Episode 114 – Battle of the Dragons

In which a war between dragons is somehow boring.

This week, we are introduced to a very evil-looking dragon called Morningstar, who has hatched a plan to rule Eternia. This plan hinges on the acquisition of the Ice Crystal, which will allow Morningstar to put out the fire from which Granamyr draws his powers, after which he plans to depose Granamyr and start a war with the humans.

With the Crystal in his possession, Morningstar heads straight for Darksmoke and uses it to put out Granamyr’s fire. When Granamyr kicks off about it, Morningstar claims that the fire was extinguished by humans. It’s unfortunate, therefore, that He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko are even now arriving for a visit to Darksmoke to celebrate the anniversary of the treaty between dragons and humans. Overriding Granamyr’s concerns, Morningstar sends a squadron of dragons who force the Wind Raider to crash land.

Battle 1
He-Man: “Typical Easyjet.”

Morningstar persuades most of the dragons to prepare for war, but Granamyr refuses to join them. When He-Man’s party finally arrives at Darksmoke, Granamyr fills them in on the situation. Though he believes Morningstar that some humans put out his fire, he does not wish for war over it – but without his magic, he cannot prevent the other dragons. He then casually mentions that his fire can only be re-lit with flames from the Pit of Shadows, in the same sort of fashion that a child might just happen to mention they’d like a new bike or something in the run-up to Christmas.

Of all people, it’s Orko who picks up on this subtle hint, and promises to retrieve the flames for Granamyr. Of course, he’s accompanied by He-Man and Man-at-Arms, and the three of them manage to get hold of some of the flames with no trouble. They return to Granamyr and relight his fire, after which Granamyr persuades the majority of the dragons to call off their attacks on human villages.

Battle 2
Man-at-Arms: “Pretty sure Take That did a song based on the plot to this episode.”

Naturally, Morningstar doesn’t listen to Granamyr, and so the two of them breathe fire at each other for a while. Granamyr wins, as you may well have predicted, then shows mercy, and there’s time enough for a return visit to Darksmoke and a less-than-amusing joke to finish the episode. Despite it not being at all funny, we are treated to at least 30 seconds’ worth of Man-at-Arms, He-Man and Granamyr laughing like hysterical hyenas.

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms draws inspiration from Granamyr and Morningstar’s fire-breathing competition, at the end of which Granamyr did not press the matter further. Man-at-Arms tells us that winning is no excuse for bad manners, and reminds us that being a good winner is as important as being a good loser. It’s tempting to say Man-at-Arms is a loser, but he’s too easy a target, so I won’t.

 

Character checklist

It’s not big on the regulars, limiting itself to Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko, but it makes up for that with a reasonably hefty guest cast, consisting of Granamyr, Morningstar, a dude called Targon, and a whole load of dragons and some human villagers.

Battle 3
Granamyr: “Orko, you can either get off my head voluntarily or as a result of some serious violence.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s transformation

As usual these days, Adam transforms with only Man-at-Arms around, and thus doesn’t bother with the tired excuses.

 

Insults

It’s the first time in quite a while, but no one insults anyone else today. Unless of course I missed it, because this episode was pretty boring and I wouldn’t mind betting I zoned out quite often while it was on.

Battle 4
Morningstar: “Check out my new bling.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This is a disappointing episode, all the more so because I have really enjoyed the other three episodes involving Granamyr, so I was rather looking forward to this one. It’s all the more tragic given this is most likely Granamyr’s last appearance (there’s only 16 episodes left, folks, and it’s unlikely he’ll be showing up again), so it’s a shame he goes out on a damp squib.

I understand what they were aiming at with this episode, but it all came across as quite stunningly mediocre. There was never a sense of threat or peril, and frankly Orko got far too much screen time, while He-Man and Man-at-Arms seemed to be sleepwalking through the story and didn’t really do anything. I somehow just didn’t care about Morningstar and his plot, and Granamyr seemed far too vulnerable as compared to his previous appearances.

There were two points I really liked though, one at the start and one at the end. We first meet Morningstar when he’s talking to a dude named Targon, who has brought him the Ice Crystal. This scene is cleverly constructed, giving Targon his own motivations and schemes (he’s plainly intending to double-cross Morningstar at some point), to the extent that the viewer thinks Targon is the episode’s main baddy. Then Morningstar simply freezes him with the Ice Crystal, and we never see him again! It’s a great subversion of the viewer’s expectations.

Battle 5
Targon: “I’m suddenly a bit concerned about my long-term prospects.”

The other moment comes at the end of the episode, just as Granamyr and He-Man are wrapping things up at Darksmoke. Over the course of the episode, the dragons have destroyed a human village. Normally, in this cartoon, we’d see the villagers standing round laughing their heads off at the end of the episode, forgetting the fact that they now have no homes. Here, Granamyr actually promises to rebuild the village. It’s a very nice touch of realism rarely seen in He-Man World.

These two immensely positive points, however, don’t really redeem the dull 18 minutes that they bookend. If I were you, I’d ignore this episode and pretend that Granamyr’s story finished with Disappearing Dragons.

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8 thoughts on “Episode 114 – Battle of the Dragons

  1. Another one of late-2nd season episodes with interesting details; Orko is shown as competent and useful, plotlines are actually sencible, and villains have some motivation & competence. Seems that after less-than-brilliant first half of 2nd season someone detected the main problems and tried to remedy them.

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  2. I agree with dilandu makes some interesting points and thus is an episode that I think often gets misunderstood I agree it’s a very interesting plot and a beautiful story and orko plays a key part in this episode retrieving the fire for granamyr from the pit if shadows, I loved the “only the good the wise and brave may pass” scene it really made me laugh when it came to orko s turn they said to him “you may pass two out of three is not bad” brilliant! If I may Owen an I’m sorry but I’ve got to disagree with you slightly on this one I thought this was a fantastic late season two episode here’s my reasons.. yes granamyr is a lot weaker in this story and much more vulnerable but is that a bad thing?? I thought it was refreshing that this time granamy need the help of he man and the humans remember the story is about preventing a war between dragons and humans, granamy through this series has never trusted them but he man earned granamyr respect in the dragons gift so they’ve built up a friendship to the point of granamy actually needing he mans help in this one! I loved the story and I loved morning star I thought he was a very capable villain and his evil came through wanting to rule the dragons he even challenged granamy at the end with there firey tug of war game, the speech granamy gave to he man that his dragons have forgotten what war is like to quote “thev forgotten the pain, the darkness, the madness that is war”!! This was probably one of my favourite bits of diolgue in the entire series it’s just so deep for a he man episode but very moving at the same time! The ending is fantastic as you mentioned Owen in your review that granamy rebuilt the village rather than just left it, thus I agree gave it a perfect conclusion that this story deserved! Anyway if you don’t like granamyr more vulnerable state maybe this episode fans won’t enjoy, but I just felt this made a change, he’s normally invincible practically but his fire pits been put out and it was interesting to see granamyr needing he mans help (the humans) anyway overall, this episode doesn’t really put a foot wrong for me, it just misses out on my top 20 cos there’s just do many top episodes to pick from but out if all the 130 episodes battle of the dragons comfortably makes my personal top 30 I’d give score this episode 8 marks out of 10 a great episode in my opinion Owen but fair enough..

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  3. Looks like I may have misjudged this one!! As you know, I write these reviews far in advance of actual posting, so it’s been a couple of years now since I watched this episode. Perhaps I’ll give it another go at some point soon and see if I still agree with myself!

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  4. Your not alone Owen, I think the majority of he man fans consider this the weakest granamy episode, again while I accept granamyr himself is at his weakest and most vulnerable I actually consider this a good thing, and with the fantastic story (and for abvious reasons very true to life) with the war between dragons and humans this was actually my second favourite granamy episode! Granamyr is probably one of my favourite characters in the entire series (originally coming from the great Larry di tillio the dragons gift ep) so I loved all 4 granamyr episodes but I felt if anything granamyr was a little too cruel in disappearing dragons even a bit ignorant at the end with he man having to point out his ways, anyway yes Owen I’d say have a re watch of battle of the dragons you mite feel exactly the same after but I just feel fans should rewatch this episode with this concept in mind granamyr is meant to be weak and basically needs rescuing! Sorry for the bible comment before Owen of my own review I tend to do that on episodes I feel very strongly about! Have a rewatch, it’s certainly better than the next one coming up if I’ve got the order of production correct! this was a great episode for me still loving the reviews..

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    1. I think we agree that The Dragon’s Gift was the best of Granamyr’s episodes! I like Disappearing Dragons a lot, but as I mentioned in that review it is one that I remember really well from childhood, as it was one of the few I had on video, so there’s always going to be some rose-tinted glasses with that one. As to The Return of Granamyr, it was fine but I think it had too much going on. I suspect I’d still find Battle of the Dragons to be the weakest – except for the appalling Darksmoke and Fire in She-Ra’s series – but it will be worth a rewatch. And yes, this is definitely a better episode than the next one…

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  5. O yes I feel you on the she ra granamyr episode dark smoke and fire – absolute pants for me too!! Your right tho there’s some episodes you have nostalga for, a trip to morania is a great example for me i.e. Watching that episode back now the ending is simply ridiculous skeletor throwing back the crystals but I loved that episode in my childhood do I love it now an to be fair other than the ending the rest of that episode is pretty awesome!! Yes I hated that episode that she ra went back in time and met granamyr made no sense an I didn’t find it believable at all agree Owen, if were including she ra then definetly yes darksmoke and Fire is the worst granamyr for me without a shadow if a doubt!

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    1. Yeah well I think it’s a good episode anyway it’s just my opinion there’s no right or wrong. The guy that reviews these he man episodes hande toon on YouTube he rated battle of the dragons a much better episode than disappearing dragons and I think he’s correct but like I say it’s all down to opinions..

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