Saturday, May 07, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Flash Gordon: "Ming's Last Battle" (January 5, 1980)

We arrive today at Chapter 16 of Filmation's Flash Gordon (the last chapter of the series' freshman season). It's titled "Ming's Last Battle," and is written by Ted Pederson.

While Flash Gordon is frozen in suspended animation to be a witness at the (shotgun) wedding of Dale Arden and Ming the Merciless, King Vultan and the allies plot the final battle for control of the planet. In one hour, Vultan reveals from his restored throne, "the free people of Mongo" will "march on Ming's palace."

In Mingo City, Dale reminds Captain Erzine (Ming's right-hand man...) of Earth atrocities carried out in the name of "following orders" in hopes of stoking his conscience (a veiled reference to Nazism and World War II...).  This is entirely appropriate, given that the series’ first season is a recreation, on another world, of that conflict, with Flash acting as the Exceptional American, or Exceptional Earth Man, as the case may be.

Next in the story, Aura rescues Flash from his prison of ice.

At the same time, the war rages between Ming's fleet and the Hawkmen over Sky City. At the last minute, the others Allies show up to save the day.

Queen Undina (from Coralia...) arrives in the nick of time to help Flash and Aura destroy a mobile gun fortress, and Fridgia's Queen Fria turns the tide in air battle, delivering the necessary Orium power supplies to prevent Sky City from dropping out of the sky.

Alas, Gundar "the desert Hawk," Azura (the Magic Queen) and Tropica's Queen Desira are MIA. Which kind of stinks. We've spent fifteen chapters building allies, making new alliances and so forth, and it seems like this is the time for the reunion. Hope they don't get to share in the spoils once Barin is "regent" of Mongo.

Anyway, the final campaign for control of Mongo occurs in the ornate throne room as Dale and Ming are to be wed. Ming and Flash fight it out on ledges, in corridors, and on high city spires. Ray guns, flame swords and fisticuffs all get play.

Inevitably, Ming speaks the classic line "Now You Die!" I waited a dozen episodes for that bit of dialogue. In the climactic duel, there's a surprise and a shock and...well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?

Summing up the Flash Gordon experience: "So many strange many new friends."

And, just a teaser: the season ends (appropriately) with a kiss...

We'll pick up with Filmation's Flash Gordon season two next week.

The first episode “Gremlin the Dragon/Royal Wedding.”

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