Episode 93 – Swifty’s Baby

In which the writers really drop the ball.

Oh Jesus Christ, it’s the Bibbets again. I had thought, what with this being the last ever episode, that I was at least safe from having to see those freaky child clowns again. This week, Catra is attacking them, no doubt for a very good reason, but the episode doesn’t bother to tell us what that reason is. Instead, She-Ra shows up mighty quick and puts an end to Catra’s fun. The Bibbets do not appear again, so they obviously just popped up for a cameo and to raise my blood pressure.

Catra: “What the fuck is this exploding bird doing here?”

Once she’s dealt with Catra, She-Ra flies off on Swift Wind, who is wittering on and on about having a surprise for She-Ra. He says “it’s tiny, but it’s the biggest thing that ever happened to me.” Given the title of the episode, I have a strong suspicion I know what he’s talking about, and if she’s not as thick as two short planks, She-Ra ought to know too.

She-Ra and Swift Wind travel to Unicorn Island, last seen in the episode The Unicorn King, where Swift Wind introduces She-Ra to his mate, Star Wind. With much blushing, Star Wind explains that she and Swift Wind are going to have a baby very soon, and She-Ra makes a load of sickening cooing noises. The only thing preventing this scene going into complete saccharine overload is Imp, who has followed our heroes to the island and now learns of the impending birth.

She-Ra: “So, you and Star Wind have been doing the dirty, eh? You old rascal. Is this the right moment for a hung like a donkey joke?”

Imp takes this information back to the Fright Zone, where Hordak embarks on a tediously predictable plan: he will capture Star Wind, so She-Ra will come to rescue her, at which point he will capture She-Ra as well. You’ve tried endless variations of this plan, Hordak, and it never works. I suppose this is the last episode, though; maybe the series ends because Hordak wins. I’m on the edge of my seat.

Just before the commercial break, of course, the Horde manage to capture Star Wind, and even injure Swift Wind. I’m not quite sure in what way he’s injured, since the cartoon isn’t exactly graphic about it, but he’s certainly lying around moaning, so it must be serious. She-Ra cures him with her magical medical abilities, and then off they go to Beast Island to rescue Star Wind, accompanied by lots of other helpful unicorns. To add a deadline to proceedings, Swift Wind reveals that if the baby is born anywhere other than Unicorn Island, it will only be an ordinary horse.

She-Ra: “Flying while under the influence again, Swifty? The police will have your licence for sure this time.”

Hordak puts a forcefield up around Beast Island, but She-Ra swims down to the sea bed, and digs a tunnel down and then up, emerging in the prison, coincidentally and fortuitously right next to Star Wind. Hordak has prepared a surprise for She-Ra, however: another forcefield, one which is actually capable of stopping her for more than 2.5 seconds. But, to everyone’s delight, Swift Wind comes to the rescue, and releases She-Ra and Star Wind.

Star Wind: “I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but I just can’t seem to make my face suggest that I care.”

Then there’s a whole load of garbled rubbish, which concerns the fact that the baby is on its way, and so Star Wind cannot now make it back to Unicorn Island in time. In addition, the dungeon starts to flood, thanks to She-Ra’s stupid tunnel, which is all the excuse She-Ra needs to jump on the back of the Unicorn King, fly out into fucking space, and pull the moon with a grappling hook to reverse the tide and stop the water flowing into the dungeon.

This mental feat is achieved only just in time: the baby is born mere feet away from the water. As predicted, however, it is no unicorn, just a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind, however, exhibit great maturity and explain that since he’s their baby, it doesn’t make any difference to them. This is a perfect message, but unfortunately it’s undone by She-Ra, who shrieks, “For the honour of Grayskull” and turns the baby into a unicorn anyway, which suggests that it did matter, but his parents just weren’t saying so.

 

In today’s adventure…

Goodbye, Loo-Kee. It makes me so happy that I’ll never have to look at your moronic face again, or listen to your idiotic squeaky voice. This time, he reveals that the birth of a child is the best thing in the world, because every time a child is born, the hope for all things good and beautiful is born again too. Unfortunately, I’m more in accord with Hordak this week, who at an early stage casually comments, “I hate babies.”

Hordak: “I’ve warned you before about your choice of TV show, Mantenna.”

Character checklist

For this last hurrah, it’s She-Ra, Swift Wind, Star Wind, a cacophony of other unicorns, including the baby, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Imp, Catra, Mantenna, and oodles of Horde Troopers.

 

Insults

Catra reels off her usual triumvirate of insults for her Horde Troopers, calling them “bumblers”, “fools” and “cowards” in rapid succession. Otherwise, we only have Mantenna addressing Swift Wind as a “crazy unicorn”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow couldn’t even be bothered to show up for the last episode. Useless, I tell you. Useless.

She-Ra: “Christ! Last time I woke up like this, I’d been Rohypnolled by Bow.”

Does it have the Power?

I was really proud of the writers for about 30 seconds there at the end. It looked like they were for once really going to show us, rather than tell us, that it doesn’t matter if people are different, when the baby turned out to be a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind seemed really proud of their baby anyway, and they seemed perfectly happy. So why did She-Ra have to ruin it by making the baby into a unicorn? It suggests that sometimes, simply being who we are just isn’t good enough.

So there’s that crushing disappointment. The rest of the episode was no better; She-Ra was particularly infuriating this week, and the foray into outer space suggests an obsession on the writers’ part. I don’t know why She-Ra going into space annoys me so much, given the other implausible things that happen in this cartoon, but all I can say is that it winds me up a treat. I suppose, in complete fairness, it wouldn’t be a proper send-off for She-Ra if she didn’t go into space in her last outing. On the other hand, I’m glad she’s never got a chance to do it again.

She-Ra: “Tally-ho!”

The only good thing to say about this episode is that it’s great fun imagining the animators’ faces this week: “You want me to draw what? How do I draw a heavily pregnant unicorn?” (In the end, they decided not to bother, and just drew a normal unicorn.) Similarly, the voice actress playing Star Wind must have shuddered when given the script, given it includes a few moments where she has to pretend to be a unicorn in the early stages of giving birth. Still, the opportunity to imagine the brief discomfort of a few people in 1986 is not nearly enough to redeem this episode, and thus it is that I must report that She-Ra goes out with a whimper, not a bang.

Episode 49 – For Want of a Horse

In which Bow puts in a truly pitiful performance.

Hordak returns to the Fright Zone in a fearful temper, having just had a conversation with Horde Prime. It transpires that it will be Horde Prime’s birthday shortly, and he wants a really good present. Hordak, of course, doesn’t know what to get him, and after fielding a monumentally silly idea from Grizzlor, who recommends getting him a tie, he accepts Shadow Weaver’s suggestion that he should kidnap Swift Wind as a birthday gift.

Horse 1
Hordak: “I’m surrounded by idiots. Myself included.”

Shadow Weaver’s plan for the kidnap involves knocking a hole in a dam, and waiting for She-Ra, Swift Wind and Bow to show up to repair it. She-Ra occupies herself fixing the dam, while Bow and Swift Wind wait in the village, giving Shadow Weaver the chance to disguise herself as a sweet blond girl and pretend to be running away from a Horde Trooper. This distracts Bow long enough for another Horde Trooper to freeze Swift Wind and drag him away.

Shadow Weaver considers taking Bow prisoner as well, but She-Ra reappears in time to prevent such an unfortunate event. Instead, Shadow Weaver contents herself with gloating that Swift Wind will make a perfect present for Horde Prime, and vanishes. She-Ra, of course, heads straight for the Fright Zone, with Bow in tow to offer help. You know, like Bow normally helps.

Horse 2
She-Ra: “No, Bow. I’m not going to ‘ride you instead of Swift Wind’.”

On arrival in the Fright Zone, She-Ra quickly abandons Bow in favour of going for a swim in a river that flows directly below Hordak’s throne room. There she meets Mantenna, who has been dropped through Hordak’s trapdoor into the river. Mantenna informs her that Swift Wind has been taken to the space port, and then realises he really ought to try to capture her. He is no more successful in this venture than you might think, and ends up running off to sound the alarm.

She-Ra finds her way to the space port and frees Swift Wind with very little trouble. On emerging from the Fright Zone, they find that Bow has come barging along trying to save them, which results in all three of them having to have a final confrontation with Shadow Weaver, not that that takes very long. They all fly off into the sunset, leaving Hordak to give Horde Prime a tie after all.

Horse 3
Mantenna: “Best day ever.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Oh Loo-Kee, you think you’re so clever, hiding next to the broken dam. But I saw you, and I’ll see you every time from now on. He explains that “there’s a very special kind of love between people and animals”, and he makes a few recommendations of specialist niche websites that cater to people who enjoy that kind of love. Just joking, of course: actually, he recommends we treat animals with patience and kindness, which may lead to them becoming our best friends.

 

Character checklist

This very enjoyable episode features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Horde Prime, and – of course – some Horde Troopers.

Horse 4
Hordak: “All these characters are now available at Toys R Us.”

 

Insults

It’s a bad day for Horde Troopers, especially at Shadow Weaver’s hands; one is addressed as a “fool” and a pair of them as “tin-headed cowards”. She has a point: they’re scared of Bow, of all people. She also, rather surprisingly, calls two Horde Troopers “useless balls” towards the end of the episode. Bow gets in on the act with the less imaginative but more sane “rotten robots”.

She-Ra calls Bow a “brave, wonderful fool”, though not to his face, and after Hordak throws Mantenna in the river, he calls him a “soggy simpleton”. The best insult this week is one I can’t believe we’ve never heard before: Shadow Weaver calls She-Ra “Wing-head”, presumably in reference to her silly tiara.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow is supposed to be guarding Swift Wind when the kidnap takes place, but he is all too easily distracted by Shadow Weaver’s disguise. It’s actually a pretty sophisticated plan, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for falling for it. Anyone except Bow, of course, who’s a first-class fool.

Horse 5
Bow: “Oh Jesus. I’ve ballsed up again, haven’t I?”

Later on, of course, Bow is responsible for coming into the Fright Zone and trying to rescue She-Ra when she doesn’t need rescuing, the result being an unnecessary fight with Shadow Weaver. He’s such an idiot.

 

Does it have the Power?

Here we have our first hands-down success in ages. The storyline is, of course, nothing special, but it’s got such wit and energy that it’s impossible not to enjoy it. The opening scene is really very funny, and has a great payoff at the end when Hordak does take Grizzlor’s suggestion and gives Horde Prime a tie. There’s other moments of great humour throughout, and yet in the middle of all this clowning, we get a scene of genuine nastiness, as Hordak gloats over Swift Wind, telling him that he will never fly again, and will be left in a dungeon to never see the sky or the sunset, where his mane will turn grey and his wings will wither. It’s definitely the nastiest and most calculatedly unpleasant we’ve ever seen Hordak being, and I feel it could even give Skeletor a run for his money. To sum up: watch it, immediately.

Episode 36 – The Unicorn King

In which She-Ra discovers Brexit Island.

Hordak and Mantenna are out for a pleasure cruise in the Horde’s new boat, the Sea Fright, when they discover the legendary Unicorn Island. Mantenna brainlessly suggests sinking the island, a suggestion which Hordak treats with the derision it deserves. On the other hand, his plan isn’t a lot better: build a Horde base on it, and enslave the unicorns. Less than specific though this plan is, Mantenna is sent out to make a start.

Unicorn 1
Hordak: “Mantenna, I can still see you even if you can’t see me.”

Over in Whispering Wood, Swift Wind suddenly gets some kind of telepathic hint that something is wrong. He doesn’t know what, however, so he and She-Ra fly off to see Light Hope to get more details. For once, Light Hope proves useful, and fills our heroes in on Hordak’s plan, then suggests that She-Ra find the Unicorn King and win his trust.

She-Ra starts by heading straight over to Unicorn Island and disrupting Mantenna’s unicorn capturing activities. Once that’s attended to, She-Ra and Swift Wind meet a gruff unicorn wearing a stupid helmet, who introduces himself as the Unicorn King. The King doesn’t trust humans, and demonstrates why by bringing out another unicorn called Bright Wing, who cannot fly thanks to having once been captured and enslaved by humans.

Unicorn 2
She-Ra: “Magic and unicorns! This must be Brexit Land!”

The King then goes on to say that now that the island has been discovered by the Horde, he and the unicorns must leave and find a new home. She-Ra offers to help defend the island, but the King spurns her offer. She-Ra then uses her healing powers to cure Bright Wing, after which the King – rather grudgingly – accepts her assistance in defending the island.

Mantenna intervenes to bring this tedious scene to an end, shooting a freeze ray at She-Ra. She-Ra immediately mounts Swift Wind and gives chase; once she is safely offshore, Hordak generates a force shield to surround the island. He seems pretty confident that the force shield will prevent She-Ra from returning to the island, but in this – as with so many other things – he is deluded. She-Ra simply swims underneath the force shield and emerges on the island, wiping the stupid smile off Hordak’s snorting face.

Unicorn 3
Hordak: “You’d think I’d be able to find something better to watch on my banging new HD TV.”

She-Ra and the Unicorn King then work together to destroy the force shield generator, after which the King concludes that maybe some humans are trustworthy after all. After gratuitously sinking Hordak’s shiny new ship, She-Ra accepts the King’s grateful thanks, and offers to help again if she is ever needed. I for one am very relieved. Just imagine if Hordak had captured all those unicorns. It simply doesn’t bear thinking about.

 

In today’s adventure…

There’s Loo-Kee, yes, yes, hiding behind a bush in Whispering Wood. This Loo-Kee malarkey is equally boring whether I find him or not. His moral lesson this week is also very boring: it’s cooperation, yet again. I’m certain that if viewers don’t understand about cooperation yet, they never will.

 

Character checklist

A smaller cast than usual today: it’s just Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, the Unicorn King, Bright Wing, Loo-Kee, Hordak and Mantenna. I may not have been watching carefully enough, but I don’t think I even saw one of those ubiquitous Horde Troopers.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Believe it or not, she doesn’t bother.

Unicorn 4
Spirit: “What do you mean, you can’t be arsed with an excuse? People are going to question MY disappearance too. Didn’t you ever think about that?”

 

Insults

Mantenna has a particularly bad day today, all thanks to Hordak, who calls him a “fool” twice, as well as various other, more imaginative, names, such as “floppy eyes”, “nincompoop” and “bugbrain”.

 

Does it have the Power?

If it weren’t for Hordak and Mantenna, who make for a pretty entertaining double-act, this would be a really very dull She-Ra-by-numbers episode. As it is, it’s still basically a dud, but with a few redeeming moments. I don’t care about the unicorns, who seem to have the same plotline as everyone else on Etheria: not trusting She-Ra, then changing their minds once She-Ra does something for them. This episode treads incredibly familiar territory, and I’d recommend that you don’t bother treading it too.

Episode 03 – She-Ra Unchained

In which Hordak creates a weapon with an oddly specific fuel requirement.

In the Fright Zone, Hordak introduces Shadow Weaver, Mantenna and the newly re-brainwashed Adora to his new weapon, the Magna Beam Transporter. This is a device which can teleport anything or anyone into the Valley of the Lost, a location from which no one has ever returned. Once the Magna Beam reaches full power, Hordak intends to use it to transport the entirety of Whispering Woods into the Valley, taking Rebel HQ with it.

Unchained 1
Mantenna: “I have the feeling I’m going to be called ‘bug-eyes’ about a million times over the course of this series.”

Despite knowing that Adora’s loyalties are somewhat in question at the moment, Hordak takes the time to explain to her exactly how the Magna Beam works, and shows her the control room. This is presumably so that later she knows what to destroy. Stupidly, Hordak has designed the Magna Beam to be powered by the willpower of rebels, a finite resource that is difficult to obtain. Surely he could have arranged for it to charge via a USB port? Anyway, in order to bring the Magna Beam to full power, it is necessary for the Horde to go out and capture lots of rebels.

In Whispering Woods, Adam announces that he’s going back to the Fright Zone to complete his mission, not that the rest of the Rebellion know what his mission is. Turning into He-Man, he nicks a Horde Trooper’s armour and dons it as a disguise. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pay sufficient attention and leaves his hair sticking out of his helmet, which makes it easy to Shadow Weaver to identify him. She and Hordak conclude that he will be the ideal source of willpower for the Magna Beam.

Unchained 2
Shadow Weaver: “It wasn’t just the hair that identified He-Man. It was also the swagger.”

Once inside the Fright Zone, He-Man locates Adora, and tries to give her another pep talk. Adora, however, simply arrests him, leading to his capture by Hordak and Shadow Weaver. He-Man is placed in the Magna Beam Charger (which is – in the interests of cheap animation – a glass box), where his willpower is set to work on the Magna Beam. Hordak, however, makes the mistake of leaving him in the Charger overnight, with no guards.

Unchained 3
He-Man: “I know some people like to keep me ‘mint in box’, but this is ridiculous.”

In her bed, Adora is troubled by dreams, eventually waking as her power sword magically summons her. She pops down to the Magna Beam Charger Room, where she finds her sword, and through the gemstone embedded in its hilt, she converses with the Sorceress, who chooses this moment to make a shock revelation. Adora and Adam are twins; the Horde stole Adora as a baby, and brainwashed her. The Sorceress fades away, with the enigmatic phrase, “For the Honour of Grayskull.”

Adora holds her power sword above her head and repeats the phrase, resulting in some awesome funky 80s beats, and a light show far in excess of anything He-Man gets. She transforms into She-Ra, and rescues He-Man from the Magna Beam Charger. It’s too late though, because the Magna Beam has already reached full capacity. Things get worse when Hordak shows up, and he’s evidently very cross, because today he’s transformed both his arms into cannons.

Unchained 4
She-Ra: “Has anyone done a Health & Safety assessment for all these fireworks?”

He-Man easily stops Hordak activating the Magna Beam, and destroys it for good measure, while She-Ra heads off to get help from the other rebels. En route, she leaps onto her horse Spirit, who magically transforms into a flying unicorn called Swift Wind. She-Ra then circles back to rescue He-Man, who has been surrounded by some Horde Troopers. Hordak watches them go, and cries, “Oh, they’re getting away!” in a voice that sounds slightly orgasmic and eerily reminiscent of Matt Berry’s Mr Reynholm.

 

In today’s adventure…

There’s still no moral lessons being dispensed, but once again, we can learn from the mistakes of the characters. This week, we learned that if you have captured the Most Powerful Man in the Universe and put him in a glass box, you should guard him in case his brainwashed twin sister shows up and ruins your day.

Unchained 5
She-Ra: “Who’s this hunk of manly goodness? Oh, it’s my brother. Bollocks.”

 

Character checklist

Big day today – we meet She-Ra! Nice to see that, three episodes into her series, she’s actually bothered to turn up. There’s also Adora, Spirit, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Madame Razz, the green people, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, the Sorceress, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Imp, Mantenna, some Horde Troopers and some rebel prisoners.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam turns into He-Man while lurking about in the forest, with no one to even realise he’s gone. Thus he doesn’t need to give an excuse.

Unchained 6
Prince Adam: “To be honest, Glimmer, by this stage I’m just keen to get back to Eternia, which I’ll admit isn’t exactly a normal place but at least the trees don’t look like candy floss.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Hurrah! A new section! Not a very exciting one, though: Adora doesn’t give an excuse. But since she didn’t know what was going to happen, I think it’s fair enough.

 

Insults

Hordak refers to the entire Rebellion as “pests” and “worthless”, and also considers a bunch of his Horde Troopers to be “incompetent fools”. He relatively mildly addresses a nameless rebel as “foolishly misguided,” to which the rebel responds by calling him an “evil tyrant” and refers to the entire Horde as a “criminal crew”.

Unchained 7
Hordak: “Yeah, sure, having cannons for arms is quite handy in some circumstances, but people do tend to laugh at me in the Fright Zone canteen when I have trouble eating my sandwiches.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

When Adam heads off to the Fright Zone, Bow starts making a poncey speech about standing together in the Rebel Brotherhood. Adam immediately interrupts him and tells him to shut up. Gutted, Bow.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s the first episode of She-Ra to which I can give an unequivocal thumbs-up, and possibly not coincidentally, it’s an episode which doesn’t have much Madame Razz or Glimmer in it. This one doesn’t seem to matter that it’s part of a larger story; it’s got a self-contained plot all to itself, concerning the Magna Beam, against which the bigger picture of Adora becoming She-Ra unfolds.

Unchained 8
She-Ra: “Christ, Swift Wind, I didn’t realise you’d have such a terrifying voice.”

The She-Ra transformation is suitably dramatic, and it’s great to finally see Adora shake off the Horde’s control and realise her destiny. It also must have been hugely exciting when this first aired to find that He-Man has a twin sister. All in all, I’m happy to say that this one’s very good, except for Hordak, who is still a snorting pig and thus rather detracts from the whole thing.