Review: Thundercats Season 1 Episode 5: Pumm-Ra

In this episode, Mumm-Ra comes up with a plan to infiltrate Cat’s Lair, but just when he and the mutants finally have the Thundercats at their mercy they somehow manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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We start out with Panthro and Tygra putting the Cat’s Eyes through their paces. By moving the giant head of Cat’s Lair around, they can telescopically scan the surroundings.

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They pick up some seismic activity, and see some smoke coming from a volcano.

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They decide they’d like to get a closer look, since they can only zoom in so far, even employing the “enlarger” that Panthro built. However, by sheerest coincidence they spot Cheetara out for her morning super-speed jog. Tygra clocks her at about thirty seconds for the mile. Those are some pretty conventional units of measure, Tygra. Are you sure you don’t want to use galacto-seconds or something? Also, given the double images and blur effects we’re seeing as she runs along, I think she’s probably going faster than 120 mph. Maybe you ought to have your equipment checked. They get bored watching Cheetara run, and decide to take the Thundertank out to the volcano. Meanwhile, Cheetara slows down, and then collapses on the ground. The mutants show up a few seconds later from off-screen, and carry her away on a stretcher.

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Tygra and Panthro show up at the volcano in the Thundertank. They don’t see any sign of Cheetara, but figure she just finished her run and went home. They drive up close to the rim, and then decide they’ve done enough and can go home.

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Well, that was pointless. However, they do need to hurry back because Panthro promised to let Lion-O drive the Thundertank. In fact, Wilykit, Wilykat, and Snarf are all there waiting with Lion-O so they can go for a ride in the Thundertank. But they’re all stuck waiting for Cheetara, who is also supposed to come along for the ride. Panthro notes that it’s unusual that Cheetara is late. Presumably because of the super-speed thing.

Meanwhile, at Castle Plun-Darr the mutants discuss Operation Kidnap Cheetara. They reveal that it’s part of some plan that Mumm-Ra has cooked up. So, we promptly cut to Mumm-Ra’s pyramid. Inside, we see that Mumm-Ra has brought in a big stone slab for Cheetara to lie on. He should probably just get one of those inflatable air mattresses, it would be a lot less hassle.

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He stands over her in a creepy manner, and mocks her for not being quick enough to avoid the trap. He also promises that she won’t remember any of what’s happening (which isn’t a particularly amazing feat, since she’s unconscious). He then explains that he’s going to call on all his strength to leave the pyramid in a new form that he’s never tried before. “Spirits of evil, transform this ancient body to Mumm-Ra the Ever Living.” (Uh, I think they like to be called the ancient spirits of evil, thank you very much). “And now from Mumm-Ra the Ever Living to Pumm-Ra the Puma of Thundera”

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We cut back to the volcano, and in a cave Pumm-Ra tends to the still-unconscious Cheetara. (So why, exactly, did they have to schlep her all the way to Mumm-Ra’s pyramid for this plan?) She wakes up, and seems disoriented.

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Pumm-Ra claims that the mutants drugged Cheetara and were going to carry her away when Pumm-Ra showed up and fought them off. He gets up to walk away, but Cheetara stops him and asks him who he is, and if he’s from Third Earth. He claims to be from Thundera, but seems skeptical that this other cat-person he’s met has even heard of the planet. Seems kind of sketchy to me. Cheetara was essentially royalty back on Thundera, if I understood the first episode properly, shouldn’t she be skeptical that this Puma-dude doesn’t recognize her, let alone that they’re from the same planet? Cheetara buys it, though, and Pumm-Ra claims that his ship from Thundera (which, recall, were all destroyed by the mutants in the first episode) was badly damaged in the attack, and that everyone but him died, and he only crash-landed on Third Earth yesterday. Cheetara invites him back to the Cat’s Lair to meet the rest of the Thundercats.

Lion-O is keen to have Pumm-Ra join up, but the other Thundercats are a little more suspicious, and want to have a council meeting before they determine Pumm-Ra’s final status. But they agree to let him stay in the lair as their guest until then.

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In his bedroom, Pumm-Ra uses a radio to contact the mutants, and they agree that they will be in the proper position at high noon the next day.

We cut to the council chamber, where Tygra explains that although Lion-O leads them, Jaga chose Tygra to be head of the Thundercats council. Uh, how’s that again? Are they like the equivalent of parliament or something? Usually you’re Mr. Exposition, Tygra, maybe you ought to clue us in on the Thundercat system of government, since it’s obviously more complex than we were previously led to believe.

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Lion-O impetuously votes to let Pumm-Ra join (so he gets a vote in the council? Tygra, help me out, here). Jaga immediately materializes and tells him he’s being stupid. Tygra votes to give the puma a week’s probation. Everyone else is on board with the plan, and they unanimously approve it. (Apparently Snarf is the only one who doesn’t get a vote).

After everyone is asleep, Pumm-Ra lurks around the lair. It’s sabotage! At least, that’s what Pumm-Ra is doing to all the equipment. He takes care of the controls in the head and the Thundertank as well. He also appears to be hunting for the sword, but is only able to find a table full of guns in the armory. (Wondering why the Thundercats never use them? Me too.) He passes a door, and notices that it is locked in an egyptian manner (?). Apparently, they’ve locked the door with “an old egyptian tomb device, unknown for a thousand years, unknown that is except to one who has lived for a thousand years.” And, presumably, whoever built the door. So, once again, Mumm-Ra is really over-selling how awesome and amazing he is. However, he does manage to unlock the door, and it turns out to be the sword chamber. Inside are the Sword of Omens and the Claw Shield. He takes them, and runs off.

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Well, I have to say, good job Mumm-Ra. You’ve accomplished your long term plan to get the Eye of Thundera. Five episodes isn’t the longest run of a TV show, and it’s unusual to have the villain triumph over the good guys… wait a minute, this episode is only half over. Is he going to over-reach and screw up his own plan? Let’s watch and find out.

So, instead of bugging out and heading back to his pyramid with the Eye, Mumm-Ra has decided to keep this whole Pumm-Ra thing going. He meets with the Thundercats in the council chamber and learns about the probation deal (Do you think all the sabotage he did will count as a probation violation? He wasn’t really aware that he was on probation when he did it…). Panthro then declares that there’s work to be done in the Thundrilium fields. (Which… haven’t been established yet, so thanks for that, show). Wilykit and Kat eager to use the Thundertank for this, which causes some tension. Will the sabotage be revealed?!?! But Panthro decides they’ll be going on foot, so the tension is immediately thwarted. While the rest of the Thundercats are away, Lion-O is amusing himself by playing ring-toss with Snarf.

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Snarf doesn’t find the game particularly engaging, so Lion-O figures they can try to spy on the other Thundercats with the Cat’s Eyes. No go, though, as they’ve been sabotaged. He decided that he’d better find out where Panthro is with the sword, only to discover that it’s missing. Snarf suggests using the corresponder in the Thundertank to call Panthro, but that’s been sabotaged too. Meanwhile, the mutants are outside and interpret the flashing eyes of the Cat’s Lair as Mumm-Ra’s signal.

Pumm-Ra, wearing the claw shield and wielding the Sword of Omens, decides to confont Lion-O at the entrance to Cat’s Lair.

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Lion-O claims that the Sword won’t obey Pumm-Ra, and rushes him. Before he can get to the top of the stairs, though, Pumm-Ra tells Lion-O that they’ve met before, and does the whole “thunder, thunder, thunder, Thundercats, HO!” thing. Instead of shooting out a giant Thundercats symbol, this seems to start a thunderstorm (Or, as Panthro would have us believe, a cataclysm). Cheetara figures out that they’re needed, and she, Panthro, and Tygra start heading back to Cat’s Lair. Back at the lair, Pumm-Ra is getting thoroughly zapped by the Sword.

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He tosses the Sword of Omens and the Claw Shield away, and Jaga shows up and claims, “the mystic Sword of Omens cannot be used for evil deeds, attempt it and know the wrath of Jaga!”. So, was that lightning a normal feature of the sword, or something Jaga was doing? Confusing. Lion-O makes a play for the sword, but Pumm-Ra jumps him. Pumm-Ra almost gets the sword back, but Snarf pulls him out of position with his tail, and Lion-O gets the sword again. Pumm-Ra, however, informs them that they’re too late, and stands aside to reveal that the mutants have stolen the Thundertank!

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Lion-O blocks a blast from the cannon with the Claw Shield, which somehow causes the beam to reflect back and cause the cannon to jam. Lion-O takes advantage of this opportunity to do the “thunder, thunder, thunder, Thundercats, HO!” thing properly, and shoots out the giant Thundercats symbol as expected. The Thundercats, the music informs us, are on the move, and also loose. Lion-O, Cheetara, and Tygra prepare to assault the mutants in the tank, but Panthro figures he’ll just pick up the tank (!!!!) and toss it.

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This maneuver causes the mutants to flee. But! In the confusion, Pumm-Ra has gotten back into the lair, and locked himself in. Tygra proposes gaining entry through the power exhaust. Lion-O volunteers, but Tygra informs him that he’s the architect of Cat’s Lair, and knows every turn, nook, and cranny of the system. Jaga shows up again and tells Lion-O that Tygra is right. Seriously, Jaga, I think that if the rest of the Thundercats knew you’d be around this much they probably wouldn’t have been so concerned about you dying.

It turns out that the power exhaust is actually a giant crazy fun slide.

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Tygra exits the slide, narrowly dodging an explosion when Pumm-Ra engages the power, causing red beams to shoot out of the Cat’s Eyes. Panthro claims that the beams represent the “sight” of the eyes, but that doesn’t make much sense. Lion-O uses the Sword of Omens’ sight-beyond-sight to check on Tygra, and finds out that he’s doing just fine. Cheetara decides to “distract the eyes” by running around while Panthro tries to gain entry to the lair by scaling the walls.

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Lion-O decides to do the “thunder, thunder, thunder, Thundercats, HO!” thing again, and this time the eye beams from the lair lock onto the giant Thundercats symbol in the air.

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This causes some kind of feedback, which causes the eyes to explode, shuts off the power, and opens the doors to Cat’s Lair. (So, what was Tygra’s plan, again?). Lion-O and Snarf charge in. Meanwhile, Pumm-Ra is standing in the mouth of the lair, and calls upon the spirits of evil (you’re pushing your luck, dude, they’re the ancient spirits of evil) to send forth a force from the darkest depths. This turns out to be a giant fire-breathing moth, or something, which attacks Panthro. Panthro manages to grab it’s head, though.

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Man, there sure is 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 clear just before the moth slams into the ground. Maybe Mumm-Ra should have been more specific when he requested something from the darkest depths, because this one was kind of easily defeated. Meanwhile, in the control room, Tygra has used his inviso-power to subdue Pumm-Ra by the time Lion-O arrives.

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The Thundercats demand to know who Pumm-Ra is. “Who am I? Wouldn’t you like to know,” he says. “Suffice to say that I have lived here for a thousand years, I am not the intruder, it is you who have disturbed my rest, but I have time, a thousand years more, five thousand! You cannot defeat me, for I am Mumm-Ra, and wherever evil exists, Mumm-Ra lives.” (Just a suggestion, Mumm-Ra, but usually when people start with “wouldn’t you like to know” they don’t usually give the answer). Anyway, he has done his reverse transformation while he’s been giving this speech.

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He teleports away. In the coda, Panthro explains that everything is all fixed. Lion-O and Panthro agree that they’ll need some new safeguards for the lair. Lion-O is vexed that he misjudged Pumm-Ra so badly, and Tygra explains that first impressions are often wrong, and that trust takes time to grow.

Analysis

So, once again we see the dichotomy in Mumm-Ra’s character. On the one hand, in the short term he’s impatient and greedy, and that causes him to overplay his hand and screw up his own plans. On the other hand, in the long term he claims that he doesn’t mind failing, since he’ll have enough time to just keep trying and trying and trying. Maybe if he’d switch up his short-term and long-term strategies he’d be more effective.

Also, we grow increasingly perplexed about Thundercat society. Cheetara referred to her friends as “the Thundercats” when talking to Pumm-Ra, which implies that Pumm-Ra was not a Thundercat, even though he was (at least as far as Cheetara knew) a native of Thundera. Is “Thundercats” the name for the warrior class of Thunderans? And what are the roles and responsibilities of the Lord of the Thundercats and the Thundercats Council in Thunderan politics, and how powerful is Tygra’s position as Leader of the Thundercats Council? Is he more like the President-Pro-Tem in the US Senate, or more like the Prime Minister in a parliamentary system? And if Jaga appointed him, presumably acting in his capacity as the previous Lord of the Thundercats, couldn’t Lion-O simply appoint himself leader of the council? Am I putting too much thought into this?

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3 Responses to Review: Thundercats Season 1 Episode 5: Pumm-Ra

  1. […] first driving lesson. Wait, wasn’t Lion-O already an experienced Thundertank driver back in episode 5? Maybe this is the “trouble with time” that the title refers to… Or maybe the […]

  2. […] Tygra, Panthro, and Cheetara get in on the gargoyle smashing action. Panthro hefts one over his head and comments that it’s very heavy (and remember, this dude is capable of picking up and throwing the Thundertank). […]

  3. Wow – really awesome topic. I will blog about it too.

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