Episode 107 – The Gambler

In which He-Man prevents Eternia’s version of Chernobyl.

At a fair arranged by the Widgets to celebrate the opening of their new corodite reactor, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko and a Widget named Smudge meet a conjuror called Melbrag. I like to think that this is the stage name of the esteemed South Bank Show presenter Melvin Bragg, but I may be some distance off the mark here. Anyway, Smudge wins a small diamond from Melbrag, after which Teela lets slip that Smudge is the chief guard of the corodite reactor. This is information in which Melbrag seems a little too interested, not that our moronic heroes notice.

Gambler 1
Man-at-Arms: “God, the budget for Glastonbury has really plummetted.”

This pleasant scene comes to an abrupt halt when Man-at-Arms reveals that some of the corodite in the mine has been contaminated with selenium. He-Man sounds just a bit impatient when he says, “But what does that mean?” He seems quite keen to get to the bit where he can hit someone, and he doesn’t think he’ll get there by talking about contaminated rocks. Man-at-Arms explains that the corodite is now useless, and He-Man suggests dumping it somewhere safe. You know, like nuclear waste disposal.

Smudge has been hanging out with Melbrag, gambling for bigger and bigger stakes. He has won a huge pile of diamonds, after which Melbrag puts up his Wind Raider as a stake, and requests that Smudge bet some corodite against it. Despite his misgivings, Smudge agrees on the basis that he’s thus far won every time. Can you say “set-up”? Smudge can’t. To my distinct lack of surprise, Smudge loses, and Melbrag takes a fairly modest lump of corodite.

Gambler 2
Melbrag: “I may have a stupid outfit, but at least I have a better dress sense than Prince Adam.”

To replace the corodite taken by Melbrag, Smudge nips into the mine, takes a lump of the selenium-soiled corodite and puts it in the reactor. Rather surprisingly, he then immediately confesses to He-Man that he’s given some corodite to Melbrag, and He-Man heads off, eagerly anticipating the moment he can smash Melbrag’s face in.

He-Man and Smudge find Melbrag leaning casually against his ship. He reveals that he is intending to sell the corodite to Skeletor, and traps the pair of them in a forcefield while he trots off to seal the deal. Skeletor doesn’t show up in person: he sends his new sidekick Spikor to get the corodite. However, Spikor disappears from the episode as quickly and inauspiciously as he entered it when He-Man punches his vehicle.

Gambler 3
He-Man: “Oh, hello, Spikor. Did you know you’re the most irritating of Skeletor’s team, bar none?”

It’s at about this point that Smudge tells He-Man about the contaminated corodite that he’s put in the reactor, a revelation that doesn’t please He-Man one bit. Nonetheless, he still takes time out to vandalise Melbrag’s ship before heading back to the reactor, which is perhaps why he isn’t in time to stop King Randor flicking the switch to turn the reactor on. The reactor starts to explode, so He-Man lifts the entire thing up and throws it into space. Everybody cheers, and while I agree it’s good that there was no explosion, no one seems too upset that this new reactor – the pride of Eternia – has been destroyed. In particular, I’d expect Man-at-Arms, who’s spent some time inventing the thing, to be a bit upset.

Gambler 4
Man-at-Arms: “Er, He-Man, what’s wrong with your face?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam tells us about the need to respect other people’s property, like Smudge didn’t when he gambled with the corodite. Adam’s advice essentially boils down to “don’t nick things”, but he doesn’t seem to want to come right out and use any of the relevant words, like “steal”, “thief”, “burglar”, “petty larceny” or “kleptomania”.

Other interesting morals which could have been used for this episode include the predictable “don’t get into gambling, because it’s hard to stop” and the rather more surprising “you have to dispose of contaminated nuclear material safely”.

 

Character checklist

This exciting excursion to Eternia features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Smudge, Melbrag and Spikor. Melbrag also has a pair of guards, whose names either weren’t mentioned or weren’t sufficiently interesting for me to pay attention. And, of course, there’s loads of Widgets, but the less said about them, the better.

Gambler 5
He-Man: “As you know, I generally abhor violence, but a crowd of numpties like this is pushing me to my limits.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam is disinclined to explain himself today. There’s a brief return to the theme of King Randor being irritated that Adam is missing though, which is always nice to see.

 

Insults

The episode goes a long way before starting on insults, and even when it gets going, they’re not all that good. Smudge is called a “silly Widget” by Melbrag, and a “shrimp” by one of Melbrag’s guards. Smudge retaliates by calling Melbrag’s guards “small and foolish”, while Melbrag is a little more vicious with them by calling them “bunglers” and “fools”. And finally, Smudge dishes out an insult which would have made me cry when I was little: he says to Melbrag, “You’re a really bad person.” Ouch.

 

Egg on your face?

In an early trick performed by Melbrag, Orko recommends that Man-at-Arms takes the sphere on the right. Foolishly heeding this advice, Man-at-Arms does so and receives a face full of water for his troubles. During this sequence, Adam is rather oddly animated in the background of the shot, looking at Orko with an expression somewhere between mild antipathy and complete loathing.

Gambler 6
Prince Adam: “Orko, has anyone ever mentioned to you how utterly repulsive you are?”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s not a highlight. As always, the Widgets are really annoying, though on this occasion it’s only Smudge who actually speaks, so it could be worse. There’s rather too much messing about in the middle, with Melbrag capturing, losing, and recapturing He-Man, and the plot doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself, veering from a rabid diatribe against the dangers of gambling to the unexpected theme of safe nuclear waste disposal.

In addition, though I’m always keen to see new baddies, Spikor’s appearance came across as nothing more than a five second advertisement for his action figure. In further addition, he has an absolutely infuriating voice, so I hope we don’t see him too much in the future. In short, I’d be happy to never watch this one again.

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