You know a good band I discovered recently? The Books. I picked up a remaster of their 2005 album Lost and Safe on vinyl because I liked the artwork and enjoyed the preview of the tracks on iTunes. I’m now obsessed with this record. In fact, I think I’ll put it on now… Anyway, you know what’s probably not so great? This episode. There’s no way “The Great Books Mystery” is better than Lost and Safe. “I can’t find The Books, they must be in La Jolla”. As we often do, we open on the Royal Palace. Orko is complaining because he can’t find something. Then Teela tells him he’s an idiot, because, “books just don’t disappear”. I’d like to suggest that, when Orko is around, they probably do.
Man-At-Arms suggests Orko look in the last place he remembers having it, but it’s to no avail; the book is not there. Orko explains that finding it is of the utmost importance because, as it would happen, “it’s a book about unicorns for Prince Adam’s birthday”. Not even I can make that shit up, and I’ve come up with some pretty fucked up interpretations of some of the activity on this show. Oh, hey! What a coincidence, I just had my birthday, as you may have noticed from my birthday post! Well, now that I know this is about a book on unicorns meant for Prince Adam, I can see why they’d devote a whole episode to it. Orko poignantly asks, “Who would steal a book about unicorns?” Let’s find out how great this mystery really is, shall we?
Outside the palace, Teela is giving Prince Adam his “gym lesson”, which involves teaching him how to properly scale a wall with a grappling hook. He looks pretty happy to see Teela climb the rope, but probably not so much because he’s looking up at her ass, as much as, 1) it’s not him doing all that physical labor, and 2) it’s going to be his birthday soon, and so he’s daydreaming about receiving books about unicorns. Even though Teela just finished a repeat rope climbing demonstration, Prince Adam is still not ready to try and suggests that Cringer should. Cringer quickly points out that, despite being nimble, cats do not climb ropes for gym class.
Okay, so Cringer actually babbled for so long about why he doesn’t climb ropes that I spaced off for a minute, and the next thing I know, Prince Adam is recycling animation and turning into He-Man. Before I back it up to see what actually happened, the only thing I can think of is that Prince Adam is so lazy that he turns into He-Man for his turn to climb the rope. What actually happened is as soon as Prince Adam finally takes his turn, we cut to Professor Smallen (remember him?) informing King Randor that all the books in the Royal Library have suddenly disappeared. King Randor asks him if he’s simply not feeling well and misplaced them, as if misplacing entire libraries is a common symptom of the flu.
King Randor accepts the circumstances as fact pretty quickly and calls in distress for Man-At-Arms. Duncan comes running in pretty quickly with Prince Adam in tow. So, it’s an emergency because these books contain all the law and knowledge, as well as all of the scientific discoveries of all of Eternia. I guess without them, everything will fall apart. Prince Adam whispers, “I smell an evil plot”, to Man-At-Arms, who replies, “I think we need He-Man.” Because the King isn’t a total idiot, he’s like, “Speak up! What did you say?” Man-At-Arms shouts, “I said we need to find He-Man!” Prince Adam excuses himself, obviously to go become He-Man, and King Randor says to Man-At-Arms, rather gravely, “I don’t think my son takes this problem seriously”. Ha, ha.
So, that brings me back to the recycled animation. Jesus, I guess I spaced off longer than I thought. I probably shouldn’t watch TV, listen to a record AND watch He-Man all at once, but it’s Shark Week (as I write this, anyway) and the TV is on mute, so fuck it. Orko is getting pretty pissed about his unicorn book getting mixed up in all this mess and tells Teela that he’s going to punch whomever it was that took all these books. Teela agrees to help him investigate, simply for the opportunity to see Orko try to punch something, and also because she found a book by the road this morning, which suggests that the books were carried out and the thief dropped one. Therefore, I would like to see Orko punch the creature strong enough to carry the entire Royal Library all at once.
Out in the desert, in what I’m sure is that lost temple from when the bum turned into a Pharaoh due to a magic scarab, sits a man in a wombat mask or something, bragging to nobody but himself about all the books he just stole. On account of him so strongly resembling a bat, I have to wonder if he can see well enough to read any of them. It doesn’t matter, because his plan doesn’t involve reading them. He figures that because all the books are missing, the people of Eternia will dethrone the King and name Batros, our wombat villain, the new King. Sure, that seems a likely outcome.
I was just thinking that Skeletor wouldn’t show up in this episode when it’s revealed that he’s watching on his table monitor. He decides that this Batros fellow is someone that he should befriend and manipulate. This whole thing is just a set up for an exchange between Skeletor and Beast Man where, by way of making Beast Man feel really stupid (and he is), Skeletor explains that books are more valuable than gold. Remember that, kids. Paris Hilton is worth nothing, because she doesn’t own books. Skeletor then orders Beast Man and Trap Jaw to go bring this Batros to him.
At Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress agrees to help He-Man (when doesn’t she?). She tells him to go to the Temple of the Sun (See? I knew it was the same temple!) , but to be careful, because Batros is in there, and he’s a wily motherfucker. He-Man is familiar with this bloke, and is surprised that he has left “The Dark Side of Eternia”, much less taken up in the “Temple of the Sun”. That does seem like kind of a poor move. The Sorceress suggests that he just needed a change, and, oh, he’s hungry for power.
Out in the desert, Teela and Orko wander along the South road, which the Sorceress just revealed to He-Man leads to the Temple of the Sun. Orko is babbling about the books, when Teela spots the Temple of the Sun. As they always seem to be, they are close enough to it now, that they really ought to have spotted it some time ago. And, yet… Orko gets all excited and figures the books must be in the temple. Teela and Orko enter the Temple, but don’t see any books and quickly get discouraged. Suddenly, a false wall swings around, slipping Teela and Orko into a tunnel.
It’s almost like that scene in Star Wars when they rescue Princess Leia and go down the chute into the garbage water, except they land in books. They’re everywhere, some even tastefully placed on shelves. Teela is in awe of the books and runs her hands over the spines of some of those on the shelves, even verbalizing her affinity. Batros shows up and says that if she likes the books so much, she should marry them, then closes the door, trapping them while he decides how to best cook her flesh later. May I suggest liver with a fava beans and a nice chianti?
Skeletor observes He-Man en route to the Temple of the Sun and has to meddle to ensure that Beast Man and Trap Jaw intercept Batros. He conjures up a cyclone to stop him, but we all know that He-Man can just wind it up with his sword and toss it away. He-Man and Battle Cat get sucked up into it, but easily escape. Getting ever creative in his cyclone killing, He-Man and Battle Cat leap a river chasm, putting it between them and the cyclone. He-Man tosses a large boulder into the river, which splashes the approaching cyclone, turning it into mud. Insert ubiquitous lame quip here. Dramatically, in shadow, He-Man and Battle Cat ride off past the heaping pile of mud and water. That would have been a way better origin for Sandman in Spider-Man 3 than they what they had. It would have been the only good part of the movie.
Teela and Orko have barely lost interest in all the books and started to fret about being captive when Batros comes back and demands they bow before him, or “face the consequences”, which are unspecified. Teela and Orko mock him, but Batros has barely finished uttering, “Why you…”, when Trap Jaw’s clawed hand reaches out and grabs his shoulder and Beast Man comes slobbering into the room. In the friendliest of ways, Trap Jaw puts Batros in a headlock while Beast Man announces that Skeletor wants to see him. As you might imagine, Batros gets pissed and frees himself.
He attacks, and tells them to “get rusted”, but it’s all a sham. Batros shames them for their rude invitation, but admits that he would like an audience with Skeletor. He tells Beast Man to lead the way, and zaps his ass all the way out the door. Trap Jaw lingers so he can give Teela and Orko a hard time, which includes trying to bite Orko. Teela and Orko rather slowly set up a very obvious trip wire with a thick white rope, but Trap Jaw falls for it anyway and trips. Then, he lays there long enough to let them string him over a rafter by his feet. Now Trap Jaw is captured, all because he broke from his orders to bring Batros back to Snake Mountain.
Teela and Orko escape, and resolve to go tell He-Man that Skeletor is mixed up in this whole thing. Teela adds that they must tell him about the books too, which reminds Orko that his unicorn book is in there. He feels compelled to go back for it, but Teela says it’s too dangerous, then immediately agrees to go with him. So they return, and Trap Jaw is just swinging by his feet from the ceiling, shaking his fist at them. Orko makes sure to get really close so Trap Jaw can bite him. Done fucking around, Orko gets to business and quickly finds his unicorn book. They leave with Trap Jaw still swinging. All is well.
At Snake Mountain, Batros has Beast Man by the scruff and makes a stupid quip, which makes Skeletor laugh. Batros brazenly says, “I’ve come because I figured you could serve my purposes”. He really emphasizes the word “my”. Skeletor stands up and immediately, and a no-I-won’t-you-will kind of argument ensues when Skeletor states that it’s Batros that will serve his purposes. Batros tries shooting some lasers at Skeletor and conjures up phantom snakes to writhe at his feet, but Skeletor is not impressed.
Skeletor simply sits back down on his throne and says, “You done?” Batros says, “All right, you talk, I’ll listen.” Skeletor lays it out – Beast Man is an idiot, so he needs a henchman that is smart. Beast Man cowers in the corner. “You have a brain that could warm my heart, if I had a heart”, Skeletor says. Together, they will take Castle Grayskull, and Skeletor will be the ruler of the Universe, so then Batros can be the ruler of Eterenia, if he wants. Awwww. I think Skeletor does have a heart, and a crush on a little wombat from the Dark Side of Eternia named Batros. But, first, Batros has to prove his loyalty by fellating Skeletor. Beast Man continues cowering in the corner, all too familiar with this right of initiation. I could be why he drinks so heavily.
He-Man comes crashing through the wall of the Temple of the Sun, just in time to find Trap Jaw on the floor, having escaped. Trap Jaw takes off, but decides the books are more important. Man-At-Arms comes in on He-Man’s bracelet communicator. Man-At-Arms knows about the books because Teela and Orko are there with him. He hells He-Man that Skeletor and Batros are mounting an attack against Castle Grayskull. He-Man assures them he’ll head right over there. I’m sure it will only take him a few minutes to get there, even though he’s all the way out in the Sands of Time at the Temple of the Sun. I mean, even if Eternia was only the size of our moon…
Outside, Skeletor and Batros are executing Batros’ plan, which also involves Tri-Klops, Mer-Man and Beast Man. Batros uses his powers to make a bridge of stone snakes to ford the moat. Batros tries to get Skeletor to go ahead, but Skeletor doesn’t trust him and won’t turn his back. Before they start to cross, He-Man shows up and spoils their fun. It’s not really clear how he does it, but He-Man leaps over Skeletor and Batros, all the way to the other side, and is now in front of the main entrance. Battle Cat goes after the others. Skeletor pusses out and vanishes.
For some reason, He-Man has walked out on to the stone snake bridge. Batros uses his hand lasers to break it, and He-Man falls into the chasm. He grabs hold of the side before he falls in, where, according to Batros, he will “fall forever”. That’s funny. I thought there was a water moat around the castle. I’ve seen He-Man throw Beast Man into it a few times. He-Man climbs up the side a little, then some how comes up from underneath Batros, lifting the entire rock slab he’s standing on. This, he hurls all the way back to the Dark Side of Eternia. It could land face down and smash Batros to death, but that’s a risk He-Man is willing to take.
At the Temple of the Sun, urgent music plays as Orko and Teela show Man-At-Arms to where the books are. They find them all missing. Man-At-Arms radios He-Man to alert him. He-Man surmises that Skeletor must have come back and taken them, and then we cut to Snake Moutain. He-Man and Battle Cat walk right into the first trapdoor/net combo they can find, which quickly lands them in the bottom of a pit. Skeletor looks down on them and even he seems a little surprised that He-Man “fell” for it. He-Man asks after the books, but Skeletor plays coy.
Skeletor assures He-Man that he’ll be stuck in that net for a long time. It’s made of elastium, the strongest fiber on the planet, and it stretches to, so even He-Man can’t break it. Then, in a fit of hubris, Skeletor volunteers that, of course, he has the books. In fact, they are right below He-Man, but Skeletor is sure that information is of no use to him. He-Man smiles because the net doesn’t extend underneath him, so he knows that he can just smash his way through the floor to the books. Except that’s not what happens. Battle Cat just bites through the net and they are free. He-Man chases Skeletor then confronts him, saying he knew the only way they would get the truth was to get fake-captured and wait for Skeletor to tell them. Skeletor escapes in a burst of flame, which He-Man promptly blows out with his breath. He says they should get the books home.
Then we cut to all the books back on the shelves, which means it’s probably time for Orko to give Prince Adam his unicorn book. Indeed, they are all gathered in the library, standing around a birthday cake when Orko interrupts King Randor – who is talking about books, and not Prince Adam’s birthday – and gives Prince Adam his amazing unicorn book. Prince Adam gawks at it and says excitedly and sincerely, “Oh, my! I’ve been wanting this unicorn book for a long time, thank you Orko! You’re terrific!” Prince Adam blows out the candles, the clichéd single flame left burning. Orko swoops past, extinguishing it, then he nuzzles Prince Adam. It’s kind of strange.
Time for this week’s moral! I think it should be about how this wasn’t so much of a “Great Book Mystery” as a Great Book Heist. I mean, they solved the missing books part of it pretty damn quick. Oh, and it should be about how a unicorn book is the best birthday present ever. Instead, Teela and Orko come on screen and do a little sketch about reading books about lots of different things is good for you, then Orko makes a dumb joke and I get to see Teela laugh that sexy laugh of hers.
He-Man murder count:
Season 1: 19
Season 2: 1
Episodes missing Skeletor:
Season 1: 28
Season 2: 3
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Beast Man Professor Smallen
Alan Oppenheimer: Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Cringer
Linda Gary: Teela, The Sorceres
Lou Scheimer: Orko, King Randor, Batros, Trap Jaw, Tri-Klops