Episode 89 – Hordak's Power Play

In which one of the worst people in the galaxy arrives on Etheria.

Observing an Argonian spaceship fly close to Etheria, Hordak decides to shoot it down and steal the ship’s power cell. He is successful in the first half of this plan, but the ship lands in the village of Flax, near the home of an old man called Doctor Blankford. Doctor Blankford immediately goes to fetch Adora, Bow and Kowl, and thus it is that Hordak is unable to complete the second half of his scheme. Having said that, he does give it a reasonably good try.

In the meantime, the pilot of the spaceship emerges. He is a handsome square-jawed individual called Larg, who carries with him the air of public schools, rugger every Wednesday afternoon, and lashings of ginger beer. In short, he’s a complete twat. He is aware that the Horde rules Etheria, and as such concludes that everyone on the planet must be an evil Hordesman. Consequently, he sets himself up as Head Boy and starts bossing the villagers around. I’m sure this is logical in the mind of someone who’s essentially Julian from the Famous Five, but it made no sense to me.

Larg: “Hang on, hang on, I’m getting a weird sensation in my brain…. What’s happening? Oh, I remember – this is what having a logical thought feels like. Don’t like it. Better not let it happen again.”

Bow and Adora arrive in Flax to find two villagers loading stuff into a cart, under Larg’s instructions. They seem absolutely terrified of Larg, which is just plain odd. Adora sends Bow off to check something nicely non-specific, while she transforms into She-Ra and goes to have a chat with Larg. During the course of this chat, she persuades Larg that she does not work for the Horde and also tells him off for forcing the villagers to work for him.

Before Larg can defend himself, Hordak and his army of Troopers show up, and there follows a long tedious fight in which She-Ra smashes billions of tanks to pieces. Eventually, however, a Horde Trooper manages to shoot She-Ra with a sleep ray, and she tumbles to the ground. Good. Of course, Hordak doesn’t drop her in the sea or a volcano at this point, like any self-respecting villain would; in fact, he doesn’t even bother to lock her up. He just leaves her on the ground. What is his problem?

She-Ra: “I really need to stop with these all-nighters at Wetherspoons. I never know where I’m going to wake up.”

With She-Ra temporarily out of action, Hordak nicks the Argonian spaceship and takes it off to the Fright Zone. Larg chooses this moment to reveal that the ship’s power cell is not working properly and is liable to explode, and if it does, it will take all of Etheria with it. I can’t imagine Hordak would be very keen for that to happen, so here’s hoping an amicable solution can be reached this week.

She-Ra, Bow and Larg sneak into the Fright Zone. Well, I say sneak. What they actually do is walk into the Fright Zone with zero regard for secrecy, and as a result have to have a pointless fight with Catra and some Horde Troopers. Obviously, they win the fight, but it alerts Hordak to their presence, and he decides to plug the Argonian power cell into a massive forcefield, and turn it on. I don’t know why he does this, since She-Ra is already inside the Fright Zone, so it’s hardly going to afford him any protection, but we’ve already established that logic is not Hordak’s strongest point.

Hordak: “When weird machinery glows like this, it’s usually good news, right?”

Of course, the forcefield overloads the power cell, and so She-Ra is forced to cut a hole in the forcefield and throw the power cell into outer space. Once that sensible solution has been enacted, She-Ra contacts the Argonian home world and tells them to come and collect Larg before he converts the entire Rebellion into public school alumni.

In today’s adventure…

I happened to see Loo-Kee lurking behind a rock today, largely only because I paused the episode at precisely the right moment when I wanted to write my character assassination of Larg. Loo-Kee is also interested in a character assassination of Larg: he tells us that Larg was wrong to boss the villagers around, and suggests that we should treat people with respect. Heard it before, Loo-Kee. Hopefully never hear it again.

Larg: “How dare that freaky little pixie say such unkind, if accurate, things about me?”

Character checklist

Today, it’s all about Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Kowl, Larg, Doctor Blankford, Loo-Kee, some villagers, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, and some Horde Troopers. A nice and simple cast after last time’s extravaganza.

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

There’s no excuse, and while I know normally I wouldn’t bother with this section if there’s no excuse, I just think it bears special mention that Adora stands right in the village square to turn into She-Ra, with even less regard for the “secret” part of the “secret identity” business than usual.

Insults

The Horde are a little more imaginative than usual this week: Catra calls a Horde Trooper a “clumsy can of cogs”, while Hordak opts to call She-Ra a “muscle-maiden” and an “irritating Amazon”. Not bad, guys. Better than “fool”, at any rate.

Catra: “I can explain.”

Does it have the Power?

There are times when I’m in the middle of these episode summaries and I stop and really think about the nonsense I’m writing. This was one of those times. This episode is sheer gibberish from start to finish, and yet, despite its insanity, it isn’t at all entertaining. Larg is irritating, She-Ra is irritating, and above all, Hordak is irritating. Bow, rather surprisingly, isn’t irritating, but he doesn’t do anything of note either. The plot meanders about a bit aimlessly, and there are several attempts at humour that fall really flat. I couldn’t say this episode is a complete trainwreck, but equally I can’t think of any reason why you might ever want to watch it.

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

In which the Christmas spirit comes to Eternia. And Etheria. But mostly Eternia.

Merry Christmas to you all. I’m sure that, like me, you’ve spent every Christmas Day for the last 30 years watching the Christmas Special on repeat until your mind melts. However, it has come to my attention that there are a few unfortunate souls who haven’t yet been introduced to this classic of Christmas television, so I will here summarise the plot and then review it.

In the Royal Palace, King Randor and Queen Marlena welcome a vast phalanx of Eternia and Etheria’s foremost freaks of nature to celebrate Adam and Adora’s birthday. There’s Moss-Man flirting outrageously with Queen Angela, Snout Spout hanging out with Fisto, Stratos hulking ominously over Castaspella, and Glimmer being studiously ignored by Cringer. Sy-Klone is also present, though he seems to have been relegated to the role of a waiter. Don’t worry about all these names; they’re only here as background action-figure advertisements, and they don’t do anything important. It’s a lovely panning shot, but let’s get with the story.

Cringer: “You’d better not come near me with any of this nonsense.”

Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms have skived off from the decorating in order to build a Sky Spy, a rocket which Man-at-Arms claims will allow them to learn of Skeletor’s every move. Of course, it’s not long before a combination of Orko’s innate stupidity and Man-at-Arms’ exceptionally poor design work means that Orko accidentally launches the rocket, with himself inside.

Skeletor is cruising about in the Collector, evidently simply looking for trouble, and the runaway rocket soon attracts his attention. Once Adam and Adora realise that Skeletor has noticed the Sky Spy, they become He-Man and She-Ra to stop Skeletor getting his bony blue hands on it. In this, they are successful: they inflict some gratuitous damage on the Collector, forcing Skeletor to turn and head for home. However, with his unerring talent for making a situation worse, Orko casts a spell on the Sky Spy which causes it to fly off into outer space.

He-Man and She-Ra – who as we all know can of course breathe, talk and survive in the vacuum of space – fly out of Eternia’s atmosphere and give chase.  On this occasion, however, the Sky Spy engages its warp drive, and our heroes lose track of it. They return to Eternia, unaware that Orko was on board anyway, though I have to wonder how far they’d care, even if they did know.

Prince Adam: “If I mash these controls enough, maybe I can arrange it so Orko will never come back.”

The Sky Spy crash-lands on Earth, and Orko emerges to immediately find two children about to be buried by an avalanche. He casts a spell to save them, and as a consequence of this idiotic act, we’re stuck with these bratty kids for the rest of the Christmas Special. They’re called Alicia and Miguel, and they are kind enough to explain to Orko all about Christmas. It turns out that Christmas is about presents, peace and goodwill towards men. There is evidently no goodwill towards women. Jesus is also conspicuous by his absence.

Orko: “Why are you kids so oddly fine with this?”

Back on Eternia, Man-at-Arms successfully tracks the Sky Spy to Earth, and at the same time, Marlena and Teela realise that Orko is missing. They put two and two together, and Teela says with undisguised glee, “Are you saying we’ll never get Orko back?” Man-at-Arms suggests using a transport beam to travel to Earth, but this will require the use of a kerium water crystal, which must be obtained from Etheria.

She-Ra returns to Etheria, where she meets up with Mermista. Mermista was apparently not invited to the party on Eternia, which seems a trifle harsh. Choosing to ignore this snub, Mermista agrees to help She-Ra acquire the water crystal, which is achieved by having a short and lacklustre fight with one of those ubiquitous dragon-like creatures, this one known imaginatively as the Beast Monster.

Mermista: “Yes, well, we’ll talk later about exactly how my invite got lost in the post.”

Once the crystal is in She-Ra’s grubby mitts, she is confronted by three tall robots which introduce themselves as Monstroids. It seems that someone at Mattel was well aware of the success of the Transformers, because these are second-rate rip-offs. The Monstroids imprison She-Ra in a forcefield, for no readily apparent reason, and then they fly off. Once they’re gone, She-Ra releases herself from the forcefield with ease. This little sequence is the very epitome of a pointless advertising scene.

She-Ra brings the crystal back to Man-at-Arms, who uses it to activate his transporter beam. As an aside note, I don’t know why Man-at-Arms keeps inventing things that rely on nearly unobtainable power sources. Off the top of my head, this transporter beam is one such example, as is the Palace radio transmitter in Three on a Dare (which needed rainbow quartz from Snake Mountain), and he also reveals that the entire planet needs Eternium in Double Edged Sword. Forward planning is clearly not his strong suit.

Anyway, once he turns on the transporter beam, a glowing light appears next to Orko and the children, which finally distracts them from the endless nattering about Father Christmas. They all walk into the light, which somehow – do not ask me how, because it defies logic – makes the entire Sky Spy disappear and rematerialise on Eternia. Orko introduces Alicia and Miguel to the inhabitants of the Palace, though he notably limits the introductions to the more normal-looking citizens. Snout Spout, Moss-Man and Sy-Klone are no longer anywhere to be seen.

King Randor: “Welcome to Eternia, where only perfectly normal people live. Yes, sir.”

With Alicia and Miguel on Eternia spreading the message of Christmas goodness, Horde Prime is disturbed. Or I assume he’s disturbed. He sounds like he’s talking underwater, frankly, so I haven’t really got a clue what he’s saying. He definitely summons both Hordak and Skeletor, and tells them to do something or another, which – based on what they subsequently go off to do – is capture the children.

Hordak gets there first, kidnapping the children with a tractor beam, and taking Orko too for good measure. Once he gets them back to Etheria, however, he is ambushed by the Monstroids, who have decided to capture the children to deliver them to Horde Prime and claim some kind of reward. Hordak gives the children up without a fight, and they end up locked up in a cell with Orko, who starts off on one of his infuriating “it’s all my fault” kicks. Yes it is, Orko, and it’s always all your fault. Why don’t you learn not to piss about with stuff that’s nothing to do with you?

Alicia: “Sure, sure, he’s really evil and everything, but when he’s doing this stupid little dance he doesn’t seem that intimidating.”

This irritating little sequence comes to an end with the beginning of an even more irritating sequence, in which some tiny robots called the Manchines come to the rescue. There are only two things I think I need to say about the Manchines: firstly, they plumb new depths of annoying, and secondly, one of them is called Cutter, which is possibly the most serial-killer name I’ve ever heard. They may seem to be rescuing the kids, but it can only be a matter of time before things turn nasty.

Luckily, He-Man and She-Ra show up to take the children out of Cutter’s hands, but less fortunately, Skeletor does likewise. He manages to get away with Alicia and Miguel, as well as some abomination of nature called Relay, who is a Manchine Puppy. He-Man and She-Ra give chase, but rather half-heartedly, and as a result, Skeletor escapes.

Not for long, of course. No. Now it’s time for Hordak to get involved again. He shoots down Skeletor’s Sky Sled, which crashes to a landing in some snowy mountains. Skeletor is then subjected to his most heinous character assassination since The Greatest Show on Eternia, when Alicia and Miguel tell him all about Christmas being the season of goodwill, and he actually listens. He gives the children nice warm coats and even saves that bloody dog Relay from freezing. In total fairness, this sequence does contain some of the funniest lines in the entire Christmas Special, as Skeletor tries and completely fails to understand how Christmas works.

Skeletor: “Nothing else about this episode works, but at least I remain a creation of comic genius.”

Eventually, the whole sorry situation comes to a head when He-Man, She-Ra, Hordak and Horde Prime all locate Skeletor and the children. There’s an almighty ruckus, the end result of which is that Skeletor takes a stand and saves the children from Horde Prime. He then claims to feel unwell, and unceremoniously exits while He-Man and She-Ra laugh at him. Which is nice of them.

Back at the Palace, Man-at-Arms has recharged the water crystal sufficiently to return the children to Earth. Before they go, Prince Adam dresses up as Father Christmas and gives them some flying belts, which I hope Man-at-Arms didn’t invent, given how often Man-at-Arms’ inventions break. Once they’re gone, Father Christmas Adam saunters up to Adora and says “Ho ho ho!” in a tone that implies he’d like some Christmas sex, immediately. For once, Adora doesn’t seem to be in the mood, but before the situation can turn ugly, Orko appears terrifyingly close to the camera and wishes everyone a merry Christmas. The End.

Adora: “Not tonight, brother, I have a headache.”

In today’s adventure…

Adam and Orko deliver this week’s moral, in which Adam explains that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but the spirit of love, joy and caring is within us all. Orko adds that Christmas is also about peace, happiness, and – most importantly – presents. At this, Adam turns to mug at the camera with one of the weirdest expressions I’ve ever seen him pull. I assume it’s meant to look like mild exasperation with Orko’s obsession with presents, but unfortunately he looks like he’s quite seriously mentally disturbed. Frankly, I’ve never seen an expression that more succinctly conveys the phrase, “I will kill again.”

Prince Adam: “Sleep well, kiddies. Sleep well.”

Character checklist

Oh good god, I don’t feel like I can successfully list all the characters in this car crash. I mean, it definitely includes Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Alicia, Miguel, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Madame Razz, Broom, Stratos, Fisto, Snout Spout, Sy-Klone, Moss Man, Ram Man, Mechaneck, Zodak, Man-e-Faces, Flutterina, Peekablue, Frosta, Castaspella, Queen Angela, Perfuma, Mermista, Sea Hawk, the Twiggets, Dree Elle, Yuckers, the Widgets, Loo-Kee, Skeletor, Hordak, Two Bad, Webstor, Rattlor (who’s working for Skeletor this time, though he only has one line, and it’s not to explain what he’s doing there), Spikor, Catra, Modulok, Multibot, Horde Prime, the Monstroids, the Manchines (including Relay), and Alicia and Miguel’s parents, but for all I know it includes billions of others too.

Skeletor: “I don’t understand why I couldn’t bring my usual henchmen instead of being landed with you lot.”

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformations

Despite numerous transformations, some of which take place in the easily over-looked Palace courtyard, neither Adam nor Adora nor anyone else seek to explain their absence.

Insults

Fittingly for a feature-length episode, we’ve got a feature-sized quantity of insults. We start relatively sedately, with Two-Bad’s purple head calling his blue one a “lamebrain”, and the blue head retaliating with “motormouth”.

Once Two-Bad’s got his little personality disorder out of the way, the majority of the rest of the insults are directed at Skeletor or the Monstroids. Swift Wind refers to the Monstroids as “evil robots”, whereas Hordak considers one of them to be a “bucket of bolts”. He-Man and She-Ra get in on the act with “metal-mouth” and “iron head” respectively. None of these insults is particularly imaginative, but everyone’s just warming up at this stage.

She-Ra: “Oh, Christ, the Monstroids. It seems a bit unfair to go reminding us of Day of the Flowers on Christmas Day.”

 Hordak’s in a foul mood with Skeletor this week, calling him “bone-brain”, “bonehead” and “skull-faced scoundrel” on various occasions. He-Man’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it, but he does at least contrive to join in by calling Skeletor a “bone-face”. Skeletor doesn’t even dignify this with a response, but does tell Hordak that he’s a “miserable excuse for a villain”. He then refers to Alicia and Miguel as “troublesome tots” and to Relay as a “dratted dog”, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur.

Finally, Hordak says that Alicia and Miguel are “goody-goods” and “little fools”, while She-Ra tells Horde Prime that he is a “troublemaker”. This last is entirely accurate, and I suspect Horde Prime is pleased about it, but I’m pretty sure She-Ra wasn’t trying to be complimentary.

Skeletor: “Oddly, not much in the way of insults from me today.”

Oh No, Bow!

In the scene at the start where our heroes are decorating the Palace, Bow is engrossed in unnecessarily painting a box, which is the most complicated task that anyone dared to assign him. Even so, he’s still got the nerve to tell Peekablue that the stars she’s painting on the wall ought to be purple. Bow is clearly big in the world of interior design, as evidenced by the fact that he lives in a campsite in the woods, and therefore has loads of experience in the subject.

Bow then disappears from the episode, until about halfway through when he pops up again in order to lean against a tree, thrusting his crotch provocatively in the direction of Alicia and Miguel, and to teach them to sing a horrendous song about joy and Christmas spirit. It’s dreadful. Bow’s done some horrific things in the past, but this really does go the extra mile. Go away, Bow. I never want to see you again.

Miguel: “I feel like if I try to leave, these guys are going to get nasty.”

Does it have the Power?

I don’t like being overly negative, especially when it’s plain that the writers and production team have really tried to craft a great Christmas special, but this one has never really done anything for me, and I don’t know why. I think part of the problem is that an awful lot of it comes across as an advert, rather than a story – the Monstroids and the Manchines, in particular, really felt like they were only there to sell toys.

Snout Spout: “Everyone you see in the following panning shot is available to buy.”

Looking back over the episode summary, I’d say that I enjoyed the Special mostly up to the point where Alicia and Miguel arrived on Eternia, after which it goes downhill quite rapidly with the endless capturing and rescuing of the children. As mentioned above, Skeletor has some brilliant lines when he has custody of the children, but this is pretty much the only point in the whole special at which the dialogue really comes to life.

Speaking of Skeletor, I think I’m more open than many He-Man fans when it comes to his character. I know that his crazy desire to bring the circus to Snake Mountain in The Greatest Show on Eternia infuriated many, but I – while not welcoming it with open arms – didn’t particularly mind. However, his behaviour in this episode is perhaps one step too far. I simply cannot believe that Skeletor would ever do anything good, especially not giving up a reward from Horde Prime for capturing the children. It just doesn’t ring true. My impression of Skeletor is that he can be petty and small-minded (as with the circus incident), but he just doesn’t have it in him to do good.

Skeletor: “Somewhere, somehow, something has gone hideously wrong.”

Everything else this time is pretty much by-the-numbers. He-Man, She-Ra and Hordak are all present and correct, as are the lead supporting casts from the respective shows, but no one does anything inspiring. It’s nice to see Man-at-Arms again, though it would have been good if Teela could have had a few more lines. Glimmer gets short shrift, as always, but who cares about her? In summary, I’m afraid I can’t say I loved this episode, but being honest, if you’re a He-Man fan, you’re going to be watching it this Christmas anyway.

Episode 88 – Portrait of Doom

In which She-Ra has a near brush with disaster.

Oh, Christ, Bow’s playing his harp again. Luckily, he’s not singing today, but nonetheless it’s an atrocious racket. The assembled Twiggets, however, seem to think he’s great, and shower him with unwarranted praise, leading him to yammer on about how he’s going to be a big hit at the forthcoming Summer Moon Festival. This in turn leads the Twigget Spritina to wander off sadly, bemoaning the fact that she is rubbish at everything so won’t be performing at the festival.

Well, you know what happens whenever anyone gets sad because they’re rubbish, don’t you? That’s right, they run into a baddy, who will be in disguise and will embroil our unlucky protagonist in some stupid scheme. This time is no different. In this case, the baddy in question is Catra, and the stupid scheme revolves around a magic painting kit which Catra lends to Spritina, and tells her to paint portraits of all her friends with it.

Spritina: “Say cheese.”

Spritina starts by painting Netossa, who immediately complains of feeling tired, and then disappears from view altogether. Spritina has already run off to the festival by this stage, and happily occupies herself painting pictures of Kowl, Broom, and Bow, who all disappear as well. As far as I’m concerned, this episode is going really well; hopefully Spritina will move on to paint Adora, Madame Razz and Glimmer. And Loo-Kee, if she can find him.

The missing rebels are transferred onto portraits hanging in the Fright Zone, where they only exist in two-dimensional form, and are unable to move. If I were Hordak, I’d burn these portraits right now, especially the one of Bow. Instead, Hordak satisfies himself with telling Shadow Weaver how excellent her magic paints are, while Catra pouts in the background. Failing to capitalise on an advantage is the principal and fundamental mistake exhibited by every baddy in this series ever.

Hordak: “Well, I can see why it’s free to get into the National Portrait Gallery. I wouldn’t pay to look at this nonsense.”

Spritina is just about to start painting Adora when Madame Razz bounces up, bearing the news that all their stupid rebelly friends have vanished and Catra’s Horde Troopers are attacking Bright Moon. While the remaining rebels start a fruitless search for their missing colleagues, Adora transforms into She-Ra and ponces off to Bright Moon, though not before clocking that there’s something odd with Spritina’s paintings.

Madame Razz begins an investigation into the magic painting kit, and unfortunately an investigation for Madame Razz means sitting in a circle with the Twiggets, shrieking, “Razzle dazzle, mazzle azzle, uzzle buzzle” and other nonsensical variants on that theme. This descent into total madness somehow gets the results required, and Madame Razz learns that Bow and co. are trapped on canvas in the Fright Zone.

Madame Razz heads to Bright Moon to alert She-Ra to this pretty damn disturbing turn of events, while Spritina achieves the difficult goal of making the situation even worse by going to the Fright Zone and getting herself captured. Luckily, She-Ra arrives in the Fright Zone in the nick of time, rescues Spritina, and also grabs the portraits.

She-Ra: “Do I look weirdly exhausted?”

They all merrily return to Whispering Wood, where Madame Razz recites more “wizzle wuzzle” gibberish and restores the two-dimensional rebels to life. I’d love to say that Bow has always been two-dimensional so it’s difficult to tell the difference, but that’s a far too obvious joke, so I wouldn’t dream of making it.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee evaded my eager gaze today, but blow me down if he didn’t turn out to have been in a tree in Whispering Wood. He offers a disjointed little moral about how we shouldn’t wish we could play musical instruments, but instead concentrate on being ourselves rather than trying to be like other people. Taken to its logical conclusion, this approach would result in no one being able to play musical instruments. Good one, Loo-Kee.

Character checklist

Here we have Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Netossa, Queen Angela, Madame Razz, Broom, the Twiggets (including Spritina), Loo-Kee, loads of rebels, Hordak, Catra, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers.

Catra: “Yeah, well done, Shadow Weaver. Well done. So clever of you.”

Insults

Everything’s ticking along beautifully, without an angry word being exchanged, right up to around the 17th minute, when it all goes to pot with Hordak bellowing “bumbling purr-brain” at Catra. This was surprising, largely because I thought he was going to say “bumbling pervert”. Catra evidently decides to let off some steam at this unfair treatment by telling Spritina and another Twigget called Sprint that they are “rebel scum”.

Oh No, Bow!

I think this episode must have been a massive ego boost for Bow. In stark comparison to the levels of distress exhibited about Netossa, Kowl and Broom, loads of people seem really concerned about Bow’s whereabouts, and Queen Angela seems to reckon that the Rebellion will be unable to defend Bright Moon without him. This is, of course, entirely untrue, since Bow has very rarely proven himself to have any abilities whatsoever, and notably She-Ra does not appear to think there’s any urgency to rescuing him.

She-Ra: “Worst Christmas present ever.”

Does it have the Power?

This episode has an imaginative concept, which I imagine would have been quite scary for a child; to be trapped on a canvas, unable to move, would not be a great way to end your days. Even though it’s Shadow Weaver’s plan, for some reason Hordak entrusts it to Catra to carry it out, and that’s a good move, because Catra is at her most deliciously evil this week. It’s a pleasure to see her back on form. Aside from the irritating Madame Razz “razzle dazzle” nonsense, and the slightly irrelevant Horde attack on Bright Moon, this episode is a strong entry, and worth a watch.

Episode 87 – The Inspector

In which Adora and Adam put on the worst disguises ever.

This week is a rare treat: we open on Eternia, where He-Man and Man-at-Arms are hanging out, testing a new shield that Man-at-Arms has invented. It’s good to see Man-at-Arms again, even if it does remind me that he’s almost as big a tit as Bow is. Anyway, soon enough, He-Man is summoned by the Sorceress to Castle Grayskull, and off he goes, leaving Man-at-Arms behind. This is surely the last time we see Man-at-Arms, and it feels like I’ve left a small piece of my soul behind.

He-Man: “Well, this is like the good old days.”

At Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress gets on Skype with Adora and Madame Razz on Etheria. Adora relates a hard-luck story about how the rebels were fooled by one of the most obvious traps I’ve ever seen, and have all been captured by Hordak. Adora and Madame Razz are the only ones who managed to escape, and Adora has lost her sword. Consequently, they’d really like He-Man’s help to get them out of this self-inflicted mess. Personally, I have no sympathy at all, but He-Man is a much nicer person than I am.

In the meantime, Hordak is celebrating his victory and congratulating Spicester, who is the gentleman who lured the rebels into the trap in the first place. His celebration is short-lived, however; Horde Prime gets in touch and announces that he is sending Inspector Darkney to make a thorough assessment of Hordak’s operation, and to discover why Hordak has completely failed to defeat She-Ra.

Hordak: “Come on Spicester. We’ll just have one drink.”

The moment He-Man arrives on Etheria, he is ambushed by Mantenna, and the one-sided battle is observed by Darkney. He-Man subsequently captures Darkney, and in a fit of insanity, decides to impersonate him and go to the Fright Zone. In total fairness, the impersonation does involve turning back into Prince Adam and putting on a fake beard, so I imagine Hordak will be completely fooled.

Actually, I don’t know why I’m being so sarcastic. Of course Hordak is fooled, even though Adam has brought Public Enemy Number One, Adora, along with him, and her only concession to a disguise is a big red cloak. Adam and Adora then put Hordak through a variety of humiliating exercises, seemingly purely for their own entertainment, before locking him in a cell and getting down to the serious business of locating Adora’s sword so she can become She-Ra.

Prince Adam: “Whose disguise is worse, do you think?”

Adam then dresses She-Ra and all the rebel prisoners up in Horde Trooper costumes, and marches them out of the Fright Zone. It’s Catra – putting in her first appearance for absolutely ages – who smells a rat, and rescues Hordak from his cell. Hordak gets in a big tank and gives chase to the prisoners, but comes up against He-Man and She-Ra, and the encounter goes about as well for him as you might expect.

Back in Whispering Wood, Adam accepts the thanks of Bow and Netossa for rescuing them, and then does a little flirting with Adora which makes for rather uncomfortable viewing. Cersei and Jaime have nothing on these two.

Netossa: “Not in front of the children, you deviants.”

In today’s adventure…

Not unexpectedly, Loo-Kee is in a tree in Whispering Wood today. He witters on about the love that families have for each other, which is definitely a topic he’s never touched on before. The writers had blatantly run out of life lessons to dispense by this point.

Character checklist

This trip to Etheria features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Prince Adam, He-Man, Madame Razz, Bow, Netossa, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Loo-Kee, some random rebels, Hordak, Catra, Spicester, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Inspector Darkney, and some Horde Troopers.

Insults

The word of the week is evidently “bumbling”, since it appears on no less than four separate occasions. Mantenna and Hordak both refer to some Horde Troopers as “bumbling robots”, Hordak calls Spicester a “bumbling fool”, and Darkney calls Hordak a “bumbling bozo”. Darkney also considers Hordak to be a “miserable excuse for a Horde commander” and furthermore believes He-Man and Adora to be “blasted rebels”.

Inspector Darkney: “I feel this could have gone better.”

In return, the rebels only manage a couple of barbs in the Horde’s direction: Madame Razz says that Darkney is an “unpleasant man”, and He-Man calls Mantenna “bug-eyes”. The Horde do, however, manage to insult each other on a few further occasions: Catra says that Spicester is a “measly sneak”, and Hordak rather surprisingly calls Catra and Spicester “baboons”. This could have been “buffoons”, but I prefer “baboons”.

Does it have the Power?

I enjoyed this episode, though I certainly wouldn’t rave about it. It was, as noted above, good to see Man-at-Arms again, and the opening scene felt like the beginning of a He-Man episode rather than a She-Ra one, which was pleasingly nostalgic. The plot once again revolves around people being captured and needing to be rescued, but with the added spice of the inspector impersonation, this storyline doesn’t feel as tired as it often does.

He-Man: “Sorceress, couldn’t we see what’s on BBC2 instead?”

Speaking of spice, I’m at a loss to understand the need for Spicester, and I certainly don’t know why he’s called that. He doesn’t look particularly spicy, and he doesn’t go round throwing spices at people, which in the He-Man universe are the only two reasons why he might have a name like that. Neither, unfortunately, is he especially interesting. The only good thing about him is that Catra clearly doesn’t like him, which was vaguely amusing.

Anyway, this one’s not bad at all, especially if you ignore Spicester. You could definitely do worse.

Episode 86 – Glimmer Come Home

In which Glimmer falls for an incredibly stupid trick.

Today’s episode opens with some Horde Troopers confiscating food from various rebel-aligned villages, which does not sit well with Adora, Bow and Glimmer. Glimmer is all for going in guns blazing, but Adora tells her not to be reckless, and instead suggests heading back to camp to come up with a plan. Bow loves this idea, mostly because it means he can agree with Adora so she might ultimately sleep with him, but Glimmer is far less impressed, if her scowly face is anything to go by.

Once back at Rebel HQ, Adora shuts herself up in a tent and comes up with a plan, eventually conceding to meet the other rebels one by one to tell them what to do. She assigns Glimmer the low-importance-but-high-prestige job of distracting the Troopers with a light show, but Glimmer throws a wobbly and insists on being allowed to fight, despite having never shown any aptitude in this area whatsoever.

Madame Razz: “This bozz-eyed look is intended to discourage you from trying to enter this tent.”

When Adora continues to insist on the light show, Glimmer stomps out and bites Bow’s head off (sadly not literally). She then stands around in the forest whinging about how self-important Adora is – which is true, but Glimmer’s by no means any better. Glimmer then decides to come up with her own plan to recover the food, and this plan seems to involve lying around sulking at a lake.

Things take a turn for the unexpected when Glimmer’s reflection in the lake starts talking to her. Her reflection convinces her that Adora is taking all the credit that should be Glimmer’s, and suggests that Glimmer go off and start her own rebellion, and that this new rebellion should employ Horde Troopers. Glimmer doesn’t smell a rat, which is telling evidence of how mind-wrenchingly stupid she is, so she merrily trots off to find some Troopers.

Glimmer: “Hey! My eyes are shut but my reflection’s eyes are open. Should I be suspicious?”

It will, I’m sure, come as no surprise to you that this sweet-talking reflection was in fact Shadow Weaver in a cunning disguise, and she orders a pair of Horde Troopers to go along with Glimmer’s silly rebellion. Just in case the Horde Troopers aren’t up to the task, Shadow Weaver herself goes along, in another disguise which makes her look like she’s escaped from Planet of the Apes. When these three find Glimmer, they instantly sign on the dotted line to join Glimmer’s Rebellion Ltd.

Shadow Weaver: “Hello! I look excitingly insane today.”

Back at Rebel HQ, She-Ra realises that Glimmer’s been gone for longer than her usual allocated sulking time, so she starts looking for her. Once Glimmer is located, she spits venom at She-Ra (again, sadly not literally) and tells her that they’re no longer friends. She’s even gone so far as to block She-Ra on Facebook, so it’s pretty serious. Glimmer and her three fake rebels then scoot off, crowing about how good their rebellion is.

It’s difficult for me to decide whether I loathe She-Ra or Glimmer more, but at least She-Ra’s got a brain. She instantly clocks that the Planet of the Apes lookalike is bad news, and very quickly works out that it must be Shadow Weaver in disguise. Even so, she isn’t quick enough to intervene before Shadow Weaver reveals her true identity, places Glimmer under arrest, and for extra security coats Glimmer’s hands in candy floss.

Shadow Weaver: “This will work. And it isn’t mental.”

Shadow Weaver then has a very brief confrontation with She-Ra, before running away and leaving Glimmer to apologise – though I don’t think she sounds very sincere. They then work together to recapture the stolen food and deliver it back to the villages, after which we are treated to a mercifully short but nonetheless infuriating She-Ra monologue on the nature of teamwork.

In today’s adventure…

It’s easy enough to spot Loo-Kee today, standing innocently under a bush, as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. I bet it was him who really convinced Glimmer to go off to the Horde. Anyway, he reinforces the message about teamwork, which was clearly being aimed at children on sports teams who have been placed in the area of least responsibility on the field.

Character checklist

Today’s little excursion into lunacy features Adora, She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, the Twiggets, Loo-Kee, a bunch of random rebels, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and the inevitable load of Horde Troopers.

She-Ra: “You’ve been an utter moron this time, Glimmer, I don’t mind telling you.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora graces us with an excuse for once. It’s not a very good one, but it’ll do. She simply says, “Bow, you take the other rebels to the Horde food warehouse. I’ll meet you there later.”

Insults

Bow calls some Horde Troopers “robot goons”, and then it’s all quiet on the insults for a very long time. Right at the end of the episode, Shadow Weaver suddenly gets all excited and calls Glimmer a “foolish girl” and resurrects the mildly popular “muscle maiden” for She-Ra.

Oh No, Bow!

Bow is remarkably unconcerned when he learns that Glimmer has teamed up with a pair of Horde Troopers and a weird monkey thing. His attitude is that they should just leave her to it and let her get captured. Actually, on reflection, this is a perfectly sensible attitude. Oh Yes, Bow!

Bow: “Maybe I won’t be the stupidest person on screen today.”

Does it have the Power?

It’s certainly not as much of an atrocity as it could have been. Glimmer is incredibly stupid to fall for Shadow Weaver’s trick in the first place, and it’s not particularly clear what Shadow Weaver was really trying to achieve by going through these convoluted shenanigans, but it has to be said that when Shadow Weaver is on form – as she is today – she’s a really quite intimidating and scary presence, and that makes up for quite a few of the episode’s shortcomings. Simply taking the story into account, this one’s pretty poor, but the execution is snappy enough that it’s a decent offering. You could do worse.