Since I’m kinda jumping into the reviews of Thundercats I want to say a few things before I review episode 4. One, I was VERY impressed with the opening two-parter of this new series. In fact I was surprised at how enjoyable it was. The animation is a complete standout as mentioned by R3 along with the music. It brings to mind shows like Avatar: the Last Airbender. Lately it gets easy to take these things for granted but after watching another redone 80’s classic, Voltron Force on Nickleodeon, I can not reiterate enough just how much I appreciate the quality of the art and sound. Voltron’s are horrible without comparing them to Thundercats, and when you do its nearly unwatchable. The voice acting has also been very good so far, particularly the main hero cats. Once again, the voice work is something so easy to overlook until it’s so bad you can’t help but notice (*cough Voltron).
PLAY BY PLAY
The Thundercats are being tracked by the Lizards as they continue on their quest to find the Book of Omens. As the Lizards catch up, Lion-o commands a retreat into a briar forest where the machines can’t follow them. They run into a group of people (?) called the Petalars, sort of a hybrid of the citizens of Whoville from Dr. Seuss and flowers. The Thundercats travel with the Petalars to discover the fabled Cliff of Winds that will return the Petalars to their native land after being trapped in the forest for generations.
As Lion-o bonds with one young Petalar named Emrick, he learns how fleeting life can be and how precious your time to live to the fullest is. It turns out that the Petalars life spans only a few days at most and as Emrick grows into their leader the group figures out that their destination does not actually exist. As the lizards burn the forest from the outside and a team attacks the group on the inside, the Cats are inspired by their tiny companions and the hope that they all possess.
The Petalars rise out of the forest using the updraft caused by the fire and Lion-o leads the Cats to face the Lizard in a fight to the death. At the last minute a mysterious machine appears out of nowhere that completely decimates the lizard forces which turns out to be Panthro piloting the Thundertank.
I’m a little torn over this episode. It’s a great idea in theory and it’s episodes like this that force people to recognize that all animated shows aren’t just shallow entertainment for children. However I do feel like some things held this episode back from the quality of the premiere.
The pacing felt a bit…off. Not only within the episode but I think this story would’ve been better later on in the season, after we know our characters better and have seen Lion-o gradually struggle under the weight of responsibility and slip into discouragement. In the premier he’s pretty carefree aside from being a bit of an outsider. In the Moby Dick episode he’s too power drunk as king. Now all of a sudden he’s reminiscing on childhood and retreating away from the lizards he was all to gung-ho to get revenge on a few episodes ago? His characterization is a wreck, which is probably the most realistic portrayal of someone in his position, but it doesn’t work well on a story basis. These are the kinds of things that turn a show that wants to tell a more epic story arc into one-off episodes.
Emeric was the character that stole the show this episode. Even as a one-off I can see him being a character that viewers remember for a while. It would’ve been great if it’d been more of a mystery about how Emeric aged though. One minute he’s a kid, then he off screen for 8 seconds and the next thing he’s a teenager. Lion-o takes it so in stride I was wondering if I missed something. Perhaps a more gradual/evened out aging process or a more cryptic method of how/why Emeric seemed to age fast. Once again this seems to be more of a pacing problem. I understand why they sped it up due to only having 22 minutes to tell the story. It really is a shame. His story could have benefitted from being a two-part episode so we don’t figure out until later that it’s only been a few days tops. Maybe the Cats themselves are becoming confused as to how long they had been stuck in the forest.
Needless to say, the ending scenes of this episode were great. The Petalar’s hope being rewarded as Emeric dies peacefully and happy after a lifetime of leading his people to their home was as poignant as it should be. Lion-o choosing death and glory over running was a true testament to his leadership and maturity.
In closing this was a good episode; one that may grow on me over time. However, this show may be almost too ambitious in the stories it tries to tell per episode. I honestly just didn’t have enough time to get invested in the Petelars as Lion-o did. Even in the great premier there were a few tiny parts where it seemed like it could’ve been fleshed out more. I’m worried that as it moves forward the deeper storylines may suffer due to lack of time or perhaps the creators not wanting to have multiple part episodes.
Now I’m too young to remember the original show and was never impressed with what I saw as an adult but liked trials episode when I was younger. I hope to see that concept return in the future. Thank god for no talking Snarf. As someone not a fan of the old show I really, REALLY don’t need the sword of omens releasing scene is EVERY episode. It ridiculous. The best call to arms sequences are always short sweet and only dramatic on certain occasions (avengers assemble, roll out autobots, etc..). The scene in this episode would’ve been so much more poignant if Lion-o simply gave his speech, pulled out the sword and rushed into battle without saying another word.
• Snarf c-blocking Lion-o and Cheetara was hilarious!
• The Thundertank seems more advanced than Lizard tech – it completely decimated their machines
• Pantro’s intro handled very well
• Lion-o’s line : “I can see you now” was AWESOME. So glad to see the show isn’t afraid to portray actual death by the hands of the heroes. This kinda negates one theory of why Sym-bionic Titan got cancelled (random I know but it still stings)
• The creators stated that a goal is being made of making Tygra a more compelling character than in the original series. But so far he’s pretty inconsistent in temperament and in the background. I hope they don’t just have the love triangle between Cheetara, Lion-o and him being the only thing he does.
o Like the team consisting of different specialties. It made them a true threat
o Be great to see some portrayed more sympathetically as in the pilot. That was the kind of mature and layered development that could put this show on another level
o The voices for the villains were a bit too Saturday morning cartoonish for me though. In a bad way
• There were several references to age and childhood in this episode. Most from Lion-o. But how old is he and the others supposed to be? He was old enough to be groomed for kingship in the beginning but it’s not really clear. I assumed he was a teen but his comment about Emeric’s teen years threw me. Now I’m not sure. I do think that Cheetara is still supposed to be older than him but not by much.
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?
Definitely. Going into another nation and leading them to safety away a terrorizing group that was actually brought in by the “saviors” is perfect. Then choosing to fight rather than retreat like weaklings is great.