In which we discover that Hordak has a sideline in zoo administration.
She-Ra, Bow and Kowl are out in the Forest of Freedom, hoping to discover why all the animals of the forest have begun to disappear. They quickly spot a rare bird, and just as quickly see a dark shadow fly by and envelope the bird. Once the shadow disappears, the bird has gone as well. Bow suggests climbing a hill to try to further the investigation.
At the top of the hill, Adora, Bow and Kowl spot a pair of Horde transports, bearing Grizzlor and Mantenna to some presumably nefarious deed. Bow temporarily absents himself for a short outbreak of imbecility (see Oh No, Bow! below), so Adora transforms herself into She-Ra. She and Bow then have a brief word with Mantenna, learning that he and Grizzlor were on their way to deliver some cages to Outpost Six.
While She-Ra and Bow have been thus occupied, Kowl and a female koala-owl creature have been captured by the mysterious black shadow, which soon reveals itself to house a scary Horde vulture-like individual who introduces himself as Vultak. Vultak is a surprisingly chatty fellow, and explains the plot for the benefit of slower viewers: he flies around capturing animals and putting them in Hordak’s zoo. Kowl and his lady friend are to be the star attractions in the zoo, apparently.
She-Ra and Bow head straight to Outpost Six to try to get a better handle on the situation. After banging a few Horde Trooper heads together, they quickly learn of the existence and the location of the zoo, so they begin to make their way there. And not a moment too soon: Kowl and Female Kowl are being thrown in cages and bossed around by the zoo’s staff, which consists solely of Vultak and a crowd of hovering dustbins. Vultak seems to like his job, but with employees like this, I can’t imagine he gets much in the way of office banter.
After a discussion on the nature of freedom, as well as a comparison of zoos and prisons, Kowl and Kowla manage to bust out of their cell. They don’t get very far, of course, since the main entrance to the zoo is locked. Just as Vultak corners them, however, She-Ra and Bow burst in, release all the animals, and put Vultak in a cage instead, to see how he likes it. Believe it or not, he doesn’t like it.
In today’s adventure…
Sheer luck led me to be glancing directly at Loo-Kee today, as he skulked at the very edge of the screen in Outpost Six. The lesson today is that we often don’t appreciate the things we have. Examples of things we have include sunsets, flowers and family, presumably in that order of importance. While it’s a reasonable moral, I can’t help but think this episode would have been a good opportunity to talk about zoos, endangered species, or treating animals with care.
This time, it’s an outing for Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Kowla, Loo-Kee, Vultak, Mantenna, Grizzlor, some Horde Troopers, and the flying bins. I also can’t remember if I normally include Bow’s horse Arrow in this list, but if so, then he’s here today.
Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance
Bow asks why She-Ra has shown up, to which She-Ra simply replies that she has “heard animals were disappearing from Freedom Forest”. This doesn’t seem to satisfy Bow, who persists in asking what happened to Adora. She-Ra isn’t interested in this discussion, replying only with a terse, “She left.”
Grizzlor starts the ball rolling by calling Mantenna “bug-eyes”, leading to an entirely disproportionate response from Mantenna, who retaliates with “hairball”, “fur-brain”, “fur breath” and “fur ball”. Mantenna also refers to Bow as “stupid” and “crazy”, and even Kowl concedes that Bow is “foolish”. Vultak is a fan of the ever-popular “little fool” describing Kowl, to which Kowl responds with the far more imaginative “feathered freak”.
Oh No, Bow!
Despite being well aware that he’s massively outnumbered, and despite not having any ostensibly clever tricks up his sleeve, Bow decides to take on Grizzlor, Mantenna, a vast but unspecified number of Horde Troopers, and a pair of tanks. Even Mantenna, one of the stupidest people on Etheria, thinks this is a demented thing to do. Naturally, Bow is very speedily defeated, and only saved from the Fright Zone’s dungeons by the inevitable arrival of She-Ra.
Does it have the Power?
This is the only She-Ra episode I had on video when I was little – recorded from ITV in those heady days of the late 1980s. Therefore, it’s the only one which is even vaguely familiar to me. I certainly recall deriving my definitions of “disappearance” and “vanish” from a random speech Bow makes during the episode; he states that things that vanish are gone for ever, whereas things that disappear must appear somewhere else. To this day, I’m not sure if this definition is actually true, but I do genuinely try to choose my words carefully with regard to disappearing and vanishing.
That random remembrance aside, it was a pleasure to see this episode. I didn’t know it off by heart, like I did with A Trip to Morainia and Disappearing Dragons, but as the story unfolded, I did find it familiar in a nostalgic way. Vultak instantly rang a bell – his design is quite striking – and the appearance of the female Kowl also brought memories flooding back.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that it happens to be a good episode. The dialogue is snappy, it moves along at a sensible pace, and there’s some good stuff in there about the importance of freedom. It does find the time to criticise zoos that are only interested in displaying animals, rather than preserving them, but I’d have liked that to be made more explicit in Loo-Kee’s moral; I can imagine it going over a child’s head otherwise. Even so, this is a good episode, which I expect you’ll enjoy.