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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.