TV Review – Masters of the Universe 200X – Episode 16: “The Monster Within”
Original Air Date: 27th December 2002
Writer: Larry DiTillio
Director: Gary Hartle
Another week, another episode starting mid-skirmish as the Evil Warriors and the Masters battle over some random MacGuffin – in this case the “Emerald of Orkas Island”. To the shock of absolutely nobody, the bad guys are roundly defeated, but not before Beast Man manages to briefly take control of Man-e-Faces while in his “monster role”, a development which almost turns the tide before He-Man shows up to send the villains packing.
This latest failure prompts Skeletor to outsource his henchman duties to a pair of elite Bounty Hunters named Tuvar and Baddhra. Problem is, they do not like each other in the slightest, and each have their own distinct way of operating – the former utilising stealth, tactics and technology and the latter adopting a fierce, brute force approach. Skeletor is characteristically unsympathetic to this rivalry, and sends them both out to destroy He-Man once and for all. Meanwhile, the rest of his henchmen, justifiably disgruntled, cook up a plot of their own to let the newcomers do all the heavy lifting before sweeping in and stealing the glory for themselves.
Aside from delivering a brilliantly rebooted origin story for Two-Bad, this episode features a lot of other neat ideas, not least of which is fact that Beast Man is able to control Man-e-Faces while in his ‘monster’ mode. This premise basically underpins the whole story as “Manny” tries to overcome both these limitations and his reluctance to ever play the “monster role” again as he assists He-Man against the two formidable bounty hunters. Sure, it’s perhaps a little similar thematically to Mekanek’s Lament, and much like that episode, it’s the new villain(s) who steal the show here, but watching Man-e-Faces finally overcome his limitations and doubts in the tar swamps is, to me, far more rewarding than Mek’s arc.
For the second episode in a row, this series completely reinvents an established character with great success, and the idea of Two-Bad being two bickering rivals fused together by Skeletor as punishment for their failures instantly makes them far more interesting than the (admittedly cool-looking) Filmation and toy version. After a couple of iffy episodes this series is really starting to hit its stride with three absolute bangers in a row, and once again it’s the overall freshness of the ideas that makes it so enjoyable to watch.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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