Episode 061 – Pawns of the Game Master

In which He-Man hits Maximum Sleaze.

A mysterious spaceship approaches Eternia, containing a gentleman called the Game Master who is seeking to recruit gladiators for the Cosmic Games. His intended contender is He-Man, and to trap him, the Game Master lands his ship on Eternia, sends out a distress call, and waits for He-Man to show up. When He-Man does so, the Game Master sends a giant bear, a giant metallic ant, and a weirdo who defies description out to capture him.

He-Man defeats this crowd with his usual ease, and rejects the Game Master’s offer to compete in the Cosmic Games. He then returns to the Palace, where he engages in a deep and heartfelt conversation with Teela, who informs him that he is one of her best friends and that he means a lot to her. Even though the animation at this point is no different from the usual, He-Man somehow looks a lot sleazier than normal as he reciprocates these feelings.

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He-Man: “I somehow look just that tad bit too pleased with myself.”

The Game Master’s spy overhears this conversation, and as a result, the Game Master decides to capture Teela, so that He-Man can offer himself in exchange. Unfortunately, by the time his clowns get to the Palace, He-Man has become Adam again. Just as Teela tells Adam he’ll never be a warrior like He-Man, the three musketeers leap over the wall, kidnap Teela, and also nick the power sword, rendering Adam unable to turn into He-Man.

Adam decides to prove Teela wrong and to be a hero on his own merits, and takes Orko and Cringer with him in pursuit of the Game Master. Using Orko and Cringer as a distraction, Adam sneaks on board the spaceship and promptly gets captured. The Game Master forces Teela and Orko to watch as Adam and Cringer are put in the arena with a Clawful knock-off called Craggox the Terrible, but just as Adam is defeated, Teela manages to seize the power sword and leap into the arena herself.

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Game Master: “Tory Party annual conference team photo, guys!”

Craggox knocks Teela out with his stinging tail, allowing Adam to recover the sword and turn into He-Man. He-Man quickly defeats Craggox, then breaks the Game Master’s trident and releases the other warriors from their slavery, taking them all on an outing to Castle Grayskull where the Sorceress returns them to their own homes. The Game Master, meanwhile, is despatched to the Palace jail.

He-Man then decides that the best way to close the episode is to ask some sexually awkward questions, saying, “Just between us, Teela – what kind of man do you prefer? Someone like Adam, or someone like me?” Teela diplomatically answers that she’d like a man with Adam’s wit and He-Man’s courage, which is evidently the sort of answer that He-Man wanted, since he starts winking at the camera and grinning like a maniac.

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Teela: “He-Man, this will-we-won’t-we thing is getting a little creepy now.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko provides a nice and relevant moral this week: when you play a game, don’t boast when you win and don’t be sore when you lose. We’re 61 episodes in and this is perhaps the first moral that is solid advice that children could actually put into practice, rather than the usual abstract rubbish about love being amazing.

 

Character checklist

Let’s kick off with our usual dose of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko and the Sorceress. Then we’ll add to the mix the Game Master, Craggox, the Game Master’s various gladiators, and also two floozies who Prince Adam tries to impress in the Palace courtyard. Finally, Ram-Man and Beast-Man are featured as part of the Game Master’s review of Eternia’s top fighters, though I couldn’t really guess why the Game Master might think these two no-hopers are among the galaxy’s mightiest warriors.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

This is one of those times when the letter of the law is upheld, but not the spirit: Orko temporarily blinds all the baddies so they don’t see Adam transform into He-Man – but they sure as hell must have heard the shrieking of “By the Power of Grayskull!” and the ensuing racket. With Adam gone and He-Man present when their vision returns, there’s absolutely no way they could fail to figure this out. Anyway, the actual excuse that He-Man gives to Teela is “he’s safe”, and then gives Teela a little spiel about how brave Adam was.

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Craggox: “I bet Prince Adam will still be here when I open my eyes.”

 

Insults

Not a whole lot of insults this week. We have the by now obligatory “fool”, this time supplied by the Game Master to the description-defying weirdo. He also subsequently calls all his warriors “cowards” when they walk out of the arena. Orko refers to the Game Master as a “big bully”, and Teela addresses Craggox rather rudely as “gruesome”. More interestingly, Ram-Man manages the unusual feat of not appearing in the episode other than in flashback, but still being called an “oaf” by the Game Master.

 

Does it have the Power?

Given the number of lunatics who seem to inhabit Eternia and the surrounding planets, it’s perfectly conceivable that a few of them would want to see He-Man compete in gladiatorial matches, so it’s not a plotline we haven’t seen before – A Tale of Two Cities and Castle of Heroes are two examples that immediately spring to mind – but here it’s done much better than either of these. The Game Master is a convincing baddy, and his plan to capture Teela is well thought through. It’s also good to see a bit of the tension between Adam and He-Man; it seems to sting Adam when Teela belittles his warrior skills.

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Game Master: “I wonder if I’d be a little more imposing if I had a slightly less stupid outfit.”

The only bits that I feel don’t work are the two conversations He-Man has with Teela: the one towards the start where they say how much they mean to each other doesn’t feel natural, seeming to exist only to give the Game Master’s spy something to eavesdrop on. The one at the end is slightly creepy, with He-Man seeming to want to know which of his personalities he should use to finally get into Teela’s pants.

But in conclusion, this is a pretty entertaining episode which is well worth your time, insofar as any episode of He-Man is worth your time, which is to say, this isn’t worth your time.

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9 thoughts on “Episode 061 – Pawns of the Game Master

  1. I’m intrigued how other he man fans see it between adam/he man and teela, To keep it simple I see the relationship as he man and teela have a little thing going on and fancy each other a bit so I see them more as boyfriend girlfriend and adam/teela as a brother sister relationship the episode into the abyss shows thus perfectly! However that’s just how I personally see it. One of the best non skeletor episodes tho I must say, would nice to of seen adam save the day but I guess he man had come in at the end I really enjoyed this episode tho, Orko was used effectively too without being over the top while remaining in character nice scene with Orko and cringer going to see the game master was quite funny! He mans line at the end altho some fans an I’d agree say is alittle out of character but iv always found it hilarious was when he said “alright gamemaster let’s finish this man to man”!! It reminded me of he mans line in the taking of grayskull when he called skeletor a loser, altho it sounded alittle surprising thing to say coming from he man I think the point he man trying to make to fans was it’s not good to cheat which was emphasised in the episodes end morale which I thought was one of the better ones! Overall I’d score this an 8.5 out of 10 excellent an thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable episode once again highlighting teela special relationship with he man and Adam.

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    1. That’s an interesting idea on the Adam/He-man and Teela relationship…Just my opinion, but in Filmation I think Teela and He-man are flirtatious towards each other but not really serious, and Teela and Adam are close friends, maybe a pinch more–I’ve never really gotten a sibling vibe from them. I think it varies between canons though, since 200x Adam and Teela definitely seems like a brother-sister relationship (because constant teasing/bickering/sarcasm/getting on each other’s nerves) but with Teela having a crush on He-man. What do you think?

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  2. “The one at the end is slightly creepy, with He-Man seeming to want to know which of his personalities he should use to finally get into Teela’s pants.”
    Well. I’ll never be able to look at that line the same way.
    Also…most useful and applicable moral? But…what about not ramming your head into things!? I use that moral every day, unless I have to watch Return of Dree Elle!

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  3. I’d have to agree with he mans last question to teela preferring he man over adam was more than a bit creepy but the first part when the trap was set I found very believable when teela told he man he means a lot to her with he man replying the same with “you mean a great deal to me too” these are definetly two characters that care a great deal for one another I guess there’s no right or wrong to this question but I think that’s how I see it, however it does vary in episodes but she’s always criticising adam (sometimes too much) and I feel she’s the same when there training together this even more strikes me that teela definetly see’s adam in a brotherly way but to each there own that’s the great thing about this particular question everyone can put there own spin on it! Your right re 200x adam teela felt much more as brother sister. In the problem with power it ends with he man carrying teela off into the sunset and they more than shared there feelings for one another in that scene, I think this is how most he man fans would of liked it to end this is why that particular episode is often thought of as the last one to myself anyway I see the he man journey beginning with diamond ray of disappearance and ending at the problem of power!

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  4. You gentlemen have a very different interpretation of the 200x Teela/Adam relationship than most. I think the the writers were going out of their way to show that Adam had a crush on Teela. They developed the Filmation issue of He-Man v. Adam and who Teela really likes as much they could in their limited run.

    I don’t think many people would see the 200x Teela-Adam relationship as purely platonic or brother-sister.

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  5. The 200x series I haven’t watched much I must admit just on bits I saw, but in the film action series this one iv always stood with the traditionalists that adam teela is more a brother sister relationship (episode into the abyss for example) and he man teela more like they’ve got the hots for each other (episode the problem with power for example) but everyone will have there own views! This episode too pawms of the gamemaster it almost felt at times both adam and he man were almost competing referring to he mans rather odd question what kind of guy you prefer adam or he man! Loved this series tho always been my favourite this original 80s series.

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  6. I think the Adam / He-Man / Teela thing is very much written in Filmation like the Clark Kent / Superman / Lois Lane relationship is written in comics — which isn’t surprising given the number of comic books fans and writers that worked on this series.

    To me, it’s always been fairly obvious that Adam likes Teela and wishes Teela would like and respect him for who he is. Perhaps I’m seeing more Clark Kent in Adam than others, but I’d be somewhat shocked if the writers weren’t drawing on that for inspiration in how these three characters interact.

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  7. I’d have to agree the Clark Kent superman thing is a good way of putting it when it comes to hiding there identity i.e. Both Clark Kent and prince Adam purposefully act silly and play the fool if you like in order to hide ther disguise!! In many episodes you’ll see adam deliberately do something silly infront of teela when she’s training him I guess it’s a way of trying to act the complete opposite to keep there identity secret! It’s interesting tho, I love this episode but I think that’s many fans only criticism many I think wanted adam to save teela as adam!! Other than that I thought this was a fine episode..

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