Episode 11 – The Peril of Whispering Woods

In which Adora forgets that her secret identity is meant to be secret.

This week, Hordak has a guest: his nephew, Prince Ed, the son of Horde Prime. Given the dialogue, I would surmise that Horde Prime is not only Hordak’s brother but his boss as well. It is thus rather embarrassing for Hordak when a bunch of rebels successfully destroy a fair number of Horde tanks and steal a truck full of goods. Ed is not impressed by the Horde’s incompetence, but Hordak shows him that when the rebels go into Whispering Woods, the Horde cannot follow, because the trees magically block their path.

The Horde return to the Fright Zone to lick their wounds, but are met with unexpected good news: Shadow Weaver has managed to concoct a poison that will destroy the Whispering Woods. They put it to work straight away, and quickly manage to kill a large number of trees. A pleasing side effect of the poison is that it also seems to affect the Twiggets, so hopefully that’ll be the end of them.

Peril 1
Shadow Weaver: “Chin chin.”

Madame Razz tries her magic to counteract the poison, but without success. She then pronounces that a transforming spell is the only way to deal with the situation, but that would require a sample of the poison to work from. The other rebels ignore this helpful hint for now, and Adora goes so far as to claim that there’s nothing that anyone – even She-Ra – can do.

The following day, with vast swathes of the trees gone, the rebels are defenceless, so Hordak and Prince Ed arrive with a platoon of Horde Troopers to finish them off. Thanks to She-Ra, the rebels manage to win the battle, and are even lucky enough to capture Ed. The rebels prepare to mash him into a pulp, but She-Ra warns them that revenge doesn’t help, pointing out that harming Ed will not save the trees.

Peril 2
Glimmer: “Yes, of course I look like a plausible member of a lynch mob.”

She-Ra and Glimmer give Ed a crash course in rebel morality, and successfully guilt-trip him over the destruction of the forest and the Twiggets’ sickness. Ed then offers his help, and sends a letter to Hordak ordering him to stop poisoning Whispering Woods, and threatening to tell Horde Prime that Hordak left him to be captured by the rebels. Hordak snorts and snorts his stupid head off, but is forced to acquiesce.

At a parley, the rebels hand Prince Ed back over to Hordak, and in return Hordak promises to destroy all the poison. As an extra precaution, Madame Razz steals a sample in order to carry out her transforming spell, and then transforms all the remaining stock of poison – which is just as well, because Hordak breaks his word pretty sharpish. Thanks to Madame Razz, the Whispering Woods return to life, and so do the Twiggets. Whoop whoop.

Peril 3
Madame Razz: “I’m absolutely thrilled with this My First Chemistry Set.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Genuinely, if I can’t see Loo-Kee, how is a five year old supposed to? This time, he was tucked away next to a tree in Whispering Woods. I think the whole point of him is to make your blood boil at how difficult it is to see him, so you pay less attention to the gibberish streaming from his mouth, which is something about being nice to people so they’ll be nice to you, just like She-Ra and Prince Ed. Surely this might have been a good moment to try to do a message about the importance of preserving the environment? Hordak’s poison was a relatively decent stand-in for acid rain and pollution, after all.

 

Character checklist

This little excursion to Etheria features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Broom, Bow, the Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Prince Ed, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, Scorpia, and the usual array of background characters and Horde Troopers.

Peril 4
Prince Ed: “You don’t seem like you’re genuinely my uncle.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora doesn’t give an excuse, and also doesn’t seem to care about keeping her identity secret, given she transforms in front of not only the entire Rebellion, but Hordak as well. This happens twice in the episode, suggesting that maybe this episode was penned by a writer who didn’t know it was supposed to be a secret.

 

Insults

Hordak makes an early reference to the Whispering Woods being “vile”, and Glimmer on separate occasions mentions the “darn Hordesmen” and “rotten Hordesmen”. Otherwise, insults are disappointingly thin on the ground.

Peril 5
Random rebel #1: “Highlight of my career.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s not offensively bad, but neither did it stir great feelings in me. I quite liked the idea of the story, and it was competently presented, but without going the extra mile to make it particularly exciting. Prince Ed didn’t do anything for me, though it’s interesting that he’s now a goody, even though he’s Horde Prime’s son. I also quite like the idea of an unseen, more powerful boss for Hordak, who hopefully we’ll meet at some stage.

My favourite character remains Catra, who doesn’t appear for very long today, but is seen in the Fright Zone, being pointlessly evil by using rebel prisoners as a coconut shy. It’s a nice little animation sequence, which is not relevant at all to the story, but gives her another nice character touch. Hopefully she can stage a coup and get rid of Pig Boy at some point. I’m not holding my breath though.

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Episode 10 – The Prisoners of Beast Island

In which the writers introduce an S&M-inclined dragon.

Adora, Bow and a rebel lady (who doesn’t get a name) have come to a town named Bluestone, where they meet a dragon called Sorrowful, who is the campest dragon I’ve ever seen. They try to recruit him into the Rebellion, and though he remains unconvinced, he is quickly required to help out when the town comes under attack from Catra, Leech and a newbie called Rattlor. Prompted by Bow, Sorrowful spouts threats at the Horde, but he is pitifully bad at it, and Catra gives the order to advance.

Prisoners 1
Kowl: “Bow, who is this interloper?”

Naturally, therefore, it’s down to She-Ra, who shows up and uses her sword to freeze the Horde tanks in blocks of ice. I didn’t know her sword could do that, and it rather renders her friend Frosta obsolete. Still, it does the trick, and so long as Frosta doesn’t launch a constructive dismissal case against She-Ra, I imagine all will be well. Anyway, in the ensuing battle, Catra manages to capture Sorrowful and whisk him away to the prison on Beast Island.

Catra presents Sorrowful to Hordak, and explains that she plans to capture the other rebels when they inevitably pop along to rescue their dragon friend. Naturally, even as she speaks, She-Ra and co. are flying across the ocean to Beast Island, which they reach without incident. However, immediately on arrival, they are treated to a massive fight with a vast array of Horde Troopers, which ultimately goes very well for the rebels, as I’m sure you expected.

Prisoners 2
Horde Trooper #582: “Pretty confident about this upcoming fight, actually. Just wait till She-Ra tries to tangle with ME.”

Bow manages to locate Sorrowful, but only by getting himself trapped in the same dungeon as him. It’s down to Kowl, as usual, to go to She-Ra and beg for help, but She-Ra is more interested in going for a swim. Admittedly, she has a reason (to reach some Horde destroyer ships and sink them, if you’re interested), but I think it speaks volumes on her regard for Bow’s welfare. While She-Ra is thus occupied, Catra manages to capture the nameless rebel lady, as well as Kowl, Madame Razz and Broom, so that’s great. Well done, She-Ra.

In the meantime, Bow and Sorrowful have been having a cosy heart-to-heart about how they’re both quite scared, and the inevitable truth that it’s actually okay to be scared. Who knew? I certainly didn’t – it’s not as if I’ve watched eight thousand episodes of He-Man which made the exact same point. Anyway, snarkiness aside, Sorrowful finds his inner strength, and uses his dragony powers to bust himself and Bow out of the prison.

Prisoners 3
Sorrowful: “Maybe I could learn how to be scary by eating Bow?”

She-Ra, meanwhile, has busied herself by throwing some more Horde battleships around, and having a bit of a barney with Catra, which ends with a slight degree of inappropriately sexuality when Sorrowful shows up and threatens to give Catra a good spanking. Catra doesn’t seem keen on this suggestion, and scarpers.

Once the crowd of rebels are safely back at Bluestone, Bow congratulates Sorrowful on his finding the courage to fight the Horde. Sorrowful responds that he will be happy to help the Rebellion any time in the future, which presumably means some more appearances from him. Which is understandable; having created an S&M-inclined dragon, the writers would be foolish not to use him as often as possible.

Prisoners 4
Catra: “Er, no thanks, Sorrowful. What goes in my bedroom stays in my bedroom.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Yet again, I didn’t see Loo-Kee, so the whole thing is getting pretty tedious. This time, he was next to some tree stump at some indeterminate point in the episode. More importantly, his moral lesson is that we must always be loyal to our friends, especially when they need us the most. I don’t know what I’m expecting in these morals anymore, but this didn’t thrill me.

 

Character checklist

Loads of them today. Just loads. If you want me to be more specific, it’s Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, that nameless new rebel, Sorrowful, Hordak, Catra, Leech, Rattlor, Grizzlor, and Loo-Kee.

Prisoners 5
Guy on the left: “Why have I been left out of the character checklist?”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora doesn’t give an excuse; she just legs it as soon as the Horde approach. Weirdly, no one comments on her apparent cowardice.

 

Insults

Catra leads the field this week, but she’s pretty single-track. She uses the traditional “fool” on Grizzlor and Leech twice, and Rattlor receives this one three times. All three of them also get called “dolts”, “worthless” and “empty-headed”. To make matters worse for Grizzlor, Catra goes further and refers to him as a “worthless piece of nothing”. Catra gets her comeuppance, when shortly before the spanking comment, Sorrowful tells her she is a “mean, mean person”. After a burn like that, it’s no surprise that Bow’s only contribution – “revolting robot” to a Horde Trooper – is a bit of an anticlimax really.

Prisoners 6
Leech: “Whoa, Catra! I did not need to see your sex tape.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Very early on in the episode, Bow tells Sorrowful that he will protect him. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t even try, and consequently feels pretty guilty when Catra carts Sorrowful away. This is exacerbated by She-Ra, who doesn’t say anything to Bow at this stage, but just stands there giving him the evils.

During the battle with the Horde Troopers on Beast Island, Bow also distinguishes himself by needlessly emerging from his hiding place, walking directly into a Horde Trooper, and knocking himself out. Kowl rescues him, though not before taking the opportunity to hurl a coconut at his head.

Prisoners 7
Bow: “Big night out last night, actually.”

Seconds later, Bow moronically walks into a pit and falls into Sorrowful’s dungeon. Seriously, there doesn’t seem to be anything that this tool can’t completely cock up. At least he displays a slight modicum of self-awareness at this point by commenting, “This just isn’t my day.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, it does. It’s an exciting, if not particularly original, plotline, which moves along at a decent clip. The most annoying characters in this cartoon (Hordak and Madame Razz) did appear but didn’t irritate me at all, which is a big step forward. She-Ra also seems to have toned down her patronising voice acting of late. Sorrowful himself had the potential to be really annoying, but neatly sidestepped this pitfall.

Catra remains an excellent baddy; she’s relatively competent, and she’s very scathing of her assistants, as the above Insults section shows. Although she doesn’t look too terrifying, there’s a definite air of implied threat about her. I’m pretty sure she’s my favourite character at this stage.

Episode 09 – The Missing Axe

In which I have amended the spelling of the word ‘ax’ in the episode’s title.

Adora is prancing about in the forest, when she comes across a Horde Trooper trying to capture a dog-like creature called a squipper, in order to put it in Hordak’s zoo. Adora transforms into She-Ra, humiliates the Horde Trooper, blows up a robot, receives a great big possibly rabies-infected lick from the squipper, and then stands around congratulating herself. Finally, she turns back into Adora and trots off to meet Bow.

Axe 1
She-Ra: “This animal has the most soulless eyes I’ve ever seen.”

Bow is hanging out with a woodcutter and his two sons, as you do. One of the two sons appears to be permanently stoned, and the other looks disconcertingly like Chris Martin, at least to my poor demented eyes. The woodcutter offers Bow and Kowl a meal, and as they settle down to eat, the sons borrow the woodcutter’s axe and go off to chop some kindling. The woodcutter specifically warns the sons not to lose the axe, so what do you think they do? That’s right.

Axe 2
Woodcutter: “Meet my sons, Yellow and Stoner.”

In complete fairness, it’s not totally their fault. Yes, they leave the axe alone while they go off to swim, but it would be okay if those stupid green dwarves, the Twiggets, were sensible enough to keep their noses out of other peoples’ business. The Twiggets amble up, see the axe, conclude it’s valuable and therefore might get nicked, and decide to take it to Madame Razz to find out who it belongs to. I ask you, would you do this? Or would you use your mind and realise that nicking something is not the best way to prevent it being nicked?

When Chris Martin and his stoner brother discover that the axe is gone, they decide to tell their father that it was stolen. They give a made-up description of the thief: tall, with a long purple cloak, and claim he headed off towards Greenthatch, a town still under Horde control. On hearing this, Bow immediately determines to do something about the robber, and rides off to Greenthatch, where he is pretty speedily captured by Mantenna, and packed into a slave transport ship.

We now cut back to Adora, who is pissing about in the forest picking up sticks and giving them to some deformed beavers. There’s no reason whatsoever offered for this behaviour. Once she’s finished being mental, she decides that she should start looking for Bow, who’s late for their appointment. She therefore turns into She-Ra, mounts Swift Wind, and soon arrives at the woodcutter’s house.

Axe 3
Spirit: “Er, Adora, are you sure this isn’t mental?”

Being considerably more intelligent than Bow, She-Ra quickly learns the truth from Chris Martin and his drug-crazed brother. The woodcutter is clearly itching to beat the boys senseless, but Kowl arrives in the nick of time, bearing the news of Bow’s capture. She-Ra sets off to intercept the slave transport, from which she frees Bow with considerable ease. As an afterthought, she also releases loads of other prisoners, who charge off the transport ship with expressions of gleeful insanity.

Back at the woodcutter’s cottage, Bow hunkers down in the saddle of his horse as if he’s expecting to be smacked, and then performs some magic and smiles sleazily in She-Ra’s direction. She-Ra doesn’t make any kind of response. Chris Martin and Drugs Boy get grounded by the woodcutter, and finally, the Twiggets show up, carrying the axe, and ask who it belongs to. This is our cue for everyone to laugh their heads off, rather than using the axe to murder the Twiggets.

Axe 4
Kowl: “Bow, if you make that face outside schools, you’ll be arrested.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I was looking really hard for Loo-Kee, but with zero success. This is really difficult. He was behind a basket in Greenthatch, in case you care. I daresay you can predict what today’s moral was, but if not, then it was another self-righteous lecture on the importance of telling the truth, even if you’ve done something wrong. I think another lesson can be drawn from this week: if you are a green dwarf thing, She-Ra will be absolutely fine with you nicking an axe and causing a massive problem.

 

Character checklist

This silly little outing features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, his horse Arrow, Kowl, Madame Razz, the Twiggets, the woodcutter, Chris Martin, the stoner brother, Mantenna, some Horde Troopers, and the various rabid animals (other than Bow) that Adora spends her time with.

Axe 5
Twigget: “It wouldn’t be stupid and annoying for me to nick this axe, would it?”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

I think Adora has it easier than Adam. She doesn’t have people hanging round her all the time wanting to know where she is, and she doesn’t have royal appointments and training that she needs to attend. On top of that, she seems to be a loner and a borderline headcase anyway, always hanging around on her own in the forest and messing about with animals, so no one actually notices when she’s not where she’s supposed to be. All this is by way of saying that despite two transformations this week, there’s no excuses needed or offered.

 

 Insults

There are no insults in this episode either, which is disappointing.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow loses his fight with Mantenna in the town of Greenthatch, although I suppose I should mention that he does put in a relatively decent effort, evading Mantenna for a good 90 seconds before being shot while he’s pointlessly trying to climb a wall.

Axe 6
Bow: “Well, how did it come to this?”

 

Does it have the Power?

I think it’s safe to say that this is a story we all recognise, from its billions of appearances on He-Man, and it’s not really a story I wanted or needed to see again. Still, I suppose it’s a reasonable effort. I’d have liked to see the Twiggets get told off for stealing the axe, since the whole thing is their fault, but they seem to have free rein to do as they please. Incidentally, I’m sure that in previous episodes they were Spriggets, not Twiggets.

The story was clearly not quite long enough to fill the full 20 minutes either, given the completely irrelevant rubbish at the start with the squipper animal, which took up three minutes for no purpose whatsoever. I would also like to know what the deal with the beavers was. Despite these minor misgivings though, I’d say this is a passable effort.

Episode 08 – The Red Knight

In which Bow confirms that he’s going to be a very tedious presence throughout the series.

Adora, Glimmer, Bow and Kowl are riding through a dark and mysterious forest, on their way to a rebels’ fair. A rebels’ fair sounds like an unlikely concept, and when they arrive, it proves to be ridiculous. En route, however, Mantenna, Leech and Scorpia leap out of hiding and attack, easily getting the better of all of our heroes. They are rescued by an individual in red armour, who introduces himself as the Red Knight. It would be nice if he put a little effort into his voice, which is the flattest monotone I’ve ever heard, but we’ll let that pass.

Red Knight 2
Mantenna: “I didn’t sign up for this.”

Our incompetent heroes arrive at the rebels’ fair, where various rebels – including Queen Angela of Bright Moon – have set up stalls, and are presumably selling rebellious products. What the hell is the point of a rebels’ fair? As far as I can see, it’s just an opportunity for all the rebels to get together, thus allowing the Horde the opportunity to blast them off the face of Etheria. The Horde are even aware of the fair, since Hordak’s stupid pet, Imp, is present.

Queen Angela thinks she recognises the Red Knight’s voice, but the Red Knight vows that his identity shall remain a secret until all of Hordak’s evil forces are defeated. I was pretty confident we’d find out at the end of the episode who he was, but we actually didn’t. It’s a mystery that we are left to ponder. Still, we aren’t given much opportunity to wonder about the Red Knight’s identity at this stage, since a runaway horse and wagon threatens to destroy the fair.

Bow and the Red Knight each make an effort to stop the horse, but – in keeping with his usual degree of competence – Bow fails, and the Red Knight saves the day. Once that’s dealt with, the male rebels all have a race. I can’t get over how stupid this all is. Why aren’t they out rebelling, instead of having athletics competitions? And why aren’t the girls allowed to play? Maybe this is just something to keep idiots like Bow distracted, while She-Ra and Glimmer plan the important stuff.

Red Knight 3
Bow: “Hey, Red Knight, you could probably get an even better lead on me if you weren’t carrying that lance around.”

Well, if you’ll believe it, the Red Knight wins the race, and Bow loses. As he watches She-Ra award the prize to the Red Knight, Bow goes all Orko on us and storms off in a hissy fit. After an indeterminate space of time, She-Ra goes looking for him, and finds him feeling sorry for himself by a campfire. She remarkably easily persuades him that there’s no shame in losing, and he apologises for being a tosser.

In the meantime, there’s a subplot in which Imp goes barrelling along to tell Hordak all about the fair, and Hordak comes along with his mates to ruin the fun. They succeed in capturing Glimmer, Queen Angela and the Red Knight, but meet a sticky end when She-Ra and Bow reappear. Once that’s all over, the Red Knight congratulates Bow on how awesome he was in fighting the Horde, and then they all have a chuckle over some mindless joke.

Red Knight 4
Bow: “I wish I was in the front row of this picture, even if I can’t put my arm up as straight as the others.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Again, I didn’t see Loo-Kee this week. My excuse is that he was facing away from the camera, and I didn’t know what the back of his head looks like. I do now, so I shall definitely get him next time. Anyway, he dispenses the predictable rubbish about winning or losing not mattering, so long as you do your best. He could have also casually mentioned that Bow is a moron.

 

Character checklist

After last week not bothering to show us many of the rebels, we get a fair whack of them today. There’s Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Queen Angela, the Red Knight, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Mantenna, Scorpia, Leech, and Imp.

Red Knight 5
Imp: “My, Hordak, you’re looking particularly evil today.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“This looks like a job for She-Ra,” says Adora, and scarpers, on the occasion of her first transformation. She does make a similar comment when it comes to the second time, but I didn’t note it down, and I’m certainly not going to go back and check.

 

Insults

Mantenna gets a few moments in the spotlight early on, calling the Red Knight an “oversized tin can” and dispensing the slightly odder insult “Glimmer girl” to Glimmer. From here, it all goes downhill for him, though, with the Red Knight referring to him as a “villain”, and Hordak calling him the much harsher “brainless boob”. Hordak also calls the rebels “fools”, Imp a “nasty little nit”, and refers to Scorpia, Mantenna and Leech as “dolts”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

As I’m sure you can imagine, this entire episode is basically one long Oh No, Bow. Still, specific points include:

  1. In the forest, Bow takes fright at a frog, and falls into a pond. Adora and Glimmer laugh at him. Instead of getting out of the pond, Bow just sits there and laughs as well. I don’t feel qualified to guess how long this sorry state of affairs would have continued, if Leech hadn’t been lurking in the pond.

    Red Knight 1
    Bow: “I’m all for cuddles, but – well – frankly, Leech, not with you.”
  2. Bow attempts to stop the runaway wagon, but completely fails. Entertainingly, at the moment he realises his plan has failed, the animators show his face lose its smug smirk and develop a confused “oh, bollocks” kind of look.
  3. After the wagon incident, Adora tries to reassure him that even though he made a massive hash of it, he’s still done very brave things in the past. Bow is arrogant enough to respond, “That’s true.” Wow. I’m all for self-confidence, but this is excessive.
  4. The entire race is peppered with minor moments where Bow cocks up.
  5. And finally, the running away bit is infuriating and – as far as I can tell, this early in the series – out of character.

 

Does it have the Power?

I’m confident that this was a really poor showing. The only thing I liked about it was that we didn’t find out who the Red Knight was by the end of the episode; I don’t remember any other occasion where we had some kind of mystery that spanned multiple episodes. I’m assuming, of course, that we will eventually find out who the Red Knight is; if we don’t, it’ll simply be incredibly frustrating.

The rest of the episode was all over the place. We’ll start with a quick discussion of the rebels’ fair, which is an incredibly poorly thought-out concept. The notion that all the rebels come to a fair, held at a location without any magical protection, is ludicrous. Hordak says it best: “the fools are so busy with their silly celebration that they’ll never know what hit them.”

Red Knight 6
Hordak: “It doesn’t say great things about me that I’m unable to defeat this lot.”

For all his incompetence, I’d never pegged Bow as likely to be the one to play at being Orko and throw a tantrum. It’s not really done his character any favours, and frankly, it’s not a plotline that needed resurrecting. In complete fairness, it’s better than the billions of times Orko ran away, but not much.

My final comment is to note that She-Ra lets Hordak go, rather than taking a golden opportunity to lock him up, and I suppose I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the whole Horde plotline seemed tacked on to add at least a minor sense of jeopardy to an episode that wasn’t really working. All in all, I think you could safely skip this one, unless at some point in the future the Red Knight becomes massively relevant, in which case I’d retrospectively recommend you do watch this one after all.