Episode 34 – Troll’s Dream

In which She-Ra teams up with some trolls. Actual trolls, not online trolls.

As the episode opens, a troll comes to visit the rebel camp in search of Adora. Naturally, Bow, Kowl and Sprag the Twigget think he’s evil, so they waste precious minutes fighting him, before Adora finally appears and reminds the others that trolls aren’t actually baddies, as we learned in The Crystal Castle some time ago. This particular troll, Grox, has brought a message from King Argo, who would like to see She-Ra as soon as possible.

Troll 1
Adora: “Don’t worry about Bow. He’s useless. He can’t hurt you.”

Adora takes the time to tell all her friends off for attacking Grox, before turning into She-Ra and travelling to Spykont to meet Argo. She takes Bow, Kowl and Sprag with her, in an effort to force them to abandon their anti-troll prejudice. Once there, Argo explains to She-Ra that he has recently had a dream in which he saw Horde machinery uncovering an ancient door bearing the symbol of the Spider of Crystal. She-Ra doesn’t know why this is a particularly bad thing, so Argo elaborates that the Spider was a terrible monster from another world, imprisoned long ago in the mound that the Horde are now breaking into.

She-Ra knows what’s coming next, and sure enough, Argo explains that his dream was prophetic and that he would like She-Ra to go and stop the Horde. He sends Grox along with them, and so the rebels and the troll spend their journey trying to learn how to get along with each other. This is made easier by their need to work together to defeat the evil spells of a wizard called Dreer, who has no apparent motivation for getting involved.

Troll 2
Dreer: “Dreer’s the name, dreary’s the game.”

Once Grox is captured by Dreer, the rebels divide their forces. One contingent, consisting of She-Ra and Swift Wind, heads off to the mound to stop the Horde from awakening the Spider, while the other contingent, formed of Bow, Kowl and Sprag, break into Dreer’s castle to rescue Grox. You might expect that with this division of labour, Grox would remain in prison for ever, but in fairness Bow and co. achieve their objective with remarkably little difficulty.

She-Ra, on the other hand, is too late to prevent Shadow Weaver and Scorpia from reviving the Spider, and the Spider therefore begins a tour of havoc and destruction across Etheria. Perhaps not unexpectedly, the rebels and trolls are required to pool their resources in order to defeat it, which is nice, since everyone learns something about cooperation and not being prejudiced. As the episode ends, the Rebellion and the trolls celebrate their joint victory with a few half-hearted cheers and some platitudes about the end of hatred.

Troll 3
Bow: “Can you explain it again, She-Ra? I’m not sure how this hokey-cokey thing works.”

 

In today’s adventure…

It’s back to the bad old days of ridiculous Loo-Kee hiding places today. He’s in a tree, of course, but the tree is the exact same colour as him, and he’s got his back to the camera, which means you’d have to have a Sherlock Holmes degree of observation to be in with a chance. He doesn’t trot out the same old tired story about accepting people for what they do rather than what they look like, which is what I rather expected from this story. Instead, he opts for the very odd suggestion that we should always go to bed when we’re told to. In case you’re looking for the relevance here, it’s tenuously linked into the episode with the fact that Argo had a dream.

 

Character checklist

Today, we have the pleasure of the company of Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Sprag, another Twigget, Loo-Kee, Argo, Grox, Shadow Weaver, Scorpia, Greer, and a bunch of villagers. I hope your lives are suitably enriched by this information.

Troll 4
Scorpia: “They really do sell some tat in Claire’s Accessories these days.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora doesn’t even make her transformation on screen this week, and certainly doesn’t see fit to wheel out any implausible excuses.

 

Insults

Sprag calls Grox a “big creep” and a “coward”, and Bow gets in on the act by calling him a “sneaky troll”. Grox retaliates with the uncomfortably true “troll-haters” directed at Bow, Kowl and Sprag. These three are also subject to the mildest possible insult from Greer, who calls them “twits”.

Troll 5
Greer: “I believe that’s what they call a sick burn.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I’m beginning to feel like I need a break from reviewing this cartoon, and in fairness, no one’s forcing me to do it, so I could. The problem is that pretty much every single She-Ra episode feels very competent and reasonable, but very few of them manage to ever rise above that level into outstanding, and equally very few are downright appalling. It makes it very dull for me week after week watching episodes that are neither shining gems or total train wrecks. This episode is yet another example of fine but not amazing fare, which can be best summed up as a pleasant diversion but nothing more. Sorry I don’t have anything more interesting to say, but there we are.

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Episode 33 – A Talent for Trouble

In which Madame Razz inadvertently refers to Orko’s sexual activities.

Orko is helping the Sorceress to spring clean Castle Grayskull, but of course he cocks up and accidentally transports himself to Etheria. He immediately meets Madame Razz, so we are faced with a character pairing that I’m sure won’t prove annoying. They are both then captured by Mantenna, who encases them in what look like giant ice cubes. Broom, luckily, escapes and flies off to warn the other rebels.

Talent 1
Broom: “Why do I have to be paired with these divs?”

Once She-Ra learns that Orko is on Etheria, she contacts the Sorceress, presumably hoping that she’ll have a clever trick to get Orko off the planet without delay. It turns out, however, that the Sorceress considers Orko should be kept off Eternia for as long as possible, so simply sends He-Man to Etheria to help out. When He-Man arrives, he wears a pained expression, as if he literally can’t believe he’s having to waste his time here again.

Talent 2
He-Man: “This is literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”

In the meantime, Mantenna has taken Madame Razz and Orko to the Fright Zone, where Hordak and Shadow Weaver try to work out what Orko is. For some reason, Orko is resistant to all of Shadow Weaver’s magic, so Hordak employs a scientific tool called the mind sweeper instead. If I wanted to be unkind, I might interject at this juncture that Hordak is also a scientific tool. It goes without saying, of course, that the mind sweeper has serious problems with Orko, because he doesn’t have a mind, and the end result is that the mind sweeper explodes.

Realising that they cannot determine what Orko is, Hordak and Shadow Weaver decide to send him as a present to Horde Prime. This gives us a dramatic moment to cut for the advert break, and when we return the story progresses to He-Man and She-Ra busting into the Fright Zone and causing all manner of havoc. They dispose of Grizzlor and Leech with the usual ease, and Catra proves even less challenging. Once they find Madame Razz, she informs them of the plan to send Orko to Horde Prime, so He-Man and She-Ra head straight to the space port.

Talent 3
She-Ra: “To quote Buffy, synchronised slayage!”

On arrival, they find that the rocket containing Orko has already been launched, and that Hordak is gallivanting about on a really strange green insect creature. She-Ra attends to Hordak and the other Horde representatives with another of her trademark pant-displaying kicks, while He-Man leaps onto the rocket. It should be noted that He-Man is clearly less powerful than She-Ra, since he is incredibly concerned about going into outer space without a spacesuit, whereas She-Ra does it regularly just for kicks. Anyway, He-Man successfully redirects the rocket and rescues Orko.

The episode ends with an unwelcome moment in which Orko decides that She-Ra is gorgeous, and tells her so. She-Ra rewards him with a kiss, which prompts He-Man to join in and tell She-Ra she’s beautiful. If he was expecting a kiss, he’s disappointed, at least until after the episode fades out.

 

In today’s adventure…

I found that beastly Loo-Kee again! I can feel my heart bursting with pride. If you must know, he’s in a bush by the path just after Orko arrives on Etheria. His moral is once again pretty stupid, being all about helping people when they need a hand and thus proving that you’re their friend. He tries to link this in to the episode by claiming that Orko was giving the Sorceress a hand with her cleaning, but frankly Orko’s contribution to that task was minimal. It might have worked better if it had been He-Man and She-Ra lending Orko and Madame Razz a hand with being rescued, but even so, it would still have been largely irrelevant to the episode’s story.

Talent 4
The Sorceress: “Let’s see … Orko, mops, and buckets of water. What could possibly go wrong?”

 

Character checklist

What blimey and what a treat this is. There’s Adora, sure, and She-Ra, of course, but what’s this? He-Man too. And Orko and the Sorceress. It’s like a high school reunion. Less excitingly, we see Spirit, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, Catra, Leech, Grizzlor and some Horde Troopers. Is that an Evil Horde full house? In case you really want to know, there’s also some weird skull thing with which Orko strikes up a conversation in Castle Grayskull.

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

Prince Adam doesn’t feature this time, and Adora’s only contribution is a muttered, “I smell trouble,” to the camera before her transformation.

 

Insults

A wide range of insults this week, and a special prize to the episode for not resorting to using the word ‘fool’. We have Mantenna calling a pair of Horde Troopers “useless tin cans” and Grizzlor calling He-Man a “muscle man”. Orko and Hordak have a brief exchange of sharp words, with Orko telling Hordak he’s a “bonebrain”, and Hordak retaliating with “insect”. Finally, Orko manages to break the mind sweeper in such a way that it begins chanting, “Hordak is a meanie”, prompting Hordak to blow it up, thus rather proving the point.

Talent 5
Madame Razz: “Orko, stop lounging around in your stupid chair! Do something!”

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, Orko and Madame Razz ganging up didn’t prove as irritating as I’d feared, largely because Madame Razz took a back seat throughout most of the episode. It was also almost pleasant to see Orko again; perhaps in small doses, he’s not so bad. Or perhaps it’s simply in comparison to the idiots who populate Etheria. As for He-Man, it’s always pleasing to see him, though I think it’s time for Skeletor to put in another appearance, please.

The storyline was nothing special; it does seem like the Horde waste most of their time capturing solitary rebels, rather than just dropping atom bombs or something equally devastating on Whispering Wood. This week’s effort did have a few nicely sinister overtones, especially the decision to send Orko to Horde Prime, where it is hinted that he will be dissected.

Talent 6
Mantenna: “Yes, this was the best plan I could come up with, but in my defense, I am very stupid.”

Overall, I think I’d describe it as a pretty decent episode, except for one thing. I know it doesn’t have the same meaning in the USA as it does here, but when Madame Razz refers to Orko and says, “I like that little guy’s spunk,” I can’t help but shudder.

Episode 32 – Friends Are Where You Find Them

In which She-Ra meets another irritating child.

I’m sorry to start with a vulgarity, but really, what the absolute fuck? This time, we open with She-Ra and Swift Wind flying through outer space for no purpose whatsoever, just for the sheer demented delight of it. And are they wearing space suits? Are they buggery. Are they merrily talking to each other as if sound carries in a vacuum? Yes they are. I’ve just about accepted She-Ra’s previous forays into space – implausible as they are – as being at least slightly justified by the plot. But this? It’s lunacy.

I think that to get over this insane beginning, I’m going to have to suppose that She-Ra has gone mental and this episode takes place entirely in her head. With that ground rule established, anything in this episode that’s completely nuts can be accepted. This is just as well, because She-Ra next comes across a platoon of Horde space robots, so she turns her sword into a tennis racquet and belts them halfway across the cosmos.

Friends 1
She-Ra: “45 love.”

It turns out the Horde space robots were attacking a spaceship, which now explodes, leaving behind only an escape pod which begins to plummet down to Etheria. She-Ra returns to the planet’s surface herself and is on hand to meet the inhabitant when he emerges. The inhabitant introduces himself as Prince Joel of Antares and he appears to have Filmation Irritating Child Syndrome. She-Ra takes him to see Queen Angela at Bright Moon to contact his parents and get him off Etheria asap.

In the meantime, Bow takes charge of Joel, and takes him to meet a bunch of Bright Moon’s local children, who are happily occupied in cleaning the castle. They offer Joel the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help them, but he explains that he has a RoboFriend who normally does that sort of thing for him. When the children ask Joel to lend them his RoboFriend to do the cleaning, Joel has a massive strop because this is a breach of etiquette. It seems that on Antares, borrowing a RoboFriend is akin to borrowing a dildo or something. In any case, his RoboFriend was damaged when his ship was destroyed, so the whole point is moot.

Friends 2
Bow: “I love hanging around ominously behind groups of children.”

After Adora and Bow retrieve and fix the RoboFriend, the rest of the episode divides its time between Joel learning how to share and Hordak trying to steal the RoboFriend. These plots come together when Adora and Bow take Joel and five other Etherian children on a hike to Big Ditch Canyon. Catra, Grizzlor and Leech cause a distraction, and Imp plants a remote control receiver on the RoboFriend, bringing it under Hordak’s command.

The RoboFriend starts off by grabbing Bow to take him prisoner, a development which pleases Catra immensely but doesn’t please She-Ra at all. She forces the RoboFriend to release Bow, but before she can smash it to smithereens, Joel comes running up to it and it immediately takes him prisoner instead. To the accompaniment of a funky She-Ra theme tune remix, She-Ra gives chase to the RoboFriend and rescues Joel.

Friends 3
Leech: “I regret to inform you, Catra, that you have failed your driving test.”

Back at Bright Moon, Joel gets on a ship to return to Antares, but not before he utters a pearl of complete bollocks disguised as wisdom: “robots are only friendly because they’re programmed to be.” This has the air of a writer desperately trying to make the episode’s events somehow relevant to the real life of 1980s American children, but forgetting that in the real world, the closest equivalent to a RoboFriend in the 1980s was a microwave. Though I’ll be the first to admit the 1980s were a bit weird, I have my doubts that there was a particular problem with children trying to programme their microwaves to be their friends.

 

In today’s adventure…

Got him again! There ain’t a place in this universe Loo-Kee can hide from me now. He’s in a tree outside Bright Moon. (Hint, for those of you who haven’t grasped the pattern yet: he’s pretty much always in a tree.) Anyway, Loo-Kee wants to let us know that people need friends. He stops short of saying that if you haven’t got any friends, you’re a complete failure of a person, but you can see it in his eyes.

Friends 4
Loo-Kee: “Get some friends, you losers.”

 

Character checklist

This excursion into lunacy features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Queen Angela, Loo-Kee, Prince Joel, some other children, Hordak, Imp, Catra, Grizzlor, Leech and – no surprises here – some Horde Troopers.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora develops a stupid habit of directly addressing the camera for no reason whatsoever today. For her first transformation, she states, “I’ve got a strong feeling She-Ra’s going to be needed here,” and for her second she offers, “We’re going to need reinforcements.”

 

Insults

Hordak addresses a Horde Trooper as a “fool”, and seconds later, as a “worthless fool”. These are obviously pretty standard insults, but Hordak does put an impressive degree of vehemence into them, so points for effort, I suppose. Otherwise, it’s Grizzlor who gets a tough time of it, being called a “fuzzface” by Bow and a “furbrain” by Leech.

Friends 5
Catra: “Just gearing up for our big appearance on Jools Holland tonight.”

 

Oh Yes, Bow!

It’s only fair to point out that, far from being useless, Bow actually fixes the RoboFriend twice this week. Well done, Bow! Keep it up, and you’ll be as multi-skilled as Man-at-Arms in no time!

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, it’s completely crazed for its opening few minutes. What particularly got my goat about those minutes is that there was no reason at all for She-Ra to be in space. She could have simply seen the escape pod landing and had the episode proceed from there – but no, she had to be joyriding in space on her unicorn, and had to do that stupid thing with the tennis racquet.

Joel is your usual spoiled Filmation brat, and I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it before, but Imp is incredibly annoying. His voice actor seems to play him as an irritating young child; Kevin from Home Alone springs to mind, and I simply want to punch his stupid blue head off. Other than that, it’s a pretty middling offering, which hits every usual standard episode beat exactly when you expect it to. It does it all fairly competently, so it can’t be termed a failure, but I wouldn’t imagine it makes anyone’s list of favourites.

Episode 31 – The Reluctant Wizard

In which our heroes persist in bothering a dude who just wants to be left alone.

The episode opens with Madame Razz and Broom being chased through the sky by a Horde Trooper on a flying machine. They are saved when a tree fires an energy bolt at the Trooper. This strikes them as unusual, even for Etheria, so they head straight to Whispering Wood and tell Adora and Bow all about it. Madame Razz reckons that they have discovered the secret home of a wizard who, according to legend, has created his own entire world inside a tree.

Reluctant 1
Bow: “So, Madame, must have been some pretty potent mushrooms this time.”

Adora thinks this wizard sounds like a promising ally, and turns into She-Ra to go to ask Light Hope about it. Light Hope is his usual useless self, however, offering merely the advice that the wizard hates visitors, which I generally think is a given for people who retreat from the world to live inside a tree. She-Ra decides to disregard this advice, and sets off with Bow, Kowl and Madame Razz to see the wizard and his amazing tree.

En route, the party come up against a wide variety of silly visitor deterrents, such as a massive chasm, a wall of fire and a walking cactus. These distractions do not prove to be terribly diverting, however, and our heroes soon get the privilege of talking directly to the wizard’s tree. Because they start from a ridiculously adversarial position, they are quickly transported inside the tree and forced to do battle with an army of stupid mud monsters.

Reluctant 3
She-Ra: “My dates often do get overly handsy.”

She-Ra apologises for being rude, and the wizard finally shows himself. He explains that he has hidden away because people think he’s ugly. Frankly, he’s right, but on the other hand, I’ve seen uglier specimens on the Southwestern Railways London to Portsmouth service, so things could be worse. Still, our heroes have no success in their attempts to persuade the wizard to join them against the Horde, thanks in no small part to Bow’s efforts (see Oh No, Bow! below).

At this point, having heard the tree story from the unfortunate Horde Trooper at the beginning of the episode, Hordak, Shadow Weaver and Catra arrive and attack the wizard’s tree. Team She-Ra instantly leap to the wizard’s defence, and defeat the Horde in a selection of humiliating and/or implausible ways. Countering the viewer’s expectations, once the battle is won, the wizard does not agree to help the Rebellion – though, admittedly, he doesn’t rule it out either.

Reluctant 4
Wizard: “Why would I join the Rebellion? I have a lovely place to live as it is.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Ha! I’m getting wise to your sneaky ways, Loo-Kee. The animators reused an establishing shot of Whispering Wood today, and it happened to be that one which features Loo-Kee’s nose poking out from behind a tree. So basically, I found him because I recognised the background shot in which he has previously appeared. I think I may have been watching too much of this cartoon.

Anyway, Loo-Kee’s message for us this week is that if we can’t say anything nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. Perhaps anticipating that this advice would result in children simply refusing to talk to each other, he then goes on to add that we should probably just say something nice. In other words, Loo-Kee tells us to lie.

 

Character checklist

Most of the familiar faces show up today – Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Bow, Kowl, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Catra, Shadow Weaver, the wizard, and of course those ubiquitous Horde Troopers.

Reluctant 5
Madame Razz: “Just so you know, Bow, me and Kowl loathe you.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“It seemed like a better idea for me to come instead,” says She-Ra, when Bow whinges that Adora isn’t coming with them to the wizard’s home.

 

Insults

Catra calls She-Ra a “miserable insect”, and the wizard refers to She-Ra, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom and Kowl as “weaklings”. He also takes the time to address Bow to say, “You aren’t as smart as you look.” I’m sure I can’t be the only one who doesn’t think Bow looks particularly smart in the first place, so this is pretty insulting.

Reluctant 6
Wizard: “Good God, Bow, you really are dim.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

There’s a genuinely entertaining scene in which She-Ra, Madame Razz, Broom and Kowl all make Bow dig a massive hole for himself concerning whether he likes Adora or She-Ra better. Bow proves completely incapable of dealing with this unfair exercise in comparisons, and it presumably comes as an enormous relief to him when an earthquake starts.

In addition to this, when the wizard says, “I’m really ugly, so I hid myself away,” Bow responds with, “Yes, I can understand that.” Seriously, Bow? This is the best pep talk you can manage? No wonder the wizard tells our heroes to get lost.

Reluctant 2
Bow: “Mummy! Help! I’ve tied my shoelaces together again!”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s pretty good in that it looks like it’s building to the all-too-common conclusion in which the wizard would agree to help the Rebellion after they help him defeat the Horde, and then yanks the rug out from under us by simply having him announce, “I’ll think about it!” and turn invisible. Whether we see him again in the future or not, it’s a nice and pretty rare example of Etheria not being a completely black-and-white place. In addition, I’m happy to report that the dialogue is snappy, the animation is fun, and it’s well-paced. I think we have a winner here.

Episode 30 – Play It Again, Bow

In which Bow does indeed play it again, though he definitely shouldn’t have.

Adora is playing hide and seek with a pair of ridiculously delighted Twiggets, but is mercifully distracted from this soul-sapping pastime when She-Ra’s services are needed to save an old man from a runaway wagon. The old man introduces himself as Fritt the Bottle Man, because he collects old bottles from villages. Unfortunately, the Horde have recently stolen his pack animal, True Blue, and he’s now finding it difficult to travel between the villages.

Play 1
Fritt: “I’m certainly not crazy. Don’t even suggest it.”

She-Ra leaps at the chance to escape the hide and seek more permanently, so offers the help of the Rebellion in recovering True Blue. Fritt happily comes along to the rebels’ camp, where he entertains the Twiggets with stupid stories and then asks Bow to sing a song. If Fritt did this in my house, I wouldn’t invite him back again. Bow, of course, is only too happy to oblige with one of the most unholy rackets I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear – and yes, that does include Spice Up Your Life.

Things get even worse when seconds later, Madame Razz shows up, and it emerges that Fritt is her ex-lover, conjuring up a whole world of mental imagery that I really didn’t need. I’m not entirely sure why the affair ended in the first place, but suffice it to say that the rest of the episode meanders pointlessly towards a reconciliation between Madame Razz and Fritt, via several less than amusing comedy set pieces.

Play 2
Madame Razz: “Don’t come near me, Fritt Stick.”

Fritt takes Bow and the Twiggets to see what he does with the bottles he collects; it turns out that Fritt has built a monument to freedom with them. He tries to claim that the bottles represent the people of Etheria, but frankly the whole thing looks essentially like a bottle-crazed loon has got into the glass recycling plant and indulged his passion for building demented structures. Bow pretends to be impressed, but I think he’s secretly pleased when Catra shows up proclaiming her intention to destroy the monument.

In the meantime, Adora and Kowl skulk off to a village to recover True Blue, and find him being forced to walk on a treadmill, for no particularly apparent reason. In order to rescue him, Adora becomes She-Ra and performs some unnecessary acrobatics before beating up some Horde Troopers. She then flies off on Swift Wind to attend to Catra and the potential glass bottle monument destruction, while Kowl and True Blue follow at a more sedate pace.

Play 3
Catra: “This looks like a rubbish version of the Sagrada Familia.”

On the one hand, She-Ra is too late, since Catra has started destroying the monument. On the other hand, Catra has elected to destroy it one bottle at a time, and since I estimate there’s about six billion bottles in the structure, this is going to take her a while. Needless to say, She-Ra arrives on the scene pretty smartish, but Catra threatens to shoot the rebels if She-Ra makes a move towards saving the bottles. This is an unexpectedly smart move, though it does rather rest on the notion that She-Ra wouldn’t want Bow and Madame Razz to get shot.

She-Ra doesn’t care for this ultimatum, and defeats Catra and her Troopers through a very stupid method that defies description. Unfortunately, Catra manages to get off one good shot before her ignominious exit from the episode, and nearly causes the monument to collapse. If you care even vaguely, She-Ra saves it, by propping it up with a cart, and then Madame Razz magically transforms the entire monument into crystal. This is ostensibly to make it so that the Horde can’t destroy it, but I wouldn’t mind betting it’s at least partly to make it less offensively ugly. Finally, Bow concludes the episode by singing that bloody awful song again, even less tunefully than before.

Play 4
Bow: “Just recording my audition to join Mumford & Sons.”

 

In today’s adventure…

It’s one of those weeks where Loo-Kee evidently wants to be found, since the camera lingers on him for about 15 seconds while he sits in a tree by the side of the road. He tries to suggest that the many colours of bottle in the ridiculous monument represent the many colours of people, and suggests that – just like the monument – we can become stronger when we all live and work together. He does not mention that when the monument became stronger by being turned into crystal, it also assumed a uniformity of colour, which I do not think is the message he was trying to convey.

 

Character checklist

Today’s visit to Etheria gives us a chance to spot Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Glimmer, Fritt, True Blue, the Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Catra, and – as always – a truckload of Horde Troopers.

Play 5
Kowl: “Don’t look at me so seedily, you weird horse.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Yet again, it’s two transformations and no excuses. Adora is really rubbish at this.

 

Insults

A Horde Trooper addresses True Blue as a “broken-down nag”, while Catra calls She-Ra a “fool”, and elaborates with “hopeless fools” for Fritt, Madame Razz, Broom, Bow and the Twiggets.

 

Oh No, Bow!

I think a very special mention has to be given here for Bow’s dreadful song. I bet the voice actor was horrified when he got the script for this episode. He must have known that he can’t sing for toffee.

 

Does it have the Power?

Hmm, let’s see. Bow singing twice, in an episode all about Madame Razz’s love life, also featuring a lunatic who has wasted his entire life building a demented sculpture out of bottles. Do you think it has the Power? In case you’re unsure, allow me to explain: NO IT DOESN’T.

Episode 29 – The Price of Freedom

In which He-Man lies around in a cave.

It’s like the good old days at the start of this episode. We begin with Prince Adam and Orko out for a spin in the Wind Raider, having one of those frequent inconsequential arguments about whether Orko has tidied his room or not. The Sorceress then contacts Adam, demanding he come to Castle Grayskull immediately. On arrival, the Sorceress informs Adam that she has picked up some kind of distress signal from She-Ra, so Adam leaps through the magic portal to Etheria. You’ll be pleased to know that he does not take Orko with him.

Freedom 1
Orko: “Adam, didn’t you get the memo about our series being finished?”

Adam arrives on Etheria in the middle of a devastated village, and She-Ra explains to him that the Horde have launched an all-out war on the inhabitants. Adam decides that He-Man might be a little more useful in this scenario, and metamorphoses. With Horde Troopers surrounding them, our heroes evacuate the village and take the people to hide in some mines. From there, they watch as the Horde burn down the remains of the village.

Freedom 2
She-Ra: “Adam, haven’t you got someone else you should be?”

The villagers explain that, even though they are sorry to have lost their homes and possessions, they prefer to have their freedom. He-Man seems to have difficulty understanding this concept, but that’s presumably because he’s playing dumb so the villagers can explain to the audience. Once he finally gets it, he sends She-Ra off to Bright Moon to fetch some more rebels to help defeat the Horde army, while he stays behind to defend the villagers.

He-Man does a pretty poor job of the defence, though; Hordak unveils an enormous freeze cannon and shoots him with it. As well as paralysing He-Man, this demolishes the entrance to the mine and seals the villagers inside. Considering that he has successfully made an example of the villagers, Hordak concludes his work is done, and orders the army back to the Fright Zone.

Freedom 3
Hordak: “There’s nothing mental about putting my face on this massive cannon. No, no. Not mental at all.”

Inside the mine, the villagers start complaining because the air is running out, which seems fair enough. They come perilously close to turning against She-Ra, who they note is not there to save them. Luckily, the head villager gives a rousing speech about how freedom is precious, but has to be worked for, and essentially means that they must be able to count on themselves, without always relying on help from He-Man and She-Ra. Suitably invigorated, the villagers set to work digging themselves out of the mine.

They are successful in digging to the surface, but in so doing, they cause a cave-in. He-Man fights off his paralysis and holds the roof up long enough for the villagers to escape. She-Ra finally gets back at this stage, notably without bringing any help, and helps He-Man to stabilise the mine shaft, before making some feeble jokes at which He-Man grins goofily. Afterward, She-Ra welcomes the villagers to join the Rebellion and live in Whispering Wood.

Freedom 5
She-Ra: “He-Man, why are you meditating in front of these planks of wood?”

 

In today’s adventure…

I’d assumed I’d missed Loo-Kee, since he’s normally towards the beginning of episodes, but there he was in Whispering Wood about a minute from the end. I feel very proud of myself for finding him. Instead of giving us one of the more abstract morals about the importance of freedom, Loo-Kee opts for the more prosaic “don’t play with matches or lighters”. This is presumably because the message about freedom was repeatedly rammed down our throats during the episode, so the writers didn’t feel it needed yet another outing from Loo-Kee.

 

Character checklist

This one’s a little unusual, in that Adora doesn’t show up at all. She-Ra’s here though, as are Prince Adam, He-Man, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Orko, the Sorceress, loads of villagers, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Mantenna and the inevitable Horde Troopers.

Freedom 6
She-Ra: “Don’t even try to upstage me, villagers.”

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

As noted above, Adora doesn’t even feature this week, and no one sees Adam on Etheria before he becomes He-Man, so there’s definitely no need for an excuse today.

 

Insults

He-Man calls the Horde Troopers “tin cans”, which is a pretty common insult for them. More entertainingly, Hordak disparagingly refers to He-Man as “Eternia’s golden boy”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

When She-Ra arrives at Bright Moon and tells the rebels they must hurry as quickly as possible to the village, Bow instantly chirps up to offer to fly back on Swift Wind with She-Ra. Perhaps intuiting that Bow has clocked that this would mean he’d get to lay his grubby hands on her hips, She-Ra politely if forcefully declines.

Freedom 4
He-Man: “Quick word of advice, Bow: stay away from my sister.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s definitely better than He-Man’s last visit to Etheria, though that’s not saying a lot. Rather than damn it with faint praise, I’ll come out and say that it was pretty good. It was a great message for the villagers to rely on themselves to get out of their situation, rather than sitting back and waiting for He-Man and She-Ra to do the work for them – even if the plot mechanics to get them to that point were a little creaky. He-Man being shot with the freeze cannon was fair enough, but She-Ra flying off to get help and then returning once the danger was past, without actually bringing help with her, seemed perhaps too obviously a plot device to get her out of the way. Other than that minor complaint, though, this was a fairly enjoyable episode with a decent message. Good fun.

Episode 28 – Bow’s Farewell

In which Bow and She-Ra go utterly mad.

Adora finds Bow in a village, trying to teach a Twigget a song before embarking on a boring physics lesson about sound frequencies. Unfortunately, this village is known Horde territory, and Adora is concerned that Bow will be found and captured. It seems she is right to be concerned, since a Horde patrol shows up pretty soon. On the other hand, the patrol is singularly incapable of capturing Bow or Adora, especially not when She-Ra makes an entrance.

Bow's Farewell 1
Bow: “What do you mean, I have literally no idea what sound frequencies are?”

The next five minutes are given over to a long fight between She-Ra and Bow on one side, and Catra and some Horde Troopers on the other. Despite the writers managing to make Catra act even more mental than usual, this is unfortunately rather dull. Eventually, our heroes escape into Whispering Wood, at which point Catra hisses that the Horde has plans to deal with the Rebellion. There’s a chance that in the script this sounded threatening and ominous, but once on screen, it’s such familiar dialogue that it just washes over us.

Once all that excitement is over, Adora harangues Bow for having gone to the Twigget village in the first place. Bow retorts that maybe the Rebellion would be better off without him, which sounds like a good idea to me, but Kowl quickly intervenes and suggests that Bow take a holiday “communing with nature in the Mystic Stones”. I suspect this is a code that Bow and Kowl have previously established for “We’re going to get off our tits on smack and visit Amsterdam’s seedier quarters.”

Bow's Farewell 2
Kowl: “Got the drugs in that bag, Bow?”

Not knowing the code, Adora agrees that this is a great idea, so Bow and Kowl head off together on their Big Lads’ Weekend. On arrival at the Mystic Stones, however, they discover that a bunch of Horde Troopers have enslaved the Twiggets and are forcing them to carry out some nefarious task. Kowl is despatched back to the camp to fetch Adora, while Bow takes leave of his senses and dresses up as a cliché magician to infiltrate the Horde camp. Rather surprisingly, this works.

Bow learns from one of the Twiggets – who has the unfortunate name of Spunky – that the Horde are building an eclipse beam, which will channel the power of the moon’s eclipse into destroying Castle Bright Moon. Bow then makes the strange choice to occupy himself in performing magic tricks for the assembled Horde Troopers, until Catra figures out who he is and prepares to cart him away.

Bow's Farewell 3
Bow: “No! Wait! This isn’t part of my act!”

Luckily, the enslaved Twiggets choose this moment to rebel, and with the arrival of She-Ra and Kowl on the scene, it’s curtains for the Horde Troopers. Catra gets the chance to fire her stupid eclipse beam, and even gets some super villainess dialogue (“Nothing can save Bright Moon now!”), but of course She-Ra destroys the machine with a good solid kick.

In an unexpected twist, however, it turns out that the machine is a fake, and the real controller is in an entirely different location. This does rather beg the question of why the Horde were forcing the Twiggets to build a fake machine; if they hadn’t drawn attention to themselves by enslaving the Twiggets, She-Ra would never have got wind of this plan until it was too late. Never mind! I suspect that logic is not one of Catra’s strengths.

Having said that, logic is clearly not a strength for anyone in this episode, since the next step is for She-Ra to fly on Swift Wind into outer space and use a grappling hook to pull the moon to stop it going into eclipse. While so doing, She-Ra says, “Come on, Swifty, we’ve got to pull like we’ve never pulled before,” which is incidentally what she says on a Saturday night down at Wetherspoons.

Bow's Farewell 4
Swift Wind: “She-Ra, is it just me or is this episode completely off its head?”

Bow observes that She-Ra is doing something completely mental, and not to be outdone, he decides that his best next step is to build a giant amplifier and play his harp through it. This has the outstandingly fortuitous effect of blowing up the real eclipse machine, wherever it is. Bow and Spunky perform a stupid jig, and She-Ra comes back to Etheria, incidentally without setting fire to her arse, unlike last time she tried a stunt like this.

 

In today’s adventure…

I was too busy watching the various other acts of total lunacy to be concerned with trying to find Loo-Kee today, so I missed his hiding place in the Twiggets’ village. He informs us solemnly that Bow used his knowledge of science to blow up the eclipse machine, and adds that we can find loads of books about science at our local library. He probably shouldn’t be encouraging us to read them, though, because we might then find out, for example, that:

  1. You can’t channel the power of an eclipse through an eclipse beam, because an eclipse is simply a shadow and thus doesn’t have any power.
  2. You can’t blow machines up by playing music at them really loudly.
  3. You can’t talk when you’re in outer space.
  4. You can’t breathe when you’re in outer space.
  5. You can’t maintain your body temperature when you’re only wearing a skimpy dress and a red cloak when you’re in outer space.
  6. You can’t use a grappling hook to tow a moon.
  7. Even if you could use a grappling hook to tow a moon, you’d cause all manner of havoc such as tidal waves on the surface of the planet below.
  8. More generally, you can’t become someone else entirely by shrieking about the power or honour of Grayskull. I know. I’ve tried.
Bow's Farewell 5
Loo-Kee: “I can definitely read books. Honest.”

 

Character checklist

What a lot of specialtons show up this week. Specifically, it’s Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Queen Angela, Loo-Kee, the Twiggets (including Spunky), Catra, and the ever-present Horde Troopers.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

It’s a standard display of two transformations and no excuses.

 

Insults

Catra is, as always, pretty free with insulting comments, though today they’re not very imaginative. She calls her Horde Troopers “fools” three times, as well as addressing them as “bunglers” and “cowards”. She also calls She-Ra and Bow “fools”, which – given the insane things they do this week – seems a reasonable assessment.

Bow's Farewell 6
Horde Trooper: “I’m really sorry.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow’s little trip to the Twigget village at the start is presented as reckless behaviour and thus warrants a mention here, though I’d argue it doesn’t seem to be any worse than the rebels’ usual modus operandi. On the other hand, his later decision to dress up as a wizard is pretty strong evidence of his devolution into complete insanity.

 

Does it have the Power?

Let’s start by pointing out that the title is completely disconnected to the episode’s events. It leads one to conclude that Bow is going to quit, and admittedly the story looks that way for a brief second before Kowl brings up the notion of going on a lads’ weekend away. Thereafter, the episode would be more accurately called Bow’s Holiday or Bow’s Gone Nuts or something similar.

Bow's Farewell 7
Adora: “Bow, what the hell are you doing?”

Petty quibbling aside, this is a real episode of two halves. The first half is shaping up to be one of the dullest episodes we’ve seen in a long time, possibly ever, what with its pointless fight between She-Ra and Catra, and the subsequent haranguing of Bow for no particularly apparent reason. Once Bow finds the Horde slave camp, though, the whole thing picks up considerably by opting to ramp up the craziness to hitherto unexplored levels. In essence, the episode then becomes a far less sane version of The Crystal Castle, an episode which was itself pretty deranged.

In short, you should watch this episode, but probably only from the 10-minute mark or thereabouts. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and most of all, you’ll wonder if you’ve accidentally ingested some mind-altering drugs.

Episode 27 – The Eldritch Mist

In which we get a vague hint that Adora and Adam enjoy an overly close sibling relationship.

Adora puts in a visit to Mysticor, where she finds Castaspella using a magical device called the Pool of Vision to ogle Prince Adam. This is essentially the Etherian equivalent of hidden-cam spyware, and Castaspella certainly seems to be getting off on it. Eventually, Castaspella’s aching loins become too much for her to take, so she magically transports Adam to Etheria, where he immediately turns on the charm in a sleazy effort to get into Castaspella’s pants.

Eldritch 1
Castaspella: “Wowsers, look at that handsome hunk of man meat.”

Luckily, before things can get too vile for words, Kowl shows up to report that there’s a Horde ship just arrived at Whispering Wood. Castaspella teleports the four of them to the appropriate location, where they observe Shadow Weaver casting a spell from the Eldritch Book of Dark Magic. The spell creates an orange mist that covers the entire forest, preventing anyone from entering or exiting. Luckily, Adora, Adam, Castaspella and Kowl are on the outside, and it’s not very long before Adora and Adam make their awkward joint transformation into their heroic alter egos.

He-Man and She-Ra waste no time in ditching Castaspella and Kowl, instead choosing to go to ask Light Hope’s advice. Light Hope doesn’t really help, simply saying that the spell can be reversed if the Eldritch Book is read by someone who can use magic. This of course means Castaspella, and since He-Man suddenly realises he wants Castaspella to have his babies anyway, he puts on a truly goofy grin and insists they hurry back.

Eldritch 3
She-Ra: “He-Man, could you please at least try not to look so stupid?”

Castaspella teleports herself, He-Man and She-Ra into the Fright Zone to steal the book, but Hordak quickly becomes aware of their presence. Shadow Weaver pops up and teleports Castaspella away, leaving He-Man and She-Ra to find their way to the throne room. They have a brief fight with Hordak, but he’s so incompetent this week that he basically defeats himself.

Meanwhile, Castaspella and Shadow Weaver have appeared in Shadow Weaver’s private chambers, where the two of them have a magical duel and a good chat about old times. As previously hinted, Shadow Weaver originates from Mysticor, and it seems that she and Castaspella used to be friends before she was corrupted by Hordak. Once Castaspella defeats Shadow Weaver, by trapping her in the arms of a terrifying oversized teddy bear, she, He-Man and She-Ra are free to steal the Eldritch Book and head off to Whispering Wood.

Eldritch 4
Shadow Weaver: “Okay guys, fun’s fun, but can we send Bungle back to the Rainbow house now please?”

Castaspella uses the Book to remove the orange mist from the forest. I could harp on about the fact that she somehow gets inside the forest before doing this, but that would be a bit petty of me, I suppose. Instead, we get a scene featuring Prince Adam and Castaspella flirting ridiculously, until Adora interrupts to say, “All right, you two! He’s MY brother!” as if she thinks that this gives her 24-hour access to Adam’s bed. The only explanation that I can think of for this weird display of jealousy is that maybe the purity of the Eternian royal bloodline is maintained by incest. Luckily, before the cartoon can explore this further, Adam returns to Eternia.

 

In today’s adventure…

Jesus Christ, Loo-Kee, how the bloody hell was I supposed to see you there? He was literally behind a tree, with his nose poking out. Honestly, it’s ridiculous. He doesn’t have much of use to say either, simply advising us to seek help from experienced people when we need it. Yes, yes, yes. I think devotees of He-Man and She-Ra would by this stage have got this message into their thick skulls.

 

Character checklist

This episode is a lovely day out for Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, He-Man, Castaspella, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Broom, Light Hope, the Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and the ever-present Horde Troopers. And Bungle.

Eldritch 2
Prince Adam: “Shall we use this shot for our album cover?”

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

I’m convinced that they don’t bother giving excuses because they’re well aware that everyone on Etheria knows the secret. I swear, they’re so obvious about it that it can only be because they don’t care.

 

Insults

No insults this time, though there’s a touch of good-natured ribbing from She-Ra to He-Man when she realises that He-Man is drooling over Castaspella.

Eldritch 5
He-Man: “She-Ra, does the term ‘third wheel’ mean anything to you?”

 

Does it have the Power?

While it’s always a treat to see He-Man livening up Etheria, I’m not generally that interested in his love life. Maybe there’s a hugely entertaining story to be told about a love triangle involving him, Castaspella and Prince Adam, but if so, this wasn’t it. It didn’t help that the voice actor seemed to have forgotten how to do He-Man’s voice, sounding pretty weedy throughout.

The storyline about the orange mist was very by-the-numbers, but the hints of Shadow Weaver’s back story were more interesting; it doesn’t particularly build on what we learned in A Loss for Words, but it’s nice to get a sense that there is some history behind these characters that we don’t yet fully know. The former friendship between Shadow Weaver and Castaspella could potentially make for an interesting episode in the future; even if not, it’s good that the characters aren’t complete blank slates.

My final verdict, I suppose, is that it’s no classic, and probably very slightly above average. I doubt anyone would rush to endorse it, nor condemn it.

Episode 26 – Book Burning

In which Adora and Bow put bags over their own heads.

Today’s episode opens in a school, where Serena the teacher tells the children they have some important guests. The guests turn out to be Adora and Bow, who are standing at the front of the classroom with bags over their heads. I’m assuming these bags are an attempt at a disguise, but this isn’t specified in the episode, and it’s always possible that the animators had one of their semi-regular holidays from reality. Anyway, Adora begins lecturing the children on how the Horde are evil.

Book 1
Serena: “Children, today we’re going to learn about how putting a bag over your head is at best a really rubbish disguise and at worst makes you look like a Klansman.”

She is interrupted by a child called Cory, who takes the Horde’s side, and thus a stimulating debate is sparked concerning the rights and wrongs of the Rebellion and the Horde. Well, I say ‘stimulating’. What I mean is that Cory says Adora’s lying, and Adora says the Horde are liars. This scintillating discussion goes round a few times before Bow gets bored and announces the Horde have arrived. He and Adora nip out the back quickly.

Leech and Mantenna enter the classroom, announcing that from now on, only official Horde books will be used as teaching material in the school. They start burning all Serena’s books, until Cory pipes up with the information that Adora and Bow have just departed. Leech and Mantenna give chase, but Adora and Bow put pay to them with some tedious antics involving a see-saw.

Book 2
Leech: “This is so not going to end well.”

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that Hordak shortly arrives in town, demanding the people give up all their books to the snakelike Rattlor. He also appoints a new school teacher, the equally snakelike Tung Lashor. Tung Lashor is at least capable of speech, a skill which seems to evade Rattlor, so of the two, I suppose he’s a better choice for teacher. Still, the situation leaves much to be desired, as the townsfolk realise – except Cory, who cheers like a doofus. Hordak recognises that Cory is a corruptible moron, and appoints him to be a Horde spy.

The Horde confiscate all the books in town, except for some that Serena squirrels away. After hours, the children come to her house and read the now outlawed books. Cory dobs her in, of course, and Serena is arrested, but is very speedily freed by She-Ra. The two then make their way to the town square, but arrive too late to prevent Tung Lashor burning the books on a bonfire.

Book 3
Tung Lashor: “One of my few regrets in life is that I look nothing like my action figure.”

Tung Lashor then takes up his new post as teacher, but it isn’t long before the children stage a rebellion, hurl the new Horde textbooks at him, and run out of school. When Tung Lashor responds to this by threatening to send the children to school in the Fright Zone, two of them make a dash for the rebel camp, where they ask for help from Adora and Bow. Cory follows, and listens in as Adora promises to save the children.

Back at the town square, Tung Lashor and Rattlor begin loading the town’s children into a transport ship. Cory’s sister Arianne is among those taken, and when Cory tells Tung Lashor to release her, he is coldly informed the Horde has simply used him. Arianne is put on the transport with the other children, and Cory only just escapes the same fate. He finds Serena and admits that the Horde are liars after all, then confesses that he’s informed the Horde that the rebels will be coming to rescue the children.

Book 4
Cory: “Chief Moron Cory reporting for duty, sir.”

Adora and Bow sneak into town and easily board the transport ship, but are immediately captured. Adora is deprived of her sword and placed in the town jail, but Cory brings her sword to her, and she becomes She-Ra. She-Ra rescues Bow and the children, but Hordak shows up again and threatens to burn down the entire town if She-Ra and the children are not handed over. I was kind of expecting She-Ra to give herself up at this point, but instead she flies off to a lake, which she picks up and throws all the way back to the town. Yes, you did read that correctly.

By this stage, the Horde have set the entire town alight, but luckily the lake lands on the town and puts out the fire. Instead of simply lighting the fire again, Hordak accepts defeat and strops off back to the Fright Zone. She-Ra ties Tung Lashor up with his long tongue, and she and Bow have a disproportionately large laugh about the fact that the lake has rusted the Horde Troopers. Finally, Cory slinks along and apologises, and receives forgiveness from the entire town. Rejoice, rejoice.

Book 5
She-Ra: “Rusty robots really make me laugh.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Very late in the episode’s proceedings – so late that I assumed I’d missed him – I noticed Loo-Kee hiding in a bucket of pineapples, which must have been nice for him. His moral concerns freedoms and how we may not notice them until they are taken away, and of course he singles out books and the right to read whatever we wish. It’s a sensible moral, though my only criticism is what he particularly expected his audience to do about it. Perhaps he thought he was addressing North Korea or somewhere, and was recommending an easing of censorship.

 

Character checklist

Very few of our regular rebels appear this time: we’re limited to just Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow and Loo-Kee. We also see the many villagers, of course, not least Serena, Cory and his sister. The villains are Hordak, Tung Lashor, Rattlor, Mantenna, Leech, and the usual fine selection of Horde Troopers.

Book 6
Bow: “Hmm, a massive fire. Maybe I should do something with this bucket of water.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

We are treated to two transformations, but not to any excuses.

 

Insults

For such an action-packed episode, there was a surprising lack of insults.

 

Does it have the Power?

I really liked this one; in fact, it’s probably my favourite so far. It’s the first episode that’s really explored what life is like on Etheria for those under Horde oppression, and it really is astonishingly dark. The Horde can impose their own doctrine as truth in schools, take children to re-education centres in the Fright Zone, and burn down towns as punishment for non-compliance – all incredibly frightening stuff. Tung Lashor is an appropriately menacing presence; there’s no humour to him, and he’s disturbingly eager to set the town on fire and take away the children. Hordak also comes across well this week, seedily addressing the townsfolk as “friends”, pretending he’s there for their own good, and recognising Cory’s weakness and seducing him to betray his family and friends for power.

The message concerning the freedom to read books, to learn and decide matters for oneself is a great theme for the cartoon to tackle. Off the top of my head, I think the only move towards it we’ve previously had was He-Man’s The Great Books Mystery, which wasn’t nearly so much of a success. I suspect some people might consider She-Ra’s stupid lake trick at the end undermines the message, but I was happy with it. This episode is truly excellent.

Episode 25 – Small Problems

In which She-Ra picks a fight with a weasel.

The episode begins with Glimmer rescuing Bow and Kowl from certain capture at the hands of Mantenna, and it’s very nice to see someone other than She-Ra achieving something. The success goes to Glimmer’s head, however, and on returning to the rebel camp, she starts boasting her ridiculous pink-haired head off about it. Adora, Bow and Kowl all agree that Glimmer needs putting back in her place. Unfortunately, the writers seem to have forgotten that before Adora came along, Glimmer was the leader of the Rebellion, so perhaps she’s just trying to recover her position.

Small 1
Glimmer: “Get lost, Adora, you usurper.”

Adora takes Glimmer off and tries to subtly persuade her to stop bragging, but since Adora has no conception of how to do subtle, it quickly degenerates into a raging row. This only comes to a halt when Bow reports that the Horde have set up a research base in Smalloak, and are working on a chemical weapon. Adora and Glimmer, barely on speaking terms, head to check it out.

When Adora and Glimmer reach the research facility, Glimmer tries to outperform Adora and instantly gets captured by some robots. Adora sighs heavily, transforms into She-Ra, and comes to the rescue. Glimmer then wastes time relating her boastful story to She-Ra, allowing Catra time to show up and spray them with the Horde’s new chemical weapon, a miniaturisation powder, which – given the title of the episode – I really should have seen coming.

Small 2
Catra: “Hey, She-Ra, what do you think of our new party trick guns?”

The miniaturisation powder is still at an experimental phase, which means She-Ra, Glimmer and Swift Wind have time to fly to a lake where a half-man, half-elephant individual called Hose Nose awaits them. I’ll defer to what the episode said, but I had this guy’s action figure when I was younger, and the figure was called Snout Spout, which is a much better name. Either way, I must say I’m surprised that he ever made it into the cartoon, because he’s just really odd.

Small 3
Hose Nose: “I won’t say anything, which will save the voice actors the hassle of trying to figure out what a humanoid elephant would sound like.”

Anyway, Hose Nose washes the miniaturisation powder off our heroes, then buggers off without saying a word. For some reason, the powder only now takes effect, and She-Ra, Glimmer and Swift Wind shrink to a tiny size. The episode now runs through some less-than-necessary sequences in which She-Ra does battle with a creature vaguely resembling a frog, some kind of weasel thing, and a crow, before they finally get picked up – literally – by Bow.

Bow puts on a disguise and manages to gain entry to the base, with She-Ra and Glimmer in his pockets. Luckily for them, it’s his shirt pocket, not his trousers. Bow then successfully finds the science lab, flatters the scientist, acquires some growth serum and uses it on She-Ra, Glimmer and Swift Wind to return them to normal. It’s at this point that Catra, Scorpia and two Horde Troopers corner them, and She-Ra makes a bizarre comment: “They can’t fire in four directions at once.” Well, yes they can actually, She-Ra, because there’s four of them, and they all have a gun.

Small 4
She-Ra: “My, my, what a massive helmet.”

Catra and Scorpia waste time arguing, which gives our heroes the opportunity to escape – though not before they blow the entire research base up. Back at Whispering Wood, Glimmer promises not to boast anymore, and then Bow says, “For the first time, I had She-Ra right in the palm of my hand.” I thought that was pretty funny, actually, but Glimmer and Adora don’t. They stalk off, but not before giving Bow a disgusted look, as if he’d just admitted to having had a threesome with Orko and Hordak.

 

In today’s adventure…

Today I saw Loo-Kee, again because I pressed the pause button at a fortuitous moment. He’s in a tree, just before Adora and Glimmer reach Smalloak. Not unexpectedly, his theme for the day is not getting a big head when you do well at something, such as the spelling contest.

 

Character checklist

This enjoyable little trip to Etheria involves quite a few characters, including a new face or two: Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, a Twigget, Hose Nose, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Catra, Scorpia, the Horde scientist, and some Horde Troopers.

Small 5
Scorpia: “Oh Christ, it’s all going wrong again.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’m sure she’s all right. I think she can take care of herself,” says She-Ra, when Glimmer finally remembers that Adora was around.

 

Insults

She-Ra calls some Horde robots “tin cans”, and some Horde Troopers are referred to as “fools” by both Bow and Catra. Other than that, we are treated to Catra and Scorpia slinging barbs at each other. Scorpia, being irritatingly stupid, can only manage the unimaginative “fool”, to which Catra responds with “miserable insect” and “bugface”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow attempts to break into the Horde research base by dressing up as a Horde Inspector. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know what a Horde Inspector looks like, so he just makes a costume up. Needless to say, it fails to convince the guards, though luckily for him, Scorpia is idiotic enough to fall for it.

Small 6
Horde Trooper: “Bow, we know it’s you.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I’ve always enjoyed stories about people being made smaller than they should be. I used to love Honey, I Shrunk the Kids when I was little, except for the bit where – spoilers – the ant dies. I used to hate that bit and used to actually leave the room when I knew it was coming. My sister, who I’ve never quite forgiven, used to simply pause the video and then make me watch the ant dying bit when I came back. Despite me being two years older than her, I never failed to fall for this trick. God, I was dense.

Irrelevant reminiscing aside, I was always going to like this episode because of its gimmick. Unless you count the two or three minutes in the middle where She-Ra has fights with various normally non-threatening animals, it doesn’t actually do a lot with its premise, but it’s still good. Catra is entertaining as always, and it was fun to see how much she dislikes Scorpia. My only quibble is the entirely pointless appearance of Hose Nose, which was a return to the “here’s an action figure you need to buy” type of scene that occasionally blighted He-Man.

And, as stated above, it was nice for Glimmer to actually get a moment in the spotlight and achieve something. Bow also got a victory, in that he was the one to blow up the base, not She-Ra. On thinking about it, all She-Ra actually did this week was show up, which was a nice change.