Episode 095 – A Bird in the Hand

In which Orko causes a right load of trouble, again.

Orko begins the episode by deciding to irritatingly insert himself into an unsuspecting victim’s life, and selects for this honour Stanlin, Melaktha’s apprentice. He tries to use magic to help Stanlin dust some archaeological artefacts, but of course it goes wrong, and a statue of a wolf ends up smashed. All is not lost, however; in the remains of the statue, Orko and Stanlin discover a map written in an unknown language. They show it to Adam, who suggests asking the Sorceress to decipher it.

Bird 1
Stanlin: “Piss off, Orko. Go on. Go away.”

Adam, Cringer, Orko and Stanlin take a Wind Raider to Grayskull, Stanlin worrying all the way about what Melaktha will say when he finds the statue is broken. As it happens, Teela quickly fills Melaktha in on the events, and they decide to follow the others to Grayskull. Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are also flying around, seemingly with no purpose other than vaguely looking for trouble, and conclude that they might as well go to Grayskull too.

On arrival, Beast-Man sends a small purple beast called a Hollywag into the castle, to listen in on all the conversations taking place inside. This is precisely the sort of thing that would drive me nuts, since all he’s going to hear is Orko’s usual deranged gibber, the Sorceress being unable to do anything, Adam not saying anything useful, and Cringer whining about being tired/hungry/frightened.

Bird 2
The Sorceress: “I really do wish I owned a pair of trousers.”

The Sorceress soon deduces that the map leads through the Caves of the Wind to the Temple of the Wolf, in which can be found the Ancients’ Book of Spells. The Hollywag relays this information to Beast-Man, and Skeletor decides that the Ancients’ Book of Spells would be pretty handy. His next step is therefore to try to shoot down the Wind Raider, which seems completely crazy, since the Hollywag has already told him how to get to the Temple, so all he needs to do is go there and get the Book first.

Flying the Wind Raider, Adam manages to evade Skeletor, so Skeletor opts to head for the Caves of the Wind and wait for our heroes there. Somehow, Melaktha and Teela arrive at the Caves before Adam’s party does, and they are immediately captured in a net by Skeletor, who then implies that Stanlin has told him about the Ancients’ Book of Spells. Melaktha is very quick to believe the worst of Stanlin, but Teela is less certain.

Bird 3
Melaktha: “No, I wanted to see Teela in her fishnets, not this type of net.”

It’s at about this point that – with a distinct lack of provocation – Adam decides that enough is enough and that it’s time for He-Man to show up. Even with He-Man on the scene, however, Skeletor proves himself capable of stealing the map and kidnapping Stanlin. As he leaves, he causes a cave-in, but He-Man isn’t in the mood for such tomfoolery and turns himself into a drill to deal with it. He then meets up with Melaktha and Teela, and they all head off to the Temple.

Once at the Temple, Skeletor dimwittedly manages to conjure up a wolf, which chases him and Beast-Man away. Stanlin is left to retrieve the Book, but as soon as he does so, Skeletor reappears and tries to seize it from him. Luckily, He-Man and his party show up, He-Man throws some rocks around, and Melaktha is convinced that Stanlin isn’t a traitor after all. The episode ends with a very prescient comment from Stanlin: “I shouldn’t have let Orko help me in the first place.” This is a lesson for us all.

Bird 4
Orko: “Such a hilarious moment.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela says that anyone who jumps to conclusions will usually find that the conclusion is wrong, as Melaktha did when he listened to Skeletor saying that Stanlin is a traitor. Warning against jumping to conclusions is all well and good, but this episode really demonstrates that you shouldn’t listen to inexplicably muscle-y blue skeletons.

 

Character checklist

For the most part, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Teela, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw. Melaktha and Stanlin are the only particularly noteworthy characters.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam’s transformation comes pretty much out of the blue, as if the writer suddenly realised, “Oh Christ, we’re halfway through this episode and He-Man hasn’t shown up yet.” There’s no very good reason offered for the transformation, and no one comments on it.

Bird 5
Adam: “You know what, Cringer? I’m just going to turn into He-Man and wrap this one up early.”

 

Insults

There’s a lot of insults this week, but they’re pretty much all Skeletor telling someone or another that they’re a “fool”. Trapjaw is the recipient of this treatment once, while Stanlin earns the title twice. Skeletor also refers to Beast-Man as “Furface” and a “clumsy oaf”, and Trapjaw as an “incompetent pile of scrap metal”. Beast-Man calls the Hollywag “lizard-lips” and a “stupid Hollywag”, while He-Man makes the understatement of the century when he comments, “Skeletor is not the most honest man on Eternia.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It didn’t exactly blow me away as a work of staggering genius, but neither was it rubbish. The idea of the Hollywag spying on our heroes was a good one, but as usual Skeletor completely failed to capitalise on his advantage. He could have been at the Temple a long time earlier, and if he hadn’t messed about creating wolves, the Book would have been his. I really wonder sometimes if Skeletor doesn’t actually want to win.

Bird 6
He-Man: “Don’t mess with me, wolf. I eat bigger things than you for breakfast.”

The one bit of the episode that I really felt didn’t work was Melaktha’s eagerness to believe that Stanlin was a traitor. Stanlin has been working with Melaktha for a long time – his last appearance was about 50 episodes ago – so you would think that Melaktha would have got to know him by now. The sequence in which Melaktha believes Stanlin has betrayed them doesn’t really go anywhere either, so it’s plainly just there to set up the moral.

As a side-note, the first time I wrote “Stanlin” in this review, Microsoft Word auto-corrected it to “Stalin”, and I must say that if the episode had featured He-Man hanging out with a cartoon Stalin, it would have been absolutely amazing, if somewhat unlikely in 1980s America. If anyone fancies messing about with the master tape to replace Stanlin with Stalin for this episode, I will buy them a cookie.

Bird 7
Cringer: “Er, Adam, are you aware that one of the most infamous dictators of the 20th century is sat next to you in the Wind Raider?”

Anyway, as a pretty standard He-Man-by-numbers, I’d expect you’ll enjoy this one, but it’s not possessed of anything that raises it above the average.