TV Review – Masters of the Universe 200X – Episode 14: “Underworld”
Original Air Date: 13th December 2002
Writer: Steven Melching
Director: Gary Hartle
Unlike so many of the previous chapters, this latest episode opens not with a battle, but with Orko and Adam goofing off in the palace dining hall. In an attempt to help his son grow up a little and accept his royal responsibilities, King Randor instructs Adam to accompany him on a diplomatic visit to help broker a peace deal between the Speleans and the Caligars, two Subternian races whose leaders each have a history with Randor.
Right on cue, Skeletor decides to take his own trip to Subternia guided by Whiplash, himself an exiled Calagar, in an attempt to breach Castle Grayskull’s defenses from beneath. As you might expect, these two excursions clash in typically violent fashion, culminating in Randor and Skeletor revisiting their storied history at swords’ point.
I’m always a fan of Eternian world-building, and getting to experience two (effectively) brand new races here, each with their own history and rivalries, is a real treat. Much like Chief Carnivus previously (and indeed Buzz-Off, for that matter), both Lord Dactus of the Speleans and Ceratus of the Caligars are fascinating creations, serving as distinctive figureheads for their races much like Randor does for his. That said, the one thing that really niggled me was the fact that we never really got to fully explore the history between Randor, Dactys and Ceratus, which feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. There are only so many minutes in an episode I guess, but I’d definitely have settled for less He-Man here in favour of some expanded lore.
On the plus side, it’s great to see Randor taking the spotlight here, showcasing his skills as both a diplomat and a warrior, and the final underground showdown with Skeletor featured a lot of callbacks and the same dynamic feel as his epic episode one battle with Keldor. It’s always a bonus when a character evolves out of their established role – something that this entire series does exceptionally well – and distancing Randor from the disapproving, eye-rolling father trope is definitely a welcome decision.
Honestly, I loved this one. Not only did we get to find out a little more – if perhaps not as much as I’d have liked – about the hidden underground realm of Subternia and its various inhabitants, but we also got a fantastic showcase of King Randor’s abilities as an ass-kicking sovereign. Well worth a watch.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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