Review: Thundercats Season 1 Episode 20: Return to Thundera

Lion-O travels back in time to Thundera before it exploded, and the Mutants unleash a huge robot to attack Cat’s Lair.


We open at Castle Plun-Darr. Inside, the Mutants are leading Mumm-Ra through the place while Mumm-Ra is complaining like a crotchety old man about being woken up so late at night. The Mutants have called Mumm-Ra in to show off their brand new Warbot.


Slythe and Jackalman explain that the Warbot is the pinnacle of Plun-Darrian science, but there was no time to build it back on Plun-Darr. Since they’ve had nothing but time on Third Earth, they’ve been able to finish it. Mumm-Ra wants to know what the Warbot can do that he can’t. Slythe offers to demonstrate. He uses a remote control to activate the Warbot and a tube pops up out of its chest.


The tube squirts out a gray liquid at a reptilian creature that resembles a dog. When the liquid hits, the creature is almost instantly petrified!


Mumm-Ra is dismissive of the ability to turn “Frog-Dog” into a statue. Slythe assures Mumm-Ra that the robot can do other stuff, too. Slythe activates it, and it starts walking.


We cut outside the castle, with the Warbot bound for Cat’s Lair. (It was probably wise of them to cut around the thing exiting the castle, since there is no way it would have been able to fit through the door…)

We cut to Cat’s Lair, where Lion-O, Tygra, and Panthro are inspecting the time capsule from Thundera that they recovered back in episode 15. Panthro explains that the Time Capsule projects a hologram, a perfect model of Thundera. He switches it on, and the “hologram” projector looks and sounds an awful lot like a movie projector.


Later that night, Lion-O is still obsessing over the time capsule when the incredibly high-tech equipment of the Cat’s Lair detects the approaching Warbot.


Lion-O, oblivious, decides to try out the time capsule. However, when he switches it on he’s standing right in the path of the projected image, and is somehow sucked into it.


He plummets through some kind of trans-dimensional space…


…and appears in a desert, near a city that looks like the one he saw projected by the time casule’s opti-crystal. The ghost of Jaga appears, and informs Lion-O that he has travelled through space and time back to Thundera. “Jaga! You? Here? How?” Jaga explains that his spirit-form can be anywhere, and he is always close to Lion-O.


Jaga warns Lion-O that Thundera might not be as great as he thinks it will be, and disappears. Just then, the ground cracks open under Lion-O’s feet and a giant yellow-haired double-tailed scorpion jumps out of the crack and attacks Lion-O.


Lion-O fights the creature with his sword for a while, but the ground shakes and the creature disappears down another giant crack. Lion-O wants to know what’s going on on Thundera, so Jaga reappers and tells him that Lion-O has travelled back to the day before the destruction of the planet. Does that really explain the giant double-tailed scorpion?

We cut back to the standard time-line, where Panthro has been unable to sleep because his “cat-sense” is telling him that something is wrong (I guess it’s similar to spider-sense in that respect. I wonder if it tingles). Panthro is surprised that Lion-O isn’t on watch. He’s even more surprised when he sees the Warbot on his computer screen!


He activates the Lair Alarm, and the rest of the Thundercats join him in the control room. As it gets closer, they use their more conventional viewscreen to get a better look at it, and identify it as a giant robot. Wilykat adds that it’s “a nightmare version of that Reptilian rascal Slythe”. Uh, no it’s not. It doesn’t even remotely resemble Slythe. Is he looking at the right viewscreen? Panthro shoots at it with some lasers from the eyes of Cat’s Lair.


The lasers don’t seem to hurt the Warbot, and it starts some sort of feedback which causes the eyes of the lair to shatter, and a huge Star Trek-like power surge courses through the control consoles, knocking all of the Thundercats to the floor. Tygra, as usual, goes straight to the blame-game, and starts trashing Lion-O for not being at his post. Cheetara, as always, makes excuses for Lion-O. Panthro, however, is still focusing on the Warbot. “We’ve got to act fast! Let’s give that big buster a taste of the ballista!” The “ballista” turns out to be a cat-themed catapult in the shoulder of Cat’s Lair. Panthro presses the controls for a fire attack, followed by an ice attack.


The Warbot shrugs off both the fire and ice. Panthro fires a missle, but it’s completely ineffective. He hits another button and a giant chain whips out of the neck of Cat’s Lair, entangling the Warbot, but it uses one of its giant claws to cut through the chain with ease.


The Warbot continues its inexorable march toward Cat’s Lair, and we cut back to the action on Thundera. At the gate to the city, Lion-O is confronted by some annoying guards. Lion-O introduces himself, and claims to be the Lord of the Thundercats. The guards point out that old Claudus is the lord of the Thundercats. Lion-O explains that he is Claudus’s son (so I guess that clears up that whole “are Jaga and Lion-O related” business I’ve been wondering about for a few episodes). One of the guards points out that Claudus’s son is only a boy, so Lion-O clearly can’t be him.


Lion-O threatens to use his sword, but the guards have ray-pistols. They assume that threatening to attack with such an inferior weapon means he’s insane, so they try to shoot him. Lion-O blocks the shot with the Sword of Omens, and one of the guards recognizes it as Jaga’s sword. Somehow this convinces the guards to let Lion-O into the city. Isn’t that kind of like the Secret Service saying “hey, isn’t that dangerous lunatic holding the Vice President’s shotgun? Let’s let him into the Oval Office!”? Anyway, Lion-O walks into the crumbling city.


As he walks, he’s stalked by a big, growling saber-toothed cat-wolf. It attacks Lion-O, but Lion-O recognizes the creature as Cano, and orders him to stop attacking. Cano eventually recognizes Lion-O as well, and becomes friendly.


Cano uses the Lassie technique of barking until Lion-O guesses what he’s thinking, and gets Lion-O to follow him. We see inside the room where Lion-O is headed, and Slythe and Vultureman are there, talking to Claudus. They want some plans that they believe Claudus has. Claudus expositions that he lost his sight fighting the Mutants’ evil empire, so he doesn’t fear them.


Slythe moves to attack, but Lion-O and Cano burst through a window to defend Claudus. The Mutants quickly flee. Claudus is happy for the assistance.


Lion-O explains that he is Claudus’s son, but Claudus doesn’t believe him. Lion-O warns Claudus that Thundera is doomed, and that Claudus must leave. Claudus knows that, but he needs to stay behind to boost the guidance system on Jaga’s ship, since the gyro-stabilizer is faulty. Claudus hopes to escape in a nearby gravity capsule, if there’s time. He gets a white cylinder from a hiding place in a statue and gives it to Lion-O. It contains the plans that the Mutants were looking for, plans for a Plun-Darrian war robot!


Claudus explains that one of his spies stole the plans. He’s giving them to Lion-O since he thinks they might be useful on another world, at another time. The tremors are getting worse, so Claudus tells Lion-O to get out while he still can.


Back at Cat’s Lair in the normal timeline, the Warbot shoots some flying discs that zoom through the broken eyes of the lair to attack the Thundercats inside.


Back on Thundera, Lion-O watches his younger self and the rest of the Thundercat nobles escaping on the spaceship. He dodges explosions as he runs back toward where he first arrived.

Back on Third Earth again, the Warbot shoots some magnet-tipped chains from its torso onto the Cat’s Lair head. Panthro explains: “Magnettoes that hold on stone! Another Plun-Darrian brainstorm!”


He tries to use his nunchucks to pry one off, but the Warbot sends an electric charge through the chain, zapping him. Cheetara tries to whack a chain with her extendo-stick, but another electric charge zaps her. Tygra, presumably working under the “third’s times the charm” theory, tries to use his whip to dislodge the chain, and also gets zapped. The Warbot starts pulling on the chains.


Stress fractures start appearing around the neck of Cat’s Lair, and the Thundercats inside take cover as the Warbot tears the Cat’s Lair’s head off!


The Warbot leaps onto the lair, and begins drilling through the walls with its giant drill-hand.


The Warbot rips a pretty sizable chunk out of the walls, and Panthro orders the other Thundercats to abandon Cat’s Lair. The Warbot, however, deploys its petrifying goop and freezes Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, and Snarf in their tracks.


Lion-O emerges from the time capsule, and is shocked to see the frozen Thundercats. “Thunder, thunder, thunder, Thundercats, HO!” The appearance of the Thundercats signal frees the Thundercats from their petrification, and they are all glad to see Lion-O. Lion-O starts zapping the Warbot with his sword. Panthro warns Lion-O that the robot feeds on energy and sends it back at you, but Lion-O tells him that won’t be a problem. “Sword of Omens, give me power-beyond-power. HO!”


The blast drives the Warbot back off the lair, and Lion-O explains that he can defeat the Warbot if he can face it on open ground. “Ready the ballista!” Lion-O loads himself in, and is fired out of the Lair onto the Warbot.


Lion-O lands on the Warbot and jumps down to the ground in front of it. The Warbot lifts up one of its feet to stomp Lion-O, and we see a small blinking light on the bottom of its foot.


Lion-O holds the Sword of Omens so that the Warbot ends up bringing the red light down right on its tip. A huge energy reaction begins, and Lion-O jumps free right before the foot would crush him. Giant glowing cracks appear along the foot, and the Warbot begins exploding.


We cut back to Castle Plun-Darr where Slythe is incredulous that the Warbot is down. Mumm-Ra, however, takes the opportunity to gloat. “But it is, Slythe, you bungler! Those Thundercats have defeated your puny efforts once again. Only I, Mumm-Ra, ever-living source of evil, will defeat the Thundercats. Because only I have real power. Magical, mystical power!”


In the coda, the Thundercats are sitting around the heavily damaged Cat’s Lair. Lion-O explains that he got the secret of the Warbot from his father. Panthro clarifies that there was an absorber disc under one foot to recieve the cosmic rays that Slythe was energizing it with. Lion-O expresses regret over being unable to save Claudus. Panthro tells him not to worry about it, since no one can change history.

So, that was interesting, huh? I had been assuming that Jaga was the previous Lord of the Thundercats, but now it turns out that I was wrong. Also, what was up with all the non-dog dogs in this episode, like Frog-Dog and Cano?


2 Responses to Review: Thundercats Season 1 Episode 20: Return to Thundera

  1. […] Cat’s Lair (which seems to have been repaired remarkably quickly from the damage it suffered last episode), where Lion-O and Snarf are outside. Wilykat is freaking out about the “water-giant” […]

  2. Christopher says:

    I remeber this episode from my childhood as the coolest freakin thing I had seen at the time since Lion-O goes all Dragon Ball Z in it before Dragon Ball Z even existed… well I dunno if it existed yet but I hadnt seen it and I definaty dont think it wast in America yet. If this was pre-DBZ then I guess Thundercats helped to pave the way for it… although Lion-O is still WAY cooler then any DBZ character, even Trunks, he still a badass though.

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