Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Dungeons and Dragons 01x02: Eye of the Beholder

Daisy is back for another guest installment of D&D! If you're interested in swapping posts or doing a guest recap of your own, contact me at jvonhalsing@gmail.com for details and guidelines.

Episode Two of Dungeons and Dragons is ‘Eye of the Beholder’, and it has noticeably fewer villainous pet rabbits and randomly teleporting dragons than the first one, but also way more bumbling knights.  Whether you consider that an improvement or not is probably a matter of taste.  I find that this episode gets overlooked a lot, especially in terms of how it relates to Eric’s characterization, but I think that has more to do with most of the plotline being kind of forgettable than anything else.

So let’s get to ‘Eye of the Beholder’.

We start out with a scene of the kids walking in the desert again.  Oh joy.  The horses from the last episode are gone.  I guess they returned them to Helix in a fit of upstanding behaviour.  Or maybe they died.  I mean, it’s not like anybody is really an expert on horse care here.

Presto:  “It must be a hundred and twenty degrees in the shade.  And there isn’t any shade!”

Sheila:  “You can say that again!”

Diana:  “With four suns up there, what d’you guys expect?”

There are four suns this time?  Oh my god, is Eric dead?  But, no, there he is, standing with the group.  The rest of the kids sit down to take a break except for Eric, who keeps standing.  I have suspicions that his sweat has rusted his armour shut and he can’t bend enough to sit down.  In the foreground we see Uni get hit with a couple stray blasts of sand.  She shakes her head and goes to investigate the source of the flying sand.  Eric talks about how he’s been in this situation before, but at the time he was actually just lost in his parents’ safari-size backyard.

Eric:  “I was lost.  The sun was baking my brains.”

Presto:  “So that’s what happened to your brains.”

Bobby, remarkably, actually elbows Presto and shushes him to hear the rest of Eric’s story.  This must be before Bobby concludes that Eric is the living incarnation of failure.  Hank brings things back to business.

Hank:  “Listen.  Dungeon Master told us to keep heading towards the setting suns.  And that means this way.”

Holy hell, Hank, have you had them marching nonstop through the desert all day because of that?

Eric:  “Dungeon Master?  We haven’t seen that bozo for two days.  I say we go any way we want to.”

Scratch that, you’ve had them marching through the desert for two days because of that?!

Hank:  “Okay, wise guy.  Which way should we go?”

Eric starts to answer Hank and then gets tackled by Uni, who is bleating obnoxiously and covered in sand.  Diana notices that her digging around in the dirt has managed to attract the attention of a gigantic monster scorpion.   Uni loses a point.  The kids flee, while Hank offers such helpful commentary as ‘come on, hurry’ and ‘faster’ and ‘that scorpion’s catching up’.  This is why it doesn’t pay to just go marching through the desert until you drop from exhaustion.  It makes running for your life in the scorching heat that much harder.

A passing dude happens to hear Hank’s cries.  He’s overweight and dressed improbably in heavy armour.  Dude, there are four suns in that sky.  Eric doesn’t have any other clothes, what’s your excuse?  Anyway, the guy figures that a scorpion chasing some people sounds like trouble, and promptly runs away in terror.  He hides in a nearby outcropping of rocks.  We see the kids run past, the scorpion hot on their tails, and then Sir Coward comes back out from hiding and wipes his brow in relief.

Knight:  “Pshew.  That was a close one.”

Yeah, shame about those children who are about to get eaten though, right?

Well, as he’s enjoying his reprieve from danger, a gigantic blue dragon comes up behind him.  The kids find their own cave to hide from the scorpion in, unaware of the knight and dragon not far off.  The cave opening is too narrow for the scorpion to fit through.  Meanwhile, the knight flees the dragon and runs right into the scorpion.  This sparks a scorpion-vs-dragon fight, with the knight caught in the middle.  The dragon decides that the scorpion would make for a better meal than some tiny metal-covered human, and chases it off into the distance.

Uni checks to see if the coast is clear – good delegating to whoever decided that – and spots the knight.  She bleats happily and runs up to him, and he nearly freaks out again.

Bobby:  “It’s gone!  The scorpion’s gone!”

Hank:  “Look, there’s a knight!”

Diana:  “He must’ve saved us!”

The kids rush out to thank the ‘brave’ knight, who’s confused at first, but then happily takes credit for the deed.

Knight:  “All in a day’s work for a knight!”

Presto:  “Some work!  Do they have a school for that?”

Eric:  “Yeah, dummy.  Night School!”

Eric elbows Presto and laughs at his own joke, while Presto looks annoyed.  Eric is the best.

The knight insists that he must be on his way, then, and tells them to take care and be careful, because it’s really dangerous out here and there’s no telling what they may run into.  Diana asks him who he is, and he identifies himself as Sir John, Official Protector of the Village of Pindrake, and Battler of Beasts, Dragons, and Demons.  One wonders how he landed himself in this particular line of work.

Eric:  “Did you hear what he said?  No telling what we may run into.”

Dungeon Master appears behind Eric and startles him.

Eric:  “Ah!  Dungeon Master!  Do you always have to do that?”

Dungeon Master:  “No.  Not always.”

Dungeon Master is an asshole, but we already know that. 

Dungeon Master:  “I have found a possible way for you to get home.  But, it is very dangerous.”

Presto:  “What isn’t dangerous around here?”

Hank:  “Go on, Dungeon Master.”

No, wait, actually I’d like for DM to answer Presto’s question.

Dungeon Master:  “Far to the east, there is a sad and desolate land.  It is known as the Valley of the Beholder.”


DM holds up his hands to create a glowing orb, and as he talks it shifts to show a horrible, desolate wasteland that looks… actually a hell of a lot like the place the kids are in now.  Sheila exclaims over how horrible it appears to be, but it really isn’t any demonstrably different from the desert behind them.  Really.  I think maybe Sheila stopped paying attention to their immediate surroundings when they started depressing her so much.

Anyway, DM tells the kids that the valley was once the most beautiful valley in the realm, and the image in the orb briefly changes to look all lush and green.  Apparently the Beholder ruined all of that.  Eric asks what a Beholder is.  The orb shows a picture of one, and DM says that the beholder is a vile and evil beast that came up from the Underworld and destroyed all things of beauty, and that it is blocking the path between the kids and a portal to their world.

Holy. Crap.

He’s sending them to fight a Beholder?  They almost got their asses handed to them by a giant bug!

Sheila:  “You mean we have to meet that big ugly guy?”

Dungeon Master:  “Not just meet him!  You must defeat him!  And remember, sometimes by looking back, you can see a clearer path through what lies ahead.”

Eric:  “Oh, brother, here he goes again!”

Dungeon Master:  “But beware!  For only beauty can defeat the Eye of the Beholder!”

Dungeon Master starts to walk off.  Eric makes a valiant attempt to follow him, but the little monster teleports away anyhow.  This is understandably frustrating for Eric, who appears to be the only kid to have realized that DM is full of crap.  He gets a point for that.  Meanwhile, we get a scene of Uni making her godawful bleating noises while Bobby stands around, staring pointedly off into the distance.  Hank asks what he’s doing, and Bobby says he’s trying to follow Dungeon Master’s advice and see the way ahead by looking behind them.  Oh, Bobby.  Nothing DM says is ever that literal.

Bobby:  “All I see is that place where we met that knight, Sir John.”

Hank:  “Yeah, well, sometimes the Dungeon Master… wait!  That’s it!  Sir John is in our past, but he may be the key to our future!”

Presto:  “That’s right!  Anybody brave enough to take on that scorpion oughta have an easy time with the beholder!”

Eric:  “Great.  For once somebody else can fight the creepy slime that inhabits this world.”

The kids agree that finding Sir John would be a good idea, and head off in the direction that they saw him leave in.  It appears to lead into some kind of giant mushroom forest.  We cut to a fairly nice-looking town just past the mushroom forest, where it seems that some kind of trial is being held.  Apparently the townsfolk have wised up to the fact that Sir John is not exactly aces at knighthood, and they’re planning on replacing him with a new and braver knight… just as soon as they can find one. 

Wow.  He’s so bad at his job that they’d rather have nobody doing it than keep him on.

We see that Sir John has a kid, and the kid’s upset because, apparently, they’ve been kicked out of places before and this one was their last chance.

I’m no expert, but maybe Sir John should consider a career change?  Something less combat-oriented, perhaps?  I mean they’re firing him, not banishing him, so I don’t really see a reason why he couldn’t just open up a bakery or something like that.  But this idea apparently doesn’t occur to him, and instead Sir John begs the mayor for a second chance.  The mayor tells him that, maybe, if he performs an act of extreme bravery, they’ll keep him around.  But this is absolutely his last chance!  I think the mayor hopes he’ll just get himself eaten and save him some paperwork. 

So Sir John sets out to find something brave to do.

Boy:  “You can do it, Father!  I know you can!”

Career.  Change.

We switch back to the kids to see them wandering in the mushroom forest.

Eric:  “I don’t think I’ll eat mushrooms ever again.”

Diana:  “I don’t think you could eat these mushrooms, Eric.”

Big talk for a girl whose legs keep disappearing below the knees.

The kids make comments about how spooky their surroundings are, and we pan backwards to see some of your standard red-eyed shadows watching them from the gaps between the mushroom stalks.  A strange hissing sound starts up, and the kids fall into a defensive circle, but they can’t see anything.  Diana suggests that Presto use magic to light up the forest a little bit.

Presto:  “Light?  No problem!  Piece of cake!”

He reaches into his hat and pulls out a birthday cake, covered in lit candles.  Hey look at that, he produced food!  Good job, Presto!  I mean, kind of the wrong time for it, but there’s also sort of light, too, so I guess point for you.  The light reveals a bunch of horrible snail monsters that are apparently hurt by it.  I’m not entirely sure that these things are being hostile; I mean they were just kind of watching the kids and making unpleasant sound effects.  Hank notes that the light seems to be hurting their eyes, and he gets a point for sharing observed tactical information with the rest of the group. 

Then Bobby sneezes and blows out the candles on Presto’s cake.  Bobby loses a point.

The kids get plunged into darkness, so Hank draws his bow and fires a couple of arrows into the air, where they explode like fireworks.  Another point for Hank.  The snail monsters cringe and retreat.

Hank:  “I don’t know how long we can hold them off!”

Um.  You’re… kind of attacking them, actually.  I mean, again, they haven’t done anything other than lurk creepily nearby.  Plus this forest is probably their home, so the odds are good that they were watching you guys because you’re the intruders here.  Just something to consider.  You are obviously causing them physical distress after all. 

One of the snail monsters gets some kind of tendril whip around Hank while he’s trying to fire another arrow and shoves him into a sack.  Two more snails trap Eric and Sheila, and we see that the whips are actually coming from their antennae.

Eric:  “We’re fighting snails!”

Sheila:  “Yeah, and losing!”

Sheila sounds sincerely miffed at the idea of losing a fight to snails.  Presto tries to cast a spell to vanish the snails from his sight, and the hat ends up throwing a bucket over his head.  I’m going to have to deduct a point for that.  Bad phrasing.  The snails catch Presto, and Diana gets the idea to try and break the canopy overhead to let the sunlight in.  Unfortunately the snails catch her mid-vault, so no points for that.  Bobby tries to knock one of the mushroom trees down to accomplish the same thing, but he also gets caught before he can try it.  He tells Uni to run and find Sir John.

Great.  We are going to have to rely on Uni’s communication skills.

One of the snails tries to catch Uni by her horn, but she escapes, and takes off.  We see the kids being carried off in their sacks.

Presto:  “Where do you think they’re taking us?”

Eric:  “Any place they want to.”

One of the snails jabs the bag Eric’s in with a stick.

Eric:  “Hey, hey, alright, alright!  We’ll shut up!”

We cut to Sir John wandering around the mushroom forest with a torch, muttering to himself about how he needs to do something brave while he glances around like a startled rabbit.  The air fills with the familiar, grating dissonance of Uni’s bleats, and Sir John almost freaks out again.  Uni tackles him to the ground and Sir John briefly mistakes her leering pink eyes and eerie grin for a monster.  He drops his torch and hides, while Uni looks on in confusion, but then he recognizes her.

Sir John:  “Oh, it’s you!  But, where are your friends?”

Suddenly reminded of the peril of her human companions, Uni goes all Lassie on the situation, tugging at Sir John’s cape to try and get him to follow her.

Sir John:  “Me, go with you?”

Uni:  (Vaguely affirmative-sounding bleats and nods.)

Sir John:  “But, I’m afraid that’s impossible!  You see, I have to perform a brave act!”

Uni raises an eyebrow at Sir John, and comes to the conclusion that she is going to have to take matters into her own hooves.  She grabs Sir John’s still-burning torch up off of the forest floor and makes off with it, forcing Sir John to chase her in order to avoid being left in the dark.  Point for Uni.

Meanwhile, the snails are lining up the sacks with the kids in them.  There doesn’t appear to be anything sinister around, like cages or a human-sized cooking pot, so we still have no idea what the snails are planning here.  Uni comes running into the clearing with Sir John on her heels, sees the snails, freaks out and drops the torch again.  Sir John retrieves it, finally notices the snails himself, and freaks out, too.  He starts waving the torch around, and the painful light drives the snails off.  The kids climb out of their sacks to see Sir John driving off the snails.

Diana:  “I knew you’d come to save us Sir John!”

Sir John:  “Oh, yes, uh, what?”

Diana:  “Here, we don’t have much, but please accept this flower as a sign of our thanks!”

Diana picks a random nearby flower off of a vine and hands it to Sir John, and kisses him on the forehead.

Diana, that’s sweet and all, but you don’t know what that flower is.  It could be poisonous.  It could emit a noxious gas that turns perfectly decent people into frog monsters.  It could be a rare flower that blooms only once every hundred years and curses the hearts of any foolhardy soul who dares to pluck it from its vine with a burden of unending sorrow.  That is a terrible present.  We do not just go around plucking random flora up out of dark mushroom forests and gifting it to knights, young lady.  No.

Anyway, Hank tells Sir John that he’s saved the kids the trouble of having to go find him, and then Eric explains that they want Sir John to take them to the beholder.  Sir John expresses some apprehension while the kids pour on the compliments, and then he blusters some excuse about needing to go get his shield.  Hank stops him by saying that Presto can conjure him up a shield, and Presto pulls something that looks distinctly like a dented garbage can lid out of the hat.  Or, well, it goes flying out of the hat and ricochets around the forest a little bit, nearly creaming Uni and prompting Eric to scold Presto. Nobody gets any points because they don’t give him a weapon to go with the shield, and while I realize that Dungeon Master’s gifts have given them all a slightly skewed perspective on what qualifies as a ‘weapon’, a dented piece of scrap metal does not a full arsenal make.

Eric picks up the shield and very pointedly gives it to Sir John.  I think he’s started to notice that Sir John is full of crap.  Diana mentions that they need to get to the Beholder because it’s the only way back to their world.  Sir John asks what she means, and Eric basically hurries them all out of the woods, insisting that they can explain on the way.  Yup.  He’s definitely figured out that Sir John is liable to bail on them.  The group sets out, and suddenly the terrain changes from the mushroom forest to what looks like the side of a frozen mountain.  A five minute walk can take you to some place that looks like another continent entirely in the Realm, it seems.  Sir John mumbles terrified deprecations to himself before Hank stops him to ask if they should come up with a plan.

Sir John says that a plan is an excellent idea, and the kids should all think of one while he goes and scouts ahead.

Eric:  “What?  You’re the knight!  That’s stupid!”

Point for Eric.

Sir John insists that a plan won’t help them if the beholder catches them off-guard, though, and marches off before anyone can stop him.

Eric:  “I think this guy’s nuttier than a fruitcake.”

Uni agrees with Eric’s highly accurate character assessment.  We cut over to Sir John, wandering through a rocky but more-desert-ish setting again, muttering to himself about how he can’t possibly fight the beholder but also how this is his last chance to do something heroic and avoid losing his job.

Sir John:  “What am I going to do?”

Venger! The Force of Evil!:  “You are going to do exactly as you are told.”

Yup, Venger teleports in, Dungeon Master-style, and nearly scares the piss out of Sir John.  Sir John cowers appropriately while Venger tells him that he is to escort the children to the beholder… and leave them there.

Sir John:  “Wh-what?  I am a coward, but, those children…?  With the beholder?  I-I can’t!  I won’t!”

Venger:  “You will¸ Sir John Coward.”

…Psst.  Venger.  It’s not part of his title, he was just admitting to a character flaw.

Anyway, Venger unfurls one of his wings and, oh, hey, he can do that cool ‘showing a vision through a magical orb’ thing that the Dungeon Master can, too.  Gee.  With the orb stuff and the random teleporting, DM and Venger sure do have oddly similar skills.  Oh well, I’m sure there’s nothing to it.  Venger shows Sir John an image of his son, sitting in a cage surrounded by… rabid hyenas?  Maybe they’re supposed to be wargs.  The kid calls for his father to come help him.

Sir John:  “My son!”

Venger:  “When you have done as I have ordered, your son will be returned to you.”

Venger’s eyes start glowing for some reason – he’s really heaping on the intimidation factor here – and then he walks behind a nearby boulder and comes back out riding on his gigantic demon horse, which in no possible way could have been standing behind something that narrow.  Sir John flees in blind terror and renewed purpose.

We cut back to the kids.  Once again, all of them are sitting down to take a break except for Eric, who is left standing.  My theory about his armour is holding up pretty well.  Especially with these rapid temperature and climate changes, eventually he’s going to have to figure out how to clean and maintain that stuff on the road.  Fun.

Eric:  “I don’t care what you guys say, I think Sir John is scared!”

Sir John chooses that moment to return, and tells the kids that he hopes their plan is ready, because the beholder awaits!  Bobby cheers and Diana gives Eric a smug look.

Diana:  “He doesn’t seem so scared to me, Mr. Know-it-All!”

Eric:  “Well, if you ask me-”

Sheila:  “We didn’t, Eric, we didn’t.”

Oh come on! Could you two maybe just take five god damn seconds to listen to what Eric says rather than how he says it?  Docked points for the both of you.  The group sets out again, transitioning once more into desert territory, and Presto and Uni both agree that their current surroundings are unpleasant.  I’m not really seeing how they’re noticeably worse than the icy mountain rock from before, but maybe there’s a smell or something.

Sheila:  “I don’t see how anything could live here.”

Sir John:  “Nothing does, for long.  The beholder lies just beyond this passage.”

We see the group standing at the mouth of a valley opening, surrounding by what is either a stink cloud or mist.

Hank:  “Well, if it’s guarding the gateway home, we have to face it.  Let’s go!”

Slow clap for Hank’s brilliant strategy.  ‘Let’s go’.  Wow.  Glad you put that extra planning time to good use.  Hank rushes forward, while Sir John rushes back.

Sir John:  “Best of luck!  I must be on my way now!”

Eric:  “Hold it a minute, Sir Pal!  You said you’d go with us to the beholder!”

Sir John:  “And I have!  I never said I’d fight him!  The rest is up to you.”

Diana:  “But Sir John, we thought – I thought you were a brave knight!”

Bobby:  “Yeah!”

Sir John hangs his head.

Sir John:  “Yes.  Yes, I know.”

He walks off into the mist, while most of the kids look on in shock.

Hank:  “Come on, gang.  At least he got us here.”

The kids wander into the valley, grousing about Sir John’s cowardice.  They hear a strange wailing noise.

Sheila:  “What’s that?!”

Hank:  “That must be the beholder!”

The beholder comes flying out of the mist and starts shooting at them with laser beams from its many eyestalks.  Fun.  They scatter to avoid getting zapped.  Diana deflects a few shots with her pole, and Eric with his shield.  Points for them.  A stray laser beam hits the ground and somehow this manages to make… a river of molten lava?  Yup, molten lava, that comes rushing towards them.  Hank saves Presto from getting melted at the last second, so point Hank.  The kids group up behind the nearest piece of cover, a thin outcropping of rock.

Sheila:  “Now what do we do?”

Hank:  “Don’t panic!”

Eric:  “I can’t believe you said that!”

I’m actually not sure if Eric is scolding Hank for accusing Sheila of panicking when she was actually pretty calm about posing a reasonable question, or if he’s shocked that Hank thinks this is a situation which doesn’t merit panic.  Or if he’s just getting frustrated with Hank’s vague and unhelpful instructions this episode.  The beholder goes rampaging around, roaring and shooting lasers that gradually chip away at the kids’ cover, and we cut to Sir John wandering around and moping about how this is all his fault.

Um.  No? 

I mean the kids were gonna go after the beholder with or without him, and Venger is blackmailing him, so it’s really more of a rock-and-a-hard-place kind of a deal.

Sir John:  “This is the lowest deed I’ve ever done.  What kind of knight am I?”

Venger:  “You are a coward, Sir John.  As you have always been.  A weakling, and a fool.”

I think he was being rhetorical, Venger.

So Venger turns up and muses on how soon enough the beholder will defeat ‘the Young Ones’ (don’t name them, you’ll just get attached) and then he can go and scavenge their gear off of their corpses.  Classy.  Sir John wants to know what’s happened to his son, and Venger waves a hand and the kid appears, safe and apparently sound.  He runs over to Sir John for a hug.

Venger:  “He is a brave boy.  Not at all like his father.”

…Man, somebody needs to give Venger a ‘Guide to Being Evil’ handbook or something.  He tries, but, he just keeps slipping up. 

So Venger takes off on his flying demon horse (and even waves goodbye, although I think that was supposed to be some kind of intimidating ‘mwahaha’ gesture), and the kid asks his father what Venger meant by that whole backhanded compliment moment.  Sir John tells him it’s nothing, but then we hear the distant sound of Bobby shouting for help.

Kid:  “Listen, Father!  Somebody needs our help!”

The kid runs off to go and lend a hand, while Sir John chases after him and calls out for him to wait. 

We cut to Bobby’s terrified face.  The beholder has somehow progressed from attempting to burn the kids alive to trapping them with tentacles from its eyeballs – sort of like the antennae-whips the snail people used.  Hooray for recycled effects!  It looks really awkward and uncomfortable.  Eric vehemently asserts that he hates this world, and Diana tries to get Presto to do something, but his arms are bound and he can’t reach his hat.  Then Sheila spots Sir John and his kid standing at the top of an incline above them.

Sir John’s Kid:  “Father, look!”

Sheila:  “It’s Sir John!”

Eric:  “I thought I smelled chicken feathers.”

Kid:  “Don’t worry!  Father will help you!”

Eric:  “Poor kid.  This is gonna be a disappointing day for him.”

Eric gets a point.  No.  Shut up.  I don’t care.  Eric gets a point.  Eric is the best one.

Anyway, Sir John tells his son to step back, and then rushes down the incline and into the valley.  A valiant effort, but the beholder quickly zaps his garbage-lid shield out of his hands and then traps him just like the kids.  It starts dragging him towards its mouth while Sir John struggles and manages to get his arms free, insisting that he’s not going to let his first real battle end this way.  Once again, I am left wondering how Sir John even became a knight in the first place.  I think maybe he just found the armour on a dead guy somewhere and stole his identity.

Hank:  “I don’t get it.  How did Dungeon Master think that beauty could defeat the beholder?”

Maybe Dungeon Master was screwing with you?

Diana:  “That’s it!  The flower!  Sir John, the flower I gave you!  Show the beholder the flower!”



Damn it.  Don’t tell me I’m going to have to give Diana a point for randomly picking strange plants?

I am, aren’t I?

Well, Sir John grabs the flower and shoves it into the beholder’s face, and it basically… melts.  Ew.  Although if beholding something beautiful is really all there is to it, then I’m pretty sure it should have died as soon as it looked at Hank.  Sir John’s kid starts jumping up and down in celebration, and low and behold, a portal showing the amusement park that the kids were abducted from appears where the beholder used to be. 

Huh.  I guess Dungeon Master wasn’t outright lying this time.  Good for him.

Eric:  “That’s it!  The doorway home!”

Awww.  He sounds so excited!  And why wouldn’t he be?  Indoor plumbing, electricity, carnival food – Earth is pretty neat.

The kids rush towards the portal, thanking Sir John for his help.

Hank:  “Bobby, quick!  The doorway’s closing!”

Bobby:  “But, what about Uni?”

Hank:  “She doesn’t belong in our world, she’ll have to stay with Sir John!  Hurry!”

And if this was the tale of how Brave Sir John got his unicorn steed and proved his worth, this would probably be where the episode ends.  But of course, it isn’t.

Bobby hesitates, and while he’s looking back, he sees Venger! The Force of Evil! flying onto the scene.

Venger:  “You have disobeyed me for the first and last time, Sir John.”

So, miffed that his convenient plan has failed, Venger starts blasting away at Sir John and his kid.  Sir John picks up his discarded shield and tries to block the laser blasts with it, while the Young Ones look on in horror.  Eric asks what they’re waiting for, and Venger finally blasts Sir John’s shield out of existence.  Well, crap.  As Venger is about to land a killing blow, he gets distracted by a bunch of light arrows that go whipping around him.  None of them actually hit him, of course, so no points this time.  We see that Hank has moved away from the portal to engage our resident villain.  Bobby smashes his club against the ground and knocks an avalanche of rocks loose, but this does not seem to actually accomplish anything.  No points for Bobby either then.

Venger:  “What’s this?!”

Presto:  “This is called a rescue, Venger!”

Presto reaches into his hat and pulls out a… horn.  And squeezes it.  It doesn’t appear to do anything except irritate Venger’s horse, but hey, at least he uses it with a very serious Game Face.

Eric:  “A rescue?!  I don’t believe what I’m seeing!”

Eric turns back to the portal.  We see him stare at it for a moment while it shrinks a little bit.  Then he turns back around, and runs towards the battle.

Eric:  “I don’t believe what I’m doing.”

Eric rushes in front of Sir John and his son as Venger launches another attack at them, and deflects it with his shield.  Point for Eric.  I don’t know why, but for some reason when discussion of Eric’s merits comes up, no one ever seems to mention this moment.  It is episode two.  This is pre-character-development Eric, who barely gets along with the other kids and despises the Realm with every fiber of his being.  If he was really the cowardly egotist that some fans make him out to be, he wouldn’t have turned around.  At the time when he did, he wasn’t even sure that Venger would successfully defeat the other kids or kill Sir John.  Everyone talks about how he cost the group their ticket home in Beauty and the Bogbeast – but before they ever turned around and came back for him, he did the same for them.

Anyway, the shot that Eric deflects bounces back and hits Venger.  Hank walks over to him and puts a hand on his shoulder.

Hank:  “Nice work, pal.”

Eric:  “Thanks, but now what?”

While Venger is paralyzed by the deflected shot, a bolt of red energy crashes into him and sends him flying through the sky.

Presto:  “Wow!  That was great!  But how did you-?”

Eric:  “I didn’t.”

Hank:  “But then, who did?”

The kids and Sir John look around, but they can’t see anybody.  Sir John asks how he can ever repay them, and Hank says that they’ll just call it even.  The melted remains of the beholder slip through a nearby crack in the ground, and just like that, the valley starts to look lush and green again.  We transition to a scene a few moments later.  The petrified trees are alive and leafy, there’s grass on the ground, flowers blooming, etc.  The kids gather around Sir John and congratulate him on beating the beholder and returning beauty to the land.

Diana:  “Some of us thought you were scared, Sir John.”


Eric:  “Alright, alright, so I was wrong.”

No you weren’t.

Hank:  “C’mon Eric, admit it.  Even you were scared.”

Nice team spirit, Hank.

Eric:  “Me?  Nothing doing.  It takes a lot more than a beholder to scare me.”

Eric goes to sit down and accidentally sits on the useless horn that Presto pulled out of his hat.  He jumps up in surprise, and everybody laughs at him.  Including Sir John.  Because they are assholes.  We pan out to hear the familiar sound of Dungeon Master laughing, too, and of course it was Dungeon Master who threw that red blast of energy and knocked Venger into next Tuesday.  After the kids had lost their chance at going home.  The episode ends on the note of Dungeon Master sitting in the freshly restored valley and having a hearty chuckle at Eric’s expense.

Which is actually pretty good symbolism for the series as a whole, now that I think about it.

Points So Far:

Eric – 10
Sheila – 5
Diana – 7
Hank – 4
Presto – 3
Bobby – 2
Uni – 0

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