Episode 56 – Of Shadows and Skulls

In which Skeletor gains the upper hand.

The episode begins with the rebels under attack, but thanks to a bit of a blunder from Shadow Weaver, they manage to escape. Hordak is properly livid with Shadow Weaver as a result, and after the ensuing discussion, Shadow Weaver decides to throw in her lot with Skeletor instead. She contacts him in Snake Mountain, and offers him anything he needs to conquer Eternia, in exchange for his help in toppling Hordak.

Skeletor agrees, but secretly plans to betray Shadow Weaver and conquer both Eternia and Etheria for himself. I say “secretly” – what I mean is that he manages to refrain from shrieking out this cunning plan for at least 20 seconds. Still Shadow Weaver remains unaware, and merrily transports Skeletor to Etheria.

Shadows 1
Skeletor: “I’m considering installing Shadow Weaver with that effect here permanently to save on light bulbs.”

Light Hope somehow gets wind of this development, and summons She-Ra to tell her all about it. She-Ra reacts with an air of weariness, barely restraining herself from saying, “For God’s sake, Skeletor again?” Instead, she flies off on Swift Wind to try to find Skeletor and Shadow Weaver, and stop them from doing whatever they want to do.

Our dynamic duo are in Snake Tongue Pass, happily occupying themselves in ambushing Hordak and a convoy of Horde tanks. Skeletor is enjoying this mightily, laughing his fool head off and waving his arms around like a complete maniac, but then has to get down to the serious business of a full-on duel with Hordak. After a pretty mental battle, Skeletor prevails, but is interrupted by the arrival of She-Ra – and then, to my surprise, he defeats her too.

Shadows 2
Skeletor: “I really have to wonder why Hordak has such ridiculously flat feet.”

With Hordak and She-Ra out of action, Skeletor cuts to the inevitable betrayal bit. He asks Shadow Weaver to put Hordak in a magic cage, and when she does so, he slams the door on her as well. He then indulges himself in a completely demented chuckle, before carting She-Ra off to the Fright Zone, where he seats himself in Hordak’s throne and introduces himself to Catra, Mantenna, Leech, Grizzlor and Scorpia as their new boss.

Shadows 3
Skeletor: “Hands up anyone who’s more competent than Beast-Man.”

With only four minutes of the episode’s runtime left to sort out this whole mess, it’s worryingly up to Bow and Madame Razz to break into the Fright Zone and release She-Ra. This task is made easier since the Horde team are taking advantage of Hordak’s absence to beat Imp up, and are thus not guarding the Fright Zone as efficiently as they should.

Once Bow manages to free her, She-Ra starts putting all the Horde Troopers out of action with her traditional high kicks, and uses a convenient seesaw to catapult Skeletor out of the Fright Zone. Once he’s outside, he is met by Hordak and Shadow Weaver, who have managed to free themselves from the magic cage. Fearing that Skeletor will give the game away, Shadow Weaver quickly teleports him back to Eternia, while She-Ra and her crowd sneak off back to Whispering Wood.

Shadows 4
Shadow Weaver: “Me? Up to something? No, definitely not.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in Whispering Wood, not that that will come as a particular surprise to you. He talks to us today about revenge, explaining that trying to get revenge didn’t help Shadow Weaver and it won’t help us either. He counsels us to instead try to forgive and forget, and says “because that usually works.” It’s incredibly hard not to read a sarcastic undertone to this phrase.

 

Character checklist

This excellent episode features Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Skeletor, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, Mantenna, Leech, Grizzlor, Scorpia, Imp and Spikor.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’m going to try and find a way out of here,” says Adora, when the rebels are pinned down at the beginning. It’s not a particularly good excuse, and it’s pretty unbelievable that the rebels wouldn’t already have tried to find a way out.

Shadows 5
Adora: “Bow, why do you look so worried about Kowl landing on your head?”

 

Insults

Perhaps inevitably for an episode that finds Skeletor in such fine form, there are vast swathes of insults flying about today. Shadow Weaver calls Imp a pretty scathing “pig-faced little worm”, and Imp retaliates with the far less effective “Shadow Wimpy”. Hordak gets in on the act too, calling Shadow Weaver a “useless trickster”. At the end of the episode, Bow refers to Hordak as a “villain”.

All the remaining insults in the episode are dispensed by or directed at Skeletor. She-Ra opts to call him a “villain”, a “bone brain” and a “bonehead”, to which Skeletor responds with the pretty mild “fool”. He reserves greater ire for Hordak, who also receives a “fool”, but is further burned with “dolt” and something that sounds like “bone breath”. Hordak responds with “bone-headed bogwobbler” (which I think we’ve heard before) and “bony buffoon” (which, oddly, I don’t think we have heard before).

Skeletor also finds time to describe his new army of Catra, Mantenna, Leech, Grizzlor and Scorpia as “slugs”, and early on in the episode we are treated to an unexpected and unwelcome cameo appearance from Spikor, who unceremoniously departs the story after being called a “nail-head”.

Shadows 6
Spikor: “To be honest, I’m only here to try to shift my peg-warming action figures.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

The episode opens with the rebels hiding from some Horde Troopers in a quarry. Kowl thinks that the Troopers don’t know where the rebels are, so Bow immediately sticks his head up so the Troopers can see him. Sure enough, he nearly gets shot. I’m genuinely bewildered that someone this incompetent is still alive.

 

Does it have the Power?

Hell, yes. Compared to his pretty lacklustre showings in Loo-Kee Lends a Hand and My Friend, My Enemy, Skeletor is at his lunatic best in this episode. The scene in which he battles Hordak is particularly good, and it’s very satisfying that he always beats Hordak whenever they have a duel. It’s almost as if, deep down, the writers knew Skeletor was infinitely better. It’s also very pleasing that he managed to capture She-Ra. He’s portrayed as thoroughly evil, entirely competent and completely hilarious – a winning combination.

The rest of the characters have their moments. I loved Shadow Weaver’s duplicity, and her cunning move at the end to prevent her betrayal being uncovered. Catra and Scorpia leading the charge to beat Imp up is hilarious as well, and She-Ra and her cronies aren’t annoying. This one’s a definite winner.

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3 thoughts on “Episode 56 – Of Shadows and Skulls

  1. hi owen, how have you been?? hell yes! exactly as you said this is a phenomenal episode of she-ra easily one of the very best of the series!! great review too, as you say I will just keep my comment brief but say I agree with pretty much everything youv covered there in your review my favourite skeletor line I wanted to comment to you on did you remember what he said after he beat hordak in “the fight” then she-ra skeletor said something like “hordak beaten and she-ra both in the same day, I should come to etheria more often”!! very funny but easily one of his most triumphant! One thing to note was the character interaction and chemistry between skeletor and shadow weaver it worked a treat these 2 really could potentially be a deadly combination, I loved how shadow weaver sent skeletor back to eterenia at the end so hordak couldn’t find out she betrayed him such fun! overall agree with you entrirely one of the very best in both the she-ra and even he-man series too gets the full 10/10 for me..

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    1. Good point on Skeletor and Shadow Weaver working together – possibly a more potent combo than Skeletor and Evil-Lyn! And it genuinely was great to see Skeletor at the point of victory. This is – for me – his last great appearance, as I don’t really rate Assault on the Hive or (shudder) the Christmas Special, and I think those are his only remaining episodes?

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      1. Yes as far as I know owen you are right in that these were skeletors last 2 appearances the last official appearance in series is assault on the hive which I maintain is a great episode ever so slightly behind horde prime takes a holiday and shadows and skulls which are both near perfect but yes im totally with you on the Christmas special lol atleast it was just a won off thankgoodness!!

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