Episode 068 – Day of the Machines

In which Skeletor adopts the guise of a bitchy office worker.

Man-at-Arms ill-advisedly uses the Palace courtyard as a testing ground to launch his new rocket, and he gets his comeuppance when the rocket crashes into the royal chambers. Luckily, no one is hurt, but Man-at-Arms takes it badly, deciding to quit his job. It seems he’s only being a drama queen though, since he is easily persuaded to stay by Adam’s less than enthusiastic pep talk.

Skeletor, over in Snake Mountain, has watched this whole sequence and Man-at-Arms’ malfunctioning machinery inspires him to come up with one of his more extravagant plans: he acquires a vicious Marrabeast, creates a duplicate of the Marrabeast composed of pure electrical energy, miniaturises the electrical Marrabeast, calls it Byte, and finally introduces it into the Palace’s computer system. The intended outcome of this deranged scheme is presumably to get Man-at-Arms fired, a prospect which makes Skeletor chortle with disproportionate glee, though Trapjaw doesn’t seem particularly enthused.

Machines 1
Trapjaw: “Er, Skeletor, are you sure your endgame is worth the effort you’re putting in here?”

Byte’s first trick is to send a Sky Sled chasing after Man-at-Arms and Teela, which is a poor opening move and merely alerts Adam to the problem. Enter He-Man, stage left. He-Man stops the Sky Sled, then makes a thinly veiled remark to the effect that Man-at-Arms is rubbish at his job. In response, Man-at-Arms suggests they head back to the lab, where they find that Byte has attached two guns to a chair. Luckily, Byte is a dreadful marksman, so our heroes are able to exit the lab hastily to consider their next move.

He-Man surprisingly doesn’t demand to know why Man-at-Arms has designed and built a chair with weaponry and a bad attitude, instead voicing the opinion that the computer has a mind of its own. Man-at-Arms runs off to try to fix the computer, while Teela randomly but correctly surmises that this whole thing must be Skeletor’s fault. He-Man agrees but insanely claims that he cannot leave the Palace, so Teela rides off on Battle-Cat to Snake Mountain.

Machines 2
Teela: “Yes, Battle-Cat, we know you can roar. Stop showing off.”

Man-at-Arms uses a miniaturisation ray on himself, becoming small enough to get inside the computer. I don’t wish to dwell on this too much, because it’s mental, but suffice it to say that the animation is crazy, there’s some pretty trippy music playing, and eventually Man-at-Arms steps on a computer chip which encases him within the computer’s memory.

In something of a first, Teela enters Snake Mountain, confirms her suspicions vis-a-vis Skeletor’s responsibility, and returns without being captured, while He-Man occupies himself doing absolutely nothing of use. In the apparent absence of anything better to do, they head off to see the Sorceress, He-Man having evidently decided that he can leave the Palace after all.

The Sorceress shrinks He-Man and he enters the computer too, quickly finding and freeing Man-at-Arms. Man-at-Arms helpfully points out that since Byte is composed of positive energy, perhaps they could trap him by creating some negative energy. Luckily, negative energy is easy to create, simply requiring two bits of computer to be bent together. Once this is done, a wave of red energy appears, and He-Man and Man-at-Arms jump onto it, surfing it all the way to Byte. Then He-Man creates a lasso out of a wire, and ties up Byte – yes, he ties up a creature composed of pure electrical energy. Fine, whatever.

Machines 3
Man-at-Arms: “He-Man, do you ever get the feeling that this whole thing’s a little bit, well, silly?”

Congratulating themselves on their distinctly implausible victory, He-Man and Man-at-Arms rather unkindly send Byte to wreak some havoc in Snake Mountain’s computer system, then exit from their computer and restore themselves to their original size. There follows a touching scene in which He-Man, Teela and Orko all reassure Man-at-Arms that he isn’t a failure. I beg to differ myself, but I suppose a closing scene in which Man-at-Arms is berated by all his friends for being an idiot might have set the wrong tone somehow.

 

In today’s adventure…

There’s a pretty mixed message from Teela this week, who says that if we make a mistake, we should admit it, and if we didn’t make a mistake, we shouldn’t blame other people but instead try to make things right. This sounds pretty much like those who make mistakes should say, “That’s my fault,” and then hang around while someone else fixes it.

 

Character checklist

This week’s excursion into lunacy is good enough to feature Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Trapjaw and Byte.

Machines 4
He-Man: “Yes, Man-at-Arms, I think it is a bit.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam watches merrily as Man-at-Arms and Teela are chased offscreen by the Sky Sled, then takes the opportunity when no one else is about to make his transformation.

 

Insults

“Why am I surrounded by fools?” inquires Skeletor rhetorically; the intended recipient of this oblique comment is Trapjaw. Trapjaw is pretty dense, so he might not have realised that this was directed at him. This concern is evidently shared by Skeletor, who immediately goes on to use the rather more overt insult of “pile of scrap iron”.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s nuttier than the entire fruit cake aisle at Sainsbury’s, but it’s very good fun nonetheless. Skeletor really outdoes himself in the loopy plot stakes this week: introducing Byte into the Palace computer is a huge amount of trouble to go to, simply for the pretty low payoff of maybe getting Man-at-Arms to resign. Once again, Skeletor doesn’t capitalise on his initial success: when his plan is succeeding, all he does is watch, when surely this would be the ideal moment to start trying to invade Grayskull, no?

Machines 5
Man-at-Arms: “By God, I wish I was competent.”

Even allowing for the usual suspension of disbelief, there’s lots of moments that literally could not happen in this episode: The purely electrical Byte swings on a rope at one point, he gets tied up at the end, Man-at-Arms steps on a computer chip and gets imprisoned in the computer’s memory; I could go on.

Still, I don’t mind one bit when it’s this much fun. This episode is a worthwhile entry to the annals of He-Man, and I’d recommend it wholeheartedly.