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04 - Song of the Petalars
You have been given the gift of life. It is a fragile gift, not one that you can keep forever. But it is the most precious gift in all the world. Use it well, little one.Note, when I am writing this, I often have NO CLUE how things are spelt, especially when the words are said by characters rapidly or with strange speaking pattern (I look at you lizards), so don't be surprised if some names look weird. Our episode begins with a lizard army with some non-CG robots. General Slythe is talking to three lizardmen who are each doing their part to track the Thundercats. A chameleon (that goes nameless for 75% of the episode, turns out he's called Komai (last name Leon?)), a salamander/newt called Cask and a big muscular crocodile called Sorrow. The army gets moving, and the robots become CG again. Annoying the crap out of me for changing inbetween shots Cut to night time and to the kittens doing some antics with no bearing on the plot. These somehow remind Lion-O of the loss of his dad, how suddenly life can end and how one's innocence can end just abruptly. Cheetara gets comforting, and we get a hint of UST. Hope you liked that bit of Cheetara character, that's all she gets this episode. Ditto the kittens, though they get to do cute stuff in the background. Since Cheetara is forbidden from getting any character moments, Snarf appears out of nowhere, and tackles Lion-O. He's spotted the Lizard army. Seems they travel in the least subtle way possible, lights on and chainsawing their way through the forest. Cheetara notes that this is the entire lizard army. Remember that point. She says if Lion-O gives the word they will attack. Lion-O opts to retreat, since they are kind of outnumbered and out-gunned, what with the giant robots and all. Tygra protests that Thundercats don't retreat, "Hope comes from action" as their father thought them but Lion-O pulls rank and reminds him where that got Claudus. Okay, WTF is up with Lion-O and Tygra's personalities being all over the place. Last week, Tygra was insisting on finding the book, and not just going after the lizards or Mumm-ra. Was there an unspoken "unless we see a giant army of lizards we can go get ourselves killed by along the way" ? Seriously, we HAD this debate. LAST EPISODE. And I call bullshit on Thundercats don't retreat. Your dad sure retreated his army when he saw the robots (okay, so they got blown up for it). You yourself retreated from Mumm-Ra in the palace Tygra! Heck, you and Cheetara suggested retreating out of a storm to Ahab last week! Seriously, is there some sort of Idiot Ball for revenge the brothers trade between one another? This is just plain Bad Writing. I mean, it could have made sense if Tygra had said "Oh, we can't keep running forever, they've been following us for X days", but no. We see the trio of lizards guiding the mechs (who keep alternating between CG and not CG, to my annoyance). The Thundercats eventually find a giant sphere of briars they can move into, the mechs a lizards should not be able to follow. Tygra protest again that they cannot just hide to win the war (which at least is a better argument than his previous one, though again, it's the entire lizard army, what do you hope to do? Win by getting killed?). Lion-O again pulls rank and they go in. Man, aren't we glad neither Cheetara or the twins have anything to contribute to this debate? Cut to the titular Petalars. These adorable flower people are gathered in circle around an old flower dude. A little cg seed falls from nowhere (and yes, we will never know where baby Petalars come from. They just come out of thin air. We see they have genders and seem to have mates, but the seeds just drop out of thin air!). He gives the page quote to the seed which turns to a Petalar baby, before immediately dropping dead and dissolving into dried leaves. The scene is beautiful, with the titular song a haunting melody, and the gorgeous animation and background giving real power to the scene.
Their song is cut short by the arrival of the cats. Follows an akward staring moment, with some terrified Petalars. When out comes a young Petalar with a Motor Mouth, bombarding Lion-O with questions till Lion-O shushes him. Lion-O says the young one, named Emmerich (Roland?) reminds him of himself when he was young. Everyone laughs at this. And I mean, everyone, the cats, the kittens and the Petalars. I don't know why it's so funny. Are Lion-O's childhood antics THAT far known the Petalars know of them? The petalars drop a bit of exposition on us, explaining they come from a place creatively named "The Garden". Some day a terrible wind arose and carried them out of it to this briar dome, where they have been lost since. Wait, killer wind, plant spores... GOD. IT'S THE HAPPENING! ABORT! RUN WHILE THERE'S STILL TIME! They explain they have a map leading to the cliffs of wind, which could them blow them back home. Okay, so why haven't you tried to following the map yet? Seriously, it never occurred to anyone? Lion-O agrees to help them on their journey, and like that, everyone gets going. Well not yet, since no one can read the map. Lion-O and Emmerich kill time by having the Lord of the Thundercats teach the little one swordplay. Emmerich has a tiny sword made from a thorn you see. He drops the cliche line "When I grow up, I want to be just like you!" of course. Lion-O tells him to enjoy his childhood, he'll miss it when it's gone. The bonding is interrupted when some vulture bird thing from hell flies by and snatches Emmerich. Lion-O tells him to defend himself, and Emmerich uses his sword to free himself. He falls some distance away. Lion-O calls for him, and out from the briars emerges a teenaged Emmerich. Emmerich explains that to him he was lost for a long time but for Lion-O it was but instants. Cheetara arrives with a little toddler Petalar who used to be the baby we saw get born, and she exposit that the Petalars seem to live for a single day (We see a few old ones die during the march. No ceremony for you geezers!). From their perspective, this day is a whole life time. This actually leads to some of the Fridge Logic of the episode, the Petalars don't actually live FASTER. They hold conversations at the same speed as the Thundercats, and except for ageing (Which, we find out, they strictly do when the camera is not looking at them), they don't do anything faster than anyone. So it gets really odd whenever in the episode Emmerich makes mentions of the time they have spent with the Thundercats as being long, when it really has not. Is it normal for Petalars that their whole childhood might last for the time of one conversation? The Fridge Logic comes in when the episode has An Aesop about living life to the fullest, Carpe Diem and all that, coming from a species that is, frankly, incapable of doing that. You'd think Petalars would have evolved to be able to do more in that one day of life they have. Cut to the lizards. Turns out their mechs' circular saw are twarted by the large briars. Curse you plants! Slythe sends his trio of special mooks after the Thundercats. Back to the cats, who are still marching with their new friends. Cheetara and Tygra exposits that they are going nowhere. Tygra has taken over as map reader/navigator. Emmerich is practising his swordplay, with Lion-O congratulating him on the progress. The hell vulture returns, Emmerich going back to attack his "nemesis" but gets disarmed and Lion-O beats the bird monster away, telling Emmerich he's could have gotten killed. Emmerich tells him to shove it, but Lion-O brushes it off as teenage rebellion.
Cut to the trio of lizards tracking, the back to the march. More old Petalars die of old age, and Lion-O monologues about how We Are as Mayflies and the futility of it all. Emmerich returns, adult now, following another offscreen growth spur. Emmerich rebuffs him and tells him they have lots of time to have many adventures and make their marks. Lion-O agrees. Emmerich snatches the map from Cheetara and recognizes a landmark, announcing they are almost there. Everyone is cheered by the news, except Tygra, coz he's a jerk this episode. As they begin moving forward the lizard trio ambushes them, easily dispatching the Thundercats thanks to having surprise on their side. Emmerich charges Komai, but gets tail sweeped away. He then rallies the Petalars, saying Lion-O's prepared him for this all his life, and the Thundercats have always been their friends. They charge, turning into a pollen cloud that, and I kid you not, distracts the lizards with hay fever. This both awesome and stupid. It needs a new word, stupawesome! Cheetara and Tygra easily dispatch the distracted Sorrow and Cask. Komai turns invisible, but the kittens pelt him with fruits. Lion-O then slashes him with his Holy Avenger. Komai drops to the ground, and while the show ain't clear, I assume he's dead since he just took a Holy Avenger to the face. Damn, so much about these guys becoming some sort of recurring mooks. Well, I suppose Sorrow and Cask are still alive, but Komai's the only one who got any substantial dialogue. That's gonna be an awkward afterlife too, dying by hay fever, fruits and sword to the face. Lion-O congratulates Emmerich on his actions as the group flee. They reach the cliff of winds and find... Nothing. Just more briars. Back to Slythe, who's living the high life what with gorging himself on fruits and having a massage. He gets tired of waiting and orders his men to burn the briars down. When one points out that this would doom Komai and his friends (and this is where we learn Komai's name. AFTER he died.) Slythe tells them they are expendable. No worry, as Komai already suffered from a terminal case of swordface. Cut to night time and the Thundercats and Petalars sit, all depressed. For extra angst, realize that in the time between the arrival scene and this one, a whole generation of Petalars probably died in soul-crushing despair. Tygra, Emmerich and Lion-O wonder if they misread the map, before guessing that the map was probably a fake, created to give the future generations of Petalars hope. Lion-O gets all emo at hope being nothing but an illusion. They then see the fires approaching. Lion-O orders a retreat, but Emmerich points out that the fires are creating an updraft the Petalars could use to escape the briars. Of course, there is no saying the wind will blow them home, or even to a place not worst than the briar, who has supported them for generations, but don't let my cynicism get in the way of a resolution. The Petalars begin to climb a plant to fly off into the updraft. Sadly this means the camera looked away from Emmerich for 30 seconds, and he's now old. He tells Lion-O not to worry, that what matters is not how long you live, but how fully you lived. The remaining Petalars do a ceremony for him, while Lion-O says he's sorry he never got him home. Emmerich replies it's the journey that matters, then dies in Lion-O's hands. Well, not exactly, first we are treated to a flashback OF THE VERY SAME EPISODE showing us key Lion-O Emmerich scenes. Still, besides that rather silly thing, it's a very touching scene.
The Petalars fly off, and Lion-O decides they will go face yhe Lizards, repeating Tygra's earlier bullshit claim about the Thundercats not retreating. He makes some claim about living to the fullest of their short lives. Okay, dude, I can get behind that, but why go and shorten that life further? I mean, I am not sure that walking towards certain doom counts as "living to the fullest". Lion-O does the triple thunder battle cry, and for the first time we see the Thundercats bat-signal emanate from the sword, high on the sky. Of course none of the Lizards spot this. The cats charge out of he briars and put up a good fight, but of course they are no match for the mechs. Notable, it seems that Tygra's ditching of the whip for the gun is permanent. Since the series would end here, a Deus ex Machina arrives in the form of a familiar tank shaped like a feline, who makes quick work of the mechs, dodging their attacks, and routing the lizards after blowing up the mechs. The tank stops, and bulky, shadow-covered driver emerges. A lizard jumps him, but is quickly dispatched by some fancy work with nunchucks. The cats look up at him.
Lion-O: Who are you?
???: Name's Panthro.And the episode ends.
Okay, where to begin. On the first, I will say I was annoyed that this was ANOTHER Lion-O episode. Cheetara and the twins suffer from a crippling lack of character development. Panthro's arrival guarantees he'll get the spotlight next episode, meaning that the much needed character bits for these three will be further delayed. And that's not even getting into Tygra, who gets plenty of character bits... except they make NO SENSE. The Petalar plot, once you get past the Fridge Logic, is very strong. There's a sadness inherent to their short lived existence, but the episode manage to counter it with a decent hopeful undertone. Watching Emmerich's whole life happen before our eyes is touching. And while I generally care very little for characters who are introduced and killed within a single episode of a show, the Petalar's gimmick made it work in Emmerich's favor. Komai and his guys showed promise. Lets go hoping that if he IS dead, we see Sorrow and Cask again. Panthro's arrival, is a mixed bag. On the negative side, it happens WAY too soon. Not only are we lacking character development for most of our cast, but on top of that, we barely have a status quo. It's only been two episodes since the pilot, way too early for the viewer to really get a vibe of how things are going. And already the writers are shaking things up by adding a new member to team. Also, remember Cheetara saying this was the entire lizard army? Panthro just routed them. Alone. How are we EVER suppose to find these guys threatening? The ENTIRE army got routed by ONE tank! On the pro side, his entrance was awesome, and the cliffhanger guarantees we will be back next week. His Deus ex Machina arrival also makes sense what with the giant Thundercat logo the sword projected. Despite some stumbling blocks (like Tygra's odd behavior along with the others I mentioned), this episode is really good. Better than the last one. Now if we could get some much needed character development for someone else than Lion-O.
I can't help but think they accidentally Firefly'd. You know, mixing up the plots of the episodes or something? It would have made a lot more sense if this was near the end of the season and they'd been journeying for months and were breaking down.
I was hoping for improvement from the last episode, but this one was slightly worse. Hopefully Cheetara was induldging in hyperbole an maybe Tygra's sanction against retreat makes an exception for giant sandsea monsters and ancient undead wizards. flashbacks from the current episode were unforgivable.
Also, I hate it when works invoke Set Swords To Stun.
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