigger going on. Once he puts his mind to it, he works out in less than 20 seconds that somehow the oxygen content of Eternia’s air has been lowered. Equipped with this information, He-Man decides to run as fast as he can to Castle Grayskull, possibly in the mistaken belief that running will preserve his remaining oxygen because he’ll get there quicker.

The Sorceress offers He-Man a quick lesson in the carbon cycle, and informs He-Man that someone must be messing about with the Sea of Eternity, from which all the plants in the Evergreen Forest draw their water. Without water, the plants cannot produce oxygen. He-Man returns to the Palace, where he picks up an oxygen canister and heads off to the Sea of Eternity.

En route, He-Man befriends a giant insect called Garth, before running into Beast-Man and Tri-Klops, who are still at full strength thanks to their own oxygen canisters. During the fight, He-Man deliberately destroys their canisters, rather than simply taking them as spares in case his own gets damaged. He-Man can be such a nitwit sometimes. Anyway, with Beast-Man and Tri-Klops out of action, He-Man and Garth merrily proceed.

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He-Man: “Just me and my new bestie out for a stroll.”

On reaching the Sea of Eternity, the dynamic duo find that the sea is being pumped away into a pit, and the river to the Evergreen Forest has been dammed. Moreover, they find Skeletor happily crowing about how clever he is. When He-Man attacks, Skeletor destroys his oxygen canister. Shame you don’t have a spare, eh, He-Man?

It’s now all up to Garth, who dives into the Sea and blocks up the pump with a very large rock, which distracts Skeletor long enough for He-Man to press the reverse switch and start pumping the water back into the Sea. He-Man then destroys the dam and sends water rushing back downriver to the Evergreen Forest, and oxygen immediately returns to Eternia’s atmosphere. In the meantime, as a result of his swim in the oxygen-rich Sea of Eternity, Garth inexplicably evolves into a butterfly.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela’s moral this week is the sensitively phrased “ugly people are sometimes beautiful to know”. This is inspired, of course, by Garth, who looked like a monster but behaved like a beautiful person. The whole bit with Garth was, I suspect, only tacked onto this episode at a late stage when the writers realised there was no readily apparent moral in the oxygen storyline.

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Garth: “Hey, He-Man! Look how beautiful I am now! And look how pleased I am with myself!”

 

Character checklist

The series regulars of Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor and Beast-Man show up, with Teela putting in an appearance to deliver the moral. We also get a rare outing for Tri-Klops, and one-off showings for Garth and various other insect people, including one identified as Shaman.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Prince Adam only gets about 30 seconds of screen time, at either end of the episode, and he doesn’t waste his crucial time in explaining himself.

 

Insults

As usual, it’s Skeletor who takes the lead here, calling Garth a “hideous insect” and a “crawling, ugly bug”. Otherwise, nothing to report.

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He-Man: “I love your new car, Skeletor.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode has a lot to recommend it. It’s an interesting mystery in the early stages when He-Man and Man-at-Arms find themselves losing strength – though Man-at-Arms’ obsession with demolishing the Wind Raider is a bit peculiar. Though He-Man’s journey to the Sea of Eternity isn’t all that exciting, the final confrontation with Skeletor is very good: Skeletor is at his most sneeringly unpleasant, and due to the lowered oxygen, he actually defeats He-Man in a fight. I think this is the only occasion on which Skeletor would have won if it weren’t for one of He-Man’s friends, rather than He-Man himself, and that makes it rather special.

On the downside, the science portrayed in the episode is dubious at best. While the science lesson from the Sorceress about plants taking in carbon dioxide and producing oxygen is perfectly reasonable, I can’t see how Skeletor draining an oxygen-rich sea would lead to the plants quickly dying, and equally, the speed with which draining and refilling the sea had an effect on Eternia’s atmosphere was nothing short of ludicrous.

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Garth: “Yes, this draining the sea business is a bit silly. But I bet if I dive in, I can make the whole thing sillier still.”

In addition, there’s the super-odd bit where Garth becomes a butterfly. Now, clearly this is here to show his inner beauty, and if he had said he’d metamorphosed into a butterfly, I’d have been happy with that – he looked vaguely like a caterpillar before, if you used your imagination – but no, he specifically said, “I think this is the form my people will evolve into in centuries to come.” So going for a swim in the Sea of Eternity will make people hyper-evolve? This is not how evolution works.

Still, I’ve said it before: getting cross about implausibilities in this cartoon is at best pointless and at worst certifiable, so I’ll simply leave it with you that this is an entertaining outing that’s worth the watching.