This episode is kind of a showcase for the different characters in the series. We see each of the Thundercats engage in combat, along with two of the mutants, in a story centered around the titular slaves.
We begin with Wilykit and Wilykat hopping around the forest, engaging in childish hijinks. Presumably this sort of juvenile behavior is common even in the adult form of this breed (species?) of Thundercat, since they’ve acted this way as long as we’ve known them, and we know that Lion-O had enough time in the suspension capsules to age to maturity. The female Wilykit is the more impish of the two, and is egging Wilykat on.
The fun is interrupted when they see a group of moaning, mumbling dudes walking through the forest with rocks.
They soon discover that these are Brutemen, and that they have been enslaved by the mutants.
It turns out that the mutants are using these slaves to build Castle Plun-Darr, something Slythe has been wanting for a while.
Now, you really have to hand it to the mutants here. In short order they’ve managed to enslave a group of pre-industrial indiginous people and forced them to build a rather impressive architectural achievement. And remember that Mumm-Ra sank their spaceship in the desert, so they didn’t have any raw materials to start with, unlike the Thundercats. Maybe I was too hard on Slythe when I criticized him for overestimating the Thundercats in the fortress-building department. Maybe he just assumes everyone is as awesome as he is.
Unfortunately, before they can head back to warn the other Thundercats about this troubling development, Wilykit bumps a large nut in a tree and it ends up hitting the sleeping Monkian on the head, waking him up.
Monkian, quite reasonably in my opinion, figures he’s got the upper hand in tree-based combat (what with him being a monkey and all) and gives chase.
Unfortunately, he can’t seal the deal. He tries to whack them with his big spiky flail, but misses several times. He almost gets Wilykat, but Wilykit distracts him, and then uses one of her capsules to unleash some super slippery stuff under Monkian’s feet, which causes him to slip out of the tree and plummet to the ground below.
We switch scenes to the Cat’s Lair, which is nearing completion with the help of the Ro-bear Berbils, as established last episode.
Cheetara expresses amazement that the Ro-bear Berbils were able to follow Tygra’s plans so closely. Don’t be a Berbil-hater, Cheetara. Tygra, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the Berbils are “just as clever as they are gentle”. Presumably Tygra has used the gentlometer and clevometer they salvaged from the spaceship to determine this. They notice that Wilykit and Kat are back from wherever they’ve been (which – Third-Earth geographers take note! – was at Castle Plun-Darr, which is apparently within hopping distance of Cat’s Lair). They decide to go down to the entrance to see what they’re so agitated about.
Wilykat is stumbling through an explanation of what happened, but Panthro patronizingly tells him to wait until Tygra and Cheetara show up to finish the story.
They explain the Castle Plun-Darr situation, and that the mutants are forcing the Brutemen to work on it. Wilykit suggests that the Brutemen “look as if they were created out of leftover parts”. Which they most certainly do not. Man, the female Thundercats are all racists. The Berbils think they know who Wilykit is talking about, and one of them hunches his shoulders and walks around, which Wilykit finds to be a dead-on impression. The Berbil explains that the Brutemen are kind of dumb.
Lion-O arrives, and the non-Wily Thundercats decide to take the Thundertank to bust up this Bruteman Slavery Ring.
Monkian, meanwhile, has returned to the other mutants to report his failure to get Wilykit and Kat. Slythe deduces that the other, more dangerous Thundercats are likely on their way. Jackalman is upset that the brutemen have yet to dig the phosphor moat. And he calls them “lazy blobs” in the process, which isn’t especially accurate either, but is amusing. Slythe figures that the best course is to have the brutemen erect a barricade.
After some amazingly quick work, Slythe declares the barricade sufficient, calls for the slaves to be locked up, and tells the mutants to prepare to ambush the Thundercats. Unfortunately for the mutants, the Thundertank makes short work of the barrier. Lion-O decides that he will go into Castle Plun-Darr to find the brutemen. The other Thundercats are going to come in from the side to ferret out, according to Panthro, “those scurvy mutants”. I really haven’t noticed any scurvy-like symptoms, but maybe it affects mutants differently. On his way in, Lion-O is inexplicably startled by the presence of a door in the castle.
Lion-O heads down for the dungeons and uses his most precious heirloom, the mystic Sword of Omens, to bash open the padlock that the mutants have on the dungeon door. He resolves to free the brutemen from the cells inside.
Meanwhile, Jackalman has detected the approach of Cheetara. Unfortunately for him, Cheetara has super-speed, and merely toys with him for a while before tricking him into ramming his face into a big rock.
Tygra, meanwhile, is slithering through the grass (uh, tigers don’t slither, do they?) in preparation for taking on Monkian. Tygra quickly relieves Monkian of his flail, so Monkian resorts to his projectile firing shield.
Unfortunately for Monkian, Tygra is able to use his whip to grab the projectiles out of the air, and then just snatches Monkian’s entire shield away. Monkian tries to make for the trees, but Tygra pulls a branch out from underneath him with his whip, and Monkian is knocked unconcious. Tygra then makes a branch-related pun.
Slythe decides to take Panthro on in a straight-up fight. (Dude, what happened to that whole “ambush” plan?) Panthro manages to destroy Slythe’s axe, but Slythe plays the whole “you’re armed and I’m not” card to convince Panthro to switch to hand-to-hand. Panthro is game. Slythe seems to fancy himself a master of tail-fu, since his attacks seem to primarily involve trying to whack Panthro with his tail. I’m not sure I agree with his game plan here. He doesn’t have much reach with the tail, and doesn’t seem to be delivering a lot of power, either. I’d say work the combinations, or maybe try a takedown on Panthro and work the ground-and-pound.
Rather than take my advice, Slythe decides to run away. Meanwhile, Lion-O has freed the brutemen, but they don’t seem to understand, and are simply mobbing him. Slythe, meanwhile, has returned from the castle, and figures out that he’d better use his “reptilian cunning” to defeat Panthro, since the brute force didn’t go over so well. He catches on to the whole “unlocked dungeon” thing, but quickly figures that he can turn the situation to his advantage. He can use some warp-gas to reverse the brutemen’s natures, and turn the “meek blobs” into “raving monsters”. Again with the blobs?
Lion-O is also affected by the gas, and it makes him angry. That really isn’t the opposite of Lion-O’s normal nature. The brutemen mob Lion-O again, but this time they knock him unconscious. The brutemen head upstairs and, still favoring the swarm tactics, mob Panthro.
Back in the dungeon, Lion-O regains consciousness and is alerted to a Thundercat in danger by the Eye of Thundera. He uses the Sword of Omen’s “sight beyond sight” feature and sees that Panthro is in trouble. (Good thing, too, or he would have had to walk all the way up a flight of stairs to see that). Lion-O decides that the “gas-maddened brutemen” are a threat that requires all of the Thundercats, so he does the whole “thunder, thunder, thunder, thundercats, HO!” thing. The signal somehow busts through the stone of Castle Plun-Darr and alerts Tygra and Cheetara, and they decide to head inside the castle.
Panthro seems to have made it out the door, still being accosted by the brutemen (proving what a wuss Lion-O is, since the brutemen took him down in a similar situation in under a few seconds).
The mutants, perched nearby, pun about whether the brutemen are “revolting”. Rather than press the numerical advantage they have right now, they decide to wait for the rest of the Thundercats to show up, figuring their warp gas and brutemen plan is foolproof. Lion-O, Cheetara, and Tygra begin rushing to Panthro’s aid, worrying about what they’ll be able to do, since they’re unwilling to fight the innocent brutemen. Luckily the warp gas begins to wear off.
The mutants are hip to the warp gas wearing off situation, so Slythe tosses in another grenade. This, however, clues Tygra in to what’s going on, vis-a-vis the warp gas. Apparently it has been outlawed by the Interstellar Council. Political Philosopher Tygra, however, obvserves that “rules are only meaningful if people agree to follow them. Otherwise they’re just words.” You know what they say, when warp gas is outlawed, only outlaws will have warp gas.
Meanwhile, Lion-O has somehow managed to get himself cornered by the brutemen and the warp gas. However, he uses the Sword of Omens to generate a force field which pushes the warp gas (and for some reason, the brutemen) back.
The warp gas and the brutemen are now headed toward the mutants, a situation which Panthro finds highly amusing. The mutants decide to hold their breath and run away. Generally, I like to see the mutants using plans that aren’t ripped off from petulant children, but I’ll give them a pass in this case since the running away involves hiding in their giant freaky castle, which closes its wings around them.
Panthro is of the opinion that the gas “turned the meek brutemen vicious, and made the mutants meek”. I think that the mutants were just displaying their standard level of cowardice, and weren’t under the effects of the gas at all. Since, you know, they run away all the time and the warp gas is supposed to make you do the opposite of what you normally do.
However, the brutemen have decided to turn on Lion-O again, who has arbitrarily decided that the Lord of the Thundercats can’t run, even though he refuses to fight the brutemen. Since he’s acting like a pompous idiot, I think we can safely say that he is not under the effects of any warp gas. Before the situation can get any stupider, though, the gas wears off of the brutemen.
Tygra tells them, “go gentle brutemen, return to your simple lives and peaceful ways.” I think they should have made this Tygra’s catchphrase. I know I wish I could work it into conversation more often. Lion-O dumbs it down for them, and tells them that they’re free, which seems to play a bit better with the bruteman demographic.
In the coda, Lion-O says that the brutemen certainly understood the word “free”. Tygra explains that everyone does. I’m not a student of linguistics, but I find that surprising.