In which we learn that Man-at-Arms has ripped Mechaneck’s head off.
This episode opens with a blatant and, dare I say it, desperate piece of advertising. Mechaneck is in the Palace courtyard, playing Frisbee with a child called Derek, and Derek says, “It’s fun to play with Mechaneck.” Clearly the Mechaneck figure wasn’t selling well (can’t think why not) so the writers inserted this not particularly subliminal message in a transparent attempt to boost sales.
Anyway, with very little provocation, Man-at-Arms shows up and tells Derek about Mechaneck’s past. Apparently, Mechaneck has a son called Philip, but on a visit to Dragon Mountain at some indeterminate point in the past, a massive storm blew up and Philip flew away in the wind. Mechaneck hurt his neck in the storm and fainted, at which point Man-at-Arms found him.
Man-at-Arms now gets on to a more interesting part of the story: because Mechaneck had hurt his original neck, Man-at-Arms gave him a bionic one – a procedure which almost certainly involved ripping Mechaneck’s head off and then reattaching it. This explains why Mechaneck has this ridiculous feature. It doesn’t explain why he was called “Mechaneck” before Man-at-Arms started doing experimental and possibly illegal neck replacement surgery on him. Frankly, Mechaneck is the sort of name you’d only have if you also already had a mechanical neck. The coincidence is almost too much, and I for one have become a firm believer in predestination as a result.
And now we learn what happened to Philip. He’s somehow fallen into the clutches of Count Marzo, who has previously appeared in both The Once and Future Duke and The Eternia Flower, and who in both these less-than-classic episodes was the hatcher of evil plots that involved children. Marzo is a little bit icky. I’m not sure why Philip doesn’t just run away from Marzo, because there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly compelling him to stay. Maybe this will be explained later. Probably not.
Back at the Palace, preparations are afoot for Randor, Marlena, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Mechaneck to go on an outing somewhere. Shortly before they leave, Mechaneck receives a visit from Marzo, who offers to return Philip in exchange for Mechaneck delivering Randor and Marlena. It seems Marzo wants to be King, and thinks that taking Randor prisoner is the way to achieve this. Mechaneck rejects the offer and runs off to tell Man-at-Arms, who instantly adds Adam and Cringer to the ranks of those unfortunate enough to go on the outing.
As they cross the desert, Mechaneck discovers an old fort containing an oasis, and recommends that the party stop for a rest. Would you believe it, the fort is a trap, and Marzo pops in for a little gloat. This doesn’t last long, since Adam turns into He-Man and opts for the standing-there-looking-stern approach, which is not very effective, given Marzo manages to successfully kidnap Randor and Marlena.
Marzo takes the King and Queen to his mountain fortress, where Philip is also imprisoned. He-Man and his gang – now featuring an unnecessary and unwelcome appearance from Buzz-Off – engage in all manner of silly shenanigans trying to break in, and finally succeed. Once they are inside, the episode gets no more exciting, featuring lots and lots of time-wasting until Philip falls down a pit and has to be rescued by Mechaneck, who extends his neck down the hole and allows Philip to hold onto it to come back up. What’s interesting here is that Philip says, “It’s good to be in your arms again, father!” rather than a more prescient comment like, “What the hell happened to your neck?” If I didn’t see my father for a matter of months, and when I finally did, he was able to extend his neck to at least 10 foot in length like Inspector Gadget, I’d definitely have a few things to say.
In today’s adventure…
Teela explains that we should always look where we’re going, and take care not to trip over. This draws inspiration from two completely irrelevant bits of the episode, in which Teela and Philip weren’t taking care. I think a more obvious moral is if you get caught in a storm and hurt your neck, you should absolutely insist on seeing a doctor, rather than a lunatic in a green and yellow body suit who wants to try twisted experiments on you. There is a chance that this moral was in the original first draft, but was rejected on the basis of being overly specific.
A very large contingent of our favourite idiots pops up today, including several who definitely didn’t need to be involved. There’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Mechaneck, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Buzz-Off, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Orko, Philip, Derek, Count Marzo, and Count Marzo’s big pink boring sidekick. There’s also loads of other Buzz-Offs, which is lovely.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
“He’s safe, Teela. I don’t think we’ll need his help,” says He-Man. It turns out that He-Man is right. He didn’t need Buzz-Off’s help either, or Orko’s, or Teela’s. None of these people should have been in this episode.
It’s Marzo with a chip on his shoulder this week, especially in an early scene in which he variously calls Philip a “fool”, a “foolish boy”, an “ungrateful wretch” and a “scoundrel”. Marzo also has a “fool” for Mechaneck and another “fool” for his big pink servant, whose name escapes me. He-Man does address the big pink servant as “Blinky”, but I’m not sure if this is his name or just a completely irrelevant insult.
Does it have the Power?
Not really. It’s admirable, I suppose, for trying to fill in the blanks and explain why Mechaneck has his bionic neck, but the explanation raises more questions than it answers, and frankly, Eternia is so full of freaks as it is, I wasn’t really crying out for an explanation concerning Mechaneck. Nor was I particularly bothered in an exploration of his past, and I certainly wasn’t keen to see Count Marzo again. That being said, this is definitely the best of Marzo’s appearances, but that’s hardly high praise. As so often these days, this isn’t a classic, but it’s equally perfectly watchable.