Episode 055 – Eye of the Beholder

In which Man-at-Arms develops a minor obsession with the Wind Raider.

Hello and welcome to 2017. It may be a new year, but it’s the same old me, I’m afraid. If you’re looking for sensible analysis, you’ll continue to be disappointed, but if you want sniping, immaturity, and occasional disproportionate spasms of temper directed at 30 year old cartoons, then you’ve come to the right place.

Out for a pleasure jaunt before breakfast, matters take a serious turn for Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms when the Wind Raider begins to lose power. A disaster is prevented only through He-Man’s quick thinking and surprisingly plausible solution – but He-Man feels as though he himself is also losing power. This feeling cannot be helped by the fact that Man-at-Arms makes him drag the Wind Raider all the way back to the Palace, not offering any assistance.

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He-Man: “You know what, Man-at-Arms? It’s your turn now.”

When He-Man suggests a link between his diminished strength and the Wind Raider’s lost power, Man-at-Arms ignores him in favour of doing a diagnostic on the Wind Raider. The pair then discover a dead tree that was perfectly healthy earlier, but Man-at-Arms’ priority is still the Wind Raider. Orko pops up to complain that he feels weak and can’t do any magic, but still all Man-at-Arms can say is, “Let’s check out the Wind Raider.” I don’t think it could be signposted any more clearly that this is not a problem with the Wind Raider, you idiot.

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Man-at-Arms: “He-Man feels weak, Orko feels weak, and a tree has died? Hmm. Must be something to do with the Wind Raider’s engine.”

After cheerily disassembling the Wind Raider and predictably concluding that there’s nothing wrong with it, Man-at-Arms starts to feel weaker himself and suddenly gives a whole lot more credence to the theory that maybe there’s something bigger going on. Once he puts his mind to it, he works out in less than 20 seconds that somehow the oxygen content of Eternia’s air has been lowered. Equipped with this information, He-Man decides to run as fast as he can to Castle Grayskull, possibly in the mistaken belief that running will preserve his remaining oxygen because he’ll get there quicker.

The Sorceress offers He-Man a quick lesson in the carbon cycle, and informs He-Man that someone must be messing about with the Sea of Eternity, from which all the plants in the Evergreen Forest draw their water. Without water, the plants cannot produce oxygen. He-Man returns to the Palace, where he picks up an oxygen canister and heads off to the Sea of Eternity.

En route, He-Man befriends a giant insect called Garth, before running into Beast-Man and Tri-Klops, who are still at full strength thanks to their own oxygen canisters. During the fight, He-Man deliberately destroys their canisters, rather than simply taking them as spares in case his own gets damaged. He-Man can be such a nitwit sometimes. Anyway, with Beast-Man and Tri-Klops out of action, He-Man and Garth merrily proceed.

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He-Man: “Just me and my new bestie out for a stroll.”

On reaching the Sea of Eternity, the dynamic duo find that the sea is being pumped away into a pit, and the river to the Evergreen Forest has been dammed. Moreover, they find Skeletor happily crowing about how clever he is. When He-Man attacks, Skeletor destroys his oxygen canister. Shame you don’t have a spare, eh, He-Man?

It’s now all up to Garth, who dives into the Sea and blocks up the pump with a very large rock, which distracts Skeletor long enough for He-Man to press the reverse switch and start pumping the water back into the Sea. He-Man then destroys the dam and sends water rushing back downriver to the Evergreen Forest, and oxygen immediately returns to Eternia’s atmosphere. In the meantime, as a result of his swim in the oxygen-rich Sea of Eternity, Garth inexplicably evolves into a butterfly.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela’s moral this week is the sensitively phrased “ugly people are sometimes beautiful to know”. This is inspired, of course, by Garth, who looked like a monster but behaved like a beautiful person. The whole bit with Garth was, I suspect, only tacked onto this episode at a late stage when the writers realised there was no readily apparent moral in the oxygen storyline.

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Garth: “Hey, He-Man! Look how beautiful I am now! And look how pleased I am with myself!”

 

Character checklist

The series regulars of Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor and Beast-Man show up, with Teela putting in an appearance to deliver the moral. We also get a rare outing for Tri-Klops, and one-off showings for Garth and various other insect people, including one identified as Shaman.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Prince Adam only gets about 30 seconds of screen time, at either end of the episode, and he doesn’t waste his crucial time in explaining himself.

 

Insults

As usual, it’s Skeletor who takes the lead here, calling Garth a “hideous insect” and a “crawling, ugly bug”. Otherwise, nothing to report.

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He-Man: “I love your new car, Skeletor.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode has a lot to recommend it. It’s an interesting mystery in the early stages when He-Man and Man-at-Arms find themselves losing strength – though Man-at-Arms’ obsession with demolishing the Wind Raider is a bit peculiar. Though He-Man’s journey to the Sea of Eternity isn’t all that exciting, the final confrontation with Skeletor is very good: Skeletor is at his most sneeringly unpleasant, and due to the lowered oxygen, he actually defeats He-Man in a fight. I think this is the only occasion on which Skeletor would have won if it weren’t for one of He-Man’s friends, rather than He-Man himself, and that makes it rather special.

On the downside, the science portrayed in the episode is dubious at best. While the science lesson from the Sorceress about plants taking in carbon dioxide and producing oxygen is perfectly reasonable, I can’t see how Skeletor draining an oxygen-rich sea would lead to the plants quickly dying, and equally, the speed with which draining and refilling the sea had an effect on Eternia’s atmosphere was nothing short of ludicrous.

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Garth: “Yes, this draining the sea business is a bit silly. But I bet if I dive in, I can make the whole thing sillier still.”

In addition, there’s the super-odd bit where Garth becomes a butterfly. Now, clearly this is here to show his inner beauty, and if he had said he’d metamorphosed into a butterfly, I’d have been happy with that – he looked vaguely like a caterpillar before, if you used your imagination – but no, he specifically said, “I think this is the form my people will evolve into in centuries to come.” So going for a swim in the Sea of Eternity will make people hyper-evolve? This is not how evolution works.

Still, I’ve said it before: getting cross about implausibilities in this cartoon is at best pointless and at worst certifiable, so I’ll simply leave it with you that this is an entertaining outing that’s worth the watching.

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