In which we have the pleasure of the company of yet another dreadful child.
As the episode begins, Modulok leads a squadron of Horde Troopers into a homestead, where they load up the family’s grain store into Horde transport trucks. Watching from an overlooking ridge, Adora and Bow decide to intervene, and quickly defeat the Troopers. They then meet the family’s daughter, Lena, who despite being only about 8 years old, expresses a desire to join the Rebellion.
Adora and Bow treat this with, if not contempt, then at least a degree of bemusement, especially when Lena sees a Horde Trooper, takes fright, and runs off. Adora goes after her, turns into She-Ra, and arrives just in time to save Lena from one of those ubiquitous breaking bridges that seem to plague Etheria and Eternia. In case you’re interested, she achieves this by walking across a tightrope in her high heels, which I’m convinced must be impossible. A circus career awaits.
The episode now lurches into a scene in which She-Ra escapes from Modulok and a huge number of flying Horde robot ships by taking Lena into Whispering Wood. At Rebel HQ, Lena helps Bow pointlessly line up all his arrows on a table, while She-Ra disappears and returns as Adora, bearing the report that the Horde have successfully stolen all the grain. I feel this could have been prevented if She-Ra had been particularly invested in that plotline, but perhaps she’s like me.
Bow and Lena favour a head-on assault, while Adora is more interested in a spot of level-headed thinking and perhaps the formulation of a plan before blundering in like a bull in a china shop. For some reason, the sight of Bow and Lena waving their fists around persuades Adora that a plan isn’t needed, so she wanders off again to turn into She-Ra.
When She-Ra, Bow and Lena arrive back at the village, they find that Modulok has arrested Lena’s parents for being rebel spies, and taken them away. She-Ra and Bow seize the opportunity to ditch Lena, and leave her in the village while they ride off to rescue her parents. I’m sure it won’t come as any kind of a surprise to you that Lena leaps on a moose and follows them. Well, maybe the moose bit surprises you, but not the following bit.
Luckily, she doesn’t disrupt the ensuing big battle too much, and instead Bow sets her to work recovering the grain while he attempts to rescue her parents, though he simply ends up getting locked in the same cage as them. Modulok then unveils his new weapon – something called the Converter – which is perhaps unique in the history of both He-Man and She-Ra in that it actually defeats our hero. She-Ra is forced to run away, and she re-emerges as Adora.
For some entirely inexplicable reason, Adora is capable of defeating Modulok where She-Ra failed, and tricks him into using the Converter to release Bow and Lena’s parents. Lena’s parents then inflict a further defeat on Modulok, leading Lena to congratulate her parents on their bravery whilst staring at them with uncannily dead eyes. There’s then time for a quick, irrelevant and nauseating lecture on the powers of love, and faith, and good, before the episode mercifully fades to black.
In today’s adventure…
Naturally, the first shot of Whispering Wood this week also features Loo-Kee, though he’s quite difficult to see, so I was rather proud of myself this time. He sees fit to witter on about She-Ra’s powers of love and kindness and fairness, as well as her physical strength. He suggests that maybe we should adopt these powers ourselves, which is perhaps a desperate plea for me to be loving and kind and fair right now about this episode. Tell you what: I will be fair, but not loving or kind. Deal?
This one has a nice and tight cast list, not that it helps the quality of the episode: it’s just Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Lena, Lena’s family, Loo-Kee, Modulok, and some Horde Troopers.
Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance
“You deal with them,” Adora tells Bow, referring to some Horde Troopers. She adds, “I’ll find Lena before she gets into any trouble,” and runs off, turning into She-Ra once she’s out of sight. She even gives another excuse in time for the second transformation, though it’s not as good: “I’ll find She-Ra.” She doesn’t bother for the third transformation, but still, Adora, you’ve shown you can do it, and it’s not that hard. Why don’t you do this more often?
Though not an insult, there’s a moment when Modulok says, “It’s that rebel bowman,” in reference to Bow. I prefer to think of it as Modulok being blissed out on some pretty heavy drugs and saying, “It’s that rebel Bow, maaaan.” Just to be clear, there is nothing in the episode to justify this interpretation, but watching as much She-Ra as I have lately can do strange things to your brain.
Otherwise, Modulok doesn’t do well this week, being addressed as a “creepy crook” and a “big bully” by Lena, and as a “nasty person” and a “hulking Hordeperson” by Lena’s mother. He does retaliate with “little whelp” for Lena, and also comes up with the pretty original “meddling madam” for Adora.
Finally, towards the start of the episode, Lena dismisses Adora by saying, “You’re just a regular woman”, measuring her up against She-Ra and finding her wanting. I personally don’t know any regular women who wear silly red leotards and keep power swords stuffed down their backs, but clearly I hang out with the wrong crowd.
Oh Yes, Bow!
Bow is his usual cocky self at the beginning of this episode, refusing to call on She-Ra for help because he believes that he and Adora are more than a match for Modulok and his Troopers. Normally, this would be the setup for Bow’s speedy defeat, but he proves surprisingly competent.
Oh No, Bow!
On the other hand, Bow is tiresomely keen to attack the Horde this week, and eventually Adora has to tell him to calm the fuck down. Despite his fighting talk, when it eventually comes to the big fight at the end of the episode, his performance is evidently so poor that the episode doesn’t even bother to show him getting captured. We just cut from him being all confident and smug to a scene of him being already behind bars.
Does it have the Power?
It veers wildly from moments that are quite good, moments that are quietly average and huge swathes that are massively annoying. Needless to say, the massively annoying bits are those that involve Lena, who is a squawking idiot of a character following a tedious and over-familiar storyline. Bow too is at his worst this week, boasting to Adora about how well he knows She-Ra and insisting every other minute that they should attack the Horde.
The good bits aren’t on a level with anything explored in He-Man, but it’s one of the few times we’ve seen a bit of a dissatisfaction on Adora’s part about the secret identity business. Lena and Bow constantly imply that Adora is less good than She-Ra, and thus the scene at the end when she defeats Modulok as herself, rather than as She-Ra, is quite pleasing – though it has to be said it would have been a lot more effective if it had had any kind of internal logic to it as to why she was able to defeat him.
In summary, if we’d had a lot more of the Adora/She-Ra identity crisis, and a whole boatload less of the Lena business, then I’d be heartily recommending this one. As it is, I’d probably say only a few scenes of it are worth your bother.