In which He-Man deliberately does things the hard way in order to engineer a crisis for himself.
On a picnic expedition, a couple of children have a horrible day when Orko starts doing some magic for them. This is only marginally better than the subsequent eruption of a volcano which puts them on the wrong side of a chasm, under attack by a rock monster. Luckily, He-Man and Battle-Cat quickly appear on the scene, and rescue the children, but in the process He-Man’s sword is nicked by the rock monster.
He-Man makes a really, really shoddy effort to recover his sword, but the rock monster escapes into a tunnel, which is then blocked up by a convenient earthquake. The party returns to the Palace, where Teela bleats on and on about how cowardly Adam is for running away, and He-Man and Man-at-Arms exchange panicked looks when Teela comments that she never sees He-Man and Adam together. Uh oh.
Ram-Man volunteers his services to ram the tunnel open, but He-Man politely if forcefully declines, opting to use a machine called a Battle Ram which does the same thing. Ram-Man should probably form a union and demand a halt to the mechanisation of his job – though in fairness the next scene shows Ram-Man ramming the entrance open anyway, despite He-Man’s refusal.
Once inside the tunnel, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Ram-Man and Orko find a pit that leads down to the centre of the Earth – curiously, not the centre of Eternia. They also find that the rock monster who nicked the sword is called Ravar, and he is attempting to use the sword to set himself up as the leader of the otherwise peaceful rock monsters, who are sitting around looking miserable and making moaning noises.
Once again, He-Man puts in a really poor effort in his attempts to get the sword back, resulting in himself and Ram-Man being easily captured. Luckily, the peaceful rock monsters won’t listen to Ravar, clearing the way for He-Man to make one of his trademark impassioned speeches about how the sword doesn’t make Ravar a leader – but this doesn’t persuade Ravar to give He-Man the sword back.
Now it’s Man-at-Arms’ turn to experiment with incompetence, allowing another rock monster called Togar to steal his laser pistol. Predictably, Togar shoots a pillar which is vitally important to the structure of the rock monsters’ caves, which is fortuitous as it gives He-Man an opportunity to force Ravar and Togar to cooperate to fix matters.
With Ravar and Togar happily set up as joint leaders, they conclude that swords and guns are bad, and throw them both into the pit leading to the centre of the Earth. He-Man loses his mind entirely and decides not to bother trying to retrieve it, and in a scene of unexpected depth, begins to resign himself to the fact that he will never be Prince Adam again.
But of course, such a plot twist would be unthinkable. Orko soon reveals that he was skulking about in the pit and caught the sword as it came falling down. He returns it to He-Man, who transforms back into Adam and heads to the Palace to take the brunt of Teela’s incessant harping. So a happy end, of sorts.
In today’s adventure…
The not unexpected moral here is that swords, or any other symbols, do not make people into leaders. The qualities of a good leader are, in fact (pencils ready?), intelligence, respect for others, and an unselfish desire to do good. If you have all of these, you too can be a He-Man-approved leader in no time. Just sign up for the Eternian Masterclass in Leadership, now with a free bonus module on how to patronise people.
It’s a relatively lengthy but unexciting cast list greeting us this week, consisting of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Ram-Man, Ravar, Togar, and the three children at the picnic.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Adam arranges an unusually complex plot to turn into He-Man out of sight; he instructs Cringer to run off and not come back when called, providing a sensible excuse for Adam to also run away. It’s nice to see that occasionally some thought is put into the realities of this scenario.
At a relatively early stage, He-Man calls Ravar a “runaway windmill”, presumably in reference to him waving his arms about. I couldn’t see the resemblance, being honest.
Egg on your face?
Orko upends a bucket of water over Man-at-Arms’ head within a minute of the episode’s start, a tragedy made even more poignant by the fact that Man-at-Arms is trying to light a fire at the time.
Does it have the Power?
It’s a very worthy attempt, this episode. It has a good story and some extremely interesting territory to explore: we’ve seen Adam being unable to become He-Man, but the other way round seems to present some deeper psychological concerns. The message is quite clear that Adam is the “real” personality, and He-Man is only there when needed. He-Man’s inability to be who he really is actually seems to hang on him rather heavily: he asks to be alone while he contemplates the matter, and he gets cross with Orko – something he’d never normally do, no matter how deserved.
The problem is that the episode really has to jump through some hoops to get He-Man into this situation in the first place. We start with a major plot hole that really beggars belief. At the beginning, He-Man throws his sword across the chasm as part of his plan to rescue the children; once the children are rescued, he attempts to retrieve the sword by flying over the chasm in the Wind Raider. Why on earth did he not just use the Wind Raider to rescue the children? This whole sorry situation could have been avoided.
In addition, in any other episode, He-Man would have easily won his fight with Ravar and retrieved his sword before Ravar even got into the tunnel. On this occasion, he literally seemed like he wasn’t even trying. His second attempt to get the sword back, once inside the caves, is an even worse effort. And there’s also the bit where Man-at-Arms lets Togar casually take his laser pistol, and the bit where He-Man doesn’t even try to get his sword back from the pit. I understand where the plot wanted to be with all of these points, but it came across as though the characters were taking stupidity pills, which sadly adds up to fairly shoddy writing.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend that you watch this one, because there are some very good moments, and it’s great to see an exploration of the identity crisis issue. But it’s likely that while you watch, you’ll be thinking how good this could have been if it had gone through a few more rewrites.