Episode 085 – The Rainbow Warrior

In which Adam learns his secret isn’t quite as safe as he thought.

Good Lord. Skeletor’s in an absolutely foul mood this morning. We find him in Snake Mountain, shouting at Beast-Man and Trapjaw for no evident reason other than to let off some steam. In the course of the crazed yammering, however, Skeletor comes up with a plan, which can’t really be described as his greatest. He intends to defeat He-Man by turning the Palace Guards against him. Skeletor does not appear to have considered that even Beast-Man can defeat the Palace Guards, so it’s not going to give He-Man any trouble. This plan is so rubbish that even Skeletor appears to have forgotten about it by the time his next scene rolls around.

Rainbow 1.jpg
Beast-Man: “Skeletor, this plan is so stupid, even I could have come up with it.”

At the Palace, Queen Marlena reminisces about her time as an astronaut from Earth. She visits her old ship – the Rainbow Explorer – which is now in the Eternian Museum, and we are treated to a flashback showing Marlena’s arrival on Eternia. Her ship crashed in the Eternian plains, where a hilariously unbearded young King Randor found her and sleazily suggested she come back to the Palace as his guest. Fortunately, the episode does not attempt to show us Randor and Marlena’s courtship, merely summing up with, “Then I fell in love with you.”

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Marlena: “You so need to grow a beard. You look like you’re two years old.”

Almost entirely oblivious to Marlena’s nostalgia, Randor chirpily invites her to come to a picnic on the beach, which she declines. And so it is that Marlena is not in the Wind Raider when Skeletor successfully captures it, freezing Randor, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Teela and securing them in chains just outside Snake Mountain. He then sends a message to the Palace, demanding unconditional surrender.

Marlena refuses this kind offer, and orders the Palace Guards to prepare for battle. Without Teela or Man-at-Arms to lead them, they are uncertain of victory – until Marlena puts on her old astronaut suit and takes command, flying the Rainbow Explorer. Leading the Guards to Snake Mountain, Marlena shoots the chains from Adam’s wrists, and he runs off to try to find He-Man. This he does, with astonishing alacrity.

Skeletor unleashes a fleet of robots on Sky Sleds to destroy the Palace Guards, but Marlena shows off her flying skills, shooting Skeletor’s robots out of the sky. She then gets into a dogfight with Skeletor’s ship, the Doom Buster, and Marlena successfully forces Skeletor to crash. In the meantime, He-Man doesn’t really do a lot, to be honest. He does confront Skeletor in the wreckage of the crashed ship, but Skeletor rather unexpectedly flies away using what appears to be an inbuilt jetpack.

Rainbow 3
Skeletor: “Laters.”

Marlena lands the Rainbow Explorer, and takes off her astronaut helmet, revealing her identity. This shocks absolutely everyone, even He-Man, who stumbles, “Mother – uh, your Majesty.” Back at the Palace, Adam asks Marlena why she chose to free him, rather than someone useful – and she replies, “A mother always knows her own son, and what he is capable of doing.” I think it’s therefore safe to say that Marlena is fully aware of Adam’s double life.

 

In today’s adventure…

This episode comes with a little sequence which barely qualifies as a moral: Teela and Marlena agree to teach other to fly the Sky Sleds and the Rainbow Explorer. The lesson – given with an astonishing degree of subtlety compared to every single other episode – is that older people have a lot of knowledge, and they also remember what it’s like to be young. Fair enough, though it seems to me that the moral this week is that your mother always knows what you’re up to. Which is a disturbing thought.

 

Character checklist

Prince Adam, He-Man, Queen Marlena, King Randor, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, plenty of unnamed Palace guards, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw make up the perfect cast to this tale.

Rainbow 4
He-Man: “Pre-Glasto group photo, guys!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Teela hands it to Adam on a silver platter this week, by telling him to run away and find He-Man. Adam does not need telling twice.

 

Insults

As noted above, Skeletor uses the entire first scene simply to berate his henchmen, providing a possibly unmatched wealth of imaginative insults which you can use on your friends, assuming you don’t want them to be your friends anymore. Skeletor calls Trapjaw a “tin-tongued dolt” and a “metal-munching moron”, and calls Beast-Man a “flea-bitten furbrain”. He refers to them collectively as “fools”, “stupid assistants”, a “dim-witted duo”, and a “pathetic pair of pitiful pinheads”. He also taps Trapjaw’s head and comments, “Just as I suspected – hollow.”

It’s not just Beast-Man and Trapjaw who draw his wrath: he refers to He-Man as a “poor fool” and a “muscle-bound moron”, though there’s nothing out of the ordinary there. Skeletor also is the recipient of a number of insults: Queen Marlena calls him a “demon”, while Teela says he is an “evil monster” and a “hooded hoodlum”. And finally, there’s a slightly strange moment when Trapjaw addresses Skeletor and – perhaps a little unwisely – comments, “You look a little fat.”

Rainbow 6
Skeletor: “Say what, Trapjaw?”

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, it absolutely does. It’s a real treat to get another super episode so soon after the outstanding Into the Abyss, but The Rainbow Warrior is also a series highlight. I never thought I’d be particularly interested in Queen Marlena’s back story, but this episode was very effective in showing us her arrival on Eternia and conveying her sense of nostalgia for her astronaut days, even though she is happy with her life as Queen.

The point at which she flies the Rainbow Explorer into battle is almost a punch-the-air moment, and it’s notable that He-Man contributed very little to Skeletor’s defeat. I’d actually suggest that he could have been left out of this episode and I possibly wouldn’t have even noticed. Marlena’s decision to free Adam, and her subsequent hinting that she knows the secret, is also a really great moment.

Rainbow 5
Prince Adam: “How can Mother know my secret? I thought the whole thing was completely watertight.”

But the icing on the cake is – as so often – Skeletor. As well as the numerous insults recorded above, he is also gifted more hugely comedic dialogue. Early on, he comments, “I’ve tried to invade Castle Grayskull six times.” Beast-Man corrects him, “Seven, boss…”, to which Skeletor snaps back, “Six! The first time was only practice. I was teasing the poor fool.” His plan once again appears to boil down to ‘capture some people, then wait for them to be rescued’, which is sheer buffoonery, and it’s almost heartbreaking to see this poor skeleton want something so much, and be far too incompetent to achieve it. In addition, his final exit on a jet pack was a touch of demented genius.

Watch this one: you won’t be disappointed.

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4 thoughts on “Episode 085 – The Rainbow Warrior

  1. “A mother always knows her own son and what she’s capable of I’ve always been very proud of you adam” this was such an incredible line when queen I first heard queen Marlena say this at the end of the episode I got goose bumps a nice does she or doesn’t she know I think it’s pretty blatant more than hinting!! A near perfect episode if one is possible the rainbow warrior is certainly one of the very best he man episodes in the entire series it makes my top 5 at 5! Can’t add anymore to that review Owen I echo all you say the plot the story skeletors humour balancing his evil side as well and yes the most he man lit episode if you like I guess he had to become he man at the end for adam to ask that question at the end when he says “mum why did you free me and not one of the others” which prompted that amazing dialogue she hints to Adam she knows her son is he man was beautifully done so naturally too, I also liked just before when random is introducing the best pilot as Marlena he man nearly slips it out saying “mu (m) your majesty”!! Couple of interesting things one slight contradiction that Marlenas space ship was called another name in teelas quest but called the rainbow explorer here! A really touching scene at the royal palace between random and Marlena as well they really pulled out all the stops with this one Bob forward ironically that wrote the problem with power wrote this one and what a great ep! 10/10

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  2. This is obviously one of the top episodes of the series. In fact, this may have been my favorite as a kid (I doubt I appreciated Abyss and Problem With Power as much back then). It’s one of the few I can remember vividly watching on TV back then (the Hover Bots on skysleds made a lasting impression I think) and the battle between the Guards and the Bots is a definite He-Man highlight (although I don’t think any Guards are actually shot down).

    This is Marlena’s moment to shine and she is quite good in it (she’s helped by being voiced by Linda Gary, who appeared to alternate in the role with one of the much less talented Scheimers). Teela putting her down in the beginning (which you left out of the recap) and then being amazed at her piloting during the battle is also a great moment (although Teela seems kind of a brat).

    Skeletor’s plot is funny, but maybe not as crazy as you present it. Basically, he wants to seize the throne of Eternia and then turn the army against Grayskull. It’s somewhat similar to what he hoped would happen in the Shaping Staff (Beast Man as king was supposed to send the Guard to take Grayskull, and afterwards Skeletor would defeat everyone at once). A more complicated version of the plot would probably have been for Skeletor to simply try to become King (something he tried on a few other occasions) and leave out the strange connection between commanding the Guard and taking over Castle Grayskull.

    Anyway, Skeletor is still definitely in nice form. This is episode is another one in my top 5.

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  3. I agree with you Jeremy the problem with power and into the abyss are probably the most adult of he man episodes so we’re maybe not appreciated quite so much as a kid but rainbow warrior is one of my fav eps as a kid watching it I loved straight away! Cos I’ve seen the problem with power the most times what i just didn’t watch it for a few years deliberately but all the other eps then I went back to it an it completely blew me away the problem with power is imo definetly the best he man episode only these this episode rainbow warrior into the abyss origin of the sorceress and teelas quest come anywhere near. The rainbow warrior is tho one if the very best episodes, it was an interesting quote from skeletor I noticed when he had them all chained up outside snake mountain something like “there are secrets in snake mountain that aren’t for the eyes of the enemy” it was strange he had them all chained up outside, anyway this was a superb ep with some great humour i.e. Skeletor shares with his henchmen at the start particularly with beast man I loved it when he says to trap haw “you metal munching moron” hilarious!

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  4. This is why I loved the episode creatures from the tar swamp cos similar to the rainbow warrior it was more about skeletor attacking the royal palace rather than simply castle grayskull over and over in creatures from the tar swamp think it’s the only ep in the series skeletor conquers briefly the royal palace and even sits on randors throne saying “to my conquest of eternia”!! Loved these two episodes for this reason.

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