Written by George Hampton & Mike Moore
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Here on First Earth, the Renaissance saw the emergence of alchemy all over Europe, with medieval chemists struggling desperately, albeit unsuccessfully, to transmute base metals into gold. Even though modern chemistry has dispelled the feasibility of such transmutations, the world of the ThunderCats is not governed all that strictly by the laws of science. Thus in “Malcar” are we introduced to the series’ first alchemical antagonist, thanks to the writing duo of Hampton and Moore.
The episode takes off with the Feliner doing the same, as Panthro and Cheetara pilot the craft into space to rescue the Thunderian crew of a derelict Project 27 capsule. With the Feliner having guzzled up the last of their thundrillium, the remaining ThunderCats, namely Lion-O, Bengali and the Snarfs, form two teams to search for new sources of the element. Lion-O and Snarf stumble upon a huge deposit and start gathering it, while Bengali and the other Snarfs end up getting trapped inside a cave lined with highly explosive Thunderstone. Reminiscent of “The Mountain”, the remainder of the episode is a race against time to free them before their air supply runs out.
Always looking for ways to make the ThunderCats’ lives miserable, Mumm-Ra disinters the ancient Thunderian alchemist, Malcar, to turn thundrillium to thundrainium, the ThunderCats’ kryptonite. Malcar returns to life in the same form in which he was laid to rest in Tomb Town—as a decrepit old man who can barely walk! Ironically, this disgusts Mumm-Ra, but it’s quickly remedied via a quick teleporting excursion to the Canyons of Youth.
Restored to his younger self, the reinvigorated Malcar transmutes the thundrilliuim that Lion-O and Snarf had discovered into thundrainium, rendering Lion-O as weak as a newborn kitten. Help arrives in the form of Jaga, who uses the Sword of Omens to reinstate Malcar’s undead frailty. Mumm-Ra sends Malcar back to the Canyons of Youth for a second spa treatment, but the wily Jaga distracts Mumm-Ra from his task, prolonging Malcar’s stay in the Canyons and returning him to his infancy.
Lion-O and Snarf then free Bengali and the other Snarfs from Thunderstone Mountain, and they all arrive back at Cats’ Lair just in time to greet Panthro and Cheetara who have returned from their mission. The Thunderian refugee couple whom they rescued are more than happy to adopt the infant Malcar, promising to give him a good home filled with love—and hopefully devoid of any junior chemistry sets!
The major challenge that faced the writers of the later seasons of ThunderCats was effectively handling the huge cast of characters. Many chose to send a few ThunderCats on vague missions, or omit them altogether without explanation. Here in “Malcar”, though, Moore and Hampton successfully utilize a substantial cast while still managing to keep the spotlight on the main characters.
The titular villain, while an interesting addition to Mumm-Ra’s roster of one-off summonees, is nowhere near as powerful or formidable as, say, Mongor. Moore and Hampton were smart not to confer too much screen time to him. It is odd though that they would choose to make him so tangential to the episode’s central conflict—he really only gets in the way of Lion-O’s efforts during one scene—while still naming the episode after him.
Arguably the best thing about this episode is Jaga, in his most action-packed role since “The Ghost Warrior”. The wise old mentor, who usually only appears briefly to give Lion-O sound advice, tackles the bull by the horns in this installment in a great display of courage, sorcery, and wisdom. The way he delays Mumm-Ra’s transformation in order to prolong Malcar’s stay in the Canyons of Youth is nothing short of brilliant!
Despite starting off with a basic storyline similar to many other ThunderCats episodes, the writers prevent “Malcar” from slipping into mediocre banality by avoiding clichés. The Sword of Omens isn’t a deus ex machina; the action jumps from place to place with several conflicts rather than one predictable one; and Mumm-Ra’s plan is foiled, not through ThunderCat magic or Mutant incompetence, but through an ingenious bait-and-switch. All these fresh twists manage to keep the audience entertained until the very last scene, pseudoscience and all.
Written by Wilycub
|“Malcar” is the third and final episode written by George Hampton and Mike Moore, following “Ravage Island” and “The Thunderscope”|
|We learn from this episode that Snarfs are unaffected by Thundrainium|
|Malcar’s Orb of Oro is a sort of Philospher’s Stone. Ironically, it lacks the power to rejuvenate.|
|Tomb Town, a locale featured on Jim Meskimen’s map of New Thundera, makes its first and only appearance here|