July 2, 2011

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, episode 8 "The Power of the Wise"


Leoric's stupidity has reached critical mass. I didn't want to do this, but after watching this week's episode, I feel as if I simply have no alternative.

"Leoric, I want you to meet your newest Spectral Knight, Admiral Akbar. Yes, I know he smells like tuna, but you'll be thanking me the next time you encounter the Darkling Lords. Why? Show him, Admiral."


"You know you need this, man."

[The above conversation is purely fictional. In no way, shape, or form did I use Admiral Akbar and Leoric action figures to play that scene out. Nor did I have them hold hands and skip around like school girls. And I certainly didn't have Akbar give Leoric a back rub while Barry White music played in the background.]

Here we are. Episode 8. "The Power of the Wise". An ironic title, don't you think?

At the behest of Merklynn, Leoric and a few of his Knights are digging for magical roots. As they find them, the Knights compare the ugly, twisted roots to their enemies, the Darkling Lords. This leads them to a discussion of which of the Lords' spells they most fear. Leoric chooses Darkstorm's power of Decay. "Who wants to be old and weak?" he says. "Yes, I don't see how someone as old as Merklynn can keep going like he does," responds another. In true TV fashion, it's at this exact moment that Merklynn appears.

Oh, snap.

We've all been there, haven't we? We're in a group, the conversation turns to Jim. Someone says "Oh. My. God. Did you guys smell Jim today?" - "Yes!" - "I can't believe someone would come to work smelling like that." - Thus far, you've been quiet. After all, you don't want Jim to turn the corner and hear you talking about him. Buuuuut you don't want to be left out and you get a little careless. "I know! It's like 'Hey, Jim, what did you do, bathe in monkey shit this morning?!" That's when you notice the rest of the group pointing behind you. It feels like a block of ice just fell into your stomach as you turn around and find Jim standing there. Now, a normal person at least tries to play it off or feign contrition, but not our Leoric. What does he say to Merklynn? "We're not afraid of you, we're afraid of becoming like you." The leader of Prysmos, everybody.

The Knights ask Merklynn if he has any magic that can counter the power of Darkstorm's Decay spell. He tells them he does, but that it's far beyond their abilities to handle. They tell Merklynn that they've helped him, so why doesn't he help them. Quid pro quo. He responds "I am, by not giving you the magic. But you are too young and foolish to realize."

Merklynn takes his roots and his wrinkly ass disappears, leaving the Knights grumbling in his wake. They have the bright idea to ask Arzon's Staff of Knowledge where they can find the magic to counteract the power of Darkstorm's Decay magic. The staff tells them the magic can be found in the water of the Eternal Spring on the slopes of Shadow Mountain. He ends, "You will know it by the rainbow flowers that grow nearby." I'm not even going to ask how rainbow flowers grow in a place called "Shadow Mountain". So our Knights, feeling that Merklynn has denied them this power so he can keep them in check, make for Shadow Mountain with less planning than an impromptu trip to 7/11.

Little do our heroes know, but they're overheard by one of the Lords, who races off to earn some brownie points. When the Knights near the Eternal Spring, they find the Lords waiting for them and a fierce battle ensues. During the battle, Darkstorm nails King Dumbass - yes, that's what I'm calling him for at least the rest of this review - with the dreaded Decay spell and turns him into an old man. The Knights escape and make for the Spring, hoping to return King Dumbass to his youthful state. Seems like a logical plan, right? Yet the Knights still feel the need to consult the Staff of Wisdom, asking the following question:

"Oh, great Owl of Wisdom. Are we really as stupid as Merklynn says?"

That's your question? What possible good does that do you at a moment like this? That's like consulting the staff when you have heartburn and asking, "Oh, great Owl of Wisdom. Should I have eaten those five chili dogs?"

King Dumbass is the single dumbest man in the history of cartoons. He makes Elmer Fudd look like Bugs Bunny.

The Darkling Lords use the power of fear on a protective mamma scorpion monster so she'll attack the Knights as a distraction while they head for the Spring. King Dumbass nearly gets himself and one of his men killed in defeating the monster, but his men all praise his tactical genius (likely humoring the old fart) and make haste to the Spring.

Alas, the Knights arrive to find that the Darkling Lords have destroyed the Eternal Spring, which was King Dumbass' last hope for reversing the aging process. A crushed King Dumbass resigns himself to living out his remaining days watching Matlock re-runs, but his Knights assure him that, in spite of his feeble condition and his peerless stupidity, they still want him as their leader.

Before I had a chance to question their intelligence, Arzon spots a rainbow flower near the entrance of a cave. Could there be some magic spring water hidden inside? King Dumbass and Feryl stay behind while the rest of the Knights investigate. That's when Cravex returns to rub things in King Dumbass' face. He incapacitates the two and goes to get Darkstorm so the Lords can finish the job once and for all.

And here's our hero moment, where King Dumbass uses his brains (*snicker*) instead of his brawn to save the day. The Lords capture the Knights and total victory is in their grasp... but they didn't count on King Dumbass not doing something completely asinine! Our fearless leader (Feryl, actually) gets the jump on the Lords and forces Darkstorm to use his Decay spell to restore King Dumbass' youth.

Ectar returns, having found some of the Spring water, and King Dumbass and the Knights decide to make it a gift to Merklynn. The old wizard thanks them for their gesture, but refuses the gift. In a rare moment of enlightenment, King Dumbass surmises that Merklynn values the wisdom of his experience more than the fleeting gifts of youth.

I had a little... okay, a lot... of fun at Leoric's expense in this review, but it's a good episode. What I like best is they're not afraid to show that our heroes have flaws. They can be vain and rash and thick-headed. In short, they're human. And, for once, interesting as well.


The big problem with this episode is that watching the Spectral Knights set out on a quest in defiance of Merklynn kinda sinks in the wake of last week's episode, where the Darkling Lords set out on a quest in defiance of Merklynn. Here, the main threat is that King Du-- ahem, Leoric is aged into a geezer. There, the threat was Darkstorm uttering a spell THAT TRIGGERED FRICKIN' ARMAGEDDON!!!! The lesson this week is to accept aging gracefully, and taking comfort in the wisdom one gains. The lesson last week was don't utter a spell THAT TRIGGERS FRICKIN' ARMAGEDDON!!!!

Getting old or triggering armageddon. Which is the most entertaining to watch. Hmmm....

And not only was the outrageous spectacle of last week superior to this one, but, as Tony has argued, the Darkling Lords are so much more fun to follow as they constantly bicker and try to stab one another in the back. The Knights really are a bunch of stiffs as they get along, help each other out, and make sure to remind one another that they're doing a good job. And Leoric. *sigh* Fine, Tony. You win. Leoric is a knucklehead. The scene where he summons the Owl of Wisdom just so he could ask it if it's true that he's stupid was jaw dropping in its pointless waste of power.

And speaking of magical power, the entire climax hinges on Darkstorm re-summoning his Decay spell so as to fix Leoric. But hasn't the series done a rather thorough job of establishing that you can't use each power staff more than once without trekking up to Merklynn's temple for a recharge? Somebody really dropped the ball on that one. They had a bag of Spring water that ultimately goes to waste, so just build an action scene where it's tossed from hand to hand before finally making its way to Leoric.

And why do the Darkling Lords destroy the Eternal Spring? These are the greediest, most egotistical batch of lowlifes you'll ever know. Wouldn't they be fighting each other for the chance at a sip of those waters? I know they want to guarantee that Leoric's state remains permanent, but at the cost of giving up immortality? Nuh-uh. I'm not buying that from this bunch.

Writer Doug Booth did a great job with his previous effort, "The Price of Freedom", but here he fumbled all over himself. The concept was there, but the layout was a jumble of hurled spells and random encounters, some of the lines were awful (a dangling Leoric says "I can't hang around here forever!" with a very unsubtle emphasis on the "hang"), the resolution of the climax goes against a key rule of the show, the lead heroes remain largely indistinct and boring, and the typically ambiguous Merklynn takes on a more benevolent, fatherly presence.

It's a misfire for me. Except for the great scene where the Darkling Lords initiate their attack by tossing the snivelling Mortdredd out of a plane.

It's time for this week's "Now That's Being a Visionary!" moment:

Creepy Guy: "Hey, kid, you want some candy?"

Larry: "Sure!"

Creepy Guy: "I've got plenty back at my house. Just get in my car and..."

Man's Voice: (off screen) "Stranger danger!"

Larry: "Darkstorm!"

Creepy Guy: "Damn!" (runs off)

Darkstorm: "Never get into a car with someone you don't know. And if you're approached by a stranger, yell for help."

Larry: "I still want some candy!"

Darkstorm: "I've got plenty back at my castle. Just get in my Dagger Assault and..."

Larry: "Stranger danger!" (kicks Darkstorm in shin, runs off)

Darkstorm: "Now that's *ouch* being a Visionary!"

Additional articles in our Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light series:

1 comment:

Anthony Williams said...

And Leoric. *sigh* Fine, Tony. You win.

Victory is mine! :p

Great point about the Darkling Lords destroying the spring. I can't believe I missed that. Totally out of character for them to simply destroy a resource they could use to their advantage.