Original Air Date: 22nd November 2002
Writer: Erik Runnels and Lara Runnels
Director: Gary Hartle
Another week, another heated battle between the heroes and villains to kick off the show. During this latest skirmish (in which the good guys are once again victorious, for those keeping score at home), Mekanek has his neck damaged during a clash with Tri-Klops and finds himself once again relegated to reconnaissance duty.
Post-battle, Mek’ is feeling more than a little down on himself, a situation which isn’t exactly helped when he discovers that Man-at-Arms’ latest invention promises to make him all but obsolete. While doing a little moping, he meets a strange old man who informs him that he can grant wishes. Finally, all the powers of his fellow Masters can be his. All he needs to do is retrieve a strange amulet from the Sands of Fire. Definitely nothing suspicious there!
See, this is exactly the type of episode I love. Taking a peripheral character and fleshing them out like this is one of the real strengths of the 200X series, and the re-introduction of the frankly awesome Count Marzo as an antagonist is the cherry on the sundae. Sure, we could have perhaps found out a little more about Mekanek’s history and the origins of his ability, but given the format, I’m happy with him having the beginnings of a developed personality and individual motivations. I also liked the fact that the episode not only acknowledges the ostensibly silly nature of Mekanek’s ability, but manages to work that silliness seamlessly into the story.
Marzo is a heck of a villain too, which really helps to elevate this issue. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I do love a formidable adversary, and watching Marzo not only go toe-to-toe with He-Man but win decisively winning helps to give this episode some real stakes. Not only that, but he also cuts through the rest of the Masters like a hot knife through butter until, as you might expect, Mek’s oft-mocked ability ends up saving the day, and Eternia as a whole.
Interestingly, it’s worth noting that this is the fourth time in just twelve episodes that a so-called Master of the Universe has been hoodwinked by some sort of magical trickery, with Mekanek following in the naïve footsteps of Stratos, Buzz-Off and Ram-Man. Perhaps some sort of internal awareness training might be in order?
Despite its superficial similarities to the “Lessons” episode, where Orko overcame his underdog status to help thwart the baddie and save the day, this episode feels a lot more fresh and exciting, mainly due to the characters involved. It’s great to see Mekanek getting the spotlight, and as I mentioned, the introduction of Count Marzo as a new threat is definitely welcome, even if he never really becomes quite as threatening as he is here again. A really fun episode that showcases the world-building appeal of this series, as well as the inherent limitations of the format.
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