05 - Old Friends
"You'll have my loyalty when you show me you can do more with that sword than just carry it around."
Panthro. Who is being literal. This is not a metaphor about showing leadership or anything.
The episode opens in daytime, in what appears to be a burned out forest, letting me assume this is near the briar where the final battle took place. The Cats are gathered around the Thundertank while Panthro is hitting it with a hammer, eventually opening a panel to reveal an engine that is on fire. Lion-O comments "I thought he'd be smaller." While Cheetara replies "I thought he'd be less spiky."
Hrrm, Cheetara, we saw Panthro's portrait during the ceremony in his honor in the first episode, and he was wearing THE EXACT SAME THING. And the flashbacks will show he's worn the spiky thing pretty much since you all were cubs.
Also, it's clearly day time, last episode ended during the night. Did you guys just spend what, 4 hours staring at Panthro and not trading a word with him? And Tygra seems to imply they haven't really talked to him at all when he suggest Lion-O offer to help Panthro in a snarky, taunting manner (why the snark actually? It's a good idea since Lion-O is the only one with any concept of "Technology"). This is further backed up by Lion-O saying Panthro's been ignoring them.
Panthro brushes them off, though we do get a shout out to the infamous "samoflange" blopper from the original show
(again, Lion-O steps on it. We don't see it, though it sounds like a frog when Lion-O checks his foot... Later, Tygra asks "What is a samoflange?"). Turns out the thank is out of Thundrillium, which is apparently its power source. So when your tank runs out of fuel, it's engine bursts into flames? Nice design Panthro. He explains he needs to go get more at the cloud peak mine, pointing to a HUGE mountain in the background. Okay, WTF. This was CLEARLY not there last episode. Yet the surroundings imply we are outside the burned out briar.
Lion-O says they will come with him, but Panthro gets passive aggressive at them and tries to rebuke them. Lion-O pulls rank. Panthro reluctantly agrees but says that if they get in his way or slow him down, they are on his own. Remember that bit for when I am done recapping the episode. And no, the other cats do not have anything to say on the matter, this is a Panthro episode, and the rest know to keep their mouths shut!
A Decepticon interning for Mumm-Ra.
Cut to said mine, where we see the aforementioned Thundrillium. Apparently it is a purple crystal that grows out of black rocks the lizards yank out of the walls. Said black rocks hover like hellium balloons (and we later see the Thundrillium does not hover, so the black rock containing it is lighter than air...). Grune is here. I thought he was going after the book with Mumm-Ra, but apparently he's been put in charges of Mumm-ra's supply or Thundrillium. And the lizards are mining HUGE quantity of the stuff. We see that one of Grune's minions is a giant drill robot who appears at least semi-sentient.
Cut back to the cats. The twins and Snarf are being left with the tank, and you will be glad to know they have no lines of dialogue this episode. Panthro spends some time endearing himself to us by being a total dick. First by inferring they might all die going to the mine, and later by adding that its a miracle Lion-O and hit motley crew survived this long without adult supervision. Ah yes, what with Lion-O having his brother (who's constantly shown to be perceived as more talented than Lion-O himself) and a cleric (fabled elite guardians of the throne gifted with super speed) I can totally see why you think they are doomed.
This segues into Lion-O and Panthro arguing on who should be in charge. Panthro thinking that Claudus was a much better king than Lion-O. Cheetara says that Claudus fought to the bitter end but Grune's betrayal was too much.
Hrrrm no it wasn't. In fact, Claudus pretty much effortlessly beat Grune on his own. It's Mumm-Ra's shape-shifting who got him killed. Heck, Grune's army was getting beaten by the Clerics.
Panthro flashes back to when he first met Grune, saying they became inseparable since that first day on the battlefield. We see armies of cats losing badly to lizards they are fighting. Grune and Panthro (fun fact: early Panthro has a tail) meet and load a catapult. Spotting Claudus on a wall surrounded by Lizards, they fire the catapults, all the lizards fall of the wall, and leaving Claudus unharmed. He spots them, and they get shiny medals. (As opposed for a warning about almost killing the king with a Catapult, which, BTW, if you listen to Grune's words as he aims and fires the catapult
seems to be EXACTLY what he was trying to do! This isn't helped by this exchange during the reward ceremony.
Grune: Look at us Panthro. Soon we'll run this entire Kingdom.
Panthro: You planing on becoming a lion?
Grune: No. I am planning on becoming King.
Good thing Claudus confused a botched assassination attempt with a successful daring move to save his life. Flash forward to more Panthro and Grune kicking lizard ass. They are both captains now, and are having a kill contest. Flash forward again, both Grune and Panthro look like they do now. They watch young Lion-O and Tygra spar with each other. Grune again shows a clear bias towards Tygra, whom he is coaching. Oh and Grune ends his coaching with
"What you cannot earn can always be taken."
Seriously, NO ONE saw his betrayal coming? Claudus shows up, he tells them Lynx-O will become general of the armies. They protest that he's got less experience than either of them (not counting that he's, you know, blind). Claudus explains that he needs them to go after the book of omens, showing them a spiffy scroll. Grune takes the assignment badly, while Panthro does the good soldier thing and does not question it.
Back to the present, Panthro uses some "technology" to spot two lizards guarding the mine. Lion-O suggests they take em out now, Panthro decides to wait after dark. Lion-O picks up the Idiot Ball
and runs in anyway, taking out the two lizards, but getting surrounded by about two dozen more (saying "Whiskers" again. I hate that. It doesn't work at all. Please stop!). The tries to intimidate them, it fails, but someone saves him. This scene is strange, as they try to avoid showing us who is saving Lion-O, but we can both HEAR and SEE the nunchuks, so it's not like the reveal that it's Panthro carries any weight. Who were we to expect? Michelangelo?"
Panthro and Lion-O argue, Lion-O saying he gave an order. Cheetara points out he's the king, Panthro refuses to accept this as a reason to obey. Lion-O calls in question the stories of Panthro's loyalty. He replies with the page quote. Panthro leads them into the mine. They see just how much the lizards have mined, to quote Panthro "Enough to power a thousand thundertanks for a thousand years". Seeing Grune prompts Panthro to have another flashback.
Panthro and Grune depart Thundera under the cheers of a crowd, confettis and everything. Grune seems to take to his assignment, since if they return with the book, they will be more than legends. Cut a montage of the two travelings and facing all sorts of dangers. Grune clearly grows more disillusioned with this quest as time goes on. Eventually he calls it a waste of time, saying they are chasing a myth, and that Claudus sent them here because he was afraid of Grune's ambitions. To be fair Grune, the constant, thinly veiled references to how you would kill him to become king PROBABLY didn't help your case. Panthro however remains steadfastly loyal. Eventually Grune wakes up one night hearing Mumm-ra's voice talking to him, promising him power if he comes to him. Panthro can't hear anything, when Grune goes to chase after the voice, Panthro follows. They travel for days until they find a giant Pyramid, Grune declaring "We are here!" before doing an Evil Laugh
Back to the present, Panthro tells them they move on his lead, which causes Lion-O to grumble a bit. But they do. They ambush a lizard patrol, and keep drawing more of them to walk into the tunnel one at time to get their asses kicked. Hilariously, one of the knocked out lizard gets tossed OUT of the tunnel, in the middle of a group, and they STILL don't sound the alarm. We do see Tygra use his invisibility. Been a while. Eventually Lion-O uses the sword to destroy one of the Lizards' rifles, causing it to explode and draw the attention of Grune. He gloats about how they brought the sword to him, and will never make it out alive. As they walk into the main room, Panthro appears behind Grune.
After the commercial, Grune taunts Panthro with how he (Panthro) has always been hard to kill. The others just look on as Panthro unveils his own magical super power: THE FLASHBACK.
Back at the Pyramid, Mumm-Ra continues to call Grune, who is now looking like a crack addict desperately rummaging through his belonging for one more fix. He climbs the pyramid and finds a button, which causes it to glow all machine-like, and open up. Seems Mumm-ra is a former System Lord living inside a landed Ha'tak.
Panthro and Grune make their way inside, where Grune finds Mumm-ra's hi-tech sarcophagus (which is the chin/beard thing of the Egyprian-style head) and opens it, unsealing Mumm-ra, whom both cats recognize. Mumm-Ra gives some exposition on how he wants the sword of Omens back (Except when he said two episode ago that it's the book that really mattered, but whatever). He says they will help him. Grune signs in, asking Panthro to join him. Panthro refuses, asking what's gone into Grune. Grune explains he's been offered to "do what (he) always dreamed of". AGAIN, why did no one see this coming? Apparantly Grune's desire of killing the kings are so well known, he doesn't even need to mention it to Panthro! The two cats get into a fight, with Panthro being tossed into a seemingly bottomless pit.
Back to the present, Panthro points out what I did in my first review: That Grune's betrayal was pointless, as he's still not the king, despite all the deaths he caused. Grune challenged Panthro to a fight, which he accepts, but the Driller robot arrives, allowing Grune to run away like a little girl. The machine makes swift work of Panthro, but Lion-O takes out his holy avenger, and after causing some lightning and a rather uneventful fight, swiftly defeats the robot. Seriously BORING. The robot tries to drill through the eye of Tundera, they push at each other, and the robot's top drill gets cut, which somehow destroys the driller. A fight where barely nothing is happening won't get cooler no matter how many lasers and lightning you put on top of it. This, however, impresses Panthro. Sadly, the driller was a Load-Bearing Boss
, and the mine begins to collapse. They run, but Cheetara remembers why they came here in the first place, and uses her super speed to get one of the crystals before the mine caves in.
Back outside the mine, Lion-O says the mine's collapse should slow down Mumm'ra army for a while. I doubt it. If a single crystal can power your tank for any worthwhile amount of time, if Mumm-ra's got a single bucket of the stuff in reserve, he can do way more than you guys. And that's not counting that with the mine having run for a while, he might have several thousands mining carts full of the stuff stashed somewhere. Panthro says that Lion-O's skills with the sword have convinced him to be loyal to him. But Lion-O still doesn't get to drive the tank.
This episode is really about Panthro and Grune, and I welcome a non-Lion-O centric episode for once. Panthro is shown to be a man who respects strengths, and those, as he puts it, can carry their own weight. He liked Claudus for it, and Grune too. When Lion-O shows he can do this, that's all Panthro needs to give his undying loyalty. Myself, I am not sure this is the first quality he should be looking for in a leader... The last bit of humor at the end leaves me hopeful that Panthro, while loyal, will not turn into a walking carpet unwilling to speak against any bad idea Lion-O might have.
Grune is the one we learn the most about, this episode. He's an ambitious man, his ambitions far outweighing his means. He wishes to be king, but not being a Lion, it's impossible for him. He's worked all his life to get where he is, and believes nothing can't be achieved if you put sufficient strength and work into it. This nice characterization however is kind of undone by the fact that Grune is still an idiot and incompetent. Announcing his treasonous plans to anyone who walks up to him, only avoiding punishment coz, apparently, no one cares. He still is laughably ineffective as a villain, running away from Panthro at the first chance. Really, when he told Lion-O they "would not be leaving alive", did he ACTUALLY have a plan to get the sword from him? Coz that robot didn't even make Lion-O break a sweat.
The episode is average really. I dislike how half the cast are shoved aside to make way for the Panthro/Grune flashbacks. Heck, the twins have no dialogue this episode and are left in the tank at the first chance, and Tygra has exactly 5 lines of dialogue in the entire episode! It's an okay plot, but the ease with which Lion-O gains Panthro's loyalty removes any impact from it. Similarly, the impact of Grune's betrayal is lessened when he's practically gloating of it from the moment they met. It removes any tragedy from seeing two friends fight each other and instead makes it ridiculous of Panthro for never having seen the betrayal coming. Think how much more effective the break up between Panthro and Grune could have been if Grune had been just as steadfastly loyal as Panthro, and its the toil of being sent away on a fool's quest after myths that made him question his allegiance, and Claudus' leadership. Only then would he hear Mumm-ra's call. It would have given more weight to the events, and not made everyone look like imbeciles for not seeing the betrayal coming from the one guy who tells everyone how he's planning to betray everyone.
Similarly, the final confrontation is a wasted opportunity. The former friends meet for the first time since the betrayal... and Grune runs away like a little girl, leaving his robot mook to get pwned by Lion-O. It only makes Grune look like even less than a threat, while devaluating all the tension they've been building up this episode with the flashbacks. Panthro has all this anger built towards Grune and... nothing comes out of it. Yes, I understand, they are saving it for later this season, but that still killed the momentum of the episode.
Speaking of flashbacks, they do leave me wanting to know what Panthro did between falling into that pit and meeting Lion-O. Hopefully we will get those answers soon.