Friday, August 12, 2011

Lion-O Begins His Quest

ThunderCats "Ramlak Rising" (S01E02)
by Christopher Scott 

I’d like to preface this recap with a few author’s notes. To those of you who watched the first episode and missed the second, you may think this recap is very poorly done because of the fatal character flaws throughout. I promise you, I was just as surprised. It was as if they had completely different writers for this one. I know they haven’t had much time to develop the characters, but I was floored, personally. With that, here are the details of episode two, “Ramlak Rising.” 

The episode begins with Lion-O, Cheetara, and Tygra paying homage to their fallen race. Lion-O carves the Thundercats’ crest into a wall as a fire burns in the foreground. The remaining cats discuss what the first step toward their goal must be. Both Tygra and Cheetara begin with the assumption that they will carry out the last wish of Jaga - to look for the Book of Omens. Lion-O will have nothing to do with that plan, though. Instead, he immediately takes control of his power as leader of the Thundercats and states they will be tracking down Mumm-Ra to bring him to justice and exact his revenge. Lion-O uses the precedence of his father’s rule to make the decision, stating that his father would do the same if he or Tygra had been the one to fall. Cheetara and Tygra decide to follow Lion-O rather than continue a futile argument that would only tear apart their newly-formed team. 

Shortly after starting out they encounter Wilykit and Wilykat, who had managed to survive the destruction and are now more lost than ever. The two beg to join the expedition, but Lion-O demands that they not join because he has no time to babysit. Again, Tygra and Cheetara see the only logical choice: bring them along as they clearly cannot survive on their own. Another short-lived argument arises where Lion-O makes another executive decision and leaves the duo behind. He obviously did not account for their clever trickery however; the two continue to follow them, insisting that they were going that direction anyway. 

Photo: Cartoon Network
There is a short wandering montage as we watch the team go from land to land searching for the Sea of Sands that will lead them to Mumm-Ra’s temple. Spirits are low, supplies are dwindling, and the sun is high when Wilykit spots the entrance to the shoreline of the Sea. The vast Sea of Sands stretches out before them, challenging their will, when they spy a bountiful feast in the middle of it all. I honestly thought the writers would go for the oldest cartoon trick in the book here and it would be a mirage. It is ALWAYS a mirage! Can you believe the food was actually a trap placed by pirates in the middle of the “ocean” to lure a giant squid they are tracking into the open?! Seriously! 

The pirate crew of crawfish humanoids, led by Captain Cornelius Tuna, hauls the Thundercats onto their ship and takes them captive. The captain explains that they are tracking this giant squid named Ramlak that had destroyed their homeland (déjà vu). Just as they finish the story, the squid attacks the ship. Lion-O and his companions are quick to aid in the defense of the ship from the squid, and after it retreats the captain begins to chase it. 

During this downtime Captain Tuna and Lion-O have an opportunity to bond over their rivaled lust for revenge. They each begin to exhibit an insanity and obsession with catching this squid. For those who have read Moby Dick, this unrivaled fixation makes Captain Ahab seem like a pacifist. Lion-O doesn’t skip a beat though. He never questions Tuna’s ability to lead or the sanity of his choices. The two continue to pilot the ship directly into a dangerous electrical storm.

One short side story is happening all the while this is taking place with Wilykit and Wilykat. The ship’s cook is making them all sorts of meals in the hopes to eat the children upon fattening them up. It’s amusing to watch them make a fool out of the cook as they fill themselves up and proceed to fool the cook and escape. 

Eventually they track down Ramlak the squid and proceed to engage him in battle. A very formidable foe, Ramlak begins to take apart the ship and break it in half, spilling the crew into the sandy depths. Lion-O and Captain Tuna are still on the portion of the ship that remains intact when Lion-O awakens from his madness and is concerned with the safety of the drowning crew. Tuna doesn’t believe in such weakness and stays engaged in the battle at hand. He fires a harpoon at Ramlak and is devoured as it retreats. There is a three second pause, and then it comes back full force, causing Lion-O to finally leap into action. Sword of Omens in hand, he slices through the beast, spilling the water of the homeland of the crew into the Sea of Sands. 

Lion-O seems to have returned to normal now, like magic, and decides that they should all regain focus and head for the Book of Omens. Meanwhile, we see that Mumm-Ra has returned to his lair with Grune and a battered Jaga. He is still trying to gain the location of the Book of Omens from the cleric. Jaga makes it apparent that he will never reveal such vital information willingly. Mumm-Ra reveals the answer to that predicament: a simple lantern. With the aid of an incantation Jaga’s soul is ripped from his limp body and encased in the lantern. We see his face in the glass orb of the lantern turn to anguish just before a beam of light blasts forth into what we must assume is the direction of the book. And so ends episode two.

Christopher Scott is a contributor for the television blog TheTalkingBox. He spends much of his time watching TV intended for 8 year olds when not spending it with his family in Huntsville, AL.
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