Episode 67 – Return of the General

In which Glimmer reveals she can fly.

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.

General 1
Tandy: “Look at me! I’m so cute! Love me!”

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.

General 2
She-Ra: “This non-tiara look is one of those things that’s not illegal but is definitely not right.”

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.

General 3
General Sunder: “Don’t even ask what the hell I’m sitting on.”

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.

General 4
General Sunder: “I may be smiling, but I’m screaming inside.”

 

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

General 5
She-Ra: “Yeah, good one, Glimmer. Any more hitherto unmentioned abilities you want to demonstrate?”

 

Insults

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”.

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Mantenna: “Hope Hordak doesn’t catch me watching this video.”

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.

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Episode 66 – One to Count 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.

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Leech: “Me up against Bow. This is truly a clash of titans.”

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.

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Adora: “Stop posing like this is a wedding photoshoot, you idiots.”

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.

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Adora: “Don’t look so miserable, you two. I’m here now.”

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

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Leech: “This is the worst carnival tent I’ve ever seen.”

 

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.

 

Insults

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.

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Bow: “I can always rely on my old friend Rohypnol.”

 

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.

Season 1 Summary

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.

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She-Ra: “LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM!”

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.

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Mantenna: “I hate performance appraisal day.”

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:

 

Highlights

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She-Ra: “These episodes are so good I jump for joy.”

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.

 

Lowlights

Horde Prime 5
He-Man: “How dare you have episodes this bad?”

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!

 

Episode 65 – The Greatest Magic

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.

Greatest 1
Adora: “Don’t worry everyone, I’ll suffocate him in his sleep when there are no witnesses.”

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 number of appalling He-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.

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She-Ra: “This has to be a nightmare, right?”

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.

Greatest 3
Dree Elle: “Look at these rubbish robots.”

 

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?

 

Character checklist

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.

 

Insults

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”.

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Doctor Zoog: “I know you despise me. The truth is I despise myself too.”

 

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.

Episode 64 – Wild Child

In which we get numerous vaguely linked plotlines, none of which work.

When white dog-like ghosts begin running at night through the rebel camp, plant life starts to wither and die. The rebels discover a gold locket, imprinted with the crest of the Green Island Kingdom, and so Adora sends Madame Razz and Broom off to the Green Islands to seek answers. Once Madame Razz has gone, however, Adora encounters the ghosts herself, and discovers them to be simply white dogs, accompanied by a ghostly white female.

Wild Child 1
White Dog: “Got her pinned down! Let’s eat her!”

This is apparently sufficient provocation to warrant a transformation into She-Ra, and there follows a weird sequence in which She-Ra doesn’t seem to know what to do about the dogs, so she waits until they nearly fall off a cliff and then leaps in to save them. She then meets a collection of woodcutters, who blame the white dogs for the dying trees. This entire scene tells us nothing we didn’t already know, and I’m tempted to delete this paragraph, but I’ve put quite a bit of effort into writing it, so I won’t.

Madame Razz returns and makes her report to Adora and Bow. The locket belongs to Princess Allegra of the Green Islands, who disappeared five years ago when her sailboat was washed away in a storm. Her father, King Arbor, is very keen to find Allegra, who was only seven years old when she vanished, and so he’s on his way to Whispering Wood to find out more.

Wild Child 2
Madame Razz: “Broom, I’ve just realised how bloody useless you are.”

Ever aware of the need to advertise the latest action figures, Adora suggests that they go and ask Mermista about Princess Allegra, not that they have any reason to imagine she’ll know anything. As it happens, though, Mermista has the power to access the memory of any sea creature, and thus it is that she is able to reveal that Princess Allegra’s sailboat did indeed capsize, but Allegra herself was saved by a pack of white dogs.

Princess Allegra chooses this moment to make an appearance, and explains that she’s not a ghost, for those of us who were still invested in the ghost plot. She then continues her expository monologue with the information that she now lives in the forest with the white dogs, and claims the dogs are not responsible for the dying trees, for those of us who were still invested in the dying vegetation plot.

Wild Child 3
Allegra: “I’m going for the fashion style known as castaway-chic.”

Adora and Bow take Allegra and a white dog to the rebel camp, and the episode lurches into a storyline about how Allegra seems uncivilised to other children, because she’s grown up in the forest with only some white dogs as parents. Fortunately, that doesn’t last too long before the episode has another abrupt change of heart and starts concentrating on the woodcutters chasing one of the white dogs around.

The woodcutters temporarily manage to trap the white dog, but at that very moment, the ground starts heating up and some plants die. She-Ra makes an unwelcome re-entry to the storyline at this stage, and determines that there are a load of lava tunnels running directly underneath Whispering Wood. Her solution is to divert the ocean into the tunnels to extinguish the lava, which is achieved with stunning ease.

The episode attempts to wrap its various meandering plotlines up by having King Arbor arrive and taking Allegra home. Allegra says goodbye to her white dog friends, and Adora promises that the woodcutters will leave the dogs alone in future. Then she smirks in a really silly way.

Wild Child 5
King Arbor: “Thanks for finding my daughter, She-Ra. What’s that? I could join the Rebellion? You must be joking, ta-ta.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee’s got the worst hiding place ever today. He’s in the middle of an empty green field, with only his stupid blue tail offering him the slightest degree of concealment. I saw him immediately. His moral is that we should always eat our vegetables, rather than any one of the many things this episode might have been trying to say, such as:

  1. Don’t assume people and dogs are ghosts, because they probably aren’t.
  2. Don’t assume girls who grew up in the forest are idiots, because they probably aren’t.
  3. Don’t assume She-Ra knows what she’s doing when she’s messing about with volcanoes, because she probably doesn’t.
Wild Child 4
Loo-Kee: “Sorry to lower the tone, but this week it does rather look like I’m hiding behind my own massively engorged penis.”

 

Character checklist

This rubbish features Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, Glimmer, Mermista, Allegra, King Arbor, Loo-Kee, some rebels and some woodcutters.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

It’s not an excuse as such, but Adora does heartily announce “Time for She-Ra!” just before transforming. Just thought you might be interested. If you’re still reading these reviews after this long, there’s a fair chance you are.

Adora’s second transformation comes with a better excuse, since she tells Bow to wait while “I head off the woodsmen.”

Wild Child 7
Woodcutters: “Yeah yeah, we cut down loads of trees with our, er, clubs.”

 

Insults

At the beginning, Bow discovers that all the prize-winning vegetables in his garden have withered and died, and considers that this means it’s okay to call Kowl a “featherbrain”. Otherwise, we only have some rubbish from the rebel children, one of whom says that Allegra “looks like an animal,” to which Allegra retorts, “You’re silly-looking.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

“I don’t get it,” announces Bow. “How could Allegra’s locket get from the Green Islands to Whispering Wood?” Well, Bow, here’s a notion: maybe someone carried it? If you can’t conceive of a method to get a small amulet from one place to another, you really are genuinely dim.

Wild Child 6
Adora: “No need to look so smug, Bow. You’re a moron of the highest order.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This one really doesn’t work. The bit about ghosts doesn’t make sense, since when we first see them, Allegra and the dogs are animated entirely in white, to make them look ghostly, but later on, they just look normal. There’s no explanation as to why they looked completely white, and it can only be chalked up to a pointless exercise in misdirection. The episode’s plotline about Allegra growing up in the forest could have been interesting, but was sacrificed almost immediately in favour of a load of utter gibberish about volcanoes. The woodcutters also did not feel like a necessary inclusion. All in all, I suggest avoiding this episode.

Bonus Update: He-Man Goes to Armenia

Time for something a bit different today. In mid-June, I went to Armenia, and I took my new Mega-Construx He-Man figure with me. His exploits were detailed on Instagram, but if you missed them, the full story is now revealed here…

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He-Man arrives in Yerevan, and stands in front of a very faint Mount Ararat.
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And now He-Man is checking out the 2800 fountains, one for each year of Yerevan’s existence.
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He-Man learns about the complex relationship between sculpture and architecture in post-Soviet Armenia.
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He-Man, when you’re in Armenia, you should eat Armenian food, not Mexican…
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And now you’re on the cocktails. For God’s sake, He-Man.
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Here’s He-Man at the Holy See of Echmiadzin, the holiest place in Armenia.
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And now he’s checking out the ruins of Zvartnots cathedral, destroyed in an earthquake over 1000 years ago.
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He-Man’s been busy today. He’s now at Khor Virap, where Armenia became the world’s first Christian country, in 301 AD. He-Man is fun and educational.
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He-Man is now at Noravank monastery, which is very hot even at 6.30pm.
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He-Man has climbed (driven) to the top of the Selim Pass. He’s facing the wrong way to enjoy the view though.
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He-Man is now at the spa town of Jermuk, where he considered a shower in the warm salty water coming from this tap, but decided against it in case it washed his paintwork off.
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He-Man defying death on a narrow bridge at Jermuk waterfall. He is now well behind schedule and has a long drive ahead of him.
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This is He-Man at Karahunj, Armenia’s Stonehenge. Unfortunately, He-Man was being a right dick this evening and wouldn’t stand up, so here he is just after he fell over for the 170 billionth time.
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What’s that you say, He-Man? You’d like a go on the world’s longest non-stop reversible aerial tramway? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
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He-Man is feeling very pleased with his visit to Tatev monastery.
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He-Man, get your greedy hands off my chips!
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He-Man has come to see 7000 year old petroglyphs in the mountains above Sisian.
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He-Man loves posing on the numberplate of his Soviet jeep.
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He-Man is not at all keen to get out of the car in the thunderstorm at Varodnovank monastery.
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He-Man’s tour of Armenia continues with a visit to Noratus cemetery.
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He-Man feels he deserves a bit of chillax time at Lake Sevan.
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He-Man is still living it up, now at the rather tacky resort of Sevanavank.
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He-Man, I think you’re getting a bit overfamiliar with me now.
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Amazing breakfast for He-Man in Dilijan.
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He-Man feels that Dilijan’s Soviet monument to the unity of the Caucasian peoples would not look out of place on Eternia.
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He-Man is quite affronted that I was too ashamed to ask that he be included in this selfie at Ijevan Wine Factory.
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He-Man is rather sulkily hiking the Transcaucasian Trail.
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He-Man’s day begins with a quick trip to the enticingly named Chemical Factory Workers’ Park.
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He-Man reconnects with the type of TV on which he enjoyed his heyday.
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He-Man’s trip ends rather abruptly with some bad news. He appears to have slipped out of my pocket somewhere along the way. I went back to check if he was in the abandoned Soviet industrial cable car behind me (not a place I’d planned to visit once, let alone twice), but no luck. I suppose I should count myself lucky I didn’t lose my wallet or car keys or something, but I feel bereft.

He-Man is clearly unreliable. On my next trip, I’m bringing Skeletor instead.

Episode 63 – Flowers for Hordak

In which the Fright Zone becomes the Flower Zone.

It’s becoming a noticeable pattern with episodes written by Bob Forward that they begin with an extended scene in which Hordak demonstrates how unpleasant he is, usually by bullying Mantenna in an amusing way. This episode is no exception, but after the laughs are over, we move onto the plot line. Shadow Weaver has found a black ruby, which will allow her to darken the air around Whispering Wood and stop the trees growing. If the trees die, the magic of Whispering Wood will no longer protect the rebels. The only problem is that one of the rebels, called Perfuma, has a magical power which will enable her to keep plants alive even if they have no light. Accordingly, Hordak decides that Stage 1 of this cunning plan will be to capture Perfuma, so he sends out a strike force of Horde Troopers to do so.

Flowers for Hordak 4
Mantenna: “I assure you, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.”

Perfuma is hanging out at a beautiful location called the Crystal Falls, along with Adora, Bow and a mermaid called Mermista. Mermista speaks with a vague Russian accent and isn’t annoying, but Perfuma talks like she’s got no brains, and spends her time obsessively adding flowers to everything, including Adora’s head. It is perhaps a relief for the rebels, therefore, when a Horde Trooper successfully kidnaps Perfuma; they certainly don’t seem inclined to go to too much trouble to get her back.

Both Bow and Glimmer seem incredulous at this turn of events; independently, they both ask, “Why would the Horde want Perfuma?” The implication here is that Perfuma is no use to man nor beast. She-Ra is at a loss to explain the kidnap, but all becomes clear when Shadow Weaver casts her spell to block out the sun. She-Ra turns to directly address the camera, and looks distinctly cross-eyed – and even possibly a bit drunk – as she proclaims that she is going to ask Light Hope what to do.

Flowers for Hordak 1
She-Ra: “Oh Christ, I’m off my tits again.”

Light Hope is bafflingly insane this time, though; he agrees that the trees will die without Perfuma, but insists that She-Ra must do absolutely nothing to try to sort the situation out. Bemused, She-Ra leers drunkenly at the camera again, then returns to the rebel camp, where she convinces Glimmer to cast a spell to simulate sunlight. After Glimmer does this, she claims exhaustion, and retires to bed with what looks like a McDonalds takeaway on her bedside table.

Flowers for Hordak 3
Glimmer: “I said a Big Mac, not the bloody chicken nuggets.”

In the meantime, Perfuma has decorated her cell with a huge flower display, and for some bonkers reason, is leading a Horde Trooper in a waltz. Needless to say, Hordak is not amused, and becomes even less so as the episode progresses and Perfuma spreads her flowers across the entire Fright Zone. Hordak sends increasingly desperate messages to the rebels, offering to swap Perfuma for She-Ra, and eventually just offering to release Perfuma if someone would just come and get her.

She-Ra takes him up on this latter deal, and arrives in the Fright Zone to find the entire place is covered in flowers, and Hordak is not at all pleased about it. And so begins the oddest prisoner release negotiation in history, with neither side wanting to have possession of the prisoner. She-Ra drives a hard bargain, and eventually agrees to take Perfuma away in return for the black ruby, money and supplies for the Rebellion. Shadow Weaver also lifts the sun-blocking spell, and She-Ra once again drunkenly mugs at the camera.

Flowers for Hordak 2
Hordak: “I’m willing to accept that this time I’ve screwed up.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Christ alone knows what we’re supposed to have learned from this little excursion into the world of the genuinely mental. Loo-Kee (who was lurking around at the Crystal Falls) goes for the obvious, suggesting that maybe we should take the time to enjoy trees and flowers. Sadly, he stops short of suggesting we decorate our worst enemy’s house with them.

 

Character checklist

It’s a triumphant introduction for Perfuma, and not a bad intro for Mermista. Our regulars are Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Glimmer, Bow, Light Hope, Madame Razz, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, some random rebels, and some Horde Troopers.

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Mermista: “I think I’m going to bow out of this episode early on.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

She-Ra offers only a terse, “No time to explain” when asked where she came from.

 

Insults

Mermista calls a pair of Horde Troopers “dirty tin cans”, which is pretty par for the course. Otherwise, the start of the episode features Hordak happily describing Mantenna as a “bug-eyed bungler”. Later on, there’s a lot more irritation in his voice when he calls some Horde Troopers “idiots”, but this is understandable since he’s had to put up with Perfuma calling him an “old grouch” and the enormously insulting “Hordikins”.

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Hordak: “This is the lowest point of my entire life.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, wow. Sometimes the writers surpass themselves. This episode is a serious contender for the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. It makes absolutely bugger-all sense, of course, but the scenes of Perfuma leading a squadron of Horde Troopers in a conga are so hilariously demented that you can’t help but love it. Hordak is extremely funny in his OTT hatred for flowers in general and Perfuma in particular, and it somehow adds to the general hilarity that even the rebels seem less than enthused about Perfuma’s presence in their lives. Perfuma is a hugely irritating character, but since the writer clearly intended her to be that way, it’s absolutely fine, so long as she never appears again – I’m convinced the joke will wear extremely thin if she makes a return showing. This episode, though, is one of the greats. Well done.

Episode 62 – Magicats

In which She-Ra discovers an underground kingdom of cats.

Prince Orwell of somewhere or another has come to meet Adora, providing supplies for the Rebellion. Unfortunately, Catra and two Horde Troopers have followed him, and so it’s swords drawn and references to the honour of Grayskull all round. In the course of the ensuing kerfuffle, Catra uses a new device – which looks like a fork – to open a massive chasm, down which both she and She-Ra fall.

They both land at separate positions in a vast underground maze. Catra quickly finds her way to a large city, populated by a cat people, and consequently feels she’s landed on her feet somewhat. She assumes her large purple cat form, and starts slinking around the city, which for whatever reason makes the populace decide that she is their long-lost queen. Catra is only too pleased to play along, feigning memory loss.

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Catra: “It’s difficult to explain just how pleased I am about this.”

Minister Cloudfoot helpfully fills Catra in on their queen’s history. When the Horde came to Etheria, they attacked the cat people and drove them underground, after taking many slaves. The queen went out to look for the slaves, and has not been seen since. Catra realises that her cat mask – the source of her catty powers – must have belonged to the queen, and uses its powers to convince the people that she is the queen returned.

Soon enough, She-Ra blunders along into the cat city, and is instantly ambushed by a contingent of light-sabre wielding cats. Catra then administers the coup-de-grace, using her mask’s freeze ray to entrap She-Ra within a block of ice. After the commercial break, we find Catra has retired to a boudoir, and is lounging about plotting to abandon Hordak and remain ruler of the cat people for ever. For this plan to succeed, she determines she will have to dispose of She-Ra once and for all.

She-Ra, in the meantime, has been taken to a prison cell and restrained with chains of magical energy. Of course, she spends her time yammering away to her guard Percival, explaining that Catra is a Horde captain, and that the cat people’s queen is really in a Horde prison camp. Percival pops off to Catra’s boudoir, where he finds that she has foolishly resumed her human shape and is chatting to Hordak on an Apple iWatch. This is all the proof Percival needs, and returns to free She-Ra.

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Hordak: “Catra, there’s a weirdo at the window behind you.”

Percival reveals that Catra is about to be crowned queen in a special ceremony, and explains that it is imperative that she is exposed before the coronation. She-Ra is all too willing to help, and the two of them burst into the ceremony, to find Catra in cat form, sitting on the throne very neatly. Percival suggests that since the queen would be able to defeat a human in single combat, the cat people should let Catra and She-Ra fight it out.

This suggestion is accepted by everyone, though Catra presumably has some degree of apprehension about it, given her track record in fighting She-Ra. Not unexpectedly, She-Ra quickly gains the upper hand and knocks Catra’s mask off, reverting her to her human form. Once the cats realise Catra’s true nature, they all surround her, pretty damn ominously, I must say.

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Catra: “I believe the appropriate expression is ‘curses, foiled again’.”

Catra grabs her mask and runs away, but as she goes the cat people cast a spell to erase her memory of these events, ensuring that their underground city will remain hidden from the Horde. She-Ra then indulges in a very clever trick to free the real queen from prison, and also manages to involve Prince Orwell in the episode’s conclusion, in case we were desperate to see him again.

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is the very first thing that greets the viewer when the episode begins, and it truly is a pleasure to see him. When we catch up with him again at the end of the episode, his message to us is that we shouldn’t throw litter on the ground, but should always use a bin. While I agree with the sentiment, I sometimes wonder if Loo-Kee is even vaguely aware of the episode’s story. This week had nothing to do with litter, at all. Except maybe cat litter, but that’s stretching it.

 

Character checklist

Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Prince Orwell, Minister Cloudfoot, Percival, the cat people’s queen, various other cats, Loo-Kee, Catra, Hordak, and the usual array of Horde Troopers.

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Prince Orwell: “I’m definitely not an irrelevant character.”

 

Insults

It’s rather light on the insults today, the only one I can be certain of being Catra muttering under her breath that the cat people are “fools”. There is also a moment when she addresses Percival and says either “keep back!” or “fleabag!”, but I couldn’t say which.

 

Does it have the Power?

Catra really is one of the most reliably entertaining villains in this series, Shadow Weaver being the other. This week finds Catra at her scheming best, and it’s all mighty good fun seeing her pulling the wool over the eyes of the cat people and setting herself up as queen. I also like that her loyalty to Hordak is – at best – dubious, as it gives her a depth of character way beyond that afforded to other Horde idiots. I do like cats a lot as well, so perhaps that helps to swing this episode for me. Even if you don’t like cats, though, I don’t think anyone could deny this one has a spark and energy that recent efforts have lacked a bit. Recommended.

Episode 61 – Darksmoke and Fire

In which Granamyr pops up again, although I wish he hadn’t bothered.

Today’s little intrigue centres around Modulok, who has been busy creating a massive missile. It is intended for use next time She-Ra opens a gateway to Eternia and will apparently make said gateway unstable, with the result that She-Ra could be deposited absolutely anywhere. To be honest, this is unlikely to be successful, but Hordak seems impressed.

Luckily, they don’t have long to wait before they can test the missile. For no readily discernible reason, Adora and Light Hope open a gateway to Eternia, so Modulok deploys the missile. Adora ends up on Eternia anyway, which is surprising given the claim she could be deposited in a random location anywhere throughout the universe. To give Modulok a tiny bit of credit, Adora is somewhere in the Eternian wilderness, not in the Palace as she expected.

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Hordak: “Modulok, is it possible that you didn’t have time to test the missile because you wasted ages painstakingly painting the Horde logo on it?”

Or is she? Adora suddenly recognises the landscape, and realises that the Palace is gone. Before she has time to muse on this surprising situation, some people run past, chasing someone else. Without giving any thought to who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong, Adora changes into She-Ra and takes the side of the person being chased.

After she chases off the chasers, She-Ra doesn’t have time to discuss the situation before being attacked by a dragon. Luckily, the guy who was being chased intervenes, and fortunately he gets a name at this point, so I can now refer to him as Tarben. The dragon is introduced as Brightstar, and it seems he and Tarben are friends. Tarben thanks She-Ra for her help, and takes her to a place called Dragon Valley.

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Tarben: “I’m sensing a distinct disparity in the amount of screen She-Ra and I have been allocated.”

In Dragon Valley, She-Ra meets Granamyr, our old mate of a dragon from some of He-Man’s best episodes. She-Ra seems to know who Granamyr is, having been told about him by He-Man, King Randor, Man-at-Arms and Orko – but these names are unfamiliar to Granamyr. Luckily, before this can get any more confusing, Granamyr casts a spell on She-Ra, and works out that she has arrived on Eternia 1000 years in the past.

The episode then embarks on a convoluted plotline about some idiot dressed in purple who wants to start a war between the local villagers and the dragons. I don’t know what the middle stage of this plan is, but the anticipated endgame is that the purple-clothed idiot will become ruler of Eternia. He burns down a tower full of food and blames it on the dragons, whipping the dim-witted villagers up into a warlike frenzy.

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Granamyr: “Nice to see that even 1000 years in the past, I still had a really goofy helmet.”

Tarben now reveals that he is the king, which doesn’t quite ring true given that earlier in the episode the villagers were chasing him around shouting insults at him. Surely they’d have greater respect for their king? Anyway, he pops off to stop the villagers and the dragons fighting, and She-Ra, disregarding the Temporal Prime Directive, goes to help. The rest of the episode showcases She-Ra’s efforts to stop the war, and it’s dull as ditchwater.

I hardly need to tell you that the war is averted, and I certainly don’t need to tell you how she does it, because it’s equal parts boring and stupid. The dragons and the humans make friends, the purple-clothed idiot disappears in a puff of purple smoke, and Granamyr comes up with a way to send She-Ra home so she can stop polluting Ancient Eternia with her self-righteous smuggery.

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Tarben: “This bit of Poundland bling will prove I’m king, no question.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee, who was hiding in a tree right at the end of the episode, pops up to tell us that Granamyr was absolutely awesome in He-Man, especially in The Dragon’s Gift, and that it’s a real shame he was subsequently relegated to appear in tripe like this. Oh, all right, no he doesn’t. Instead, he tells us that we shouldn’t try to blame others for our misdeeds, like the purple-clothed idiot tried to blame the dragons. I wonder if the writer of this episode tried to blame it on anyone else. I would have, if I’d written it.

 

Character checklist

I can barely be bothered to recount who turned up this week, but in the interests of completeness, I suppose I’d better tell you it was Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Tarben, Brightstar, Granamyr, various dragons and villagers, Hordak, Modulok, Imp, the purple-clothed idiot, and a surprise reappearance for Lokus from Wizard of Stone Mountain. Though it’s possibly just a re-use of his animation. I don’t care either way.

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Purple-clothed idiot: “Maybe this serves as an origin story for Lokus, not that anyone wanted one.”

 

Insults

One of the villagers calls Tarben a “rotten dragon-lover”, and another says that dragons are “overgrown lizards”. Otherwise, there’s nothing to report here, except that the purple-clothed idiot repeatedly refers to the Lokus Animation Reuse as “slutty”. I’m not sure if this is a surprisingly extreme insult, a monumentally badly chosen name, or my notoriously unreliable ears playing tricks on me again.

 

Does it have the Power?

I found this episode deeply unsatisfying, and I’m not totally sure why. I think it’s largely that it seemed so pointless somehow; I don’t know why I should care about some extremely minor conflict between dragons and humans way back in Eternia’s past. If it had shown us something new about Granamyr’s character, perhaps demonstrating how he came to be so wise and powerful, then that would be a different story, but here he’s exactly the same as he was in He-Man, evidently not having changed at all in a thousand years.

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Adora: “There’s a perfectly rational explanation for this.”

The idea of stranding She-Ra in the past was a good one, but the episode didn’t really seem to go anywhere with it. She-Ra just behaves like she usually does, getting involved in silly situations and not putting any apparent effort into getting home. Tarben is a curiously poorly-drawn character (is he a king or a villager, and why does he like dragons when no one else does?) and the less said about the purple-clothed idiot, the better. I’d whole-heartedly recommend skipping this bilge.

Episode 60 – Anchors Aloft, Part 2

In which Sea Hawk’s father is barely relevant.

After a speedy recap of last week’s shocking events, we are plunged straight back into the action. Admiral Scurvy has decided to chain all the pirates up and leave them on the island for a prison ship to pick up later, but he is taking Adora and Spirit back to Hordak. The moment Scurvy departs, Sea Hawk emerges and rescues the pirates. For some reason, he dresses up in the Falcon’s burglar outfit in order to do this, seemingly only for dramatic effect.

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Sea Hawk: “God, I look cool.”

Once the pirates are free, Sea Hawk sets them all to work converting the Falcon’s vessel into a solar flying ship, similar to the one that got blown up last week. While they are so occupied, he goes to talk to the Falcon, who is skulking about at the back of the cave, refusing to reveal himself to the pirates. He explains that he is old and ill, and only kept alive by the enchanted air of the island. I don’t know how he knows this, since he doesn’t appear to have ever tried to leave the island, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Unfortunately, Admiral Scurvy has got word of the release of the pirates, and turns his ship around to return to the island. With remarkable good fortune, Swen and the pirates complete their work on the solar sails in time, and head out to confront Scurvy. Naturally, pretty much the same thing happens as last week, since Scurvy’s ship massively outguns that of Sea Hawk. This time, however, Sea Hawk has learned from his mistakes, and tells his crew to get the ship out of range while he boards Scurvy’s vessel.

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Sea Hawk: “Listen guys, you’re all really annoying, so could you just clear off out of the episode now?”

As the battle unfolds, Adora manages to get hold of her sword and transforms into She-Ra, then goes off to demolish the guns on Scurvy’s ship. In the meantime, Sea Hawk tackles an endless array of Horde Troopers, while Davy Jones has a Tom-and-Jerry-like encounter with Scurvy’s cat Squall. All this jollity comes to an end, however, when Scurvy manages to capture She-Ra.

Scurvy loads She-Ra and Squall into a lifeboat, and tries to distract Sea Hawk with a bar of gold, in the deluded belief that Sea Hawk would rather have the gold than a chance to get into She-Ra’s pants. Sure enough, Sea Hawk chooses to rescue She-Ra, and once Scurvy is defeated, Sea Hawk suddenly remembers he has to rescue Adora as well. This means She-Ra has to run off, turn back into Adora, and put herself back into her cell, in order to be rescued. They already did that joke last week. It’s still pretty funny for a repeat performance, though.

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Admiral Scurvy: “Yeah, it is a bit tacky, I suppose. I can see why you didn’t go for it.”

 

In today’s adventure…

No sign of Loo-Kee for me today, but if you want to know, he was in Falcon’s cave. He explains that we should never cheat in order to win a game or pass a test, a subject which I think has absolutely zero relevance to the story we’ve just sat through.

 

Character checklist

It’s exactly the same cast list as it was last week, and so I’m going to give myself the day off and not trouble myself to type it all out again.

 

Insults

In Part 1 of this story, Davy Jones was incredibly free with his zingers, so it’s rather surprising that this week, he doesn’t say a cruel word to anyone, except perhaps a Horde Trooper towards the start, but I couldn’t make out what was said.

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Davy Jones: “I’d insult Squall, but I would prefer to stay hidden.”

On the other hand, Admiral Scurvy has a lot to say for himself. He addresses Sea Hawk’s crew as “pirate scum” and “pirate dogs”, as well as calling a Horde Trooper a “stupid robot” and an “idiot”. Furthermore, his entire army of Horde Troopers get referred to as “fools”. He reserves his best insult for She-Ra, who suffers the burn of being called a “blasted flying female”.

Adora calls Scurvy a “monster”, and evidently likes the way it rolls off her tongue, since she does it again later. Swen scores one for the rebels by telling Scurvy he is the “meanest shark in the twelve Etherian seas”, and then follows up by addressing some Horde Troopers as “cowardly tin cans”. Finally, a Horde Trooper gets in an “insolent rodent” aimed at Davy Jones.

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Horde Trooper: “Bit of a disproportionate response to me insulting a mouse, tbh.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is some good solid pirate hi-jinks, but I’d hesitate to describe it as a classic. It’s certainly got ambition, since it ends with a decent change to the status quo: Sea Hawk’s crew out-and-out join the Rebellion, rather than just helping them out from time to time, and they also have their new ship. For animation purposes, it’s lucky the new ship looks just like the old one, but still. We also have a glacial advance in Adora and Sea Hawk’s relationship, for those that like that sort of thing.

There’s the usual problem with reintroducing someone’s father, though: for some gibberish reason or other, the Falcon can’t possibly leave the island, so we’re free to forget about him. To be honest, after all last week’s build-up about him, this episode virtually ignores him, featuring him in only one scene, and mentioning him in just one other. Bit of a missed opportunity there, I’d say.

While having this story as a two-parter does allow it time to breathe, I have to say it’s not entirely necessary. I was never bored throughout either part, but I don’t imagine it would have been too challenging to condense it into a single episode. Still, I’d give both parts of this story a good thumbs-up, as it’s pretty enjoyable.