Well, shit. As soon as I start doing a new thing – providing a free, playable link to watch the episode – it gets fucked up. I thought that IMDB had links for all of the episodes via Hulu, but apparently it’s just some of them. I never linked them before because I didn’t want a bunch of dead links later, but this would be another reason not to do that. I never noticed they didn’t have a video for each episode. I guess I’ll link them when they’re available and not when they aren’t. Anyway, sorry to start off on a bummer! Man, an episode about Battle Cat. Didn’t they do that once already, and I was hoping it was an origin story and it wasn’t? This had goddamn well better be an origin story this time!!
In Man-At-Arms’ lab, Orko is mischievously waving his arms over a big chemistry experiment. Man-At-Arms walks up and isn’t to enthused. He asks Orko what it is, but the little amputee elf is coy about it, saying that it’s nothing. “That doesn’t look like nothing,” Prince Adam says, accusingly, pointing. Apparently, Orko has been fucking with Duncan’s lab equipment as a “surprise”, which I’m sure nothing good can come from. He’s working on some kind of stupid energy lasso for Teela. Man-At-Arms calmly points out that one of the fluids is “explosive”, and one of them is “very dangerous to work with”, then he turns and calmly, but firmly says, “Orko, you know your magic isn’t always reliable”.
Where the fuck did reasonable Duncan come from? Orko damn near blew up the lab by mixing explosive and dangerous fluids, heating them, then using his magic on them, and Man-At-Arms is as calm as a Hindu cow. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not happy, but if there’s such a thing as being too sensible, he’s being it. Orko gets defensive because Man-At-Arms attacked his magical abilities, but Man-At-Arms makes Orko swear not to touch anything else. Teela then undermines him by telling Orko that his idea was a good one, and chides Man-At-Arms into agreeing. Everyone goes to leave in order to meet with the King and Queen, but Orko is going to stay behind, in the lab. Bewilderingly, Man-At-Arms allows Orko to stay, but crossly tells him again not to mess with the chemistry equipment.
Orko swears not to fuck around with anything, but with Duncan’s authority already undermined by his daughter, I doubt if Orko can resist the temptation. In fact as every one else exits, Orko looks at Cringer and winks. As they walk down the hall, Man-At-Arms explains to Prince Adam that he’s changed some of the solutions around in his lab, and they’re not all marked, so it’s like, extra dangerous to play in there. Prince Adam gives his assurances that Duncan’s mild, finger-wagging warning was sufficient to overcome Orko’s meddling nature. Really though, if anything bad happens in that lab, it’s Man-At-Arms’ fault; he left Orko in there with unlabeled chemicals (which is probably dangerous for Duncan too) when he should have kicked Orko the fuck out and locked up the shop. For real, doesn’t that place have locking doors?
Man-At-Arms has barely finished spewing doubts about Orko to Prince Adam when we cut to Orko, already pawing through the cabinets he was warned to stay away from. Cringer voices his dissent until Orko announces that his new objective is to make Cringer brave. Orko uncorks a large bottle of pink, a small bottle of blue, and a small bottle of burgundy and mixes them while saying, “This. This. And some of this.” My confidence that something good will happen is bottomed out. Cringer slinks away as Orko is fine tuning his random concoction, but Orko notices and uses a spell to literally stick Cringer’s feet to the ground. Dude, kids die like this – forcing each other to drink stupid things, or on some insane dare.
Orko pours in one last color, yellow, which causes some kind of energy blast, and the whole palace shakes. Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms haven’t even finished walking down the hall yet when they feel the tremors, both of them shouting “Orko!” in unison. They run back to the lab and find a purple mist effervescing from the beaker (what did Walter White call that kind? It’s been a minute since Season 1), which quickly rises and turns into some kind of shrieking, purple vapor-demon-snake. Man-At-Arms runs for the fire extinguisher. Interesting choice. How did some random chemicals create a purple vapor-demon-snake, anyway? Man-At-Arms fires his little canister and the room fills with purple gas. The demon-snake actually dissipates, demystifies (why not?) and fills the beaker again. Or is it an Erlenmeyer flask? Maybe that’s what Walter called it.
Man-At-Arms gets red-in-the-face mad. Oh, I get it. I bet he’s been listening to anger management tapes lately. That’s how he kept his cool earlier, but purple vapor-demon-snakes ain’t one of those “count to 10 and take a deep breath” things. He demands an explanation, so Orko admits that he completely and intentionally disobeyed Man-At-Arms because he decided to try and make Cringer braver, and then says he doesn’t understand what the big deal is. Prince Adam leans with his arms folded, watching with a wry smile. I rewound this next part three times to make sure I understood it because it is the most blunt and unnatural segue I have ever seen, and I was very confused.
Man-At-Arms says, “I gave you a warning for your own safety, and you ignored it!” He looks down at his feet like this next bit is hard to say. He’s really gonna let it fly, right? “Listen carefully, Orko,” he says, “It all goes back to a time before you came here, when Adam first found Cringer in the hills of Eternia.” What?! Where the fuck did that story come from? Why is Duncan launching into a nostalgic story about Cringer? He hasn’t even reprimanded Orko for his flagrant insubordination (his exasperated comment was merely a statement of fact, spoken sternly), and now he’s only sighing and launching into a tale of a time once upon? He really is an old man.
So here we go, here’s the origin story. Prince Adam is going out to test a new “animal caller” for Man-At-Arms. A young Prince Adam, already sporting his pageboy haircut, looks at the device with excitement and enthusiasm. It will reproduce all the animal calls of the creatures he’s likely to encounter on his camping trip, Man-At-Arms tells him. Even a huge green tiger – what a good idea to give a boy the mating call to a huge green tiger to use on his camping trip! I’d like to mention that Prince Adam’s voice is even more nasal than ever, it’s incredible. Incredibly annoying.
Out in the wilderness, seemingly alone, Prince Adam walks around scanning the trees with his binoculars, reminding me a little of Luke Skywalker when we first meet him on Tatooine. He spots a striped and spotted buck and blows his mating call, which pretty much sounds like a cow. That doesn’t seem like a very good idea either. The buck looks at him and nods his head a few times, but like, snapping it upward in that sort of “s’up, bro?” gesture people do. It’s as if to say, “I don’t swing that way, brah, but thanks for noticin’.” Prince Adam says, “Well, guess that device works”. Hmm. I don’t think he gets how a mating call is supposed to work. Actually, watching it in gif form, maybe the buck nodding “yes”, and Prince Adam doesn’t get it, but in either scenatrio, he’s missing the point.
Prince Adam logs the buck on his tape recorder and moves on. As he hikes, a saber cat suddenly shows up to harass him. The saber cat roars a few times then begins descending the bluff he’s on. A little bush nearby shakes a bit suspiciously and we hear a kitten mew. Prince Adam uses his mating call flute to make the sound of the only animal that saber cats are afraid of – a manticore. Knowing that it’s baby Cringer in that bush, I wonder if green tigers are also afraid of manticores, and thus if Prince Adam blowing that whistle in baby Cringer’s vicinity of such a young kitten is why poor Cringer is a huge ‘fraidy cat now? That little guy was probably permanently traumatized!
The manticore mating call works and the saber cat splits, terrified. Prince Adam moves a big leaf aside and finds baby Cringer, alone, and literally crying. He’s the most adorable little guy you ever fucking saw, and I just know that Prince Adam gave him brain damage or PTSD with that damn whistle of his. Prince Adam discovers that Cringer has been hurt, so he wraps a bandage around his belly because, sure, why not. Prince Adam takes Cringer back to Man-At-Arms, who tells Prince Adam he’ll do what he can to save him, but the situation is grave – utterly dire, even. Prince Adam whines that Cringer lost his mother and was really hurt out there, and, well, they just have to help him! Even if it’s impossible!
With Prince Adam’s love and care, Cringer just might make it. Of course, Cringer makes a full recovery. One day, after Cringer is back to health, Prince Adam is studying out in the courtyard one day with Cringer curled at his feet. Some kind of marching class walks by, stomping in formation, and it startles cringer badly (he probably thought it was a manticore), causing him to fly up Prince Adam’s shirt. This causes every one to break their marching formation, turn, and laugh, cruelly, at the cowardly tiger – even the instructor. “What a scaredy cat. Look at him shake… Boo!” the blonde boy says. Cringer scrambles hard against Prince Adam’s bare stomach, which should be fucking shredded to a bloody pulp by now, but isn’t. Nobody goes to Prince Adam’s rescue, even though they don’t know he’s not actually getting shredded.
Prince Adam replies in his extra nasal teenage voice, “Leave him alone!” The instructor says, “He’s not even a real pet, he’s just a cringer.” There you have it, that’s how Cringer got his name. The boys all repeat, “Cringer, cringer, cringer!” in a mocking tone. Prince Adam, still as nasal as ever, says, “I don’t care, I like him!” Later, Prince Adam is having a tender moment and officially names the cat Cringer. The Sorceress appears to Prince Adam, which causes Cringer to cower underneath his master’s feet. Prince Adam understandably tells him not to be scared, and not even in a mean way. Maybe the Sorceress misread his nasal teenage voice, because she scolds Prince Adam and tells him that he must be patient with his pet. Prince Adam admits that Cringer embarrasses him a little sometimes. The Sorceress ambiguously alludes to Cringer’s destiny to become Battle Cat against his will someday, and tells Prince Adam that this cat will be very important to him someday.
We cut back to the present and Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms are soft and sentimental, pointing out that Cringer never changed and that he still follows Prince Adam everywhere. Then Prince Adam says the only time that Cringer wasn’t around was when he was making the change into He-Man, because he had to be alone for that, so he ditched Cringer whenever he had to transform. Orko looks at them incredulously and says, “But, I don’t see what that has to do with me not listening to Man-At-Arms’ warning.” I hate to admit it, but Orko has a point. “You will.” Man-At-Arms says. Right after we tell you a lot more of this story. And so, we fade back into a flashback as Man-At-Arms explains that things got a bit strange when they discovered a strange structure at the edge of the Tecon forest.
Melaktha and a young woman assistant are telling King Randor and Queen Marlena about the discovery. He orders a full archeological expedition and Queen Marlena recommends he appoint Man-At-Arms to oversee the operation, even though Melaktha is the royal archeologist, and he’s standing right in front of them. It’s because he’s black, I’m sure of it. Prince Adam, older now, having attained his current appearance and wordrobe is packing to go on the expedition. He goes to his vehicle and finds Cringer hiding in it, trying to stow along. Except that Cringer is still very kitten-like, and Prince Adam seems to have aged by years, when it really should be the other way around. That’s actually a really major continuity error contained within a single episode – I’d get it if it was across two episodes, but, this… this is a new low.
Prince Adam decides there’s no way he can ditch Cringer (as Teela giggles and teases him about it), so he asks Man-At-Arms if they can bring Cringer along. Man-At-Arms agrees, figuring there’s no foreseeable trouble to be caused by it, and off they go. I was thinking that the structure they discovered was going to be Castle Grayskull, but I guess it couldn’t be because Prince Adam already knows the Sorceress. As they are approaching the temple, Melaktha is explaining the oddity that there are no living things around the temple, even though I can clearly see vines and moss. Oh, I’m sorry, vines and moss are the only living things on it, he says. I spoke too soon. Melaktha clarifies that it’s just animals and birds and insects that are strangely absent.
Man-At-Arms, Melaktha, and his assistant are studying a tablet of ancient writing and being boring. Since the adults are no fun, Teela convinces Prince Adam to go exploring with and they quickly find a door, which is marked with some glyphs they saw earlier. They actually do the right thing and run back to tell Man-At-Arms. He says it’s getting dark and sensibly points out that it can wait until morning. Prince Adam quietly suggests to Teela that it’s not dark yet, so they should go back and look at the door. To Teela, this means to poke at cracks in the door with her sword. She causes a bunch of dust-laden old air to spray out, which sends Cringer scrambling in fear. They laugh, then Teela sensibly suggests that they head back and get some sleep – anyway, they need heavier equipment to get through that door. As they walk away, the shadow of a demon lights up behind the door.
Back in the present, Man-At-Arms says, “I warned Adam and Teela of possible danger, but, like you, they didn’t listen!” Orko is dying to find out what happens next. Back in the past, Man-At-Arms is studying the ancient writing, comparing the tablet with the markings on the door. They’re different, he says, but they both mean evil. They are both a warning, he says, ominously. Dramatic screen wipe. Every one is back at the door and the “heavy equipment” they brought is Ram Man. Rammy notices how large the cracks in the door are, which leads Prince Adam to comment that they weren’t that big yesterday, which troubles him. Man-At-Arms isn’t concerned, saying anything could have caused those cracks – settling, pressure from inside, you know, things like this. He doesn’t mention demons as a potential cause.
Prince Adam is suddenly very uncomfortable with this plan, but Man-At-Arms shouts, “Bring out the tools, we’re going in!” I’m a little surprised that Man-At-Arms is so eager to get inside – he’s the one that deciphered the ancient writing to be a warning about evil. Apparently Ram Man isn’t their heavy equipment after all, because a few guys with Helmets and laser hammers are blasting away at the door. As soon as it bursts open, the demon is standing right there with a glowing green background behind him. At Castle Grayskull, lightening cracks and the Sorceress stands bolt upright out of her chair. She senses the evil, then turns into Zoar the Falcon and flies off to help. Teela uses her freeze ray, but it’s no use.
Man-At-Arms orders a partial retreat while Teela regroups with some soldiers so they can combine their freeze rays against the demon. That doesn’t work either. Teela orders the retreat of the remaining soldiers, then promptly trips and falls on a tree root as she runs away. Man-At-Arms runs to her rescue as the demon closes in. Ram Man jumps and rams its chest to slow it down. Prince Adam runs off into the trees to recycle his animation and Cringer follows him, sure to become Battle Cat for the first time. Prince Adam turns into He-Man, then hears Cringer whimper from the bushes. “Easy, Cringer. It’s me, Adam,” he says. Then he points his sword at Cringer and blasts him, thus sealing his destiny to be forever coerced into being Battle Cat.
He-Man is surprised, like this happened on accident. That’s why you don’t point weapons at people, kids. He-Man shrieks, “What happened to Cringer?” and he kind of shouts “Cringer” strangely when he says it, all of the emphasis on that one word. He-Man remembers the Sorceress’ ambiguous allusion that Cringer was destined for something. The concern leaves He-Man’s face and he says, “Well, you’re certainly not a Cringer any more,” then he mounts up on Battle Cat for the first time, and a Journey song – you know the one – started playing in my head. As He-Man rushes through the forest, he calls out to Zoar. She warns him of the demon that has escaped, and says that He-Man will not be able to hurt or defeat the creature, but that he can imprison it again. She tells him to be clever and use Battle Cat, which is actually the first time that he is referred to as Battle Cat.
Meanwhile, the demon is following Man-At-Arms and his men through a ravine, slowly stalking them. He-Man shows up on the topside of the ravine and distracts the demon. Zoar appears to Man-At-Arms and tells him that He-Man is going to lure the demon back to the temple and get it inside, and that Man-At-Arms must help He-Man trap it again. Man-At-Arms calls out an order for explosives to line the door with. Once He-Man lures the beast back inside, he’ll blow the door and trap it inside again with rubble. He-Man dismounts and uses Battle Cat to distract the demon while he climbs a tree. I guess the only reason was to swing by the demon’s head on a vine to get him to chase He-Man instead. He-Man runs through the woods, leading the demon toward the temple.
Man-At-Arms and Teela finish up placing the explosives, Man-At-Arms commanding her to put one up on top, because he wants the whole top slab to come down. In the jungle, Battle Cat pulls a rope tight across the path, which trips the demon. I’m not sure what the point of this is. Maybe to get it so mad that it doesn’t realize it’s chasing them back into it’s prison temple? He-Man mounts back up on Battle Cat and tells him to run for the door. Battle Cat runs inside, taking He-Man with him and the demon follows. Teela frets that they’ll become trapped in the temple, but Ram Man assures her they’ll give him time to get out. This statement is immediately followed Man-At-Arms saying, “I can’t wait very much longer!” Why not? As long as the demon doesn’t wander back out again, he can take all the time he wants. It seems unlikely to me that the demon will come back out while He-Man is still in there.
Actually, I’m wrong, the demon does start to wander back out. Man-At-Arms says, “I can’t wait any longer, I have to trap him inside.” Duncan, the cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch, blows the rigging, and the rubble comes down, trapping the demon. Teela looks down sadly and says she hopes He-Man is okay. When the dust settles, He-Man and Battle Cat are standing there. Everybody fawns over this new ride, like, “Where’d you find that green tiger, man?” Nobody seems to remember that Prince Adam has a green tiger that came along on this fucking expedition. Overhead, Zoar circles, um, approvingly, I guess. I can’t decipher her squawking.
Back in the present, Man-At-Arms is saying, “So you see, Orko, if Adam and Teela had listened to my warning, Genge would never have gotten loose.” What? That’s not what happened at all, you revisionist fuck! The only thing Prince Adam and Teela did against your warning was to leave the camp at dusk and find the door. Then they went right back to camp and told Man-At-Arms! They were totally responsible about it. Duncan is the one that read the glyphs and knew they were a warning about evil. Duncan is the one that was all gung-ho to open the door – he couldn’t fucking wait! Prince Adam even got cold feet and Man-At-Arms was like, “Don’t be a pussy, fairy boy.” This story has absolutely no relevance to the sub-plot concerning Orko, none. Then the episode ends with an equally irrelevant sentiment when Prince Adam says, “Without Battle Cat, Prince Adam would be pretty lonely.” Then Prince Adam gives Cringer a neck hug.
Time for this week’s moral! I think it’s going to be about how the writers are completely phoning it at this point. They wanted to tell a Cringer origin story, so they came up with some completely unrelated, idiotic sub-plot to segue into it. Then the origin story was shitty and uninspired anyway; Prince Adam found a green tiger kitten in the jungle one day, kept it as a pet, then accidentally turned it into Battle Cat against its will, a cycle which will continue to do so for all eternity. I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed. Seems to me like they could have come up with something more creative. I don’t know why I’m so surprised by that, I really shouldn’t be.
Wow, that was a rant. Anyway, the real moral is presented by Man-At-Arm, which is that poisonous cleaning products and substances in your home will be marked with a skull and crossbones, so don’t ingest anything marked with a skull and crossbones. Are you fucking kidding me!? Have you ever seen a harmful household product actually marked with a skull and crossbones?? Never! That is not a thing. So, Man-At-Arms just gave kids free license to ingest any substance in their house. That is extremely reckless and irresponsible, and I’m really, truly mortified by this. Holy shit, you guys. Hindsight is an incredible thing, isn’t it?
He-Man murder count:
Season 1: 19
Season 2: 2
Episodes missing Skeletor:
Season 1: 28
Season 2: 13
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Ram Man
Alan Oppenheimer: Man-At-Arms, Cringer, Melaktha, Battle Cat
Linda Gary: Teela, The Sorceress, Queen Marlena
Lou Scheimer: Orko, King Randor
Erika Scheimer: Page, Elora