Episode 083 – Into the Abyss

In which Teela falls down the abyss, in case you didn’t know.

This episode begins with He-Man, Teela and Orko in the Widgets’ fortress, having evidently just foiled one of Beast-Man’s schemes. They return to Castle Grayskull and have a casual conversation concerning the abyss, which surrounds the castle and is passable only by the jawbridge. The abyss is bottomless (until it reaches the centre of the planet, at least), and contains the source of Grayskull’s power. Given the title of the episode, I suspect this may shortly become important information.

Abyss 1
He-Man: “You don’t have to listen to me, Orko. I’m only telling you stuff so the audience will get the info they need.”

Once she gets back to the Palace, Teela prepares to teach Adam in a survival skills class. However, Adam doesn’t turn up, and after two hours, Teela finds him relaxing in the courtyard. Sounding more irritated than usual, Adam tells her that he didn’t feel like attending the class and suggests that Teela loosen up and have some fun once in a while. He then actually pulls rank and dismisses her; once she’s gone, Adam has a heart-to-heart with Cringer concerning the differences between himself and He-Man.

Teela runs whinging to Man-at-Arms, who claims he’s not taking anyone’s side but then immediately tells Teela that she does need to loosen up. He suggests that since Adam wants fun, Teela should find a way of combining work and fun. Teela likes this idea so much that she makes an oddly sexual noise, and runs off to find Adam. They both apologise to each other for the incident in the courtyard, and Teela suggests going to have a picnic.

Abyss 2
Cringer: “Man, this weed is good.”

After the picnic, Teela tells Adam that they are now going to play hide-and-seek; she will hide, and Adam will find her. This is her clever way of teaching Adam tracking skills, and it all goes well until Teela manages to fall down into the abyss surrounding Castle Grayskull. Fortunately, she lands on a ledge rather than falling to the centre of the planet, but it’s still not good news: with a surprising touch of realism, her arm is broken. Luckily, she has a signalling beacon with her, so turns that on to alert her friends to her predicament.

Unable to find Teela, Adam returns to the Palace, where Man-at-Arms picks up Teela’s signal. They track her to the jawbridge, then find her footprints leading over the edge into the abyss. The Sorceress determines that Teela is alive, but warns our heroes that due to very strong updrafts, they will not be able to take a flying vehicle down. Adam thus decides to transform into He-Man and climb down to rescue Teela.

While Adam undergoes the transformation, Teela watches from her ledge as white energy flies up the abyss – evidently Grayskull’s power being channelled into He-Man. Despite a few minor setbacks, in which He-Man demonstrates that he is by no means a skilled mountaineer, Teela is rescued successfully.

Abyss 3
Teela: “Wow, nice of the Sorceress to put on a fireworks display for me.”

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man and Man-at-Arms tell us that today, Teela learned that it’s just as important to play as it is to work, but it’s also very important to learn the rules for playing safely. The moral is that if you are playing out of sight of your family or friends, you should make sure someone knows where you are. This is very sensible and a perfect conclusion to draw from this episode’s events.

 

Character checklist

This one sticks mostly to the core characters: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, and Beast-Man. The Widgets can also be seen if you really want to see them, but I’m assuming that you’re sane and therefore you don’t.

Abyss 4
Squinch: “How come this is one of the best episodes, even though I’m in it?”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Once again, only those already in the know are around when Adam makes his transformation, so he doesn’t need to give an excuse.

 

Insults

At the beginning, with his plan failing, Beast-Man’s rock monsters run away, leaving Beast-Man to call them “cowards” and “miserable traitors”. Teela subsequently refers to Beast-Man as “furface”.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is an episode of really rather surprising sophistication. For one thing (aside from Beast-Man’s cameo appearance at the start), there’s no baddy and no evil plan to foil. The only other episodes to try this tack, as far as I can recall, are The Starchild and The Remedy, and we all know how those worked out. Into the Abyss, on the other hand, is a real gem.

The dialogue is both snappy and realistic, and the characterisation of our heroes is probably the best it’s ever been. Adam’s frustration at being He-Man, but no one knowing it, has been explored before but never better than here; and for once it’s possible to see Teela’s point of view, rather than her coming across as a screeching harridan. Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress both show real parental concern, and it’s really quite touching at the end when Teela says she can feel the love of her mother – even though she doesn’t know who that is.

Abyss 5
The Sorceress: “Not to spoil a touching moment, but remind me again why I can’t tell Teela she’s my daughter?”

In addition, it’s a truly great touch to see the Power of Grayskull flooding up through the abyss, as Teela watches uncomprehendingly. In conclusion, this is a real must-see, certainly in the top 10 of the series.

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3 thoughts on “Episode 083 – Into the Abyss

  1. I could write my own mini-review of why this episode is shockingly good, but you covered a lot of it. Along with The Problem With Power (which should have been shown as the finale), this is one of most “adult” and layered of all He-Man episodes.

    It is always amazing to hear Adam differentiate himself from He-Man, making it clear which is the alter ego and which is the real person. And this episode does that very powerfully.

    It also gets in a little characterization to the Sorceress, which is nice.

    But it is the animation that really shines. Eatock’s big book points out just how much of this episode was new art, created especially for the big reveal of the power of Grayskull coming up the abyss.

    The only knock on this episode is that it doesn’t feature Skeletor (my main reason for watching the series), but that just shows how good it is that it can be in my top 5 and not have my favorite character.

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  2. From reading your excellent review owen and your analysis of this episode also jeremys comment on this episode I couldn’t agree more with you both and all you say! so im gonna keep my reasons brief an just say that this is one of the very best episodes in the series, Robert lamb does an amazing job and teela witnessing the power of grayskull is genius script writing! Its hard to add anymore Iv always thought this was one of the most emotional episodes along with the problem of power and teelas quest, this episode takes character development to a completely new level an extremely powerful story linda gary voices the sorceress and teela I think the best in this episode shes amazing, its a very daring episode another identity crisis but this time its more adam tired of being he man, him being rude to teela then apologising humanisizes adam as this episode does with all the characters they all rescue teela like one bid family! Into the abyss is like the heart and soul of the series adams frustrations with his identity and being pushed around at time by teela has been building through the series, the only thing id say its appreciated more when you’ve watched all the other episodes its not one youd show as a first episode but as I say looking back on seeing many episodes you really appreciate and understand just how special this episode was! A hands down top ten episode I have it at 4 in mine (only bettered by the problem with power, origin of the sorceress an teelas quest) into the abyss is ten out of ten ! Just a thought on pookie owen the creature, by him being there that’s why teela falls over the edge it makes you wonder was he controlled by beast man? remember at the start he said 2mark my words someday youll wish you never heard the name beast man” then later on teela meets pookie and falls into the abyss makes you wonder only Robert lamb would know!! One of the very best eps takecare..

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