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Trouble's Middle Name is the 93rd episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed by Steve Clark. A relatively peaceful mission is disrupted by the nuisance of an interdimensional practical joker, and the unexpected return of Negator.
An old farmer named Vola-Ree visits the Temple of the Sun and petitions its guardians to use the Sunstone to make him healthy and strong again. The keepers of the temple ask the man if he is willing to sacrifice his farm in payment for this service. Thinking of his family's wellbeing ahead of his own, Vola-Ree cannot conceive of giving up his land, and angrily refuses the bargain. As he turns to leave, the keepers assure him that this was the correct response to their test. Convinced he is worthy, they allow him to bathe in the rays of the Sunstone, which rejuvenates him.
Once the ritual is complete, the keepers notice that the Sunstone has exhausted its mystic energies and discuss preparations for the Ceremony of the Sun that will recharge it. According to the ancient legends, the ceremony must be performed when the sun is in the proper position, and be witnessed by the strongest forces for good in the universe. The keepers have already sent out the invitation, and in the Royal Palace, Prince Adam and Cringer prepare to answer as He-Man and Battle Cat.
Later, He-Man, Battle Cat, Teela, Man-At-Arms, and Orko take the Attak Trak across the Sands of Time on their way to the ceremony. The others find this peaceful mission relaxing, but Battle Cat is impatient for some action. To the tiger's relief, the Trak encounters an enormous glass bottle lying in its path, and the heroes head out to investigate it. Battle Cat is suspicious of the artifact, but Orko casts a spell to uncork it, revealing a message warning against opening the bottle.
Suddenly a strange little blue fellow bursts out of the bottle, along with a robotic companion. Orko realizes that they are from Trolla, or more specifically, Karadania, the "land of practical jokers." The stranger introduces his robot as Blinker, but will only identify himself as "Prankster." Orko explains that Karadanian magic would summon Prankster home if he were to say his real name aloud. Prankster has no intention of letting that happen, as he means to have "fun" with the heroes for a very long time. He and Blinker disappear to plan their next joke, and soon Battle Cat is growing a comically enormous mustache from his snout. Orko uses his magic to remove the whiskers, though they quickly reappear on his own head. He-Man resigns himself to putting up with Prankster's shenanigans for now, so he and his friends return to the Attak Trak to continue their journey.
Unbeknownst to the heroes, however, they have been observed from afar by Negator from his mechanical spider vehicle. Negator hopes to beat He-Man to the Temple of the Sun, whereby he can absorb the Sunstone's power and overtake his enemy as the most powerful man in the universe. He reasons that Prankster's interference should be very helpful to his efforts.
Later, the Attak Trak slows to a stop, and reports that it isn't feeling very well. He-Man and Man-At-Arms check the aft hatch and find that the Trak literally has butterflies in its stomach, courtesy of Prankster. Duncan looks on the bright side, suggesting that it could have been wolfbats instead of butterflies. Inspired, Negator fires a beam from his spider vehicle to transform the butterflies into wolfbats. Prankster is incredibly confused to find his own prank going haywire, while Man-At-Arms is more concerned with getting rid of the pests. He-Man creates a whirlwind to dispel the wolfbats, and tells Prankster to try harder next time.
Concerned about the unexpected effects of the last trick, Prankster decides to try something simpler, creating a group of voguls in the Attak Trak's path. Negator sees the tiny insects and uses his power to radically increase their size. When the Trak runs into the enormous voguls, He-Man sends Teela to create a distraction while he carves a series of stone walls to enclose them. Satisfied that the voguls will be secure until they return to their normal size, He-Man scolds Prankster for his jokes, and warns him not to cause any more trouble. Embarrassed by the fiasco, Prankster vanishes to plot his next move.
When the heroes finally reach the temple, the sun is almost in position for the charging of the Sunstone, so they hurry inside for the ceremony. Just then, Orko sees Prankster and Blinker lurking behind them, so he confronts them and demands no more practical jokes inside the temple. Prankster promises (with his fingers crossed), but ties Orko in magical vines for a laugh since he isn't in the temple yet.
Once everyone gathers inside the temple, Man-At-Arms announces that the heroes are pleased to return under more pleasant circumstances, recalling prior incidents at the temple involving Nepthu and Batros. However, as he watches the proceedings Negator is confident circumstances will be unpleasant. At the appointed hour, the keepers open the aperture overhead and raise the Sunstone, which is locked within a corithium slab. Just as they magically unlock the stone block to expose the stone for charging, Negator invades the temple to usurp the stone. Emboldened by his newfound power, Negator grows into a giant. The heroes fire their weapons at him, but the energy simply feeds him and increases his size. He-Man and Battle Cat try to attack with brute force, but Negator erects a force shield so powerful that they won't be able to break through before he has drained the Sunstone.
As luck would have it, at that very moment Prankster settles upon his next practical joke, creating rainclouds over the Temple of the Sun. Unable to draw power from the sun, the Sunstone begins reabsorbing the energies taken by Negator. He suddenly shrinks, to his original size and then smaller than the Sunstone itself. Panicking, Negator declares that no one can have the power if he cannot, and he fires a blast into the thunderclouds, churning them into an energy storm. Negator shrinks into nothingness, but the danger has not passed; if the Sunstone is not charged soon, it will lose its power forever. With no time to waste, He-Man climbs to the top of the temple, letting himself be swept into the storm. As he hurtles through the maelstrom, he summons the power of Grayskull and redirects the storm's energy through the Sword of Power, redirecting it back to the Sunstone. With the storm dissipated, the Sunstone resumes its normal charging, none the worse for wear.
Back at the palace, the heroes tell Prince Adam about their adventure. Man-At-Arms is sure Negator will return someday, but Adam is more concerned with Prankster. The imp has no intention of going anywhere, so Adam decides to welcome Eternia's latest guest by declaring a day in his honor. As he mentions the various recipients of this honor, Blinker begins to add its master's name to the list, causing Prankster to exclaim, "Don't tell him my name is Wokrapanwooki!" Furious at his own blunder, Prankster finds himself and Blinker spirited back to Karadania, to the relief of the heroes. Orko reminds them that his magic was able to undo Wokrapanwooki's handiwork...just as those same pranks revisit Orko himself!
Teela admits we all have an urge to play a joke on people, but as Prankster learned today, a joke can go too far, and hurt someone.
- John Erwin as He-Man/Prince Adam and Vola-Ree
- Alan Oppenheimer as Man-At-Arms, Battle Cat/Cringer, and Negator
- Linda Gary as Teela
- Lou Scheimer (credited as Erik Gunden) as Orko, the Attak Trak, Wokrapanwooki, Blinker, and unnamed keepers of the Temple of the Sun
Orko's Fun Facts
As featured in BCI's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season Two, Vol. 1 DVD boxset (Disc 5)
- "This episode also marks the return of Negator from the Season One episode 'Game Plan.'"
- Negator traverses the Sands of Time in a Robot Spider; the very same ones Trap Jaw built in 'House of Shokoti, Part 1' and leater seen in 'Beauty and the Beast.' Inside the Robot Spider we see that it is the same interior style that Negator had in 'Game Plan.'"
- "Prankster's real name is 'Wokrapanwooki.'"
- "When He-Man leaps into the energy storm he utters 'By the Power of Grayskull,' but with the stock voice of Prince Adam!"
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