I’m kind of offended by this episode’s title. The reference is to the Charles Dickens novel of the same name, which is generally accepted as an excellent piece of classic literature. I assume this episode will be He-Man’s take on it, which implies that the writers of this show are somehow on the level of Charles Dickens, and that’s just insulting. Especially (or maybe only) because I was an English Lit major in college. Somehow, I doubt any of the writers of He-Man have even read A Tale of Two Cities, much less are worthy of paying homage to Charles Dickens. Anyway, we open on Prince Adam and Cringer chilling in the woods for no apparent reason.
Prince Adam is relaxed, but Cringer is uptight as usual. Suddenly, some redhead that resembles Teela comes running by in a hurry. Seriously, is every female on this show a redhead? I’m having trouble thinking of any female character that is not a redhead. Evil-Lyn has black hair, and I think that’s it. This particular redhead is being pursued by weird beak-faced men riding on top of flying disks and brandishing nets. It would seem they are trying to capture her. I challenge you to guess what happens next. Go on. I’ll give you three guesses, but you’ll only need one. Yeah, that’s right. Some animation gets recycled like you’ve totally seen before, and Prince Adam turns into He-Man.
By the time he’s done with the full-length transformation animation, the beak-faced men have already captured the woman. He-Man immediately interjects and demands her release. How does he know she’s not a serial killer or a baby stealer or something? He’s always butting in. Anyway, they get into a brawl and He-Man wins. She fawns all over He-Man as he stands there stroking his giant pussy. After she’s done flirting, she identifies herself as Princess Rhea and He-Man offers to escort her home. As she rides along on Battle Cat with him she explains that she got lost and those beak-faced men were trying to take her back to their city because Queen Balina pays them to bring captives from the city of Operon, like her. For what purpose, I don’t know. Maybe this crazy queen is building a redheaded slave girl harem or something.
On they way to Operon, they pause on a bluff overlooking the Operon Valley and note that the city just beyond the city of Operon is the city of Targon where Queen Balina resides. So, then it rains really hard which floods the river they have to cross. He-Man casually uproots a tree and tosses it across the river, bridging it. Princess Rhea makes it across on Battle Cat safely, but when He-Man goes across, a tree falls on him, knocks him into the raging waters of the river and renders him unconscious. Battle Cat kind of just watches He-Man drift by in the water, then runs along the bank for like, a really, really long time, not doing much of anything but growling. Princess Rhea just continues sitting on Battle Cat watching the whole thing unfold with a slack jaw. Finally, He-Man actually goes over a waterfall. I think the point would have been to try and save him before he goes over a waterfall, but what do I know?
He-Man has washed up on a shore and is still unconscious when Battle Cat and Princess Rhea find him. But then Princess Rhea hears a bunch of the beak-faced men scuttling about in the woods and so she and Battle Cat back off. The beak-faced men come out and apprehend He-Man while Princess Rhea slinks back into the woods with out trying to help at all. Instead, she follows them to Targon where they throw He-Man in a dungeon. In the dungeon, He-Man encounters Garn, the strongest man in the kingdom and therefore ruler of the arena. He demands to know who He-Man is. He-Man duh-doesn’t know. Really? The amnesia ploy again? Such a cheap device.
Anyway, Garn don’t give no shits about no amnesia, and decides He-Man must be a spy. In spite of that, Garn lays out his life story anyway. You see, if he dominates in the arena, he buys his freedom. Until then he’s chained to the floor, but that isn’t much of an impediment. Garn proves this when he lifts the block he’s chained to out of the floor, swings it recklessly around, and smashes it on the floor. He damn near hits He-Man in the face with it. He Man is impressed and hopes that Garn will dominate him, but then the beak-faced men come and take him away to appear before Queen Balina.
Before he sees the Queen, He-Man is forced to speak to some kind of pre-screener or something. This guy ain’t buying the amnesia routine either and assumes He-Man is a spy from Operon. He-Man’s all like, “What’s Operon”? So, then this gong tones and Queen Balina makes her appearance. She’s a beautiful Nubian queen, and I understand at once why she’s paying premium for redheaded white chicks. Well played, Queen Balina. Stick it to the man. She’s not buying He-Man’s bullshit either and demands to know where Princess Rhea is. Since He-Man can’t – or won’t – cooperate, she orders him into the arena. I’m hoping for Andy Whitfield’s Spartacus, but expecting Kirk Douglas’ instead.
Meanwhile, Princess Rhea, whom I thought had resolved to follow after He-Man when he was abducted, stands atop yet another bluff and looks out over Operon Valley as she stares at the city of Targon. Damn, she really doesn’t try very hard at all, does she? She’s kind of like a female Prince Adam. Battle Cat gets the scent of He-Man and just takes the fuck off without Princess Rhea’s lazy ass. Battle Cat steps on a booby trap, which opens up a large pit. Battle Cat just jumps right into it. He watches helplessly from the bottom as the beak-faced men seize Princess Rhea and take her away to Queen Balina’s castle.
Elsewhere, He-Man stands in the arena next to Garn. Hey! Maybe He-Man will get his wish and get dominated by Garn in front of everyone! They start out with a little light wrestling. He-Man gets the first take down. Yep, this is more like Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus. Garn continues to struggle against He-Man as the so-called “strongest man in the universe” plays hard to get with him. That is until Queen Balina’s pre-screener casts a spell that adds to Garn’s power. Garn knocks He-Man upside the head with a solid blow, hoping to bring him to his knees where he is more easily mounted. Of course, the blow causes He-Man to remember everything. For some reason, this allows He-Man to win the arena battle. I’m not really sure how that works. I guess, he remembered that he’s like, super-duper strong?
Anyway, since He-Man remembered who he is, he announces that he is He-Man, the strongest man in the universe. As if He-Man hadn’t insulted Garn enough, he negotiates Garn’s release as payment for his own win in the arena. Sorry, Garn. That’s gotta sting. Queen Balina summons He-Man to her throne room and offers to make him her Captain of the Guard (isn’t that Teela’s title in Eternia?) if he fucks her. He-Man’s all like, “No, because you’re evil and I’m afraid of vagina”. Her pre-screener whispers something to her and she quickly dismisses He-Man and runs off. One of the beak-faced men hands He-Man his sword. He-Man stretches it out in front of him, testing it. “Something’s wrong”, he says, suspecting a trick.
On a balcony in Queen Balina’s castle, she watches He-Man and Garn tromp off through the woods as her pre-screener says, “It’s a good thing you let him go! He’ll never know we have the girl”! Down on a bluff away from the castle, He-Man is reluctantly saying good-bye to Garn. “I hope we meet again one day”, he pines. Suddenly, he hears Battle Cat roaring from somewhere and runs off to help. He-Man finds Battle Cat in the bottom of the pit. Luckily, Garn followed He-Man instead of callously running off. Maybe they really have something here. Using his big, strong, veiny arms, Garn lowers He-Man down into the pit while he tries to play peter peek-a-boo and see up his furry red underwear. Even though the pit was way deeper than He-Man and Garn are tall, they reach Battle Cat and haul him up to safety. In reality, He-Man would have gaping lacerations in his hands and arms from dragging a green tiger up from a pit, but reality, this most certainly is not.
Since He-Man is unaware of the danger that Princess Rhea is in, He-Man and Garn sit down to chill and get to know each other a little bit. He-Man breaks the ice by introducing Garn to Battle Cat. Garn is really impressed when Battle Cat speaks and thanks him for helping to haul him out of the pit. Just as Garn is about to nuzzle into He-Man and get comfy, He-Man ruins the moment by asking Battle Cat where Princess Rhea is. Well, it was nice while it lasted. We may have just witnessed He-Man’s first date. Battle Cat tells He-Man that Princess Rhea was abducted, thus bringing the burgeoning romance to a grinding halt when He-Man goes running off to rescue her.
Back in Queen Balina’s throne room, unawares that He-Man is hip to their kidnapping of Princess Rhea, Queen Balina confirms that the princess’ father has been summoned. The King of Operon arrives right on cue, the drawbridge lowering for him. He-Man and Garn look on as the beak-faced men escort him into the castle. He-Man tells Garn he has a plan and then we cut to the dungeon where they are sneaking in, disguised and obscured in big hooded robes. He-Man approaches a cell door, behind which Princess Rhea’s father is standing, and announces that he has a plan to rescue the princess, but that he needs the king’s help.
Apparently, He-Man’s plan does not involve breaking the king out now, because upstairs in Queen Balina’s throne room the king enters and sees his daughter standing there being held hostage. Princess Rhea runs to him when she sees her father and nuzzles into his comforting beard. Awww, how sweet. The queen’s pre-screener asks if the King has brought “the payment”, to which He-Man shouts out that he is their payment. Okay, he’s standing in the middle of the room, wrapped up like a ninja. How did he get that far into the room with nobody noticing and wondering who he is until he shouts and rips off his robes, revealing his bare, muscled chest? Princess Rhea gets a little juicy when she sees it and Queen Balina and her pre-screener share an awkward glance in between getting an eye-full of his washboard abs.
Okay, I haven’t mentioned it before, but the pre-screener gawks at He-Man and utters that he didn’t think He-Man really existed, I feel compelled to mention it now because he’s like the 100th person to have made this remark in this episode, and I’m at a little bit of a loss for a few reasons. One, He-Man is the master of the universe (allegedly) and everybody knows he’s real because he’s always up in every one’s business. Two, HE JUST WON AN ARENA MATCH, REGAINED HIS MEMORY AND TOLD THEM HE’S HE-MAN. Seriously, do these people have a memory like a goldfish? What the fuck?
The pre-screener tries some kind of voodoo spell, but he fucks it up and it causes the lake nested conveniently, yet precariously, above the city to rupture. He-Man immediately takes action, requesting Garn’s help to stop the lake from flooding the city, ominously adding, “if we can”. Garn argues with him, demanding to know why they should help their enemies. He-Man makes him feel like a dumb-ass when he looks down his nose at him and condemns apathy for collateral damage. Wow, I never pegged He-Man for the abusive boyfriend type.
Sufficiently hen-pecked, Garn runs off with He-Man to rescue the city of Targon. For reasons I can’t explain, He-Man and Garn brace up against the outer wall of the city’s rampart and push it out farther, which seems like it would weaken it more than it would assist it in resisting the coming rush of water. Anyway, it seems to work, but then the wall springs leaks as the water rushes though. He-Man pounds on the ground repeatedly and Garn joins him. They create a split in the ground just as the rampart wall gives way and the water comes rushing in. The water harmlessly flows right into the crevice, avoiding any collateral damage. I highly doubt that He-Man, even with Garn’s help, could create an opening large enough to hold all that water.
Up in Queen Balina’s throne room, the king of Operon places an honorary golden helmet on Garn to thank him for his assistance. As He-Man is flirting with Garn and they say their goodbyes, Princess Rhea sneaks up and steels a kiss on He-Man’s cheek. She begs him to stay in her room tonight, just one night, before he goes. Keep dreamin’, ginger. Unless you’re packin’ a pistol under that skirt, He-Man ain’t interested. The king tells He-Man if he changes his mind, he’s welcome to come back and nail his daughter any time. Princess Rhea tries to placate herself by stroking He-Man’s giant pussy, but it’s less than satisfying. Then He-Man mounts that giant pussy – the only one he ever will – and rides off, leaving everyone feeling confused and conflicted with desire for him. In the closing shot, another one of the Operon Valley, the lake is puzzlingly back in place and full of water. Whatever.
Time for this week’s moral! I think it’s going to be about how the writers of this show shouldn’t be so full of themselves as to make an allusion to an author as esteemed and renowned as Charles Dickens. Especially because the plot of this episode is only very, very, loosely related to the most broad description of the classic literature it’s named after. Really, you guys shouldn’t be as proud of yourselves as you are, no matter how special your mother tells you that you are. Instead, He-Man poses in a library and uses this episode’s title as an excuse to tell the audience that they shouldn’t watch so much fucking TV and should maybe pick up a goddamned book every once in a while. Well, at least the writers made a little sense there. That reminds me, I need to get back to Double Dexter! Jeff Lindsay is no Charles Dickens either, but Dexter is Delicious, and he’s a better writer than anyone working for this show!
He-Man murder count: 9 and 1 attempted murder
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Gargon Warrior
Alan Oppenheimer: Cringer, Battle Cat, Draca
Linda Gary, Princess Rhea, Queen Balina
Lou Scheimer: Garn, Gargon Warrior, King Thales