I keep floating between these two episodes, unsure which one is more important at the moment, as they are both relevant to issues of immigration and discrimination happening in our country today. Troll’s Dream is about prejudice and the Rock People is about people in search of a new home, which are both extremely relevant topics in context of the refugee crisis and this administration’s determination to paint them and any muslims as a threat to America.
A few facts before we get started:
Refugees are the highest vetted group of immigrants.
The vetting process takes 18-24 months on average.
We take in fewer refugees than Europe or Canada. Europe is especially more challenging because the land is connected to countries with a refugee crisis – it’s a matter of geography: refugees have to fly here and therefore automatically face more scrutiny.
Painting refugees as a threat to our American way of life is flat out ridiculous fear-mongering that only emboldens our enemies. Luckily we still have a strong judicial system which blocked Trump’s travel ban. However, knowing it would likely end in a 4-4 tie in the Supreme Court (therefore reverting back to the 19th District’s decision), the Trump administration won’t seek an appeal — though they may try another Executive Order.
In this episode, the Rock People are simply looking for a new home, as their sun is about to explode. They are peaceful refugees who seek a peaceful home.
The Horde encounters the Rock People when they first land on Etheria and the refugees’ first impression of the new planet is that it is a violent world. Unlike those escaping the likes of Syria, these people have never known violence, except for the violence of their self-destructing planet. Still, in the context of a cartoon, it makes sense to paint these outsiders as peaceful from the outset.
Set upon by the Horde, eventually the Rebels show up. She-Ra gets rid of Catra and her goons, but not before Catra manages to capture one of the rock visitors. She-Ra talks to the Rock People and begs them not to judge Etheria by what they had just witnessed, that Etheria is a very peaceful place. Many Americans want to send a similar message to the world: don’t judge us by Trump’s behavior — we’re actually a very welcoming nation.
The Rock People still think the Rebels are violent and turn down She-Ra’s offer to help them rescue their friend who has been taken by Catra. They think by approaching Hordak saying that they want peace, he’ll listen to reason and release their friend.
I once thought we were a very reasonable nation, but I fear facts and reason are gone — at least when making larger arguments about policy and what is right. The naive refugee who thinks they can find safety in America has come to find out that the light on the Statue of Liberty is extinguished.
She-Ra, knowing how unreasonable the authoritarian Hordak can be, respectfully disagrees that Hordak will listen, as the Rebellion had tried that tactic in the past and they had failed. She-Ra says that Hordak forces them to fight and that they will free their friend.
The Rock People still turn down the Rebels’ help, thanking them and then flying off. Broom thinks they are cowards, but She-Ra says wisely that sometimes it takes more courage not to fight. Instead, it’s better to #resist. 😉
Unfortunately, the Rock People are immediately met with Horde Troopers and Catra, inevitable violence in the offing. They take them to Hordak, who wants to learn how they travel in space without a spaceship, and the Rock People explain that there is no secret – it’s just natural for them to travel that way. Hordak suggests that when he puts them in chains, they’ll change their mind.
The Rock People realize that She-Ra was right and that you can’t reason with the Horde. They decide to fight to defend themselves, but vow not to hurt the Horde. They are naturally stronger than the robot Horde Troopers, but they free their friend, Rock-On.
Shadow Weaver casts a spell to melt them, just as She-Ra enters. Bow shoots an arrow of light to block Shadow Weaver’s magic. Meanwhile, Madame Razz works on a spell to counteract Shadow Weaver’s spell.
As She-Ra is almost hit by a blast from Hordak, Stone-Dar physically stops him, commenting on how he cannot let Hordak harm She-Ra.
She-Ra and her friends leave the Fright Zone. She knows exactly where the to take the Rock People where they can live in peace: to the land of the trolls.
They are all untrustworthy. They all lie. They look different from us. They are all dangerous.
Muslims? Or trolls?
Even on Etheria there is a group that is distrusted simply because it is different. They live differently, they dress differently.
In this She-Ra episode, one troll goes to Whispering Woods, seeking Adora’s help even though he is reviled. Two sprites see him and accuse him of spying. Bow shoots a smoke arrow and they tie up the troll, convinced he only wants to do harm.
The troll asks yet again to see Adora, but the Rebels won’t listen. So, unable to get help, the troll acts out by smashing a table. Adora shows up and stops the madness. Finally, the troll is able to tell Adora that Ahgo, king of the trolls, seeks her help. Bow unhelpfully says that she can’t trust a troll, but Adora is made of sterner stuff and tells Bow to hush.
The immediate distrust of the troll is reflective of the government’s reflexive distrust toward muslims. Because there were bad actors in the past, it should never be assumed that a whole group is bad.
Adora understands that trolls are different and behave in odd ways — yet she still sees their humanity. She asks Grox the troll to put down the table, promising no one will attack him, so they can talk. Grox tells her that Ahgo needs to see She-Ra right away, and Adora promises to pass on the message.
Adora tells the other Rebels that they must offer the troll every hospitality, that he is their friend — offering a true Christian heart. The Rebels still don’t trust the troll, so Adora tells Grox should go for now.
Adora admonishes Sprag the sprite for his treatment of Grox. Bow blames Grox and Adora asks the group if anyone even asked why he was there. Sheepishly the group admits that they made the worst assumption right off the bat.
Sprag says you can’t ask a troll anything because they’re too stupid. And Adora points out that they attacked him without any reason. Sprag says his being a troll was reason enough. Bow says, “We all know how trolls are.” This rampant racism is now alive and well in the highest office of the land, which is starting to echo in other corners of the country. However, I believe that most Americans understand the difference between radical Islam and everyday Muslims. But the simple portrayal of racism in this episode shows how distrust can quickly fester and manifest.
Yet, as Adora points out a troll that helped She-Ra find Crystal Castle and saved Bright Moon from the Horde, we must remember people that have helped our cause. The Rebellion says they still don’t trust the trolls. Adora gives them an ultimatum; they all can come along with She-Ra to see Ahgo, the king, or they can leave the Rebellion.
She-Ra goes to King Ahgo and he tells her about a dream he had about an ancient evil, the Spider of Crystal, a monster that came from another world. The trolls had sealed it shut years ago, though Ahgo thinks someone is trying to break the seal. It lies in Horde territory and Ahgo says he’ll send Grox with She-Ra.
Grox does not want to go, knowing the group besides She-Ra, are “troll-haters.”
Reluctant, the group makes their way to Skull Path.
We meet an evil wizard who lives in Skull Path who sets evil bones to live to attack the Rebels. She-Ra, Bow, and Sprag try to attack the bat bones. Bow and Sprag are captured by one of the bats but Grox uses a rope to save them – just in time to be captured himself.
Bow and Sprag vow to help Grox, grateful for his help. They decide to split up. Bow and Sprag go off to save Grox while She-Ra goes to stop the Spider of the Crystal.
We now see Shadow Weaver and Scorpia about to open the ancient evil door.
Bow, Sprag, and Kowl reach Drear Keep, where Grox is being held. They climb the keep and meet the evil wizard. Bow momentarily blinds him with a trick, while Kowl steals his wand, and Sprag puts a bucket on his head — easily thwarted so they can go look for their new friend.
Grox was surprised to see his rescuers and they all vow to be friends.
Meanwhile, Shadow Weaver finds the Crystal Spider and wants to try a spell. It becomes as large as a monster, just as She-Ra arrives and meets her friends.
The monster spider starts to wander and King Ahgo shows up to help, seeing his dream come to pass. They try to throw stones at the spider, causing it to follow them to a circle of rocks, where She-Ra pushes a few large boulders to trap it. Then Ahgo uses magic to trap the spider in a mountain of stone.
The trolls are heralded as heroes back in Whispering Woods. “That there is an end to the hate between us, is more than enough, my little friend.”
So both of these episodes deal with not understanding the strangers among us. One, is a stranger from a faraway land, and the other is one who has done harm in the past that cannot be trusted. We embark on a dangerous road when we categorize a whole group of people as dangerous; we risk helping those who would do us harm by giving them propaganda to feed the negativity. By not helping the refugee, we betray our own ideals of inclusion and acceptance, of being given the chance to make it in America. It’s for these reasons that these two episodes are intertwined for me — they both teach about tolerance, learning about those different than you, and seeking a peaceful way forward.