This week we get the Kurosawa cowboy episode. It is probably the highlight of all the good and bad things in the new ThunderCats.

Seems the Cat’s tank is needing more repairs. It’s quite the hangar queen even before Tygra (Matthew Mercer) tries to use the Book of Omens to jump-start their armoured convertible. Lion-O (Will Friedle) goes by himself to town to get some supplies. I’m I crazy to wonder why the king of the Cats is wandering into an unknown town alone? And if the only reason you watch ThunderCats is for Cheetara (Emmanuelle Chriqui), then you can skip to next week’s recap. And this seems to be a reoccurring thing in ThunderCats. It maybe should be called ThunderCat: Lion-O’s Journey. This is by far the worst D&D party or GM, I have ever seen.

As Lion-O and Snarf approach a town with a wall made of swords, a drifter calls to Lion-O from the wall. He is caught on the wall but blowing like a flag in the breeze. Let me tell you this character is five shades of cool just flapping in the breeze and exponentially cooler once he starts to speak. The drifter is voiced by Stephen Root (True Blood, King of the Hill, 24), who really steals this episode in his delivery of lines. He has this soft southern accent reminiscent of his True Blood character, Eddie Gauthier, that matched with the drifter’s two dimensional rabbit-like appearance gives off this weird vibe of “don’t mind me, I’m not the teacher you’re looking for… yet”. Lion-O helps the drifter down off the wall and in turn the drifter warns Lion-O go to another town. This one will only bring ruin to Lion-O.

Lion-O of course disregards advice from a stranger and quickly finds out his Thundarian coin is no good in the city. He enters a competition to see who has the best sword. The Sword of Omens over-performs in a task of damaging a metal monolith, which wins him some coins and the attention of the duelist. The duelist fights others to win their swords and he has no shortage of swords. Lion-O refuses a challenge by the duelist as he now has his supplies and can gain nothing from winning a duel with this sinister stranger. The duelist then makes a comment about the previous owner  and the current one’s cowardice. The fiery temper of Lion-O kicks in and he accepts the duel.

It was a smart bit of writing to have Lion-O not care about the duel until his ego was assaulted. This and the interludes of the drifter trying to subtly dissuade Lion-O from the duel are really high points of the series. Good dialog, great character motivation, awesome episode for another lesson Lion-O must learn to become the just leader he will need to be.

Lion-O runs into the drifter who tells a tale about a sword maker who crafted the perfect blade. When the duelist heard of the sword he confronted the sword maker and challenged him to a duel, winner taking the other’s sword. The sword maker overconfident mistakenly believed that his superior equipment would win the duel. The sword maker overvalued the implement and undervalued the skill to use it. The sword maker lost his life’s work and just drifted to where ever the wind blew him.

Lion-O ignores the advice of the drifter and his important message of turning your weakness into your strength, be the reed not the wood. Lion-O is badly outmatched skillwise against the duelist and loses the Sword of Omens. Horribly upset and rushing to get a rematch that will most likely end in the same outcome, he pursues another sword.

Yes, our drifter is the great sword maker. He has been warning Lion-O the whole time from his own experience. He sees lots of his own faults in the young cat, but he also sees things that he himself is missing, like the determination to get back what is his. The drifter agrees to make the young king a new sword, a near replica of his most prized creation. He recreates his best sword in a single day. Lion-O pretty much repeats his previous mistakes believing again that his equipment is superior. When his new master-crafted sword breaks in two because the sword is garbage, things look very bad for our hero who has bet his life to get all the swords the duelist has taken.

Yes, only in a children’s show can you bet your life in a second duel. Most sword fights often ended with one or both combatants dead. The duelist is diet evil (one calorie, not evil enough) because after beating an opponent in a fight he just takes his sword. And these are the little things that are bad about ThunderCats. If you don’t want to bring real world issues into a children’s show then you should avoid things that will make you water down the grittiness of your stories. Add to this at a pivotal moment, Lion-O realizes what the drifter meant by the reed is weak, but it can bind stronger wood together. This should be a Eureka moment, but instead it comes across as an “oh ya, now I get it” thing.

Lion-O realizes that he must not be rigid and must flow like the drifter. He bends like the reed and then with a broken sword binds the stronger duelist. Lion-O wins the swords and the drifter takes the other swords and goes on a quest to return the swords to their rightful owners.

This episode has great ideas and an ace in the hole with Stephen Root’s nonchalant drifter, but it fails to deliver the goods when it really needs to. The Eureka moment is bungled and all the build up is for naught. The quality of the episodes has indeed increased of late, but ThunderCats is a show firing on six cylinders of a V12.

Iain McGregorAnimeTVKurosawa,ThunderCats,True Blood
This week we get the Kurosawa cowboy episode. It is probably the highlight of all the good and bad things in the new ThunderCats. Seems the Cat’s tank is needing more repairs. It’s quite the hangar queen even before Tygra (Matthew Mercer) tries to use the Book of Omens to...