Here’s a thought: Maybe Skeletor isn’t evil. Maybe he’s just a jerk.
Background: Growing up, I was K-Mart spoiled. As long as I was cool with Go-Bots, I never wanted for anything. As such, I grew up with She-Ra action figures instead of the He-Man action figures. And that’s about the extent of what I remember about the old Masters of the Universe cartoon.
Until recently. Recently, I was hanging out with a lady who loves the old He-Man cartoon. Loves, LOVES, LOOOVVVEEESSS, the old He-Man cartoon. To the point where I had better damn well come to love them, too, because that was what we would always end up doing. And that’s when I realized that Skeletor is just an effin’ jerk.
Evidence: The He-Man and the Masters of the Universe episode entitled “The Greatest Show on Eternia.”
In this episode, we learn a few things about…everyone, I guess. First off, Orko is an annoying child. Secondly, Cringer is a stick in the damn mud. Stop whining, already! If they had twitter accounts (and I’m sure they probably do), I would unfollow them after three tweets. “@Cringerpants: Adam wants me to go in the forest, but I’m too scared, even though I’ve got a magic alter-ego.” “@Cringerpants: I saw my shadow earlier today. It scared me LITERALLY to death. Even though I’m also a MAGIC BEAST.” Ugh. I can’t press unfollow fast enough.
The other thing we learn is that Skeletor is a five-year-old. He finds out that the space circus, or what the hell ever, won’t perform at Snake Mountain. He finds this out after apparently asking them then not waiting for the answer. In anger, he does some magic thing to knock the circus plane/train mash-up out of the sky. Either that, or the clown driving the plain (mash up of ‘plane’ and ‘train’) was just like an Earth clown, all drunk and creepy and NOT in possession of a class A license.
Regardless, He-Man saves the day with his super breath (yeah, He-Man has super-breath. If we focus on that bit of insanity, we’ll never get anywhere). He lands the space plain (once again, that’s a combination of “plane” and “train” and not a misspelling of “plane”). Skeletor throws a hissy fit that He-Man kept him from ruining the circus, giving me my first inkling that he is not so much evil as a total dick.
Back in Eternia, Crackers the Clown (you heard me), the drunk, degenerate clown that was piloting the circus space plain (I can’t emphasize enough that this is a portmanteau of “plane” and “train” and not a typo of the word “plane”), using Mickey Mouse’s voice, explains to Orko that circus people are lonely, horrible beings that no one should aspire to be.
It is important to note that this marks the greatest stall tactic in the history of stall tactics. The simple phrase “Ohhh…umm…This is Crackers. He’s a clown.” Then he runs away.
Another bit of evidence: Beastman and Evil Lynne just hang out in Eternia without anyone saying a peep. Not, “Hey, aren’t those Skeletor’s two main henchpersons?” Not, “Run, it’s two super powered beings that frequently try to take over the kingdom!” Not nothin’. They just roam Eternia freely until they cause some trouble. That trouble is a minor inconvenience for a circus not run in a world full of super powered magic dudes, yet somehow turns this whole kingdom on its ear. Some animals run around. Let’s panic!
Anywho, Evil Lynne magics up some “super strong” bars to hold He-Man, which he, to the surprise of no one save Evil Lynne, bends handily. He defeats the villains, and, instead of imprisoning them, he boots ‘em out of the circus area. Not out of town. Not deporting them. Boots them out of the circus area.
Then, according to Man-at-Arms, we find out that they “call him He-Man” because he can put a bunch of tents up at once (Man-at-Arms’ words, not mine).
Then we have the main plot happen. Orko wants to learn the trapeze, but is denied. Apparently his ability to fly will cause him to get hurt ON THE HIGH WIRE! Blah, blah, what these characters are saying does not make ANY sense, blah.
Crackers walks by Skeletor’s not-at-all discreet skull-shaped tent that no one noticed until now. Noticing how out of place this tent is, Crackers goes to examine it, and gets tossed to some mountains as his reward. Not murdered. Not turned into magic rats. Just tossed a short distance away. Which is good for Skeletor, because Crackers was the only one in the circus with any balls, because Skeletor immediately takes over the circus, that’s still sitting in the middle of Eternia (what the hell is He-Man doing in the interim?).
We take a slight side-step from my main points to bring to your attention that Crackers causes an avalanche by loudly talking like Mickey Mouse, so he says, in his loud Mickey Mouse voice “My echo caused that rock slide. I better be quiet.” Also, I think he keeps a bird in his pants.
Back to main points (AKA: The end of the episode):
Having taken over the circus, Skeletor uses a disembodied head to gloat to the citizens of Eternia. Note that I said “gloat to” and not “enslave,” “control” or “kill” them. Gloat to. Might I take this time to reiterated: ORKO IS MAGIC! Seriously. I know you’re an idiot, but DO SOMETHING!
So, He-Man finally shows back up to knock Skeletor around. They end up fighting on the trapeze, the self-same trapeze they told Orko earlier in the day that it would take years for him to master. They picked it up fairly quickly (that is to say “immediately”).
Skeletor sucks at the high-wire and falls. At first, he tries to just limp away. Like the fat kid saying “fine, I’m leaving!” After getting pelted by too many dodge balls. He stops after a few steps, then says, “Better not go that way, that crowd will be pretty angry with me. Once again, I ask you to note that he is magic, and these people are just standing there looking pissed. None of them magic. They’re not attacking him. They’re not trying to throw him in jail for attempted Crackercide. They’re standing there looking “very disappointed” in Skeletor.
He limps the other way, into a room that’s OBVIOUSLY not an exit. He lights his magic fire finger (Skeletor TOTALLY has a magic fire finger) to see where he is. He-Man informs him that he walked into the firework room and that he shouldn’t touch the fireworks. Once again, I have to remind you, he was warning Skeletor about touching fireworks and not, NOT, arresting him, or even booting him out of the kingdom.
His response is “Don’t tell me what to do!” He then touches the fireworks with his magic fire finger. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t know what fireworks are. Maybe he just hates He-Man that much. Regardless, he touches the fireworks with his fire finger, and the whole thing goes up like a poorly-planned San Diego fireworks show.
He wasn’t arrested. They didn’t even try and detain him. If this planet were a high school, Skeletor would be the dick first string quarterback that knocks the books out of people’s hands, then whines that nobody likes him, and He-Man is the second string quarterback that picks up the books and buys the younger kids beer (this is a 1970s high school). He’s just the jerk that everyone has come to learn to live with. You know, only, replace “knocks the books out of other people’s hands” with “repeated attempted murder” and “picks up the books and buys the younger kids beer” with “does not arrest the attempted murderer.”