Another episode, another never-before-mentioned legendary, mystic artifact. Out in the woods, some creepy piano music plays as we pan over to the horrific sight of… Prince Adam painting at an easel? He sighs languidly and savors his charmed life of sunny afternoons filled with eating and painting pretty landscapes. Yet, in spite of the yuppie pleasantness of it all, Cringer looks freaked out. Apparently, that’s what Cringer’s expression for serene looks like, because he just echoes that it’s peaceful.
Orko appears, somehow, inside Prince Adam’s awful painting (which is a very loose approximation of an impressionist landscape) and plays tricks on Prince Adam. Prince Adam actually likens himself to Da Vinci as he takes a break from painting to pig out, so he kind of deserves it. The worst part about it is that I have to hear Prince Adam say, “Orko”, over and over in that nasally voice of his. The whole thing ends with Orko covered in paint, but it’s only water color, so he just rinses off in a pond. While Prince Adam laughs about it, the Sorceress pops into his head and tells him that something is wrong at Castle Grayskull. I guess Prince Adam’s life isn’t so leisurely after all; he’s always having to defend that precariously perched pile of stone.
So, recycled animation later, He-Man has arrived at Castle Grayskull where all Hell has broken loose. I know I subtly quoted Ghostbusters once, but this is some real coming of Zuul shit, right here. Well, maybe it’s more Poltergeist… Anyway, there’s all kinds of spooky vapors coming from the castle, and the eyes and mouth are glowing while the drawbridge snaps open and shut, eerily reminding me of the porch swing bumping the cabin in The Evil Dead. Orko optimistically theorizes that maybe it’s a kick-ass rave, and they can roll their faces off while dancing mindlessly to happy hardcore while huffing Vicks vapor rub, but I have my doubts.
Inside, it’s like an acid trip gone wrong. There are crazy color streams appearing everywhere, along with scary monsters and bursting suns. Maybe the Sorceress tried to use peyote in a magical experiment, and it went south. He-Man suggests that its harmless and all in her head – that maybe, it’s a message. The Sorceress agrees with him, wrestles a few moments of clarity back and consults her mystic mirror, which intelligently brings up a line drawing of the very wizard that is responsible for the whole thing. The wizard, Zanthor, advises that he spiked her Kool-Aid because he was trying to get her attention. The explains that, blah, blah, blah, the wisest keepers of Eternia stored their knowledge on these golden disks, which he was supposed to protect, blah, blah, blah, but he fucked up and got in trouble for giving them to Skeletor in exchange for meth.
He has been imprisoned in the phantom dimension for it ever since, which means he must wander the galaxy in spirit form, and can only appear as a line drawing and conjure apparitions of space monsters to get people’s attention if he channels his warm fuzzy feelings. Otherwise, no one can see or hear him and it makes him sad and lonely. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, kids. The tale does take a turn for the interesting when it is revealed that Skeletor’s possession of the Golden Disks Knowledge is one of the reasons he is such a threat to He-Man all the time. So, it would seem that Skeletor has had these for a long time, though I wouldn’t say he’s ever seemed particularly knowledgeable about anything, nor much of a threat to He-Man.
So, anyway, like any addict, the Zandor claims to be all reformed, in fact his new found good is the only reason he was able to reach out to them from the phantom zone in the first place. He’s got his whole spiel worked out, “I know was wrong, I was naughty, I deserved this, but please I’m good now, won’t you help me get out”? The Sorceress refuses to take up his cause with the council for an appeal, but He-Man is all like, “yeah, but he said he’s good, can’t we just help him, please, can we? Can we?”, and the Sorceress gives in just like that.
The only member of left from the original council that locked this junkie up and threw away the key is our favorite cosmic wheelchair rider, Zodac. Completely devoid of her convictions, the Sorceress summons him to Castle Grayskull, because he has nothing better to do than listen to some appeal to get out on good behavior. For some reason, Zodac entertains this whole charade, and in exchange for his freedom, Zanthor promises he will impart special knowledge he has of where Skeletor keeps the Golden Disks and that he will recover and return them to Zodac. You see, because he’s been wandering around in his “phantom form” for so long, he’s been cruising around Snake Mountain, undetected, and has seen where they are kept. He even tried to take them from Skeletor but found himself impotent to the cause.
The mood in the room is a mix of excitement and mistrust, hung from baited breath. He-Man cuts through the tension with inexplicable support for this conniving wizard, suggesting that he go along to regulate and assist with the recovery operation. Zodak thinks he’s an idiot for it, but agrees to the proposal. As the song “I Can Change” from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut plays in my head, Zodak conjures Zanthor forth, still in “phantom form” but with the abilities of a mortal man, which I guess means he’s like you or me, but a little more see through.
At Snake Mountain, Zanthor leads the way. Other than He-Man punching through a wall and kicking down a vault door, it’s all pretty mundane. Inside the vault, the wall is lined with the disks of knowledge, and to me, it looks like a Frisbee-golfer’s dream. Before they can get a marijuana fueled round of the mostly relaxing game going, Skeletor announces they’ve tripped a silent alarm and traps them all in a force cage. He doesn’t seem at all concerned that He-Man so easily made it into the chamber containing the precious artifact.
It’s a good thing that Zanthor is still (sort of) in his phantom form, because he is able to just walk right out of the “force cage”. I guess he gets to only have tangibility when he chooses? That’s not too bad of a deal! Not only that, but Orko is able to teleport out of the force cage as well. Man, those Golden Disks of Knowledge really aren’t working for Skeletor so well… So the plan is that Zanthor is going to conjure a bunch of evil, but harmless, apparitions to either spook, or to, at least, annoy Skeletor, while Orko turns off the forcefield.
Upstairs, Skeletor is jerking off to celebrate the capture of HeMan, Battle Cat, Orko and Zanthor all at the same time when a spooky, disembodied voice tells Skeletor it’s come for him. Skeletor actually gets spooked, but probably only because he got caught mid-masturbation. Then he realizes it’s Zanthor, and Skeletor is suddenly not embarrassed anymore, because I guess they’ve previously seen each other naked. Even though he’s no stranger to a bad trip, none-the-less, Skeletor gets all tripped out by the devilish visions that Zanthor conjures before him, and he runs away.
Orko succeeds in turning off the force cage, which frees He-Man and Battle Cat, only for them to be confronted by Beast Man, Evil-Lyn, AND Trap Jaw. Jesus, these minions have been fired and rehired so many times, I can’t believe it. He-Man defends against them and we cut back to Skeletor. Skeletor is swatting at the demonic apparitions that plague him while shooting wild blasts at the nebulous phantom form of Zanthor, which just makes Zanthor laugh. Skeletor attains just enough clarity to realize that Orko is fucking with the force cage controls and to chase him off. Skeletor turns it back on just in time to capture his own goons.
So, I guess the Golden Disks of Knowledge they already found were fake? I’m not even sure when that happened. Anyway, it gives cause for exposition as Zanthor explains that Skeletor built Snake Mountain with their knowledge, so he probably built the place on top of them. What? Well, it makes sense to He-Man, so off they go for the center of Snake Mountain. I’m hoping that when the disks get stolen back from the fortresses’ core, it will cause the place to self-destruct, but I’m sure that something far less spectacular will happen.
They go back to the vault that contains the fake disks, then He-Man smashes down through the floor not one, but two levels, to find the actual Golden Disks of Knowledge. However, Skeletor is on to them and assures them they will find out why the place is called “Snake Mountain”, other than for the obvious reason that it’s shaped like a snake. This is a cue for a giant blue snake to come out of a dark well in the floor. He-Man, cool as a cucumber, tells every one to calm the fuck down, and then leaps up and straddles the snake’s head, using is arms to clamp its mouth shut. Then he commands Zanthor and Orko to run by and grab the real disks.
They recover the Golden Disks of Knowledge, and as Zanthor is headed back with the disks, Skeletor calls to him. He reminds Zanthor of the pain of being in the phantom zone, the anguish of banishment, and the resent that he must surely still feel. Skeletor tempts him to murder them all in revenge and join him, like old times, in a circle jerk. He-Man and Orko stand idly by while Zanthor wrestles with his newfound conscience and his primal, hedonistic desire for sex and drugs. Zanthor overcomes his dark desires and heads off with He-Man, leaving Skeletor to wrestle with his own giant snake.
Back at Castle Grayskull, everyone stands around gawking at the Golden Disks of Knowledge while Battle Cat apologizes for being such a dick to Zanthor all day. Everyone joins in, gushing all over Zanthor and giving thanks for the return of the Golden Disks of Knowledge, the biggest threat from which was, apparently, the construction of Snake Mountain. Despite his “unforgivable” crimes, Zodac promotes Zanthor from convict to assistant cosmic enforcer, specifically assigned to help Zodac himself guard The Golden Disks of Knowledge. You know, because Zanthor is so trustworthy and all. Then Orko has a fit because he never gets any credit.
Time for this week’s moral! I think it’s going to be about how He-Man thinks we should let all the criminals out of prison that claim to have repented from their evil ways and give them a second chance. Yeah lets try that see how it works. It kind of reminds me of the plot for that stupid movie, The Purge, which I’ve seen ads for. What an idiotic scenario. Anyway, He-Man comes onscreen to tell us that, yep, everyone should get a second chance, until they inevitably fuck up again.
He-Man murder count: 18 and 1 attempted murder
Episodes missing Skeletor: 25
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Beast Man
Alan Oppenheimer: Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Cringer, Battle Cat, Zanthor
Linda Gary: The Sorceress, Evil-Lyn
Lou Scheimer: Orko, Zodac, Trap Jaw