Happy Monday, He-Fans, and welcome to the beginning of Season 2! We’re coming off a two-parter that concluded Season 1, but left us right in the middle of a battle sequence outside Castle Grayskull so this episode should have probably been titled, “The Council of Evil Part 3”, but what do I know? I’m just a mark with a blog.
To quickly recap where we are seeing as how we just took a three-day weekend after completing the season, Skeletor has put together a new crew of evil warriors after setting up his regular goon squad to be apprehended by the Masters to lull the good guys into a false sense of security. The Masters lower their defenses, go on leave and are picked off one by one by Skeletor’s new team which consists of Count Marzo, the Giants, Evil Seed and Webstor.
With all the Masters now captured and imprisoned in the dungeons of Snake Mountain, the only one remaining is Prince Adam who is without his power sword which was lost during a botched rescue attempt at Snake Mountain.
The Snake Men if Rattlor and Kobra Khan have emerged from hiding in the bowels of Snake Mountain and have free Skeletor’s old team from the Eternian Palace prison. When we left off, they were just arriving at Castle Grayskull and Skeletor still believes them to be on his side.
So yeah, there’s a lot going on and you can cut the tension with a knife. We’ve had plenty of time to let this all sink in so why wait any longer? Season 2! Let’s go!
S02E01: The Last Stand
Original Air Date: October 18, 2003
Interesting that this aired just a week after the Season 1 finale. I really don’t understand what Cartoon Network was doing, but it’s 16 years after the fact so let’s not waste brain cells trying to figure it out.
The Masters are show in captivity. Duncan is struggling to get free, but it’s no use. We pan back slightly and see a small, green vine breaking through the ground. It has to be Moss Man.
Back at Grayskull, Skelly’s new team is curious about the arrival of his old team. Skeletor just acts as if they’re here to help him. He gives them a good line about all of this being for them, but Evil-Lyn is rightly skeptical. Skeletor begins the process of using his magic to open the drawbridge to the Castle, but Prince Adam, wrests away his Havoc Staff and puts a temporary hold to those plans. Skelly is mostly entertained by this and immediately takes back his staff and blasts Adam off the cliff where he lands with a sick thud on a landing.
The Sorceress, who was blasted off a landing of her own during the Council of Evil’s initial attack is shown being rescued by the Cosmic Enforcer: Zodak. Shit has to be for real, for real is Zodak is getting involved. He doesn’t come out of the mountains just to make fucking social calls after all.
Adam is shown unconscious, but alive. A small rain cloud moves over him and the precipitation awakens him. This is the work of Orko and Adam probably now wishes the fall had killed him. Orko says he’s got something for Adam and goes through the whole litany of nonsense bullshit up his sleeve before pulling out Adam’s sword. He-Man is back in the game, peeps!
The Sorceress, now awake and re-energized, combines her powers with Zodak to build a diesel force field back around Grayskull that blasts Skeletor back. Skelly’s not worried since he still has the Ram Stone at his disposal, but He-Man enters the fray, picks it off and destroys it right there to the dismay of literally every bad guy. He-Man then crouches down where Cringer’s lifeless carcass lays and the fucking fury comes out.
It’s goddamn clobberin’ time.
In what is the the absolutely coolest fucking fight scene to date in this series – both in terms of action and animation – He-Man begins mowing through the evil warriors. Power, strength, agility: my man has it all. Eventually, however the heels have to get their shit in and get some heat and Marzo, Evil-Lyn and Skelly are able to combine their magic to hit He-Man with a sustained group energy blast. Shit looks grim for the most powerful man in the universe until a power of another kind rolls on over to Grayskull and knocks Marzo and Evil-Lyn’s blocks off: Moss Man has arrived…and he’s brought all of the Masters with him.
Very quickly, the heels are forced to retreat and Grayskull is saved for another day. Teela insists they pursue the baddies, but Duncan says they must return to the palace so he can face the king for his shortsighted decision to lower the security risk. He gives a full report to King Randor and then offers his resignation, but Randor refuses to accept it. They each take turns attempting to take blame for what has happened and Queen Marlena has fuckin’ had enough of that shit. She walks right in between them and tells both of them to stop being vaginas and start acting like the goddamn Masters of the Universe. Even Prince Adam is impressed as he utters a low, but amazed, “Go, Mom.”
Randor decides he will assemble a new council. To assist his decision making both in times of peace and war. Duncan thinks it’s a great idea.
Back at Snake Mountain, Kobra Khan approaches Evil-Lyn to collect on the debt of freeing all the villains. Evil-Lyn had said Khan could name his price, but now says circumstances have changed and she has loyalty to Skeletor. Khan laughs that off and shows her how loyal Skeletor was when he used those goons as bait to set up his even larger take-over plan. Khan remarks that King Hiss always rewards those who are loyal to him. What he neglects to tell her is that King Hiss’s method of rewarding is to FUCKING EAT THESE PEOPLE WHOLE!
No. That’s not a joke. That’s what he fucking does. HE FUCKING CONSUMES PEOPLE!
But whatevs. Evil-Lyn don’t need to know that right now.
PSA: Things don’t always go smoothly, so sometimes you gotta think of better ways.
There is so, so much fucking good stuff in this episode and I feel like one piece of mediocrity may have rendered it all meaningless. Starting from the beginning, we get an absolutely epic battle between He-Man and the collective forces of evil. And it is spectacular. The action is great, the animation is terrific. It is – far and away – the best looking fight scene in this series to date.
We get the return of Moss Man and Zodak who help save our other heroic friends and then take the battle back to the villains. So far this is all superb.
Where do we go wrong then?
As soon as the Masters arrive, the Council of Evil basically immediately goes into retreat mode. This was Skeletor’s giant master plan. He had every force available to him in play whether through manpower or the captured heroes or even the new procurement of the Ram Stone. And still, once the Masters hit the scene, he gives up so fucking easily. Like, I get that you weren’t expecting these people to get free, but under no circumstance should he be abandoning this so quickly.
It’s kind of par for the course in the universe that Skelly gets flustered and takes off to fight another day, but literally he had all his ducks line up for this ONE shot and he bailed. Honestly, he doesn’t deserve another one.
Which is exactly where it seems to be going as Kobra Khan proving to Evil-Lyn that Skeletor was behind her capture could be the jump-off point for re-opening the void and freeing the Snake Men.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for that. I love Skeletor. He’s my favorite character of anything ever, but a new, focused story arc between He-Man and a fresh crop of villains is so damn intriguing to me that I can’t help but want to push Skelly to the side for a bit.
The writing team on this series hasn’t let me down yet and I don’t expect them to start here either. In fact, it may have even been a bit liberating for them to get a chance to craft something this new and untied from original canon than to continue to be beholden to the decades-long He-Man and Skeletor feud.
At the very least, we’ll have to wait another day to find out, but I’m definitely excited to get deep into the remaining episodes. Get some water, rehydrate and get back here tomorrow.