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The Sargasso Wars.

Apollo is hailed as a hero.

Ariel is excited to meet Apollo.

Apollo, the greatest Atlantican warrior.

Getting caught in slow sand, and Ariel to rescue.

Apollo is voiced by Ron Perlman.

The Sargasso Wars took place twenty years/four thousand tides before the series.

Ursula pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Ariel and Flounder are shocked to hear the truth about Apollo.

Mervikings of Valhalla.

Octopan wielding a trident copy.

The sea dragon.

The Terrible Sea Dragon looks a lot like Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent dragon form.

There's excitement in Atlantica, because the famed Atlantican hero Apollo is returning home after traveling the seven seas. Apollo is famed for his bravery in the Sargasso Wars, where he provided a crucial assist to Triton and the Atlantican army in defeating the Octopans.

That was all before Ariel was even born, so she and Flounder grew up with stories of Apollo and are excited to meet him. However when Apollo does arrive, he seems uncomfortable with the lavish attention bestowed upon him and wants to leave again, this time in search of "Valhalla", the land of heroes. Ariel and Flounder are given permission from Triton to join him on his journey, despite Apollo's reluctance to bring them along.

It's not long before Ariel notices there's something off with Apollo, and a close call reveals that Apollo isn't a daring adventurer as in the stories, but a regular merman who happened to be at the right place at the right time. But Ariel and Flounder are nothing but supportive, pointing out that bravery doesn't mean a lack of fear. It's also thanks to Ariel and Flounder's friendship that Apollo finds untapped courage in himself, enough to battle a sea dragon and stop the Octopans' newest attack on Atlantica.

It's a story about hero worship, and that heroes look mighty different in close-up than they do on pedestals. It's just Apollo, but also the mervikings and Valhalla itself that turn out to not match Ariel and Flounder's expectations, but it's cause for self-reflection, not disappointment. Though I feel the episode side-stepped another interesting message, i.e. that Ariel and Flounder are their own heroes. There's something hilarious about Ariel turning out to have far more experience with battling dangers than a famed warrior, but it's also heartwarming how she's able to effortlessly inspire and effectively teach an adult who's older than her. Ariel's heart is as big as the seas, and it's nifty to see an outsider's POV on that.

Ursula appears in this episode! Sadly in a minor role, where she's the secret power behind the Octopans, urging thier attacks on Atlantica in the past as well as in the present, and by providing them less-impressive copies of Triton's trident. Unfortunately she never meets any of the main characters, who don't even know that she's involved. Makes one wonder if she and the Octopans were meant to return in later episodes if the series continued.

Quotable quotes

Ariel:Why did Apollo go away, daddy?
TritonTo explore the season seas.
Ariel:An explorer? Oh, and I thought he was only a hero!
Ariel:Thank you, daddy!
Flounder:Yeah, thank you, daddy! Your Daddiness. Sir.
Ariel:I like Apollo but... he sure doesn't say very much.
Flounder:You know brave guys. They're always the strong, silent type.
Apollo:Slow sand!
Ariel:Huh? Slow sand?
Apollo:It's like quicksand, only. Well. Slower.
Flounder:Oh, [Apollo]'s so brave.
Ariel:Yeah. But he doesn't seem to be having much fun.
Apollo:You must be so disappointed in me.
Ariel:That's not true, Apollo. Everybody gets scared!
Ariel:It's nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn't make you a coward.
Apollo:I wanted to find Valhalla to lose myself in the land of heroes. I'm so sorry I brought you two into it.
Ariel:Aww, we're your friends, Apollo, no matter what.
Apollo:Uh-oh, here comes the "what".
Viking 1:Ooh, the dragon sounds like he's in a good mood.
Flounder:That's good.
Viking 2:No, that's bad. When he's in a good mood, he likes to eat.
Flounder:That's bad.
Viking 1:No, that's good, it's more fun for him, more fun for us.
Ariel:I thought this was the land of heroes.
Apollo:Heroes are always less than they appear to be.
Ursula:By sunset Atlantica is will be ours! But mostly mine.
Viking 1:He is truly a hero.
Viking 2:What makes him so brave?
Viking 3:Maybe it's that heroic music.
Ursula:How I hate that Triton! He hasn't seen the last of me. No, someday I'm going to rule Triton's kingdom or my name isn't Ursula, Queen of Atlantica. Hmm, has a nice sting to it.
Apollo:Ariel, you have rescued me.
Ariel:We kinda rescued each other on this adventure.
Apollo:Yes, but I meant you helped me. Caring about your and Flounder helped me find my courage.

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