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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.