Saturday Cartoon Report – Part 1: Thundercats

ThunderCats: “What Lies Above, Part 2” The epic conclusion of the two-part season finale, in which the Thundercats aren’t the only other party interested in the tech stone within the floating Avista City.

Avista City

Avista City: Just like Atlantis, only Bespin.

ThunderCats: “What Lies Above, Part 2”

Last episode ended with Wilykat and Wilykit off looking for help, while the rest of the Thundercats were ordered thrown from the city. This episode starts with the Cats being thrown in the trash ejector, it’s like Star Wars meets the end of Toy Story 3, with just as bad a smell. Suddenly alarms sound, lights flash, and a guard rushes in likes he’s got a message from the governor saying a fleet is approaching the city.

It’s Mumm-Ra’s army, Lion-O argues. The Birds will need help. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, Vultaire says. There’s time enough for Pumyra to apologize for her brashness and swear , “I serve my King, and Master.”

Meanwhile, the kittens are going around to all the people Lion-O helped asking if they can help Lion-O, now.

As the Lizard Army approaches in flying vehicles, Tygra questions how Mumm-Ra found them. He doesn’t have the Book of Omens to follow. Vultaire, of course, blames the Cats. Cheetara doubts this. Pumyra says it doesn’t matter, now, the power stone is the important thing.

Vultaire and Tygra lead the air defense in a sci-fi dogfight, while Lion-O and the others defend the city.  Tygra’s improvisation is somewhat more successful than Vultaire’s strict formations. Then, maybe Vultaire’s just rattled because Tygra took his Sky Cutter. And, apparently, Mumm-Ra’s Stormcharger also flies, and he joins the attack on Avista. The remaining Thundercats defend with deck cannons from below.

Apparently no Avistans have battle experience – even Vultaire’s admits he’s only seen combat in simulations – so the few Cats really are the strongest force defending the city. Mumm-Ra is able to draw the others in and use magical attacks to take out opposing fliers.

Avistan pilot

“Stay on target….”

Tygra with and in target lock

“They’ve got us locked!”

Avistan pilot is hit

“STAY ON TAAARGH!!!

Mumm-Ra sends a video announcement to the citizens of Avista, suggesting they can join him or die. Tygra’s ready to give Mumm-Ra their answer, with a missile, but he’s not the only one with a target lock. Remember when Vultaire said he believed the enemy of his enemy was his friend? Yeah, Mumm-Ra’s his new friend. Vultaire shoots Tygra’s flier down to the city deck.

With Tygra down and Vultaire defected, the air defense fails. The Lizard army lands on the city deck. Things start exploding. Panthro and Cheetara get knocked back. Snarf runs away and gets stuck in a pipe. Lion-O tries to rally a defense within the city, as some of the other Thundercats recover and join the fight.

Pumyra’s being as bossy as ever, suggesting she and Lion-O go to guard the tech stone. This time, Panthro agrees with the strategy. He can buy them some time.

Mumm-Ra’s got himself four generals now: Slithe, Kaynar, Addicus and now Vultaire. Oh, and none of them like the Thundercats much. Tygra comes to and finds the  wreck of his sky cutter surrounded.

But, Tygra has friends, too, like Cheetara. She’s quick to help; she and Tygra have made a relationship of saving each others’ lives. They continue to do so as they fight the four generals.

They’re not the only ones with friends, either. Snarf manages to get unstuck just in time to accidentally hit Kaynar in the face, giving him an opening to gain the upper hand. Together, Panthro, Cheetara and Tygra decide they need to go help Lion-O.

The fact that the city is falling from the sky is kinda a clue.

Yep, Mumm-Ra’s made his way to the chamber where the tech stone was suspended, knocked out Pumyra, and invoked the Ancient Spirits of Evil to power-up. Lion-O isn’t letting him get the stone without a fight, though. He’s still go the Sword of Omens, and the spirit stone in his gauntlet. They fight an epic duel with dramatic music and lightning sparking from their swords. Lion-O holding his own, as he did as the reborn King of the Thundercats in the Black Pyramid. When Lion-O’s able to resist further by manifest the left arm of the Armor of Omens, that’s when Mumm-Ra makes a grab for the tech stone.

With the city falling,  Lion-O and Mumm-Ra continue their struggle. Lion-O doesn’t let him keep it, and  it’s knocked around the floor, where Pumyra regains consciousness. She reaches for the stone….

Brace for it….

Pumyra gives the stone to Mumm-Ra! Yes. Lion-O is her King, but Mumm-Ra is her Master; and she kisses his hand to show it! The signs were there, as Lion-O himself says. Her rage at him abandoning Thundera was very real. She was the one that insisted she and Lion-O go back into the mines with the Sword of Plundarr, without the other Thundercats, just like she was the one to suggest she and Lion-O be the one’s to guard the tech stone.

Pumyra kissing the Gauntlet of Plundarr

Still not as disturbing as Thundercats: The Return Wildstorm comic.

Mumm-Ra taunts Lion-O with a flashback: Pumyra was a soldier in Thundera and injured in battle that night the city fell. Trapped beneath rubble, she saw Lion-O leaving the city with Tygra and Cheetara, and called out to him, but was too weak to be heard. Her rage at being abandoned was great enough to call out to Mumm-Ra through his well of souls; and as Pumyra died of her injuries, Mumm-Ra used his sorcery to bring her back. His: body and soul.

Skeveed-out as the young Lord of the Thundercats has to be (it gave me flashbacks toMumm-Ra with grown-up, slave Wilykit in the comics), he remains defiant. Pumyra yells that she thinks Lion-O’s been a fool and how she’ll get her revenge.  She hopes he dies as alone as she did, and charges at him. But, Pumyra is stopped as Tygra appears at Lion-O’s side! The stealthy Tiger reminds them all that Lion-O is not alone. He may have lost a girlfriend or two, but his brother’s got his back, and so have Cheetara and Panthro, who run into the chamber.

Mumm-Ra’s not bothered. A blast of the old purple magic sends the Thundercats to the floor. Well, most of them….

Kit and Kat are back! Lion-O calls for them to leave, concerned for their safety, but they’ve brought back-up. It may seem anti-climatic when the single Fishman shows, but we can see Kat has the forever bag on his shoulder. True enough, he can fit an army in there. A few magic words and Fish, Elephants, Berbils and Dogs all leap from the bag and fight against Mumm-Ra.

Elephants do the Care Bear Stare, OK, they do a cool magic stomp thing. Fishmen fire harpoon guns. A pack of Dog City gladiators rush Mumm-Ra. Robear Bill even rolls down Pumyra, then Dobo smacks her back down with his sword.

Mumm-Ra doesn’t care. He got what he came for. Avista can be the Cats’ tomb for all he cares; he’ll pick the Sword and Gauntlet of Omens from the rubble.  He and his “beloved” (So skeeved) fly away, as the city continues to fall.

Panthro looks to the controls to see if they can save the city. There’s no way to keep it afloat, but if they use all available power, they can land it. Avista must have Star Trek wiring, because they can divert all power to the thrusters with movement of a few controls.

Avista slows just enough to make a rough landing atop a nearby mountain.The Berbils go to work faster than Cheetara can explain to the Birds that the robot bears will help with repairs to the city; and maybe some time closer to the ground will give the lofty Birds new perspective.

Lion-O, meanwhile, is off being emo. He lost a girlfriend, and the tech stone; now Mumm-Ra has both, and probably a new ally in Vultaire.

Kit goes after him. Does Lion-O know how much she believes in him and their cause? He should; he followed her signs to the Black Pyramid, after his resurrection. Well, she’s there to remind him, anyway. Look what they gained, she tells him. All the species they have working together. Lion-O was the one to help the Fishmen defeat the Ramlak and restore their Oasis. He defended the Berbils against the slaver Conquedor. And even if he made some mistakes along the way, he did defend the Elephant village against multiple foes. He’s the one who won the respect of the dogs in the pit, by showing loyalty. And, maybe, the Birds will be as grateful for his efforts to defend their city.

The Thundercats didn’t fail, they succeeded in uniting species against Mumm-Ra. And, Kit points out, as she takes up the Sword of Omens and presents it to its owner, there’s still one more power stone out there.

Lion-O with the allied species

Now, we just have to find the last five Treasures of Rule!

I really liked this episode! It’s a fitting season finale; I almost wanted to joke that they saved most of their special effects for the season just to get in the dogfight over Antarctica Avista. It had all the things I like about the series: action, snarkiness, mix of  magic and tech, east-meets-west character design, a heroic journey of a plot, imperfect heroes, and evil villains.

I did not fully expect Pumyra’s face-heel-turn! When she was first introduced, and Lion-O was put in the cell beside hers, I suspected that was a set-up. I thought it was the old “fake fellow prisoner planted to gain your confidence” trick. And in a really long-game way, it was. But, after she stuck around a few episodes, I too was taken in. Suspicions allayed. I thought she was acting above her rank,  but I didn’t think she’d be evil!

I think it was a brilliant move. I suppose some fans of original series Pumyra may have objection, but let’s be honest, that version of Pumyra didn’t have much character development or personality. This way, Team Mumm-Ra gets a dark action girl, and a traitorous Cat to replace Grune. C’mon, we missed his treachery.

I loved all the sci-fi dogfighting. Even if every other show and movie in five genres  (I exaggerate by fives, JSYK) gives us the same thing, that didn’t stop me loving it this time. It was good to see Tygra in the pilot role. Sure, it uses a kind of heroic epic logic that he learned so quickly, but I don’t care. I like that he’s ended the season cocky about his own skills, contented with having Cheetara on his side, and watching out for his bro, Lion-O, without the arguing.

Lion-O was shown well in this episode. We’ve really seen a character arc with him, as well, from geeky, misfit prince, to inexperienced king, to earning the loyalty of the Thundercats, proving his inner strength, and finally leading an alliance. I don’t doubt he still has life lessons to learn, but he’s grown a lot already.

I adore Kit and Kat. Kit’s been quite loyal to the Thundercats for a while, and though I’m not certain Kat’s given up on El Dara entirely, he’s still steadfastly a friend to the other Thundercats. They’re still kittens, but they are by no means babies. They can take care of themselves, and even if the older Cats still try to protect them, they certainly proved their diplomatic skills in this episode.

Panthro’s great, too. I like that he’s the muscle and the tough guy, but that he’s got some flaws. He can’t swim, he doesn’t like ghosts, and he’s afraid of heights. But he’s still badass, knows more than a thing or two about tech, and loyal enough to face his fears for his clan.

Cheetara’s one of my favorites, and I liked the portrayal of her as a cleric trained by Jaga. I have to say, I wish we saw even more of that aspect of her character: performing rites, sensing presences of spirits, citing lore, etc.. I know not everyone digs the romantic subplots, but I think hers was written rather well. I had the idea, in the beginning, that the encouragement was just that. She was a close confidant and often encouraged Lion-O, because he truly needed it. But as he grew, Cheetara was able to be more clear about her own wants. She’s clearly with Tygra, now, but their relationship doesn’t detract from their mission. They’re familiar as ones who have known each other from childhood would be.

Lately, there’s been some speculation that Cartoon Network won’t be picking-up a second season. As of now, this is not official. As a Tumblr friend pointed-out, the last official word was the series is on production hiatus. The speculation about cancellation seems to stem from Cartoon Network having announced dates for new seasons of other series, without mentioning Thundercats.

What’s that saying? The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence?

But, just in case, I understand there’s already a petition on change.org, to ask  Warner Bros. to continue Thundercats. It’s a much beloved show.

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