Episode 074 – Island of Fear

In which Skeletor seems to think that six ships contain the sum total of all of Eternia’s food.

We appear to be in for a repeat of City Beneath The Sea this week, beginning as we do with the introduction of Buzz-Off, a giant bee who is complaining to King Randor about the disappearance of six food ships this month. This time, however, the missing ships are quickly linked to a volcanic island that doesn’t feature on any maps, so Adam, Cringer and Man-at-Arms fly out to take a look.

The island isn’t present on first inspection, but seconds later it appears out of nowhere, and Adam crashes into it, like the clumsy clown he is. Man-at-Arms and Cringer get sucked down beneath the new Great Eternian Dam, requiring Adam to turn into He-Man and rescue them. He-Man’s method of rescue is a bit suspect, involving launching all three of them practically into orbit without considering how they will get down again. Luckily, Buzz-Off is on hand to save them all.

Island 1
Buzz-Off: “This is going to be one mother of a bra-strap ping.”

Landing on the island, He-Man turns back into Adam, while Buzz-Off flies off to get Teela and Orko, who I’m sure will be very useful. True to form, on arrival, Teela immediately starts having a go at Adam and demanding to know where He-Man is. Adam distracts her by pointing out the mysterious island on which they all currently stand and suggesting that they investigate. Teela likes this plan and suggests that they split up into two groups to explore.

Adam and Man-at-Arms discover a waterfall, with a large sign behind it bearing the unexpected message, “Hello chumps”. No sooner have they read this odd notice then a whirlpool begins, sucking them into a cave, where they discover the missing food ships. They also discover a submarine containing Skeletor, Mer-Man and a new recruit, Whiplash, both of whom are sucking up to Skeletor as if it’s time for their annual performance reports.

Island 2
Man-at-Arms: “Looks like Skeletor’s upgraded his bath toys.”

Skeletor takes the time to detail his plan, which is as sophisticated as ever. He has captured the six food ships, which he seems to believe contain all the food on Eternia. He also intends to sail his island into the Great Eternian Dam, destroying it and flooding all the farmland so that everyone on Eternia will have to come to him for food. Man-at-Arms comments, “I hate to say it, Adam, but this time Skeletor’s plan seems pretty good.” This can only be an attempt to humour Skeletor, because frankly this plan is one of the stupidest yet.

Teela, Buzz-Off, Cringer and Orko discover a ventilation shaft leading down to the island’s engine room, where they discover Adam and Man-at-Arms being held captive in a nice unguarded prison. Naturally, this results in their immediate rescue. Unfortunately, Skeletor appears and starts the engines to drive the island into the Dam, so Adam lunges behind a computer bank and transforms into He-Man. He then emerges from behind the computer and expects no one to notice. Which, of course, they don’t.

He-Man demands that Skeletor stop the engines, but Skeletor simply destroys the control mechanism instead, in a pointless act of defiance. Naturally, He-Man’s next move is to destroy the engines, and the control room itself. With the Dam saved, Skeletor heads for home, using Mer-Man and Whiplash as a pair of water-skis. In the closing scene, Randor decides to make the floating island into Eternia’s first nature reserve, and then everyone sits round the table applauding their cleverness and cheering like halfwits.

Island 3
King Randor: “Is it conceited if I voice the opinion that we are literally the best people who have ever existed?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela and Adam explain that sometimes trees need to be chopped down in order to put up buildings, but that it’s important to set aside some areas to remain natural. Clearly, the writer of this episode felt that the head of the United States’ Department for the Environment was a frequent He-Man viewer and would be glued to the screen, and thus took the opportunity to dispense some helpful policy advice.

 

Character checklist

As noted, we meet two newbies today: Buzz-Off and Whiplash. Of course, there’s also Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Skeletor and Mer-Man. I didn’t notice Battle-Cat this week, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Two transformations occur in this episode, and Adam doesn’t offer an excuse on the first occasion. However, once he’s changed back, Teela demands to know where He-Man is, to which Adam responds, “He’ll be back if we need him.”

Island 4
Teela: “Christ, I’m livid.”

After the second transformation, Teela again wonders as to Adam’s whereabouts. “I’m sure he’s all right,” responds He-Man. Given mere seconds ago Adam was in a room that has now blown up, this extreme confidence on He-Man’s part is the sort of behaviour that in anything vaguely resembling reality would result in Teela putting two and two together.

 

Insults

Every insult this week comes from Skeletor, who refers to Orko as a “silly bag of wind”. Otherwise, his vitriol is reserved for Mer-Man and Whiplash, who are referred to variously as “fishy fools” and “bumbling fools”. Skeletor also insults his henchman with the more oblique comment, “I have to be brilliant, to make up for them.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I’d hesitate to call it a classic, but it certainly is good fun: I’ve always felt He-Man was at its best when the villain of the piece is Skeletor with a ridiculous plan, and in that, this episode does not disappoint. The initial investigation into the island is suitably mysterious, and once Skeletor’s responsibility is revealed, he keeps us entertained – especially with his closing use of Mer-Man and Whiplash as a method of transport.

Island 5
Skeletor: “I suppose this serves me right for buying my water-skis at Poundland.”

As an introduction for Buzz-Off and Whiplash, this episode doesn’t do too well; neither of them comes across as particularly exciting. Buzz-Off does slightly better, having one moment of competence early on when he catches He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Cringer, but Whiplash doesn’t manage to rise above the level of generic villain. Still, plenty of time for development later, which I’m sure they’ll get.

In short, you won’t be disappointed in watching this episode, but don’t go in expecting greatness.

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