Episode 47 – The Price of Power

In which a familiar story is told surprisingly well.

This week’s episode follows the story of Ardin and Narwin. Narwin is an old man, learned in magic, while Ardin is his pupil. Ardin has the same beef that every wizard’s pupil has, namely, that he wants to use magic for everything, but Narwin doesn’t want him to until he can use it responsibly, and preferably not even then. This all-too-common argument results in an all-too-common storyline: Ardin tries to take the quick and easy way to power.

Price 2
Narwin: “You’re too irresponsible, Ardin. Look how happy-go-lucky you are about eating that soup.”

In this circumstance, the quick and easy way is for Ardin to approach Shadow Weaver and ask her to help. He goes to her home at Horror Hall, where he learns that a long time ago, Shadow Weaver and Narwin had some history. Unfortunately, Shadow Weaver blames Narwin for some past injustice, and now intends to use Ardin as an instrument of her vengeance. Her plan for doing so is to accept Ardin as her pupil, and turn him to the Dark Side.

Narwin, in the meantime, sends a message to the Rebellion asking them to come and meet him. She-Ra, Madame Razz and Broom go along, and Narwin fills us in on the rest of the story. Both Shadow Weaver and Castaspella were once his apprentices, but when the Horde arrived on Etheria, Shadow Weaver betrayed the planet’s defenders by handing over the Council of Kings to the Horde. In return, she received great magical power from the Horde; but would have received even more, if Narwin had not intervened at the time.

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Castaspella: “Nice hat, Shadow Weaver. You don’t look moronic at all.”

She-Ra and her posse head to Horror Hall, where Shadow Weaver quickly learns of their arrival. She sets up a test for Ardin, explaining that in order to learn great power, he must sacrifice other things such as friends. When She-Ra and Narwin confront them, Shadow Weaver offers Ardin a jewel which will give him magical power beyond imagining, and encourages him to take it. After a very short internal debate, Ardin refuses the offer, realising that at least Narwin cares for him and for others.

Shadow Weaver doesn’t take kindly to this rejection, and unleashes all sorts of hell involving flying gargoyle statues and green tentacles that grow up from the ground. She-Ra deals with this silliness with her usual aplomb, while Narwin himself vanquishes Shadow Weaver. The final scene shows Narwin congratulating Ardin for having the wisdom to reject Shadow Weaver’s quick and easy route to power.

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Ardin: “Gosh, I’ve been a bit of a goit, haven’t I?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is, as ever, in Whispering Wood, this time hiding under a bush. He says that it’s important to learn from our mistakes, like Ardin did in this episode. I’d argue that Loo-Kee doesn’t learn from his mistakes, since he’s always hiding in pretty much the same place.

 

Character checklist

So here we have Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, Narwin, Ardin, a flashback version of Castaspella, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, some Horde Troopers, and all manner of extras, including a bunch of people who I’m going to assume were Mumford & Sons.

Price 1
Marcus Mumford: “Getting a better reception than we did at Reading, at least.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Don’t be silly. Why on earth would Adora need to give an excuse? It’s not like this She-Ra business is a secret or anything.

 

Insults

It’s all very polite in Etheria today, with no insults dispensed. This is despite a short appearance from Mantenna, who usually bears the brunt of someone’s temper.

 

Does it have the Power?

I didn’t have a good feeling about this one, given the all-too-familiar set-up with a wizard’s apprentice who wants to skip the hard work, which is a story we’ve seen so many times it’s not even funny. Therefore, it’s a pleasant surprise that this episode manages to tell the same story again extremely effectively. I think this is largely down to Shadow Weaver, who is portrayed with a perfect balance of seduction and threat. Perhaps the best example of this is when she offers Ardin the jewel and hisses, “Take it! It’s so easy…” There’s a strong undercurrent of danger, but it’s still believable as a temptation. Even Shadow Weaver’s closing monologue – “We will meet again someday, and you will regret this” – comes across as a serious threat, rather than the usual impotence such a line would convey.

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Shadow Weaver: “I enjoyed my turn as Mephistopheles at the RSC, so I’ve brought some of those skills to this episode.”

There’s also an effective scene in which Shadow Weaver shows Ardin her true face, but does so with her back to the camera. Ardin’s reaction is enough to convince us that her features are hideously twisted by evil, but we don’t actually see. This is a great example of less-is-more; I have no doubt that if the animators had actually shown us Shadow Weaver’s face, it would have been less than imposing, but without seeing it, we are left to imagine its horrific nature.

It’s not all perfect, of course; there’s a pointless scene early on in which Shadow Weaver conjures up some spirits called Dark Riders, for no reason whatsoever. They’re suitably scary, but her motivation for actually doing it is less than clear. But that’s just a very minor quibble; this is a very fine episode.

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Episode 37 – The Anxious Apprentice

In which we retread very familiar ground.

In Mysticor, we are introduced to Castaspella’s apprentice, Arianne. Arianne is a good student, and after demonstrating her skills to Castaspella and Adora, she asks to have a chance to use the Book of Spells, one of Mysticor’s greatest treasures. Castaspella, however, considers that Arianne is not yet ready for the power and responsibility that goes with using the book, so refuses. Naturally, of course, Arianne now makes the sensible decision to nick the book and do a runner.

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Arianne: “Maybe I’d get more respect if I didn’t forget to put my trousers on so often.”

Castaspella quickly discovers the absence of Arianne and the book, and manages to put two and two together to conclude the disappearances must be connected. Adora heads into Mysticor Forest to look for Arianne, forcefully telling Castaspella that her help will not be needed. She quickly discovers that Arianne has accidentally started a fire with a less than judicious use of the Book of Spells, so it’s time for She-Ra. All join me in a whoop-whoop please.

While She-Ra is happily occupied putting out the fire, Arianne has wandered off into an area called the Forbidden Zone. Unfortunately, the Forbidden Zone doesn’t seem to be forbidden to Scorpia, who quickly shows up and makes a reasonably good go at capturing Arianne. Of course, She-Ra appears on the scene pretty speedily, and rescues Arianne. However, since the two of them combined have fewer brains than the collective Tory party, they leave the Book of Spells behind.

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Arianne: “At least it’s No Trousers Day in the Horde too.”

Unsurprisingly, Scorpia finds the book. Slightly more surprising is the revelation that she is actually capable of reading it. Her attention is quickly drawn to a spell that will release all the evil in the Forbidden Zone, allowing it to attack Mysticor – but instead of actually casting this spell, she sends a message to Castaspella threatening to cast it unless She-Ra comes to meet her.

She-Ra leaps at the chance, and arrives at the Forbidden Zone to find that Scorpia has cast the spell after all, and now can’t handle the forces she has unleashed. She-Ra rescues her and undoes the spell, with absolutely no help from Castaspella and Arianne, who simply stand there gawping like village idiots until the spell is reversed. They then have the temerity to congratulate themselves on how well they have done, a reaction completely divorced from reality.

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Castaspella: “We properly deserve these garlands.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I found Loo-Kee once again, this time because I happened to press pause when his demented grinning face was on screen. As always, he’s in a tree, this time in Mysticor. This week, he decides to talk to us about practice, which is apparently how to learn how to do things well. You’d think that writing 167 reviews of He-Man and She-Ra would be sufficient practice for me to learn how to do that well, but the evidence doesn’t really bear that out.

 

Character checklist

The only people we see today are Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Castaspella, Arianne, Loo-Kee, Scorpia, some Horde Troopers, and a couple of randoms.

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Random dude: “I am so bored.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Thanks to Adora being a loner, as usual, she is unaccompanied when the time comes for her transformation. Once she becomes She-Ra, no one even seems to remember that Adora exists.

 

Insults

Scorpia summons up enough wit to call Arianne a “little troublemaker”, and evidently thinks it’s a great insult, because she uses it twice. Arianne’s response is not particularly sane, referring to Scorpia as a “big creeper”.

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Scorpia: “I may be a ‘big creeper’, but I’ve also got a big tank, so I’d watch it if I were you.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s one of those episodes that signposts exactly what’s going to happen within the first 30 seconds; I knew full well that Arianne was going to nick the Book of Spells, which would lead to trouble of some less than compelling nature. Everything ticked along nicely if not especially interestingly, but I have to say that the evil unleashed in the Forbidden Zone was seriously underwhelming, consisting as it did solely of some fires. From the description Castaspella gave earlier in the episode, I had expected demons and monsters and all sorts of similar fun – not just a few flames.

In addition, I would like to complain that Scorpia has to be the most annoying member of the Horde; her voice makes her sound incredibly thick, and her behaviour doesn’t do much to dispel that impression. Pretty much only because it gives Scorpia a starring role, I’m going to recommend you don’t bother with this one. But if Scorpia doesn’t annoy you, or if you’re one of those mentalists who actually likes her, then it’s probably all right.

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.

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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.

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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 20 – Three Courageous Hearts

In which She-Ra goes on a dinner date.

This episode might as well start right where last week’s left off; all the rebels are still in Mysticor, being entertained by Castaspella. It appears to be an entirely different occasion though, this time being Mysticor’s annual Trickster competition. This gives all the rebels the opportunity to show off their skills, but since none of them have any skills, it’s going to be a pretty short competition.

Outside, Madame Razz, Broom and Kowl have met a young lady who is, let’s be honest, blatantly someone evil in disguise. My money’s on Catra, because her voice is most similar, though it could be Shadow Weaver. I’m ruling Scorpia out, because she’s far too dense to come up with anything this intelligent.

Courageous 1
Broom: “How is Kowl asleep when he’s flying?”

Anyway, whoever this disguised bad person may be, they take the time to remind Madame Razz and co. that they’re completely useless. Adora doesn’t really help matters by telling them, “Don’t be discouraged. All that matters is that you do your best.” She might as well have said, “Yes. Yes, you are.” She then engages in further tactlessness by inviting them to come inside and watch She-Ra perform some feats of awesomeness. To her surprise, if not mine, they decline this kind offer and slink off back to the rebel camp.

She-Ra’s feat of awesomeness is genuinely rubbish; she jumps from a high window into the middle of the room. Nonetheless, the assembled masses applaud as if she’s just demonstrated the proof to Fermat’s Last Theorem. At this point, the disguised bad person appears and requests permission to enter the competition. Once this is granted, she casts a sleeping spell on all the rebels, and reveals herself to be Shadow Weaver. I suppose that makes more sense than if she’d been Catra, really, given Shadow Weaver is a sorceress, and Catra isn’t. Catra’s better, though.

Courageous 2
Shadow Weaver: “Finally! For once, I’m winning.”

Once the rebels are asleep, Shadow Weaver opens a portal to the sixth dimension, and sends She-Ra through it. It’s thus down to Madame Razz, Kowl and Broom to save them, which I’m sure will coincidentally boost their confidence and make them realise that they’re not useless after all. In case you’re interested, Madame Razz already seems pretty cocky, but Kowl requires extra pep talking. Broom doesn’t appear to have much of a personality at all.

The remainder of the episode flits between our three unlikely heroes attempting to save the day, and the increasingly weird adventures of She-Ra in the sixth dimension. Initially, She-Ra has to contend with a group of three ghostly pink sperm who shout incoherent nonsense at her. This is bad enough, but shortly thereafter she comes up against a small grey dude who appears to be dressed in a skin-coloured onesie. His master plan appears to be to have dinner with She-Ra, and as such, he can’t be regarded as the greatest evil mastermind in the history of television.

Courageous 3
Dinner dude: “More Ribena, She-Ra?”

Once she’s had dinner, She-Ra moves into an area that was plainly intended to be remade into a platformer game, in which she has to jump over voids onto moving rocks, while stupid vomit-coloured octopus creatures pursue her making revolting slopping noises. After that, She-Ra reaches an iron door, and the grey dude appears to shout pointless threats.

In the meantime, Madame Razz, Broom and Kowl have made their way over some icy mountains to an ancient library, where they eventually come across the book needed to reopen the portal to the sixth dimension. They cast the relevant spell, pop through the portal, and give She-Ra a lift out. They finish up by waking the other rebels from Shadow Weaver’s enchanted sleep, and Castaspella awards them the top prize in the annual Trickster competition, an outcome with which I bet they’re just thrilled.

Courageous 4
Madame Razz: “Kowl, you may look like you’re doing research, but I know you’re just reading Fifty Shades of Grey.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I’m getting good at accidentally pausing the episode in precisely the right place! I saw Loo-Kee, lurking in a tree right at the edge of an establishing shot of Whispering Woods. Loo-Kee’s random gibber this week concerns courage, such as when we learn to swim or ride a bike. Since we’ve heard this sort of thing about 8 billion times before, I would like to propose an alternative moral. I used to work in a library, and frankly, the state of the library featured in this episode was an absolute disgrace. I think the moral should have been that you should always keep libraries tidy and put the books in the right place, and then you’ll be able to find the information you need quickly, and thus perhaps negate the need for She-Ra to have dinner with mental grey dwarves.

 

Character checklist

Today brings us the chance to take a good look at Adora, She-Ra, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Castaspella, Frosta, the librarian, Loo-Kee, Shadow Weaver, the pink sperm, the dinner dude, and some Horde Troopers. And Queen Angela (thanks for noting, Jean-Paul!)

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She-Ra: “I vaguely wonder if there were any drugs available in the animators’ office while they were doing this episode.”

 

Insults

She-Ra calls the horrible octopus creatures “uglies”, and while I don’t think much of She-Ra’s opinions in general, I’m pretty much in tune with her here. Otherwise, all we’ve got is Broom making an ageist comment concerning Madame Razz, whispering to Kowl to say that she’s “pretty ancient”.

 

Does it have the Power?

Unexpectedly, I think it’s actually above the average. You would think that an episode centring around Madame Razz would be a pretty annoying affair, but surprisingly it’s not. Of course, we’ve all seen this story before: people thinking they’re rubbish and then proving their worth is not exactly new to Filmation, but there’s very little time spent moping here; the characters just knuckle down and get on with it, which is a degree of maturity that I appreciated.

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Madame Razz: “When I got up this morning, I didn’t exactly anticipate this.”

The recurring joke of Madame Razz’s spells going wrong is not at all funny, but in complete fairness, I would probably have thought it was when I was five. She-Ra’s adventures in the sixth dimension, however, are completely deranged and have the air of time-wasting. I’d have cut that part of the story down and concentrated more on Madame Razz, Kowl and Broom, if I were in charge. But nonetheless, I’d say this is a good episode, and worth your time.

Episode 19 – Enchanted Castle

In which we learn about Castaspella’s history, which is of course something we all wanted to know.

The rebels have all come to a party in Mysticor, which is ruled by Castaspella. The party is in honour of the day Mysticor was freed from evil, and since we’re all champing at the bit to know about that, Adora sees fit to tell Kowl the entire story. The ensuing flashback comprises the remainder of the episode.

Enchanted 1
Glimmer: “Adora, why do you look quite so irritated with Kowl?”

Apparently, there was a time when Bow was standing around in a village square, playing a harp. The villagers were surprisingly appreciative of this, clapping delightedly as Bow finishes his performance. Perhaps they know from experience that this is the best way to make him go away. Anyway, Adora came across Bow at this point, and the two decided to travel back to Whispering Woods together, on a route that led through the Dark Forest.

Shortly before reaching the Dark Forest, the two of them came across an old woman, who had fallen down a gully. On being rescued, the woman warned Adora and Bow that the Dark Forest was dangerous, and then turned to smile mysteriously at the camera.

Enchanted 2
Old woman: “Bye! And please don’t come back.”

Once in the Dark Forest, Adora and Bow were captured pretty quickly by knights in armour, and taken to a castle full of evil magic. There they met Mortella, an evil sorceress who informed them that they were now her slaves, tasked with ensuring that a blue fire never burned down. Adora’s sword was confiscated, and the two taken to a 5-star dungeon for the night.

The old woman from earlier, however, learned that Adora and Bow were locked up in the castle, and came to rescue them – revealing in the process that she possessed magical powers. After recovering her sword, Adora asked the old woman what was so important about the blue fire, and learned that it was the source of all Mortella’s power.

Enchanted 3
Mortella: “Interestingly, Blue Fire is a rollercoaster at Europa-Park, the largest theme park in Germany. I am not a very good advert for it, I must admit.”

Adora ducked behind a wall, became She-Ra, and started causing all manner of fuss in the castle, eventually putting out the blue fire. This resulted in Mortella disappearing in a puff of green smoke, and – to my distinct lack of surprise – the old woman actually turned out to be Castaspella, who had been held prisoner in old woman form by Mortella.

We return to the party, as Adora finishes the story with an explanation that Castaspella returned her realm to the more pleasant form it had held before Mortella’s evil reign. Kowl claims he enjoyed the story, which is more than can be said for me – though I did enjoy the sudden surprise moment in which Bow was drenched with a torrent of water, seemingly for absolutely no reason other than the need to end the episode with a really amusing joke.

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Bow: “I enjoy a joke just as much as the next lunatic, but this isn’t even a joke, frankly.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Well, Loo-Kee was back today, not that I saw him as he skulked about in a tree. He explains to us that doing kind deeds is good, apparently largely because later on you’ll get something back for it. This was demonstrated when Adora and Bow rescued Castaspella when she was stuck in the gully, since Castaspella later rescued them from prison. I can’t muster up any enthusiasm for this.

 

Character checklist

This little extravaganza sees quite a lot of characters emerging from the woodwork, though only a few of them play a major part in the episode – namely Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Bow, Castaspella and Mortella. Lots of other rebels are at the Mysticor party that forms the episode’s framing device, specifically Kowl, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Broom, Queen Angella, Frosta, the Twiggets, and a pair of individuals that I believe are called Peekablue and Flutterina. Then, of course, there’s Loo-Kee, the villagers that Bow was playing a harp for, and a surprise appearance for some baddies called Rattlor and Tung Lashor.

Enchanted 5.jpg
Peekablue: “Don’t mind us, we’re just here to advertise our action figures.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora is on her own when the first transformation comes, so there’s no one who needs an explanation. The second time, she simply comments to Bow, “Let’s split up,” and runs off. When she returns as She-Ra, Bow seems to have completely forgotten about Adora.

 

Insults

Mortella tells her knights that they are “fools” twice, and addresses the same unexciting insult to She-Ra and Bow. Otherwise, there’s nothing to report, except for a random comment made by Bow, who says that shooting an arrow is “easy as bibbo pie”. This might possibly be a reference to the loose morals of somebody called Bibbo Pie. It might also not be, but I have no idea what it does mean, so I’m choosing to interpret it thus.

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Castaspella: “Honestly, that Bibbo Pie will sleep with anybody.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow offers to travel with Adora, because, as he puts it, “You’ll be better off to have a man with you.” Wow. The writers do acknowledge that this is incredibly sexist, of course, giving Adora a hugely sarcastic reply, and making Spirit laugh his head off at Bow’s immense self-importance. Naturally, it becomes even funnier later, when Bow puts in a pitiful showing against the Castle’s knights.

 

Does it have the Power?

Unfortunately, not really. It’s fine to give us the origin story for Castaspella (though equally it wasn’t something I was particularly clamouring for), but it’s just really a rather boring story. The Dark Forest wasn’t very scary – or particularly dark – and Mortella never managed to come across as an interesting baddy. I’m trying to come up with something good to say about it, but the best I can do is that it isn’t a complete clunker. On balance, though, I’d advise skipping it.

Episode 12 – The Laughing Dragon

In which we learn that Bow looks rather fetching in a dress.

We open in a town called Elboron, which the Rebellion has just liberated from Horde oppression. As the Mayor gives a super-long speech thanking the rebels, Bow gets bored and wanders off. In no time at all, he manages to cause a massive crisis by igniting a fuel tank left behind by the Horde. Luckily, She-Ra is on hand to create a whirlwind, which picks up the jet of flame and drops it in a lake. This is as plausible as it sounds.

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Kowl: “Bow, don’t you realise by now that literally every decision you make is incorrect?”

She-Ra barely has time to return to Elboron, turn back into Adora, and dispense some harsh words to Bow, before a dragon pops up from underground. Luckily, the dragon in question is Sorrowful, but unluckily, this would appear to be Sorrowful’s first appearance, so no one knows he’s a nice dragon. Would it really be so hard for these episodes to be shown in the order they were clearly intended?

Even without the fact that technically they ought to know this already from two weeks ago, it doesn’t take Bow and Adora long to realise that Sorrowful isn’t a threat. They promise to be his friend, on condition that he doesn’t go round destroying towns, and they all decide to go to visit a lady called Castaspella, who may be able to magic up some courage for Sorrowful.

Castaspella turns out to be that nameless lady rebel from The Prisoners of Beast Island, so thank Christ we solved that little mystery. Despite initial misgivings, Castaspella is persuaded to carry out a ritual to enhance Sorrowful’s courage. She tries twice, but in both cases fails entirely. I’m sure even Madame Razz could do better than this.

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Castaspella: “Adora, stop blocking the bloody camera. This is my moment to shine.”

Unbeknownst to our heroes, right at this moment, Leech and Mantenna are engaged in a nefarious plot to build a road through Castaspella’s territory. I’m not entirely sure why this is such an evil thing to do, but Hordak certainly seems to think it’s pretty damn dastardly, so we’ll go along with it for now. Anyway, eventually Castaspella gets wind of the new road, and hurtles off to prevent this dreadful outbreak of infrastructure. She-Ra, Bow and Sorrowful come too, the latter reluctantly.

Bow is pretty confident that the Horde will run away as soon as they see Sorrowful, but he doesn’t known that Hordak’s pet Imp has been spying on them all afternoon, and knows exactly how cowardly Sorrowful is. When confronted by the rebels, therefore, Leech and Mantenna don’t really care, and it takes a nonsensical pep talk from She-Ra for Sorrowful to summon up the courage to breathe fire all over the Horde Road Building Team.

The episode concludes with She-Ra, Bow and Castaspella congratulating Sorrowful on his amazing performance, just like the other episode with Sorrowful did. This one’s slightly different, however, since for no readily apparent reason an army of blue-faced bipedal rabbits have turned up to offer their congratulations as well. That’s not the most unexpected thing though, believe it or not – what really caught me by surprise was She-Ra telling Bow he was terrific, and kissing him full on the lips.

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Rabbits: “No, we don’t really know why we’re here either.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I found Loo-Kee today! Just joking. I couldn’t see the little bastard anywhere. I don’t even care where he was, and I don’t care about what he’s got to say for himself either. On the off chance that you do, though, he said that you can always find courage in your heart. Ra ra ra.

 

Character checklist

Who’s Who in Etheria this time brings to the table Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Castaspella, Sorrowful, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Leech, Mantenna, Imp, some Horde Troopers, some villagers, and some rabbits.

Dragon 4
Leech: “Come on guys, jazz hands!”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora pops behind a tree and mutters, “No one will see us here,” though that’s hardly an excuse. Still, it’s the best we get, and does at least supply lip-service to the notion of secrecy. While we’re on the subject, I expect Bow would like some more lip-service.

 

Insults

A fairly subtle insult starts us off today. When Bow tells Sorrowful, “You are now as brave and gallant as I,” Kowl immediately nips in with the smart comment, “Of course, that’s not saying that much.”

Dragon 5
Sorrowful: “Great. As brave as Bow. Forgive me for not looking more pleased.”

Otherwise, we learn that Leech is not a big fan of the circus, judging from the fact that he refers to all our heroes as “rebel clowns”, and shortly thereafter addresses Sorrowful to call him a “clown” as well. As if that weren’t enough, he also calls Sorrowful a “lily-livered reptile”. Fortunately, Sorrowful doesn’t make any oblique references to S&M in response, instead simply calling Leech a “grump”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Granted, there was no way he could have known it was going to happen, but I don’t think I can fail to mention that it’s Bow who’s responsible for igniting the fuel tank in Elboron.

It’s also worth noting that when Sorrowful first appears, Bow – in a misguided effort to save her – drags Adora into a cottage, preventing her from becoming She-Ra. He then exacerbates his failure by putting on a pair of fake breasts and a dress, and draping a towel over his head. Still wearing the dress, he exits the cottage and introduces himself to Sorrowful by saying, “I’m a man.” Bow is quite possibly the most confusingly insane character in any programme I’ve ever watched.

Dragon 6
Bow: “No further comment.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, I suppose so. As mentioned above, it really could have done with being aired before The Prisoners of Beast Island, because it’s just stupid for our heroes to know who Sorrowful was two weeks ago and not know him now. It would also be better if there was a space of more than two weeks between the episodes, because they’re essentially the same storyline. Still, judging this one on its own merits, and not by its placement in the running order, it’s a pretty solid entry, despite the weird bits about the Horde building roads and the unexpected and unnecessary arrival of the rabbit army.