Welcome to season 1, episode 3 of the re-imagined world of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Episode 2 ended with Prince Adam and the gang facing onerous odds, only to be saved at the last moment by his long lost Uncle Keldor.
1. Duncan, a work in progress
This incarnation of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe continues to develop their characters in a way that adds compelling definition to traditionally flat characters, such as Duncan a.k.a. Man-at-arms. His journey is defined by his need for purpose and belonging. He started off with the bad guys because he didn’t know any better, and now he’s going to have to pay his dues before he feels comfortable with his place. Case in point, he shines in the episode when he helps fashion steel digging claws for Cringer. Then he immediately puts his foot in his mouth by making an off-hand analogy about a leash with the big cat. He apologizes and we know that he’s got a journey to take before he is fully comfortable with his new gang.
2. Such a bad bad guy
Uncle Keldor aka future Skelator is such a cheesy bad guy. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing for this series. The show shines from the fact it wears cheesy moments like a heart on their sleeve. It is meant to be goofy and the bad guys are clearly bad guys. They achieve this by giving the bad guy cliche lines and terrible one-liners. This allows the kiddos to know who is bad and invest more fully into the heroes. In an era where celebrating bad guys in adult television is widely prevalent, it’s a breath of fresh air to celebrate the good guys without being self-conscious about it.
3. Bonk’s great adventure
Each episode seems to give one supporting character a key moment of development, and this episode it’s Krass. We learn that she is traumatized from a terrible crash that killed her father. And the moment when she is trapped in the ship, she is curled up in a ball. Displaying her phobia makes her more human and relatable to kids who might be experiencing anxiety or trauma. And when she summons her courage to stand up and… bonk her head really hard against the door, it’s a heartwarming moment where she rises above her fears to protect her friends.
4. Here goes nothing
The character development in this show is fairly quick, but doesn’t skip the important character-building moments. The episode starts off with Adam laughing off his uncle’s suggestion he is actually a Prince. Later we are treated to the truth of his relationship with his uncle. As a child he held the power sword in defiance against Keldor and remembers the motto “Being a champion means defending those who can’t defend themselves.” In that moment he accepts his destiny as Prince Adam, and more importantly the bodacious He-Man.
5. Blockbuster timing
The action in this episode is tense and filled with big-time excitement. With Adam and Teela trapped under tons of rock “all the rocks” it requires the whole team to work together in unison to make sure nobody dies. Teela is holding up the rocks with the last of her strength. Adam is holding a giant boulder from blocking the door to their ship. And to make it even more intense, Krass has to smash the door open for them to get in before Duncan starts the jets, which will burn them to a crisp. The stakes are high and like a good blockbuster moment, they pull off their escape at the very last second possible. It’s a moment that makes everyone cheer, and suddenly a team is born.