Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Shadow Raiders: Volume 4

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the routine, I watch a movie and blog about it.  We go back to my journey through the old late-1990s animated series Shadow Raiders, as we're now on volume 4 of the DVD complete series set.  This is in my notes at February 3, 2019.

Alright, we're going back to Shadow Raiders now.  Volume 4 is the kick-off to season 2, so the story arc in these first four episodes is very much about establishing the new normal and how things are going to play out in the second -- and final -- season. 

At the end of season 1, our heroes are enjoying a brief moment of peace as they won their first major victory -- the destruction of the Beast planet's stronghold on the planet Ramora.  But the moment is just that -- a moment -- as the Beast Planet emerges from a hiding place in the sun, and the battle is on again.

Worlds Within Worlds - The Alliance fleet is in disarray following the appearance of the Beast Planet.  As Planet Fire is closest to the sun, and thus, closest to the Beast Planet, Prince Pyrus takes his forces back to defend his homeland.  Graveheart agrees to stand with Pyrus, but the rest of the fleet isn't as fast as Fire's ships.  Meanwhile, we finally catch up with Tekla on her solo mission.  While Lamprey possessed her body, Lamprey and Tekla shared minds.  She saw glimpses of an ancient technology buried deep Planet Ice that may save them.  With the help of Lady Zira, they make their way to the planet's core, where they find an ancient, alien technology.  Back at the war, the Beast Planet tries to vaporize another Battle Moon  Our heroes survive, but the blast is diverted to Planet Ice, where it threatens to take out the planet.  In Planet Ice's core, the ancient technology springs to life.  Tekla tells it to activate the World Engines.  Across the surface of Ice, giant rocket boosters emerge from the ground, turning the entire planet to a massive starship.  The planet is moved to safety, and Graveheart watches in awe, remarking that this is a game changer.

This is the Way the World Ends... - Knowledge of the World Engines is passed on to Planets Rock and Bone, and they're moved to safety.  So now all attention is on Planet Fire.  The race is on to find Planet Fire's World Engines.  Plan B, in case they don't make it, begin evacuating the populace to Planet Rock's Battle Moons.  Pyrus begins supervising the evacuation of the planet, while Graveheart and Tekla begin the search for the World Engines.  But first, with the gravity of the Beast Planet beginning to tear apart Planet Fire, Graveheart makes a heroic sacrifice to save Pyrus.  The Grand Vizier, who has always been mistrustful of these off-worlders, finally begins to accept them.  Graveheart and Tekla make their way to the World Engines, only to find the Beast forces got their first and sabotaged them.  Once the Beast forces are eliminated, Graveheart and Tekla get to work fixing them.  They do their best, but when their repairs are done, the most Planet Fire can achieve is minimum thrust.  It's not enough to outrun the Beast.  The Vizier has been watching from the shadows, and orders Graveheart and Tekla off his planet.  They reconvene in Pyrus's palace, revealed to be massive spaceship, now relocated to one of the Battle Moons, along with the entire population of Planet Fire.  Pyrus learns that the Vizier chose to stay behind, and we soon see why.  The Vizier has set Planet Fire on a collision course with the Beast Planet, and ordered the World Engines to ramming speed.  The Vizier tells Prince Pyrus that he made wise choices in his allies, and that the young prince is now a man.  Planet Fire rams the Beast Planet, but it does very little damage and the Beast consumes Fire. 

Probably the best episode.  It gets very heavy at the end.  And gotta love that the Vizier last lines are a quote from Wrath of Khan, which was a quote from Moby Dick, "With my last breath, I spit at thee."

Period of Adjustment - After that heaviness, it's time for something a little more lighthearted.  Things aren't too well on Planet Bone.  The populace of Bone is quite upset at Emperor Femur, for how me made them look like cowards by ordering the retreat from the Battle of Ramora.  Turns out the rules of succession on Bone tend to be whoever assassinates the Emperor becomes the new emperor, so assassination attempts on Femur are on the rise.  Trust me, the assassination attempts are all in the vein of Road Runner cartoons, so it's all played for laughs.  Femur's course is clear:  to save his own skin, he's got to get Planet Bone back in the Alliance.  Meanwhile, things aren't so good in the Alliance.  The natural resource they always raided from Bone was food, as Bone's lush plant life was the most abundant food supply.  With Bone out of the Alliance, they only have about a week's worth of food left.  Another dire situation?  Nope!  A series of bad cooking gags, as they look for what else on their planets is edible.  Femur's attempts to get back in the Alliance are all rebuffed, as no one is ready to trust him again.  But, over the past few episodes, Femur started looking at Prince Pyrus as a little brother, so the one act that finally starts winning over the Alliance is a genuine, heartfelt apology to Pyrus.  With Pyrus back on board, Femur learns of the food situation, and wins over the rest of the Alliance with a food drop...which goes comically wrong and ends in a planet wide food fight.  The end. 

A Blaze of Glory - There's an issue with one of the Battle Moons.  It's evacuated as its power core is about to explode.  Pyrus makes sure all his people are off to safety, but discovers it was all a ploy by his most loyal general, Captain Blaze.  Blaze, and a battalion of Fire troops, want vengeance for their lost homeland.  So that want to take the Battle Moon for an assault on the Beast planet...an assault they know they cannot win, but at least they'll die with honour.  Still loyal enough to his prince to get him to safety, Blaze drugs Pyrus and sends him out in an escape pod.  Meanwhile, on Planet Rock, there's a bit of a jurisdiction issue.  Graveheart (still an exile but having been granted heavily restricted access to parts of Planet Rock as leader of the Alliance) wants to command the recovery mission, but Lord Mantle declares it a Planet Rock matter and orders his most trusted general Jade to lead an assault.  Jade sides with her king, and goes after the moon, rescuing Pyrus along the way.  Graveheart wants to help, but Lord Mantle orders the exile to shut his mouth and know his role.  It almost comes to blows, but Graveheart lowers his fists, while Lord Mantle goads him to go through with it.  Probably leading to King Cryos's most badass moment.  He finally gets in between Graveheart and Lord Mantle, looks Mantle dead in the eye, and says, "Graveheart's loyalty may prevent him from striking his king, but you are not my king.  Now...step aside."  And it's the first time in the entire series that Lord Mantle is actually intimidated.  Anyways, the Battle Moon powers through the Beast fleet, and on to the Beast Planet.  However, Jade, Pyrus, and Jade's squadron are overwhelmed by the Beast fleet.  While Graveheart is back in command, the rest of the Alliance is too far away to help.  Pyrus appeals to Blaze's loyalty, and Blaze turns the Battle Moon around to save his prince.  Blaze gives up his crusade and returns the Battle Moon. 

As you can tell, the theme of loyalty is a big one in this episode, as it sets up one of the crucial subplots for the season.  In a private conversation between Lord Mantle and Jade at the end of the episode, we learn that Jade had to pay a terrible price to get Planet Rock in the Alliance, and it will soon test her loyalties between Planet Rock and the Alliance.  What was that terrible price?  Oh, you'll find out in about six episodes.


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