[Or, Part 1 of My 200X Canon]:

I've seen a fair bit of disappointment with the theme of "the power was inside King Grayskull all along" from the 200X cartoon. Emiliano had one way of solving it, by suggesting it was an abridged and simplified version of the real events. That feels a bit like cheating to me; I'd rather work within what we were shown and try to find a way to deepen and contextualize it, and I think I've come up with something.

According to the 1987 Style Guide, the Powers of Grayskull were "newly evolved" when accessed by He-Ro. Since King Grayskull appears to be the 200X equivalent in terms of the power (although I have ways to fit He-Ro in as well ), this started my brain turning. And then, there's the question of what the Power is, which has been constant from the Halperin Bible in 1982 to the 200X relaunch--the combined power, knowledge, wisdom and goodness of the Elders. (Speaking of which, has anyone else ever noticed that the Autobot Matrix of Leadership is pretty much the same thing?)

So, a theory:

1. Pre-Grayskull, Eternia's magic is something different than it was before--more primal, more wild, more 'amoral'. I've long been taken with the notion that magic on Eternia is a living, changing thing. It goes back to that "one use only" spell of dimension-shifting Skeletor used in "The Menace of Trap-Jaw!", and it could explain so much. The reason He-Ro could only banish the Snake Men that one time in "The Powers of Grayskull: The Legend Begins"? Casting a spell so powerful literally changed the magic of Preternia so that it couldn't be used again. But I digress.

2. Hordak is a new and terrible threat--a more 'demonic' evil, as opposed to the 'bestial' evil of the Snake Men. (Skeletor, BTW, is the 'human' midpoint between the two.)

3. Grayskull's last stand, against the new threat of Hordak, with that level of courage and self-sacrifice, caused the magic to 'crystallize' or evolve in/through/around him. Grayskull's sacrifice and defiance of Evil (as represented by Hordak) is in one sense 'the power he always had'--but in another sense, it transforms some or all of Eternia's magic to reflect those same values and brings the Power of Grayskull into being. Since the Power reflects Grayskull's spirit in a very real way, it requires someone be 'close to him'--either in blood or personal experience, and more importantly, in spirit and innocence--to establish a connection with it.

4. Grayskull then binds some of that power--the more 'personal' level--into the Sword, and bequeaths the broader, 'anchored in Eternia's magic' power to his companions, who become the Elders. This doesn't mean that there's no dark magic on Eternia, or that only the Elders can use magic--but they can tap into depths and levels of power that no one else can, and also continue to transform and evolve the Power into something greater.

5. The Elders manage to maintain the power for many years, and their communal bond keeps any of them from twisting it into something dark. But eventually, they hit the limit of how they can improve on it. (This takes the 'time to cut the cord' idea from the Halperin Bible and casts it in a new light.) It may be that this was subconsciously reflected in the Great Unrest. In any case, they transform into the Orb of Power and allow Adam, of Grayskull's line and possessed of an innocence that Randor and Keldor lacked, to make the connection to it to become He-Man, although he's only scratched the surface of what he can become--and, reciprocally, what he can make the Power of Grayskull become.

Postscript: Future Potentials

Hordak knows most of this. He picked Keldor because he thought the blood connection might be enough--for he's kept an eye on Grayskull's descendants, and knows the lineage even though Randor and Keldor don't. He's since learned that more is required, but he's got plans for that--especially since he also knows that once the bond between the Power and the wielder is made, it can be used in all sorts of 'interesting' ways ...