I’m assuming that “The Time Wheel” is different than the “Wheel of Time”, yes? Although, it would not surprise me if it was the same thing, but the episode just treated it like something else, like we’ve never been introduced to it before. Like they’ve done with that sea demon a few times, when they’ve repurposed it and called it something else. We open on the desert, its harsh winds gusting and blowing hard. Prince Adam and Orko are riding on an open motorbike into the sandstorm and take cover in some boulders to wait it out. Why do they seem to insist on taking the least suitable vehicle for the environmental conditions of their journeys?
After just a few minutes of cowering in the boulders, Prince Adam is like, “You know what? Fuck this shit, I’m He-Man”. So perhaps the soonest into an episode he’s ever done it, Prince Adam recycles some animation so he can turn into He-Man and carve a cave for them to hide in. That seems like a blatant misuse of the power sword to me. He chooses a section of the wall that looks like the boulders were drawn on animation cells instead of the background and hits them with his sword. They fall away to reveal an existing tunnel, complete with ancient markings around its border. Orko heads right in and He-Man follows him.
They immediately come into a chamber filled with glyphs, which startles Orko for some reason. He-Man remarks that they seem to have discovered an ancient temple of the Zilcons, a civilization that disappeared thousands of years ago. Orko pushes on the carved image of one of the Zilcon people, which spins around causing him to slip through like a revolving door. I guess He-Man didn’t see it and isn’t smart enough to realize what happened because he runs off looking for Orko down the hall where he trips a floor switch. The floor switch causes a few sharp boomerangs to come flying at him, but He-Man easily swats them with the power sword and makes an obvious comment about how booby traps must mean they aren’t welcome. Booby traps, He-Man says aloud, then shudders.
Elsewhere, Orko is trying to find his way out of a room full of artifacts. He finds a crank and when he isn’t strong enough to turn it, uses his magic to do so. The crank, in turn, causes a wheel inscribed with glyphs to spin, and the next thing you know a Viking-type guy has appeared and asks “Who seizes The Mighty Tamusk from his royal palace?” Orko immediately reveals himself and claims responsibility, which seems like a bad idea, because I’m not sure Tamusk is happy about being “seized” from his royal palace. He remarks about what a strange creature Orko is before asking to know where he is.
Orko says that they are in a Zilcon temple, which causes Tamusk to try and swat Orko’s head off with his club. Tamusk looks around and confirms that the machine that transported him here is indeed of Zilcon design. As it would happen, Tamusk and the Zilcons are bitter enemies and are constantly at war with one another. Tamusk quickly proclaims that he is King of all Eternia, which of course leads Orko to bring up King Randor right away. Tamusk wants to know more about this “King Randor” for the purpose of knowing one’s enemies. Out in the hall He-Man steps on another floor switch, but this time it’s just a plot device to wind up with a hole in a door so that He-Man can overhear Orko’s voice and come after him.
Orko greets He-Man at the door after he rips it from the hinges and tells He-Man that he’s been hanging with this dude Tamusk, who says he’s King of Eternia. He-Man remarks, confused, that Tamusk was the last of Eternia’s Sorcerer-Kings, but that that was thousands of years ago. Orko looks terrified. He-Man walks up to him and Tamusk puts his hand up and tells the “traitors” to stay back. He-Man proceeds to doubt his identity, saying that King Randor is king, but this results in Tamusk calling King Randor a pretender to the thone and challenging him in battle. Tamusk slams his club down on the ground, which materializes a small dinosaur of some kind. Tamusk mounts it and rides off. He stops on his way out to blast door so that Orko and He-Man are trapped and will be sure to wait for him to come back.
Trapped in the artifact room, He-Man does concede that the guy looks like the statue of Tamusk they have back at the palace, but that he just can’t figure out how it could actually be him. They look around and Orko shows him the wheel that he used his magic to spin. He-Man is like, oh, yeah, that makes sense, because these ancient glyphs I can read say this thing is a time machine. Oh, naturally, He-Man can read them. He-Man realizes that it really is Tamusk, and that if he thinks he’s in his own time, King Randor is in for it. He-Man immediately but also kind of casually, punches through the boulders and they are on their way.
He-Man and Orko catch up with Tamusk pretty quickly, since they have a motorbike and he’s on a dinosaur. Tamusk spots them and ducks away, using his magic to generate a giant illusion of himself. When the giant Tamusk illusion reaches down for them, He-Man screeches to a halt. He looks scared, but when Orko points out that the giant Tanmusk is trying to grab them, He-Man says he’s not, and it’s just a giant illusion. The wind in his hair, He-Man just drives right through the illusory giant Tamusk and Orko is impressed.
Whatever additional lead-time he bought himself is wasted because Tamusk’s dinosaur is just trotting along now. He-Man catches up with him quite easily, pulls ahead and then whips to a stop in front of Tamusk. He-Man strongly suggests they talk about this, but Tamusk proclaims that he does not speak with friends of the Zilcons and instead conjures a giant “sandipede” to threaten He-Man and Orko. He-Man barely log rolls away before the thing seizes the motorcycle. He-Man says to Orko, “A long time ago, there was an ocean here. I’m going to dig down and see if I can find any water”. Orko watches him slide through sold rock and remarks, “Wow, He-Man’s swimming like a fish in water!”
Then He-Man actually does break through to some ground water. The ground water is apparently under pressure, because it starts to rise to the top as He-Man lets it carry him back out of the tunnel he made. Orko is dodging the sandipede when He-Man pops back out. The water sprays from the hole He-Man made, causing it to “rain”. The sandipede is not a fan of rain, so it just goes away. He-Man decides to decimate whatever groundwater supply there is by “leaving the water flowing for thirsty travelers”. One, if it is clean ground water like I suspect, this wouldn’t be the first time He-Man has caused an environmental disaster by ruining an ecosystem, or even altering the tidal flow of the entire planet. Two, if it really was an ocean, travelers couldn’t drink it anyway. Three, they’re in the middle of the desert! What travelers does he think are going to happen by to need a drink in the first place! He-Man probably did more damage by doing this than he would have by just killing the sandipede.
A little later, Tamusk has reached the royal palace and his brain is scrambled when he sees it. He recognizes the place, certain details – Mount Eternia – but the palace itself is not his palace. It’s strange and foreign. Futuristic. I guess because He-Man didn’t bother to try and force Tamusk to listen and explain that he’s out of time – literally – it doesn’t occur to Tamusk that it would be impossible for his palace to have changed so much, so quickly, so he assumes it was King Randor’s magic. At least this has the effect of humbling him a bit, when he realizes how powerful King Randor must be. Therefore, Tamusk resolves to attack King Randor swiftly, and without mercy, so that he won’t see it coming.
I don’t know how exactly how he got this far without incident, but Tamusk just comes bursting into the throne room where King Randor is sitting beside his wife, Queen Marlena, in a separate chair, very chastely. “So, you’re the mighty Randor!” Tamusk roars. I half expected him to just walk over and beat King Randor’s head in with his club before Randor even says anything. Tamusk announces that he’s come to reclaim his throne. King Randor stupidly asks him what he’s doing here, even though Tamusk already told him. Tamusk reveals himself as Tamusk, King of Eternia. Queen Marlena turns to King Randor and says, “Well, he does look like the statue”.
Tamusk starts freaking out and wants to know what happened to his family – his wife, his children. “Slow down, I don’t even know what the fuck you’re talking about right now,” King Randor says, thoroughly confused. Tamusk continues to rant about how someone is punking him and he’s about to lay waste if they don’t own up to it. King Randor tries to reason with him, trying to explain that if he is who he says he is, that he’s, like, a thousand years out of time, and he should cooperate with them and let them help him get home. Tamusk rejects everything as lies, then uses magic to block the door with a boulder before King Randor can call the Royal Guard.
Suddenly, it seems like there’s an earthquake, but it’s just He-Man punching through the boulder. The Royal Guard is running up right behind He-Man. I guess knowing when he’s licked, Tamusk flees over the balcony rail. Outside on the ground, after a fall from an ambiguous altitude, Tamusk assures himself that they’ll never catch him because he’s faster than they are. Then some more of the Royal Guard show up on some sky sleds, blasting at him. He’s starting to panic, confused by all the “sorcery” he’s seen tonight, then that crazy side-winder vehicle, the dragon walker, starts coming at him. That must be absolutely terrifying for him.
Indeed, it proves too much and he uses his magic club to disappear. As he’s fading out, He-Man yells out, “Tamusk, wait!” but it’s of no use. The guy disappears in a literal whirlwind and is gone, flying off over the city. Teela comes out onto the terrace, wanting to know what all the commotion is about, and who that man was. Shouldn’t she be charging in on more of an official-duty sort of capacity? Isn’t she Captain of the Guard? She should at least be more informed than she is, which is not at all. King Randor says, in a sort of distant way, “A former king of Eternia, somehow snatched from his own time.” He-Man resolves to find a way to send him back to his own time.
He-Man and Orko are back on the motorbike, which I’m now realizing is more of a trike, cruising through the desert, on their way back to the Zilcon temple. Orko asks He-Man why he is so sure that Tamusk would go back to the Zilcon temple. He-Man explains that Tamusk is scared, and nothing looks familiar to him. It might be the one place he could find comfort in the familiar. I like his thought process, but his logic seems flawed. Tamusk was not happy about being in his enemies temple earlier. I know He-Man will be right that he’s there, but I don’t think he’s right about the reasons. If I were him, I’d go back there to use the time machine to get home. He-Man really shouldn’t try to think too much.
In the Zilcon temple, Tamusk is trying to turn the crank that Orko triggered to bring him here in the first place. He can’t seem to make it budge, and he grunts what sounds like “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” over and over as he strains to try and move it. If I only heard the audio, I might have mistaken it for porno audio. He-Man shows up so Tamusk immediately attacks him, causing a ceiling tile to come down on him. He-Man holds it up, but sand is pouring in, piling on it. He-Man can’t resist taunting him a bit, so Tamusk runs off for some reinforcements. He finds some warrior statues and brings them to life to attack He-Man.
The warrior statues do attack He-Man, which isn’t much of a problem for him. However, being Zilcon statues, they also turn on Tamusk. One of them seizes him, causing him to drop his magic club. I’m going to cast my prediction for how the rest of the episode is going to go right now – He-Man will save Tamusk, then Tamusk will realize he’s not an enemy and will calm down for a fucking second so He-Man can help him get back home. As the statue walks away with Tamusk, he realizes his mistake, and curses himself for trusting a Zilcon statue. Yeah, those Zilcon statues just cannot be trusted. Everybody knows that.
He-Man sees his chance to realize my prediction, so he throws a boulder into the wall and knocks a hole in it. Sand comes pouring in, filling up the room up to the Zilcon statue’s waste, which I’m pretty sure is over He-Man’s head based on the proportion of the statue to the people. This gives the Zilcon statue difficulty walking, so Tamusk challenges him to a proper fight. He-Man throws a rope that he got out of nowhere and weighted with a rock so that it coils around both Tamusk and the statue. Tamusk asks He-Man if he feels better now that he’s tied up and then calls him a “friend of the Zilcons”, making it clear that he’s still not a fan.
He-Man pulls the rope really hard, spinning them like a top, which sends Tamusk flying. We don’t see him land, or crash or whatever happened to him immediately after being flung across the room by his perceived enemy. Instead we cut to him sitting on the floor, dejected, his face in his lap. I really do feel bad for the guy. At least he was dressed when he got teleported 1,000 years in the future. He could have been in the bath at the time. Imagine being naked in addition to every trauma he’s been through today. Orko asks if he’s OK, and Tamusk takes offense, because he’s no wimp. As the statue continues to spin, it shrinks into the sand. He-Man explains that the sand is wearing the statue away. Tamusk realizes that He-Man has saved his life, and advises that, by his code, he is now He-Man’s slave. Does He-Man have one of those Staples easy-buttons, because that was easy.
Now that he’s He-Man’s slave he calms down and listens for a minute. He-Man explains that yes, Tamusk really is in the future, and his family is just fine, back in the past. That is, unless his mortal enemies, the Zilcons, have raped and pillaged his kingdom in his absence. Now that everyone is friends they logically walk through how to get Tamusk back. He-Man has him stand exactly where he was when he appeared. Tamusk grabs He-Man’s hand is like, “Thanks, bro. Solid.” He-Man asks if he’s ready to go as he awkwardly slips his hand away. Tamusk agrees that he is, but blatantly doubt’s He-Man’s ability to move the crank. Some slave this guy is, back talking his muscle-bound master.
I thought I was done with gifs for this episode, but then He-Man turns the crank and I just had to make a gif out of it. At least he didn’t grunt, “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” while he was doing it. Actually, I take that back, he did grunt amusingly, just not the word “yeah” on repeat. As Tamusk begins to disappear, he calls back to He-Man, “Oh, and hey, I’ll think about that whole ‘not fighting unless you have to’ idea you had. I’ll totally think about it.” You know, it’s possible that He-Man just fucked Eternia’s past up and changed the present. What if Tamusk softens up and the Zilcons conquer him, irreparably altering Eternia’s past and future in a way that King Randor never even becomes king and He-Man never exists? If Skeletor bothered to show up for an episode every once in a while, he might have conquered Eternia in that scenario. I guess it’s a good thing for them that there isn’t any continuity on this show!
In an unexpected twist, while the portal is still open, Orko throws the magic club though the portal after Tamusk and something strange happens. There are suddenly electric bolts cracking everywhere out of the portal, and He-Man looks panicked. He surmises that throwing the magic club into the portal overloaded it. Now the whole temple is coming down around them. He-Man and Orko jump on their trike and high tail it out of there. Orko hopes that Tamusk made it back okay, and He-Man assures him that according to history, he ruled fairly and peacefully. Whew! That was close.
Back at the palace, King Randor is trying to wrap his head around the whole time travel thing, which doesn’t work out well for him as a display of intellect. Then Orko makes a total ass of him by changing King Randor into a costume like Tamusk wore, then into a bunch of other humiliating things, culminating in a large version of Orko’s outfit. I can’t understand how this doesn’t end up with King Randor ordering Orko to be beheaded, but it doesn’t. Instead, King Randor laughs, perhaps not realizing what a sucker Orko just made out of him. I’ll never understand why they keep him around when he just blows up in their face time and time again.
Time for this week’s moral! I think it should be about how Quantum Leap was a far better 80s show about time travel. I’ve been rewatching it, and it’s rather timeless. Well, except for Al’s clothes. There was never an excuse for those. Anyway, He-man came pretty well before Quantum Leap which premiered in 1989 and ran for five seasons. Who knows, maybe that show was inspired to make better of a half baked premise from a He-Man episode? He-Man comes on screen and says, “Wouldn’t it be cool to travel in time? Well, you can’t. So read a fucking book, it’s about as close as you’re going to get in the 1980s.”
He-Man murder count:
Season 1: 19
Season 2: 2
Episodes missing Skeletor:
Season 1: 28
Season 2: 14
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam
Alan Oppenheimer: King Tamusk
Linda Gary: Teela, Queen Marlena
Lou Scheimer: Orko, King Randor