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Slick’s Nit-Picks: ThunderCats, Episode 108 – “The Duelist and the Drifter”


This new Lion-O is different from the original in several ways but there are a lot of basic similarities that they share. Unfortunately, a lot of the original’s shortcomings have carried over to the new character. Both suffer from having a little too much pride and relying upon the power of the sword way too much. The original Lion-O had to undergo trials where he had to defeat the other ThunderCats and even Mumm-Ra without the protection or advantage of having the sword. Considering the different setup of this show, I do not see something like that happening. So this new lord of the ThunderCats is going to have to learn that lesson somehow. Well, you know how the saying goes: “You never know what you have until you’ve lost it.”


The episode begins with Panthro and Tygra working on the ThunderTank. After Lion-O’s journey into the past, they know that the Book of Omens can be used as a navigation device to find the other three stones that once rested in the claw shield (or Gauntlet of Omens). Tygra thinks he has figured out the connection and tells Panthro to start up the tank. The Book displays the global map like it did in Mumm-Ra’s pyramid, then it shorts out the entire ThunderTank. Meanwhile, Lion-O and Snarf have been sent to get supplies. He comes upon a strange town with a wall made entirely of swords. He sees a strange individual caught on the wall literally blowing in the wind. Lion-O pulls him off and lets him float to the ground. The “Drifter” advises Lion-O to look elsewhere for supplies because the town is a swordsman’s town where people duel constantly. Lion-O’s pride shows as he brags that he cannot lose with the sword. The duelist repeats his warning and says heed his advice or not because he doesn’t care. Inside the village, Lion-O tries to buy supplies with Thunderian currency and learns that it is worthless after the fall of Thundera. The only way to make money in the town is through sword competition.


In the town square, a huge stone pillar is set up to test the might and mettle of any swordsman willing to swing their blade at it. After one of them takes out a particularly huge chunk, Lion-O steps up to the challenge. Once again, his ego shows as he tells everyone that they can only hope for second place now that he is here. The crowd laughs at him and a shadowy figure watches as he draws the sword and it grows. Lion-O swings and the crowd laughs again because it looks like he did not even scratch the stone. Lion-O turns his back, sheaths the sword and the laughter turns to cheers as the stone splits up the middle and falls apart bisected. With the winners purse, he buys the supplies he needs as an individual named “The Duelist” challenges him to a duel for the sword. Lion-O refuses until the duelist strikes at his pride, saying that if the previous owner of the sword (Lion-O’s father Claudus) were as cowardly as he is, he would still be alive. The duel is set for noon and the winner takes the loser’s sword. Lion-O begins practicing and the Drifter advises him that his moves are nothing compared to the duelist and proves it when Lion-O cannot even hit the reed the Drifter keeps in his mouth. The duel is over almost before it begins and we find the lord of the ThunderCats minus one sword of Omens.


Before the duel, the Drifter tells Lion-O of how the sword the Duelist uses came to be. It is called the Sword of Hatanzo and it was the prized creation of a man known as the greatest sword maker of all time. The sword became legend throughout the land and this gained the attention of the Duelist, who beat him and took the blade. Lion-O asked what became of Hatanzo and the Drifter said some say he just drifted away. Lion-O realized that the Drifter was Hatanzo and asked for help, which was refused. After the duel, Lion-O tries to forge a new sword to challenge the Duelist and Hatanzo tells him that he is doing it incorrectly. Admiring his determination, Hatanzo takes over and forges a blade for Lion-O. Almost as beautiful as his previous creation, Lion-O takes it and sets off to find the Duelist. Hatanzo reminds him that a sword is not what makes one strong. Lion-O finds and challenges the Duelist for all of his swords. The challenge is accepted, but the Duelist ups the ante stating that Lion-O will also forfeit his life if he loses this time.


This time the entire town comes out to see the duel. The Duelist rushes in hoping for another quick victory but somehow Lion-O is able to dodge and offer a decent counter offensive this time. That is, until his sword breaks. The Duelist goes in for the kill and Lion-O dodges everything he throws at him. This continues until he finds an opening and completely disarms the Duelist. Unable to accept defeat, he tries to stab Lion-O in the back as he speaks with Hatanzo. The sword maker uses his willow reed to relieve the Duelist of his knife and then picks his nose with it. Defeated and embarrassed, the Duelist runs out of town. Lion-O thanks Hatanzo for his help and he in turn thanks Lion-O for giving him purpose again. He plans to return all of the swords to their rightful owners. Tygra and Panthro yell at Lion-O when he returns, thinking he slacked off while they worked on the ThunderTank and the episode ends as he begins to explain himself.


I have mixed feelings on this episode. Hatanzo was a very interesting character and his interaction with Lion-O was great, but overall, this was a filler episode. I expected the first story after “Legacy” to have something to do with the hunt for the stones. Then there were the fights. The final one was great to watch but none of them made any sense. In the first one, Lion-O has a sword that has ridiculous amounts of power – just blast that fool. In the second one, I understand that Lion-O has trained to fight since he was a kid as we saw in the “Old Friends” episode, so I guess that explains how he was able to dodge the Duelist. So why did he do so terribly in the first? As much as Tygra taunts him and says he needs to grow up, you would think that he would pay attention to his training. And skills or not, you bet the Sword of Omens just because someone made fun of your dear ol’ dead daddy? Did you not just see how powerful Mumm-Ra can get and you risked losing the only weapon you have that can possibly defeat him? I give this episode a thumbs down, despite kind of liking it just because if anything, it should have come before the Legacy episode (minus the part with the book). I would like to see Hatanzo in future eps and I hope the Duelist asks Mumm-Ra for help so he can try to get revenge on Lion-O. Something good has to come out of this wasted episode.