ThunderCats this week gives us four notable things in the first few minutes: the insides of the ThunderTank, an imposing new teammate, some unobtainable thundrillium, and another convention-defying location. The upside-down mine is a great concept.
I also loved the flashback, with its high fantasy feel and its younger, unscarred Panthro. And he has a tail! Now I’m confused. He looks to be as old as the main gang: what happened to their tails? I might dare dipping into the fanon to find out, but I really wanted my ThunderCats viewings to be an unsullied experience. No derivative works, no fandom trends, no reading the interviews with the creators, because then I’ll read the comments section. I want a relatively lone experience, like cartoons were before I was active on the internet. It’s a parallel reboot, in a way. So for now, the tails remain a mystery.
The Requisite Cute Moment in a nearly twinsless episode comes from preteen Lion-O and Tigra. This bit also contained some great subtle characterization, with Grune, prevented by species from becoming king, cheering on Tigra, another outsider just a little bit closer to the throne.
Panthro checks out the enemy fortifications. For a General in an army that forbids technology, Panthro sure has a lot of it.
And then Lion-O jumps straight into said fortifications. Let’s do a quick comparison here. Ahsoka disobeys her teachers, gets into dangerous situations, magicks her way out of it, and her teacher lies for her to excuse her actions, which are never mentioned again. (Sorry Plo, I can’t get over that.) Lion-O disobeys his teachers, gets into dangerous situations, gets outgunned (metaphorically) and falls back on increasingly desperate witty banter, and has to be rescued by said teacher, who then berates him. Then other characters’ opinions get thrown in, and the group dynamic shifts a bit toward the resentful. Lion-O still gets to have his moment to shine (...literally) at the end of the episode. Also, Panthro is awesome. Which one is more interesting? Which more helpful to kids who are going to learn that life doesn’t always work out for them? Which is more relatable?
The montage of Grune and Panthro’s journey across exotic locations was great, leaving very little that needed like it needed to be filled in by speculation. It was paced nicely. There wasn’t much dialogue in it, but that works for the characters.
(Is it an animator’s nightmare to draw people in pajamas or something? How can Panthro sleep with those spikes on? I laughed a little.)
We also get some dialogue like “Until next time!” , and Tigra and Cheetara still need characterization, but I’m willing to forgive it. This episode left the filler (albeit enjoyable filler) territory we were in for the last couple weeks, to instead bring Panthro’s origin story.