Lauren Miles reviews part two of Netflix’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation…
The last time Masters of the Universe: Revelation graced our screens it did the unthinkable. It divided fans not just by removing our beloved He-Man and Skeletor from the equation, but by passing the baton to new and familiar female characters. The series’ apparent abandonment of its leading duo challenged us, their shadows looming large over the plot and the characters who survived after them. Even worse, the season ended with the most dreadful scenario a fan could imagine – the power of Grayskull in the hands of Skeletor. Now, he obsesses over using his power to destroy He-Man once and for all, Teela and others must find a way to stop him, and Evil-Lyn continues to question her loyalties.
For better or worse, this second part of the series balances out some of the first’s most shocking narrative choices. Both Skeletor and Prince Adam return as major players, but the show also stands its ground in not adhering to the status quo. The first three episodes are a welcome return to the characters’ usual dynamic, and the battles are fun and thrilling, but this only sets up for some surprising and satisfying twists later on.
Make no mistake, this isn’t all as deadly serious as it may sound. In fact, this season leans into the delightfully campy and silly aspects of its source material. Even as a grown adult it’s hard not to snigger immaturely when Skeletor calls someone a ‘boob’ (clearly the most inoffensive offensive word the writers could conjure up). Fisto makes a brief return, alongside the relevant euphemistic dialogue, and it is joyous. In fact, almost everything about this season is good fun, from the fight scenes, to the new armour designs, to the voice acting. Mark Hamill especially seems to be having the time of his life in the role of He-Man’s necrotic nemesis.
The things that the show does take seriously, though, are incredibly touching. In the first part themes of masculinity were tackled by placing the focus on women who were used to playing second fiddle, wondering how to fill their predecessors’ shoes. This time, with Adam and Skeletor back in the picture, this can be explored more overtly. The need for traditional masculinity is shown to be unnecessary – with Skeletor wielding the power it is made apparent that Adam can step up to be a hero without it. Though he may not be able to transform into He-Man while his enemy wields the sword, he can be just as useful without his muscles and fighting prowess. Adam’s relationship with his father and Teela’s with Man-At-Arms shows that men can be less tough in their personal lives, and highlights the need for emotionally open and honest father figures.
Teela’s character development is the only disappointing part of the series. She is at once made too powerful, but also feels a bit sidelined. In part 1 she was the protagonist, but now she is overshadowed by the returning characters. To make up for this, she suddenly gains new skills that she is almost inherently good at. A little bit too good for someone who just discovered a new talent. While this keeps her relevant to the plot, and she ends up in an important role, it feels like backtracking on the bold choice to make her the lead of the series. Ultimately, though, she and the new characters are around enough to keep things feeling fresh. He-Man may have returned, but the show has still passed the baton to a new generation.
Taken as a whole, Masters of the Universe: Revelationfinds the balance between bringing back classic characters and forging a new path for a new generation of fictional heroes and viewers. A great time for fans old and new.
Lauren Miles is a freelance film and television journalist who loves all things gothic, fantasy and film noir. She has an MA in Multimedia Journalism and is also a Halloween enthusiast and cat lady. You can find her on Twitter @Lauren_M1les.