In which Man-at-Arms releases an ancient demon and blames everybody else.
This episode begins with an extended sequence in which Man-at-Arms, Teela and Adam all properly lay into Orko for being irresponsible and generally annoying. If their vitriol were directed at anyone else, I’d call it a massive case of going overboard, but when it’s Orko, he deserves anything that anyone chooses to throw at him. Once that’s done with, Orko decides to mess about in Man-at-Arms’ lab to create a potion to make Cringer brave.
Well, I was as shocked as any of you when this doesn’t work. Instead, Orko conjures up a seriously terrifying transparent cat demon, which luckily is pretty stupid and is consequently easily trapped in a bottle. Predictably, Man-at-Arms is livid, and after shouting about it for a while, decides that the best thing to do now is to tell – at length – the story of how Adam first met Cringer. This is a random choice, even for Man-at-Arms’ customary inexplicable behaviour, so I can only conclude that he’s completely lost it.
The story begins with a roughly 12 year old Adam heading off on a camping trip on his own, because nothing bad could ever happen on Eternia. Sure enough, Adam quickly comes under attack from a sabre-cat, but he drives it away using a device that imitates animal noises. Once the sabre-cat leaves, Adam finds Cringer, who is still a kitten and possibly the cutest cartoon cat ever. Cringer is injured, so Adam brings him back to the Palace and asks Man-at-Arms to save him.
Because Filmation couldn’t be bothered to animate a character called the Palace Vet, Man-at-Arms successfully restores Cringer to health. Cringer earns his name when he takes fright at a crowd of the most hideous children I’ve ever seen, for which I can’t say I blame him. He is also terrified when the disembodied head of the Sorceress appears to have a chat with Adam, which again is reasonable.
Years pass, until one day Melaktha and his archaeological team find a temple in the Tikon Jungle which is over 100 centuries old. Marlena suggests that Man-at-Arms goes on the expedition to investigate, because he is the most skilled person on Eternia at deciphering ancient writings. Excuse me? So Man-at-Arms is the Palace inventor, vet, and poly-linguist? Couldn’t they have given this skill to someone else – you know, someone like Stratos, who doesn’t seem to have any abilities?
Anyway, Adam, Teela and Cringer all tag along on the expedition, and quickly get some hints that the temple is super evil. Shortly before nightfall, Adam and Teela find a doorway to the temple, which has been bricked up. They inform Man-at-Arms, but he tells them to wait till morning before investigating. This does not suit Adam and Teela, who return to the door and succeed in opening it very slightly, before giving up and trotting off to bed.
In the morning, despite translating the ancient writings on the temple as meaning “WARNING – EVIL!”, Man-at-Arms decides to blast open the door. This releases a big blue demon thing called a Gedge, and the combined might of Teela, Ram-Man and the Palace Guards fails to slow it down. Adam thus decides that He-Man is needed and, seemingly on a whim, during the transformation he points his sword at Cringer, who becomes the mighty Battle-Cat. Genuinely, this move seems to be prompted by him thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what will happen if I shoot this energy at the cat?”
The Sorceress appears in a vision to explain that to defeat the Gedge, He-Man will have to be clever, which is precisely the sort of useful advice she’s always giving. I seriously doubt He-Man was thinking, “To defeat this monster, I’ll have to be really stupid.” Anyway, He-Man does some stuff which barely qualifies as clever in my book, and successfully reseals the Gedge in the temple. It’s worth pointing out that Man-at-Arms tries his damnedest to seal He-Man and Battle-Cat inside as well, so I’m sure He-Man will be keeping a close eye on him in the future.
Man-at-Arms ends this rambling and irrelevant story by attempting to tie it in with Orko’s actions at the beginning of the episode, claiming that the Gedge wouldn’t have got out if Adam and Teela hadn’t ignored his instructions. This is entirely untrue. Yes, Adam and Teela did open the door a crack, but the Gedge didn’t get out until Man-at-Arms rocked up with his massive charges of dynamite and blew up the door. Still, Orko nods and pretends to have taken in the lesson, but I’m sure next time he’ll be happily meddling again.
In today’s adventure…
Orko and Man-at-Arms talk about poisons this week. They show us a big bottle with a massive skull-and-crossbones on it, and inform us that we mustn’t touch bottles that look like this, of which there were absolutely loads in my house when I was growing up. This lesson might have sunk in more effectively if the animators hadn’t chosen to draw Man-at-Arms with his mouth hanging open in a really gormless smile for this scene.
Anyway, the real lesson of this episode, quite clearly, is that if you are in a position of authority – like Man-at-Arms – and act quickly to shift the blame to someone else, you’ll get away scot free. I can’t believe his blatancy in trying to make out the whole business with the Gedge was Adam and Teela’s fault, when it was definitely him and his explosives obsession that caused the problem.
Oh, you know the drill by now. It would barely qualify as a He-Man episode if it didn’t have Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela and the Sorceress in it. It’s also got King Randor, Queen Marlena, Melaktha, some random woman, a load of horrible children, some Palace guards, some workmen, and a surprise appearance from Ram-Man, who we haven’t seen in a while. The Gedge is in it too, but who the hell gives a monkeys about that?
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
No one asks and no one cares.
It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had an episode with no insults in it, but this one qualifies, unless one counts the beastly bullying children shrieking “Cringer! Cringer!” at Cringer.
Does it have the Power?
Apart from the outstandingly cute scenes of Cringer as a kitten, there’s not much going for this one. While I do appreciate the efforts to fill in the background of some of our characters, I don’t really care about the first time Cringer became Battle-Cat, especially not when it’s because of a massively boring monster like the Gedge. It’s almost as if they wanted to do an episode about the first time Adam became He-Man, but chickened out and compromised with Battle-Cat.
In its favour, the episode does start off looking like it’s going to be a dreadful episode about Orko, and it skirts round that pitfall pretty neatly. But Man-at-Arms seems to have only a very flimsy excuse for relating the Battle-Cat story in the first place, and frankly he’d have been better off not telling it, because the behaviour he exhibits in the story is frankly reprehensible.
In short, I suppose I’d better recommend watching it, because at least you’ll know a bit of Adam and Cringer’s history. But it’s only a grudging recommendation, because it’s pretty boring history. If you do skip it, then don’t worry, I won’t blame you. But Man-at-Arms will.