‘Old Friends’ finally saw the ThunderCat’s team we all know and love completed, as Panthro joined the merry band of wayward Cats searching for the book of Omens. The addition of Panthro seems to add a more completed feeling to this group, and perhaps some much needed adult supervision?
This week’s all new episode opens with Panthro working on the Thundertank, which is also out of Thundrillium (not to be confused with Thundranium from the original series), the fuel necessary to make the Thundertank go. As Team Lion-O looks on as Panthro is hard at work, they joke, “I thought he’d be smaller” and “I thought he’d be less spike-y”. Then it takes some goading by Tygra to get Lion-O to actually talk to Panthro.
As the Cats head off in search of Thundrillium, we get our first look at how Panthro and Grune met on the battlefield and drew the eye of King Claudus. We also get a glimpse of what is to come with Grune, as his seeds of discontent are deeply rooted in his jealousy, impatience and ambition. Flashbacks aren’t the only visit by Grune in ‘Old Friends’, we find him in command at the Thundrillium mines, in control of the production of the “Life Blood” of Mumm-ra’s army.
Panthro joining the team isn’t a smooth transition. Lion-O is eager to prove himself to the legendary ThunderCat General, while Panthro is not eager to follow the foolish orders of a boy. Since he has not seen Lion-O wield the Sword of Omens, he does not know what we know about the boy king born of fire; gifted with sight beyond sight.
Back to the flashbacks, it doesn’t take Mumm-ra long to get his telepathic hooks into Grune and summons him to the temple. Panthro follows his friend for days trying to figure out what is going on, and from what I gather ways to protect the crown from any treachery afoot.
In the present day, the Thundrillium heist is going off with the stealth of a bull in a china shop. It doesn’t take long for the Cats to alert the Lizards to their presence in the mines. It is here Panthro finally comes face to face with his old friend and partner. Grune of course thought Panthro was dead, leading to one of the coolest exchanges in the show:
Grune: “You’ve always been hard to kill, Panthro.”
Panthro: “I can be stubborn when it comes to dying.”
Back to the flashbacks again, we see Grune finally make the heel-turn we all knew was coming. He frees Mumm-ra and then turns on Panthro, apparently killing him. There are two things to learn from this: 1) Don’t throw a hard to kill enemy down a deep dark hole, it never ends well for you; 2) When you are fighting your friend who has recently turned evil, don’t hold back when you are fighting him; he’s trying to kill you while you’re trying to save him, that’s not equal footing.
Finally, back in the present Grune unleashes a brand new character to this series on the Cats. A machine known as the Driller. The Driller looks like he belong in a Transfromers cartoon, which makes him a welcome addition to this re-imagined ThunderCats. I’m looking forward to seeing more and more machines as this series goes on, I am also thankful to the creators for not going with steampunk tech for this show.
It is here where Lion-O battles the machine on his own, wielding the Sword of Omens like only the true Lord of the ThunderCats can. It is also here where Panthro realized the boy is the real deal and deserves his loyalty. As Lion-O defeats The Driller, the mines start to collapse around them; it is Cheetara’s quick thinking that has her super-speeding back into the mine to grab what they came for… Thundrillium to run the Thundertank. I just don’t know why she didn’t grab more.
I wasn’t sure what to think about this episode after my initial viewing, because last week’s episode ‘Song of the Petalars’ was such an emotional episode with the added bonus of finally introducing Panthro and the Thundertank; I didn’t feel like this episode measured up at first. After I was able to sit back and watch ‘Old Friends’ for a second time, I got it. We finally understand Grune’s motivation for his betrayal, we got to see Mumm-ra finally freed from his prison and most importantly we have some more questions. Like, where did the tech come from to imprison Mumm-ra? Where did Panthro go after he fell to Grune? Who taught Panthro about the tech to build the Thundertank and Thundrillium? Does Team Lion-O have other allies out there they don’t know about?
I can’t wait to see what happens next!