In which He-Man channels his inner Captain Kirk.
Responding to a distress call from Cestus III, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise find the colony under attack by an alien race known as the Gorn. When the Enterprise pursues the Gorn’s ship into uncharted space, an advanced race called the Metrons intervene, decreeing that Kirk and the Gorn captain must decide the conflict by battling it out between themselves on a deserted planetoid. Kirk defeats the Gorn, but refuses to kill him, demonstrating the quality of mercy. Oh wait, sorry, that’s the Star Trek episode with the same name and exactly the same plot. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, and I’m sure Paramount’s lawyers agreed.
Anyway, in the He-Man version, Man-at-Arms summons King Randor and Prince Adam to his lab, and explains that he has made contact with an alien being. Randor says, “Oh Christ, he’s been at the absinthe again,” but it turns out that on this occasion Man-at-Arms is telling the truth. On his viewscreen, he introduces Orm, a glowing ball of light, who is a member of a race that has evolved beyond the need for a physical body.
Orm states that it is exploring the galaxy for other intelligent life, and – perhaps misinterpreting the intellectual capacity of King Randor – expresses a desire to come to Eternia. Randor gladly grants this request, and Man-at-Arms prepares a landing site. Adam takes a moment to transform into He-Man, just in case Orm isn’t as peaceful as he claims.
Meanwhile, a goblin called General Tataran offers Skeletor the services of his army for the conquest of Eternia. Skeletor is taken with the notion and offers Tataran a large payment for the use of the army. When they arrive at the Palace, they do not even appear to notice Orm, who is – if I must I remind you – an enormous ball of light much larger than the Palace itself.
In a rather odd animation choice, Teela, He-Man and Man-at-Arms decide that the best response to Skeletor and Tataran’s attack is to climb, Gollum-like, straight up a wall, from the top of which they survey the assembled goblin troops and siege engines, as well as the dinosaurs that Tataran has randomly brought along. As Orm watches, a pitched battle begins between the Eternians and Tataran’s army.
Suddenly Orm intervenes. Proclaiming that the battle will cause too much waste and needless suffering, it decides that the conflict will be resolved by a fight between one warrior from each side. Ominously, it also states that it will determine the fate of the loser. On the other hand, it selects He-Man and Skeletor as the champions, so the whole thing ought to be over pretty smartish.
A good portion of the remainder of the episode is devoted to Skeletor conjuring up a variety of stupid creatures to attack He-Man, including an evil tree, a snake, a giant spider, and a walking puddle of something that looks like melted candy floss. Needless to say, He-Man is not defeated by any of these efforts, and eventually the giant spider turns on Skeletor instead.
He-Man saves Skeletor from the spider and yammers on about the sanctity of life, an act of mercy that favourably impresses Orm. It sends Skeletor and his army back to Snake Mountain after erasing their memories of the evening’s events, then congratulates the Eternians on having love in their hearts, and flies off back into space.
In today’s adventure…
Man-at-Arms embarks on a confused monologue explaining that today’s conflict was resolved by a single act of compassion, that fighting is often not the right way to solve problems, and that sometimes it’s more courageous not to fight. He doesn’t explain when this is more courageous, or when fighting is the right way to solve problems. However, he does give us a dictionary definition of compassion, so he hasn’t completely wasted his time.
It’s very goody-heavy, this one. We get Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Stratos, Ram-Man, Orm, and lots of nameless extras. On the evil side of things, it’s only really Skeletor, General Tataran and the billions of goblins.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
As with Disappearing Dragons a few weeks ago, we don’t see the transformation this week, which is rather pleasing. Despite the fact that Orm’s presence is an important diplomatic occasion which I feel Randor would expect Adam to attend, his disappearance goes completely unexplained.
Orm refers to Orko as a “little creature”, which, judging by his reaction, Orko takes as an insult. Orko later has a play-fight with an imaginary Skeletor, calling him a “bone-headed being” in the process. Skeletor does address He-Man as a “muscle-bound moron”, but reserves his main vitriol for his giant spider, which, in rapid succession, he calls a “filthy beast”, a “dim-witted animal”, a “stupid creature”, a “fool” and a “hideous beast”, all of which I have noted down for future use on the Doctor Who IMDB board when things get a bit heated.
Does it have the Power?
Yes, this one’s pretty good, despite being a Star Trek rip-off. The main highlight is probably the battle between the Eternians and Tataran’s army, which lasts a good five minutes or so and has a very Star Wars-y vibe to it, with various ships and robots attacking each other. The sequence with Skeletor conjuring up endless magical opponents for He-Man in the arena is also really quite entertaining. All in all, I’d say this one doesn’t really put a foot wrong. It’s not a staggering work of genius, but it’s certainly worth a watch.