Original Air Date: 16th August 2002.
Writer: Dean Stefan
Director: Gary Hartle
And so we reach the final chapter of the three-part MOTU 200X pilot, with the Most Powerful Man in the Universe ™ finally making his appearance by saving Teela from being obliterated by a flaming magmatite directed by Evil-Lyn. From here, the pace picks up rapidly as He-Man heads off to rescue King Randor from the clutches of Skeletor, leading to the first of many conflicts between the two iconic characters.
We also get a rather fun chase sequence, with Mer-Man and some sort of flying fish monstrosity kidnapping Man-at-Arms, and Teela heading off in pursuit on a Disk Rider. One thing these early episodes knew – with a few exceptions along the way – was how to keep things moving, and with multiple conflicts on multiple fronts, that’s exactly what happens here.
One thing that’s worth pointing out is that, for all their dorky ineffectiveness, the Evil Warriors do provide some genuinely chuckle-worthy moments throughout the course of the series, including an absolute gem here between Clawful and Trap Jaw, with the former suggesting an all-out assault on He-Man and the latter – after taking a moment to glance at He-Man literally holding half a mountain above his head – suggesting that he’s welcome to go first.
For all its bombastic action and satisfying heroism, it’s the smaller, character-based moments that really help this episode to land as well as it does. A great example of this is the way He-Man glances down at his fist in surprise as he punches a flaming magmatite out of the sky, helping to remind us that he’s still the same slightly overwhelmed prince behind all the muscles. There’s also more than a little naivety in his first showdown with Skeletor, a dynamic that would gradually shift throughout the course of the series as he became more and more used to his adversary’s tricks.
The showdown between the two is immensely satisfying, foregoing a lot of the twirly-jumpy silliness in favour of a great back-and-forth exchange and some suitably cheesy banter from both parties. Of course He-Man wins the day, which he pretty much always did, but it still does a great job of setting things up between the two – and hopefully hooking any new viewers into this classic conflict in the process.
All in all, The Beginning delivers absolutely everything you could possibly hope for from a He-Man cartoon, and sets the stage for the cracking series to come.
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