Evil-Lyn uses the Shaping Staff to turn Orko into a cricket. The bad guys are on track to win this round, unless Pinocchio happens to be visiting Eternia.

Note: I accidentally thought this was the third episode when I recapped it. Sorry for the confusion.

Now that I’m getting into a routine with this He-Man recapping project I want to do it properly, so I’m starting to read up on how the toy line and everything that followed came about. There’s a lot of wild stuff in there. For one thing, the whole reason there’s a He-Man at all is because of Star Wars. As Mental Floss explained, Mattel passed on the chance to partner with Lucasfilm to make Star Wars toys, a move that’s right up there with Decca Records telling The Beatles they didn’t see a future for guitar groups. Instead of seeking out another chance to make toys for somebody else’s universe, Mattel made its own, and, of course, they did pretty well with it. Interestingly, He-Man was originally designed as a kind of angry Viking dude, but they ended up giving him blonde hair and softer features to make the He-Verse a little less intense. That’s probably for the best; there’s some really creepy stuff in and around Eternia, after all.

He-Man tosses an octopus thing
Invertebrate Man, one of the least successful villains in He-Man history

The Shaping Staff

Ooh, we’re starting this episode in the middle of a battle! Adam’s transformation during the opening credits must’ve carried over past the first commercial break. He-Man tosses a boulder into a flying robot and throws an octopus thing into a mountain several counties away. Actually, it’s a training exercise Man-at-Arms cooked up, and it’s over because they’re both late for dinner at the palace. Always good to duck out of the action sequences early to have the characters sit around and eat. (My ten year old’s reaction to the show so far: “I think the writers on this show like food.”) 

Speaking of which, Orko has dropped another egg on somebody’s head, this time on Cringer. It’s his second egg trick in two episodes, though since the king has Orko do a magic show every time the muckety-mucks eat, I’m not surprised he’s already reusing some old material. His next trick is to spread something called “Demon Dust,” which… why? Instead, he manages to conjure up a white-haired lady in a superhero costume, a dead ringer for Sandy Duncan in “The New Scooby-Doo Movies.” Actually, she’s Majestra, an illusionist known for her “Cabinet of Wonders.” What’s inside the box? asks King Randor. “See for yourself, Sire,” she says. 

Majestra is next to the Cabinet, which contains King Randor
Stitch Fix, now delivering to Eternia 

The king, who only two episodes ago was zapped into another dimension by his very nasty and very relentless enemies, is thrilled to walk into a mystery box brought into the room by someone he met for the first time two minutes ago. Who is he to scold Prince Adam for not acting like a wise ruler should? Majesta calls out: “Spirits of magic, from far and near, make his Majesty disappear!” The others freak out, but Majestra explains that it’s all just a trick, and an excited Randor steps out of the Cabinet and he tells Majestra she’s welcome to stay on.

But there’s something weird about the newcomer. “You fool!” she barks as she leaves the dining room with the king. “You nearly ruined everything!” “You worry too much,” the king replies. “No one suspects us.” Wait, are Randor and Majestra having a little thing on the side? Orko, who didn’t like having another magician at the palace to begin with, overhears them and decides to investigate.

Randor looks on as Evil-Lyn and Beast Man explain the Shaping Staff
So we all agree that without He-Man, Eternia would fall in like an hour, right? 

Majestra and the King head to the dungeons, where, locked in a cell is… King Randor? There’s an illusion going on, and the king knows what it is: “Evil-Lyn! Beast Man! You fiends dare to come to Palace Eternia itself?” That’s just step one in their plan, dude: Evil-Lyn, you see, has obtained the Shaping Staff, which can turn anything into anything else. To demonstrate, she turns Randor into a goat. Then, when she discovers Orko flying off to warn the others, she turns him into a cricket. The bad guys are on track to win this round, unless Pinocchio happens to be visiting Eternia.

Skeletor – who is so excited he’s snickering right off the bat this time – explains phase two of the plan: Evil-Lyn and Beast Man, in disguise as Majestra and the King, will lure Eternia’s troops to Castle Greyskull, where Skeletor will finish them all off for good. Prince Adam is skeptical when the “king” explains these aggressive military maneuvers. “He’s always been a man of peace,” Adam tells Man-at-Arms. “Maybe I can reason with him in the morning.”

Prince Adam holds Cricket Orko in his right hand, while Cringer looks on
Orko’s gonna sing “E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A” any second now

But the scheme doesn’t last that long, thanks to Orko, who hopped all the way from the dungeon to Adam’s bedchamber to warn him about the Shaping Staff and the impostor king. Adam turns into He-Man just before Evil-Lyn and Beast Man burst in, followed by Man-at-Arms and Teela, who hear the commotion. At first He-Man deflects the magical bolts with his sword, but somehow, off-camera, he drops it, giving Evil-Lyn the advantage. She turns Teela into a frog and transforms He-Man into solid gold. She leaves Man-at-Arms alone so that he can lead the troops the next day into Skeletor’s trap. 

Teela in frog form.
Next, Evil-Lyn will make Teela run through traffic to get back to her lilypad

And what a trap it’s turning out to be! “Sometimes my power even amazes me!” gloats Skeletor, as he uses the Shaping Staff to create a Bizarro He-Man he names Faker. Now, if you know the toy line, Faker is blue, since he was intended to be a robotic copy of our main character. The cartoon team, which was trying to crank out a zillion episodes quickly, decided that, for efficiency’s sake, Faker would look exactly like the real He-Man, only with glowing eyes. That pays off in this episode, when Skeletor has Faker trick the Sorceress into leaving Greyskull (her powers are weaker outside the castle) so Evil-Lyn can turn her into a tree. Man, the villains are really going to town here. 

Faker stands over He-Man, who is dangling off the edge of a cliff
Fake it til you make it

Fortunately the real He-Man, even in his 14 carat form, can send his thoughts to the Sorceress. “Use your magic to break the spell,” he tells her, and that’s what she does, getting herself and the big guy back to normal. Faker runs after He-Man and tosses the original recipe over the side of a cliff. “It’s a long way down, He-Man. Need a hand?” He-Man grabs Faker’s ankle: “In this case, a leg will do just fine!” Faker runs at him again, He-Man dodges and Faker takes the plunge. 

And that’s all it takes for the tide to turn. He-Man tackles Skeletor, grabs the Shaping Staff, and breaks it in two, which turns Goat Randor and the others back to normal. Evil-Lyn tries to use the top part of the Staff again, but only turns herself into a wriggly dragon worm thing. “That’ll teach you to fool around with magic,” says He-Man. Good one, big guy. Before leaving, Skeletor vows he will reconstitute Evil-Lyn and Faker and then get revenge. “So swears Skeletor!”

Cringer with an egg on his head
Two egg jokes in the first three episodes. Was there a chicken on the writing staff? 

The good guys have other plans: back to the palace to chillax. “I think we all deserve some fun,” Randor says. “Orko, let’s have some magic.“ Do they ever let Orko have a break? Cringer isn’t waiting around to get another egg on his head. “For my first trick,” he says, “I’m gonna disappear.” Everyone but Orko laughs. 

Time for our lesson of the week, so here’s Orko, the lovable character who makes everyone laugh, to scare the crap out of you with a warning about strangers. “You saw what happened when a stranger came to the palace. She turned out to be evil and dangerous… Never accept any food or toys or money from a stranger. Don’t even talk to them!” Got that kids? Don’t talk to strangers, or they might turn you into a goat. 

Yikes! Aside from that terrifying stranger danger coda, this episode was absolutely packed and a heck of a lot of fun. The voice actors were really into this one, especially Linda Gary, whose Evil-Lyn revels in all the mayhem she gets to create. (Gary also did the voices of Teela, Sorceress and the Queen, so she’s definitely the MVP of the episode.) Faker, the glowing-eyed impostor He-Man, is definitely a useful addition to the villain bench, although I’ve read he actually doesn’t show up on the cartoon show again. 

One last thought: how come nobody threw Beast Man in this episode? We had kind of a tradition going.

Solid gold He-Man sends brainwaves to the Sorceress
“Buy all our playsets and toys” 

Random observations: 

  • At one point the queen says Prince Adam “inherited from me what we Earthlings call a sense of humor.” Adam’s mom is from Earth? I have questions. 
  • After “Randor” exits the Cabinet of Wonders he starts wolfing down a turkey drumstick. It’s supposed to be a hint that he’s actually Beast Man now, but I like to think that it was the real Randor just chowing down. 
  • Evil-Lyn found the Shaping Staff “in a cave by the Crystal Sea,” as one does.
  • Fake Randor says he wants to add Greyskull to his kingdom. Isn’t that the same castle He-Man defends against Skeletor in the opening credits? 
  • I love that Beast Man tries to convince Adam he’s really King Randor by doing what the real king does to his son: scolding him. “If you have no taste for conquest, you can stay behind!” 
  • They make Cringer the giant talking cat sleep outside? 
  • Adam changes out of his pajamas into his day clothes before he transforms into He-Man. Filmation animators work smarter, not harder.