Episode 057 – Castle of Heroes

In which He-Man goes up against Hannibal. Not Hannibal Lector though. That would be weird.

This episode opens with an absolutely bizarre sequence – the sort of thing that if you half-remembered it from childhood, you’d convince yourself couldn’t possibly haven’t actually happened in He-Man. Skeletor and Clawful are dossing about at Snake Mountain, when suddenly Captain Blackbeard and Hannibal (riding an elephant) teleport in. Skeletor’s reaction is admirably calm: he merely comments, “You are trespassing.” Then a really short individual called Monty teleports in, and it transpires that he and Skeletor are best buddies from way back. They sit down, crack open the brandy and cigars, and reminisce.

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Skeletor: “I knew there was something a bit weird about those mushrooms Beast-Man cooked for me last night.”

Since they last met, Monty has occupied himself travelling through space and time, gathering the most powerful and/or evil people in the universe and forming them into an army. Apparently Blackbeard and Hannibal are among them, so it’s nice to have at least a cursory explanation for their random appearance. Monty has arrived on Eternia to add He-Man to his army, if He-Man can pass a mysterious test.

When Monty teleports into the Palace to request He-Man’s help against an alleged giant in Polonia, He-Man, Orko and Monty bundle into the Wind Raider and fly off. En route, Monty arranges for several tests of He-Man’s strength, including having to put out a forest fire, evading some ice cannonballs, and stopping the Wind Raider being crushed by a pair of clashing rocks.

Once in Polonia, Monty sends He-Man and Orko into a cave to find the giant, while he pops back to Snake Mountain to check in with Skeletor. However, there’s no giant in the cave, only Blackbeard and Hannibal, who idiotically explain Monty’s entire plan to He-Man, and then ambitiously attempt to make him walk the plank into a pit. I wasn’t concerned for He-Man for one second.

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He-Man: “This sort of thing is simply not worth my time.”

Seeing his servants’ failure, Monty returns to the scene, and briefly traps He-Man in a trench made of magic granite. Once He-Man escapes, there follows a good few minutes of watching He-Man and Orko being chased around an arena by Monty, Blackbeard, Hannibal and the elephant. Evidently deciding that this is boring, Skeletor chooses this moment to teleport in, though he doesn’t actually do anything other than stand about shrieking insults at everyone.

He-Man finally decides that enough is enough, and climbs to the top of a large cliff, where he opens a dome and frees Monty’s captured army, sending them back to their own space and time. Hannibal and Blackbeard thank He-Man for releasing them from servitude, then disappear – while in the meantime, Monty and Skeletor blame each other for the calamity. I don’t think Monty will be invited to any more convivial cocktail parties at Snake Mountain.

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Monty: “I am going to defriend you on Facebook.”

In today’s adventure…

Adam claims that today’s episode gave Orko an exciting lesson in history. No it didn’t, Adam: the history books are strangely silent on the bit where Blackbeard and Hannibal were teleported to Eternia and forced to fight in an intergalactic army of evil. What today’s episode actually did was give Orko an exciting lesson in complete lunacy.

 

Character checklist

This week’s devolution into derangement features Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Orko, Skeletor, Clawful, Monty, Hannibal and Blackbeard. I have the feeling some of these may be one-time-only characters.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“I’ll, uh, try to get word to He-Man,” Adam says, and wanders off. He then comes back in a minute later as He-Man. He really is ridiculously transparent.

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Orko: “Well, this is a complete mess of a screenshot.”

Insults

Skeletor has clearly doubled up on his unpleasantness pills this week, with insults issuing from his bony lips pretty much every other word. His favourite is as usual “fool” which he dispenses to Clawful twice, Monty once, He-Man once, and to Monty, Blackbeard and Hannibal as a group. He also describes Blackbeard and Hannibal as “ragamuffins” and “has-beens”, and calls Monty a “clod”. Not to be outdone, Monty calls Orko a “menace” and refers to Clawful as a “brute”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I think I’d give it a grudging pass. The opening scene is hugely entertaining with the surreal arrival of Blackbeard, Hannibal and the elephant in Snake Mountain, and I really loved Skeletor’s casual reaction. It was also a lot of fun to see Skeletor actually kicking back with one of his friends, having a drink and talking about old times when the two of them overthrew Good King Andrew.

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Skeletor: “More Baileys, Monty?”

Unfortunately, once Monty starts off testing He-Man, things take a turn for the less interesting. We all know He-Man can put out forest fires by diverting rivers at them, and he can escape ice cannonballs, and hold clashing rocks apart: we’ve seen all this before. The one entertaining aspect of this is that Skeletor is watching everything unfold on his magic crystal ball, and is rooting for He-Man, knowing that if He-Man wins, Monty will add him to his army and take him away.

As predicted, Clawful has lost his interesting personality seen in Dree Elle’s Return, and appears here really only as a stock villain, filling a role that Beast-Man could easily have taken. Monty himself isn’t very exciting, and the less said about Hannibal and Blackbeard the better. In conclusion, this one would have been a complete clunker if it hadn’t been for Skeletor, who steals the show and makes it just about worth watching.

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