Welcome back to another episode rewatch on Car JoeMez! I’m very excited for today’s episode as we’ve gotten past the introductory episodes of this series and now can begin seeing the new direction the writers and creators want to take this.
Over the years, I’ve watched this full series, but admittedly, a lot of this going forward is going to be major refreshment almost to the point of seeing it for the first time. I will say that I have very positive memories from watching this show in the past, but as I’ve done some research over the past couple of days, not everybody seems to agree.
I remember this being well-written with a pretty good episodic storytelling format as opposed to just the “bad guy plot of the day” (which still exists, but plays an underlying role in advancing motivations) driven by characters who evolved in good form from the Filmation series.
I’m not going to say people hate it as its rating on IMDB is solid, but in some fan videos and such, people seem to remember this a lot less fondly than I do. We’re in luck, however, as today will put us around 10% completion in this series and we’ll be fast on our way to making these tough decisions for ourselves. Grab your plastic Power Sword and get comfy. We’re off to Eternia.
S01E04: The Courage of Prince Adam
Original Air Date: September 20, 2002
Before we get into this, I just wanted to comment on the air date. Coming off the three-part “The Beginning” feature to try to rope in fans old and new alike, Cartoon Network waited a month before following up with a new episode. Just off the top of my head, I don’t remember this being the case or if they were re-running The Beginning a few times in that period to continue to drum up fresh support, but it does feel strange to me that you wouldn’t piggy back that debut in a more timely fashion. Maybe I’m completely wrong or off base – feel free to tell me – as I kind of remember DisneyXD doing something similar about a year or so ago when they debuted the reboot of DuckTales. I just thought that was strange and notable. Like I said, maybe I’m just completely wrong. OK, here’s today’s episode!
We open in Skeletor’s throne room where he uses logic to deduce that the Elder’s disappearance along with the emergence of He-Man out of nowhere must be linked and that this He-Man must have beaten him to finding the power of the Elders. Simple solution: capture He-Man and take his power. But of course.
Tri-Klops doesn’t see that ending well.
Cut to He-Man who’s in the middle of a training module against a host of robots disguised as Skeletor’s minions. Orko, of course, doesn’t know this is an exercise and ruins it because he’s Orko and even 30 years after the fact Orko sucks.
Back at Man-At-Arms’s workshop, Duncan and Prince Adam are having a heart to heart. Real guys bonding with guys type shit. Adam doesn’t like being called a coward by Teela so his big plan is to step up his fight-game that way we don’t need He-Man anymore. Duncan thinks this is the dumbest shit he done ever heard and is like, “My man, if you think you can replace He-Man, than you’re a helluva lot dumber than we ever gave you credit for.” Adam struts off looking for the Zoltar machine that way he doesn’t have to turn to He-Man just to be big anymore.
Meanwhile, Stratos who represents the Avian people to the King’s council requests a leave of absence to attend to some trade dispute back home. King Randor offers to send one of the other Masters with him and Prince Adam volunteers to go because he’s got to prove to everybody that he’s not a boy…or a coward…or both. Yeah, both.
Let’s talk about Stratos for a moment, shall we? Cool. Cool, cool, cool. To be quite honest, I don’t remember Stratos being an integral part of the original series whatsoever. Maybe he was. I don’t know. I can tell you for a fact, he was much more important in the original toyline as he was in the debut series and nobody’s collection was complete without the Heroic Winged Warrior.
In this series, though? I guess the Avian people are Scottish or something because Stratos has the illest Sean Connery accent and I can’t listen to him for even a second without thinking of those old Saturday Night Live Celebrity Jeopardy sketches.
That? That’s funny, people.
But I digress.
Skeletor’s big plan is to kidnap Prince Adam and bait He-Man into coming to Snake Mountain to save him. Foolproof! Adam accompanying Stratos is the perfect opportunity for Skeletor and his minions to capture the Prince which they do almost immediately because Stratos didn’t see it coming and Adam never took his fight training seriously.
Obviously, He-Man can’t show up to save Adam, so Man-At-Arms sends Orko and Cringer to sneak into Snake Mountain to bring the Power Sword to Adam. Duncan kind of doesn’t have a choice here since only him and these two idiots are aware that Adam is He-Man and Man-At-Arms busting through the front door of Snake Mountain wouldn’t be very secretive.
In the meantime, Duncan is modifying one of his training robots to take the appearance of He-Man because distractions are always great techniques in battle. The robot does its job, though, and allows the Masters time to get into the dungeon to free Adam. Skeletor, of course, refuses to give up easy and unleashes his new weapon, a giant bone-demon thing called One. Adam finally gets the fuck over himself and decides maybe, yeah, He-Man is a bit better equipped to handle these things as opposed to a 16 year-old wuss.
He-Man quickly surveys the situation and tricks one into chasing him into a lava pit. Skeletor’s plot of the day has been defeated and Adam has learned a valuable lesson.
Hey! We get a PSA! PSA’s were part of the original series airing at the end and usually telling you not to play with matches or some shit. In this one, Man-At-Arms tells us not to judge people too quickly since they’re not always what they seem to be at first glance.
I know I said at the top that I didn’t remember the “plot of the day format” being as prominent in this series and of fucking course that’s exactly what we got. I will put an asterisk next to this though, as Skeletor’s entire purpose is built around being able to harness the powers of the Elders and he has yet to find out how or where the power is held and protected.
It’s a minor distinction, but a distinction worth mentioning as in today’s episode he’s going on the only lead he has at his fingertips which is that He-Man just appeared out of nowhere and has all this power so he MUST know where the Elders have stashed their shit. It only makes sense to lure He-Man into a trap so he can probe him for that info. Unfortunately for Skelly, he gets literally nothing of use from anyone involved and will have to get back to the drawing board.
For clarity’s sake, yes, Skeletor – even in the Filmation series – has been after the power of the Elders. The biggest difference is that – in the original – he was always aware that it was held in Castle Grayskull and he hadn’t been separated from Eternia by a Mystic Wall for what must have been close to 20 years. Now that he’s finally been able to breach the wall and get back into Eternia, there’s still much for him to learn about how the Elders disguised their powers in the aftermath of the war.
So there’s a lot to unpack there, but I genuinely like that Skeletor knows what he wants, but has to bide his time and learn how best to go about getting that power. I don’t know how much time they’re going to spend building up to when he finally realizes to make a play for Grayskull, but at least every episode won’t be the same in the meantime.
Hey…I wonder what ever happened to Stratos. Oh well. See you tomorrow.