Review: Thundercats Season 1 Episode 3: Berbils

In this episode we meet the Ro-Bear Berbils, robot teddy bears with awesome voices and an endearingly fatalistic attitude.

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We open at Mumm-Ra’s pyramid, and a series of shots brings us to his magically opening sarcophagus. Now that the Eye of Thundera is so close, he’s eager to get his mummified hands on it. He is concerned, however, about the resourcefulness of the Thundercats, since they might thwart his plans (of course, last time he was thwarted not by the resourcefulness of the Thundercats but by the coincedence of one of them owning something shiny, but I can see why he would have trouble internalizing that). He uses his cauldron-scope to check out what’s going on with these allegedly resourceful Thundercats.

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Lion-O doesn’t appear to be at the camp with the rest of the Thundercats. Mumm-Ra notes that Lion-O always carries the Sword of Omens with him, and deduces that this would be the perfect time to destroy the Thundercats still at camp, since there’s no risk of destroying the coveted Eye in the process (the Eye of Thundera being embedded in the Sword of Omens, and thus away from camp with Lion-O).

This takes us to our next scene at the camp, where most of the Thundercats are ogling Panthro’s sweet new ride, the Thundertank. It turns out that Panthro was indeed able to salvage enough equipment from the crashed spaceship to build it (as he speculated he’d be able to do last episode).

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Unfortunately, the weather takes a turn for the worse. A lot worse, actually, as larger and larger rocks start to fall from the sky along with the rain. (Presumably this is Mumm-Ra’s handiwork, although that isn’t directly spelled out).

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Tygra tries to lead everyone into the ship, but Panthro thinks “screw that!” and hops into his tank. The rain and rocks eventually cause a rock slide that buries both the ship and the tank. Somehow, the Thundertank is able to dig its way out from under the rocks, although I’m wondering if that would be possible, given the exposed-treads design of the tank. The Thundertank’s relationship to physics and geology proves even more tenous when Panthro somehow causes it to dig into the ground while driving along perfectly flat terrain.

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Panthro uses the power of the tank to push the spaceship up out of the rocks and dirt. After they’re all reunited, Tygra speculates that the meteorological anomaly they just experienced was unnatural in origin.

We then cut to the forest, where Lion-O and Snarf are exploring. We have to sit through a comedy bit in which Snarf is literally scared by his own shadow. Snarf attributes this to his overabundance of fierceness, which has been reliably reproduced by his shadow.

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Snarf, overcompensating, tries to take on a rhinocerous-esque creature, largely by running circles around it (I wonder if he’s been training with Cheetara).

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The beast eventually wanders away, leading Lion-O to scold Snarf for trying to fight a creature “twice as big as” Snarf. Lets hope that Lion-O doesn’t need to face any Trial of Spatial Relationships to prove his worthiness to lead the Thundercats at any point in the future. Opting to continue his explorations, Lion-O promptly falls through the ground into a deep pit.

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“Can’t… get a… foothold… sides… too… slippery,” Lion-O shatners. To the accompaniment of “comedy music” Snarf gathers some vines with which to rescue Lion-O. However, he is unable to brace himself properly to assist in his much larger friend’s assent. But, as he’s being pulled along toward the pit, Snarf is captured by a bunch of lassos thrown from offscreen.

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Lion-O doesn’t fare much better, as he’s also lassoed. The lasso-throwers, however, do start to pull Lion-O out of the pit. As Lion-O is pulled out of the pit, cool electronic voices, presumably coming from whoever is doing the pulling, complain about how heavy he is. When Lion-O gets to the surface, we see that he has been captured by robotic teddy bears.

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Lion-O, in typical overly dramatic fashion, demands to be released. The bears laugh at him, and mock him derisively: “Lion-berbil, berbil-lion, lion-berbil ha ha ha”. In addition to the electronic effects on their voices, the berbils always have unusual cadence and inflection when they speak, which makes their “voice” distinctive and memorable. Lion-O is incensed that these creatures would dare to mock the Lord of the Thundercats, which only increased the amusement of the Berbils, one of them delivering a deadpan “roar.” Snarf suspects that the Berbils haven’t heard of them, but the Berbils prove to be more with-it than expected by acting out the Thundercats spaceship crash.

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The Berbils lead Lion-O and Snarf off to their village. In a cutaway to the other Thundercats we learn that they aren’t concerned in the least about Lion-O, since they’d have been alerted to danger by the Eye of Thundera if there was anything to be concerned about.

Snarf and Lion-O are tied to trees, however, and Lion-O is unable to get his hand to his sword. They are approached by a different colored robot bear, who Snarf quickly deduces is the leader. The leader introduces his group as Berbils, to which Lion-O childishly responds, “urble derbly berbil urble!”. The Berbil leader pulls a knife, but rather than teach Lion-O some respect, he cuts the ropes holding him to the tree.

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The leader clarifies that they are Ro-bear Berbils, Berbils from the planet Ro-Bear, and that they’ve been on Third Earth for years. He leads them into the village, and gets a female Berbil to give them some fruit. (You can tell she’s female by the flower over her ear, the same way you can with humans).

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The tribe leader introduces himself as Ro-Bear Bill (which Lion-O hears as “Roberbil”, which the Thundercats will use as this character’s name from now on). Lion-O and Snarf like the fruit, and want to know where the Berbils got it. Roberbil explains that they are farmers, and they grow Berbil-fruit: Meat-fruit, Drink-fruit, Veggie-fruit of all kinds, and Candy-fruit. Snarf is excited by the prospect of Candy-fruit. I think Snarf has some impulse control issues, which makes nanny seem like an odd career choice for him.

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Before Snarf can chow down in earnest, however, the village is alerted to an impending Trollog attack. It turns out that the Trollogs live in caves in the north, and that they occasionally raid the village to get Berbil-fruit. Lion-O volunteers to help in the attack, but Roberbil doesn’t want to impose on his guest. The berbils use blowguns (robots that presumably don’t have any lungs use blowguns? Just go with it) to fire stun darts at the Trollogs, but the Trollogs are able to brush off the attacks with comparative ease.

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The Trollogs begin to overwhelm the Berbil defenders. Lion-O takes stock of the situation:

Lion-O: Those stun-darts aren’t doing much good
Roberbil: No, they never do.
Lion-O: Then why do you use them?
Roberbil: Because we would not want to harm anyone
Lion-O: Then why don’t you just let the Trollogs march into your village and take your Ro-Bear Berbil-fruit?
Roberbil: And behave like cowards?
Lion-O: I don’t get it
Snarf: I don’t know, makes perfect sense to me

Lion-O can’t stand to see the Berbils overrun, so he springs into action. He shouts “HO!” to make his sword switch into long mode, and spins it in a circle to create some kind of force field.

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The Trollogs try to charge Lion-O, but bounce harmlessly off his force-field, and decide to flee. Roberbil tells Lion-O that the action was quite exciting (making sure to first check that his girlfriend Roberbelle is indeed excited). Lion-O apologizes for butting in, but explains that he “lost control”. Roberbil goes the “no biggie” route, since no one was really hurt in the process. Lion-O is confident that the Trollogs won’t be bothering the Berbils for a while, but Roberbil expresses sympathy for the Trollogs. Roberbil clarifies that the Trollogs don’t steal the Berbil-fruit for themselves, since they are unable to eat anything but the leaves of trollberry bushes. Roberbil’s explanation continues as a voiceover as we watch the Trollogs return home in defeat. It turns out that the trollberry bush is abundant above the caves where the Trollogs live, but the Giantors who live there won’t let the Trollogs eat the leaves unless they are brought Ro-Bear Berbil-fruit. Just as Roberbil speculated, the Giantors are furious that the Trollogs have returned empty-handed. Alerted to danger by the Eye of Thundera, Lion-O calls upon sight beyond sight.

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It turns out that the Giantors are going to attack the village. Lion-O is confident that he can handle them himself, but Snarf convinces him to call in the other Thundercats. “Thunder, thunder, thunder, Thundercats, HO!” The Giantor attack begins, and Snarf wonders if the other Thundercats failed to see the signal.

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It turns out that they did see the signal, and they now enter the fray. Somehow, they have picked up on the non-violence vibe and deal with the Giantors with lots of knocking over and tripping, and not so much with the punching and kicking.

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With a last mighty “HO!” from Lion-O, the Giantors are scared off (I assume they head back home and work off their frustration by pounding on some Trollogs). Lion-O introduces the rest of the Thundercats to his new friends, the Berbils.

We go back to Mumm-Ra, who has also been watching the action. He’s not pleased by this turn of events, since friendship with the Berbils will mean an endless food supply for the Thundercats. He decides this can’t be allowed to happen, so he transforms himself into a locust.

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Then he doubles himself, and doubles again, and again, turning into a giant swarm of locusts, which flies out of his pyramid. As Roberbil expresses thanks to the Thundercats, they are distracted by the rest of the Berbils announcing a plague of locusts. (Now, if only we knew the airpeed of the average locust, we could figure out how far Mumm-Ra’s pyramid is from the Berbil village…) Lion-O’s keen, catlike sense pick up on some things, such as the swarm’s tendecy to fly in formation in the shape of a giant locust, and determines that something peculiar is going on.

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Now, like me, you had probably assumed that Mumm-Ra’s plan was to go after the crops. It makes sense, right? Mumm-Ra transforms into a swarm of locusts, which the Thundercats would be nearly powerless to fight, and gets rid of the food he’s concerned about the Thundercats getting access to. Pretty solid plan, it seems to me? Well, Mumm-Ra has a different idea. He decides to transform the swarm of formation-flying locusts into a single giant locust to attack Lion-O. Lion-O, however, jumps on its back, rodeo style, and demands that it fly away.

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Locust-Ra, rolling with the punches, decides to carry Lion-O to a nearby active volcano. Once over the smoking crater, he transforms back into swarm form, and Lion-O falls helplessly down. As he’s falling down into the volcano head first, the Sword of Omens slips out of its sheath on the Claw Shield and falls away from him.

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Lion-O’s reaction to this? “The sword it’s… it’s… The sword! Yes!” I’m not entirely sure where he was going with that, but Jaga’s blue ghost appears to inform Lion-O that he can use the force to pull his lightsaber to him. No, wait, I mean that if he calls to the Sword of Omens, it will obey him. Sufficiently clued in, Lion-O calls out, “Sword of Omens, come to my hand!” Just before he hits the lava at the bottom of the pit he’s been falling down (just how deep is this volcano, anyway?) Lion-O grabs the crossguard of the sword and it flies him to safety.

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Meanwhile, Mumm-Ra has teleported back to his pyramid, deciding for reasons that are not explained that he has been defeated. (Seriously, dude, there’s a reason that most other swarms of locusts stick to the “destroy the crops” plan, maybe you ought to prove that you know the basics before trying to develop your own technique). Generally Mumm-Ra refers to himself in the third person, but here he also uses the second person to tell himself that he’s going to need to step up his game against the Thundercats. He claims that it doesn’t matter that he failed this time, since time means nothing to him. I call bullshit on that. If time means nothing to him, why was he so worked up about finally getting a shot at the Eye of Thundera after waiting so long? (And why was he concerned in the beginning of the episode about the Eye of Thundera getting caught in a rock slide but didn’t seem to have any second thoughts about dropping it into a volcano?)

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Lion-O wanders back into the Thundercat camp. Apparently the other Thundercats figured the situation was under control once Lion-O flew off on top of the giant bug and then got back to what they were doing before the commotion started. The Berbils show up with a feast to welcome the Thundercats to Third Earth. (I hope it works out better for them than that whole Indian/Pilgrim thing).

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Seeing the plans for the Cat’s Lair that the Thundercats are planning to build, the Berbils are justifiably dubious that the small number of Thundercats here can pull it off (which makes the mutant Slythe seem especially paranoid, since last episode his biggest concern was that the Thundercats would build an impregnable fortress before they could take another shot at stealing the Eye of Thundera).

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The Berbils decide that since they and the Thundercats are now friends, they will help them build Cat’s Lair.

[Berbil voice]Roar![/Berbil voice]

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2 Responses to Review: Thundercats Season 1 Episode 3: Berbils

  1. […] We switch scenes to the Cat’s Lair, which is nearing completion with the help of the Ro-bear Berbils, as established last episode. […]

  2. […] a lot of bug riding when Mumm-Ra’s around, huh? Lion-O had to do the same thing back in the third episode. Panthro’s extra weight seems to be enough to disrupt the moth’s flight, and he jumps […]

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