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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.