Daily Cartoon: He-Man & The Masters of the Universe S01E14: “Underworld”

Welcome to another cartoon rewatch! We’ve made it to the All-Star Break portion of Season 1 and, going into the second half, I’d say we have a pretty solid series overall. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe didn’t last very long but – so far – has been a very nice updated version 20 years after the original Filmation series.

Now, does that mean this is the most amazing thing ever? Even as a very biased observer: no, it’s not. But it didn’t have to be. All I want from anything He-Man is to be good and enjoyable that way I can continue to get new shows or movies and new toys and figures. I want new generations of fans to enjoy these characters for decades like I have so things like Power-Con can still happen and be successful. Unfortunately, I’ve still never been to a Power-Con (the one time I was planning to go, my home was suddenly under threat of a bad hurricane so plans needed to be changed), but hope that one of these years I’ll finally be able to head out that way and get to hang out with all my fellow He-Fans.

So that was a brief little tangent, but it’s good to take the exit ramp every now and then just to see what’s around. And now that that’s out of the way, let’s watch another episode.

S01E14: Underworld

Original Air Date: December 13, 2002

The first thing I notice is the air date of this episode. It would have aired three weeks after Episode 13 and I don’t know why that would have been. Thinking back, as someone who was recording episodes on VHS when they’d air, I do remember the series getting jerked around and then giving up on it because I never knew when it would air.

This may have been the beginning of that and looking back, there was a lot that I didn’t see at all until it was released on DVD. Especially Season 2. When I got that DVD and saw what the creators did with it, I was like, “Where in the fuck did this come from?”

Wild.

OK, but that’s neither here nor there. We’ve got an episode to watch.

We open with Adam struggling with having to be King one day. He’s a teenager and doesn’t want to learn any of this royal etiquette shit. Of course, King Randor walks in and sets him straight and Adam promises to focus more on his royal obligations which pleases the King because he wants Adam to join him on a diplomatic trip to broker peace between two of the outer groups.

Skeletor, meanwhile, is fucking fuming that he hasn’t been able to crack Castle Grayskull yet. He’s made attacks from land and sea and air (just like GI Joe), but none of them have had the desired result. Whiplash, normally a bumbling heavy, has the idea to try attacking the castle from underground Subternia. None of the important villains know much about Subternia, but Whiplash grew up there so he can be their guide. It’s basically like if you ever visit Queens and need a good sandwich, you can call me and I can put you on the right path.

Hint: for the best sandwiches take the ride to Whitestone for Cherry Valley. It’s on the complete opposite side of Queens from where I grew up, but yo, it’s the fucking bee’s knees. If you go and aren’t happy, you’re a fucking fool and we shouldn’t associate because I don’t need that negativity in my life.

Anyway, Randor, Adam and Man-At-Arms enter a cave leading toward the kingdom of the Speleans ruled by Lord Dactys. They’re like humanoid bat-people. And they have excellent hearing. Dactys and Randor make some dad jokes and bond. They’re just missing a few beers over a football game. There’s trouble between the Speleans and the Caligars who are humanoid lizard-people that were once allies. Randor hopes they’re able to settle things diplomatically so no swords have to be raised. The great uniter, that Randor.

Lord Dactys gets a report that intruders have crossed into Subternia. He immediately believes it to be Caligars, but is told that it’s actually Skeletor and company. King Randor jumps to head them off as it’s his duty to protect Eternia and he will not sit back. Lord Dactys offers Randor his sword since he had come unarmed and Randor is grateful.

As the Eternians cross into Subternia, they’re met by an angry group of of Caligars. A quick battle ensues, but Randor is able to cool the tension and reason with Ceratus, leader of the Caligars. Ceratus allows them to pass because he also fought beside Randor and Whiplash, a traitor to the Caligars, now henches for Skeletor.

Our peace delegation meets up with Skeletor almost instantly and things to perilous. Adam is separated from the group which allows him to transform into He-Man, but Duncan and Randor are trapped between rock piles and lava. The villains are able to continue on to the underground entrance to Grayskull.

Randor and Duncan recover quickly enough to postpone Skeletor’s taking of the castle, but he’s still able to shatter the door separating him from the power with his magic. Unfortunately for Skelly, however, waiting behind that door is He-Man.

Evil-Lyn causes a rockslide which buries pretty much everybody on both sides, but Randor and Skeletor end up being the first ones freed. They draw swords in an attempt to settle their long-standing score as the rest of the players begin to stir. Skeletor is about to finish of Randor, but He-Man makes a last-second save and father and son double-team the Overlord of Evil until they’ve knocked away his weapons. Skelly summons back his Havoc Staff and uses his magic to draw space so he and the goons can retreat. Duncan urges Randor to chase them, but the King suggests they’ll have a new problem waiting for them as they escape.

Sure enough, the Caligars are there waiting and they are none too happy to see Whiplash the traitor and his new friends.

PSA: If you’re gonna be a leader, don’t just bark orders.

Final Thoughts:

This episode is more what I like from this show than yesterday’s offering. We still get our He-Man and Skeletor conflict, but we get complimentary characters doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing: complimenting.

Neither the Speleans nor Caligars have major roles in this episode, but they’re plot points that serve to move the story ahead and get us where we need to be. It’s simple, but effective storytelling that opens up how vast the world of Eternia is, but doesn’t overload us with new information of characters.

Also, we get reminded that Randor was a great warrior, the captain of the defenders and still has that mentality to him when Adam is questioning his leadership. All in all, there’s a lot to like about this episode. After how bland yesterday’s show was, I was really hoping we wouldn’t have a back-to-back stinker and thankfully, we didn’t. Now I’m hyped again for tomorrow’s. You should be too.

Joe

Twitter: @MaxSexPow

Email: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com

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