The Temptation of Adam
As always, the spoilers will be coming fast and heavy. So be warned.
Episode 5, “The Forge at the Forest of Forever,” opens with a funeral. At the end of the last episode, having entered Preternia, our motley group of heroes and villains met Prince Adam. I’d expected a long journey or some heroic deed required to recover the other half of the Power Sword. Instead, Prince Adam just goes “hey, actually I’ve got it right here.” That felt a bit anti-climactic, but at the same time it kept the story moving. And, to its credit, Masters of the Universe: Revelation is more interested in the characters than the plot a lot of the time. So this sweet scene memorializing Orko is both beautifully done and sad. Evil-Lyn’s not-so-evil affection for Orko is lovely, and I got teary-eyed when Adam asked the forest (aka Moss-Man in his final form) to bring a little of Trolla to Orko’s grave, and beautifully colored flowers and plants appeared.
Action Figures of Yore
Adam says that He-Ro can help reforge it. It turns out he’s right behind him in the Towers of Eternia. As I said in the “next time” of the last episode, this episode is a buffet of fan service. But not in a hollow way. Now, the idea of transforming Preternia from the long-ago past of Eternia (hence the prefix) into a heaven-like paradise for fallen heroes is a little weird only in that the name kind of doesn’t fit. But, hey, we get to see the three towers of Eternia (another late addition to the line, and now a huge grail for collectors) in animated form is beautiful. Getting to see He-Ro, a character that only existed in prototype form before Super7 recently made him into a mass-produced figure, is also wonderful. So, I’m willing to overlook this somewhat haphazard lashing together of concepts.
Adam says that Grayskull tower likely has a way back to Eternia, if one exists, and they must find King Grayskull. Fortunately for them, he flies right over them seconds later, with three beloved weirdo characters in tow. If I broke down who all of them were, this would be an epically long journal post. But if you want to find out more about Vikor,Wonderbread He-man/Wun-Dar, and Kuduk Ungol, click their names for some handy links.
It’s Good To Be King
Because I want to focus on King Grayskull here. KG was introduced in the 2002 Mike Young He-man and the Masters of the Universe series, made to support the rebooted line. There was some online resistance (I’m phrasing that nicely) to King Grayskull being a person of color in the new series. Some of these rants made it seem like KG had a history that started with the vintage line (he didn’t) and seemed to have a lack of understanding of how someone could have ancestry from thousands of years ago that were not of the same color. These people, presumably, have never had their DNA traced. But let’s set all that aside. I don’t have a problem with it, for one thing, but what’s more important is how King Grayskull is portrayed here.
He’s pretty much everything I’d want from the ancestor of He-man. For one thing, he’s riding on Bionatops, one of my absolute favorite toys from my childhood. He’s voiced by Dennis Haysbert, who brings a wise, kingly performance kissed with a subtle, winking sense of fun. I believed him utterly as the first person chosen to wield the power sword. My one regret is that he did not ride King Grayskull’s traditional steed Battle Lion during the Wild Hunt. Also, again back to the plot, it’s a little disappointing that, after Adam’s proclamation that Preternia is a walled garden which is unescapable, KG just says “Oh yeah, I got a portal back no problem.” But again, the story is more about the sacrifice Adam has to make. So that’s fine.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
The re-forging of the Power Sword is not without its losses. I’ve said before that I was a fan of Roboto, so seeing him also sacrifice himself (Smith and company are doing a great job of getting rid of my favorites! Is Sy-Klone getting killed off next season?!?!) was hard, but also really well done. Now, there is a part of me that always gets confused when robotic characters get killed off. Yes, Roboto evolved past his programming… but doesn’t Duncan make a nightly back-up? Can’t he build a new body? Who knows, maybe he will in part two of the season.
After a chat with Teela, and then Moss-Man (using Oppenheimer here, again, adds an extra dimension of depth and sweetness to the conversation,) Adam decides to return to Eternia, forsaking his eternal reward, most likely forever, in order to help his friends. It’s a great moment for Adam. “Guuud byeeee. Fuh-leaa man.” Kuduk Ungol says, as Adam finds himself right in the middle of a battle with Tri-Klops’s Borg Cult in front of the Hall of Wisdom. They make quick work of them, and there’s a lovely Cringer/Adam reunion.
I Haaaaave the ::GLRK::
Adam calling for the power of Grayskull is a fantastic moment. Seeing the swirling red skies return to Eternia, and the illusion of Grayskull restored (thank goodness, I’m okay with lots of change but He-man needs Castle Grayskull thank you very much), it seems that we’re going to return to something approaching normal for MOTU. But the storytellers have a nasty, bloody, surprise for us. The top of the havoc staff, which was also disguised as a cup and was also the key to Subternia, flies out of Evil-Lyn’s satchel. Skeletor zooms out of her wand, where he’d been hiding, and stabs Adam in the back. So, this all seems needlessly complex. I feel like it would have been way simpler for Skeletor to have been hiding in his own havoc staff? You could argue that Evil-Lyn was more likely to keep her wand with her until the time was right for Skeletor to re-emerge. But, well, it’s best to not think about it.
Because the real shocking, terrible thing (that unfortunately was pretty much thoroughly spoiled by an action figurebefore the series premiered) is that Skeletor now has the power! In another nod to the 1987 movie, Skeletor calls upon the power of Grayskull and becomes Skelegod! Oh, and Evil-Lyn once again gives up her brief flirtation with goodness to join Skeletor. Beastman, happy to follow wherever she goes, joins her. It’s a great cliffhanger and a maddening finale to the show. There’s no word when the show will return yet. It might be in 2022, or it could be a little sooner. We’ll see. But I know I’ll be eagerly anticipating its return, and checking out the new, extremely re-imagined CGI kids cartoon version of MOTU in the meantime. Check out “Next Time” below for some speculation on my part on where this is all going, unless you don’t want to have any clue.
Roboto: As you wish, sister. That line was great. I like the idea of Roboto and Teela being like syblings. One of my favorite mini-comics from the vintage line was the one that came with Roboto. In it, he goes awry, and attacks Teela with his axe! He batters at Teela’s shiled until it finally gives way. I re-created that scene so many times with my action figures! It was so dramatic! So the two have always been sort of linked in my mind because of that.
Kuduk Ungol was a delight. I loved her raspy guttural way of speaking. And her mount was so cool!
Next Time: ???? I wanted to end with some wrap-up thoughts about the first half of the season. I’m torn as to whether I’ll go through each episode of the second half like I did this one. It takes a while to get these journals out, and as with all things Netflix, it feels like most people quickly move onto the next thing after binging a series. But I have to say I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.
Would I have done things differently in some respects? Sure, but this isn’t my series. It troubles me, sometimes, that MOTU fans (and really fans of everything) feel such a claim on its characters and worlds that they can’t just entrust them to creators and see what happens. If you have your own, personal view of what MOTU should or should not be, that’s always going to be a barrier for them to enjoy new iterations of MOTU. And if we want MOTU the brand, the franchise, to be healthy, we really need to embrace new iterations the same way Transformers, TMNT, and Power Rangers fans do. If the MOTU brand is strong, then that means even if a current iteration isn’t too our liking, we’ll have a better chance of another one down the line that will be.
It’s MOTU’s blessing and curse. It has such a strong fan base that it supported an online-only action figure line (MOTU Classics) that got to nearly every character you could think of over its long history. Hundreds of figures. Playsets. Vehicles. Mounts. It’s astonishing, and the world of MOTU has been an inspiration to countless thousands. As I said before, it was a huge influence on me and my love of storytelling as a kid. So, it’s understandable that fans have their own personal ideas about the story of MOTU. But we shouldn’t be so precious about it as to strangle the very thing we love.
Department of Speculation
So, what will the next part of season 1 bring? My predictions are:
- Prince Adam is not dead. And He-man will return. This does not take a Sybil to predict, however, as Smith himself has heavily hinted at it.
- Teela will be revealed to be the mother of the Sorceress and take up her mantle, or something like it. Perhaps something more in line with the Goddess look. The story seems to be heavily hinting at this, and it’s a moment that has been teased for fans since Filmation. I actually did a mini-comic (based on MOTU Classics continuity) about this very thing a long time ago.
- Evil-Lyn is just pretending to be on Skeletor’s side. Either she’s going to take him down to help the good guys, or (what would be most exciting for me) she is taking him out, tired of being used by him, and will ascend to the main villain of the piece.
Where do you think it’s going? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Until next time…