Welcome to another episode rewatch! If you’re sticking with me everyday, we’re absolutely barreling through He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and things are going pretty good.
Usually when I try to do a full-scale rewatch of a show – especially an old cartoon series – I go crazy from boredom, poor storytelling and a host of terrible plot devices. Maybe because I stayed quasi-recent as opposed to going back to the 80s, we’ve gotten a much better quality show. Thinking back about how sudden my excitement for a show would fizzle out like when I was watching M.A.S.K. or how I’d get frustrated with a long string of poor episodes like I did with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’m very grateful for what I’ve got with this series.
Like I’ve said before, it doesn’t have to be the best thing ever, it just needs to be good enough to keep me interested and watching. That’s a low bar and it has cleared that with ease. It’s not just something barely good enough, it’s something that is often very good and even when I find myself not liking an episode, that singular chapter is just mediocre as opposed to straight trash.
With that said, we’re coming off a pretty fun episode yesterday and diving into a fresh one today. That’s always a good thing. Let’s hope we’re rewarded again.
S01E15: The Mystery of Anwat Gar
Original Air Date: December 20, 2002
Before we hit play, I just want to say that I have absolutely zero clue as to what the title means. No memory of this, no background MOTU knowledge in my head about whatever the hell an Anwat Gar is, no nothing. So right there, I’m interested just to see what the hullabaloo about Anwat Gar is.
We open at Castle Grayskull where The Sorceress is telling Duncan and Prince Adam about a vision she’s had of Skeletor rising from the sea and plunging Eternia into a new age of darkness. She fears that Skeletor has learned about the Legacy Stones which are hidden on the island of Anwat Gar.
Oh. So that’s Anwat Gar. Just an island. And island with Legacy Stones.
He-Man and Duncan head to the island in an attempt to reach the Legacy Stones before Skeletor can get there. It’s a dangerous trip that nearly kills Man-At-Arms, but eventually they do get there. There’s a mystery man watching our heroes as they arrive and even though we haven’t yet been introduced, he’s recognizable to long-time MOTU fans as Sy-Klone.
Full disclosure, I’m a really big Sy-Klone fan and I can’t even tell you why. I think it’s just because his action figures were so different and cool looking. That has to be it because I genuinely can’t remember him doing anything of consequence during the original Filmation series or hell, even anything at all. Did he even have a moment? A big episode? I literally have no idea, but his figure was hot fire and if you didn’t have it, were you even fucking collecting MOTU, bro?
OK, so I just read his linked entry in the MOTU Wiki and it’s no wonder that I don’t remember him in the original series; even they write that he’s barely in it and the episodes in which he does appear are more like cameos than actual roles. So I can sleep tonight secure in my knowledge of Sy-Klone. This is good news.
Back at the ranch, He-Man and Duncan are met with numerous booby traps as they make their way to find the Legacy Stones. Lucky for them, He-Man is pretty strong and looks like the type who can bench his bodyweight so that helps with getting past these obstacles. Sy-Klone reveals himself as the final protector of the Legacy Stones. Once they realize that the stones have a guardian, they attempt to reason with Sy-Klone, but he refuses to hear them and launches into an attack as is his sworn duty.
He-Man eventually fights back and once Sy-Klone has gotten knocked on his ass and is willing to talk turkey with the big man, he realizes he should have listened to He-Man from the jump. Unbeknownst to all, while their battle was going on, Skeletor snuck in with Beast-Man to retrieve the stones. The stones enhance his power and appearance, dressing him in strong armor that kind of resembles the version of Skeletor we saw in the 1989 The New Adventures of He-Man or even Galvatron from Transformers: The Movie.
Draped in the Legacy Armor, Skeletor finds himself to be invincible and sets off for Castle Grayskull leaving behind Beast-Man with the other stone. Man-At-Arms astutely recognizes this and points it out to He-Man who takes it from the furball and uses its power to give him his samurai armor. He too then takes off for Grayskull in an attempt to thwart his nemesis.
They never really make it there and just beat the shit out of each other around the very heavily Asian-influenced island of Anwat Gar. Skeletor comments that with Legacy Armor, they are both invincible and He-Man, recognizing the truth in that, removes his samurai armor and losing the power of the stone. Skeletor totally overplays his hand now and starts toying with He-Man instead of just killing him. It’s the equivalent of a wrestling heel having the match won, but lifting his opponent’s shoulders off the mat at the count of 2 so he can inflict more punishment.
He-Man knocks off Skeletor’s samurai helmet and with it goes the power of the stone. He-Man has him dead to rights, but Beast-Man comes in riding some flying beast to pull Skelly out of harm’s way and head back to the safety of Snake Mountain.
He-Man recovers both of the stones and Sy-Klone thanks him before asking to have them back so he can continue his mission of protecting them. He-Man – like a real jerkoff – renders Sy-Klone’s job meaningless by crushing and destroying the stones in his bare hands claiming they’re too dangerous. Sy-Klone is devastated because after hundreds of years of faithful service, he’s suddenly unemployed.
Sy-Klone decides that maybe he just needs to take some time off and rest, but He-Man won’t hear of it. He brings him back to the Kingdom of Eternia and makes him the newest member of the Masters.
PSA: Following orders is one thing, but it’s more important to do what’s right. Basically, He-Man has never had to deal with corporate America.
Go ahead, call me a shill, I don’t care. I really liked this episode too. We got more into the mythology of Eternia with the legacy stones, introduced Sy-Klone who had a built-in backstory and now – theoretically – will be seen more often in future episodes and – maybe most importantly – gave these two assholes Samurai Armor so Mattel could make action figures of it.
To date, we haven’t talked much about the toy line that accompanied this series, but it was pretty badass. I had a lot of it at one point and it displayed beautifully. The problem – and this is not a problem exclusive to MOTU, but it did (in my opinion) ruin the chance of success for this iteration of MOTU – is that Mattel is super hardcore about always having the big drawing characters on the shelf of stores. That way, if a kid goes in to buy his first figure, the big name characters are there for him to be excited about. Matt and Brian from The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast talked about this on a recent episode that Mattel always wants John Cena, AJ Styles and/or Finn Balor from their WWE line on a shelf for this reason.
This was a huge problem in 2002 where it felt like you could ONLY find He-Man and Skeletor on shelves and none of the other characters to surround them with. I can talk very personally that it was the biggest driving factor that led to me giving up on completing it because it became increasingly frustrating to go out on a Fig Hunt, hit multiple stores and only be able to find different variations of fucking He-Man and goddamn Skeletor.
I wasn’t the only one who felt this way and, from what I read, the show ended up being cancelled because Mattel felt they weren’t selling enough figures to justify continuing the series. Hmmmmm…I wonder why they weren’t selling enough figures. As we saw a few years later when Matty Collector started the Masters of the Universe Classics line, there was definitely a market for a deep line of characters from this series and not just He-Man repaints.
Regardless of how bitter I still am at Mattel for their distribution of a toy line 17 years ago, I really enjoyed this episode. It felt new, moved quickly and introduced and expanded upon an old character that I really like from the past to be a part of this new future. For a rebooted property, what more could you ask for? Let’s keep the momentum going tomorrow and keep this little streak going.