Episode 112 – The Eternia Flower

In which we return to the rich and exciting storyline potential offered by the need to stop 5-year-olds taking cocaine.

Teela, Orko and Prince Adam are eagerly awaiting the arrival of some children named Jonno and Chad. Cringer is quite sensibly not looking forward to the appearance of these no-doubt dreadful individuals, but Teela tells him that he’s got to at least try to be nice. I hope this is the episode where Cringer reverts to his animal instincts and tears the children limb from limb.

Flower 1
Cringer: “I may look benign, but I’m well savage.”

It transpires that Jonno is at the Palace to receive the disturbingly titled Boy of the Year Award, but after dropping Chad off, he mysteriously flies off again. Knowing that the audience would be unable to contain their excitement as to Jonno’s destination, the writers wisely reveal that he has gone off to meet Count Marzo, last seen in The Once and Future Duke.

Marzo has evidently remembered how to be evil again, after forgetting at the end of his previous appearance. He offers Jonno the opportunity to sniff a black flower, so long as Jonno promises to arrange for Marzo to meet all the other children at the awards ceremony. Jonno strikes the bargain, and wanders off, happily inhaling the flower. Marzo helpfully explains to the camera that his plan is to make the children of Eternia so dependent on his flowers that they will do anything he tells them. This will somehow lead to Marzo ruling Eternia. Great plan. I bet He-Man won’t see through it.

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Count Marzo: “This plan is so dull, even my sidekick looks bored out of his mind.”

Jonno shows up at the awards ceremony, stoned off his tits. He stands on top of a high wall and nearly falls off. He-Man arrives just in time, but instead of saving Jonno himself, he opts to pick Teela up and throw her onto the wall as well. Then it’s down to Teela to save Jonno, while He-Man stands at the bottom of the wall with a really odd smirk on his face.

Back at the Palace, Prince Adam finds the black flower in Jonno’s shuttle. Orko is able to identify it as a Black Nightmare, a plant from Trolla that can affect one’s mind. In some ways, it’s a bit like a drug, guys, and DRUGS ARE BAD. Orko reveals, however, that all the Black Nightmares were eradicated from Trolla years ago, and goes off to call his Uncle Montork about it. It had me worried for a moment there, but luckily, Montork doesn’t actually appear. Offscreen he informs Orko that Count Marzo must be responsible.

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Orko: “Yeah, yeah, it’s a Black Nightmare. This one time, me and Dree Elle did a fuckload of these in Amsterdam, and, well, anyway, let’s just say Interpol have advised me never to return to the Netherlands.”

Count Marzo next decides to kidnap Jonno and Chad, and takes them to a spot out in the desert to which he claims every child on Eternia will be coming that night. He wants Jonno to introduce all the children to the flower, and recruit them into Marzo’s army. Jonno has no problem with this, until Marzo gives Chad a flower. Chad promptly goes into the worst display of acting stoned I’ve ever heard, though I admit voice-acting a stoned child is a fairly challenging brief. Anyway, on seeing this, Jonno utters the phrase uttered by every child that guest-stars on He-Man: “Oh no! And it’s all my fault!”

I’ll admit, he reacts pretty well. He seizes a radio transmitter from Marzo, and broadcasts to all the children, telling them to turn back. Marzo isn’t pleased about this, so summons a pair of wolfbats and then does a runner when he sees Adam, Teela, Orko and Cringer arriving. Naturally, he escapes, but at least Jonno and Chad are saved.

I thought this episode would be over at this stage, but for some reason Adam is absolutely determined to pursue Count Marzo to the ends of the universe. Normally, he’s happy to let the baddies get away, but not this time. So we are treated to a brief but insane diversion to the planet Erronia, where Marzo is hiding. Marzo ends up being taken to a prison planet. Naturally, I was overjoyed at this outcome.

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Count Marzo: “It’s so humiliating to have been arrested by Teela, of all people.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela wants to know if we know anyone who uses drugs. She wants to know their name, their address, their national insurance number, and whether they’ve got previous. She wants to know if we think this hypothetical drug user should be locked up for ever, and if we don’t think that, Teela wants to know why not. Teela wants to know if we use drugs, and wants to let us know that if we do, the firing squad is too good for us. Teela has our best interests at heart.

 

Character checklist

This sorry excuse for a Public Information Film features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Chad, Jonno, Count Marzo, Count Marzo’s sidekick, and all the loopy attendees of the Boy of the Year Award ceremony.

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Chad: “Don’t look so upset, Teela, you might win Boy of the Year next year.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

We are treated to three transformations this week – just like we were the last time He-Man decided to Say No To Drugs. On both occasions, this is plainly because there’s not enough story to fill the time otherwise.

The first time, seeing Jonno is standing on a high wall and out of his mind, Prince Adam gives the best excuse he’s ever managed: “I’ll fetch something to reach him.” He gets out of sight and transforms, returning as He-Man. Brilliant excuse, with the minor drawback that when Adam doesn’t come back with a ladder or whatever, everyone will think he’s completely useless.

The second time, Adam tells Teela and Orko to chase Count Marzo, and once they’re out of sight, he transforms into He-Man. He’s overlooking the fact that Jonno and Chad are less than five metres away from him, so they are guaranteed to see this transformation. Admittedly, Chad is still stoned out of his skull, and Jonno is very concerned about him, so perhaps they didn’t notice?

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Jonno: “I’m really sorry, He-Man. Look how repentant I am.”

The third time, there’s no attempt at an excuse offered, and on top of this, it’s completely inconceivable that Teela wouldn’t work out the dual identity situation. It’s so bloody stupid that I’m not even going to discuss it.

 

Insults

I think this episode must hold the record for the number of uses of the word “fool”, which really is saying something in a series this obsessed with fools. Marzo calls Jonno a “young airhead” early on, but thereafter it’s all about the fools. Marzo addresses his giant pink sidekick as a “fool”, then calls Jonno a “young fool” and a “fool boy”. Then Jonno calls himself a “fool” an astonishing four times, three of which are in the course of the same sentence.

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, in its favour, this episode is big on continuity with previous episodes. Chad is the same character as the one from Double Edged Sword, Marzo has previously appeared in The Once and Future Duke, and we get a reference to Uncle Montork from various tripefests such as Orko’s Favourite Uncle. So if continuity is your thing, you’re in for a treat.

Flower 7
Teela: “Look, Jonno, if you keep on taking drugs you’ll soon enough have to deal with Gustavo Fring. And believe you me, you don’t want that.”

Equally, if ridiculously unsubtle drugs stories are your thing, then this is the episode for you. It’s not quite as bad as A Friend in Need, though it does come dangerously close, and it’s still fair to describe this episode as an utterly appalling waste of time. I remain convinced that the target audience for this programme (4 or 5 year olds in 1980s America) were not threatened by the use of illegal drugs, and even if they were, they wouldn’t refuse to take them simply because a cartoon muscle-bound oaf told them not to. The episode is boring and irritating in equal measure, and its message is unnecessary. So don’t bother.

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Episode 042 – Double-Edged Sword

In which He-Man deliberately tries to ruin a young boy’s day by implying that his pet is dead.

As the episode begins, Man-at-Arms is admiring himself in front of a full-length mirror in the Palace. Once he’s finished preening, he takes King Randor and Prince Adam on a date down to the Energiser Chamber, where he informs them that the Palace’s supply of Eternium is nearly depleted. Without more Eternium, everything on the planet will come to a standstill. This is clearly the result of poor forward planning. In my experience, it helps to buy petrol considerably before the tank is empty.

Sword 1

We now cut to the desert, where a young boy called Chad is messing with a gun, hoping to become a soldier and join the Royal Guard, while his disabled grandfather tries to discourage him. This conversation comes to a halt when Chad finds a hunk of Eternium. The Palace is alerted, and Adam, Teela, Cringer and Orko are despatched to pick the Eternium up.

Over at Snake Mountain, Mer-Man and Trapjaw are bemoaning being left behind while Skeletor goes off on a trip to Centre Parcs. They become aware of the Eternium, and resolve to take it for themselves. They intercept Chad and his grandfather, and send a monster after them. Chad’s grandfather refuses to use a weapon on a living creature, which is a nice lesson for the audience, but Teela shows up at this point and shoots the monster right in the face, which I feel may lead to mixed messages.

Sword 2

Meanwhile, Trapjaw decides that he wants to eat the Eternium, because it’s the most powerful substance on Eternia, so this would make him the most powerful individual on Eternia. I don’t think eating things works like that, Trapjaw. I had chips for tea last night, and I wasn’t any chipper when I woke up this morning. I had an orange at lunch today, and I’ve not been noticeably orange this afternoon. And I’m planning on having pork tonight, and hopefully I won’t be porky after that. On the other hand, I have had some cheese lately, and I’m concerned these jokes are a bit cheesy.

Anyway, Adam turns into He-Man and finishes the monster defeating job, after which he begins escorting Chad and his grandfather back to the Palace. He doesn’t do an enormously good job of it though: Trapjaw gets hold of the Eternium and eats a fair-sized chunk of it. This leads to a hugely embarrassing fight for He-Man in which Trapjaw temporarily gets the upper hand. The whole sorry situation only comes to an end when the Eternium wears off and Trapjaw crushes himself under a rock.

Sword 3

Trapjaw and Mer-Man are sent off to the prison mines, but unfortunately Chad’s horrible pet – a creature called Furby that resembles a cross between an elephant and a bee – has also eaten some Eternium, and gets ill. This necessitates a trip to Castle Grayskull, where Furby gets taken inside the Chamber of Life, which the Sorceress helpfully explains may or may not help.

Chad decides he doesn’t want to be a soldier, since he’d never considered that someone might get hurt. This decision is hammered further home by his grandfather relating a flashback story about how he used to be a soldier, but his legs were crushed and paralysed in the Orc Wars. At the end of this fairly dark tale, He-Man emerges from Castle Grayskull and demonstrates a rare ability to be a right bastard, by putting on a sombre expression and briefly pretending Furby didn’t make it. Not cool, He-Man.

Sword 5

 

In today’s adventure …

Normally, He-Man’s voice makes it sound like he thinks everything’s really funny, and that he’s always on the verge of collapsing into laughter. I put this down to the actor knowing that the whole thing is ridiculous and was just amusing himself by putting a strange edge to the voice. Either that or the strange edge is the actor trying not to break down in despair.

But not this week: He-Man sounds unusually earnest when he tells us that in real life, sometimes people do get hurt when they fight and use guns. Sometimes the people who get hurt are the good guys (i.e. the US military). Sometimes, the person who gets hurt might be you. We’re then treated to another shot of Chad’s grandfather getting his legs paralysed in the war. I think that this week, the writers really didn’t want us to miss the message.

 

Character checklist

I’ve decided to rename this section to make it more alliterative and thus potentially a bit more pleasing. At any rate, in case it wasn’t apparent from the above summary, this week features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, the Sorceress, Trapjaw, Mer-Man, Chad and Chad’s grandfather, as well as the Furby pet thing.

Sword 4

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“He wasn’t himself,” says He-Man, a response which is clearly meant to mess with Teela’s mind.

 

Insults

Pretty quiet on this front today, the only possible candidate being an odd moment when Trapjaw refers to Mer-Man as a “dropper”. I don’t know what a dropper is, but I’m certain Trapjaw didn’t mean it as a compliment.

 

Does it have the Power?

Not so much, no. It clearly knows what it wanted to do – Chad wants to be a soldier, gets involved in a fight, something unpleasant happens, and he learns soldiering isn’t all fun and games – but it seems to have got rather confused in the telling. It lurches from one thing to another, with Mer-Man’s monster, Trapjaw’s Eternium-eating, and Furby’s illness all feeling like completely separate episodes.

I did enjoy the part where Trapjaw momentarily became as powerful as He-Man, but since the effect of the Eternium quickly wore off, it was hardly a recipe for Trapjaw’s long-term success. It’s also faintly ridiculous the number of times the baddies get carted off to the prison mines, only to be at large again a few episodes later.

Sword 6

The moral was obviously well-meant though, and the story of why Chad’s grandfather is disabled does help to make the point, though it is rather tonally jarring for He-Man. In brief, I’d say this episode is well-intentioned but ultimately a bit of a mess, and I wouldn’t bother to watch it again.