After He-Man’s recent trip to Armenia, Mega-Construx Skeletor felt that he could do just as well, if not better. Consequently, he accompanied me on a tour of Azerbaijan, which culminated in a remarkable discovery…
And here ends the happy story of Skeletor’s visit to Azerbaijan.
In which She-Ra demonstrates yet another unfeasible skill.
Our episode today opens with Adora chatting away to Mermista, who reveals that though she herself supports the Rebellion, her people as a whole – led by her father, King Mercia – do not wish to start trouble by opposing the Horde. It seems that Mercia has an arrangement with the Horde that so long as they don’t bother his people, he won’t bother them.
With this in mind, would you care to guess what Hordak starts doing this week? Yes, that’s right, he’s bothering the fish people. Admittedly, initially he’s not outright bothering the fish people, but he has adopted the Japan approach and is out fishing for whales. Naturally enough, this doesn’t get the Mermista Stamp of Approval, so she and She-Ra intervene to rescue the whale and take it to Mercia’s kingdom. Incidentally, this episode reveals that – in addition to She-Ra’s many other improbable and annoying skills – she is capable of speaking underwater.
On arrival in the Sunken City, Mercia welcomes She-Ra and instantly launches into a borderline irrelevant conversation, in which he casually mentions that the power of the mer-folk is dependent on the Power Pearl, a trinket which must be kept out of Horde hands. Hordak, of course, has attached a spy robot to the whale, so he immediately learns of the Pearl and decides he wants it. The whole ensuing debacle could, therefore, have been avoided if Mercia had just kept his trap shut about the Pearl.
Hordak manages to get something right for a change, by successfully stealing the Pearl. Whether he holds onto it is of course another matter, but for now he’s doing rather well by his standards. If nothing else, the voice actor gets the opportunity to cry, “The Power Pearl! And it’s mine! All mine!” which is the sort of pantomime villain dialogue that all respectable actors must crave. He then summons Shadow Weaver and instructs her to figure out how the Pearl works.
Shadow Weaver learns enough about the Pearl’s magic to use it to summon a giant crab to distract She-Ra and Mermista, but that’s good for only about 30 seconds. Hordak’s next move is to shoot at She-Ra with torpedoes, but while he’s so occupied, Mermista and the baby whale leap aboard Hordak’s ship and steal back the Pearl.
Mermista arranges for the baby whale’s mother to show up and eat Hordak’s ship, though of course Hordak turns himself into a rocket and escapes. The Pearl is returned to the Sunken City, where She-Ra and the baby whale are given medals for being so awesome. The episode concludes with something that I assume was meant to be a joke, given everyone laughs, but it’s nothing more than a statement of fact. Morons.
In today’s adventure…
Loo-Kee is, as per usual, hanging around in a tree, like some kind of freakish monkey. His advice today is that we should ask a policeman for help if we get lost. Pretty sensible, actually, and with some bearing on the episode’s story, given the baby whale was lost. Yep, I’m happy with this one.
This week we get Adora and She-Ra, without Spirit or Swift Wind. This is a shame, as I’d have loved to see the animators trying to depict these horses underwater. Never mind. Otherwise, there’s Mermista, Mercia, other fish people, the baby whale, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers.
Hordak’s the only one doling out insults today, starting with “fool” and “iron fool” for a Horde Trooper, moving on to “fish-tail” and “fish lady” for Mermista, and finishing up with “blasted female” for She-Ra.
Does it have the Power?
It’s nice to get some background on Mermista and her people, though notably the episode doesn’t end with Mercia and his crowd joining the Rebellion. Hordak is quite fun today, despite a large number of pig snorts, and She-Ra is at her least irritating too. The episode veers awfully close to saccharine sweetness with the baby whale and its mother, but never quite crosses the line. All in all, this is a pretty reasonable effort – but really? Talking underwater? Is there anything She-Ra can’t do?
In which we are subjected to the most left-field plot twist in the entire Masters of the Universe franchise.
The episode opens with a slow-pan towards some bushes, which are swaying energetically, and from behind which comes the sound of some heavy grunting. Given the episode’s title, I was half-wondering if we were going to see some Loo-Kee-based X-rated action. Fortunately, this was not the case: a bunch of pixies similar to Loo-Kee are indeed in the bush, but they are being chased by a pack of robotic dogs, rather than doing anything more explicit than She-Ra usually goes.
Shadow Weaver and Catra are behind this assault on the pixies, and they successfully capture all but one of them. The escapee is called Lar-See, and she escapes by swimming all the way to the mainland, where she meets Adora, Spirit and Loo-Kee messing about by a campfire. She details what has happened, explaining that the Horde have it in for the pixies because they have taken to nipping into the Horde dungeons and giving fresh fruit to the prisoners.
Adora and Spirit turn into She-Ra and Swift Wind, and fly Loo-Kee and Lar-See back to Beast Island. They are attacked en route by Catra and some flying robots, of course, but this proves to be a traditional She-Ra time-killing exercise more than anything else. Once they arrive, they find that all the pixies have been herded into a prison camp, surrounded by bars composed of glowing energy.
She-Ra, Loo-Kee and Lar-See trot down a secret passage to enter the prison camp, but Catra has set up one of those all-too-obvious trapdoors that neither She-Ra nor He-Man ever seem able to spot. Pleasingly, as a result of the trapdoor, She-Ra falls face first into a puddle of strength-sapping mud, which turns out to be the Slime Pit (available now from all good retailers, £19.99). She only manages to escape thanks to the unexpected assistance of a scuba-diving pig, which is such a thoroughly deranged plot development that I thought I’d finally gone loop-de-loop.
Once this crazy interlude is over, She-Ra and her pixie friends let themselves into the prison camp, and She-Ra takes care of a bunch of Horde Troopers by rolling up the ground as if it were a Swiss roll. This is stupid enough, but it’s the insufferably smug face she makes afterwards that really got my goat. She then knocks down the glowing energy fence, and the pixies make their escape, while Catra – perhaps inevitably – ends up in the Slime Pit, having a barking mad conversation with that pig.
In today’s adventure…
Loo-Kee is good enough to acknowledge that we probably saw him this week, but he reveals that before the action even started, he was hiding behind a tree in an early shot. And then he proves it, the sneaky little bastard. Curse you, Loo-Kee. You’ve fooled me once too often. Anyway, he tells us all about stealing and how there’s never a good reason to take things that don’t belong to you. I know it’s very picky and borderline obsessive to say so, but I recall He-Man trolling off to Snake Mountain to steal some rainbow quartz in Three on a Dare. If I’m going to model my behaviour on anyone, it’ll be He-Man and not some blue-tailed freak of a pixie. So sorry, Loo-Kee, I’ll be ignoring this piece of advice, going down to Sainsbury’s, nicking stuff, and then explaining that He-Man demonstrated it’ll be all right. I might even mention that Loo-Kee’s girlfriend Lar-See is short for Lar-See-Nee. I’m sure the police will be very understanding.
Right, well, this bundle of lunacy features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Loo-Kee, Lar-See, a right load more Loo-Kee-ish pixies, Catra, Shadow Weaver, some Horde Troopers, and of course the Slime Pig.
Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance
After hearing Lar-See’s story, Adora and Spirit get up and walk off. Understandably a tad disappointed at this reception, Lar-See asks, “Where are they going?” Loo-Kee offers the evasive response, “To get help.”
A Horde Trooper refers to She-Ra, Loo-Kee and Lar-See as “rebel scum”, which is fairly vicious. Still, I expect it doesn’t sting quite so much as when Catra calls Loo-Kee’s dad Poppy a “multi-coloured maggot”.
Does it have the Power?
Luckily, this pretty super episode doesn’t focus on Loo-Kee’s love life at all, despite the title implying that it would. Instead, we get a fairly standard rescue mission which is stumping along happily and competently, until it suddenly takes a left turn into the world of utter insanity with the introduction of the Slime Pig. This proves to be a winning move. It may be nuts, but it’s certainly fun, and deserves a big thumbs-up as a result.
This week we meet a wannabe magician called Eli, who has stolen a glowing red rock from Shadow Weaver and as a result is being chased down by some Horde Troopers. Eli casts a spell to turn the Troopers into trees, which to his surprise actually works. As the audience, we are aware that the spell worked only because of the red rock, and not because of Eli’s powers.
Adora and Bow charge in at this point, and congratulate Eli on his magic, prompting Eli to claim to be the best magician. He also reveals that his teacher Candor has sent him for further tuition with Madame Razz, so he accompanies Adora and Bow back to Whispering Wood. Once there, he does some tricks and ponces about arrogantly, failing to endear himself to anyone (except Bow, of course, who has a natural affinity with arrogant morons).
Eli continues to spend his time at the camp irritating people, including a moment in which he suggests altering a river’s course to help the rebels do their washing, but Adora immediately vetoes this idea on the pompous basis that “There’s always a danger when you change Mother Nature.” Quite right, Adora. Now why don’t you pop back in time by all of two episodes and tell She-Ra not to piss about with that river in Out of the Cocoon?
Of course, Eli doesn’t listen and rather pleasingly floods the entire rebel camp, which – to my deep dismay – means She-Ra has to get involved. After dealing with the flood, She-Ra and Madame Razz discover that Eli has disappeared, and they fly off to look for him, correctly intuiting that Shadow Weaver must be involved.
It turns out that Shadow Weaver is interested in recovering her glowing red rock, now introduced as the Stone of Serenity, which amplifies the magical ability of anyone using it. She has tricked Eli into coming to her by pretending to be his teacher Candor, and instructing him to come to a cave in the mountains. Once he’s there, Shadow Weaver nicks the Stone of Serenity back from him.
Meanwhile, as She-Ra and Madame Razz fly along, they are suddenly enveloped by a big red glowing ball, and carried into a pyramid, which Madame Razz identifies as the Balance Centre of Etheria. The Serenity Stone should be in the Balance Centre, but Madame Razz notes that it is absent, which might result in Etheria tipping to one side. This is the sort of plot development that ought to feel absolutely bloody ridiculous, but by this stage I’ve just started accepting this kind of thing as completely normal.
She-Ra and Madame Razz exit the Balance Centre and quickly find their way to the cave, where they confront Shadow Weaver. Allegedly, Shadow Weaver’s powers are greatly amplified by the Serenity Stone, but she doesn’t seem much more powerful than usual. Anyway, during the battle, Etheria starts to fall out of orbit, but She-Ra manages to get her grubby paws on the Stone and return it to the Balance Centre before it’s too late.
I don’t expect you’ll believe it, but the episode ends with Eli admitting that he’s been a bit of a div, and promising not to be one in the future. There’s also some random yammering about never being too old to learn things, and then a stupid joke from Madame Razz at which everyone laughs, except the audience.
In today’s adventure…
This Loo-Kee business is getting pretty tedious now. I really don’t care where he is, and I can’t imagine you do either. Still, if you must know, I found him today, standing behind a big rock. He suggests that we shouldn’t brag about our achievements, because if we do, no one will like us. No one likes me anyway, so I might as well carry on bragging. God, I’m awesome.
Well, would you look at that? It’s Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Bow, Eli, Candor, Loo-Kee, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers. Glimmer, Perfuma, Peekablue and Flutterina also appear in the background, but they don’t add much.
Eli begins the episode by calling a Horde Trooper a “big metal lummox”, and Shadow Weaver soon follows this up by referring to the Horde Trooper in question, and two of his colleagues, as “fools”. Shadow Weaver also refers to Eli as a “little thief” and to She-Ra as a “meddler”. Finally, Eli manages a new low by calling himself a “fool”.
Oh No, Bow!
The only person who doesn’t seem to think Eli is a first-class tool is Bow, and this seems to be primarily motivated by the fact that Eli conjures up a massive feast, at which Bow’s eyes light up with delight.
Egg on your face?
As a cartoon, She-Ra doesn’t generally go in for the hilarious concept of pelting people with food, but this week, we do at least get to see Madame Razz being soaked with water when one of her spells goes awry. Maybe I’m in a bad mood today, but it isn’t very funny.
Does it have the Power?
Yeah, I suppose why not? The Eli storyline is pretty predictable, but with the added lunacy of the Balance Centre of Etheria, the episode just about elevates itself to an interesting if mildly demented outing. Shadow Weaver is as convincingly evil as always, and She-Ra didn’t wind me up, or at least she didn’t wind me up as much as she normally does. No classic, but solid.
In which everybody gets the chance to throw things at Bow.
I’m wary of this one. It’s not long since we had an episode all about the power of love, and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. This episode doesn’t help itself by starting with a scene featuring a Typical Annoying Filmation Child called Kevin, who is soon to become king of some rubbish realm or other, but he doesn’t want to spend his time studying and would prefer to play. He compounds this dickish behaviour by deciding to run away. I hope Hordak shoots him in the head the moment he leaves the castle, and the rest of the episode is all about She-Ra having a nervous breakdown because she failed to save him.
Over at Rebel HQ, the rebels (this week featuring Adora, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, and Flutterina) are preparing to go to the Twiggets’ Spring Carnival, which will be held outside Whispering Wood. Hordak gets wind of this silly notion, and decides to send a spy to the carnival to capture the rebels. He determines that the perfect spy, for God knows what reason, is Kevin, who has now been captured and brainwashed by Shadow Weaver.
Shadow Weaver arranges for Flutterina to get into a spot of bother with a giant spider, and allows Kevin to rescue her, thus winning Flutterina’s trust. Flutterina takes Kevin along to the carnival, which is fortunate, because up to this point the carnival was being very annoying, involving an extended and irrelevant bit of slapstick featuring Madame Razz being chased by a buffalo.
Once Kevin gets to the carnival, he discovers that Bow has set himself up as one of the targets in a coconut shy, but he passes up this cast-iron opportunity to hurl things at Bow’s head. Adora realises that this is very strange, and concludes there must be something wrong with Kevin, but she doesn’t have enough time to do anything about it before Kevin summons the Horde, who begin attacking.
The Horde have just as much success as always, being routed easily by She-Ra and her mates, but they do manage to capture Flutterina and whisk her off to Horror Hall. In the aftermath, Kowl tells She-Ra and Bow that he saw Kevin summoning the Horde; Kevin doesn’t remember doing this, and She-Ra realises he must be under a spell.
Heading to Horror Hall, She-Ra takes Kevin with her and discusses his reasoning for running away in the first place. Luckily, before she can get too patronising, Hordak interrupts her with a well-deserved freeze ray, which sadly she manages to dodge. It’s then a matter of relative simplicity for She-Ra and Kevin to rescue Flutterina, though it does involve an irritating sequence in which Kevin overcomes Shadow Weaver’s spell thanks to the power of good.
Once that’s all sorted, Flutterina hops onto the front of Kevin’s flying machine, allowing him to gaze longingly at her breasts. Returning to the carnival, She-Ra contacts Kevin’s father to come and take him home. Kevin departs with the words, “I’ll be back, someday!”, a statement which I chose to interpret as a threat.
In today’s adventure…
It’s a far cry from the early days of She-Ra, when I couldn’t find Loo-Kee to save my life. Now it’s easy. He’s underneath a plant in Whispering Wood, and he wants to tell us about the difference between responsibility and irresponsibility. Essentially, the difference is that responsibility is good and irresponsibility is bad. Well, great.
There are times I can’t really be bothered to record this, and I’ll admit it shows in my terse lists of people. This week, it’s Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, Flutterina, the Twiggets, Kevin, Kevin’s dad, a talking mirror, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Leech, and the ever-reliable Horde Troopers.
Hordak’s not in a great mood this week, especially not with Mantenna, who gets called an “incompetent fool”, a “bumbling fool” and just plain “fool”. Hordak also considers Kevin to be a “fool”, as well as a “young whelp”. Shadow Weaver thinks the rebels in general are “fools”, and that She-Ra in particular is a “muscle brain”.
Elsewhere, Madame Razz’s magic mirror suggests that she is the “ugliest” of them all, a suggestion to which Madame Razz does not take kindly and responds by calling the mirror an “impudent thing”. Madame Razz also calls Bow an “animal”, perhaps offering an unwelcome glimpse into what he’s like in the bedroom.
Does it have the Power?
Despite an incredibly unpromising opening scene, it’s actually far better than I had feared. We’ve been through it before, so you’ll know I don’t like the children in Filmation, and I certainly don’t like plotlines about people running away – but that Kevin is far less annoying than most, so I’ll let him off, especially since he triggers a pretty exciting story involving an entertaining battle and a rescue mission to Horror Hall, where we get to see Shadow Weaver at her malicious best. The carnival is annoying, and so is the bit about the power of goodness, but it doesn’t ruin an otherwise pleasurable 20 minutes, which also contains a rather amusing bit of the ever-reliable Hordak-Mantenna double-act. Recommended.
In Castle Bright Moon, Glimmer is whinging about a bunch of worms ruining her flowers. Come on, Glimmer. You’re the leader of the Great Rebellion, and should be spending your days planning how to smash the Horde, not planting flowers and shrieking about insects. It serves her right when Snout Spout blunders along and ruins her flowers by spraying them with water.
Glimmer’s random gibber is interrupted by a family arriving from Sand Valley, a location on the brink of starvation, because no rain has fallen for many months, and the soldiers of an individual named Baron Condor have stolen all the food that the villagers have. Adora instantly orders for supplies to be sent to Sand Valley, and decides to deliver it herself, in She-Ra form.
Baron Condor gets wind of She-Ra’s imminent arrival, and orders his men to put on ragged clothes and to make themselves look weak and feeble, in an effort to trick She-Ra into leaving the food supplies with him. It’s a good idea, but the execution is somewhat lacking, and She-Ra becomes naturally suspicious when she sees a couple of well-fed soldiers lounging around directly behind the allegedly starving people.
Baron Condor now directly attacks She-Ra, whose response is to start hurling fruit at him. As you may know, I don’t have a high opinion of She-Ra, but she’s never behaved like a monkey before, and it seems particularly crass of her to be throwing food around when there are starving people nearby. It’s even more galling that her fruit-wasting tactics don’t even work: Condor manages to defeat She-Ra using something called a Sun Ray, put her in the dungeons, and steal all the supplies.
Once She-Ra is in the dungeon, Condor is foolish enough to leave her unguarded. The only other person there is a serving girl called Smarlwarl or something equally demented, and she rescues She-Ra, but in the process gets knocked out by the Sun Ray herself. She-Ra decides the most appropriate step now is to take Smarlwarl to Light Hope, who starts burbling about Smarlwarl undergoing a metamorphosis. He is then helpful enough to put Smarlwarl into a cocoon, and begins bellowing, “Emerge, Smarlwarl! Emerge!”
Fearing that this time Light Hope has crossed the line into complete lunacy, She-Ra begins nervously eyeing the possible exits. Fortunately, Smarlwarl breaks out of the cocoon, complete with wings and purple hair. Light Hope introduces her as Flutterina, and suggests that she and She-Ra piss off back to Sand Valley to stop Baron Condor from attacking all the neighbouring kingdoms.
And so begins an exciting battle in which She-Ra happily knocks all Baron Condor’s men off their Sky Sleds, while Flutterina flaps around catching them and delivering them to Bow, who’s hanging out in a castle below. Condor – not unnaturally – gets fed up and wheels out the Sun Ray again, but this time She-Ra is ready for him. Flutterina and Swift Wind fly up to some clouds, flap their wings, and blow the clouds until they block the sun, thus stopping the Sun Ray from charging.
With that decisive blow, it’s all over. Realising that Condor’s warlike behaviour has been motivated by the lack of food in Sand Valley, She-Ra helpfully destroys an entire ecosystem by diverting a river from miles away to irrigate the crops in the valley. This is no doubt helpful to those in the valley, but almost certainly causes untold damage elsewhere on Etheria. Who needs Hordak to sow destruction, when She-Ra’s doing it herself?
The episode concludes with She-Ra taking Flutterina back to Castle Bright Moon, where they all have a good laugh at Glimmer for still being obsessed with those worms. Though it turns out they’re not worms, but caterpillars, and they flower into beautiful butterflies. Who’d have thought it?
In today’s adventure…
Loo-Kee has chosen to hide himself underneath the wheels of a wagon today, giving me a momentary sense of optimism that maybe the wagon would run him over. No such luck. He’s still alive and kicking at the end of the episode, when he tells us that – just like the caterpillars in Glimmer’s garden – people may look ugly, but it’s what’s inside that really counts. I seem to recall we’ve had this moral millions of times, but not for absolutely ages, and probably not in an episode which demonstrates the point quite so relevantly, so I’m happy to see it repeated.
Well, there’s Adora and She-Ra, of course, and Spirit and Swift Wind. We also have the pleasure of the company of Bow, Glimmer, Snout Spout, Light Hope and Loo-Kee, as well as the various inhabitants of Sand Valley, and Baron Condor and his gang. Moreover, let’s not forget the introduction of Flutterina.
It’s pretty lightweight stuff this week, only featuring Baron Condor uttering “fools” twice, once to his men and once to a group of random people, including Bow.
Oh No, Bow!
Not content with spending all his days perving over Adora and She-Ra, this week Bow develops a look of seedy delight as he realises that Flutterina is wearing a very short skirt while hovering directly above his head.
Does it have the Power?
Actually, yes, it’s not half bad. It’s very rare that we get an origin story for any of our characters, and Flutterina’s introduction is done pretty effectively. I’m assuming she’s a recurring character (I seem to remember there was an action figure of her, which suggests at least one more appearance), and so it’s quite good to know where she came from.
The storyline itself isn’t terribly original, but there again isn’t done badly. It gets special points from me for She-Ra actually being defeated by the Sun Ray and locked up, though I wish she’d stayed that way for ever. I enjoyed the fact that Baron Condor changed his ways at the end, making peace with his former enemies, but remained a bit prickly and didn’t instantly turn into a goody-goody like the majority of She-Ra’s friends.
The episode is a very competent mid-range example of She-Ra, and notable for being one of the very few to not involve the Horde even slightly. (We’ve had a few of these lately – Wild Child and The Greatest Magic – but this is the only one that’s been any good.) I’d recommend giving this one a watch.
I’m afraid that I thought the first scene of this episode had been dubbed into an incomprehensible language, because it consists entirely of a mother and daughter squeaking at each other in sickening voices that defy understanding. Things become marginally more intelligible, though not any less annoying, when the father arrives on the scene, and blow me down if he’s not General Sunder from the episode Unexpected Ally. He explains for the benefit of the audience that he used to be a soldier, but now his family live in the peaceful kingdom of Bright Moon, and they don’t have to worry about the Horde anymore.
Meanwhile, Hordak is putting all his forces into a serious assault on Castle Bright Moon, but with She-Ra and Bow on the scene, this doesn’t exactly go his way. She-Ra’s unique move of the week is to distract the Horde Troopers by taking her strange winged tiara off, which makes her look unsettlingly naked. Once this has had the desired effect, Hordak beats a hasty retreat, but She-Ra is well aware that this is likely to be only a temporary respite.
She-Ra decides that she needs to recruit General Sunder to fight back against Hordak, but Sunder is unwilling to help, preferring to stay with his family. It’s therefore lucky for She-Ra’s recruiting drive that when Sunder arrives at his home, he finds that the Horde have burned it down and captured his wife Mally and their atrocious daughter Tandy, or whatever the hell her name is.
Sunder accordingly puts his armour on, shoots a load of bottles off a wall, and starts gabbling about how sometimes you have to fight in order to keep the peace. Thanks, Sunder. If only Neville Chamberlain had watched this episode, history could have been very different. Once he’s finished pontificating, he comes along with She-Ra to Castle Bright Moon and then flies off to rescue the prisoners, leaving the rebels to defend Bright Moon.
The rebels’ defence of Bright Moon is nothing to write home about, except that it emerges that Glimmer can fly, an ability she’s never demonstrated before and would have come in handy in – for example – Micah of Bright Moon when she fell down a chasm. Suffice it to say that She-Ra and her mates destroy a shedload of Hordak’s flying assault ships, and even Bow manages not to cock anything up.
Sunder, on the other hand, hasn’t been as successful in his rescue mission as perhaps one would hope, and so it proves necessary for She-Ra to head to the Fright Zone and help him out. With She-Ra involved, Sunder and the prisoners manage to escape to Bright Moon with relative ease, where they occupy themselves with a somewhat unenthusiastic cheer for She-Ra. Sunder concludes his story by becoming a farmer again, and She-Ra treats the viewer to a random wink and a frankly infuriating smirk.
In today’s adventure…
Oh, hi there, Loo-Kee, so nice to see you lurking in the bushes, like a blue-tailed stalker. He’s obsessed with suggesting we hug our family, since this is at least the third time he’s wheeled this idea out as his moral. I have ignored him this time, as I did on the previous occasions.
Today’s trip to Etheria features Adora, Spirit (briefly), She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Queen Angela, General Sunder, Mally, Tandy, Loo-Kee, loads of random rebels, Hordak, Mantenna, and a fair number of Horde Troopers.
She-Ra calls Hordak a “fiend” with considerable feeling. Other than that, we only have Hordak calling his captives “pitiful prisoners” and referring to She-Ra, Glimmer and Queen Angela as “dratted rebels”.
Does it have the Power?
While it’s great that the series picks up on and continues previous threads, Sunder’s storyline seems to have been tweaked a little for the convenience of this episode; in Unexpected Ally, I seem to recall that Mally was about 12 years old, but this week she seems to be married to Sunder with a roughly 4 year old child of their own. Sunder obviously moves fast. In addition, at the end of his previous appearance, Sunder actually joined the Rebellion, but here he’s messing about being a farmer. If it weren’t for the fact that She-Ra, Bow, Glimmer, etc haven’t aged, I’d conclude this episode takes place about 10 years after the rest of the series, which would be weird.
Needless nitpicking aside, the episode is pretty good fun, with a good, exciting battle against the Horde. It’s good to see Hordak properly taking the offensive again, trying to wipe out one of the rebel strongholds, rather than messing about like he has done so much lately. I’m still not sure what purpose taking all the prisoners was supposed to serve, other than aggravating General Sunder into attacking, but we’ll let him off with a generic “he’s evil”.
In summary, I liked this episode, but I didn’t love it. If it’s a decent offering you’re after, this will satisfy your appetite, but if you want a real classic, you’d better move on.
In which we meet Peekablue, Entrapta and a pink lion.
Adora, Bow, Glimmer and Kowl have taken Queen Angela’s crown to a village, where a metalsmith is resetting its jewels. Unfortunately, if not unexpectedly, Hordak decides that he’d like the crown for himself, and accordingly sends Leech and a bunch of Horde Troopers out to get it. Perhaps more surprisingly, Leech successfully nicks the crown, and beetles off with it.
Glimmer and Bow head off to retrieve the crown, taking with them a new addition to the rebels’ ranks called Peekablue, who is essentially a human peacock, complete with green hair and blue feathers. Being female, you’d think she’d be based on a peahen, but logic doesn’t always run strong on Etheria. Anyway, Kowl declines to join the crown recovery mission, and flies off to tell Adora, who has bizarrely returned to the rebel camp, evidently not giving two hoots about the crown.
For some reason, this week Madame Razz and Adora are on their high horses about the rebels always depending on She-Ra, rather than relying on themselves. That’s possibly because whenever anything goes wrong, She-Ra sticks her long nose into it, without ever giving anyone else a chance to sort it out. Anyway, they decide that this time, Bow, Glimmer and Peekablue must complete their mission without She-Ra’s help – though Adora goes along “just to keep them on the right track”, as she patronisingly puts it.
Once they reach a desert where the baddies are lurking, the rebels instantly run into trouble – specifically an enormous pink lion, which prances merrily along and then starts attacking. Adora transforms into She-Ra, chases off the pink lion, and then tells Bow and Glimmer off for being so reckless and always relying on She-Ra. Then she bounces off, leaving the pink lion to return, along with Catra.
Bow and Glimmer successfully defeat both Catra and the pink lion, but Catra takes Peekablue prisoner and toddles off. Peekablue becomes the bait of a trap set by Catra and her new Horde friend, Entrapta, whose special ability is – wait for it – setting traps. Our heroes come along and waltz right into it, necessitating another appearance from She-Ra, who announces that she’s happy to help now that the rebels have previously tried to help themselves.
She-Ra wins the ensuing fight easily, and the rebels rescue Peekablue and steal back the crown. Back at Whispering Wood, Bow and Glimmer admit that they have learned an important lesson about self-reliance, and Adora considers that this is an appropriate time to spout some patronising bollocks and then wink at the camera. Yeah, thanks for that, Adora.
In today’s adventure…
I’m afraid I didn’t see Loo-Kee this week, though I can now reveal that he was messing about in Catra’s hideout. He sounds curiously downbeat as he dispenses a moral about stealing, explaining that you’ll normally get caught out. In fact, he sounds so downcast about this that I wonder if he himself has recently been interviewed by the police about a spate of burglaries or something. Even his usual demented giggle at the end sounds more like a nervous squeak. You mark my words, we’ll be seeing Loo-Kee on Crimewatch by the end of the year.
The opening episode of the second season includes Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Glimmer, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, Peekablue, a Twigget, Loo-Kee, Catra, Leech, Entrapta, some Horde Troopers, and of course the pink lion.
Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance
Adora changes into She-Ra three times this week, and it’s only on the last occasion that anyone asks where she is. Kowl responds, “Don’t worry, she’s in good hands,” which seems to be all the information anyone needs on the subject.
It’s a bad week for the Horde Troopers, who are addressed as “ruffians” by Kowl, and as “bunglers” and “fools” by Leech. Catra tells Bow he is a “miserable rebel” and considers Adora, Bow, Glimmer, Kowl and a random Twigget to be “soft-hearted rebels”. Finally, Kowl tells some robotic tentacles that they are “mechanical maniacs”.
Oh No, Bow!
After beginning the episode with one of his regular overconfident boasts, Bow puts in a pretty poor showing during the subsequent fight with Leech and the Horde Troopers. In particular, he completely fails to pick up the crown, and even manages to get himself stuck inside some kind of weird magnetic cage. The rest of the episode actually has him learning some humility, though we all know that won’t last.
Does it have the Power?
It’s certainly an entertaining watch, but I don’t think it’ll make the Greatest Hits. The storyline about the theft of the crown and the kidnap of Peekablue are very familiar, of course, but it’s done competently and relatively snappily. Of our two new characters, Entrapta is the more interesting, but only slightly, and possibly only because Peekablue seems to be a complete nonentity. I preferred the appearance of Catra, who is always a pleasure, especially when she’s accompanied by a rather camp pink lion for no readily apparent reason.
The other storyline, concerning Adora not wanting her friends to always rely on She-Ra, seemed a little peculiar. I understand the principle behind it: the notion was that the crown was just some treasure, and it wasn’t worth risking lives over it, especially if the rebels were just depending on She-Ra to save them. The problem is that any other week, our heroes would have happily gone blundering in to get the crown back, and She-Ra wouldn’t have had any issue with it. This new-found obsession with self-reliance simply gave She-Ra the opportunity to flounce around patronising people, yet again, which never sits well with me.
Nonetheless, this episode is pretty good fun, and a good solid start to the second season. If there’s nothing worse than this here, we’ll all get along fine.
I think it’s pretty clear that my relationship with She-Ra: Princess of Power isn’t so rosy as my relationship with He-Man. The main problem is, of course, that He-Man is an impossibly high standard to hold anything else to, but there’s also some serious issues that I’d have with She-Ra even if it were a completely standalone entity.
Primary among these issues is She-Ra herself, and Adora to a lesser degree. I just simply don’t like her, and I often actively want her to fail. She’s patronising most of the time, and is presented as simply unbeatable. Even He-Man had a few moments where he nearly lost; She-Ra, on the other hand, rarely seems to break a sweat. It’s a matter of opinion, obviously, but for my money, the leading light of this cartoon is just unlikeable.
With an unlikeable heroine, redemption could come from the antagonist. Unfortunately, here too the cartoon falls down, as Hordak is generally pretty bland, or – if he’s snorting like a prize porker – irritating. Sometimes, he does develop a little bit of character, and on those rare occasions, he can be genuinely great, but by and large, he’s dull. (I’m struggling to get through a paragraph about Hordak without mentioning how he pales in comparison to Skeletor, and I think I’ve managed to do so. Oh. Curses.)
We also have a pretty boring supporting cast. With very few exceptions, Glimmer suffers from a lack of character, and other individuals such as Castaspella and Frosta haven’t fared any better. The best that can be said for Madame Razz is that she isn’t as infuriating as I first thought she would be. I do like Bow and Kowl, the latter because he’s got a right gob on him, and the former because he’s a complete fuckwit.
The baddies are better, marginally. Starting at the top, Catra is absolutely awesome, with a spiteful, jealous, scheming personality which is great fun to watch. Shadow Weaver is also an entertaining presence, and conveys a greater air of danger and threat than Evil-Lyn ever really managed. Mantenna can be a decent source of comic relief, when Hordak’s bullying him, but Leech and Grizzlor are dull. Scorpia sounds thick as bricks in a vaguely off-putting way, while right down at the bottom of the rostra is Imp, who’s really, really annoying. I know he’s meant to be, but that doesn’t make it any better.
Anyway, I’m sure the reason you’ve clicked on this entry is to read my by-now traditional list of highlights and lowlights. I recall complaining somewhere in the middle of the season that She-Ra was mostly mediocre, with few masterpieces or trainwrecks, but I have still managed to pick out some classics and duds. And here they are:
5. Horde Prime Takes a Holiday. Skeletor always manages to elevate an episode to the realms of the insane, and this instalment lives up to its promise, with him taking on Hordak, He-Man and She-Ra to steal a spaceship. This one was especially welcome, as it came quite early on, after a run of about 10 uninspiring episodes in a row. Very funny, and very entertaining.
4. Book Burning. This is the only episode to make the highlights list that’s primarily serious, rather than amusing. It’s a pretty hard-hitting moral tale about the dangers of allowing a state to control the dissemination of information to its populace, and makes a sound case for freedom. The need for the Rebellion’s presence on Etheria has never been better demonstrated than in this rather dark tale.
3. Flowers for Hordak. You’ll recall this one, of course, because it was only a few weeks ago, and it was outstandingly insane. Featuring Horde Troopers waltzing and the Fright Zone covered in flowers, it was completely crazy and great fun to watch.
2. For Want of a Horse. And, sticking with the silly theme, this episode centred around Hordak’s efforts to get Horde Prime a decent birthday present. It took the approach of a pretty standard kidnap plot, but fizzed along with great energy and some very funny jokes, as well as finding time to really showcase Hordak’s evil side.
1. Of Shadows and Skulls. Well, yes, I think it was inevitable really that this one would get the top spot. This is perhaps the closest Skeletor has ever come to winning outright, and it was great to see him kicking Hordak out of power and defeating She-Ra. His dialogue was brilliantly funny and verged on ominous as well, and the plot was great fun.
In all honesty, though, any of these top 5 episodes could have taken the top spot – they really are all very good.
It was also pretty easy to choose the worst episodes of the season, though (with the exception of the top position) it was difficult to determine what order they should be in. Still, here they are, so you know what to avoid:
5. Darksmoke and Fire. This episode centres around an unnecessary and slightly confused return for Granamyr. The plot has She-Ra falling back in time to Eternia’s past, where she meets Granamyr of 1000 years ago, but he seems no different from the dragon we met in He-Man. We don’t learn anything new about him or Eternia’s past, and the whole thing is pretty dull and seems somehow pointless.
4. The Missing Axe. This one’s also pointless and dull, and rather forgettable too. It follows the same storyline seen many times in He-Man, and doesn’t manage anything of interest throughout. I haven’t got a lot more to say about it, really.
3. The Red Knight. Oh yes, the episode that introduced the odd concept of a rebels’ fair, as well as giving us the pleasure of seeing Bow feeling sorry for himself and running away, after being really boring for about 15 minutes. It also introduced a mysterious character called the Red Knight, who has not yet revealed his identity or even appeared again, and I have a suspicion that he’s never going to.
2. The Greatest Magic. Perhaps I’m being unduly harsh on this because it’s so fresh in my mind, but Christ it was annoying. I don’t like Orko, I don’t like Dree Elle, I don’t like Uncle Montork and I don’t like trips to Trolla where we have to watch drivel about magic going awry in ostensibly amusing ways. Essentially, I don’t like this episode.
1. The Wizard. Was there really any doubt in anyone’s mind that this would get the top spot? I think I detailed its myriad problems quite extensively in my review of the episode, but just to recap – it involves a plot about people running away, which is a guaranteed way of getting my goat. It also involves a really weird and terrifying baddy, and overall, it’s massively infuriating. Oh yes, and I still haven’t figured out why it’s called The Wizard.
Onward and upward
She-Ra’s second season consists of only 28 episodes, rather than the standard 65, so we haven’t got far to go. Let’s see if She-Ra and Hordak can stop being annoying, if Glimmer or any other rebels can develop a character, and if Skeletor might grace us with another visit or two!
In which my blood pressure is once again subjected to unnecessary strain.
Oh, good. Orko is paying a visit to Etheria, because he’s never proved to be annoying in the past. As the episode opens, he has the decency to be leaving, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s going to be with us for the duration. He and Adora trot off into the forest and quickly find what appears to be a Frisbee, though it probably isn’t because Adora considers it to be worrying enough to warrant a trip to She-Ra City.
The Frisbee soon reveals itself to be a magical portal, which sucks both She-Ra and Orko in. On the other side, to my distinct lack of delight, are Uncle Montork and Dree Elle. In case you need reminding, Uncle Montork and Dree Elle were the key ingredients in a numberof appallingHe-Man episodes, and up to now, I had considered their absence to be one of the few things that elevated She-Ra above He-Man.
Uncle Montork explains that the Crimson Council have disappeared, and consequently the Trollans need Orko’s help. The four of them vanish off somewhere to do something to help the Crimson Council reappear, the details of which I honestly can’t be bothered to go into here. If you care, it involves an evil Trollan called Doctor Zoog who has locked up the Council in a prison, and there’s a whole load of self-consciously “zany” and “wacky” Trollan hi-jinks, which I think we’ll all agree we could have done without.
Just in case the episode wasn’t infuriating enough, we’re also treated to a subplot in which Dree Elle decides that Orko is probably sleeping with She-Ra, and develops an insane case of jealousy. From what I’ve seen in this episode, neither Orko nor Uncle Montork nor any other male Trollan would turn She-Ra out of their beds, but as it happens, She-Ra hasn’t taken sufficient leave of her senses to allow that circumstance to come up. Consequently, Orko successfully wins back Dree Elle’s favour by rescuing her from Doctor Zoog, who half-heartedly kidnaps her.
Orko and Dree Elle then defeat Doctor Zoog by some hippy rubbish about the power of love, while She-Ra wastes her time pushing palaces around and bouncing about distracting some boring robots. Once Zoog is safely locked up, our heroes get some special award or other, and then She-Ra rabbits on about love until I vomited.
In today’s adventure…
Loo-Kee decides that this week he’s not going to mess about, accordingly appearing in the very first shot. His choice of moral is nothing short of bizarre, suggesting that if we want to get a pet, we should ask our local Humane Society for advice. Besides the fact that it’s nothing whatsoever to do with this week’s sickening episode, what in the seven hells is a Humane Society?
If you must know, today is a showcase for Adora, She-Ra, Orko, Uncle Montork, Dree Elle, an irritating individual called the Muckess, and Doctor Zoog. The opening scene of the episode includes cameo appearances for Madame Razz, Broom and Bow.
A pretty uninspiring selection greets us today. Doctor Zoog calls Orko a “pest”, She-Ra a “meddling muscle-woman” and his robots “fools”. Dree Elle retaliates by calling him a “villain” twice, and an irritating character called the Muckess describes Zoog as a “scoundrel”.
Does it have the Power?
It baffles me that the writers thought anyone was desperate for a follow-up to the apoplectically annoying Trolla episodes, still less one that’s so outstandingly bile-inducing. In short, this episode is both sickening and infuriating, the latter when it’s trying to be funny and the former when it’s trying to be serious. It’s even worse for coming so completely out of the blue: as mentioned above, I did think that with the He-Man cartoon over, at least I’d never be subjected to these Trollan tosspots again. But no. Not even that small dignity is afforded us. This episode is one to skip, and perhaps one for the hugely dedicated to track down and destroy the master tape.