This is it! The episode Skeletor has been waiting for! All he has to do it make sure he’s watching live, or has his VCR properly set – which was harder to do than it should have been – and all his toil and trouble will be over. But seriously, could they really, actually reveal the secrets of Castle Grayskull?? I have a feeling we are all in for something very disappointing here, I really do. After two years of this, I just know to let myself down before the show does it for me. We open on a fire works display, but it’s not the 4th of July they alluded to last episode (because that would be too much continuity).
Orko is really excited about the fireworks until Teela points out that they’re coming from Snake Mountain. Suddenly, the wonder turns to terror as the fireworks turn into burning spiders of shimmering light and rain down upon them. I have to admit, that’s a pretty awesome trick. We’re off to a good start! King Randor steps forward with his sword drawn, as if that’s going to help when they land on him and he’s on fucking fire. King Randor slashes one firework spider and says, “My sword has never run truer.” Prince Adam steps up and says, “I’ll try to keep up with you, father”. As few of the spiders land on the bushes, igniting them, Prince Adam uses the power sword to slash one. Everybody seems to know that he carries that sword around with him, it’s not like he tries to hide it. How the fuck does nobody realize it’s the same sword He-Man uses and that PRINCE ADAM LOOKS JUST FUCKING LIKE HIM.
Orko rolls up his sleeve and tries to remember his rain making spell, which I’m sure will wind up raining down kerosene or something equally as flammable. I was close. He makes it rain literal buckets – wooden ones – which, as they accumulate on the ground will be sure to ignite easily. King Randor decides things are getting too serious (what was your first clue??) and orders Man-At-Arms to go get his “new fire shuttle”. Boy, that’s convenient. Duncan hays he’ll need to make a few tweaks, but it might work. Prince Adam makes the excuse that he’s going to go help Man-At-Arms, but he really just ducks around a corner with Cringer to recycle animation. Cringer tries to sneak off. “Not another step, Cringer.” Prince Adam says just before he draws the power sword. Damn, only three minutes into the episode? That was fast!
In the lab, Man-At-Arms is under his “fire shuttle” making some awful grunting sounds. “Gee, Man-At-Arms, did you hurt yourself?” Orko asks. Yeah, he did, but he tells Orko he doesn’t have time for his bullshit. He slides out from under the fire shuttle and takes off, leaving Orko floating there, stuttering, “but… but…” Out in the courtyard, King Randor and Teela are dipping and dodging firework spiders as all of the shrubbery burns around them. He-Man and Battle Cat show up. “Let’s rain on their parade!” He-Man says. He-Man puts the power sword into one of the burning plants for a while, then sticks it into a water feature, which makes the whole thing steam. One, there’s no way that would make as much steam as it does, but especially not as much as would be needed to put out all these fires; two, I’m pretty sure that just wouldn’t fucking work. There’s no way.
What actually happens is so much more ridiculous. I was right, the steam does NOT put out any fires or extinguish the firework spiders, but rather it rises and makes a cloud. Then He-Man raises the power sword and makes electric bolts discharge from it, which then fly up into the GIGANTIC steam cloud and makes it rain, which DOES put out all the firework spiders and fires. That might just be the dumbest thing that’s ever happened on this show. At Snake Mountain, Skeletor is watching on his table monitor as Man-At-Arms flies all over the sky, blasting the firework spiders to oblivion. So, I’m pretty sure the “fire shuttle” is supposed to be like one of those fire-dusting planes they use on forest fires (remember, Man-At-Arms only invents things that already exist). I’m also pretty sure that it shouldn’t work that way, flying around shooting lasers that blast apart firework spiders. Lasers can’t put out fires, but maybe those are the “modifications” he made.
Skeletor, in a moment of rare clarity, shouts, “I want Eternia! All of it! The entire universe! And, I’m not one step closer than the day I started!” He shakes his fists in the air like he so often does, then slams them on his war room table, bringing his attention back to the table monitor. The monitor just happens to show a dejected Orko floating through the forest, feeling sorry for himself. We cut to Orko’s locale where he floats by a random oil lamp, which is sure to contain a genie or something. Of course, he stops to pick it up. We cut back to Skeletor and you can almost see the light bulb go on above his head as he recognizes an opportunity to exploit.
Back in the forest, Orko says, “If it was magic, I’d rub it like this,” and then he rubs the lamp vigorously. He gives up on it quickly, and tosses it aside. It immediately produces a stereotypical genie, just as I predicted. I SWEAR to you, that although I (likely) saw all of these episodes many times over as the child I revealed to you last week, but have not seen them since then, and do not pre-watch them for my reviews. I rarely even see the title of the next episode ahead of time. In fact, I try not to. If you are new to He-Man Reviewed and have not read through the archives, I watch each episode once, and only once, and I write this as I watch. So, you get my honest, jaded, and raw first impression. I proof read for typos only (I still miss plenty – you try proofreading your own work!), and do not edit for content based on my new familiarity with the episode. Scout’s honor.
Strangely, the genie sounds EXACTLY like Skeletor. It must be – even though Orko seems to have found the lamp before Skeletor decided to exploit Orko’s dejection – because he immediately tells Orko that his friends all think he’s a piece of shit. “Be honest,” he says, “Wouldn’t every one be better off if you had never come to Eternia?” I have to agree. Finally somebody on the show said it. Even if it is a genie that is probably Skeletor in disguise, it doesn’t make it any less true. The genie opens the “dimension portal”, and says, “It’s a pleasure to serve someone smart enough to know his friends don’t really want him here.” Orko agrees, saying that Man-At-Arms thinks he’s a piece of shit. Falling for it, Orko decides that he is better off going back home to Trolla. “I sure had a nice time. Sorry I messed things up,” he says to nobody before he goes through the portal. It made my cold heart happy to see him so sad.
Disappointingly, just as Orko moves into the portal, Zoar the falcon swoops in and grabs him. Even though they actually fly through the portal, which is probably just due to poor animation, she doesn’t actually teleport. Instead, Zoar swoops upward and flies to safety with Orko. The genie rips off the whole skin on his upper body, revealing Skeletor, just as I predicted. He is so fucking obvious, it’s no wonder he gets thwarted every time. At least he’s seems to be in more episodes this Season than in Season 1. I’ll have to calculate the percentage down in the “Episodes missing Skeletor” tracker. Orko and Zoar land in a cave, and she changes back into the Sorceress. Orko is kind of pissed. He’s like, that genie was about to take me home, and you all think I’m a fucking douche. What gives?
Well, yeah, the Sorceress says, but just because someone is mad at you doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. Let me show you, she says. I have a feeling that she is definitely NOT about to reveal the “Secret of Grayskull”. The Sorceress conjures her big screen TV and shows Orko the first time he did his “egg trick” which, of course, resulted in eggs on Man-At-Arms’ head, which then leads to Duncan shouting some nasty things and grounding Orko. However, after Orko leaves, Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms agree that having Orko around is a nice break from reality. In the present, Orko is tickled pink by this, and I realize that we will never be fucking rid of him. It’s like if Scooby-Doo had Scrappy-Doo in it from the beginning, or the Flintstones with Kazoo in it from the start. He-Man opened with a “jump the shark” character (Orko), whereas these other series developed that character later. I’d have just killed myself at age 5 and spared me the agony of life if all that were true.
Bafflingly, Orko still isn’t convinced that he’s wanted, so the Sorceress shows him another flash back. This time, it’s from when Prince Adam and Cringer got lost in the swamp and wind up discovering Orko for the first time (Season 1 Episode 18). Except, the way they show the clip, it comes across like Orko’s presence was just incidental to the whole thing. Then the Sorceress goes too far when she suggests that without Orko, there would be no He-Man. You’re over the line, Donnie! I’m marking it! Finally, Orko decides that he is important, and the Sorceress says that sometimes lives touch each other, or something like that. Orko says, that he wishes the genie had told him all this. The sorceress has to break it to the dipshit that the genie was actually Skeletor.
Back out in the Emerald Forest, Orko is talking to himself about how he found out who his friends really are. “And who they aren’t!” says a voice that Orko should have earlier recognized as Skeletor’s. Orko whirls around to see Skeletor backed by Clawful, Trap Jaw and Kobra Khan. Clawful easily captures Orko before he can fly away, which is pretty pathetic, because Clawful wasn’t that close to him to begin with. Skeletor demands to be told the “secrets of Castle Grayskull”, as if Orko even really knows anything about it. Orko’s response is that no one knows the secret of Grayskull. Skeletor lowers his expectations quickly and simply asks how to get past the drawbridge. Skeletor uses the magical equivalent of sodium pentothal and Orko just opens right up and tells him that he has to answer the drawbridge’s riddle, which sounds to me like a totally new thing the writers made up just for this episode.
At Castle Grayskull, Skeletor has arrived in a straight up rocket ship, which doesn’t make much sense, and he’s parked it right on the front steps. You’d think since He-Man “lives” there, that Skeletor would try to at least go unnoticed for as long as he can. Especially because answering a riddle is a pretty quiet way to get into the castle in the first place. “Tell me a riddle!” Skeletor shouts out to the drawbridge. The door flaps as it asks, “What goes through this door, yet never enters and never leaves Castle Grayskull”. Skeletor has the doped up Orko in the rocket ship and asks him what the answer is. Orko drawls that it’s the keyhole – it goes through the door, but never enters or leaves. Yes, of course! Skeletor repeats the answer, then says, “Now, open up!” Sure enough, the door just drops right open. You don’t even need a key to get in, you just tell the door it has a keyhole, and it opens right up. Slut.
Just as Skeletor is proclaiming that nothing can stop him, a blue and orange tornado appears in the doorway. It’s so frightening to them that Kobra Khan’s hood flaps open out of fright. How embarrassing! As you might have guessed, it’s the Sorceress, and she puts her hand up and says, “Stop, Skeletor, I don’t know how you managed to open the drawbridge, but you still can’t get into Grayskull without facing me”. Does she really not know how he opened the door? This seems like a loophole she should be aware of. I mean, Orko knows about it, why doesn’t she seem to? Skeletor tells his cronies not to be scared because she can’t do anything to them. The Sorceress laughs and calls Skeletor an idiot.
Before she can try anything, Skeletor tells her to take a look above his head. The Sorceress looks up with a sort for smug expression on her face, until she sees Orko. Orko seems to have recovered from his stupor because he rowdily shouts at the Sorceress to disregard his well being and fuck Skeletor’s shit up. Instead, the Sorceress immediately concedes and asks what Skeletor wants in exchange for Orko’s release. I have to agree with Orko, he’s not worth it. Skeletor demands to be escorted into the castle. Orko warns her not to do this, but the Sorceress just ignores him and agrees. She either has a trick up her sleeve, or she hates Orko as much as I do. She tries to negotiate Orko’s release before escorting Skeletor inside, but instead Skeletor orders her to be chained, so she doesn’t pull anything funny. As Skeletor’s goons move on her, she sends out a telepathic call for help to Prince Adam.
Prince Adam is reading a book in his room, however unlikely that might seem, and literally falls out of his chair when the Sorceress’ voice goes echoing through his head. She catches him up to the situation, then Prince Adam stands up and recycles animation all over his room. Then, suddenly, he’s sprinting across a big empty room in the palace. I really don’t understand how he just appeared in another room when the recycled animation sequence was over. He-Man mounts up on Battle Cat, who roars loudly, and rides off. Seriously, nobody notices this? The animation sequence is quite loud, not to mention Battle Cats roars, and apparently it’s going off both in Prince Adam’s room and then, inexplicably, right in the middle of a large, empty hall in the Royal Palace, and nobody notices. Anyway, off he rides to save the day.
Back at Castle Grayskull, Trap Jaw and Clawful are taunting Orko, threatening to blast his rocket off to space. Orko taunts them right back. Man, he really has a death wish today, doesn’t he? Clawful asks Trap Jaw if he’s really going to do it, but Trap Jaw’s getting cold feet about it. “You think I should?” he says, “Skeletor promised the Sorceress…” Clawful retorts, “You know Skeletor never keeps his promises”. Isn’t that sort of a promise in and of itself? You can always count on Skeletor to never keep his promises. He-Man shows up, but not before Trap Jaw pushes the button to launch Orko off into the unending cosmos. Hooray!
The rocket ship actually makes it a pretty good ways off the ground before He-Man, who was standing just down below the walkway when it launched, takes any action. He-Man leaps up in the air, even though by now there’s no way he could jump that high, even if he is He-Man, and easily grabs onto a fin. Orko tells He-Man to let go before they get too far into space. You know, I, for one, think it’s high time that someone listened to Orko for once. He’s making a lot of sense. Down below, Trap Jaw and Clawful are pretty pleased with themselves and can’t wait to tell Skeletor that they got rid of both Orko AND He-Man.
He-Man may be on his way into orbit, but Battle Cat is still down on the ground, and he’s out for blood. “Uh oh, He-Man’s cat!” Clawful says. They both take off running, but it turns out he’s chased them right into Castle Grayskull, and I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing. Up in the stratosphere, He-Man is waxing nostalgic with Orko, asking if he remembers how he used to make him fly as a boy. Orko does. He-man wants to know if he can do it again, and Orko’s sure he can, if He-Man can get him out of the rocket. I’m pretty sure that He-Man weighs a hell of a lot more now than he did when he was a young boy, and, plus, Orko’s magic sucks, so again I say that the better plan was to just let Orko blast off into fucking space. There is no God, not in a world where you can’t get rid of Orko.
He-Man smashes the glass and they both plummet back down to Eternia. Just as I was about to say that I don’t see any floating going on, He-Man grabs the bottom of Orko’s dress-shirt thing, which then inflates like a parachute. Not that it’s believable at all in the first place, but I would have thought it would cause Orko’s hat to pop off, but whatever. On his way down, He-Man telepathically speaks back to the Sorceress – who is chained up inside the castle – to let her know he’s on his way. I’m not even kidding, she tells him not to hurry, because she’s got this. You see, inside the castle, the Sorceress says, she’s way more powerful than Skeletor. What? Then why did she call him in the fucking first place?! It better not have been for the sole purposes of saving Orko!
The Sorceress asks Skeletor if he wants to witness the power of Castle Grayskull. Without waiting for a reply, she breaks her chains. Skeletor’s like, “You dumb bitch. Now I’m going to blast Orko off into space!” Just then, Trap Jaw and Clawful come running in. Clawful totally throws Trap Jaw under the bus and tells Skeletor that Trap Jaw blasted Orko off into space. Trap Jaw counters that he only did it because Clawful told him to. I don’t know why any of it matters to Skeletor anyway, because this is what Skeletor was just threatening to do. It doubly doesn’t matter because the Sorceress knows that Orko is safe already. The Sorceress spreads her wings and begins reciting an incantation.
Skeletor’s goons wisely advise him to flee. Skeletor, stubborn as ever, insists that his magic can take her. Then the gargoyle above the window begins to come to life and flap its wings, or ears, or… wing-ears. Whatever it’s flapping, it’s enough to spook Skeletor, because now he agrees that fleeing sounds like a great plan. The Sorceress, instead of using her magic to detain Skeletor until He-Man comes inside to arrest him, offers to help them out. She helpfully fires magic blasts at Clawful and Trap Jaw as they run for the door. When they reach it, the two skulls on it growl at them and start melting, which scares them off.
Skeletor only walks at a casual pace as he searches for the way out. He finds an archway and figures it’s the way out. That is, until the skull above the door comes to life, which terrifies him, even though it’s pretty much just like looking in a mirror. All running in terror, Skeletor and his goons all run into each other, crashing to the floor. Skeletor begs to be let out. The Sorceress decides to stop fucking with him and agrees to let them out, and again I’m wondering why she doesn’t detain them for He-Man to arrest. They are all guilty of serious crimes, and she’s just going to let them walk. The way she does this infuriates me, because she actually traps them in some stalagmites first, which made it seem like maybe she was going to detain them. Instead of capturing them she says good-bye and levitates the enclosure right the fuck out of there.
Outside, the draw bridge opens and He-Man, Orko, and Battle Cat all watch as the capsule goes floating out of the castle. It crashes not far away, causing Skeletor to get stuck in a tree. “What idiot started this whole thing, anyway?” Skeletor demands to know. His goons, who are not trapped in a tree, helpfully stand up and shout in unison, “You did!” Skeletor disputes their accusation, and they all say, again in unison, “You did too!” Skeletor is in denial and refuses to believe it. He-Man says, “Well, it looks like the Sorceress taught Skeletor a lesson”. The Sorceress comes to the window and says, “The secrets of Grayskull are safe, and even more important, so is Orko”. Puuuuuuuke.
In one of those pre-moral morals they seem to like to do this season, Orko announces that he’s learned something. He claims he’s never going to doubt whether his friends really like him ever again (I doubt his resolve), even if it seems like they hate him (meaning he’s never leaving, ever). What’s more, he has an idea for a new magic trick, one he thinks even Man-At-Arms will like, and he wants to go right back to the Royal Palace to show him. He-Man sagely says, “Haven’t you had enough trouble for one day, little buddy?” Shit, man, he’s had enough for a lifetime, and half the trouble He-Man’s gone through has been triggered directly due to something Orko did.
Time for this week’s actual moral! I think it should be about how I’m not surprised that the secrets of Castle Grayskull were not revealed, even to me, a loyal viewer. Look at that photo of me from last week. I’ve been a lifelong He-Man fan, and I still have no idea what’s going on. What I am surprised about is that the episode actually ended up being about Orko! What upsets me the most is that he tried really hard to free us from his presence – really hard – and yet we’re still stuck with him. Despite their claims, nobody likes Orko, and instead of letting him go, they constantly go out of their way to make him think they want him want him around. How many times has this happened – Orko has a moment of clarity, realizes he sucks, feels all sorry for himself, and then everyone bends over backwards to soothe him. He’s so needy, I can’t stand it. For the real moral, Man-At-Arms comes on screen and pretends to like Orko some more, and all he gets in return is a fucking bucket on his head. Chump.
He-Man murder count:
Season 1: 19
Season 2: 2
Episodes missing Skeletor:
Season 1: 28 (43%)
Season 2: 16 (41% to current)
Wow, I guess he’s pretty on target as compared to last season!
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam
Alan Oppenheimer: Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Cringer, Battle Cat
Linda Gary: Teela, The Sorceress
Lou Scheimer: Orko, Trap Jaw, Kobra Khan, Clawful, King Randor