I hope this episode is about equal rights! It’s about time Prince Adam came out and fought for side of good in the socio-political arena. Alas, this show was produced in the 80s so it will probably be relegated to some slick innuendo and subtext. Rest assured, I will call it out where I see it! We open on Skeletor, head in hand, either deep in thought, or sad, or… nope, he’s just pissed off. He stands up and yells at his goons about how thin his patience has become, but they get confused, almost willfully, about what he’s trying to say and ask a bunch of stupid questions, which just pisses Skeletor off more. Actually, I can’t tell if they’re truly so dumb, or if they’re just taking the piss. Skeletor sits down and goes back to sulking about how many times he’s failed at taking Castle Grayskull, which Skeletor outrageously claims is only six times.
Beast Man corrects Skeltor, suggesting it’s been seven times, for which he gets zapped. Skeletor explains the first time was only a test. He was just teasing He-Man, so it didn’t count. I haven’t kept count on how many times Skeletor has literally tried to attack Castle Grayskull, but I’m sure it’s more than six or seven. That’s not even including all his indirect attempts to get at Castle Grayskull. Skeletor decides he needs an army because his two dipshit “assistants” and his robot fleet won’t cut it. “Bart, you did have an elephant. His name was Stampy. You loved him.” Seriously? Skeletor just had an army a few episodes ago. A whole goblin army, and he failed! Skeletor decides that the obvious answer is to capture the royal guard and use them as his own army. Yes, this is going to go well for him, I’m sure.
At the Royal Palace, they just so happen to be having some kind of war games ceremony. Trumpets are sounding, and King Randor and Queen Marlena are seated on some thrones on a veranda while Teela and some of the royal guardsmen chase each other around on sky-sleds. One of them, kind of creepily, says “That Teela sure is a stunner!” Which is immediately followed by King Randor saying, also kind of creepily, to Man-At-Arms, “She’s very good. You must be proud.” The impact of the creepiness is softened when Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms innocuously compliment her flying skills. Then King Randor and Queen Marlena have a really weird moment. He looks at her seductively and says, “Does it bring back memories, my dear?” “You know me well, my king”, she says demurely. I don’t know what they’re talking about, and I’m not sure I want to.
Teela gets into trouble and gets zapped a couple of times, giving up points to her opponent. I don’t know if the round is over, or if she just quit in a hissy, but pretty much immediately, she storms onto the balcony. I have no idea how she got there so fast when she was literally just flying in a competition. Prince Adam sincerely compliments her, and she takes it as an insult and jumps down his throat. She complains about losing and Man-At-Arms tells her not to be a sore loser. She tries to blame her loss on the lack of “top gun” on her sky-sled. Queen Marlena good-naturedly offers to tell her about a special maneuver they have on Earth, but Teela rudely brushes her Queen off. Wow, Teela’s really in rare form today! Somebody didn’t eat her weenies, er, I mean Wheaties this morning.
Later, at the Royal Air and Space Museum (I guess), Queen Marlena stands in front of her rebuilt ship. She puts her hand on it and reminisces. King Randor, knowing she’d be there, comes in to interrupt her nostalgia. I think they’re getting turned on by all this military excitement and nostalgia and rocket ships. Sky rockets in flight, afternoon delight! Before Randy Randor can dip his wick, we are treated to a recycled animation trip down memory lane; Queen Marlena, a young astronaut, jerks the joystick of her spacecraft around like a mad woman as she navigates through an asteroid belt. She’s far, far from home and has lost communication with Earth.
She crash lands, at which point we are treated to some new animation, which includes a beardless then-Prince Randor. He runs to the crash site to investigate. Tender music plays while he serenely lifts the unconscious, supple, ginger beauty that lay at his feet. She moans as she comes to, then, pretty immediately gets flirty. She asks of Earth, a knowledge of which Randor denies. He wastes no time inviting her to the palace in which he, the prince, resides. He promises she can return to “her Earth” in a few days, even though he has no idea where it is or how she’ll get back there. Wouldn’t you know it, she goes with him. Then we cut back to the present; “A few days, you said.” A few days turned into decades because she fell in love with her fairy tale prince and foreign land, and forgot about every one she knows and loves on Earth; friends and family who probably think she died in space, and will never know for sure. How romantic!
She speaks fondly of her days as a fighter pilot, which leads Kind Randor to say something ironic about how Skeletor hasn’t attacked in a while. The mention of Skeletor kills any chance of coitus and Queen Marlena requests to be left alone to stroke her “Rainbow Explorer” a little longer. Then she will take a nap instead of joining them for a beach picnic and the jousting event. At Snake Mountain, Skeletor is spying on a wind raider occupied by Man-At-Arms, Prince Adam, Teela, and King Randor. Skeletor wants to capture it, but neither Trap Jaw nor Beast Man get it, because Skeletor wanted to attack and dominate the Royal Guard. It’s so obvious that the capture of this wind raider would make Skeletor’s plan much easier, perhaps even unnecessary, that when these numbskulls continue to misunderstand the plan, Skeletor literally slides to the floor in agony. I actually feel for him. Dealing with dimwits is really, really aggravating.
Near a raging river, which doesn’t really seem like an idea water feature to have a picnic near- sand beach or no – the royal crew have landed and are enjoying comically large picnic sandwiches. Prince Adam is already talking about having seconds. Suddenly, Skeletor’s ship casts a shadow over their picnic. He laughs as they all scramble for cover in the wind raider. Trap Jaw uses the freeze ray to freeze them all. They don’t freeze too fast though, because Teela has time to mutter, “that fiend!”, before she solidifies. Actually, they all continue talking for a few moments, but only to provide unnecessary exposition which serves to explain that it’s a freeze ray and that they can’t move. Thanks for insulting my powers of observation. Even children could follow that sequence of events.
Back at the Royal Place, Queen Marlena is talking to her ship, bidding it goodbye as she resigns herself to her chosen life on Eternia. Just then, a royal guardsman comes in and tells Queen Marlena that the royal court has been abducted by Skeletor, and he has demands; he wants unconditional surrender from the royal palace. Queen Marlena refuses to bend to his will. Things look bleak. Skeletor is rumored to have a whole army of robots. The royal guard is willing to fight, but… they don’t really want to. Queen Marlena’s plan is nearly nonsensical – they should not prepare defenses because Skeletor will be expecting a fight. Instead, they should get every man aloft, idly waiting for the first passer-by. When Skeletor arrives, they can pounce, because Skeletor will not be expecting an attack. That’s really what she said; Skeletor is expecting a fight, but won’t anticipate an attack. Sure.
Once the guardsman leaves to execute is ill-conceived orders, Queen Marlena turns back to her ship and starts talking to it again. This woman has lost her mind. I wonder what the oxygen density of the air on Eternia is compared to Earth? You don’t suppose that it could be lower, and therefore after many, many decades of slowly depriving her brain of the optimum oxygen levels she’s finally had permanent brain damage, do you? Queen Marlena ain’t taking no shit and tells her ship they’re back in the jet-piloting business. She eyes her suit and ship mischievously. Meanwhile, the royal guardsmen are all mounted on their sky-sleds, waiting an unspecified mysterious “lead ship” to guide them.
Queen Marlena jumps into the Rainbow Explorer and, as heroic music plays, uses a rocket to break open a window (seems unnecessary, but okay) so she can fly her ship out of the museum showroom and lead the Royal Guard to victory against Skeletor. I think this is a really bad idea. She obviously hasn’t flown that ship since she crash-landed decades ago. I don’t think flying a complex spacecraft is like riding a bike, exactly. Her guardsmen are on edge as they feel the rumbling of her ship leave the museum. The RainbowThey don’t know what it is, but they know it’s not Skeletor. They decide it’s their lead ship and follow it. What kind of military tactic is this? She seriously couldn’t tell the fleet that she would be leading them in her legendary matrimonial vessel (hey, she married the first alien she saw upon exiting the thing) and had to keep the key part of her plan a mystery for dramatic effect? What’s worse, the fleet, totally in the dark about what is happening, roll the dice and follow the lead of a mysterious ship. Wow. Just, wow.
At Snake Mountain, Skeletor has decided to chain his captives outside for now because there are too many secrets in Snake Mountain for enemy eyes to see. Are you kidding? Every one of these people has been inside Snake Mountain at one time or another, often because Skeletor brings them there, sometimes because they just walked right in. I think he just forgot to put his porn away. Once he gets the palace captured, he decides he will store them in the dungeon of “The Royal Palace of Skeletor”. Teela struggles against her bonds, but King Randor tells her not to bother because the Royal Guard will stop Skeletor. Skeletor surmises that with out a leader, he will be able to dominate them easily. Where does he get this confidence from?! Probably from crystal meth, I’m betting. That would explain why Skeletor doesn’t have a nose.
Suddenly the royal army comes flying along with The Rainbow Warrior leading them. Skeletor squirts his pants when the squadron swoops right over his head. A deft shot from Queen Marlena, the Rainbow Warrior, blasts the cuffs off of Prince Adam, who immediately starts trying to free the others. Prince Adam can’t break the chains, which gives Teela cause to belittle him. Prince Adam runs off to turn into He-Man and try again. You know, because nobody will figure out he ran around a corner and came right back again as He-Man.
Some dramatic aerial battles takes place, which mostly includes hot maneuvers by the mysterious Rainbow Explorer. Teela says, “Nobody, but nobody, can fly like that!” King Randor mumbles, “I know someone who can fly like that.” Oh, yeah? Then how come she hit a meteor and crashed-landed on an alien planet? Also, has Teela never been to the Air and Space museum and seen Queen Marlena’s ship before? I’d image the thing is the stuff of legend – how come nobody seems to recognize it? Actually, Orko recognizes the ship, but it doesn’t seem to matter. He-Man comes back from his transformation and takes out a few of Skeletor’s robots before using his grappling hook on one to get up in the air. Queen Marlena does some of the best joystick-jerking I’ve ever seen as she pilots the Rainbow Explorer, blasting three more of the evil robots out of the sky.
Skeletor is really starting to panic now. He hasn’t made a dent in the Royal Guard, and his robot crew is being decimated. Skeletor orders Trap Jaw, who is flying another ship, to finish this fight. However, He-Man has hauled himself up onto Trap Jaw’s ship and stops him before he even gets started. He-Man hijacks Trap Jaw’s ship and takes off . The Rainbow Warrior continues to perform incredible feats of aerial combat. Teela says, “That’s some pilot”, admiringly watching the mystery ship take out Skeletor’s forces. King Randor says, “I know.” Skeletor was so desperate with this attack on the Royal Guard that he even allowed Beast Man to fly a ship. The guy has no pilot’s license or insurance and flies drunk all the time. Look at him, he’s soused.
Skeletor radios to him, ordering him to take out the Rainbow Explorer, and Beast Man’s actual response is, “Uh, I can’t, Skeletor, I’ve got problems of my own”. The innuendo runs so deep, it’s dizzying. What he’s literally talking about is He-Man, fast on his tail. He-Man uses a weapon mounted on the stolen ship, which is a ram’s skull on a pole that, well, rams. This seems like a highly ineffective weapon for an aerial craft. Yet, He-Man bumps Beast Man’s ship once, and it goes spiraling all topsy-turvy into the horizon. Skeletor is losing his shit, literally filling his underwear up with it to keep his squirts company from earlier.
The episode coming full circle, The Rainbow Warrior aligns her craft into the same position that Teela was in at the beginning of the episode – below and slightly in front of the enemy ship. Teela notices this and panics; she points out that this is the exact thing that happened to her earlier in the episode. Suddenly, the Rainbow Explorer does a sort of “back-flip” so it winds up behind Skeletor’s ship. Queen Marlena blasts the shit out of Skeletor and he goes down. Awww, look at that. Queen Marlena got to show Teela her maneuver after all.
He-Man approaches Skeletor in his crashed ship and says, “You lose, Skeletor!” Skeletor responds, “There will be another time, He-Man!” Then he blasts of in a jet back. I assume that is some kind of ejecting seat, like fighter jets have, but it seems like it would have been wiser to use this before he crashed. Regardless, Skeletor gets away to fight another day. He-Man probably would have just let him go even if he had been caught. Shit, it was only treason Skeletor just committed. That’s a simple civil offence in most countries, right?
The mysterious Rainbow Explorer lands and the mysterious pilot, the Rainbow Warrior gets out. She stands there, hidden by her dark helmet. Teela bum rushes her and gushes, “You’re the best pilot I’ve ever seen.” King Randor steps up awkwardly closely behind the Rainbow Warrior and says, “I give you the most talented pilot Earth has ever produced.” He takes her helmet off, “Your Queen, Marlena,” he says. It’s Teela’s turn to shit her pants. Shamelessly, the scent of her newly soiled pants wafting in the air, Teela asks Queen Marlena if she would teach Teela to fly like that. Memorializing her agreement to teach Teela, the Royal Guard fly over them like they’re a Blue Angel show or something.
Just when I thought the episode was over, there is another scene. Bringing the episode full circle, for the second time, King Randor and Queen Marlena are again seated on their sport-viewing veranda, while Teela is doing back flips on her sky-sled like a champ. However the real point of this scene becomes clear when Prince Adam asks his mother why she only blasted his chains off when Skeletor had them. At first, she plays coy, suggesting that she was only doing her motherly duty by first protecting her son, and simply didn’t have time to free every one. Then something happens that I never expected to occur – she heavily implies that she knows that Prince Adam is He-Man, saying, “I had a feeling you would know what to do.” He tries to interrupt, but she turns to him and says, “Adam, a mother always knows her own son, and what he can do.”
Time for this week’s moral! I think it should be about how if Queen Marlena were really a “Rainbow Warrior”, this episode would have been about equal marriage rights. Queen Marlena admitted that “a mother always knows her own son and what he can do”, so she must know that he’s in the closet. Couldn’t she bend King Randor’s homophobic ear just a bit and get some laws passed? Instead, Queen Marlena and Teela come on screen. Instead of breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience, Teela approaches Queen Marlena as she strokes the Rainbow Explorer some more and thanks her for all the flying lessons. Queen Marlena responds, “Thank you for thanking me Teela. Us old timers like thank yous and we have a lot of knowledge to share, if you youngsters would just fucking listen. Also, we still remember what it’s like to be young, so you don’t have to rub it in.”
He-Man murder count:
Season 1: 19
Season 2: 2
Episodes missing Skeletor:
Season 1: 28
Season 2: 8
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Beast Man
Alan Oppenheimer: Skeletor, Man-At-Arms
Linda Gary: Teela, Queen Marlena
Lou Scheimer: Orko, King Randor, Trap Jaw, Lieutenant, Royal Guard, NASA Control