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03 - Ramlak Rising
Koinelius: Do you know what it's like Lion-O, to have everything taken from you, and replaced with rage?
Lion-O: A rage that won't go away until the monster who took it all is no more.I always like the first few episodes after a series opening/pilot. The pilot is always easier. You need to introduce the conflict, setting, characters and lay down the stakes. So long as you do this competently, it's easy to make a good impression. The first regular episodes are the tricky ones though. You need to make the viewer feel you are moving forward, without resolving things too quickly, since the premise has to last us a while. New this episode is the opening theme. Or lack thereof. We get a jingle, the first few notes similarly to those of the original theme. The logo, the show's title, Lion-O using the eye of Thundera, then the episode title. Quick and painless. Well, more time for the episodes, so that's good! Anyway, we begin with the ruins of Thundera, with Wilykit playing her flute ring thingy. We see that Lion-O, Cheetara and Tygra are back at the palace, holding a pyre for Claudus. This would raise many questions, but a later scene reveals that Mumm-Ra and most of his forces have left, hence the deserted palace. Cut to some lizard looters (using what looks like the bastard child of a trash truck and an APC) looting all the valuables they can find in the ruins. Wilykit and Wilykat sneak into the back of the truck, looking through the Lizards spoils. They find a suitcase full of clothes, and make off with it. Back at the funeral, the pyre has burned out. Lion-O exposits that they should move to catch Mumm-Ra's trail, since his lair probably lies past the Sand Sea. Cheetara says that Jaga, her teacher, told them to find the book, and Tygra agrees, saying only the book can give them answers, echoing Jaga's last words to them. Lion-O, rather logically, replies he doesn't need answer. He knows who killed his dad, and that if either Tygra or Lion-O had been killed by Mumm-Ra, Claudus would've already ended Mumm-Ra. He intends to do the same. When told he's angry, he replies yes, and hopes he's not alone. Lion-O repeats they are going after Mumm-Ra, and makes an order, Tygra agrees, since Lion-O's the king now. Here is must stop and comment... The positions of Lion-O and Tygra are kind of odd to me. Lion-O has always been the more fairy-tale inclined of the two. Willing to believe in "technology" and the Book of Omens. Tygra has always been the "good son", loyal to his father, more practical with a more down to earth point of view. It feels odd to me that it is Tygra who supports finding the book, and Lion-O who obsesses with revenge. It feels like the reverse would be more natural. Of course, if that were the case, Tygra would not be able to pull rank on Lion-O and we would not get An Aesop. Because yes, this episode has an Aesop. The trio, now wearing armors (where did they get those? they look nothing like the normal Thunderan armors, so it's not like they are salvaged, and the lizards' would not fit them) and hooded cloaks walks out the city. And again, I find myself asking... There's no survivor? I mean, most of the buildings are still standing. Did everyone go into that one refuge that exploded? Coz that was a pretty big city... What about the slums? Eitherway, none of this matter as the trio walks past the thunderkittens looting a busted mech. The pair, now wearing their new outfit (which contain nods to the originals, like Wilykit's having only one shoulder-strap), recognize Lion-O and Tygra, introducing themselves mentioning they've not seen any other survivors. They ask Lion-O if they can join him till they reach El Dora, which Lion-O has never heard of. Wilykat mentions of course, since has the only proof. Also, what happened to getting that map, Wilykat? How do you even know if these guys are going anywhere NEAR El Dora? Or where El Dora is? Lion-O brushes them off, and Tygra says they can't just abandon them. Again, this really feels like the princes should be swapped positions. Lion-O refuses (angrily), saying they have no time to babysit. The kids attempt cuteness to convince Lion-O, mewling and pawing at him like kittens, but Lion-O doesn't relent, leaving Tygra to give an emphatic sorry to the kids. Doesn't matter, the twins decide go with them, using the classy "We are not following you, you are walking in front of us." line. Follows a travel montage. The gang crossing canyons, forests, giant... spiky stone thingy, worm-like mesas, before finally ending up in a desert. Man I had forgotten how fucked up Third Earth could be. The group stops in the shadow of a mesa where Tygra exposits they have lost the trail. Cheetara shakes an empty bag, adding that their supplies are dangerously low. Funny, coz no one carried a bag during the whole montage. Guessing they kept it in the same hammerspace pocket Lion-O kept Snarf during his escape from the palace. Lion-O says he doesn't care, they will keep moving forward. Yeah, but you got no trail stupid. Where's forward then? And he's not joking, he literally walks off in a random direction. Snarf collapses, and then spots the Sand Sea. Turns out it's like 20 feet to the right. Guess everyone else is blind or something.
And we get big shot of the Sand Sea, Lion-O telling us Mumm-Ra's lair must be on the other side. Okay, hrrrm, how do you know? The Sand Sea btw, looks like golden water. We later learn it's not water, but we are never told what it is. Sand? They why/how does it move like water? Washing on the sand like that? Quicksand? No, then what we see later would not make sense. We are never explained this. EVER. To be fair, the Original Thundercats DID to this all the time, introduce some weird fucked up thing about Third Earth, and never bother to explain it. But still, for a show that hopefully aims to be more tightly written than the mostly plot-less mess that was the original, I would like some sort of explanation. Are we just supposed to accept that this is a literal sea of sand, acting like water and move on? The group spots food floating on the "water/sand/whatever" You'd expect this to be some mirage or something, but no, it's genuine. Only Cheetara questions this, and even then, only after they ate all of it. A net immediately captures the group, hauling them into a giant boat that can't have been more than 50 feet away. HOW DID THEY NOT SEE THAT? First the sand sea, then this? Are the Thundercats blind? Oh, it gets better, we later see the boat floats on LIGHTING! Seriously! The boat is filled with Fish people. The captain comes out (And we see the hull of the ship is full of water), saying that his crew better have caught the Ramlak. He's got a facial scar (which seems to be a missing eye) and a peg leg. Now, revenged theme story and captain with missing limb and facial scar looking for a specific creature. Where have we heard that one before? You have three guesses, and the first two don't count. Bonus: The ship is shaped like a sperm whale. He looks at his captives and calls them a worthless haul, telling the ship's cook to turn what the crew doesn't eat into chum. Lion-O again says "whiskers". God, please don't try to turn this into a catchphrase. It's a TERRIBLE Unusual Euphemism. The captain explains the "bait" was meant for the beast. Lion-O introduces himself and tries to pull rank, but that fails. The captain introduces himself with some Punny Name (Koinelius Tunarm), but I am going to call him Ahab. Heck, he even quotes Ahab! The cook decides to begin fillet-ing the kittens, but that's when... green tentacles attack. Great, The Kraken's here too. The tentacles begin grabbing crewmembers, including one named Wilhelm. Ahab gets all cheery he's found "Ramlak". But his crew realize that their only weapons are harpoon guns with ropes that cause you to get flung around when the harpoons his the Kraken, pulling on the ropes. So they instead decide to panic. Cheetara grabs a harpoon gun with her feet, and she and Tygra cut their ropes with it, freeing everyone. The Kraken however grabs the cats. Lion-O then deploys his Holy Avenger and shows there's a reason all chefs working with seafood prefer sharp knives, cutting the tentacles to pieces. Ahab berates his crew, contrasting their lack of guts with Lion-Os. Of course, having the proper weapons that aren't more likely to kill you than the monster goes a long way to being brave. Heck, even Ahab has a sword. Cue a fightscene as the Thundercats fight the kraken's tentacles. Noteworthy is that Tygra uses the gun he looted, no sign of his whip. Also, Cheetara's stick can cut tentacles. Even the kittens join up to bite on one of the tentacles. Doesn't seem to do much, but hey, it's the spirit that counts. We also see that the kraken bleeds blue. Almost like water. Remember that. Eventually the Kraken calls it quits. Ahab screams at it, giving a very shortened paraphrase to Ahab's famous line:
"Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up."Only delivered to the Kraken itself as a threat. Still, I can't say I've seen many cartoons quoting Melville, so that's kinda nice. Lion-O confronts Ahab over that filet business, but he relents, and totally signs them up on the crew to go kill the Kraken, coz, you know, they don't suck. Though again, giving your crew weapons that do not totally blow would probably make THEM better too. He asks the crew to feed the kittens, much to the pair's joy. Also, Tygra is seasick. (Sandsick? I don't know!) Ahab and Lion-O do some male bonding. Ahab explains he lost his legs when the Kraken attacked his people, and stole all the water from the oasis they called home (hence fish people in the desert). He also exposit that the desert is barren, so the Sandsea is not quicksand. The two trade the lines I quoted at the top. And now Lion-O is fully on board with killing the Kraken. Hrrrm, so what about Mumm-Ra? Guess he can wait too. Cut to the twins indoors (though wasn't the bellow deck part full of water? And this doesn't look like any of the half-sphere protuding from the deck...) The chef clearly implies he's fattening them up, seasoning Wilykat and testing Wilykit for tenderness by poking her. The two seem to not notice. We learn the kittens are Big Eaters. Ahab explains that his crew keeps holding him back from killing the Kraken. Lion-O asks what to do when the crew questions orders, and Ahab suggests abandoning them. He implies everything he's ever done is for that "sorry lot", but, well, we've yet to see any of that. A storm approaches and Lion-O spots the Kraken. Against the advice of the crew, Ahab sends them right into the storm. Did we just cross over into a first season episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender for a moment? Lion-O is apparantly as obsessed with killing the Kraken as Ahab is (sooo, about Mumm-Ra? Is that on the back burner or ...?) and pilots the ship himself. The storm is filled with debris, including large boulders (and the wind do not blow the crew right off the decks because ...?) When Tygra questions him, Lion-O slams him down that nothing will stand in his way. Not the storm, not Tygra. Ouch. Cheetara and Tygra try to appeal to Ahab, but he considers them losers like his crew.
Ahab mans a giant energy gun (and Lion-O never even perks an eyebrow at this "technology"!) to shoot some of the flying debris, while Lion-O climbs on the sails to cut rocks with his Holy Avenger. Both of them being exhilarated and Lion-O looking frankly psychotic. Back with the Kids, the chef has now decided to filet them. But they present him with a cone of icecream they made (how?). They throw it in his face, and turns out it's filled with that hot spice he used earlier, and as he panics they leave. This is never brought up again. That was... weird. And pointless. The kraken surfaces and it turns out it's a giant sea anemone. Lion-O attacks it with the holy avenger, while Ahab fires his canon at it, accomplishing nothing at all. Ahab and the adult Thundercats break most of the tentacles, but the creature still manages to rip the ship in two, throwing all but Ahab and Lion-O overboard. Ahab tells Lion-O to keep fighting, but Lion-O realizes Ahab's off his rocker and the crew are all going to die. Not helped when Ahab says he can just get a "new crew". Yes, clearly he's doing it all for them. Lion-O calls him out on that, and goes to save the crew. Ahab decides to quote his namesake's dying words, and you can guess how that ends. Lion-O gathers the survivors to the largest piece of floating debris, before using a harpoon gun to tow that debris to a still floating part of the ship. The cats and the crew climb onto the ship, when the kraken suddenly surges, capturing Lion-O and eating him whole. Sadly, Lion-O has read the Monster Manual rules on Swallow Whole and uses the Holy Avenger to cut his way out of the Kraken, causing it release all of its water, reforming the oasis of the fish people.
The Thundercats and the fish folks give their goodbyes, the later telling Lion-O not to fret about Ahab, as he chose his own fate. The cats have a new boat, and Lion-O decides to go for the Book of Omens. He still refuses to babysit the kittens, but since they can take care of their own, he does decide to keep them around. Cut to Mumm-Ra's pyramid. Jaga is alive, in a big ball of energy. Mumm-ra interrogating him for the location of the Book Of Omens. Grune points out that if Jaga knew, Claudus would not have sent him and Panthro to search for it. He says they should focus on getting the sword back so they can use it to find the book. Mumm-ra dismisses the sword as a small part in the grand scheme of things, and that Jaga knows many things of value to them. Jaga says he will die before breaking under torture, Mumm-ra sucks him into a lantern, poke-ball style, saying that the lantern will force Jaga to show them the way to the book. And yes, a beam of light is shot out of the lantern, pointing the way. Guess Jaga really did know and just found it hilarious to watch you and Panthro search around, hey Grune?
Despite my nitpicking, it's actually a decent episode. What is a by-the-book An Aesop episode is elevated by the references to Moby-Dick. Hey, a kid's cartoon quoting Melville? It's worth brownie points in my book. I do think the plot would have made more sense if Tygra and Lion-O's role were switched, but maybe that is just me. Though I will conceit that Lion-O has shown the first two episodes to be more easily angered and "emotional" than Tygra, so it's not totally out of character, but still feels a bit off. The scenes with the kittens and the cook are kind of pointless though, feeling like padding. Still, the show lives up to its predecessor by offering us spectacular and extremely mind boggling locations, as well colorful critters. The plot is advanced, getting the twins together with the main group. Now, if only we could find a black guy... Add some color to the team. Maybe with some cool nunchuks...
I think the characterizations for Tygra and Lion-O in this episode make more sense when you realize that not only did Lion-O and Tygra have confirmation that Technology is real but so is Mumm-Ra. You said that Tygra is more practical and down-to-earth, so he feels that going straight to Mumm-Ra, who has an VERY well-armed army at his side and great magical powers that they may not understand, might not be the smartest thing to do at this point. Since the book of omens is implied to speak of these things, Tygra must feel that it may hold the answers to solving the current situation and it would be more practical if that they should focus on finding the book as instructed by Jaga, who as you recall is the advisor to the royal family, so it would be a good idea to listen to him. Also you did mention that since Lion-O is more emotional, his anger does seem to fit this episode, and he does grow out of it, fitting his developed into a proper ruler of the Thundercats.
^ The tygra part, if actually what the authors were going for, would have made sense if he had said it. There's even the perfect moment for them to do so when Lion-O asks Tygra "What kind of answers do they need" from the Book. But they never do. So the positions, while not entirely unjustified could've stand to be better presented.
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