In which Skeletor unrealistically imagines that a mechanical bird can defeat He-Man.
We are treated this week to an opening panning shot across the wilderness to Snake Mountain, inside which Skeletor has gathered four villains – Mer-Man, Kobra Khan, Clawful and the omnipresent Whiplash. He explains his plan to them – essentially, they will sneak into the Palace and kidnap Queen Marlena – then he laughs for absolutely ages, evidently blown away by his genius for concocting this elaborate scheme.
At the Palace, the royal family are at the table for lunch, but Marlena is late. King Randor sends Cringer off to fetch her, and while he is gone, Kobra Khan nips in and knocks them all out with his sleeping gas. Hearing Kobra Khan’s hissing, Cringer hides under Marlena’s bed, where he falls prey to the sleeping gas and cannot save Marlena from being kidnapped. When Adam and Orko wake up, they go to Marlena’s room and find her missing, so a hasty transformation is in order.
Once outside, Kobra Khan and Mer-Man set off to take Marlena back to Snake Mountain, while Whiplash and Clawful are left behind to lure He-Man into a trap. They set up a false trail for He-Man to follow, which he obligingly does. Once Cringer wakes up, he blames himself for hiding under the bed, but he is then able to determine that the Queen was actually taken in the opposite direction, into the Haunted Forest. With He-Man, Teela and Man-at-Arms going the wrong way, Cringer and Orko set off themselves to rescue Marlena.
When Kobra Khan arrives back at Snake Mountain with Marlena, Skeletor cordially greets her, even toning down his language: it’s quite clear he wants to say something cutting to Kobra Khan, but he seems to restrain himself. He explains to Marlena that she is the bait for the trap; the ultimate target is He-Man. It seems that the false trail is going to lead He-Man to Screeech, who is a really rubbish robot bird. Skeletor seems to be suffering from a condition I refer to as “unrealistic optimism” if he thinks He-Man is going to be overcome by an electronic eagle.
Once Marlena is safely ensconced in a jail cell, Cringer and Orko arrive to release her, which they manage with surprising efficiency. Marlena informs them of the “threat” from Screeech, and Cringer bravely volunteers to warn He-Man while Orko takes Marlena home. To make Cringer braver, Orko gives him his special bravery medallion, which I just bet turns out to be a placebo.
Whiplash and Clawful’s trail leads He-Man to Snake Mountain, and they even helpfully leave the door open for him, but he quickly determines that this is a trap. I can’t really see why Skeletor wants He-Man to come inside Snake Mountain, if he’s going to be attacked by a robot bird, but there we have it. Realising that He-Man isn’t taking the bait, Skeletor launches Screeech anyway, but just in time, Cringer leaps onto Screeech’s back and takes flight too.
With Cringer making an unholy racket as he flies around on Screeech, He-Man quickly detects the danger. Skeletor then makes the very poor tactical decision to demolish his own lair to making Screeech fly through the walls, which incidentally allows He-Man easy access. Amusing and non-violent defeats are liberally bestowed in the baddies’ direction, before our heroes return to the Palace to find Orko has successfully escorted Marlena home. Oh yes, and they also find the bravery medallion was indeed a placebo. Definitely didn’t see that coming.
In today’s adventure…
The moral this week concerns fear, and how sometimes it’s just as important as being brave. This is all very well, but it quickly gets confused by Cringer bleating on about being afraid of being afraid and being afraid of being brave. He-Man clearly doesn’t understand what he’s on about, so he chuckles politely and hopes the episode will fade out quickly.
The star of the show is of course Cringer, but he’s ably assisted by a vast array of individuals, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Clawful, Kobra Khan, Whiplash, Mer-Man and Screeech.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Unfortunately, once again, we get nothing.
It’s a bad week for Whiplash and Clawful, who get called a “fool” three times, twice by Skeletor and once by Kobra Khan. Mer-Man fares slightly better, in that he is only called “fool” twice, once from each of the afore-mentioned villains. Skeletor also addresses Screeech as a “stupid machine”, which is entirely fair, and reserves the rather mild “silly cat” for Cringer.
Egg on your face?
Orko performs an appalling trick which results in Man-at-Arms getting fruit juice all over his arms. This causes King Randor to laugh in a very high-pitched voice while the camera treats us to an extreme close-up of his face, which was neither necessary nor welcome.
Does it have the Power?
This episode is a really worthy attempt, let down by a few odd moments that don’t quite qualify as plot holes but are nevertheless things that the writer should have thought out a little better:
- The whole false trail sequence was pointless, since the trail simply led He-Man to Snake Mountain, which is where Marlena was anyway.
- He-Man chooses the Dragon Walker as his choice of vehicle, then complains that Clawful and Whiplash are getting away. Perhaps if he had picked something capable of moving quicker than a tortoise, he’d have a chance of catching them.
- It was a little strange how Skeletor seemed to want He-Man to come inside, when an attack from Screeech would surely work better in the open air.
I did like the ease with which Marlena was kidnapped in the early stages, and how competent the group of villains were under Kobra Khan’s leadership; this sequence demonstrated an actual sense of danger. From there, however, the episode seemed to flounder a bit, not knowing what to do with the characters and killing time, until suddenly everything needed wrapping up really quickly. Still, I’d say this episode is no dud, and worth giving it a spin.