Episode 125 – Bargain with Evil

In which the Starchild returns, to unpopular acclaim.

In a mysterious castle, a young lady called Arvella casts a spell and summons a dude called Angast, who introduces himself with the title, “King of the Realm of Evil.” It seems that some time ago, Arvella’s father Landros accidentally entered the Realm of Evil and was imprisoned for his troubles. Arvella now requests her father’s return, to which Angast agrees on condition that Arvella bring him the Starchild. (If you don’t remember the Starchild, you can count yourself fortunate. She was the eponymous star of the worst episode of the entire series.)

Allegedly, Angast only wants to look at the Starchild. Arvella isn’t sure about this deal, but Angast assures her that the Starchild will not be harmed. Consequently, Arvella goes out looking for the Starchild, who – as luck would have it – is visiting the Palace, accompanied by her bodyguard, a woman called Moweena who dresses like Robin Hood might do if he was invited to a tarts and vicars party. The Starchild is just as annoying as before, hugging everyone and saying things like, “It’s so good to see you all” in a squeaky cute voice.

Bargain 1
Starchild: “Hands up if you’re pleased to see me again!”

When night falls, Arvella teleports into the Starchild’s bedroom and kidnaps her. Orko quickly raises the alarm and runs into He-Man, who was on his way to pay an ominous nocturnal “visit” to the sleeping Starchild. Learning from Orko that the kidnapper looked like Lady Arvella, He-Man and Moweena decide to go to Castle Landros to learn more. They emphatically tell Orko to stay behind, perhaps because the combination of Orko and the Starchild would be sufficiently infuriating to melt the brain of any sane viewer. Unfortunately, Orko ignores them and comes anyway. I hate my life.

Arriving at Castle Landros, He-Man, Moweena and Orko break in. They are just in time to witness Angast breaking his word and kidnapping the Starchild and Arvella. For good measure, he also kidnaps He-Man, Moweena, Orko and Battle-Cat. The whole sorry lot of them are teleported into a room, at which point Angast puts on a disarmingly mental grin, welcomes them all to the Realm of Evil, and dances around like a maniac.

Bargain 2
Angast: “Check out my funky dance moves.”

The party really gets started when Angast sends a horde of armoured cannon-fodder to try to seize the Starchild, and we are treated to a nice long scene in which He-Man and Moweena dispose of the soldiers in amusing and non-violent ways. The whole thing comes to a sorry conclusion when Orko smashes a pumpkin on Angast’s head, and our heroes run away, rescuing Arvella’s father Landros in the process. The Starchild is then able to use her very strong and not-at-all annoying magic to return everybody to Eternia.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man explains that Arvella’s attempts to do a good thing by doing a bad thing didn’t really help. He adds that the way we react to problems can make the difference between solving them and simply making them worse. He optimistically states that he hopes we remember today’s adventure, which is unlikely, unless it’s as “that time they brought the Starchild back for no reason whatsoever”.

Bargain 4
Arvella: “No no no, I will not sell pot. I will urn a living some other way. Okay, okay, not funny.”

 

Character checklist

This week brings to the fore Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Starchild, Moweena, Arvella, Landros, Angast, and a whole load of Angast’s soldiers.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam only transforms into He-Man because the Starchild complains that she hasn’t seen He-Man recently. Talk about abuse of power. At least he has the sense to do it privately, and thus doesn’t need to give an excuse.

Bargain 5
Prince Adam: “Sure, why not, I’ll turn into He-Man on the whim of an infuriating child. That’ll help defend Eternia.”

 

Insults

Moweena refers to Arvella’s servant as a “little man”, perhaps in recognition of his lower class status. Otherwise, the insults only begin to flow thick and fast once our heroes find themselves in the Realm of Evil. Angast calls all of our heroes “fools”, and specifically reserves “foolish woman” for Arvella. Considering they are nameless cannon-fodder, Angast’s soldiers get a surprising degree of abuse, being referred to as “clowns” and “bumblers” by Angast, and the milder “bad guys” by Orko.

Elsewhere, it’s Angast himself who comes under fire, receiving a “Mr Bat Face” from Orko, and “hornhead” and “hornheaded horror” from Moweena. These latter two are a touch odd given Angast doesn’t have horns. Nonetheless, they’re still not as surprising as Orko’s parting shot to Angast, which sounded distinctly like “fat bastard”.

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Angast: “I think this moment may haunt my nightmares hereafter.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I’m in two minds about this one. I remain completely baffled as to why anyone thought that the Starchild was a character in desperate need of revisiting. I’d have thought the writers would just want to draw a line under that particular debacle and pretend it never happened. While this episode is nowhere near as bad as the Starchild’s first episode was, I still can’t see why it was necessary to involve the Starchild at all. With a bit of tweaking, Bargain with Evil could have told the same story without the unneeded baggage of a much-hated character from nearly 100 episodes ago.

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He-Man: “Yes, Starchild, of course I’m really pleased to be talking to you. Tell you what, though, why don’t you just get lost for a little while, like perhaps for the rest of your life?”

On the other hand, most of the bits that didn’t involve the Starchild were pretty decent, for a baddy-of-the-week episode. Angast was relatively competent, and he had a reasonable motive for kidnapping the Starchild (she had powers that could open a gateway to Eternia, in case you wondered). I’m still not sure about the need for the tarty Robin Hood, but maybe the animators had gone mental. I know I would after animating 125 He-Man episodes.

To conclude, I think I’d put this one down under the don’t bother heading. But if you do, you probably won’t regret it too much.

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Episode 033 – The Starchild

In which I begin to develop homicidal tendencies.

Prince Adam and Cringer are, as usual, hanging out in the jungle. Obviously, story-wise, this is so He-Man can be where he needs to be when the action kicks off, but just once, it would be nice if someone gave an explanation for why they seem to like it there so much.

Anyway, this time, they come across a band of Tree People and a band of Cave Dwellers, led respectively by persons called Willan and Pailos. Pailos has a young girl clutched in his arms; she is the Starchild, and she is the subject of an argument between Willan and Pailos. The argument comes to a speedy close when the Starchild wriggles out of Pailos’ grip and falls down a hole in the ground.

Starchild

Enter He-Man and Battle-Cat, stage left. They leap down the hole and find themselves in the Old Vine Jungle. It seems that the writers have misunderstood about jungles and believe that new jungles grow on top of old ones. Anyway, He-Man finds the Starchild and questions her, learning that she has no parents and looks after herself.

Returning to the surface, Willan and Pailos resume arguing over custody of the Starchild, so they all go to the Palace for Randor and Marlena to decide the issue. When Orko and Teela meet the Starchild and proclaim that they like her, the Starchild projects a weird yellow glow onto them, and they make vaguely orgasmic noises, which was disturbing. I wouldn’t mind betting that some He-Man/Teela shippers have used sound effects from this episode.

Starchild 2

The Starchild explains that this glow is a power that gets people to like her, and that both the Tree People and Cave Dwellers want to use the power to defeat the other. Bringing the case before the King and Queen, Pailos manages to say about two words before the Starchild shrieks, “No!” and runs off, prompting an endless sequence in which our heroes search the Palace for her while she uses a variety of irritating magic powers to stop them.

Literally half the episode later, He-Man finally manages to find the Starchild whinging behind a curtain. He pretends to sympathise with her, but you can see the hate on his face. As He-Man returns her to the throne room, they find Willan and Pailos arguing over who should be allowed to teach the Starchild how to use her powers properly. And then she runs off again, back to the Old Vine Jungle this time. For God’s sake.

Starchild 3

In the course of recovering the Starchild from the inexplicably underground Old Vine Jungle, both Willan and Pailos risk their lives to save her. And then comes the twist – both the Tree People and the Cave Dwellers actually just want to live in peace. The Starchild goes off with both Willan and Pailos, while for no reason whatsoever, He-Man smirks at the camera and winks. He’s taken to doing this lately, and I wish he’d stop. It’s off-putting.

 

In today’s adventure…

This week’s moral is presented by the Sorceress, and it’s just as useful as her advice is in the cartoon. She points out that the Starchild’s weird yellow glow was a power called love, which can be used to bring people together, and reminds us that we all have this power. If I have to watch many more episodes like this one, I will no longer have that power concerning this cartoon.

Starchild 4

 

Characters appearing

As you will have no doubt anticipated, there was Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man and Battle-Cat. There was also Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Willan, Pailos and the Starchild. As noted above, the Sorceress did the moral.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

There wasn’t time in this fast-paced episode for an excuse to be offered, because the writers naturally wanted to concentrate on never ending scenes of He-Man and Teela running round the Palace bellowing “Starchild! Where are you?”

 

Insults

No one in the episode uttered an insult, but I’ve got one: the Starchild is a whining brat and this episode is appalling.

Starchild 5

 

Does it have the Power?

I think I may have covered this already, but in case you haven’t quite identified my feelings, I’ll explain one more time: this episode is a real low point, probably worse than our previous contender, A Friend in Need – which, incidentally, was written by the same person. Just as that was a thinly veiled drugs allegory, here we have a thinly veiled divorce allegory. The problem is that the Starchild herself is literally infuriating, and I couldn’t understand why the Tree People or the Cave Dwellers (or He-Man and co., for that matter) might be even vaguely inclined to let her live anywhere near them. It’s really badly paced as well, with the entire second half of the episode being pointless running around. I can’t begin to emphasise how much you don’t want to watch this.