Episode 51 – My Friend, My Enemy

In which She-Ra demonstrates her inherent goodness, and makes sure we all know about it.

Unexpectedly, this episode opens with Catra purring her head off and presenting Hordak with a nice tasty berry pie. Hordak is very pleased and gobbles up the pie, pausing only briefly to ask Catra where it came from. Catra evades this question by claiming that it was sent by a secret admirer, but it soon emerges that the pie was baked by Skeletor himself, who has popped over to Etheria.

Friend 1
Hordak: “This is definitely a trap, isn’t it.”

Naturally, Skeletor hasn’t been baking pies out of the goodness of his heart. This particular pie contains an ingredient that will make Hordak disappear, after which Skeletor intends to take his place as leader of the Horde. I’m not quite sure what’s in it for Catra; their discussion doesn’t suggest she’ll be getting a promotion, but perhaps she’s just as fed up as I am with Hordak.

While Skeletor and Catra are having a convivial chat, Hordak takes a crowd of Horde Troopers to Whispering Wood for a little set-to with the Rebellion. While there, they manage to capture Glimmer and whisk her off to the Fright Zone – but Hordak then starts to feel sick and disappear. Madame Razz successfully diagnoses Hordak as having eaten some doom berries, and gleefully pronounces that he will fade into another dimension and probably never come back.

Friend 2
Glimmer: “Gosh, wouldn’t it be convenient if I could, you know, teleport?”

She-Ra – whose mental state is as always precarious – decides to try to cure Hordak, and flies off to the Crystal Castle to consult Light Hope. Light Hope starts off by talking in his usual incomprehensible riddles, but then evidently concludes that She-Ra is too stupid to work it out, and simply tells her that Hordak can only be cured if someone cries over him. I shouldn’t imagine there are too many people queuing up to do that, but She-Ra confidently toddles off to find someone.

Hordak tells She-Ra that a wizard called Noah might be willing to cry for him, so She-Ra loads Hordak onto Swift Wind’s back and they fly off to look for Noah. Skeletor and Catra, however, get wind of this plan, and Skeletor manages to arrive at Noah’s cave in time to prepare a little welcome party. After a brief and typically unsuccessful attempt to trap She-Ra in a tunnel, Skeletor opts to try negotiation, informing She-Ra that unless she stops trying to help Hordak, she will never see Glimmer again.

Friend 3
Noah: “Let me out! I’ve got an ark to catch!”

She-Ra says, “That’s cool, I can live with that,” and asks Noah to cry for Hordak, but Noah refuses on the basis that he doesn’t like Hordak. Skeletor sniggers his head off at this turn of events, but She-Ra is moved to pity and begins to cry over Hordak herself. With Hordak cured, Skeletor doesn’t see the need to stick around, so he disappears, leaving Catra in the lurch.

Noah teleports Hordak, She-Ra and Swift Wind to the Fright Zone, where She-Ra rescues Glimmer and flies off. Back in Whispering Wood, She-Ra tells Bow, Glimmer and Madame Razz the full story, and oddly refers to Hordak as a human being, rather than a robotic pig-skeleton. Then Glimmer makes some mindless joke or other, and they all laugh as the episode ends.

Friend 4
She-Ra: “Chicken, Bow?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee. Tree. Whispering Wood. I don’t think I have to say any more about that. He reminds us that this week, She-Ra got upset because Hordak didn’t have any friends, and he suggests that maybe we should make friends with someone who doesn’t have any. I think I’ll start by making friends with Hordak.

 

Character checklist

Today, it’s Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Noah, Hordak, Catra, Grizzlor, Mantenna, Imp, some Horde Troopers, and everybody’s favourite – Skeletor.

Friend 6
Skeletor: “You’re easily the best of the baddies on She-Ra, Catra. Care to join my team?”

 

Insults

Glimmer addresses a Horde Trooper as a “big tin ape”, and Bow shrieks out “metal head” to someone, either a Horde Trooper or Hordak, though I’m not sure which. This week’s obligatory “fool” is dispensed from Hordak to Catra.

 

Oh No, Bow!

During the battle, Bow decides to walk around backwards for no evident reason. This would be cause enough for inclusion in this category, but it also results in his tripping over a pillow and being shot, which makes it doubly stupid.

Friend 5
Bow: “Never forget, I’m really competent.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s good to see Skeletor, as always, but it’s hardly his best appearance. The first scene, in which his evil plot was unveiled, was really good fun, but thereafter he was barely involved, and even when he was on screen, he didn’t have much of his classic sneer about him. It was good to see Catra throwing in her lot with him, as it re-establishes her as a scheming villainess in her own right, and not just another henchman, but all in all, their pairing up seemed a bit wasted.

The rest of the story was fine; I believe this one is regarded as a bit of a classic, largely because of She-Ra’s speech about her sympathy for Hordak not having any friends. Unfortunately, I can’t say I particularly agree. It wasn’t awful or anything, but it didn’t move me in the way some episodes have. I’d say this one’s worth a watch, but not a lot more.

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Episode 50 – Just Like Me

In which we have the pleasure of the company of yet another dreadful child.

As the episode begins, Modulok leads a squadron of Horde Troopers into a homestead, where they load up the family’s grain store into Horde transport trucks. Watching from an overlooking ridge, Adora and Bow decide to intervene, and quickly defeat the Troopers. They then meet the family’s daughter, Lena, who despite being only about 8 years old, expresses a desire to join the Rebellion.

Just Like Me 1
Lena: “I may be only young, but I’m ANGRY. Look at my face.”

Adora and Bow treat this with, if not contempt, then at least a degree of bemusement, especially when Lena sees a Horde Trooper, takes fright, and runs off. Adora goes after her, turns into She-Ra, and arrives just in time to save Lena from one of those ubiquitous breaking bridges that seem to plague Etheria and Eternia. In case you’re interested, she achieves this by walking across a tightrope in her high heels, which I’m convinced must be impossible. A circus career awaits.

The episode now lurches into a scene in which She-Ra escapes from Modulok and a huge number of flying Horde robot ships by taking Lena into Whispering Wood. At Rebel HQ, Lena helps Bow pointlessly line up all his arrows on a table, while She-Ra disappears and returns as Adora, bearing the report that the Horde have successfully stolen all the grain. I feel this could have been prevented if She-Ra had been particularly invested in that plotline, but perhaps she’s like me.

Just Like Me 2
Adora: “Be honest, Bow. What are you hoping to achieve here?”

Bow and Lena favour a head-on assault, while Adora is more interested in a spot of level-headed thinking and perhaps the formulation of a plan before blundering in like a bull in a china shop. For some reason, the sight of Bow and Lena waving their fists around persuades Adora that a plan isn’t needed, so she wanders off again to turn into She-Ra.

When She-Ra, Bow and Lena arrive back at the village, they find that Modulok has arrested Lena’s parents for being rebel spies, and taken them away. She-Ra and Bow seize the opportunity to ditch Lena, and leave her in the village while they ride off to rescue her parents. I’m sure it won’t come as any kind of a surprise to you that Lena leaps on a moose and follows them. Well, maybe the moose bit surprises you, but not the following bit.

Just Like Me 3
Lena: “A horse might have been better, but needs moosed. Oh, please yourselves then.”

Luckily, she doesn’t disrupt the ensuing big battle too much, and instead Bow sets her to work recovering the grain while he attempts to rescue her parents, though he simply ends up getting locked in the same cage as them. Modulok then unveils his new weapon – something called the Converter – which is perhaps unique in the history of both He-Man and She-Ra in that it actually defeats our hero. She-Ra is forced to run away, and she re-emerges as Adora.

For some entirely inexplicable reason, Adora is capable of defeating Modulok where She-Ra failed, and tricks him into using the Converter to release Bow and Lena’s parents. Lena’s parents then inflict a further defeat on Modulok, leading Lena to congratulate her parents on their bravery whilst staring at them with uncannily dead eyes. There’s then time for a quick, irrelevant and nauseating lecture on the powers of love, and faith, and good, before the episode mercifully fades to black.

Just Like Me 4
She-Ra: “Bow, stop being creepy round the nice family.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Naturally, the first shot of Whispering Wood this week also features Loo-Kee, though he’s quite difficult to see, so I was rather proud of myself this time. He sees fit to witter on about She-Ra’s powers of love and kindness and fairness, as well as her physical strength. He suggests that maybe we should adopt these powers ourselves, which is perhaps a desperate plea for me to be loving and kind and fair right now about this episode. Tell you what: I will be fair, but not loving or kind. Deal?

 

Character checklist

This one has a nice and tight cast list, not that it helps the quality of the episode: it’s just Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Lena, Lena’s family, Loo-Kee, Modulok, and some Horde Troopers.

Just Like Me 5
Modulok: “It’s nice to appear again, but I’d rather it had been in a better episode.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“You deal with them,” Adora tells Bow, referring to some Horde Troopers. She adds, “I’ll find Lena before she gets into any trouble,” and runs off, turning into She-Ra once she’s out of sight. She even gives another excuse in time for the second transformation, though it’s not as good: “I’ll find She-Ra.” She doesn’t bother for the third transformation, but still, Adora, you’ve shown you can do it, and it’s not that hard. Why don’t you do this more often?

 

Insults

Though not an insult, there’s a moment when Modulok says, “It’s that rebel bowman,” in reference to Bow. I prefer to think of it as Modulok being blissed out on some pretty heavy drugs and saying, “It’s that rebel Bow, maaaan.” Just to be clear, there is nothing in the episode to justify this interpretation, but watching as much She-Ra as I have lately can do strange things to your brain.

Just Like Me 6
Bow: “You may not be on drugs, Modulok, but whoever invented you clearly was.”

Otherwise, Modulok doesn’t do well this week, being addressed as a “creepy crook” and a “big bully” by Lena, and as a “nasty person” and a “hulking Hordeperson” by Lena’s mother. He does retaliate with “little whelp” for Lena, and also comes up with the pretty original “meddling madam” for Adora.

Finally, towards the start of the episode, Lena dismisses Adora by saying, “You’re just a regular woman”, measuring her up against She-Ra and finding her wanting. I personally don’t know any regular women who wear silly red leotards and keep power swords stuffed down their backs, but clearly I hang out with the wrong crowd.

Just Like Me 7
Adora: “You honestly think I’m regular? What is wrong with you?”

 

Oh Yes, Bow!

Bow is his usual cocky self at the beginning of this episode, refusing to call on She-Ra for help because he believes that he and Adora are more than a match for Modulok and his Troopers. Normally, this would be the setup for Bow’s speedy defeat, but he proves surprisingly competent.

 

Oh No, Bow!

On the other hand, Bow is tiresomely keen to attack the Horde this week, and eventually Adora has to tell him to calm the fuck down. Despite his fighting talk, when it eventually comes to the big fight at the end of the episode, his performance is evidently so poor that the episode doesn’t even bother to show him getting captured. We just cut from him being all confident and smug to a scene of him being already behind bars.

 

Does it have the Power?

It veers wildly from moments that are quite good, moments that are quietly average and huge swathes that are massively annoying. Needless to say, the massively annoying bits are those that involve Lena, who is a squawking idiot of a character following a tedious and over-familiar storyline. Bow too is at his worst this week, boasting to Adora about how well he knows She-Ra and insisting every other minute that they should attack the Horde.

Just Like Me 8
Bow: “Just look at us. Hordak will be terrified.”

The good bits aren’t on a level with anything explored in He-Man, but it’s one of the few times we’ve seen a bit of a dissatisfaction on Adora’s part about the secret identity business. Lena and Bow constantly imply that Adora is less good than She-Ra, and thus the scene at the end when she defeats Modulok as herself, rather than as She-Ra, is quite pleasing – though it has to be said it would have been a lot more effective if it had had any kind of internal logic to it as to why she was able to defeat him.

In summary, if we’d had a lot more of the Adora/She-Ra identity crisis, and a whole boatload less of the Lena business, then I’d be heartily recommending this one. As it is, I’d probably say only a few scenes of it are worth your bother.

Episode 49 – For Want of a Horse

In which Bow puts in a truly pitiful performance.

Hordak returns to the Fright Zone in a fearful temper, having just had a conversation with Horde Prime. It transpires that it will be Horde Prime’s birthday shortly, and he wants a really good present. Hordak, of course, doesn’t know what to get him, and after fielding a monumentally silly idea from Grizzlor, who recommends getting him a tie, he accepts Shadow Weaver’s suggestion that he should kidnap Swift Wind as a birthday gift.

Horse 1
Hordak: “I’m surrounded by idiots. Myself included.”

Shadow Weaver’s plan for the kidnap involves knocking a hole in a dam, and waiting for She-Ra, Swift Wind and Bow to show up to repair it. She-Ra occupies herself fixing the dam, while Bow and Swift Wind wait in the village, giving Shadow Weaver the chance to disguise herself as a sweet blond girl and pretend to be running away from a Horde Trooper. This distracts Bow long enough for another Horde Trooper to freeze Swift Wind and drag him away.

Shadow Weaver considers taking Bow prisoner as well, but She-Ra reappears in time to prevent such an unfortunate event. Instead, Shadow Weaver contents herself with gloating that Swift Wind will make a perfect present for Horde Prime, and vanishes. She-Ra, of course, heads straight for the Fright Zone, with Bow in tow to offer help. You know, like Bow normally helps.

Horse 2
She-Ra: “No, Bow. I’m not going to ‘ride you instead of Swift Wind’.”

On arrival in the Fright Zone, She-Ra quickly abandons Bow in favour of going for a swim in a river that flows directly below Hordak’s throne room. There she meets Mantenna, who has been dropped through Hordak’s trapdoor into the river. Mantenna informs her that Swift Wind has been taken to the space port, and then realises he really ought to try to capture her. He is no more successful in this venture than you might think, and ends up running off to sound the alarm.

She-Ra finds her way to the space port and frees Swift Wind with very little trouble. On emerging from the Fright Zone, they find that Bow has come barging along trying to save them, which results in all three of them having to have a final confrontation with Shadow Weaver, not that that takes very long. They all fly off into the sunset, leaving Hordak to give Horde Prime a tie after all.

Horse 3
Mantenna: “Best day ever.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Oh Loo-Kee, you think you’re so clever, hiding next to the broken dam. But I saw you, and I’ll see you every time from now on. He explains that “there’s a very special kind of love between people and animals”, and he makes a few recommendations of specialist niche websites that cater to people who enjoy that kind of love. Just joking, of course: actually, he recommends we treat animals with patience and kindness, which may lead to them becoming our best friends.

 

Character checklist

This very enjoyable episode features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Horde Prime, and – of course – some Horde Troopers.

Horse 4
Hordak: “All these characters are now available at Toys R Us.”

 

Insults

It’s a bad day for Horde Troopers, especially at Shadow Weaver’s hands; one is addressed as a “fool” and a pair of them as “tin-headed cowards”. She has a point: they’re scared of Bow, of all people. She also, rather surprisingly, calls two Horde Troopers “useless balls” towards the end of the episode. Bow gets in on the act with the less imaginative but more sane “rotten robots”.

She-Ra calls Bow a “brave, wonderful fool”, though not to his face, and after Hordak throws Mantenna in the river, he calls him a “soggy simpleton”. The best insult this week is one I can’t believe we’ve never heard before: Shadow Weaver calls She-Ra “Wing-head”, presumably in reference to her silly tiara.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow is supposed to be guarding Swift Wind when the kidnap takes place, but he is all too easily distracted by Shadow Weaver’s disguise. It’s actually a pretty sophisticated plan, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for falling for it. Anyone except Bow, of course, who’s a first-class fool.

Horse 5
Bow: “Oh Jesus. I’ve ballsed up again, haven’t I?”

Later on, of course, Bow is responsible for coming into the Fright Zone and trying to rescue She-Ra when she doesn’t need rescuing, the result being an unnecessary fight with Shadow Weaver. He’s such an idiot.

 

Does it have the Power?

Here we have our first hands-down success in ages. The storyline is, of course, nothing special, but it’s got such wit and energy that it’s impossible not to enjoy it. The opening scene is really very funny, and has a great payoff at the end when Hordak does take Grizzlor’s suggestion and gives Horde Prime a tie. There’s other moments of great humour throughout, and yet in the middle of all this clowning, we get a scene of genuine nastiness, as Hordak gloats over Swift Wind, telling him that he will never fly again, and will be left in a dungeon to never see the sky or the sunset, where his mane will turn grey and his wings will wither. It’s definitely the nastiest and most calculatedly unpleasant we’ve ever seen Hordak being, and I feel it could even give Skeletor a run for his money. To sum up: watch it, immediately.

Episode 48 – Birds of a Feather

In which Bizarro-Kowl lands in Etheria.

This week, Hordak welcomes a visitor to the Fright Zone: an evil koala-owl creature, named Redeye. Redeye introduces himself as Kowl’s cousin, but he is super-evil and would like to join the Horde. I’d have thought this request would buy him a one-way ticket to Hordak’s zoo, but instead, he is given a task: Shadow Weaver wants Redeye to bring her some of Kowl’s feathers. This is likely to be for some voodoo purpose or other, but I’m holding out hopes that Shadow Weaver simply needs to stuff a new duvet.

Redeye manages to nick the feathers as requested, and Shadow Weaver uses them to cast a spell which allows her, Redeye and Hordak to read Kowl’s mind. If this were any other rebel, I’d make the cheap joke that there’s no mind to read, but I’ve always thought Kowl was pretty intelligent, so sadly you’ll be missing out on that particular putdown. Instead, I’ll simply inform you that the Horde are now able to listen in on the Rebellion’s secret plans.

Birds 1
Kowl: “Good God, did you get put through the washing machine?”

Hordak learns through Kowl’s mind that the rebels are planning to ambush a truck convoy, and sets his own trap, from which the rebels only narrowly escape. Redeye shows up for a completely purposeless gloat, the only result of which is that Kowl, Adora and Castaspella are able to figure out what’s going on. Naturally, Kowl decides that this makes him little better than a Horde spy, and concludes that he must leave for the Rebellion’s own good.

Kowl heads to the Valley of the Lost, but She-Ra and Swift Wind follow him, arriving just in time to rescue him from capture at Hordak’s hands. Unfortunately, in the ensuing kerfuffle, Hordak manages to successfully shoot a freeze ray at Swift Wind, freezing one of his wings solid. Our heroes take refuge in a cave, but She-Ra cleverly tells Kowl that they’re about to head back to Whispering Wood. Listening in on Kowl’s mind, Hordak falls for the trick, and flies off.

Birds 2
She-Ra: “Why the cold shoulder, Swift Wind?”

She-Ra’s not one to just accept victory, though; instead, she sees fit to chase after Hordak’s ship and try to kick it to smithereens. This results in the unwelcome return of Hordak’s silly habit of turning himself into a rocket, after which he causes a volcanic eruption. She-Ra stops kicking the ship long enough to go and deal with that, and everyone goes home happy. No one bothers to reverse the spell on Kowl, so we can presume that for the remainder of the series, Hordak is capable of reading Kowl’s mind.

 

In today’s adventure…

The animators use the exact same shot of Loo-Kee as last week, which made it very easy indeed to locate him today. He suggests that if we have a problem, we should talk it over with someone who cares. My problem is that I don’t like Loo-Kee, and it’s very hard to find someone who cares about that.

 

Character checklist

Aside from the newbie Redeye, this one is full of familiar characters: Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Kowl, Bow, Glimmer, Castaspella, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Catra, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor and Tung Lashor, as well as those ever-present Horde Troopers.

Birds 3
Shadow Weaver: “So, Hordak, you know that joke from Shrek? The one about compensating for something?”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

That’s the final straw. We’ve had about 250 thousand episodes in a row now where she hasn’t bothered with an excuse, so I don’t see why I should bother either. I’m retiring this section from next week, and it will only appear if and when Adora deigns to explain her absence. It’ll come back full-time on a trial basis when I start on The New Adventures of He-Man.

 

Insults

Hordak calls his Horde Troopers “fools”, but that’s nothing new. He also refers to Kowl as a “miserable rebel” and to Redeye as an “idiot”, and in fairness, at the time, Redeye was being particularly stupid. Otherwise, we have Shadow Weaver calling Redeye a “silly furball”, and Bow sounding monumentally pissed off when he calls Kowl a “featherhead”.

Birds 4
Bow: “Kowl, you may be my best – and possibly only – friend, but I honestly hate you.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow refuses to listen when Kowl gets the feeling he’s being watched, and gets excessively aggressive about it, dishing out the “featherhead” comment mentioned above. Naturally, Kowl is quite right and Bow is, as always, quite wrong. As penance, Bow doesn’t get to appear in the rest of the episode, and if we’re lucky, he might not show up next week either.

 

Does it have the Power?

In a word, no. I like the idea of an evil version of Kowl, but Redeye is just too stupid to be taken seriously. He quickly takes a backseat to the spell allowing the Horde to read Kowl’s mind, which again is quite interesting but is just too haphazardly executed: the extent of the Horde’s ability to know what Kowl is thinking varies wildly throughout the episode, depending on what the plot needs to be doing at any given time, and it really does seem strange that we never see the spell being undone, a plot point which is omitted to give She-Ra time to make stupid bird-related jokes.

Add to this a brief return to the irritating theme of people (this time Kowl) running away, and a bizarre and annoying subplot in which She-Ra recruits a flock of birds to help her destroy Hordak’s ship, and unfortunately here we have a below average effort. Perhaps if it had been blended with Welcome Back, Kowl – in which the Rebellion thought Kowl was a traitor with virtually no reason – we could have got one decent episode out of the two of them. As it is, I’m not a fan.

Episode 47 – The Price of Power

In which a familiar story is told surprisingly well.

This week’s episode follows the story of Ardin and Narwin. Narwin is an old man, learned in magic, while Ardin is his pupil. Ardin has the same beef that every wizard’s pupil has, namely, that he wants to use magic for everything, but Narwin doesn’t want him to until he can use it responsibly, and preferably not even then. This all-too-common argument results in an all-too-common storyline: Ardin tries to take the quick and easy way to power.

Price 2
Narwin: “You’re too irresponsible, Ardin. Look how happy-go-lucky you are about eating that soup.”

In this circumstance, the quick and easy way is for Ardin to approach Shadow Weaver and ask her to help. He goes to her home at Horror Hall, where he learns that a long time ago, Shadow Weaver and Narwin had some history. Unfortunately, Shadow Weaver blames Narwin for some past injustice, and now intends to use Ardin as an instrument of her vengeance. Her plan for doing so is to accept Ardin as her pupil, and turn him to the Dark Side.

Narwin, in the meantime, sends a message to the Rebellion asking them to come and meet him. She-Ra, Madame Razz and Broom go along, and Narwin fills us in on the rest of the story. Both Shadow Weaver and Castaspella were once his apprentices, but when the Horde arrived on Etheria, Shadow Weaver betrayed the planet’s defenders by handing over the Council of Kings to the Horde. In return, she received great magical power from the Horde; but would have received even more, if Narwin had not intervened at the time.

Price 3
Castaspella: “Nice hat, Shadow Weaver. You don’t look moronic at all.”

She-Ra and her posse head to Horror Hall, where Shadow Weaver quickly learns of their arrival. She sets up a test for Ardin, explaining that in order to learn great power, he must sacrifice other things such as friends. When She-Ra and Narwin confront them, Shadow Weaver offers Ardin a jewel which will give him magical power beyond imagining, and encourages him to take it. After a very short internal debate, Ardin refuses the offer, realising that at least Narwin cares for him and for others.

Shadow Weaver doesn’t take kindly to this rejection, and unleashes all sorts of hell involving flying gargoyle statues and green tentacles that grow up from the ground. She-Ra deals with this silliness with her usual aplomb, while Narwin himself vanquishes Shadow Weaver. The final scene shows Narwin congratulating Ardin for having the wisdom to reject Shadow Weaver’s quick and easy route to power.

Price 4
Ardin: “Gosh, I’ve been a bit of a goit, haven’t I?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is, as ever, in Whispering Wood, this time hiding under a bush. He says that it’s important to learn from our mistakes, like Ardin did in this episode. I’d argue that Loo-Kee doesn’t learn from his mistakes, since he’s always hiding in pretty much the same place.

 

Character checklist

So here we have Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, Narwin, Ardin, a flashback version of Castaspella, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, some Horde Troopers, and all manner of extras, including a bunch of people who I’m going to assume were Mumford & Sons.

Price 1
Marcus Mumford: “Getting a better reception than we did at Reading, at least.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Don’t be silly. Why on earth would Adora need to give an excuse? It’s not like this She-Ra business is a secret or anything.

 

Insults

It’s all very polite in Etheria today, with no insults dispensed. This is despite a short appearance from Mantenna, who usually bears the brunt of someone’s temper.

 

Does it have the Power?

I didn’t have a good feeling about this one, given the all-too-familiar set-up with a wizard’s apprentice who wants to skip the hard work, which is a story we’ve seen so many times it’s not even funny. Therefore, it’s a pleasant surprise that this episode manages to tell the same story again extremely effectively. I think this is largely down to Shadow Weaver, who is portrayed with a perfect balance of seduction and threat. Perhaps the best example of this is when she offers Ardin the jewel and hisses, “Take it! It’s so easy…” There’s a strong undercurrent of danger, but it’s still believable as a temptation. Even Shadow Weaver’s closing monologue – “We will meet again someday, and you will regret this” – comes across as a serious threat, rather than the usual impotence such a line would convey.

Price 5
Shadow Weaver: “I enjoyed my turn as Mephistopheles at the RSC, so I’ve brought some of those skills to this episode.”

There’s also an effective scene in which Shadow Weaver shows Ardin her true face, but does so with her back to the camera. Ardin’s reaction is enough to convince us that her features are hideously twisted by evil, but we don’t actually see. This is a great example of less-is-more; I have no doubt that if the animators had actually shown us Shadow Weaver’s face, it would have been less than imposing, but without seeing it, we are left to imagine its horrific nature.

It’s not all perfect, of course; there’s a pointless scene early on in which Shadow Weaver conjures up some spirits called Dark Riders, for no reason whatsoever. They’re suitably scary, but her motivation for actually doing it is less than clear. But that’s just a very minor quibble; this is a very fine episode.