The first part of Masters of the Universe (MoTU): Revelation on Netflix was divisive, for more reasons than one, which I wrote about here. From shifting focus away from the popular hero and focusing instead on a side character, to delivering what seemed like a bait-and-switch ending – MoTU: Revelation wasn’t averse to taking risks. Consequently, it spilt both critics and fans of the classic He-Man series right down the middle, with many taking umbrage to the sidelining of their favourite hero, and of course, his (spoiler) second demise in the show.
So, as Part 2 hit Netflix, I was curious to know whether the showrunners would continue in this bolder direction or opt for quick course correction. The answer is mixed. While the show quickly course corrects its Part 1 finale twist and places the audience in the middle of the action, it also doesn’t adhere to the traditional He-Man framework. Sure, there is more He-Man (a fan favourite Savage form included) and more Skeletor; however, the core story still revolves around its female leads, Teela and Evil-Lyn. Therefore, it’s less of a course correction, and more of a segue into what fans wanted. Which is great, of course, since Part 2 is an extremely fun binge, but it also means that tonally, it is significantly more uneven than Part 1.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 2 quickly gets to the action in Episode 1, with Mark Hamill’s Skeletor hamming up his God-like status with a Joker-esque glee. As we find our heroes trapped by the near-omnipotent villain, Prince Adam (He-Man’s alter ego) tips the scales by bringing down the Power of Grayskull, and fans are treated to the emergence of Savage He-Man. It’s the first of many fan-service moments that dot the show’s five episode arc. The animation feels a little different too, with more anime-influenced fights and stylizations thrown into the mix. MoTU: Revelation Part 2 delivers a lot in those frenetic 5 episodes; from Eternia’s mythology and character deep dives to some rather superfluous exposition and ho-hum dialogues.
This season is a fun ride that should work across most fan bases. However, it is also feels less confident than Part 1, despite the scale and stakes. While buoyed by some standout voice performances by Leana Headey (Evil-Lyn) and Mark Hamill (Skeletor), the show is also bogged down by unnecessary overreaches and some really boring and expository dialogue writing.
But let’s talk Evil-Lyn’s story arc.
Even in the simpler, classic series, one always knew that Lyn was more than she let on. In contrast to Skeletor’s campy evil in the 80s series, Lyn’s school of evil was always strategic and driven; she was her own person. MoTU: Revelations Part 1 takes that concept and runs with it, giving her character complexity, and some touching, introspective moments, with Orko of all people! Her elaborate back-story in Part 2 deals with years of abuse at the hands of her parents, and that of her ‘saviour’ Skeletor. Through her, the show touches upon how many victims of abuse are often trapped in a cycle of violence at the hands of their perpetrators. It is one thing to adopt that concept, however, and another to overdo it completely.
MoTU: Revelations Part 2 doesn’t do Lyn much justice eventually and gives her a Danaerys Targarean-esque plotline that renders all that earned goodwill meaningless. Sure, the universe is chaos, it is meaningless and empty Lyn; but damn it, please don’t squander your character growth over existentialism. Part 2 handles this particular plot thread so badly, that if were to use the ‘explain this movie plot badly’ device, then I’d sum up episodes 4 and 5 as: Two men who hate each other’s guts become friends because they can’t stand a woman with agency.
That said, Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 2 is still a LOT of fun – and delivers some truly gratifying moments for fans of the mythos. One of my favourite parts was the introduction segment that uses the classic illustrations from the toy line – a genuinely heartfelt, and well-executed touch. Even for the uninitiated, there is enough going on, and enough backstory to keep you hooked. Taken individually, the seasons are uneven, but together, they work as an essential addition to Eternian lore. But, well, it’s no Castlevania.