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The Abyss
Episode written by Michael O'Mahoney


     The episode begins at the EMF plant in the middle of a battle between the warriors of the Dragon and Shadow.  Kona, Blaster and Chop all get their moment to look cool (Vortex is not seen), and the Shadow Warriors are getting thrashed.
     Inside the plant, the Double Dragons are dueling with the Shadow Master.  The Shadow Master tells Jimmy that he taught him well.  Jimmy replies that Billy taught him better.  The Shadow Master then asks if Billy taught Jimmy “this,” and disappears in a whirl of black.  Billy notices that the Shadow Master left a key behind.  Jimmy recognizes it as the key to “the gate.”
     Elsewhere, Sickle says that the Dragons were waiting for them, and the “surprise” part of the Shadow Warriors' attack was actually on them.  The Shadow Master states that it went exactly as he planned.
     In the Double Dragons' lair, Jimmy is bothered.  He tells Billy that the key never, ever leaves the Shadow Master, and there's no way he dropped it by accident.  He explains that the secret gate is the one place in the Shadow Dojo which is totally off-limits.  Jimmy is sure that this is a trap.  Billy suggests that their father might be behind the gate.  Jimmy concedes that this is possible.  Billy convinces Jimmy that they should sneak in to the Shadow Dojo and find out what's behind the gate before the Shadow Warriors can regroup.
     Kona, Blaster, Chop and Vortex approach the Shadow Dojo, finding the Shadow Warriors ready and waiting for them.  They put up a fight but are captured.
     Inside the Shadow Dojo, the Double Dragons open the secret gate using the key.  Inside, there appears to be nothing but a whirling, black abyss.  Billy asks what this place is.  The Shadow Master, from behind them, responds, “Your new home.”  He blasts them with energy from his scythe, knocking them into the abyss.  The gate then closes and he locks it, commenting “Now begins the new world order.  MY order.”
     Ice Pick reports to the Shadow Master that the Dragon Warriors have been captured as planned.  The Shadow Master tells Ice Pick that they have won, unequivocally.  He heads straight for his throne room where he blasts the four Dragon Warriors into the Shadow Mural, remarking, “Thus, do I deal with mine enemies.”
     Billy and Jimmy fall through the abyss toward what looks like a surreal, barren planet.  They fall through a crack in the surface, landing (de-transformed) in a seemingly serene area.  There, they meet a white-haired woman who can generate and manipulate green, telekinetic energy (similar to what Billy used, in episode 1, “The Shadow Falls” to break a metal building strut; it's also comparable to the Chi used by Su Lien, in the episode “The Mistress of Chi”).  The woman introduces herself as “Marika,” and tells them that all will be revealed when they are ready to listen.
     Marika invites Billy and Jimmy into a sacred tea house in the center of the area.  As she serves them tea, she sheds tears of joy, addressing them by their names and telling them that she's very happy to see them.  She then drops a couple of emotional bombshells on them:  She is the Shadow Master's half-sister, and their mother.  Jimmy thinks it's a trick, but Marika encourages the twins to look at their Double Dragon birthmarks.  Sure enough, they are glowing and responding to Marika's presence.
     Marika tells her story to her sons:  Over twenty years earlier, she fell in love with John Lee.  He was a pupil of the Oldest Dragon, training to become the new Dragon Master.  His only rival was her half-brother (at this point in the flashback, we actually see the Shadow Master, before he took up that mantle and mask).  Even then, Marika's half-brother was evil.  He only wanted to be Dragon Master for the power and prestige.  Oldest Dragon knew this and chose John to succeed him as Dragon Master.  After this, John and Marika were married.  Her half-brother was furious at her for marrying John, however.
     To get his revenge, Marika's brother turned to the Black Arts (here, we see that he had also gained followers; including younger, slightly different incarnations of Icepick and Sickle - Sickle appears as Vortex remembered him in the episode “River of Tears”).  He was able to revive the evil power of the Black Flame (Note: this implies it was once extinguished).  With that power, he became more than human; he became the Shadow Master.  The Shadow Master would not let John and Marika live in peace, but he was always defeated by John.
     Then, when the twins were born, the Shadow Master heard about their birthmarks and was mortally afraid that they would fulfill the legend of the Double Dragon.  He attacked the Lee family with his warriors, capturing Marika and Jimmy while John barely managed to escape with Billy.  To keep the Shadow Master from killing Jimmy, Marika agreed to enter the abyss.  She never saw her husband or sons again, until now.
     Back in Metro City, the Shadow Warriors capture the EMF monitoring station.  The Shadow Master states that soon, the Black Flame shall grow without hindrance (probably because his plan to use the EMF plant [from episode 2, “The Legend Continues”] can now be put into effect without any hindrance from Dragon Warriors).  He says that the city belongs to the Shadow.  We see that Shadow Warriors and mutants (familiar from the episode “Judgment Day”) control the streets, and police officers, led by Marian, are being forced to retreat.  The Shadow Master concludes that soon, the Dragon will be no more.
     In the abyss, Marika tells the twins that as long as she resides there she disturbs the purity of the Black Flame.  That is why the Shadow Master needs technology to increase his powers.  Billy remarks that it's no wonder that the Shadow Master has been trying so hard to capture the EMF plant.
     They manage to locate the secret gate when a giant, three-headed, earthworm-like monster attacks them.  Billy and Jimmy trick it into breaking the gate open with its tail as it lashes out at them.  Marika then forces it over a cliff by blasting it with her green energy from her hands.  The three exit the gate.
     In the Shadow Dojo, Billy is surprised at how huge the Black Flame has grown.  The Shadow Master emerges, informing the twins that thanks to them, he now holds all the trump cards.  He was not aware that his half-sister's presence in the abyss would hinder the black flame.  But with her now freed from the abyss, and the EMF monitoring station in his control, his power is limitless.  Jimmy is quick to disagree until the Shadow Master points to the Shadow Mural, now containing the Dragon Warriors.
     Marika tells the Shadow Master that he knows she can stop him, but vows that she will not if he lets her sons go.  He agrees.  Billy and Jimmy protest, but Marika tells her sons that they don't know how powerful the Shadow Master has become, and this is something only she can do.  She begs them to leave, and reluctantly, they do.
     Of course, the Shadow Master was lying.  As soon as Billy and Jimmy leave the Shadow Master's throne room they are seized by Jawbreaker.  The Shadow Master then surrounds his half-sister with black flame, telling her that this was “the final trap.”  She uses her power both to free herself and to release the Dragon Warriors from the Shadow Mural.  She instructs them to save the Double Dragons, and to tell them their mother lives.  As the Dragon Warriors flee, Marika and the Shadow Master engage in battle, firing energy at each other - without the aid of weapons.  Marika dives into the Black Flame, levitating within it.  The Shadow Master tells her she will never see her sons again.
     The Dragon Warriors rescue the Double Dragons, then follow Billy's lead to the EMF plant.  All six of them transform and enter the plant.  Again, they fight the Shadow Warriors and beat them down.  And again, the battle comes down to Billy and Jimmy versus the Shadow Master.
     The Shadow Master tells them that they're too late.  He then gives them some convoluted, hard-to-catch explanation, which Jimmy translates for the viewer: “The entire world will be contaminated, with EMF!”  Bottom line:  Whatever the Shadow Master is doing, it must be stopped or the world is doomed.
     The Shadow Master summons the Black Flame to the center of the room.  He calls upon it to blow everything up.  Then, Marika appears in the center of the Black Flame and blasts the Shadow Master with green energy.  She tells her sons to blast him with dragon fire, and they do so with their swords.
     The Shadow Master tells Marika that she cannot destroy him, and he begins growing as the Lees continue to blast him.  Marika responds that he cannot contain so much energy.  The now-giant Shadow Master replies simply, “Oh yes, I can.”  Sickle yells that the Shadow Master is “going to blow,” and the Shadow Warriors flee, abandoning their master.  In a flash of green energy, the Shadow Master disappears.
     Billy and Jimmy ask Marika how they can save her from the Black Flame.  She replies that it is too late; the balance is restored, but the Shadow Master still lives, and Marika must stay in the Black Flame.  She tells her sons to find their father for her, and she promises that one day, they will be together.  Marika then disappears into the Black Flame.
     Billy tells Jimmy that nothing is lost; their mother still lives, and now there is light in the heart of the Shadow.
     The six Dragons exit the EMF plant to the cheers of the people of Metro City.  Marian runs up and hugs Billy and Jimmy.  The episode ends (and the first season concludes) with the assembled citizens of Metro City proclaiming, “By the Power of the Dragon!”

     Eddie MountainGoat's review:  This is the first (and perhaps only) episode that I would describe as FANTASTIC.  The pace starts at supersonic speed and never lets up.
     Bear in mind, this was the final episode of the first series to be screened (though not the last one produced).  As such, it is a way of ending the series with a bang.  It also provides something of a summary of the series - with constant references to previous episodes - as well as giving an insight into what happened before and whetting your appetite for what may be coming.
     There are so many things about this episode that I really like.  The awesome action, the day evil won (and keeps winning), all four new Dragon Warriors fighting together for the first time (and then getting Shadow Mural-ed, and later un-Mural-ed), John Lee's back-story (and the fact that his relationship with his wife's half-brother is a lot like the original Billy-Shadow Boss contrast) … not to mention seeing the Shadow Master before the mask.
     My one nit-pick is that Marika is imprisoned, again.  As well as being an unsatisfactory conclusion to her story, it feels like such a let-down for the twins to lose their mother only moments after rescuing her.
     But anyone who liked the cartoon should definitely see this episode (though it is perhaps best viewed after all other episodes of the first season).  This is not necessarily the best-written episode I've seen.  But it was certainly the most entertaining.

Rating: A++