In which 45 minutes’ worth of plot is crammed into 20 minutes.
Responding to a message from Granamyr – the oldest and wisest of the dragons, last seen in The Dragon’s Gift – He-Man and Man-at-Arms head to Darksmoke, where they meet Granamyr and another dragon called Torm. Torm is the youngest of the dragons, and he is in love with a human called Lyra. Torm is prepared to become human in order to marry Lyra, but Lyra’s father Brindle demands that any suitor must undergo a test before Lyra can be pledged in marriage. The dragons have a law which states they cannot become human until the wedding day, so Granamyr and Torm request that He-Man act as Torm’s champion for the test. I must say, this law must have been born out of some bizarre circumstances, but there we go.
He-Man and Man-at-Arms arrive at Lyra’s home just in time to see another suitor called Zem being rejected, presumably on the basis of his snarly mouth, evil eyebrows and dodgy moustache. Brindle informs He-Man that the test will take place in the morning, but that tonight they will be his guests, which sounds great, but it seems to consist of them having to go to bed straight away.
In the middle of the night, Zem sends a demon to take He-Man and Man-at-Arms away to an evil dimension. The demon’s first priority, interestingly, seems to be to destroy Man-at-Arms’ bed, but after that it proves surprisingly effective and would have succeeded if it weren’t for Brindle’s intervention. Brindle then casts a spell of protection over his castle, while outside Zem chatters away to himself to the effect that he will defeat He-Man in the morning.
The rest of the night passes without incident, though I do wonder where Man-at-Arms slept. Anyway, after he has his Cheerios, He-Man is shown to a huge maze, and told that somewhere inside is a tree bearing a single silver apple. If he can bring the apple to Brindle, then Lyra will be free to marry Torm. Fortunately, it doesn’t take He-Man very long to find his way to the tree, and he quickly acquires the apple after a tug-of-war with a metallic centaur (don’t ask). Despite a short encounter with Zem inside the maze, He-Man emerges, presents the apple, and winks stupidly at the camera.
He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Brindle and Lyra return to Granamyr, while Zem pops out into the wastelands and revives Shadow Wing, the ancient enemy of the dragons of Darksmoke. Shadow Wing turns Zem into a frog for his troubles, then flies off to destroy Darksmoke. Unfortunately, he comes up against both He-Man and Granamyr, and consequently causes a spot of trouble but winds up being banished to the Realm of Demons with relative ease.
There remains only for Torm to be made human and for him to marry Lyra, both of which occur within the last 45 seconds of the episode. They don’t thank He-Man, which seems a little churlish; luckily, Granamyr remembers his manners and thanks He-Man, before a slightly odd bit of animation shows him skulking back down into his pit.
In today’s adventure…
Given he had nothing to do with this episode, it’s a little odd to see King Randor showing up to deliver the moral, which is that fighting is bad. Halfway through the moral, the writer seems to realise that no one ever listens to Randor, so brings He-Man in to reiterate the point.
It’s another episode packed to bursting with characters, many of them this week ones that we’ve never seen before and undoubtedly will never see again. In this category are Brindle, Torm, Lyra, Zem, Shadow Wing and the silly metallic centaur, to which are added the recurring Granamyr and the usual contenders of Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, and King Randor.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Once again, it’s a case of Adam becoming He-Man in the company of those who know the secret, so he doesn’t see fit to volunteer an excuse.
Zem’s demon calls He-Man and Man-at-Arms “mortal fools”, and He-Man retaliates with something that sounds very much like “ugly”, though the music level was overwhelming at this point so I couldn’t properly tell. Otherwise, Brindle refers to Zem as a “jealous fool”, and Torm and Granamyr respectively call Shadow Wing an “evil worm” and a “wretched worm”.
Does it have the Power?
This episode has a lot of ambition, and tries to pack a huge amount of story into its 20 minute running time. I was left with the impression that it could have done with being a two-parter in order to let the story breathe a bit. Torm’s love for Lyra, Zem’s jealousy and demon attack, the maze, the attack of Shadow Wing, and the eventual wedding all whizzed past rather too quickly. Zem’s eventual fate – being turned into a frog – in particular feels like it receives a serious short-changing. That being said, I really enjoyed it all – there’s a definite feeling of epic history to this episode, and Eternia felt really fleshed out with believable characters. Even He-Man didn’t do anything ludicrous. I would definitely say it’s worth watching, but suffers for trying to do a little bit too much.