A bitter rose is just as bitter as a rose by any other name, I’m sure. The question is, is it more bitter than I am, sitting through yet another episode of this nonsense? Actually, I’m looking forward to this tonight. It’s a welcome break from reality this week – I realize the publishing of this blog is on Mondays, but that’s not when I start writing these episodes, so I’m still stuck slogging through the week prior right now. Anyway, the mind-numbing qualities of this show are sometimes actually good for something! We open on the Royal Palace where Man-At-Arms and Orko are proudly – a little too proudly – presenting a painting to the King and Queen.
The painting is of the legendary “Bitter Rose”. It’s a little bit better than if a fourth grader made it. The legend is that the Bitter Rose was formed from the tears of a goddess. She climbed Rose Mountain every day looking for her husband to return from “the war”. When he never came back she cried so much her tears poured into the ground. One day she too disappeared and now this rose is the only thing that grows on Rose Mountain, right in the place where she last stood. It’s unclear if any roses actually grew on Rose Mountain before, or if it only came to be known as Rose Mountain afterward. Queen Marlena loves the gift, but I’m surprised to find out that Dree Elle is there when she starts bawling because the story and painting are “just so beautiful”.
If you’ll recall, Dree Elle is Orko’s “girlfriend” from Trolla, but usually she stays in Trolla because I don’t really think she likes Orko all that much. Clearly, as “beautiful” as she finds the story to be she’s incredibly saddened by it, and floats out of the room, sniffling. Now Orko is all bummed and will probably do something really stupid to try and make her happy again. Justifying my fears, Cringer, not very helpfully, suggests he could do a magic trick. Orko thinks that’s a great idea, but then Cringer says, “But your magic never works,” then makes a snide, cringing grin like people often do when they wait for the fall out of their set up. Sick burn! Slap me some paw, Cringer.
Orko throws out another idea or two, which also get shot down by Cringer, then they decide to go to lunch. As they mosey to the cafeteria, or wherever they get lunch at the Royal Palace, Orko whines about wanting to get Dree Elle something as beautiful as the Bitter Rose. Cringer absent-mindedly says, “There’s nothing more beautiful than the Bitter Rose, it’s perfect.” Orko says, “That’s it!” and flies off, to Cringer’s confusion. You see what a shit Orko is? For his own personal, selfish reasons, he’s going to go steal the legendary, one-of-a-kind Bitter Rose to give it to his stupid girlfriend, who is clearly only here to serve as the catalyst for a dumb Orko-centric plotline. Finally, after Orko’s gone, Cringer realizes what he’s just done.
Out on the desolate, barren Rose Mountain, Orko is fantasizing about Dree Elle planting the Bitter Rose in a window where she can look at it all the time when he quickly comes upon the ledge where the rose grows. When he reaches for it, it quickly darts into the crack it rests in, out of Orko’s reach. He backs off a little and the Bitter Rose peeks back out, as if watching him. He tries to act all nonchalant, like he’s not going to try and make a grab at it again, and puts his hands behind his back and whistles as he does what passes, for a creature that can float, as milling about. When he makes a dive at it again, the rose easily avoids him by sucking back beneath the ground again. “And I thought this was gonna be easy,” Orko says, his eyes dazed and crossed.
He tries to reason with the rose. He tells the Bitter Rose that it’ll like it where he’s taking it. There’s more to look at, and Dree Elle with love the rose. It actually works, and the rose rises up and nuzzles against Orko. He plucks it and flies off. As he flies away, the whole mountain begins to quake, triggering an avalanche, which is definitely not good. The moth men who reside at the bottom of Rose Mountain take notice and discover that Orko has taken the Bitter Rose. They’re pretty fucking pissed. One of them goes to try and recover the rose while the other goes to warn the council.
In the council chambers, all the members are gathered, and their leader confirms that they’re fucked without the rose – the whole mountain will crumble. I’m confused because these aren’t moth men, they are some kind of insect race. The council Shaman pretty much says there’s nothing they can do but wait for the Bitter Rose to be recovered. His advisor implores that there must be something or someone that can help stop Rose Mountain from crumbling and crushing them. Well, there is one person that might be able to help, the Shaman says, and I know he’s talking about He-Man.
Which is why I’m surprised when we cut to Snake Mountain – though we don’t know yet if the council leader was referring to Skeletor or not. Just as Skeletor is wondering what all the infernal rumbling is about, Rose Mountain appears on his wall monitor, alerting the villain to the fact that it’s crumbling. Garth (yes, remember Garth? I wondered if that was him – then I went back and checked out Season 1 Episode 55 and remembered that Garth was one of the insect people, then turned into a moth man) is searching for something, Skeletor notices, then discovers with Orko with the Bitter Rose. Skeletor implies that what Orko has done is foolish, but that he’s pleased, and if he had known that stealing the rose would actually make the mountain fall, as according to legend, he’d have done it long ago. “Looks like it’s moving time for the insect people!” Skeletor cackles. He orders Beast Man and Trap Jaw to go steal the rose from Orko before Garth can get it and put it back.
In Man-At-Arms’ lab, Prince Adam wanders in just as Man-At-Arms is saying, “If this works, it could mean and endless food supply”. I admit, I scoffed. In keeping with his tradition of inventing things that already exist, he’s standing in front of what looks like a film developer, and invites Prince Adam to witness his newest experiment. He uses it to blast a seed from the chicoberry, which turns it into a fully ripened fruit. Prince Adam thinks thats swell. Man-At-Arms admits most of the time it goes wrong, but doesn’t elaborate on what that means, exactly. I’m having images of David Cronenberg’s brilliant remake of The Fly, in which things explode when the teleporter goes wrong.
Teela enters with Dree Elle and they ask if anyone has seen Orko. No sooner has she reached the lab table when the alarm sounds. Teela announces that it’s a “phase one alert” and orders everyone to the front of the palace. Out in the courtyard, Garth has arrived, he’s quite out of breath. Even if he flew a ways, it seems like a creature that is made to fly shouldn’t be out of breath from flying. Do humming birds get out of breath? Garth fills in them in on the sitch’, but it’s Cringer that spills the beans that Orko was the one who took the rose, even though Garth already knows this, because he saw him with it. Man-At-Arms tells Prince Adam to “find He-Man” and Teela goes to get the wind raider. Prince Adam pats Cringer’s head and says, “Come on, Cringer, let’s go ‘find’ He-man.”
After some ample animation is recycled, He-Man rides off on Battle Cat. He arrives at the insect village as rocks are tumbling down upon it and the villagers run in terror. He finds a very conveniently placed pile of logs and begins throwing them so that they stick vertically, creating a wall to protect the village. It’s what one could call a prophylactic measure. Snicker. He really goes it for a long time, there is lapsed shot after lapsed shot of He-Man throwing logs, some of them head-butted by Battle Cat like this is a sand volleyball game.
Man-At-Arms cruises by in the wind raider Teela fetched. He plans to use the lasers to melt the upper rock where the boulders are coming from. Teela playfully asks to be let out so she can “get some exercise”, which seems like a pretty lackadaisical attitude for jumping into the middle of a rock avalanche. None-the-less, she jumps out and starts swatting boulders with her sword. Down below, as rocks pile up against the wall He-Man made, he uses another of the logs to bat away boulders like he’s Babe Ruth. “Home run, He-Man,” Battle Cat says. Man-At-Arms blasts the rocks, melting them a bit, which, “holds them off” long enough for him to land and confirm that the Bitter Rose is definitely missing.
Elsewhere, Orko is flying along with the Bitter Rose, looking mighty sad. I really don’t know how Garth didn’t catch up with him, because he literally saw him leaving with it. Orko was not that far ahead of him. Orko is conflicted because he feels like he should tell He-Man about the avalanche, but he’s feeling weak and also needs to rest. Beast Man and Trap Jaw are tailing him in the buzz saw vehicle that I’ve already forgotten the name of. They freeze Orko and capture him, and speak-of-the-devil, Garth, despite his detour to the royal palace, has caught up and witnesses this. He hides behind a rock in order to evade detection while he watches them fly off to Snake Mountain.
Back at the base of Rose Mountain, He-Man is like, dude, are we done here? “NO!” shouts the shrill Shaman, “The legend says that if the rose is picked, the mountain will become angry, and it will crumble!” Indeed, the mountain cracks some more and more rocks begin to tumble, He-Man rushes to stop them. He-Man and Battle Cat nearly get smushed between a giant boulder and the wall he built. Before he throws the boulder off of them, He-Man says, “Of all the problems we’ve come up against, the force of Mother Eternia is one of the greatest!” Yeah, well, I wouldn’t exactly call a legendary mountain that crumbles when a single rose growing from a non-structural precipice is picked a “force of Mother Eternia”. Also, as I’ve pointed out in the past, He-Man’s meddling with “Mother Eternia” would have quite serious consequences. Like when he threw the moon out of orbit.
At Snake Mountain, Trap Jaw is having difficulty prying the still frozen Bitter Rose from the still frozen grasp of Orko. You know, I’m pretty sure freezing a rose would kill it. Anyway, he wanders off to go find Beast Man to help him get the rose loose. When he does, Garth pops his head out from his hiding place, but Beast Man quickly comes in with a hose. He sprays Orko, which melts the ice. Orko tries to use his magic, but it’s not working very well. He only teleports a short distance and Beast Man and Trap Jaw are gaining on him. Garth opens the door he happens to be behind, grabs Orko and escapes. As they fly away, Garth says they have to return the rose to the mountain, and it’s only now that he realizes what he’s done. Never mind that the whole idea of stealing a legendary rose was wrong, whether or not it was going to cause a mountain to collapse.
Before long, Beast Man and Trap Jaw are giving chase, shooting lasers. Orko keeps feeling really tired and is having trouble keeping up. Garth explains that this means the rose is still alive and that it’s draining his energy to stay that way. Garth offers to carry Orko and takes him under his arm. Screen wipe later, Garth and Orko happen to catch up with Man-At-Arms and Teela as they cruise around on the wind raider. Of course Trap Jaw and Beast Man have caught up, not that they were probably ever left in Garth’s dust as he flapped his moth wings and carried Orko. They start shooting, trying to hit the engine, but instead, they accidentally hit the fucking Bitter Rose. Beast Man is pretty worried about what Skeletor is going to do to them.
“Oh no, now I’ve ruined everything!” Okro says. Garth stares in horror and says, “The only thing that would patch up Rose Mountain and it’s gone forever.” With a little too much zest, Orko says, “A one of a kind original”. What a fucking dick. I could punch him in the face for that fucking remark. However, it gives Man-At-Arms an idea. “Quick, back to the laboratory,” he says, “Garth, you fly back to the village and tell He-Man we’ll be along shortly.” Before we cut back to the lab, I’m subjected to just a little more of Orko’s idiocy when he says, “What’d I say? What’d I say?”
Back in Man-At-Arms’ lab, he’s preparing to do exactly what I thought he was going to do, which is to use his film developer, or Match-O-Rator, as he calls it to fix the Bitter Rose. He explains that it might stimulate the rose’s natural growing ability. “Well,” he says, “here goes… everything!” Orko hold his hands together prying for this to work. After the rose has been blasted with a red beam for a while, it doesn’t seem to have worked. Just then, Dree Elle comes floating in and sees the Bitter Rose.
Orko explains what he did for her. “I tried to do something nice, and I ruined everything,” Orko says. Doesn’t that pretty much describe most of the episodes of this show? Dree Elle picks up the rose and presents it to Orko. She tells him that he mustn’t blame himself because he stole a priceless legend with only goodness in his heart. Suddenly the Bitter Rose starts glowing as it comes back to life. Turns out The Beatles were right, “All You Need is Love”. Although, I don’t think they had larceny in the name of love in mind when they wrote that song.
Over at Rose Mountain, He-Man is tiring has he continues to throw boulders aside. The council leader spots an incoming wind raider and shouts, “They’ve got it! They’ve got the rose!” We screen wipe to the wind raider, already landed on the precipice where the rose was, though it looks much bigger now, so maybe it is a different spot. Who cares. Orko floats over with it and hands it to He-Man who takes it and buries it. “Well, that should do it, once and for all,” He-Man says as he packs some dirt in around it.
As Orko is apologizing to the council leader, Rose Mountain starts to quake again. “Oh no! Not again!” Battle Cat snarls. Teela shouts out about the rose, which suddenly glows and then erupts in a blinding flash of light. Rather predictably, it transforms back into the godess that turned into the Bitter Rose in the first place. You might not be surprised to learn that she’s a hot redhead, because pretty much every woman on this show is. I’m not complaining, I have a bit of a thing for redheads.
Dree Elle touches Orko’s face and says, “Now you’re in real trouble”. Except you know he’s not. If love saved the rose, and this woman has been a rose for all this time out of sadness over her lost lover, she didn’t turn back into a hot, smiling red head because she’s mad. Orko asks if she’s going to punish him. “Of course not, she says, I’d like to thank both of you”. You see, she’s been a prisoner of her love’s sorry for so long, that she was bitter and refused to let anything grow on the mountain. Because Orko chose her as “a gift of true love”, she is now “free and fulfilled”. The Rose Godess gives Dree Elle the rose she’s holding as a token of gratitude.
Suddenly, Rose Mountain is covered with rose bushes, and the top of the mount itself is a giant rose. “It’s a blessing from the Rose Goddess!” the Shaman shouts, his arms rapturously raised to the sky. Suddenly, the Rose Goddess disappears. “Now that the mountain has grown flush, your people will be free from avalanches”, Man-At-Arms says to Garth. Dree Elle whispers in Orko’s ear, probably about all the nasty things she’s going to do with him tonight. Orko takes the rose to the Shaman and says that they should keep it, even though the have fucking mountain full of them now. The Shaman proclaims that they shall always remember “The Legend of the Rose”, which seems like it would be pretty hard to forget since the once barren mountain they used to live under is now covered with roses.
Suddenly, Dree Elle begins to bawl, probably thinking about all the nasty things she promised to do with Orko tonight, finally coming to the horrific reality of what she’s done. Orko asks her what’s wrong and she claims that she just loves happy endings, but I’m pretty sure she’s doesn’t and she’s referring to the “happy ending” she promised Orko. Everyone has a pretty hearty laugh thinking about her tugging and chugging Orko’s amputee elf cock later while she sobs audibly. Not referring to Dree Elle, Orko says, I know somebody who doesn’t think this is a happy ending.
We cut to Beast Man and Trap Jaw who are painting a red rose pink to try and pretend it’s the Bitter Rose. Why they didn’t just get a pink rose, I’m not sure. Skeletor appears and demands the rose. He tries to smell it, which is kind of surprising since he doesn’t have a nose and because roses smell nice. Well, this is the Bitter Rose, so who knows. It gets pink paint all over him. This does not make Skeletor happy, and he tries to run Beast Man and Trap Jaw over with a vehicle.
Time for this week’s moral! You probably expect me to go on a rant about how Orko should be drawn and quartered, his animated amputee elf guts splattering all over the TV screens of impressionable young kids because he’s a such a shit, instead of ending up being rewarded for an egregious act of larceny. You’d be right, normally I would, but I think I’ve had enough bitterness for this week. Instead, I’m just going to say again that redheads are some sexy, sexy creatures, and I’d take their “rose” anytime. Man-At-Arms fades in to tell us that Orko suspected what he was doing was wrong (no, he didn’t) and that if you’re ever in doubt about your actions, you probably shouldn’t do them. This is such a bullshit moral, because Orko wasn’t reprimanded or punished at all. In fact, everybody made excuses for him and in the end his behavior was rewarded, and his act of theft ended up saving the day. Total. Fucking. Bullshit.
He-Man murder count:
Season 1: 19
Season 2: 2
Episodes missing Skeletor:
Season 1: 28
Season 2: 16
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Beast Man, Garth
Alan Oppenheimer: Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Cringer, Battle Cat, Shaman
Linda Gary: Teela, Queen Marlena, Dree Elle
Lou Scheimer: Orko, Trap Jaw, Insect Person, Insect People Messenger
Erika Scheimer: The Rose Goddess