Episode 06 – Sword & Staff

In which He-Man is unnecessarily duplicitous.

This episode opens with a somewhat odd segment in which Skeletor – who has received a slight makeover since last week, in that he no longer has eyeballs – is given a surprise party by the Mutants. Of course, they’re not just being nice: they’re trying to get their own back for the numerous times he’s insulted them. Their method of revenge is curiously convoluted though: they give Skeletor a vicious reptile called Kerr as a pet, presumably hoping it will bite him. Contrary to their expectations, Skeletor tames Kerr, and develops some degree of affection for him.

Sword 1
Flogg: “Too bad He-Man’s not invited. He’s always wanted a piece of Skeletor.”

All this, of course, is a long-winded way of getting us to where the plot wants to go. Kerr falls down a hole on the moon of Nordor, and in going down to recover him, Skeletor and a Mutant called Quake discover an ancient door. In order to open the door, Skeletor must win a game of Noughts and Crosses (no, seriously).

With a well-placed cross from Skeletor, the door opens, and reveals a huge glowing crystal. After touching it, Quake immediately develops huge muscles and a bad temper, and turns both of these new attributes on Skeletor. Luckily, he hasn’t developed a particularly impressive mind, so Skeletor is able to talk him down. They return to Flogg, and decide to test Quake’s new abilities in battle.

The targets for this battle are Prince Adam, Hydron and Flipshot, who are on a trading mission in Gorn City, and have met up with Meliak, that Cyclops that He-Man met in Quest for the Crystals. Their trade deal is ticking along nicely, until Quake bursts in through the wall and starts a bit of a rumble. Adam, Hydron, Flipshot and Meliak are easily outclassed, but are saved by the arrival of a four-armed dude called Sagittar. After spitting some idle threats, Quake runs away.

Sword 2
Prince Adam: “Pleased to meet you, Sagittar. It’s nice to see someone here has a weird anatomy, like most of my friends back home.”

Our heroes return to Primus, where Adam consults Master Sebrien about Quake’s newfound abilities. Master Sebrien displays She-Ra’s usual trick of instantly guessing the correct answer, immediately commenting that the Mutants must have found the crystal. He further elaborates that the crystal is an ancient artefact of enormous evil power, which grants great but mercifully brief strength, and hints that perhaps He-Man might be good enough to go to Nordor and destroy it.

Adam doesn’t know how to destroy the crystal (though I’m sure I can’t be alone in thinking that his usual tactic of punching it might help), so he consults the Sorceress via his sword. She says, “The battle must be fought from within, and it must be fought by all. Fight by being right, but you must know what is right in order to win.” Wow. I bet Adam wishes he was able to communicate with someone more useful on Eternia, like Man-at-Arms or Teela. Frankly, even Ram-Man would be more use than the Sorceress has been lately.

Sword 3
Sorceress: “I know I’ve never been that helpful, but I’ve decided to really up the ante here.”

Back on Nordor, Flogg has decided that the crystal is too dangerous for the Mutants to use, prompting Skeletor to throw a hissy fit and stomp off to use the crystal himself. As a result, he gets another makeover, in which he acquires a samurai helmet and surprisingly gets his eyeballs back. He also starts talking like Gollum, which I can only hope is a temporary arrangement.

When He-Man arrives, instead of launching into his usual punch-first-make-sarky-remarks-later routine, he instead caught me by surprise somewhat by suggesting to Skeletor that the two of them team up. I don’t particularly know why he says this, since within 10 seconds he abandons this little bit of deceit, in favour of pontificating about how evil the crystal is.

Sword 4
Skeletor: “Check out the new duds.”

This in turn gives way to He-Man shooting a stream of energy at the crystal from his sword, while Skeletor shoots a stream of energy at He-Man from his staff. The crystal overloads and blows up, and He-Man congratulates himself as poncily as he possibly can. As he flies for Primus, Skeletor emerges from the rubble, revealing that he has absorbed all the power of the crystal, which will now be his for ever…

 

In today’s adventure…

Hydron smarmily suggests that we should always ensure that our bikes are in good working order before we go for a ride. Thanks, Hydron. That’s nice and relevant to today’s story. Frankly, a moral about drugs would not have been too out of place this week, given the great but temporary and dangerous powers the crystal bestows. Please understand, I’m not angling for a moral about drugs, but since they’re almost certain to pop up again at some point, it might as well be at the end of a relevant episode. As it is, bikes and safety checks have nothing to do with this.

Sword 5
Hydron: “Hey, kids, look how cool I am. You want to be just like me, don’t you. Well, check your bikes are safe then.”

 

Character checklist

I still don’t know all the names, but we’re getting there. This week, we have Adam, He-Man, Hydron, Flipshot, Sagittar, Meliak, Master Sebrien, the Sorceress, Elcon, Krax, Skeletor, Flogg, Slush Head, Quake, Karate, Kerr, and a whole gang of other Mutants.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

He doesn’t give one this week, so instead I’ll talk about how dense Skeletor is. I’m almost certain that by now he knows that Prince Adam is on Primus, as well as He-Man. How can he not put together the clues that they are one and the same?

 

Insults

Kerr has a rough ride in the early scenes, being referred to as a “mangy pet” and “dumb pet” by Skeletor, and as a “dumb animal” by Quake. Quake gets a little over-excited in the fight scene in Gorn City, telling Adam, Hydron and Flipshot that they are “slime buckets” and calling Meliak a “Quagmi worm”. Finally, Skeletor calls He-Man a “liar”, which is fair enough, since He-Man had just claimed to want to team up and then gone back on it quicker than a dollar on elastic.

Sword 6
Skeletor: “Nice treachery, He-Man. Didn’t realise you had it in you.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I remembered this one, which is pretty impressive, since I can’t have seen it since 1991 or thereabouts. That’s not to say I remembered the whole thing, but I definitely knew that Skeletor was going to end up absorbing all the crystal’s powers, and I knew that the final shot would be of him, standing victoriously on Nordor, laughing his maniacal head off. And so it proved. I only have a few memories of this cartoon, and that shot was one of them. (The other, incidentally, is of Skeletor doing cartwheels down a street – though that sounds sufficiently unlikely that I might have dreamed it.)

Anyway, this episode is probably the best that this series has yet had to offer. The crystal is a suitably mysterious and threatening artefact, He-Man and the goodies are written relatively well, Skeletor is superb as usual, and the storyline is unpredictable. Or at least it would be, if you don’t remember seeing it in 1991. Best of all, the scientists barely feature. It’s only the Sorceress’ ridiculous gibber that detracts from this episode, and that doesn’t exactly ruin it. Thumbs up.

One thought on “Episode 06 – Sword & Staff

  1. A nice point about Flogg; he doesn’t view his troops as expendable. He could sacrifice them for a solid startegical reason, but not just for unclear “power boost” from unreliable source.

    Like

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