TV Review – Masters of the Universe 200X – Episode 21: “Snake Pit”
Original Air Date: 29th March 2003
Writer(s): Steven Melching
Director: Gary Hartle
Now we’re talking.
This latest episode features the 200X debut of the Snake Men, and as anyone who has watched both seasons of the series will know, they’re poised to feature a lot more heavily in the episodes to come. For now though, they serve as an interesting addition to a series that badly needed a jolt of energy, and this episode explores some of the wider lore that surrounds them, along with their place in the turbulent history of Eternnia.
We open to a jailbreak from the obviously formidable Kobra Khan, who manages to easily overcome several Royal Guards before slinking off to Snake Mountain in an attempt to release his imprisoned master, King Hiss. When captured by the Evil Warriors, he instantly pledging his loyalty to Skeletor in an attempt to get closer to the sealed void where Hiss and the rest of the Snake Men are held captive. Elsewhere, Man-at-Arms and Prince Adam travel to the Mystic Mountains to enlist the help of Zodak, a mysterious warrior who helped the Elders to imprison the Snake Men in the first place.
With quite so many new characters being introduced here, including Kobra Khan, Zodak, General Rattlor and King Hiss himself (who only appears as a menacing silhouetted here), there was a definite risk that this could end up feeling a lot more like a toy commercial than an actual episode, but thankfully writer Steven Melching keeps things flowing smoothly throughout. The lore of the Snake Men is perfectly established, along with just how legitimate a threat they can be to the future of Eternia, but all the plates are kept spinning confidently without the viewer ever feeling overwhelmed by exposition.
In a major positive, Khan already feels infinitely more capable than almost all of the other Evil Warriors, who have – with the odd exception here and there – been treated like a collection of colourful but ultimately useless morons. Likewise, Zodak immediately establishes himself as a powerful ally, and the way he cuts a swathe through Skeletor and his minions in his pursuit of Kobra Khan is pretty damn cool to watch.
Following a large-scale battle with He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela joining Zodak in battling the Snake Men following Khan’s successful attempt to open of the void prison, the heroes finally manage to seal it off once again, giving Eternia a little breathing room – for the time being, at least. It’s all suitably epic and dramatic, particularly the sequence where He-Man and Zodak end up inside the void, coming face to face with Kind Hiss himself, and feels a lot more significant than 99% of the previous skirmishes throughout the series as a result of the genuine stakes which are established.
A mere appetizer for the awesomeness still to come, but undoubtedly one of the most narratively interesting episodes we’ve had so far. An impressive showcase of the dizzying scope of Eternia through the ages, with a plethora of intriguing new characters on both sides of the divide, and the introduction of a brand new ‘big bad’ to be dealt with at a later date in the form of King Hiss. Everything that is great about this series in one single glorious episode.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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