Welcome back to another cartoon rewatch! It’s Thursday or, as this old man I used to work with would call it, “Little Friday”. Little Friday seems like a really good day to sit down and watch the next episode in our ongoing rewatch of the 2002 Mike Young Productions He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Whereas yesterday’s episode was more a splinter to focus on some secondary characters, I expect today’s to come right back to Adam dealing with being a cowardly 16 year-old who has to hide his big secret about being He-Man. I’d also think that Skeletor has to start making some ground with locating the powers of the Elders since he really hasn’t gotten too far with that as of yet. Granted, this is only the third “real” episode (I don’t really count “The Beginning” because it’s more just to set the stage than advance the new world), but Skelly has no clues and no luck.
Instead of just hypothesizing, I should probably stop and actually watch what’s going to happen for myself. OK then. Let’s watch some He-Man.
S01E06: The Deep End
Original Air Date: October 4, 2002
We open in Man-At-Arms workshop. He’s making some alterations to a snazzy looking vehicle when Orko appears and we already think that he’s going to fuck up all of Duncan’s work, but – SURPRISE – he doesn’t! There’s a power surge in the workshop because of something happening at the Sea of Rakash and Man-At-Arms immediately decides to investigate because he has a theory about the cause and it could be dangerous if it gets into Skeletor’s hands.
Skeletor is aware of the power surge – apparently cause by a Coridite Crystal, but he does not have possession of it. Once he’s made aware of it, however, he obviously can’t wait to get his boney fingers all over it. He sends his goons out to look for it, while, on the good guy side, Duncan is going deep diving in the sea alone to search. Skeletor’s forces are having no luck at the surge sight and he quickly realizes it’s because Mer-Man had been here and probably fancies using the crystal for himself which just serves to get Skelly a bit heated.
Duncan does locate both the crystal and Mer-Man, but while deep under the sea, Mer-Man’s got the home field advantage and a few other underwater fiends attack. Man-At-Arms is quite deceptive though, and is able to gain custody of the Coridite Crystal as well as lose the villains until Orko – clad in an old-school diving helmet – gives away his location and forces them into laser fire.
Quick aside on Orko.
I know everybody shits on the original Filmation Orko and I get it. I never necessarily agreed because I felt like he always fit in fine with the tone of that series, but if you don’t like him, I get it.
In this series, however, Orko’s character most certainly does not play well with the new tone and direction. I suppose the creators could have scrapped him completely, but his buffoonery does serve a purpose when needs be so what they’ve done – to this point at least – is keep his screen time super limited. So yeah, Orko is still fuckin’ with Man-At-Arms’s shit and not listening to direction and generally doing things that would get you banished to Siberia, but at least his not a heavily utilized part of the show.
OK, I’m back from my tangent and not a moment too soon as it was freezing there and I’m from Florida.
While in pursuit of Duncan, Mer-Man is now joined by Skeletor’s henchmen and he comes to the conclusion that if/when he regains the crystal, it will now belong to Skeletor. Duncan isn’t giving it up easily, however, so Mer-Man calls upon his giant blowfish monster to use as a threat so the crystal can be returned. Blowfish Monster jumps the gun, however, and swallows up Duncan before anyone can retrieve the crystal. This is a callback to Episode 1 where Man-At-Arms was also trapped in the belly of this beast.
While wedged in the belly, the crystal activates and our Blowfish Monster is now mutating and shooting some kind of coral torpedoes from his mouth. The Monster takes off on its own and pulls itself to the shore overlooking the kingdom of Eternia. Orko – uneaten by the monster – is able to inform Teela and Adam that Duncan is inside and, after a quick thought, Adam decides it’s a good idea to call He-Man.
The Monster begins destroying the village because it’s a monster and they do that kind of shit so He-Man tries to draw it away so they can not only save what’s left of the village, but then focus on getting Man-At-Arms freed from the inside.
Using Teela as bait, they bring the Blowfish to an uninhabited forest where He-Man is able to jump into the mouth of the beast to save his friend. During the rescue, however, Man-At-Arms touches the crystal to He-Man’s power sword which causes a massive energy surge. This outage enhances the Blowfish’s size even more and the origin of the energy must trigger something in the beast that sends him instinctively on a path to Castle Grayskull.
At this point, Castle Grayskull is still thought of as an old ruin even to the Masters. Man-At-Arms is able to FaceTime Teela from inside the monster and tells her that she must destroy the beast is Grayskull is in even the slightest bit of harm. She’s all like, “But dad, this will fucking kill you” and Duncan’s like, “Teela, do you fuckin think I don’t know that?! There’s a goddamn reason I’m telling you this shit!”
By this point, Skeletor’s forces are recovered and following the path of destruction. Teela, Stratos, Ram Man, Mekaneck and Buzz-Off set up a defense of Grayskull while He-Man and Duncan barely make it out of the beast’s stomach in time. Unfortunately for everybody involved, the crystal is about to blow so He-Man does the only thing he can think of: touch his sword to it again and try to absorb the power to keep everybody else safe.
The power surges again and a shockwave is sent through the area, but everybody is unharmed. Everybody except He-Man, that is, who has been turned to stone. We get a brief moment where Skeletor’s forces are celebrating while the Masters bow their heads, but only a moment until He-Man is able to break from the stone alive and well.
Cut back to Snake Mountain where Skeletor is browbeating his minions for letting him down, but then inhales at the new knowledge he’s gathered. Recognizing that Teela was prepared to sacrifice her father to protect Castle Grayskull, he now wonders what is so important behind those walls that needs protecting. This was a super smooth way to introduce that aspect of the story and I kinda love it.
PSA: He-Man tells us that friends stick together through thick and thin…even when trapped in a monster’s belly.
I actually really liked this episode. There were a lot of elements that made this feel very full. The way Orko has been used to this point has been quite satisfactory to me thus far. He’s a less-is-more type and, thankfully, his appearances and time have been less.
The reveal at the end concerning the importance of Castle Grayskull was awesome to me. I’ve been waiting to see how and where Skeletor would draw up his next move and – while this doesn’t tell him everything he’s been hoping to learn – it does open the door for him to plan his next move since there is obviously something of great importance there.
All in all, this was pretty fun. We had a good grouping of characters doing stuff while Skeletor took a backseat to delegate out the work tasks to his goons which is a nice little break that will go a long way from overexposing our top heel. Now, armed with his new knowledge, I’m really interested to see how quick they jump in with Skelly looking to force his way into Grayskull. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.