Episode 22 – The Crystal Castle

In which the Horde throw melons at Castle Bright Moon.

This story is told in flashback, just like Enchanted Castle a few weeks ago was, but I’m going to pretend it’s told in real time, because frankly getting my tenses right in the review of Enchanted Castle was really difficult, and it resulted in one of the most awkward bits of prose I’ve ever written. All I need to say is that the framing dialogue suggests this ought to have taken place just after Battle for Bright Moon. I should also note that it’s narrated by Madame Razz, so it might be annoying.

Adora, Madame Razz and Broom are summoned to Bright Moon, where Queen Angela and Glimmer are under attack from the Horde, who appear to be hurling large pink melons at the castle. Queen Angela explains that the magical defences of Bright Moon are derived from the light of Etheria’s moons, and that in a few nights’ time, an eclipse will render them unable to fend off the assaults. This is at least halfway logical, given the castle’s name, but it does bring to mind the phrase “fatal design flaw”, and it should perhaps have not got past the drawing board phase.

Crystal 1
Adora: “Say what you like about the Horde, at least they build roads and have vehicles, so they don’t have to travel like this.”

Queen Angela, who sounds like she’s doped up to the eyeballs, tells Adora that there’s only one hope: they must find the Crystal Castle. Adora starts to say that she found it last week, but then remembers this episode’s a flashback, so plays dumb instead while Queen Angela explains that the Crystal Castle is the most magical place on Etheria, containing the secrets of the First Ones. However, she adds that no one has ever seen it, so it may be just a myth.

Broom then has an uncommon moment of usefulness and remarks that Argo, the King of the Trolls of Spykont, knows where the Crystal Castle is. Remarking that all trolls hate humans, Glimmer gets into a right panic at this moment, but Adora tells her to chill, and offers to go with She-Ra to meet Argo. Adora then trots outside, becomes She-Ra, and flies off on Swift Wind.

Crystal 3
Glimmer: “Don’t worry, I’m not going to break the habit of a lifetime and actually contribute usefully to the episode.”

She-Ra arrives in Spykont, meets some trolls, and then falls down a trapdoor, which is incredibly pleasing, given the insufferable air of smugness she was exuding throughout this scene. Naturally, this reversal in her fortunes doesn’t delay her long, but it was still super. She-Ra finds Argo, who tells her the sad story of the mistrust and hate that humans have had for the trolls over the years, and refuses to help her find the Crystal Castle. It takes She-Ra’s usual degree of persuasiveness before Argo relents, and informs her that the Crystal Castle is always where the seeker most wants it to be; in plain sight, yet never seen.

Crystal 4
Argo: “Date night.”

She-Ra restrains herself from rude remarks about useless information, and instead thanks Argo for his wisdom. There is possibly a hint of sarcasm in her tone. Anyway, she and Swift Wind return to Bright Moon, just in time for the eclipse and Shadow Weaver’s most powerful spell. Finding Bright Moon nearly fallen, She-Ra suddenly realises the Crystal Castle must be at the top of Skydancer Mountain, so she flies up to the summit.

Finding that she is entirely correct, She-Ra calls on the castle’s keeper to allow her entry. Once inside, she meets Light Hope for the first time, which might have been dramatic if we hadn’t met him last week. She-Ra asks Light Hope for help in saving Bright Moon, and Light Hope offers the most ludicrous solution I’ve ever heard: She-Ra must journey to the centre of Etheria, where she will find a clock. If she speeds the clock up, time will move faster, and so the eclipse will be over quicker.

Crystal 5
Light Hope: “Hello, I’m Light Hope, and I love making up bollocks about clocks. Bolclocks, if you will.”

There’s a close up shot of She-Ra’s face at this point, and I swear it looks like her eyes are saying, “Are you taking the piss or what?” Nonetheless, she accepts this advice, and luckily for her, Light Hope turns out to not be a lying lunatic. We cut back to Bright Moon, where Queen Angela is rejuvenated by the power of the moons, and repels Shadow Weaver’s attack. Light Hope then asks She-Ra to treat the Crystal Castle as her personal haven, and to visit often – though she must keep the castle’s location secret, presumably for the same less than clear reason that she must keep her identity secret.

 

In today’s adventure…

If you happen to be looking in precisely the right direction – which, as luck would have it, I was – you will see Loo-Kee in the very first shot of the episode, in Whispering Woods. I’m getting good at this. Or maybe the producers realised it was insanely difficult and told the animators that Loo-Kee wasn’t supposed to be as hard to find as the Masquerade Hare.

Crystal 6
Loo-Kee: “The reward for finding me is not as exciting as the Masquerade Hare either.”

Anyway, I was unsurprised to learn that Loo-Kee’s moral lesson was on the subject of not saying bad things about people because they look or talk different. Both Glimmer and Swift Wind had exhibited distrust of the trolls for no good reason earlier, so it was pretty clear we were heading for another such moral. It’s a fine sentiment, but I feel like Loo-Kee never quite finishes what he’s saying: he just seems to stop, without drawing his little monologue to a natural halt, and it seems a little jarring.

 

Character checklist

Quite a decent turnout today: Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Glimmer, Queen Angela, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Argo, some other trolls, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers. There’s also a fair few random background characters in Bright Moon, among whom Bow and Kowl are numbered. And, of course, the children in the framing device.

Crystal 2
Adora: “Do your weird role-play games on your own time, guys.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora doesn’t give an excuse this week, but it’s interesting to note that the story is being told in flashback by Madame Razz to some children. We see what really happened, but what did Madame Razz tell the children? Well, I thought it was interesting anyway.

 

Insults

She-Ra gets in a minor tussle with a fire demon at one point, which calls her a “puny mortal woman”. She-Ra responds with “hothead”. That’s all we’re given this week.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Though Bow doesn’t do anything stupid this week, he equally doesn’t do anything at all to contribute to the defence of Bright Moon. It’s thus rather surprising to see him posing dramatically when the battle is won, while all the villagers cheer his victory.

Crystal 7
Bow: “I will savour this moment as long as I live.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s another episode that I think could have benefitted from a different position in the running order. If it had actually aired as the episode after our opening 5-parter, it would have helped to establish the mythology of the series. As it is, it comes across almost as an afterthought, like the writers realised suddenly that they had planned for this to happen but had forgotten about it. It’s also unfortunate that it comes immediately after last week’s visit to the Crystal Castle, where it’s presented as an established part of the series. And yes, I know that this week was told in flashback, but it still seems silly to show them in this order.

On the positive side, ignoring its position, this is a good entry to the series, featuring an almost epic battle at Bright Moon and a desperate mission for She-Ra. The clock situation was perhaps the most demented solution to a problem that I’ve seen since He-Man pushed the moon out of orbit for the sake of the Widgets, so extra points there too. I’d just recommend that you watch this in between Battle for Bright Moon and Duel at Devlan, and then it’ll be just perfect.

17 thoughts on “Episode 22 – The Crystal Castle

  1. ” This is at least halfway logical, given the castle’s name, but it does bring to mind the phrase “fatal design flaw”, and it should perhaps have not got past the drawing board phase.”

    Well, we did not know, how often ALL Etheria’s moons are eclipsed. In theory, this should be pretty rare event, and designers may consider this as acceptable flaw if it happens, say, once in millennia.

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  2. There weren’t any new spells of Madame Razz in this episode, albeit she participated in combined magic defense of the Castle with Angela, Light Hope, and, strangely, Broom. While Madame Razz is obviously quite powerful magic user, I’m puzzled, why they decided to use Broom, who never demonstrated any magic talent of his own. Maybe it’s the wood from which he’s made – something very magical, so they used him to tap that source?

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    1. P.S. But must point out, that Madame Razz, despite her age, hold better than Light Hope. Shame on your, Light Hope! The several-hundred-years old lady have more guts that you!

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  3. I personally love this episode, it’s one of the very best she has a episodes and can imo compete with any of the best he man ones too, my comment tho i want to kind of repeat what Owen Morton says in his review regarding the production order, I fully agree and it’s a shame despite this episode being a flashback story of the crystal castle I completely agree it’s a very strange place to gave this directly after the stone in the sword cos I feel it slightly down grades it although I personally judge this episode on its standard alone but again this can be confusing for some pop fans it makes me question why Owen didn’t they think this through?? Anyway other than the clock speeding up time this was a near perfect episode for me, meeting the trolls for the first time oddly enough I felt it had a similar feel to the dragons gift as the crystal castle is also written by Larry di tillio anyway overall a top episode imo a must see for the series but again just shame about the order it following the stone in the sword, a good point you mentioned Owen saying it could of followed after the secret of the sword episode 6, this for too would of made a lot more sense maybe straight after duel at devlan would of been spot on!?? Anyway it is what it is..

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  4. @ Owenmorton

    I’m late.
    You said: “Adora: “Say what you like about the Horde, at least they build roads and have vehicles, so they don’t have to travel like this.””
    I agree about it. It is interesting to think about the rebels don’t have transportation like the He-man’s folks. They need some transportation. They need like a project manager over there. It would be Bow, I guess, but he’s busy writing songs…

    Although you said:
    “It’s another episode that I think could have benefitted from a different position in the running order. If it had actually aired as the episode after our opening 5-parter, it would have helped to establish the mythology of the series.”
    Agreed.

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  5. If that episode were an He-man episode, I would say that “The Stone in the Sword” is an above average He-man episode. This episode had a good plot and it was a lore episode. The main story moved on, I liked it.

    For me, this episode was somewhat entertaining. There was not a lot of action. Also, the action was under average. I mean: Shera beat easily the trolls and the fire monster, thus there was no tension. Also, it was interesting to see Swiftwind beating the gargoles.

    Also, there was some serious character development and characterization in this episode. We also got new informations about the crystal castle and castle brightmoon.
    Concerning Adora, it was interesting to see the beginning of her relationship with light hope. Also, Adora fearlessly went to talk to King Agho at the beginning. She managed to convince him to help the rebellion. Later, she guessed smartly that the crystal castle was on top of mount Skydancer. Finally, she had the wits to grab the pendulum when the gargoles made her fall at the end.
    Spirit was useful when he destroyed the gargoles, I liked it.
    Concerning Light hope, it seems to me that he was a rather generic character. Also, on one hand, he was useful to Shera by telling her what she had to do to save castle Brightmoon. On the other hand, he told Shera that he knew why she had come, yet he didn’t help her before she entered into the crystal castle.
    We saw Madam Razz in this episode. She definitively has problems to land correctly with Broom. But, yes, she was useful by participating in combined magic defense of the Castle with Angela, Light Hope, and Broom.
    Concerning Broom, he was useful. He indeed had surprisingly good informations about the crystal castle. Also, he participated in the magic defense of castle brightmoon.
    Glimmer was not very useful in this episode, but we already knew this.
    Also, Bow did nothing in this episode, except that he decided to alert the other rebels to defend castle Brightmoon.
    Concerning queen Angela, I like a little her character. It was interesting to see her in charge of castle Brightmoon. She managed to hold on and to defend castle Brightmoon until Shera could find the Crystal castle to help her. Also, it was interesting to see that like the sorceress’s power, she drew her power from her castle.
    Finally, queen Angela and Glimmer’ relationship is somehow like Teela and the Sorceress’ relationship, except that I personaly don’t think that Glimmer really deserves to inherit castle Bightmoon.
    Also, Argho was a rather smart and wise character.
    Concerning Shadow Weaver, her plan was a good one. She indeed weakened the power of castle Brigthmoon just before the eclipse and then she attacked it with the full power of her magic during the eclipse. I wonder what Hordak thought about Shadow Weaver’s power grab?Like if she would have seized castle Brightmoon, she would have been the person in charge, don’t you think? Finally, we saw briefly her servant in Horror hall.

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    1. Yep, Light Hope is generic – that’s a good word for him. Never really got a handle on his character. I didn’t like the Sorceress, but at least I understood her, whereas with Light Hope, I don’t feel I know anything about him.

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  6. @ owenmorton

    You forgot to mention the fire monster and Shadow Weaver’s searvant in your character checklist.

    Also you said: “The clock situation was perhaps the most demented solution to a problem that I’ve seen since He-Man pushed the moon out of orbit for the sake of the Widgets, so extra points there too. ” Well, I would personaly also compare it to what Shera did to save the rebellion in “The Time Transformer” episode. Do you agree with me about it or not?

    Finally, I wonder why we didn’t see Shera staying for while in the Crystal castle. I heard that there was publicity on US televisions in the 1980s about girls playing with Shera’s doll in the crystal castle. Thus, it is a little bizarre to me that the writer didn’t make her stay in the Crystal castle for a while in this episode.

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    1. I agree, this is similarly insane to the events of The Time Transformer. At the time I wrote this review, I hadn’t yet seen The Time Transformer – and I still try to pretend it never happened, because frankly that’s such a bad episode!!

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      1. Yeah, but at least Don Heckman had the little excuse that “The Time Transformer” was
        nearly at the end of the Shera series while “The Crystal Castle” was nearly at the beginning of the Shera series. I indeed guess that at the end of the Shera series, the writers lacked new ideas for their scenarios but that it was less the case at the beginning of the Shera series.

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  7. Correction:
    When I said “If that episode were an He-man episode, I would say that “The Stone in the Sword” is an above average He-man episode.”
    I meant: “If that episode were an He-man episode, I would say that “The Crystal Castle” is an above average He-man episode.”

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  8. Just noticed: the clock solution is actually the MOST demented solution in the series ever. Even more than pushing the moon out of orbit, actually, because the clock solution simply wouldn’t work: time acceleration would – even in Filmation logic – affect not just moons, but everyone, including castle and Shadow Weaver. So while the moons (for outside observer) would move faster, the castle defenses would also be exausted faster and Shadow Weaver would do her magic stuff faster too! Its like trying to run away from someone chasing you by running on a conveyor belt – both sides recieve exactly the same additional movement.

    Seriously, She-Ra should better try to just punch the moons hard to kick them out of alignment.

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      1. Hearing everyone’s thoughts on the most insane moments, yeah the clock us crazy as you say Owen Morton and as dilandu said the moving the moons but for me the one that no one has mentioned is what happened in the terrible time transformer episode that you yourself mentioned Owen, with swift wind circling etheria faster than the speed of light – surely this gas to go down as the series most insane moment no??

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      2. Well, yes – and the idea that flying round Etheria really fast will make time flow backwards, rather than just altering the planet’s rotation. All in all, The Time Transformer is just a really dreadful waste of time.

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    1. @Dilandu

      Agreed.
      I will only add that in fact, in this situation, accelerating time is worse than doing nothing. I mean: Imagine that, for example, when Shera began to get the pendulum swinging faster, she managed to accelerate time by a factor of ten. Imagine also that Queen Angela could hold on only for 60 more seconds if Shera hadn’t cause the pendulum to move faster at the moment when Shera started to accelerate time.
      Then, accelerating time would have the consequence that Queen Angela would hold on only 60:10 = 6 seconds. In other words, accelerating time means accelerating Queen Angela’s defeat, thus what Shera did helped Shadow Weaver. For me, Light Hope’s solution is worse than doing nothing and to let Shadow Weaver attacking castle Brightmoon.

      Also, I have another solution. Adora knew that Shadow Weaver was behind the attacks and she knew Shadow Weaver’s plan. Thus, I think that Shera should better go to Horror hall and force Shadow Weaver to stop her attacks on castle Brightmoon until the end of the eclipse.

      Did you understand what I wrote?

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  9. Agree that is one of the worst episodes Owen in this series. I must acknowledge now I’ve read all the comments Jean Paul mentioned this too an rightly so regarding swiftwinds circling etheria although I have mentioned this episode in many posts before my reason being is it’s just the number one craziest thing for me, the moons would come next then the clocks in the crystal castle episode there all pretty mad and illogical!! Lol. What I don’t like about these particular feats if yourself and the other fans agree with me is that it makes a mockery of she ra and he mans unbelievable but at the same time believable feats for instance you’ve hot that amazing scene in the taking of grayskull of he man lifting the castle then later you have him moving moons in Jacob and the widgets it’s like well he can do then anything!! Anyway just a thought.. were all pretty much agreeing the same thing anyway!

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