Episode 04 – Reunions

In which Glimmer, Madame Razz and Broom unleash the full extent of their infuriating natures.

Hurrah! We finally get the full introduction sequence. Adora approaches the camera, introduces herself, and explains how she becomes She-Ra (by drawing her sword and crying, “For the Honour of Grayskull!”, in case you’ve forgotten). She also reminds us that Spirit becomes Swift Wind, and informs us that her secret is shared by Kowl, a glowing mass of energy called Light Hope, and that bloody Madame Razz. Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna and Leech are shown to us to represent the Horde, and we are reminded that they are evil. All of this information is dispensed in an enormously patronising tone, and thus I much preferred it when there was no introduction.

After a lengthy recap of last week’s events, we open with He-Man and She-Ra hanging out in a clearing in Whispering Woods. Evidently not being quite sure whether he believes She-Ra’s claim that she is his twin sister, He-Man uses She-Ra’s sword to contact the Sorceress, who confirms that it is true, and moreover embarks on a flashback to fill He-Man in on the story.

Reunions 1
She-Ra: “Listen, He-Man, have you ever seen Blood Brothers? It’s basically like that.”

Adam and Adora were born to Queen Marlena and King Randor, but soon after their births, the Palace of Eternia came under attack from an evil force from another dimension – the Horde. Hordak was their leader even then, and Skeletor was his subordinate and favourite pupil. Knowing Adam and Adora were destined for greatness, Hordak and Skeletor crept into the Palace to kidnap them. Interrupted mid-kidnap, Hordak escaped with Adora, abandoning Skeletor to the tender mercies of the royal family and Man-at-Arms. Despite a lengthy search, Hordak and Adora could not be found.

Reunions 3
Hordak: “It’s always embarrassing looking back at old photos and seeing the dorky fashions you used to think were cool.”

Once all this backstory has been related, He-Man asks She-Ra for a big hug. I’ve often found He-Man a little creepy, and never more so than now. Once that’s over with, they turn back into Adam and Adora and return to the rebel camp. With Adam vouching for her, the rebels are easily persuaded that Adora is now on their side.

With this resolved, we move on to a short subplot: Queen Angela of Bright Moon, where Glimmer comes from, disappeared during a major battle with the Horde, and it has been determined that she is now a slave to an individual called Hunger, the queen of the Harpies of Talon Mountain, or some such. Glimmer, who is Angela’s daughter, wants to rescue her, and Adora and Adam offer to do so. They turn back into their alter egos, and fly off on Swift Wind.

Despite a great deal of footage featuring Hunger and the other Harpies screeching their idiot heads off, He-Man and She-Ra have very little difficulty in carrying out their rescue mission. Returning to Whispering Woods, Angela and Glimmer have as touching a reunion as is possible when you’re both voiced by massively irritating actresses. Despite the high level of fury Glimmer and Angela inspired in me at this point, they are still upstaged by Madame Razz, who weeps buckets for no reason.

Reunions 2
Queen Angela: “Why don’t you have wings like me, Glimmer?”

Touched by the mother-and-daughter reunion, Adora decides that now would be a good time to visit Eternia and meet her own parents. She, Adam, Spirit and Cringer all return to Eternia through the Sorceress’ gateway, where Adora is introduced to her parents – as well as Man-at-Arms and Teela – and they all weep so much that it looks like their eyes have been replaced with taps. Randor even tells Adam that he’s really pleased with him for bringing Adora home, which has to be a first.

Reunions 4
King Randor: “Hurrah! A child who might not be as useless as Adam.”

Unbeknownst to them, Hordak has opted to come through the gateway as well. Once on Eternia, he makes his way to Snake Mountain, where he has a slanging match with Skeletor, followed by a short battle. Finally, the two agree to work together to recapture Adora, after which Hordak promises to leave Skeletor in peace. He also snorts like a demented pig for our delight and delectation, as the words ‘To be continued’ flash across our screen.

 

In today’s adventure…

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise, but there is no moral again. I, however, did pick up a few helpful life hints from the episode, chief among them being that if I go through an interdimensional portal, I should always check behind me in case my mortal enemy has come too.

Reunions 5
Skeletor: “Check out my big stupid stick, Hordak.”

 

Character checklist

Everyone and his mother is invited to this party. We’ve got Adora, She-Ra, Spirit, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Queen Angela, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Teela, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Sorceress, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Hunger the Harpy, Skeletor, and loads of Horde Troopers, rebels, etc. I may well have forgotten someone from this list, but it’s probably the largest cast in any episode so far.

 

Excuse given for Adam and Adora’s disappearances

Adora and Adam happily turn into She-Ra and He-Man and back again repeatedly in this episode, but only in each other’s company, and mostly offscreen, luckily. They therefore don’t give any excuses. Still, the subject is touched upon shortly before they go to Eternia, when Adam explains that Adora mustn’t tell Randor and Marlena about her secret identity, or that of He-Man. Instead of saying, “Well, why the bloody hell not?”, Adora simply agrees. That’s a missed opportunity for the writers to explain that one. Unless, of course, the writers can’t explain that one.

Reunions 6
The Sorceress: “No, I will not explain why your identities have to be secret. There definitely is a reason though.”

 

Insults

The Sorceress kicks things off by referring to Hordak as a “vicious tyrant”. The next insults come with Bow and Glimmer each calling each other a “fool”, and Queen Angela calls the Harpies “vile minions”. Hunger is the most prolific insulter of the episode, given she shouts at her Harpies when they fail, calling them “blunderers” and “birdbrains”, then turns her attention to He-Man and She-Ra with “fools” and “dolts”. In his final scene, Hordak calls Skeletor a “traitor to the Horde”, and refers to Adam and Adora as “Eternian fools”. It’s good to see that this cartoon is going to continue the obsession with fools.

 

Oh No, Bow!

In his only scene, Bow doesn’t want to rescue Queen Angela because he thinks the rebels aren’t strong enough to defeat the Harpies. He’s completely wrong, of course, given He-Man and She-Ra manage it within three minutes.

Reunions 7
Bow: “Don’t undermine me, Kowl.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s nice to get the full story behind the Horde’s kidnapping of Adora, and particularly fun to see a vague origin for Skeletor – who’d have thought he was a former pupil of Hordak? It’s a great decision for Skeletor and Hordak to now hate each other; it would have been rather too neat if they’d been allies, and it’s far more in character for Skeletor to refuse to share power with anyone.

I’m not quite sure why the Queen Angela bit was here, as it didn’t feel relevant to the rest of the episode’s story. Still, as part of a complete film, it possibly makes more sense. We’ll have to find out next week. As it stands, it’s simply another demonstration of how annoying Glimmer and Madame Razz are.

And speaking of annoying, Hordak’s pig noises are really beginning to get on my tits now. His habit of transforming himself into machinery (in this episode, he becomes a rocket, a drill, and uses his stupid arm cannon again) is also not as funny as the writers evidently think it is. I feel that this cartoon could be a really long slog if Hordak doesn’t get a better voice and character soon.

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Episode 122 – Search for a Son

In which we learn that Man-at-Arms has ripped Mechaneck’s head off.

This episode opens with a blatant and, dare I say it, desperate piece of advertising. Mechaneck is in the Palace courtyard, playing Frisbee with a child called Derek, and Derek says, “It’s fun to play with Mechaneck.” Clearly the Mechaneck figure wasn’t selling well (can’t think why not) so the writers inserted this not particularly subliminal message in a transparent attempt to boost sales.

Son 1
Mechaneck: “Please buy my figure. It’s great. Please.”

Anyway, with very little provocation, Man-at-Arms shows up and tells Derek about Mechaneck’s past. Apparently, Mechaneck has a son called Philip, but on a visit to Dragon Mountain at some indeterminate point in the past, a massive storm blew up and Philip flew away in the wind. Mechaneck hurt his neck in the storm and fainted, at which point Man-at-Arms found him.

Man-at-Arms now gets on to a more interesting part of the story: because Mechaneck had hurt his original neck, Man-at-Arms gave him a bionic one – a procedure which almost certainly involved ripping Mechaneck’s head off and then reattaching it. This explains why Mechaneck has this ridiculous feature. It doesn’t explain why he was called “Mechaneck” before Man-at-Arms started doing experimental and possibly illegal neck replacement surgery on him. Frankly, Mechaneck is the sort of name you’d only have if you also already had a mechanical neck. The coincidence is almost too much, and I for one have become a firm believer in predestination as a result.

Son 2
Mechaneck: “What have you done to me, you crazed experimentalist?”

And now we learn what happened to Philip. He’s somehow fallen into the clutches of Count Marzo, who has previously appeared in both The Once and Future Duke and The Eternia Flower, and who in both these less-than-classic episodes was the hatcher of evil plots that involved children. Marzo is a little bit icky. I’m not sure why Philip doesn’t just run away from Marzo, because there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly compelling him to stay. Maybe this will be explained later. Probably not.

Back at the Palace, preparations are afoot for Randor, Marlena, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Mechaneck to go on an outing somewhere. Shortly before they leave, Mechaneck receives a visit from Marzo, who offers to return Philip in exchange for Mechaneck delivering Randor and Marlena. It seems Marzo wants to be King, and thinks that taking Randor prisoner is the way to achieve this. Mechaneck rejects the offer and runs off to tell Man-at-Arms, who instantly adds Adam and Cringer to the ranks of those unfortunate enough to go on the outing.

Son 3
King Randor: “Get out of my way, everyone. You’re standing between me and my throne.”

As they cross the desert, Mechaneck discovers an old fort containing an oasis, and recommends that the party stop for a rest. Would you believe it, the fort is a trap, and Marzo pops in for a little gloat. This doesn’t last long, since Adam turns into He-Man and opts for the standing-there-looking-stern approach, which is not very effective, given Marzo manages to successfully kidnap Randor and Marlena.

Marzo takes the King and Queen to his mountain fortress, where Philip is also imprisoned. He-Man and his gang – now featuring an unnecessary and unwelcome appearance from Buzz-Off – engage in all manner of silly shenanigans trying to break in, and finally succeed. Once they are inside, the episode gets no more exciting, featuring lots and lots of time-wasting until Philip falls down a pit and has to be rescued by Mechaneck, who extends his neck down the hole and allows Philip to hold onto it to come back up. What’s interesting here is that Philip says, “It’s good to be in your arms again, father!” rather than a more prescient comment like, “What the hell happened to your neck?” If I didn’t see my father for a matter of months, and when I finally did, he was able to extend his neck to at least 10 foot in length like Inspector Gadget, I’d definitely have a few things to say.

Son 4
Philip: “Father, hi …. is there something different about you?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela explains that we should always look where we’re going, and take care not to trip over. This draws inspiration from two completely irrelevant bits of the episode, in which Teela and Philip weren’t taking care. I think a more obvious moral is if you get caught in a storm and hurt your neck, you should absolutely insist on seeing a doctor, rather than a lunatic in a green and yellow body suit who wants to try twisted experiments on you. There is a chance that this moral was in the original first draft, but was rejected on the basis of being overly specific.

 

Character checklist

A very large contingent of our favourite idiots pops up today, including several who definitely didn’t need to be involved. There’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Mechaneck, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Buzz-Off, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Orko, Philip, Derek, Count Marzo, and Count Marzo’s big pink boring sidekick. There’s also loads of other Buzz-Offs, which is lovely.

Son 5
Count Marzo: “Stop right now, thank you very much, I need somebody with a human touch.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“He’s safe, Teela. I don’t think we’ll need his help,” says He-Man. It turns out that He-Man is right. He didn’t need Buzz-Off’s help either, or Orko’s, or Teela’s. None of these people should have been in this episode.

 

Insults

It’s Marzo with a chip on his shoulder this week, especially in an early scene in which he variously calls Philip a “fool”, a “foolish boy”, an “ungrateful wretch” and a “scoundrel”. Marzo also has a “fool” for Mechaneck and another “fool” for his big pink servant, whose name escapes me. He-Man does address the big pink servant as “Blinky”, but I’m not sure if this is his name or just a completely irrelevant insult.

Son 6
Prince Adam: “Look how manly I am when I pose like this, Cringer!”

 

Does it have the Power?

Not really. It’s admirable, I suppose, for trying to fill in the blanks and explain why Mechaneck has his bionic neck, but the explanation raises more questions than it answers, and frankly, Eternia is so full of freaks as it is, I wasn’t really crying out for an explanation concerning Mechaneck. Nor was I particularly bothered in an exploration of his past, and I certainly wasn’t keen to see Count Marzo again. That being said, this is definitely the best of Marzo’s appearances, but that’s hardly high praise. As so often these days, this isn’t a classic, but it’s equally perfectly watchable.

Episode 098 – Search for the Past

In which Prince Adam leaps out of a moving Wind Raider for no reason whatsoever.

Man-at-Arms and Orko go shopping down at the market. You might think that the episode can’t get any more exciting than that, but it does. At one trader’s stall, Man-at-Arms spots a golden bracelet which used to belong to King Randor’s father, King Miro, and demands to know where he found it. On learning that it came from the Swamps of Enchantment, Man-at-Arms takes the bracelet to Randor, and the two of them decide to go to the Swamps to find Miro.

Search 1
King Randor: “You’re nicked.”

Concerned for her husband, Queen Marlena asks Adam and Cringer to go to the Swamps as well. She is right to be worried: Man-at-Arms’ stupendous incompetence has already led to Randor being kidnapped by the Enchantress, a sexy sorceress who was responsible for Miro’s disappearance many years ago.

Adam and Cringer fly to the Swamps in the Wind Raider. Once they get there they decide not to land the Wind Raider like normal, but instead jump out and float down using parachutes, leaving the Wind Raider to land itself. This is bizarre behaviour, the only reason for which Adam gives is the non sequitur phrase, “In that spinach?” Adam is mental.

Search 2
Cringer: “This sequence must have been a devil of a job for the animators.”

They quickly locate Man-at-Arms, and decide to turn into He-Man and Battle-Cat for good measure. They soon decide that Randor must be being held in Lost Mountain, which is a mountain hovering in mid-air directly above the Swamps. Unsure of how to get up to the mountain, He-Man comments that it would be good to have a Wind Raider. There is no hint in his voice that it’s his own bloody insane fault that they don’t.

Without a Wind Raider available, He-Man instead catapults himself onto the mountain using a bent tree, and sets off to find the missing royals. He finds King Miro first, who is in a rock cabin at the very top of a mountain spire, and he reveals that Randor is probably being held in Castle Fear, back on solid ground. They set off together, awarding themselves a fight with a stupid monster en route.

Search 3
King Miro: “Thank goodness you’re not my grandson Adam. I’d do my nut if he dyed his hair neon orange.”

He-Man and Miro parachute off Lost Mountain and head for Castle Fear, picking up Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat as they go. The Enchantress tries to defeat the assembled party with various stupid monsters and magic tricks, but fails entirely. Once she’s dealt with, Randor offers Miro his throne back, but Miro declines, opting instead to roam Eternia and learn about its people anew. I predict that after two weeks of learning about imbeciles like Ram-Man and Buzz-Off, Miro will be back at the Palace, begging to live with Randor and Adam, who are at least borderline sane.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko gives us two morals for the price of one this week:

  • You can’t do bad things without being punished for them.
  • If you have a grandmother or grandfather, you are really lucky.

The first of these wasn’t exactly demonstrated; Orko tries to make out that the Enchantress got punished, but she didn’t really – she just got carried off camera by a giant slug (sorry, I didn’t mention that in the synopsis). What happened to her thereafter is anyone’s guess. The second wasn’t really demonstrated either: having a grandfather in this episode led to He-Man having to mess about catapulting himself onto floating mountains and other such rubbish, which I’d hesitate to describe as lucky. My guess is that the writers knew each of these lessons singularly was too weak to carry the episode, so they thought that if they mashed them together, that would be good enough.

Search 4
The Enchantress: “I wonder why so many female magicians on Eternia wear birds on their heads.”

 

Character checklist

This week’s effort treats us to Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, King Randor, Queen Marlena, King Miro, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Enchantress, the marketplace trader, and the massive slug.

 

Insults

The Enchantress does a lot of insulting this week, but her voice is really soft so I couldn’t tell what she was saying a lot of the time. It’s a definite fact that she refers to her sluggy servant thing as a “bothersome insect”, a “slimy slug”, a “fool”, and “sludge”. She also calls Miro a “royal buffoon” and might call Randor a “fool”, but her soft voice lets her down here. He-Man refers to one of the stupid monsters as an “ugly snowball”, and two more as “mudballs”, which suggests He-Man has acquired a sudden and unexpected obsession with balls.

Search 5
Stupid monster: “Smugger than Nigel Farage on 24th June 2016.”

 

Egg on your face?

It barely qualifies, but since this category has been quiet lately, I should report that Orko’s stupid clumsiness brings a huge pile of oranges down on his head.

 

Does it have the Power?

There’s an inherent problem with episodes like this one. From the moment the prospect arises that King Miro might be alive, we know he will be, because Filmation doesn’t do tragic. We also know, however, that even though he’s alive, he’s not going to take his throne back from Randor. Further to that, we’re pretty confident that we’ll never see him again. Consequently, it’s really difficult to get invested in the plotline, because it’s not going to have any long-term impact. And yes, I know that every episode restores matters to the status quo at the end, but most of them don’t offer potentially huge changes as a consequence of the episode’s events, like this one does.

Search 6
King Miro: “I’m leaving now, Adam. There’s no need to ever mention me again.”

It doesn’t help, I suppose, that the Enchantress is a boring and utterly motiveless baddy, and that Randor and Miro don’t really seem to care when they are reunited. Adam makes a valiant attempt to convince us that he’s pleased to meet his grandfather, but while we’re on the subject of Adam, his behaviour with the Wind Raider this week was so far outside the realms of logic that I’m tempted to conclude he’s cracked under the pressure and gone completely insane.

So, unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of this one. I recommend missing it.

That’s the last review for a couple of weeks now. Should be back around about 4th November. Don’t miss me too much.

Episode 097 – The Time Wheel

In which He-Man goes head to head with a boring old king.

Out exploring in a rocky canyon, He-Man and Orko discover a tunnel leading into an ancient Silkon laboratory. He-Man explains that the Silkon civilisation died out many centuries previously, and decides not to give us any further background, even though we’re eagerly hanging on his every word. Instead, He-Man activates a boring booby-trap that shoots some boomerangs at him, while Orko gets himself trapped in another room.

Orko discovers a great big golden wheel with a handle, and because he just can’t leave anything well enough alone, he turns it. This prompts a migraine-inducing light show, at the end of which we find a man called Tamask, who wears a Viking helmet, wields a club, and demands to know who has kidnapped him from his palace. In the course of the subsequent conversation, it emerges that Tamask is a Sorcerer-King of Eternia from long ages past, who has been brought to the future by Orko’s meddling.

Time Wheel 2
Tamask: “I may have come from centuries ago, but at least Eternian fashion hasn’t changed much.”

Orko’s lack of finesse leads Tamask to conclude that King Randor is a pretender to his throne, and sets off to challenge him in battle. Before going, he seals He-Man and Orko in a room, and He-Man narrows his eyes and glares at Orko, which is a perfectly natural reaction – the only difference between He-Man and me is that I’d have glared at Orko 97 episodes ago. By now, I’d be at the tying-Orko-to-the-train-tracks stage.

He-Man punches his way out of the room and chases Tamask, with Orko still in tow. Once they catch up, they attempt to reason with Tamask, though they make zero effort to explain what has happened. Tamask refuses to listen, believing them to be his Silkon enemies, and conjures up a giant centipede, while he carries on his merry way to the Palace.

Time Wheel 3
He-Man: “Oh, for goodness sake.”

Once he arrives, he notes that the Palace looks very different, but concludes that Randor must be a very powerful sorcerer to have made all these changes. He bounds into the throne room, making stupid proclamations about reclaiming his throne, but Randor refuses to fight him. Instead, he chooses to wind Tamask up by saying that fighting is rubbish, and that wisdom and compassion are better. Luckily for Randor, He-Man and Orko show up before Tamask has time to act on the implied insult.

He-Man and Randor make some pitiful efforts to explain to Tamask what has happened, but – possibly because they accompany their attempts by having the Palace Guards shooting at him – Tamask again refuses to listen, and does a runner. The rest of the episode is taken up with Tamask running around, conjuring up stupid traps, while He-Man shouts at him for not listening.

Time Wheel 4
He-Man: “Right, gang, any ideas why we’re being filmed at this jaunty angle?”

Eventually, when one of his traps backfires, Tamask finds himself in need of He-Man’s help. He-Man saves him, and finally Tamask listens. He-Man says, “Thank Christ for that,” and uses the Time Wheel to send Tamask back to his own time. Or possibly uses it to send him into outer space, which is what I’d be tempted to do after all the tedious trouble Tamask’s caused. Once Tamask is gone, the entire Silkon laboratory blows up, which is nice, and at least means that this plotline is unlikely to be repeated.

 

In today’s adventure…

As with another rubbish episode some time ago, He-Man begins the moral by saying, “I hope you enjoyed today’s adventure story,” which immediately brings to mind the inevitable criticism that we didn’t. He then goes on to say that although we don’t have a Time Wheel in real life, we do have books, and makes a valiant but ultimately doomed effort to claim that books and Time Wheels are pretty much the same thing. He finishes up by suggesting that we all give books a try. I don’t really want to go into how stupid this is, so I won’t.

Time Wheel 5
He-Man: “Hey kids, you should take some advice on reading material from a guy in red furry underpants.”

 

Character checklist

It’s a pretty tight cast today, featuring Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Tamask, and some Palace guards. Man-at-Arms doesn’t feature, which is just as well, since I don’t think I could bear to look at him after his disgraceful performance last week.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam can’t wait to change into He-Man this week, doing so about 20 seconds after the episode starts, for the tenuous purpose of creating a cave that he and Orko can shelter in. The only witness is Orko, so he doesn’t need to give an excuse.

Time Wheel 1
Adam: “For Christ’s sake, Orko, turn the bloody hairdryer off.”

 

Insults

For the second week running, no one has an unkind word to say about anyone else this time. It is possibly not a coincidence that in neither of these episodes has Skeletor shown his bony face. That Skeletor, he’s a bad influence on people, you know?

 

Does it have the Power?

I liked the premise of the episode very much – a savage king, well-versed in powerful sorcery, from Eternia’s past is dragged into the present. Unfortunately, I did not like the execution at all. Tamask was quickly reduced to an idiot who shouted, “Friend of Silkons!” every time anyone tried to talk to him, and all he did was run from the Silkon lab to the Palace and back again, creating pointless and dull diversions for our heroes as he did so. The scene in which He-Man saved his life was inevitable, and to top it all off, the moral was borderline insane. I think you’d be advised to skip this one.

Episode 085 – The Rainbow Warrior

In which Adam learns his secret isn’t quite as safe as he thought.

Good Lord. Skeletor’s in an absolutely foul mood this morning. We find him in Snake Mountain, shouting at Beast-Man and Trapjaw for no evident reason other than to let off some steam. In the course of the crazed yammering, however, Skeletor comes up with a plan, which can’t really be described as his greatest. He intends to defeat He-Man by turning the Palace Guards against him. Skeletor does not appear to have considered that even Beast-Man can defeat the Palace Guards, so it’s not going to give He-Man any trouble. This plan is so rubbish that even Skeletor appears to have forgotten about it by the time his next scene rolls around.

Rainbow 1.jpg
Beast-Man: “Skeletor, this plan is so stupid, even I could have come up with it.”

At the Palace, Queen Marlena reminisces about her time as an astronaut from Earth. She visits her old ship – the Rainbow Explorer – which is now in the Eternian Museum, and we are treated to a flashback showing Marlena’s arrival on Eternia. Her ship crashed in the Eternian plains, where a hilariously unbearded young King Randor found her and sleazily suggested she come back to the Palace as his guest. Fortunately, the episode does not attempt to show us Randor and Marlena’s courtship, merely summing up with, “Then I fell in love with you.”

Rainbow 2.jpg
Marlena: “You so need to grow a beard. You look like you’re two years old.”

Almost entirely oblivious to Marlena’s nostalgia, Randor chirpily invites her to come to a picnic on the beach, which she declines. And so it is that Marlena is not in the Wind Raider when Skeletor successfully captures it, freezing Randor, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Teela and securing them in chains just outside Snake Mountain. He then sends a message to the Palace, demanding unconditional surrender.

Marlena refuses this kind offer, and orders the Palace Guards to prepare for battle. Without Teela or Man-at-Arms to lead them, they are uncertain of victory – until Marlena puts on her old astronaut suit and takes command, flying the Rainbow Explorer. Leading the Guards to Snake Mountain, Marlena shoots the chains from Adam’s wrists, and he runs off to try to find He-Man. This he does, with astonishing alacrity.

Skeletor unleashes a fleet of robots on Sky Sleds to destroy the Palace Guards, but Marlena shows off her flying skills, shooting Skeletor’s robots out of the sky. She then gets into a dogfight with Skeletor’s ship, the Doom Buster, and Marlena successfully forces Skeletor to crash. In the meantime, He-Man doesn’t really do a lot, to be honest. He does confront Skeletor in the wreckage of the crashed ship, but Skeletor rather unexpectedly flies away using what appears to be an inbuilt jetpack.

Rainbow 3
Skeletor: “Laters.”

Marlena lands the Rainbow Explorer, and takes off her astronaut helmet, revealing her identity. This shocks absolutely everyone, even He-Man, who stumbles, “Mother – uh, your Majesty.” Back at the Palace, Adam asks Marlena why she chose to free him, rather than someone useful – and she replies, “A mother always knows her own son, and what he is capable of doing.” I think it’s therefore safe to say that Marlena is fully aware of Adam’s double life.

 

In today’s adventure…

This episode comes with a little sequence which barely qualifies as a moral: Teela and Marlena agree to teach other to fly the Sky Sleds and the Rainbow Explorer. The lesson – given with an astonishing degree of subtlety compared to every single other episode – is that older people have a lot of knowledge, and they also remember what it’s like to be young. Fair enough, though it seems to me that the moral this week is that your mother always knows what you’re up to. Which is a disturbing thought.

 

Character checklist

Prince Adam, He-Man, Queen Marlena, King Randor, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, plenty of unnamed Palace guards, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw make up the perfect cast to this tale.

Rainbow 4
He-Man: “Pre-Glasto group photo, guys!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Teela hands it to Adam on a silver platter this week, by telling him to run away and find He-Man. Adam does not need telling twice.

 

Insults

As noted above, Skeletor uses the entire first scene simply to berate his henchmen, providing a possibly unmatched wealth of imaginative insults which you can use on your friends, assuming you don’t want them to be your friends anymore. Skeletor calls Trapjaw a “tin-tongued dolt” and a “metal-munching moron”, and calls Beast-Man a “flea-bitten furbrain”. He refers to them collectively as “fools”, “stupid assistants”, a “dim-witted duo”, and a “pathetic pair of pitiful pinheads”. He also taps Trapjaw’s head and comments, “Just as I suspected – hollow.”

It’s not just Beast-Man and Trapjaw who draw his wrath: he refers to He-Man as a “poor fool” and a “muscle-bound moron”, though there’s nothing out of the ordinary there. Skeletor also is the recipient of a number of insults: Queen Marlena calls him a “demon”, while Teela says he is an “evil monster” and a “hooded hoodlum”. And finally, there’s a slightly strange moment when Trapjaw addresses Skeletor and – perhaps a little unwisely – comments, “You look a little fat.”

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Skeletor: “Say what, Trapjaw?”

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, it absolutely does. It’s a real treat to get another super episode so soon after the outstanding Into the Abyss, but The Rainbow Warrior is also a series highlight. I never thought I’d be particularly interested in Queen Marlena’s back story, but this episode was very effective in showing us her arrival on Eternia and conveying her sense of nostalgia for her astronaut days, even though she is happy with her life as Queen.

The point at which she flies the Rainbow Explorer into battle is almost a punch-the-air moment, and it’s notable that He-Man contributed very little to Skeletor’s defeat. I’d actually suggest that he could have been left out of this episode and I possibly wouldn’t have even noticed. Marlena’s decision to free Adam, and her subsequent hinting that she knows the secret, is also a really great moment.

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Prince Adam: “How can Mother know my secret? I thought the whole thing was completely watertight.”

But the icing on the cake is – as so often – Skeletor. As well as the numerous insults recorded above, he is also gifted more hugely comedic dialogue. Early on, he comments, “I’ve tried to invade Castle Grayskull six times.” Beast-Man corrects him, “Seven, boss…”, to which Skeletor snaps back, “Six! The first time was only practice. I was teasing the poor fool.” His plan once again appears to boil down to ‘capture some people, then wait for them to be rescued’, which is sheer buffoonery, and it’s almost heartbreaking to see this poor skeleton want something so much, and be far too incompetent to achieve it. In addition, his final exit on a jet pack was a touch of demented genius.

Watch this one: you won’t be disappointed.

Episode 034 – The Dragon’s Gift

In which He-Man doesn’t cut down a tree.

We find our heroes this week in the Palace, where Ambassador Therrin from the Kingdom of East Fen (presumably somewhere near Cambridge) has arrived with a gift. I should mention here that Therrin has a super evil moustache, a huge all-in-one brown body suit, eyes with no pupils, and a weasely voice. You will, therefore, be as surprised as I was when I reveal that he is actually Skeletor in disguise.

But all that’s to come. For now, Therrin presents Randor with a bust of himself, to which Randor immodestly comments, “Why, it’s magnificent.” However, just as Randor is about to start stroking the bust, Man-at-Arms spots Skeletor’s crossbones logo peeping through the body suit, and grabs the bust himself. He is immediately transformed into a crystal sculpture of himself.

Dragon Gift

Skeletor simply starts complaining that now he’ll have to find another way to claim the Eternian throne, and is swiftly attacked by Teela and a contingent of well-meaning but useless guards. The odds are evened a little more by the appearance of He-Man and Battle-Cat, at which point Skeletor teleports out. Discussion immediately begins on how to bring Man-at-Arms back to life, though no one stops to question whether they should actually bother.

He-Man and Teela take Man-at-Arms to Castle Grayskull, where the Sorceress proves as useless as ever, revealing that the transformation is beyond her power to reverse. She does, however, suggest that Granamyr, oldest and wisest of the dragons of Darksmoke, may have the answer. Teela wants to know where to find Darksmoke, but the Sorceress will not say, as to reveal the whereabouts would break an ancient pact made between the dragons and Grayskull.

Consequently, He-Man and Teela hit the books to find clues in ancient myths as to where Darksmoke is. I’d be impressed if the books they read actually had words or even pictures in them, but no, they’re just blank pages. Finally, He-Man finds a clue: dragons and ice trolls are friends, so maybe they should pop up to the Ice Mountains, find a troll, and start asking questions.

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He-Man, Teela and Battle-Cat head to the Ice Mountains, where they navigate a number of icy hazards, including an avalanche and a bunch of mutant polar bears. In addition, both Teela and He-Man comment that it’s cold, to which I’d have far more sympathy if either of these scantily clad characters had bothered to put a coat or at least a jumper on before coming to the Ice Mountains. Finally, they locate some ice trolls, but don’t really bother asking any questions, since by this point they’re standing right next to Darksmoke anyway.

He-Man doesn’t knock and instead simply waltzes into Darksmoke, then yells out for Granamyr, who appears out of a fire pit, looking mightily annoyed. After commenting that he doesn’t respect He-Man, Granamyr reveals that he is indeed able to undo the crystallisation of Man-at-Arms, but he will only do so if He-Man and Teela chop down Skytree, the only living thing on Eternia older than Granamyr himself.

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Once our heroes agree to this bargain, Granamyr transports them to the Forgotten Forest, where Skytree can be found. He-Man produces his sword and is about to chop the tree down, when suddenly it develops eyes and a mouth and starts talking. Skytree tells of the history of the Forgotten Forest, how a Man-at-Arms has always existed through Eternia’s long ages, and how it owes one such Man-at-Arms a debt. It solemnly agrees to be chopped down to save the life of the current Man-at-Arms.

He-Man feels guilty, and rightly so. He declines to chop down Skytree, and after moping about for a bit to ease her murderous rage, Teela agrees. They return to Granamyr and explain that trees have as much right to life as Granamyr does. There’s a dicey moment where Granamyr threatens to send them to the Realm of Demons for ever, but in the end he notes that He-Man has displayed honour and wisdom, and thus agrees to save Man-at-Arms.

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In today’s adventure…

Teela’s pearl of wisdom this week is that trees near you probably don’t talk, and if they do, you’re on some pretty major hallucinogens. Her point, however, is that all living things deserve respect, as life is a precious gift. This moral fits the story perfectly, as I’m sure you can see.

 

Characters appearing

Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Sorceress, Skeletor, yadda yadda. Also – Granamyr! Hooray! And Skytree. And some ice trolls. And a nutty little leprechaun.

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Excuse for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

When Adam is about to transform into He-Man, he mutters to Cringer, “Come on, cat, let’s find ourselves a quiet spot.” It’s hardly an excuse, but it is the best we’ve had for some time.

It’s also worth noting that the episode begins with Adam being late. Randor wants to know where Adam is, and Man-at-Arms says he’s doing some important government business. Teela chips in to say that she doesn’t consider Lady Amanda to be government business, which certainly sounds like she considers Adam and Lady Amanda are up to some Eternian hanky-panky.

 

Insults

He-Man returns to an old favourite, referring to Skeletor as “Bonehead”.

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Does it have the Power?

A resounding yes! I thought at first that my reaction was simply because of the contrast to last week’s appalling effort, but in truth The Dragon’s Gift is a successful He-Man story in every way. It’s always good to see Skeletor and one of his typical demented schemes; he’s been sorely missed the last few weeks. The Ice Mountains are an exciting new location, and Granamyr is a very interesting character, being neither friend nor foe. He needs to lose that goofy helmet though.

I liked the various touches of Eternian history thrown in, with the Sorceress’ references to the ancient pact between the dragons and Grayskull, and also Skytree’s monologue concerning a long ago battle with witches. Both of these really help to flesh out Eternia and make it seem more real. The twist in the tale when He-Man refuses to chop down the tree is easy to see coming for you or me, but I can imagine being genuinely surprised if I’d seen this as a child. Though maybe I was just a stupid child. It’s also great to have the respect for life message so often seen in He-Man extended to plants and presumably animals.

And best of all, Orko isn’t in it. Actually, that’s not the best: the best is that the Starchild isn’t in it.

Episode 029 – Prince Adam No More

In which King Randor nearly figures out the Prince Adam/He-Man link.

Sorry for the long wait between The Defection and this. I’ve had a busy week. Anyway, this one’s worth waiting for. We open with a scene that actually manages to bring some depth to our villains: Skeletor, frustrated at too many defeats at He-Man’s hands, is taking it out on Beast-Man, who he exiles from Snake Mountain. Skeletor takes an unpleasant delight in this process, and I actually felt sorry for Beast-Man, something I would never have thought possible.

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As if to counter the good work done in the establishing villains scene, we are then treated to an extended sequence in which Orko accidentally locks himself in an Attack Trak and drives it all round the Palace courtyard, shooting walls down and attempting to murder King Randor. Once this problem is resolved, we learn that Randor is shortly to undertake a tour of Eternia, and Prince Adam is hoping to be chosen to be the King’s honour guard for the trip.

But when Randor makes his decision, it’s He-Man he wants, not Adam. Adam is hurt by this decision, and pops off to see the Sorceress, where he explains that he has had to pretend to be careless and irresponsible in order to safeguard his secret identity, and says that he just wants his father to be proud of him. The Sorceress, as usual, offers really helpful advice, limiting herself to “Do what you think is right, but be careful.”

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When we next see Adam, we find him in the Attack Trak on the royal tour with Randor and Man-at-Arms, having evidently convinced his father to let him come along. Randor is clearly not happy about it though, bitching that He-Man would have been a better choice. Naturally enough, the tour’s route takes them past the spot where Beast-Man is bemoaning his fate.

Deciding that he will capture the King to win back Skeletor’s favour, Beast-Man unleashes a platoon of shadowbeasts on the Attack Trak. His plan goes remarkably smoothly, and ends with Randor being hauled away to Snake Mountain’s dungeons. Beast-Man tells Adam and Man-at-Arms to bring all the Palace gold to Snake Mountain by nightfall, or Randor will never be released.

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Man-at-Arms berates Adam for not transforming into He-Man, to which Adam responds that he wanted to show Randor he could be a hero too. Man-at-Arms responds by telling him the Power is to keep others safe, not to make himself happy. This for some reason reassures Adam, who transforms into He-Man and zooms off to Snake Mountain.

He-Man sneaks down to the dungeons and releases Randor, setting off the burglar alarm in the process and alerting Beast-Man and Mer-Man, who have been celebrating Beast-Man’s victory in the throne room. They make the mistake of sending a load of robots to recapture the King, which are quickly turned into scrap metal by He-Man and, surprisingly, Randor.

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Randor then decides it’s time for a quick discussion about how much he loves Adam, despite how hard he is on him sometimes. He-Man tries to answer without giving away his identity, and is fortunately distracted by Beast-Man and Mer-Man showing up for a final defeat. Once He-Man and Randor successfully depart, Skeletor shows up and welcomes Beast-Man back to the fold by ordering him to clear up the destroyed robots.

And finally, the royal tour continues, with Adam repeating things that Randor told He-Man, prompting Randor to nearly put two and two together. But at the last moment, he dismisses the notion from his mind, so don’t worry – next week he’ll be back to disapproving of Adam again.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko tells us that today, we learned all about the love parents have for their children. I’m dead certain we’ve learned about this about fifteen times already, and we’re only on Episode 29 here. Perhaps we could have had an elaboration on Man-at-Arms’ theme of using power to do good, not make yourself happy? As it stands, there’s nothing to really take home from this episode.

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Characters appearing

Prince Adam and He-Man, obviously. Also Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Tri-Klops, Trapjaw, Mer-Man and Evil-Lyn.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

There’s two transformations into He-Man during this episode, but on neither occasion is an excuse warranted.

 

Insults

Not unexpectedly for an episode featuring Beast-Man so heavily, we have perhaps the greatest number of insults in an episode yet. Unfortunately, they’re nearly all in the “fool” category. Skeletor calls Beast-Man a “Furry fool” and a “Furry flea-bitten fool”; Beast-Man and Mer-Man each call each other a “fool”, and Beast-Man also calls He-Man a “fool”.

Otherwise, Beast-Man refers to Skeletor as “Old bonehead” and a “Skull-faced creep”, the latter of which he is obviously pretty proud, since he later recycles it as “Bone-faced creep”. We also find Randor calling Beast-Man a “Furry devil”, which seems rather strong, and Tri-Klops refers to Beast-Man as “Fuzz-face”, though this may not be an insult, as he is expressing sympathy for Beast-Man at the time.

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And finally, Beast-Man says “Come on, you beasts” to his collection of, well, beasts. This one’s only really an insult because of the tone Beast-Man uses.

 

Does it have the Power?

This one has to be a classic. It’s unusual for a He-Man episode to actually make us feel sad for one of the baddies, but when Beast-Man is kicked out of his home, it really tugs on the heartstrings. It’s rather touching at the end of the episode too, as Skeletor seems to have actually missed having Beast-Man around, though he obviously doesn’t say so. Why else would he allow Beast-Man to return to Snake Mountain, despite him having made a mess and destroyed a load of robots?

The Randor and Adam storyline is also interesting. Randor does come across as a tad unreasonable in demanding that He-Man be the honour guard instead of Adam; as Adam points out, it’ll be him, not He-Man, running the kingdom one day, so it makes sense for him to learn royal business. Randor’s admission to He-Man that he does love Adam is perhaps unnecessary but also touching, and it’s rather fun at the end to see him nearly figure out that He-Man and Adam are one and the same.

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Which brings us to the elephant in the room – why on Eternia does Adam have to keep his identity secret? The Sorceress attempts to explain in this episode, claiming that if his identity was known, Skeletor wouldn’t hesitate to try to destroy Adam and the ones he loves. It’s a valiant attempt, but let’s be honest, Skeletor doesn’t hesitate to try to do that anyway. But still, it’s nice that the writers for once acknowledged that the whole secret identity thing doesn’t really make sense.

In short, this is a great episode, featuring both character development and exciting action sequences. Don’t miss it!