08 - The Duelist and the Drifter
Oh, man, shut up already. Why do you sword guys always gotta talk about how cool your swords are?
Our episode opens and we see the Cats are still at the Tower of Omens. Man, good thing Mumm-ra never bothered to send his army after them when he retreated. The time they've spent here is lampshaded by Panthro in the Thundertank and we see Tygra is with him, wiring the book of Omens into the console.
Hrrrm... Since when does Tygra know anything about technology (with the possible exception guns)? Last we heard he was derisive of the whole thing and it was Lion-O who had spent most of his life researching and trying to learn about technology.
Anyway, we learn that Lion-O is off to get supplies, after said wiring blows up into their faces, and we cut to him and our actual plot. Say goodbye to the rest of the cast, they have no
impact or even presence in the plot, only making a small cameo at the end of the episode.
Anyway, Lion-O and Snarf approach a city with a wall made out of swords. There we meet the rabbit-like drifter. He's snagged himself on the wall of sword and asks Lion-O for help. As he's dislodged, we learn that he can drift on the air like a loose leaf, tearing physics a new asshole. He explain that this town's hat is swords. He advises Lion-O to leave "or don't. I don't care." Lion-O says he's not worried, he has his Holy Avenger and with it can't lose. Doesn't seem to have worked that way for your dad. Or when Mumm-ra was whooping your ass two episodes ago. The drifter mocks him, telling him that the town relishes people with Lion-O's overconfidence, again advising him to leave, constantly punctuating his advices with "I don't care". He's then blown away by the wind, leaving Lion-O confused.
Lion-O goes to buy supplies but soon finds out that with Thundera's destruction, no one accepts their currency. He advises that if Lion-O wants money, he should join some sword contests. I need to take a pause to deliver praises where it is due (And believe me, this episode needs all the praising it can muster), I LOVE the variety of the creatures we see in this town. All of them odd but eye-catching. It's a great sight.
We cut to a contest where people test how awesome their swords are by striking a pillar of rock and measuring how long the resulting gouge is. We see three contenders, each one exalting the merits of their swords. This reminded me of the page quote. Anyway, Lion-O joins in, and to no one's surprise, the Sword of Omens cleaves the pillar in two vertically, cleanly. A mysterious figure with a TON of swords on his back watches. Now with money, Lion-O buys his supplies, but the mysterious figure approaches him. The titular duelist is some purple dude with a Dastardly Whiplash
and red eyes, just so we know he's evil. He explains he wants the Sword of Omen, and tries to challenge Lion-O. Lion-O, showing he's not a total idiot, refuses, since he's got what he wants. The Duelist then tries to insult the size of his penis
ego, but again Lion-O shows wisdom and ignores him. Then the Duelist calls him a coward unworthy of his dead dad, and now Lion-O says it's on. They settle to fight in the square at high noon. The merchant explains the Duelist is legendary, taking the swords of those he defeat, and having never lost. Lion-O immediately regret what he got into.
Cut to Lion-O training. The Drifter shows up again snagged on the wall. Lion-O tells him he knows he thinks he should've left, the drifter says he doesn't care, taunting him on how he's going to lose his sword. He mocks Lion-O's skill, but Lion-O, Completely Missing the Point
, keeps talking about how awesome his sword is. Eventually the drifter challenges Lion-O to split the reed he keeps in his mouth with his sword in three strikes. Lion-O says he can do it in one, but a dozen strike later, Lion-O sees he's no match for someone who can make physics itself his bitch. Did I mention the Drifter is a smug bastard? For someone who keeps saying how he "doesn't care" and "doesn't try", he sure is dripping smugness. He leaves Lion-O with our pointlessly cryptic Aesop "Willows are weak, yet they bind other woods. A weakness can be turned into a strength." The Drifter then begins telling his backstory. Of course, being a cryptic douchebag, he says it in the third person, but the flashbacks make no effort to hide that it's him, even Lion-O figures it out.
Long story short, he was a legendary swordmaker, who created a masterpiece sword called the Sword of Hatanzo (Who is Hatanzo? The Drifter?). Then the Duelist came, challenged him for his sword. The Drifter was so confident that his sword would make up for his lack of skills that he accepted. Got his ass beaten, and his sword taken, at which point he gave up all care and became the shell of a man he used to be (and gained super powers through despair, apparantly). Oh, he says the sword of Hatanzo is the sword the Drifter currently uses. Except that if you have two braincells to rub togheter, you may notice that the sword of hatanzo, as seen in the flashback never appears on the duelist
. It's not amongst the sword he carries, nor is it one of the swords he uses during combat. In fact, the duelist uses the same swords during combat in the flashback as he does now, except one of them turned gold for some reason. Also, the Drifter calls the Duelist a villain. Why? He won the sword fairly. You decided to accept his challenge. What makes him evil? The Dastardly Whiplash
Look at the hilts
Lion-O asks the Drifter how to beat the sword of Hatanzo, unaware that the animators did not include it in the episode, and the drifter tells him he can't. The Duelist and Lion-O then square off, under the Drifter's gaze. The Duelist defeats Lion-O so fast, it's almost comical. He takes the Sword of Omens and leave, leaving Lion-O distraught over how he screwed up. He decides however to win it back. Sadly we must first endure the Drifter again, who is stuck, AGAIN. Lion-O asks him for a sword, but he refuses, because it's too much work and he doesn't give a damn. Lion-O decides to do it himself, apparantly scoring himself a forge. As he's forging, the Drifter arrives, and comments on how Lion-O sucks at sword smithing. He then says "Here, let me show you." and by "Show you" he means do it for him, since he immediately throws Lion-O out of the workshop. I don't think you know what "show" means buddy.
We get a bit of humor as Lion-O keeps asking the drifter it's ready, annoying him. And whatever annoys the Drifter amuses me. Finally he gives Lion-O a sword. The tries to remind Lion-O of the willow crap from earlier, but Lion-O brushes him off.
Lion-O goes to challenge the Duelist, who recognizes the sword, despite the fact that it looks nothing like the sword of hatanzo. Lion-O challenges him for all his swords, but the duelist accepts only if Lion-O ups the ante by putting his life on the line to match the bet.
So back in the square, with a crowd this time, Lion-O fights the Duelist. This time he holds his own, giving the Duelist quite the challenge. They exchange quips, but soon Lion-O's new sword breaks. To be fair, again, I have to say that through out the fight, the animators have left subtle clues to the lack of quality of the sword, showing it gaining cracks and dents as they trade blows.
Lion-O looks defeated till the Drifter shouts "Willows are weak Lion-O!". Weirdest cheer ever... This causes Lion-O to suddenly gain the ability to warp physics like the Drifter, using the same moves the later had earlier used against him to prevent him from cutting the reed. He also gains Cheetara-esque super speed. Sure, why not. Lion-O exclaims "I understand now." That makes one of us.
As they fight, Lion-O tells us the lesson he's learned "Power alone is rigid. But if you can bend with the wind, you'll never break." He then proceeds to disarm the duelist, who surrenders.
Lion-O talks to the Drifter, who, in a genuinely funny bit, explains it took him years to make The sword the animators forgot, that he made Lion-O's in an afternoon, so it's a piece of junk. He says that Lion-O already had what he needed to win in himself.
But the Duelist has not given up, he draws a short dagger and lunges at Lion-O, only for the drifter to parry his blade with his reed. WHAT?????? He then smack down the duelist with the reed and tickles his nose. Man this is stupid.
Lion-O regains his sword and the Drifter takes the rest, invigorated by his new purpose to return the swords to their rightful owners. Lion-O returns to the Thundertank, where Tygra and Panthro wonder what took him so long.
Okay, this was bad. Probably the worst episode we've had so far. The Drifter I found insufferable. He's pointlessly cryptic, smug and his constant "I don't care" remarks do not endear him to me. The Aesop of the episode is stupid. I mean, I understand what they were going for, that Lion-O needs to learn to depend more on his skill than on his Holy Avenger, but the resolution is just stupid, with Lion-O instead sprouting super powers. And that's not even going into the Drifter's own reality warping powers.
The Duelist on the other end is pointlessly evil. They added the knife bit at the end because they felt the need to make him do something actually evil. Otherwise, for the rest of the episode, what makes him villainous?
You may notice I've not mentioned Snarf much in this recap. Mostly because he just spends all his scene either doing something cute, or making reaction faces (cutely). He's got no bearings on the plot, like any of the other Thundercats.
Speaking of which, the rest of the main cast BARELY appears in this episode. Cheetara makes a silent cameo, and I had to pause to even notice that the twins were in the episode at all. It's 8 episode in, and the Non-Lion-O characters barely have had any screentime. This is with the show creators mentioning the return of other classic characters from the original series. Guys, you barely use the ones you have right now, hold off on adding more.