Episode 101 – Not So Blind

In which He-Man and Ram-Man take a blind boy to a cave.

Prince Adam overhears an old man in the marketplace telling some children stories about He-Man’s exploits, so he wanders along to join in. One of the children presciently asks why He-Man doesn’t just smash Skeletor into little bones, and Adam explains that He-Man tries not to hurt any living being. He then goes on to lamely explain that Skeletor will be punished for his evil one day, but the children are unconvinced, as was I.

All the children leave, except one boy, who is blind. His name – for no readily apparent reason – is Loose, and he expresses a desire to meet He-Man. Adam offers him the chance to go on an adventure with He-Man, and Loose accepts. First needing to ask permission from his parents, he leads Adam to his home. It is made clear at this juncture that Loose may be blind, but he is perfectly capable of taking care of himself.

Blind 1
Storyteller: “I’ve got the best hat ever, and don’t even try to tell me otherwise.”

Adam evidently decides that he doesn’t like Loose very much, because he next introduces him to Ram-Man, who is definitely not the person I’d most want to meet if I visited Eternia. As Adam pops off to turn into He-Man, Loose feels Ram-Man’s face and asks him various questions like, “Where is your neck?” and “How do you turn your head?” This is all intended to demonstrate that the blind boy can ‘see’ as well as any of us, but it comes perilously close to pointing out just how stupid Ram-Man’s character design is.

He-Man now appears and introduces himself to Loose, then suggests that the three of them go to find the legendary Singing Crystals. This whole sequence feels as if it’s the start of a ride in the He-Man Theme Park; I can just imagine lots of people being packed into a fake Attack Trak, while He-Man and Ram-Man deliver overblown lines about going to find something rare and exciting, just for the fun of it. Maybe it’s a business venture the two of them will take up when they retire.

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He-Man: “Loose, I’m sorry I had to involve Ram-Man, but he’s contractually obliged to appear.”

Anyway, the three companions make their way through the wilderness, as Loose explains that he uses his other senses to find his way with ease. This is demonstrated in a few scenes of relative subtlety which show Ram-Man tripping over a rock that Loose had successfully avoided, and Loose concluding how old a bridge is by feeling the rope and listening to the wooden planks.

Finally, they reach the caves of the Singing Crystals, which are bright and shimmery, but more importantly for Loose, they genuinely do sing when they are touched. Unfortunately, one of the Crystals falls and shatters in a bright explosion, and because He-Man and Ram-Man are both stupid enough to look right at it, they are blinded by the flash.

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Loose: “There’s just something about this scene that screams 1980s disco.”

Debating what to do, Loose says that he will be able to lead the party home, which he does with considerable ease, until they get to the old bridge. While they are on the bridge, one end collapses and the three of them find themselves hanging on for dear life, and unable to climb up because the boards are loose. He-Man manages to throw a lasso into a nearby tree and hoist the party up, a feat which ordinarily would be second nature for him, but gives him some difficulty while he is unable to see.

The trio navigate a number of other hazards before they successfully return to the Palace, where Man-at-Arms (in his capacity as Palace Optician, to add to his hundreds of other jobs) restores He-Man’s sight. There’s no mention of Ram-Man’s sight being restored, but I think we can take it as a given that this happens too. Loose then relates the story to the other children, who call him a liar until He-Man comes along to give him some street cred.

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He-Man: “Ello, ello, ello, what’s all this then?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Would you know it, children that are blind or handicapped are not helpless, and have feelings and desires just like the rest of us. It’s easy for me to poke fun, but actually this moral is well worth the inclusion.

 

Character checklist

It’s one of those rare episodes without a villain, and it’s even rarer in that it’s a good one (see The Starchild and The Remedy, if you can stomach it). That results in a pretty tight cast list, consisting simply of Prince Adam, He-Man, Ram-Man, Loose, the storyteller, a bunch of children, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam mutters, “Please excuse me, but, uh, there’s something that I’ve got to do,” just after introducing Loose to Ram-Man. He goes just out of sight – and presumably earshot – to transform, then reappears as He-Man and says, “Adam can’t make it.”

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Adam: “Maybe if I shrug my shoulders so it looks like I have no neck, I won’t have to go on this stupid expedition with Ram-Man.”

 

Insults

With the possible exception of the other children calling Loose a “liar” at the end of the episode, there are no insults on show today.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is an episode that could have gone one of two ways: either outstandingly good or toe-curlingly bad. I’m happy to report that it is the former. Loose’s blindness is handled with considerable sensitivity, and there are some scenes included that genuinely make you think, especially if you’re four years old. My favourite such scene was on the way to the caves, when He-Man offers to carry Loose over the bridge. Loose responds, “Are you going to carry Ram-Man across?” before requesting to be treated like anybody else. The message is clearly received, without ever descending into patronising drivel.

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Loose: “I wonder how anyone managed to construct this ridiculously long and flimsy bridge.”

The conceit of turning He-Man and Ram-Man blind was also good; we’d all seen Loose being capable beforehand, but it really upped the game when our heroes were rendered helpless and had to be led to safety by another character. I also enjoyed the fact that there was no villain in the episode. The only criticism I might level is that I have no idea why Loose has such a stupid name. On the other hand, characters in He-Man are often named after their ability, so I suppose it’s lucky that he didn’t wind up with a tactless name like Blindor or No-Eyes-Man.

In short, this is a surprisingly mature episode, and well worth a watch.

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