Back when “Masters of the Universe” first dropped on Netflix, I was a staunch defender of its narrative choices. Granted, the way time works in 2021 it might as well have been 10 years ago. But “Masters of the Universe” might as well have been released in 2011, because this part 2 feels completely unearned in its approach to the new foundations it went so far out of its way to lay down. It’s not that it’s bad, but simply incapable of maximizing on the very things that made it so different.
Part 2 feels more like a continuation of an existing series that was never meant to be split. It assumes you’ve watched Part 1 more than once, and doesn’t really seem concerned with capitalizing on the unique takes it set up to begin with. The break not only feels like a marketing ploy to drum up controversy. Part 2 is proof that that’s all it ever was in the first place. This taints the remaining episodes of a rather complete story, one that seems incapable of owning their new ideas and missing the point completely.
“MotU” picks up right where Part 1 left off. Skeletor has the sword, has left Adam for dead, and our heroes are left in a place where it seems all hope is lost. Except, that’s not really what happened at all, and part 2 seems unconcerned with dealing with the shocking ending of its predecessor. Through a series of strange events, Evil-Lyn inevitably manages to seize the power of Greyskull, leading our heroes to face off against a whole new enemy they may not be equipped to stop. It will take everyone, both old friends and enemies united to face this new threat, and even then they may not be any match for this new sorceress.
The main problem with these new episodes is that they seem simultaneously disconnected and inexplicably tied to the previous episodes. It’s a lot of good ideas executed very poorly. It’s as if the creators knew they wanted to disrupt the norms of the overall narrative but had no idea how to properly see those new ideas all the way through. All of this is largely due to the intentional marketing ploy to split “MotU” into two parts. Here’s the thing: it’s all well and fine to try and purposefully drum up controversy to remain relevant as long as that’s not the sole purpose of what you’re trying to do. It has to be a product of the creation and not the sole purpose of it. Part 2 feels like a manufactured controversy. Purposefully splitting a rather complete series into two parts for no other reason than to get people to talk about the show.
The problem with this is that once the show returns, it doesn’t earn or own its controversy or conversation. What transpires is a rather lackluster, poorly executed conclusion that never seems to capitalize on what it laid out at the start of the series. There’s a lot of really good ideas throughout “Masters of the Universe” part 2, but the break and season split is a huge disservice to whatever emotional connection viewers can have. It all feels cheap, and the marketing ploy ends up taking center stage which in turn takes away from the story at hand. It’s a huge disservice to these remaining episodes, because there is a lot to like if it didn’t feel so much like we were conned.
There are terrific themes of absolute power corrupts absolutely, destiny, and purpose. The characters all have complete arcs, and were it not for the separation of the episodes, it would probably feel more earned than it actually does. Teela, Adam, Evil-Lyn, even Skelator all get their due and time to shine, and carry their new arcs to completion in solid fashion. The new episodes are absolutely worth seeing through, as they do provide a solid conclusion to a unique take on a longstanding series. The second half of “MotU” gives everyone their due without feeling like they’re forcing us to care about otherwise supporting characters. I didn’t feel that as much as some other triggered fanboys in part 1, but these new episodes give validity to the individual character narratives that were started earlier.
I can’t stress enough how much the marketing split hurts “Masters of the Universe” part 2. Everything about these episodes feels like they’re apart of a larger series because they are. They are intrinsically tied to their previous episodes and hurt by being so far removed from them. I get it, you got the joy of watching toxic masculinity melt before your very eyes by the events of part 1. But was that really worth it if that’s all you were trying to do in the first place?
Sure, we talked about the show at length, but all of those people screaming “wokeness” aren’t returning to see the series. “Masters of the Universe” ends up being a victim of their own race for 15 minutes of fame, which in turn ruins what could otherwise be a solid, complete series. I have to hold to the idea that it wasn’t worth it, and part 2 doesn’t make any kind of case to say that it was.
“Masters of the Universe” feels unearned and too far removed from the foundation that laid the groundwork from which these new episodes rely on for narrative context. If you didn’t like part one, you’re going to hate part 2. If you loved part 1 but didn’t care for how it ended, you’re probably not going to vibe with part 2. The split kills any and all success this part 2 could’ve and should’ve had were it released as one complete season. And that really sucks, because there are some truly great ideas here that can’t be fully realized or enjoyed because of it. This is one of those series that is meant to be binged, and sadly its release doesn’t lend itself to that.
So, if you were a fan of “Masters of the Universe” part 1, I’d actually recommend watching it again all the way through before starting part 2. You really want to experience the series as whole and bypass the marketing ploy. If you didn’t care for part 1, I wouldn’t advise watching part 2 as it isn’t any better than part 1 and never quite realizes the ideas it started.
By the power of Greyskull, do what you will.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
You can catch both parts on Netflix now.