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July 22, 2014

'ThunderCats' Preview: Panthro's Back (And This Time, It's Personal)

by Laura Prudom, posted Aug 19th 2011 5:05PM
PanthroDie-hard fans have probably spent the last few weeks grumbling over the lack of loyal Panthro on the 'ThunderCats' roster, but the old favorite made a triumphant return in the final minutes of last week's episode.

There wasn't time to answer many questions in the last installment, but tonight's episode, 'Old Friends,' will fill in plenty of gaps, utilizing flashbacks to great effect to give us a brief history of Panthro's journey.

If you haven't had a chance to watch yet, tonight is a great starting point, since you'll get all the backstory in one handy bite.

Join us after the jump for some highlights from tonight's episode. Light spoilers ahead!

Keep Your Friends Close ...
This half-hour is firmly focused on Panthro -- we catch a glimpse of his first meeting with the villainous Grune (back when he seemed less villainous), learn about the pair's ascent through the ranks of Claudus' army, and follow their quest to find the mysterious Book of Omens.

It's no surprise to learn that Grune was kind of a bad egg from the get-go, and that his blind ambition was always at odds with Panthro's loyal nature. I was impressed at how effortlessly the narrative managed to cover so much ground in such a short time, and we really get a deeper understanding of both Panthro and Grune's characters, laying the foundation for what's sure to be a dramatic confrontation somewhere down the line.

Growing Pains
Lion-O has been struggling with the responsibilities of being a leader since the premiere, and unsurprisingly, Panthro has some reservations about falling in line and obeying the new king, especially when Lion-O continues to make some seriously misguided decisions. The friction between the king and his gigantic general is also a driving force of this episode, with Panthro trying to teach Lion-O that respect must be earned, not freely given. Still, by the end of the episode, the band truly is back together (although Snarf, WilyKit and WilyKat have to sit out most of the action), which is an exciting prospect for old-school fans.

Tech War
We know that Mumm-Ra and the Lizards rely on technology to power their army, and this episode gives us a glimpse at another powerful piece of tech, something that seems half inspired by James Bond and half 'Transformers.' The tech gives Lion-O a chance to prove himself to Panthro, and it also makes me wonder what other interesting designs the producers might come up with as the series progresses.

Overall, the episode is a surprisingly strong entry to the series so far, and the inclusion of Panthro certainly adds a new dynamic to the team -- I'm looking forward to seeing more banter between Lion-O and Panthro. The flashbacks offer satisfying answers to some of the questions that have been raised in the past episodes, while giving us new mysteries to ponder. Now I'm just hoping for an episode that focuses more heavily on the butt-kicking Cheetara.

'ThunderCats' airs Fridays, 8:30PM ET on Cartoon Network.

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