He-Man uses his leg strength to crush a mountain and bury the demon for another twenty years in an avalanche. I hope the lesson at the end of today’s episode is: never miss leg day at the gym.

I have a confession to make: I have been recapping these episodes in the wrong order! I was looking at an episode list on IMDB.com which is, from the looks of it, just a list. It doesn’t totally fit with the order in which the scripts were approved or the order in which the episodes were produced. And it definitely doesn’t match the order in which these episodes aired. This wouldn’t matter much, except that the He-Man fan community online is pretty strident about what the “correct” episode order is. It’s a little like the third Big Star album; there have been innumerable running orders – does “Stroke It Noel” come before “Kizza Me?” – and there’s no agreement on which is the right one.

And now that I’ve compared an 80s cartoon show to a 70s cult classic album, I’ve definitely said too much on this topic. From now on I’m going to follow the broadcast episode order, as listed on the Big Cartoon Database, and I will adjust the episodes on this site to account for that, and I promise I will not bring this up ever again.

Go listen to Big Star Third.

Queen Marlena in a white space suit, piloting a ship.
On tonight’s episode, Katharine Hepburn races against time to warn the Battlestar about the Cylons’ latest schemes.

Teela’s Quest

This episode starts with a big red herring: a red-haired woman pilots her spaceship through an asteroid field before crash landing on the nearest planet. But this is not, I repeat, not Teela, as the episode title would have you believe. It’s actually Queen Marlena, who explored the galaxy on the “Earth probe Valiant before settling on Eternia and marrying the grumpy King Randor. She is using a “memory projector” invented by Man-at-Arms to show Prince Adam how she came to put down her roots. She says Adam would find Earth “kind of boring…  there are no giant green tigers or magical castles.” But, she adds, the people are “beautiful.” 

Orko is laying around in the air, drinking soda from a straw and using his right hand to direct tools off-screen. He looks very content.
Faygo, the official soft drink of Eternia

Orko, meanwhile, is kicking back in Man-at-Arms’ workshop, drinking levitating sodas and building a magical music box for the king and queen. Duncan doesn’t want the little guy fooling around in his space, because usually he grabs the wrong set of tools. “That’s where we keep the bomb parts!” he shouts. “This thing is going to explode!” I love how Duncan has to yell at Orko before he gets rid of the bomb. In Orko’s defense, the music box did play a song before blowing up. 

Teela wears a headband connected to the memory projector, and watches a memory of Man-at-Arms playing with her when she was a baby
Dad-at-Arms about to learn what happens to people who lift up a baby who isn’t wearing a diaper

The workshop is where Teela finds her dad; seeing Marlena and Adam talking about the old days got her wondering about her birth parents. Man-at-Arms explains that Teela’s birth father “gave his life in battle so Eternians could live in peace.” And her mother? “That is the secret I promised never to reveal.” Hmm. Teela tries out the memory projector, but her birth parents aren’t in there, only a clean-shaven Duncan playing with her as a baby… wearing his helmet. I love how dude keeps his battle gear on when he plays peekaboo with the baby. 

Teela’s plan C is a doozy: go to the “Oracle of the Crystal Sea” for answers. Orko gasps: “The Oracle’s cave is surrounded by shadow beasts and monsters!” Teela says she’s going, no matter the danger: “I’d risk anything to learn the truth.” Orko promised not to tell anyone where she’s going, so of course he immediately tells Prince Adam, who raises his sword high and becomes He-Man so he and Battle Cat can follow Teela. 

Skeletor and Mer-Man talking
They didn’t give Skeletor much to do this time. Why couldn’t the writers, y’know, throw him a bone?

Skeletor is also trying to figure out why Teela is on a solo mission to the Crystal Sea – “your home territory, Mer-Man.” Mer-Man makes an unusual request of his boss: “Years ago, her guardian, Man-at-Arms, rescued a victim I had chosen for the Sea Demon. I now demand revenge!” Skeletor says sure, go for it. That’s it for Skeletor in this one. I don’t even think he got enough screen time to snicker. 

Teela kicks a shadow monster in the hinder
The shadow monster disparaged Australia’s booting law, which is a bootable offense. It’s one of Eternia’s proudest traditions!

The scary, dangerous Crystal Sea is made of actual crystals and is not that scary or dangerous, at least not for Teela. Four of the fearsome shadow beasts surround her, but she easily scares them away with a light grenade, because “the only thing these beasts fear is bright light.” Also she kicks one in the butt. And with that, she’s at the cave!

Teela talks with the Oracle, which is the head of an old guy with long white hair and a white goatee inside a large crystal ball
Teela activating her Gandalf Plus subscription

The oracle is a crystal ball with an old bearded dude inside who looks kind of like Santa’s hipster brother, Claude Claus. “I know why you’re here,” it tells Teela. “You have come seeking your past.” Long ago, it explains, Man-at-Arms received “a strange psychic signal” while walking in the Evergreen Forest (which is mostly red and blue, but whatever). Mer-Man and his henchmen attacked a falcon’s nest for some reason, but the falcon fought back so they couldn’t get whatever was in the nest. Man-at-Arms climbed up to the nest and saw… the oracle breaks off because “I sense evil coming closer.” Sure enough, Mer-Man’s henchmen grab her! 

Meanwhile back at Castle Greyskull, Orko is breaking his promise to Teela yet again, this time to the Sorceress. Remind me never to tell Orko a secret. She decides to fly to Teela’s side “on falcon’s wings!” 

Teela fends off Bakkull, the giant red sea demon.
My, I bet you monsters lead interesting lives. I said to my girlfriend just the other day – Gee, I’ll bet monsters are interesting, I said.

Mer-Man explains to a tied-up Teela that he has “a very special destiny for you to fulfill.” For the first time in twenty years, the stars are in alignment to summon Bakkull, “mightiest of sea demons!” There are two conditions: one is that Bakkull only obeys the one who has the Crimson Pearl, which Mer-Man now has. The other: “Bakkull demands a sacrifice for its services.” Mer-Man begins the summoning, lightning strikes and a very large red creature emerges from the water. I think the sea demon is actually Gossamer from Looney Tunes.

But He-Man shows up, shouting,  “Hold it, fish face!” He flings his magic sword to cut the ropes holding Teela, but there’s a problem: “As long as Mer-Man holds the red pearl,” Teela explains, “that monster’s unstoppable!” The Sorceress swoops in and solves that problem: the pearl is at the top of Mer-Man’s magical staff, so she uses her falcon talons to grab it and smash it. Bakkull turns on Mer-Man, and amazingly, He-Man climbs up and rescues him, saying “I may hate myself for this later.” Then he uses his leg strength to crush a mountain and bury the demon for another twenty years in an avalanche. I hope the lesson at the end of today’s episode is: never miss leg day at the gym. 

Sorceress puts her right hand to Teela's forehead.
Sorceress also made Teela forget the movie “BMX Bandits,” which is solid parenting.

Almost time to go home, but first Teela asks the Oracle to finish its story. As you probably guessed, the Sorceress was the falcon, and she was guarding a baby girl in her nest. “With the passing of her husband, she had brought the child to the mountain to raise her in peace,” the oracle explains.”But after Mer-Man’s attack, the falcon knew that, without a real home, the baby would never be truly safe.” So Man-at-Arms promised to take her home and raise her. Sorceress drops by to confirm the story, and to say that, because Teela will one day take her place as “the mystic guardian of Greyskull,” the only way to keep her safe is to zap her forehead so she’ll forget her own origin story! Sorceress adds, “She will only remember that her mother was a woman who loved her very much.” He-Man, whose true identity is also under wraps, agrees not to tell. So Eternia’s whole safely depends on people who have to trust each other with their lives… not trusting each other with secrets. Got it. 

After this somewhat confusing conclusion, Teela gives us the lesson of the day: that no matter who your birth parents are, “the ones who protect us and teach us and love us, they are the ones we call mother and father.” I can get behind that

Sorceress, in falcon form, and Man-at-Arms, without a mustache, look at baby Teela in the nest.
I mean, parents all know eventually one day their kids will leave the nest

I… sort of get what they were trying to do here. The Sorceress wanted to raise Teela but if she did, Teela wouldn’t be safe – only the Sorceress is a series regular and probably could raise her daughter, and also Teela is fully grown AND she’s the best warrior in Eternia, AND they’re all in danger all the time anyway, so I’m not sure there’s really an issue here about Sorceress coming clean. Still, it’s kind of impressive that Teela’s the lead character here on a show that, on its face, is primarily geared toward boys. Linda Gary does another nice job with the dual roles of Sorceress and Teela, not to mention the Queen, who gets plenty of screen time here. He-Man is a supporting cast member on his own show, and it’s only the second episode. 

Which reminds me, I have to put some episodes back in order. See you next week, when I hopefully recap the correct episode. 

Prince Adam and Cringer fall asleep while fishing
By the power of Winkelman!


  • Teela finds Prince Adam to ask why he didn’t show for her combat drills. He says he was super busy, but she uses Man-at-Arms’ memory projector to show that he fell asleep fishing. I’m convinced the memory projector is the same exact device in that Black Mirror episode with Jodie Whitaker.
  • Prince Adam says “even Teela’s no match for the evil creatures” in the Crystal Sea, except that she took care of them in like three seconds, even after they broke her weapon. Adam, buddy, you’re not the only fighter in town.
  • A big episode for voice actors talking to themselves. Not only did Linda Gary play Sorceress and Teela, there’s a conversation between Skeletor and Mer-Man, both voiced by Alan Oppenheimer. And John Erwin does the voice for the Oracle, which talks to the John Erwin-voiced He-Man.
  • The conversation between Sorceress and Teela means this episode of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” passes the Bechdel Test.
  • “Boy, the things people leave lying around!” He-Man, throwing Mer-Man’s lizard henchmen
  • Teela asks He-Man why he saved Mer-Man from the demon and he says, “even an evil one is worth saving.” He-Man isn’t a Cobra Kai.

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