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Blackjack 2010-11-30 11:37 AM

Cartoon Episode Reviews: Beast Machines [completed]
The Reformatting
Airdate: 18 September 1999
Written By: Marty Isenberg & Bob Skir
Japanese Title: Resurrection of the Legend

Synopsis: On the surface of Cybertron, Optimus Primal leaps pass a tiny bizarre flower. An army of tank drones pursue him, crushing the flower. Optimus Primal has somehow lost his Transmetal properties and is back in his original gorilla body. After evading his attackers, he tries to Transform but is unable to do so, and is beset by electrical shocks. Suddenly his eyes glow and he sees a vision of a spark moving. He follows the vision to a monorail and finds Rattrap, also having the same problems as Primal and without any memory of anything after Beast Wars. The tank drones pursue them relentlessly, and the two keep trying to transform without success. Primal follows the strange visions, and soon meet up with Cheetor and then Blackarachnia. They decide that the best course of action is to hide deeper underground. With Blackarachnia's webs, they pass layers and layers of cities as they descend into the bowels of Cybertron. Finally, they fall and find themselves in complete darkness, which soon burst into flames. However, this is apparently a hologram, and they reveal the ancient supercomputer called the Oracle. The Oracle takes Optimus Primal into the bowels of the Matrix, the afterlife of the Transformers.

The Oracle shows Optimus Primal several cryptic vision of an Earth-like planet transformed into a purely mechanical world. The Oracle says 'the seeds of the future lie buried in the past', and tells Optimus Primal to be reformatted. The Oracle converts Optimus Primal into a new body, a perfect blend of mechanical and organic. The other three Maximals likewise gets themselves reformatted after seeing Optimus Primal.

Suddenly the Oracle winks out, and the Maximals are attacked by a squad of Vehicons, this time motorcycles. The Maximals prepare to transform, but nothing happens. Optimus theorizes that they must relearn the art to transform, like the way their ancestors did. The Maximals spread out through the tunnels, and began to defeat the Cycle Drones with their individual beast mode's powers. During their battle, however, Optimus Primal falls into a pit. The Oracle tells Primal to 'tame the beast without to release the warrior within'.

Optimus Primal finds his inner balance and manages to transform. A blue light spreads throughout his body and converts him into robot mode. He flies up with the jets on his back, and tears the Cycle Drones apart. He tries to interrogate one of the drones, but when he loses his temper he reverts back into beast mode. Optimus Primal then tells the Maximals that they must relearn the art of transformation and their new bodies.

Meanwhile, a shadowed figure watches the battle from the citadel and vows to destroy the impure organics. It is Megatron, new ruler of Cybertron.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Primal, Tank Drones (several destroyed), Rattrap, Cheetor, Blackarachnia, the Oracle, Cycle Drones (several destroyed), Megatron

I've watched Beast Machines from the beginning to end right after Beast Wars, and I was shocked to see that there are so much bad blood in the fandom towards this series. Until very recently, it has been parred by some as the 'thing that would destroy Transformers forever'. Not true. Get all misconceptions about hippie munkys out of your head. Beast Machines is a great series, with an overreaching plot, great CGI (although not as great as Beast Wars), well-rounded characters, a great set-up and a healthy dose of mystery and intrigue. The debut episode, for one, tries to be as spectacular as possible, not revealing everything about the situation. The fact that the Maximals are stranded on a planet filled with brainless enemies, with no clue what happened is well-done. The Maximals' frustration at not being able to transform and fight back is fantastic; it is refreshing to see transformation being part of the plot, and that the Maximals need to work to be able to transform.

The Vehicon drones are cool as well, giving the Maximals a chance to excute violent attacks on them. Plus, they give a sense of being outnumbered. Also, designed with inhuman, mechanical bodies, the Vehicons give us a break from the constant bestial aesthetics. Personally, I don't really like the designs for the BM Maximals compared to those from Beast Wars — the multiple-coloured veins on their bodies, in particular, is irritating, so are the funky eyes in robot mode. I also find it hard to like the bright-light transformation thing. However, these are minor issues and you could get used to it easily.

Overall, this is a great set up to Beast Machines. The Oracle is nicely cryptic, making it an almost religious guide. It gives a feel of gorilla- sorry, guerrilla- warfare, which is executed well. The tone is noticeably darker than the more light-hearted tone of early Beast Wars. There are multiple elements that caught my attention immediately — the Vehicons, the layers deep in Cybertron, Megatron being the new ruler, the Maximal's semi-organic bodies — that made me want to continue to the next episode. Beast Machines, or at least this episode at least, is a worthy successor for Beast Wars.

(Nine out of ten)

The first appearance of the Vehicons, the Oracle and the Techno-organic bodies of the Maximals.

The Oracle is a massive supercomputer deep within Cybertron. Later, it would be stated that the Oracle is the same with Vector Sigma from G1. Later sources that try to merge everything into one big continuity would state that both Vector Sigma and the Oracle are part of the light god Primus' consciousness, albeit altered/diluted, depending on the source.

Cybertron has layers upon layers underneath its surface, with rocks and soil in the deeper layers. This soily Cybertron is briefly seen in the G1 cartoon episode 'Desertion of the Dinobots'.

The whole thing about Transformers having to learn to transform is most likely inspired by the backstory in G1, during 'Five Faces of Darkness', where it is revealed that the Transformers were not initially able to transform, and that it was the Autobots who developed the ability to combat the Decepticons. If memory serves right, the comic book also made mentions to the first Transformers not being able to transform.

This episode is the first usage of the term
'reformat', which soon became popular among the fandom to describe Transformers changing bodies.

Rattrap's line, 'Ground control to major Optimus', is a reference to the David Bowie song 'Space Oddity'.

During Optimus Primal's vision, a bunch of black monoliths are briefly seen, a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

While the Maximals use their original (first season) beast modes from Beast Wars, there are some errors:
-Cheetor's eyes are black instead of green, and he has two black streaks running down his face.
-Rattrap's feet are dark orange instead of pink.
-Blackarachnia's skin is a lighter tone of blue-black.

Optimus Primal couldn't have regressed to his first body, since it was destroyed at the end of season one. The body he had at the end of Beast Wars started out immediately as a Transmetal. It's best not to think about it.

Blackjack 2010-12-05 06:13 AM

Master of the House
Airdate: 25 September 1999
Written By: Bob Skir & Marty Isenberg
Japanese Title: Breaking of the Wild

The Maximals have set up shop in Cybertron's underground caverns, out of reach of the Vehicon drones. Optimus Primal instructs them to relearn how to transform. The Maximals now require emotional balance and deep concentration in order to transform. Cheetor and Blackarachnia are able to unlock their transformations, but Rattrap is still unable to concentrate enough to do so. A Mole Drone attacks, and Optimus Primal battles the Vehicon, explaining that the Maximals reverted back to their beast modes because they lost their emotional balance. Optimus Primal orders them to leave to a new location, but the other Maximals want to seek out survivors and reformat them to bolster their forces. However, Primal tells them that it's stupid to go looking for trouble when they can't master their transformations. The Maximals split up to find a new base.

Cheetor and Blackarachnia goes up to the surface, despite Primal's orders. They find themselves in Cybertropolis, but it is deserted. The Cybertron Info-Core is likewise deleted. However, they are assaulted by a fleet of Jet Drones. Cheetor tries to transform, but the heat of battle distracts him from concentrating. Optimus Primal arrive to bail them out, but is overwhelmed by numbers. Cheetor and Blackarachnia use the lull in battle to transform, and head in to defeat the Vehicons. Primal chews the Maximals out, but decides to follow through on their discoveries. They head to the Council Citadel. While the other Maximals hold off the drones, Optimus Primal enters the chambers of the Maximal Elders.

Primal enters the main room, and comes face to face with the new lord of Cybertron... Megatron, encased in a suit of control armour connected to Cybertron itself. Megatron 'fills in' the gaps in Primal's memory, telling Primal that he had won the Beast Wars, and that he decided to remodel Cybertron in his image, a technologically pure paradise with no impure organics there. However, outside the room, the Maximals' ingenuity allows them to overcome the mindless legion of drones. Megatron, frustrated by the failure of his drones and stressed at controlling so many at a time, transforms involuntarily to his draconic beast mode, disconnecting from the control harness and deactivating the drones. Megatron and Primal duke it out, but Megatron reconnects to his control harness and summons more drones. The Maximals drag Primal away as they escape. When questioned about this later, Optimus Primal resolves to correct his mistake and ending Megatron's threat.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Cheetor, Blackarachnia, Mole Drone, Jet Drones, Tank Drones, Cycle Drones, Megatron

The intrigue continues. Things are revealed, and more questions arise. I really like the very close-knit episode form of Beast Machines. It really feels like a multiple chapters of a story, not just random episodes with plots that don't connect like G1. The Maximals learning the act of transformation is kind of corny, I'll grant you that. It's realistic that not everyone gets it right at the first try. The guerilla warfare feel, and the Maximals being totally outnumbered, is excellently portrayed, though. Marty Isenberg and Bob Skir clearly wants to take Transformers to new things, making the whole prospect of Beast Machines exactly that — half-organic, half-robotic Transformers. Once you get over the 'WTF?' phase, however, Beast Machines would prove to be one of the best transformers series in terms of storytelling.

Megatron as supreme ruler of Cybertron is handled well, and I especially like the irony that he himself still has a beast mode. He is still the magnificient bastard from Beast Wars, though a little more unhinged now, as expected. The Vehicon drones also provide great cannon fodder enemies, although having the Maximals constantly battling random drones does kind of get boring after some time, especially considering that Beast Machines begins to use stock footage attacks. It's not quite as bad as the Japanese shows, but in Beast Machines several attacks — like Blackarachnia slamming her feet down to sent the web running on the ground, Optimus' forcefield thing, or every single time that the Maximals transform — is repeated multiple times across the span of the series, something that Beast Wars avoids. Mostly it's the virtually identical Transformation that irritates me, so it's a small issue.

This episode is nice enough, revealing the new gimmicks and status quo of the series. There is a lot that gets explored here, and the interest with the series continues to grow. One thing that I dislike about Beast Machines is this — the Maximals' heads. What's up with them? Every time Cheetor or Optimus changes bodies in Beast Wars, their distinctive heads remain the same. Optimus has those Prime-y antennas and helm, Cheetor has that crest and grinning mouth, Rattrap has bucktooths and visible brain-ish structure... the Beast Machines CG designs really changed their faces, which I couldn't say to be an improvement. Still, the characters themselves are excellently characterized, and it is distinctive what each character is feeling, something that I couldn't say for many of the post-BM series.

(Eight out of Ten)

The Maximals' new catchphrase after finding their inner balance is "I am transformed!" The Maximals require concentration to stay in robot modes, and could be jarred back into beast modes when their concentration is broken. Well, for early episodes when they haven't mastered beast modes yet, anyway.

They are Techno-organic, so they are both and neither beast nor machine, but a mixture of both.

The Maximals have memory gaps, explaining why they can't as of yet remember Rhinox and Silverbolt.

Also, since the Maximals don't have guns to use in this series, they've gotten themselves some new abilities:
-Optimus Primal: a force field that absorbs enemy blasts and returns it to them.
-Blackarachnia: webs and poison stingers.
-Cheetor: two scimitar blades that can be used to fly.

Cybertron's capital is Cybertropolis, in contrast to the city of Iacon from the original G1 cartoon. This little oddity (with the rather uncreative name) would be explained much later in the series. Cybertropolis' population is ten million, before Megatron's arrival.

Megatron now has a scar on his right eye. The origin of this scar is yet to be revealed.

Megatron's body is similar to the Dragon we saw in Beast Machines. However, in robot mode Megatron insists on covering his body with his wings like a cloak, whilst sticking his head into the control harness connected to Cybertron itself. If he gets angry, he reverts to his dragon mode. His dragon mode now looks like a patchwork cyborg. Explained later on, this is due to numerous failed experiments to purge his organic side.

Megatron's control room is full of floating screens that move at his whim, very similar to the floating windows that appeared in animation studio Mainframe's original production, ReBoot.

Blackarachnia knows a lot about the Cybertron InfoCore, even though this is her first time visiting Cybertron. Of course, she was kind of an addict with historical tapes...

One of the Cycle Drones that pursue Optimus Primal in the citadel has Thrust's colours, even though Thrust has yet to be created.

Blackjack 2010-12-13 01:58 AM

Fires of the Past
Japanese Title: Mark of Love
Airdate: 2 October 1999
Written By: Marv Wolfmand

A fleet of Tank Drones demolish the Cybertron Archives. The Maximals sneak around the area. Searching for clues of what had happened to the missing Cybertronian population. However, they were unable to find anything. Megatron, meanwhile, chuckles that he's starting history over, with everything prior to his reign mere rumours. A Diagnostic Drone tells Megatron that the organic traces in his body have been purged. More Vehicon drones attack the Maximals, forcing them to retreat. Balckarachnia is knocked out by a blast and has a vision of Silverbolt, though she doesn't remember her beloved's name. Meanwhile Optimus leads the drones to fire on a building while he climbs to the other side, causing the building to collapse on the drones. Enraged, Megatron transformed to beast mode again... and when he realizes that he still has his Beast Mode he opens fire on the Diagnostic Drone. Megatron calms himself down, and considers the sole advantage the Maximals have — free will. Megatron moves to an enormous bank of stored sparks, and selects three.

At their base, Optimus chews out the rest of the Maximals for their poor performance. Again, Blackarachnia gets another vision of Silverbolt. Later on she sneaks off to the Central Spaceport, and Rattrap tags along. Before she could explain to Rattrap why she is doing this, they are attacked by three Vehicons.... the wisecracking Jetstorm, the brooding Thrust and the brutish Tankor. The trio of Vehicons open fire at Blackarachnia and Rattrap, scaring them off. They transform to Beast Mode and scurry off, in the process discovering that they are safe from Vehicon scanners in Beast Modes. The Maximal duo manages to find data of their ship, and that it was shot down by Cybertron's own defense systems, and that there were six Maximals on board the ship. However Blackarachnia and Rattrap could not place names to the other two. They decide to track down their ship, but are attacked by the Vehicon generals. Blackarachnia and Rattrap learn that their Beast Modes hide them from Vehicon scanners. When Megatron realizes where Blackarachnia is headed, he calls off the Vehicon attack in order to tap into Blackarachnia's mind and find out the Maximal base's location when she accesses the Autobot ship's computer.

The two enter the Autobot shuttle, but Rattrap discovers Megatron's trick and the two are forced to destroy the shuttle to prevent Megatron from learning their hideout's location. The Vehicon generals resume their attack. However, Optimus Primal and Cheetor crashes through the roof and holds back the Vehicons long enough for the Maximals to escape. The Autobot shuttle blows up. Optimus is angered at the fact that their only chance at getting easy answers had been destroyed, but since what's done is done, they retreat.

Featured Transformers: Tank Drones, Blackarachnia, Cheetor, Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Megatron, Diagnostic Drone, Silverbolt (vision), Tankor, Jetstorm, Thrust, Rhinox (vision)

A bit weaker that the previous installments. Battling mindless drones and running away are only repeatable for so many times before it gets monotonous. That bit where Primal topples a building down on the drones is stupid, though. Still great material, though. The introduction of the three Vehicon generals are well done, and manage to be entertaining characters, especially Jetstorm. While I miss the comedic Predacon goons from Beast Wars, the Vehicons are suitably threatening, giving a more menacing feel to the villains, something that only Megatron, Rampage and Dinobot II had managed to accomplished to portray in Beast Wars. The three Vehicons are well-characterized, and there is no clue that they were previously, well, guys we've met before. They are a bit stereotypical, though. Jetstorm fills in the obligatory sarcastic bad guy, while Tankor is the dumb strong thug, and Thrust it the rather threatening cool guy. I like them very much, and I really love the Vehicons' non-humanoid robot modes. Jetstorm's hovering, leg-less robot mode, as well as Thrust's one-wheeled, clawed robot mode are simply great on the animated medium. It wouldn't have worked as well in, say, a comic.

That vision bit with Blackarachnia does kind of overplay things a bit. Eesh. I do feel that the Maximals forgetting Rhinox and Silverbolt was kind of overplayed for quite a long time. More questions are answered, while more questions are raised. Megatron's frustration, and motivations, are well-rooted and very nicely played out. However, things have kind of wound down from the rather fast pace from the last few issues. It's still a great episode, though, although a little too dark compared to the ham-handed Beast Wars, and the change is kind of jarring. And Optimus Prime does start to get a little annoying right about this point in the series, although he's supposed to be like that for the first season. Still, it doesn't take much time to get used to this, especially with proper minions for Megatron instead of just drones... although there's always more than meets the eye to the Vehicon generals, yes? Great watch.

(Seven out of Ten)

A giant statue of Optimus Prime holding two golden disks (no, not the discs in BW. Literally two golden disks with holes in the middle) stood in front of the Cybertron Archives. Bob Skir claims that that scene was not mentioned in the scripts. Bob suggested these were either the discs from the Voyager 1 and 2 probes, or that Optimus Prime won them at a Cybertronian Spelling Bee.

This episode confirms that the Maximals' memories were tampered with. Well, at least they forgot Rhinox and Silverbolt.

It's worth noting that Megatron's unveiled robot mode (i.e. off the control harness and out of the cloak) was never seen, even when he transforms in this episode and the last. It always happens off-screen or shadowed.

Megatron says 'Yeesss' for the first time in Beast Machines, although in a more sinister way than the ham-fisted way he did so in Beast Wars.

The Vehicons are based on their drones, but have slightly different markings, and in the case of Thrust, is bigger than the near-identical drones they commanded.

The Vehicons unable to detect the Maximals in their Beast Modes is similar to the Vok's Metal Hunter in the Beast Wars two-parter 'Other Visits'.

Jetstorm called the Maximals as 'Beasties' at one point, a reference for the name of Beast Wars in Canada. Because 'war' is violent, yes?

Rhinox and Silverbolt's animation models are used in this episode when Blackarachnia logs into the ship's computer.

Jetstorm's preliminary name was 'Skybolt'. As the series progresses you'll realize why they didn't use this name.

Early on in the episode Optimus Primal insistent that Blackarachnia revert back to Beast Mode, although they didn't know yet why they should.

The Diagnostic Drone chalks up his mistake to 'random residual biological' things, even though Megatron's beast mode is still there.

Why didn't Megatron reformat himself into a purely technological body before Optimus Primal's group arrived?

As usual, time problems. Megatron claims to have destroyed 'four million years of Cybertron history', when the time gap between the Ark-Nemesis battle and the original cartoon alone is four million years. Counting the long history before the Autobots set off in the Ark, and whatever time passed between G1 and Beast Wars... it's a lot more than four million years.

Blackjack 2010-12-24 05:18 PM

Mercenary Pursuits
Airdate: 9 October 1999
Written By: Michael Reaves
Japanese Title:The Transformation of a Fervent Wish

Megatron scolds his Vehicon generals for their failure, and after a little lesson in discipline, sends them off with a promise of a reward to the one who captures the Maximals. Meanwhile, the Maximals, having recovered their memories of Rhinox and Silverbolt, vows to find them. Optimus senses the presence of a Spark and the Maximals split up to find it. Rattrap manages to break into a laboratory, and discovers the transformation inhibitor virus that Megatron used, as well as a transformation enhancer. Rattrap naturally takes it, and uses it. Thrust and Jetstorm squabble, but Tankor manages to find the Maximals. The Maximals elude dumb Tankor by turning into Beast Modes... except Rattrap, who shows up in his robot mode, alerting Tankor to the Maximals' presence. Rattrap is unable to control his transformations.

After a short battle, Tankor traps the Maximals under a metallic dome. Thrust and Jetstorm attack Tankor for the right to bring in the Maximals. The Maximals try to escape, but during the resulting battle, an explosion knocks out everyone, leaving only Tankor standing. At the Citadel, Tankor demands his reward. Megatron tells Tankor that he will have his reward: 'freedom', via the removal of his spark. Rattrap's uncontrolled transformations break his bonds, and he quickly releases the other Maximals. A frustrated Megatron transforms to Beast Mode, disconnecting from his control harness.

Optimus talks directly to Tankor's spark, asking him to do what is right. After hesitating for a moment, Tankor blasts open the door and escapes with the Maximals. Megatron reconnects to his harness and interfaces directly with Tankor's CPU, deleting the last 20 cycles of his memory. Tankor attacks the Maximals again, and Megatron blocks Optimus' attempt to speak to Tankor's spark. The Maximals manage to knock Tankor out of the underground. Optimus Primal tells the other Maximals that he sensed something oddly familiar about Tankor's spark.

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Jetstorm, Tankor, Thrust, Optimus Primal, Silverbolt (monitor), Rhinox (monitor), Rattrap, Cheetor, Blackarachnia

Hmm... a little slower-paced compared to the previous episodes, with less mystery and more action. It's a decent enough watch, but if every subsequent episode would be like this then it'll be a rather banal show. As it is, it's kind of fun to see the Vehicons bicker among themselves. Rattrap is good value in this episode, too. When he finally manages to transform after running away for so long... it's useless. A moral-ish story that teaches us not to use shortcuts when doing something.

The high-strung mystery from last episodes have wound down, though, and it shows that this is one of those filler episodes that doesn't change the status quo. Some bits are built upon, though — the Vehicons are 'more than meets the eye', Rattrap still has problems with transforming, the transformation virus et al... but it's proceeding back into filler episodes than the more issue-driven thing that makes Beast Machines so entertaining to watch. Still, a solid, if rather boring, episode.

(Seven out of Ten)

The idea of a Transformer being locked in his alternate mode, like how Megatron used the Transformation Lock Virus, has been done before in a G1 episode. 'The Autobot Run', if memory serves correct.

We see Rattrap's robot mode for the first time, with wheels as legs. His access-port tail is also available in robot mode. Much to his chagrin Rattrap doesn't have any weapons in robot mode.

Rattrap name-drops 'Full Metal Jacket', a title of a film. It literally means a copper bullet casing.

One of Rattrap's wacky intermediate modes is hauntingly similar to his Transmetal mode, with wheels instead of hind legs.

At one point Thrust is missing his yellow highlights, making him look like one of his drones.

At the closeup on Megatron after the Maximals transform, his scar is in the wrong eye.

Why didn't Megatron have his Vehicon drone army at his Citadel?

So Jetstorm and Thrust spent that long out cold?

Blackjack 2010-12-24 05:18 PM

Mercenary Pursuits
Airdate: 9 October 1999
Written By: Michael Reaves
Japanese Title:The Transformation of a Fervent Wish

Megatron scolds his Vehicon generals for their failure, and after a little lesson in discipline, sends them off with a promise of a reward to the one who captures the Maximals. Meanwhile, the Maximals, having recovered their memories of Rhinox and Silverbolt, vows to find them. Optimus senses the presence of a Spark and the Maximals split up to find it. Rattrap manages to break into a laboratory, and discovers the transformation inhibitor virus that Megatron used, as well as a transformation enhancer. Rattrap naturally takes it, and uses it. Thrust and Jetstorm squabble, but Tankor manages to find the Maximals. The Maximals elude dumb Tankor by turning into Beast Modes... except Rattrap, who shows up in his robot mode, alerting Tankor to the Maximals' presence. Rattrap is unable to control his transformations.

After a short battle, Tankor traps the Maximals under a metallic dome. Thrust and Jetstorm attack Tankor for the right to bring in the Maximals. The Maximals try to escape, but during the resulting battle, an explosion knocks out everyone, leaving only Tankor standing. At the Citadel, Tankor demands his reward. Megatron tells Tankor that he will have his reward: 'freedom', via the removal of his spark. Rattrap's uncontrolled transformations break his bonds, and he quickly releases the other Maximals. A frustrated Megatron transforms to Beast Mode, disconnecting from his control harness.

Optimus talks directly to Tankor's spark, asking him to do what is right. After hesitating for a moment, Tankor blasts open the door and escapes with the Maximals. Megatron reconnects to his harness and interfaces directly with Tankor's CPU, deleting the last 20 cycles of his memory. Tankor attacks the Maximals again, and Megatron blocks Optimus' attempt to speak to Tankor's spark. The Maximals manage to knock Tankor out of the underground. Optimus Primal tells the other Maximals that he sensed something oddly familiar about Tankor's spark.

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Jetstorm, Tankor, Thrust, Optimus Primal, Silverbolt (monitor), Rhinox (monitor), Rattrap, Cheetor, Blackarachnia

Hmm... a little slower-paced compared to the previous episodes, with less mystery and more action. It's a decent enough watch, but if every subsequent episode would be like this then it'll be a rather banal show. As it is, it's kind of fun to see the Vehicons bicker among themselves. Rattrap is good value in this episode, too. When he finally manages to transform after running away for so long... it's useless. A moral-ish story that teaches us not to use shortcuts when doing something.

The high-strung mystery from last episodes have wound down, though, and it shows that this is one of those filler episodes that doesn't change the status quo. Some bits are built upon, though — the Vehicons are 'more than meets the eye', Rattrap still has problems with transforming, the transformation virus et al... but it's proceeding back into filler episodes than the more issue-driven thing that makes Beast Machines so entertaining to watch. Still, a solid, if rather boring, episode.

(Seven out of Ten)

The idea of a Transformer being locked in his alternate mode, like how Megatron used the Transformation Lock Virus, has been done before in a G1 episode. 'The Autobot Run', if memory serves correct.

We see Rattrap's robot mode for the first time, with wheels as legs. His access-port tail is also available in robot mode. Much to his chagrin Rattrap doesn't have any weapons in robot mode.

Rattrap name-drops 'Full Metal Jacket', a title of a film. It literally means a copper bullet casing.

One of Rattrap's wacky intermediate modes is hauntingly similar to his Transmetal mode, with wheels instead of hind legs.

At one point Thrust is missing his yellow highlights, making him look like one of his drones.

At the closeup on Megatron after the Maximals transform, his scar is in the wrong eye.

Why didn't Megatron have his Vehicons assemble in the Citadel?

So Jetstorm and Thrust spent that long out cold?

Blackjack 2011-01-03 11:13 AM

Forbidden Fruit
Airdate: 16 October 1999
Written By: Steven Melching
Japanese Title: Forbidden Fruit

Under Optimus Primal's guidance, Cheetor and Blackarachnia train to be able to transform under duress. Rattrap, meanwhile, unsuccessfully still tries to transform. Optimus tells Rattrap to be patient, but the frustrated Rattrap snaps at Optimus, telling him to save his advice for Rhinox and Silverbolt. This harsh remarks causes Optimus to move away. In the process Optimus notices something that has been watching them during their training and catches it. Their mysterious watcher is a organic bat, who escapes Optimus' grasp with a sonic pulse. The Maximals pursue the bat and Cheetor holds him down, and the bat reveals himself not to be an animal, but rather a Maximal. At this point Jetstorm and his drones show up and attack. After a battle, the Maximals retreat. Jetstorm fires a homing mine, which is destroyed by the bat's sonic scream alongside Jetstorm's drones.

Optimus fills Nightscream in on the story so far. Nightscream tells the Maximals how he found himself trapped in a beast mode — when the Vehicons attacked everyone else on Cybertron, he fell down a pit and woke up in an organic body. The Maximals arrive at Nightscream's hideout, which is a towering organic tree. Nightscream offers the fruits of the tree to the Maximals. All but Cheetor (who only processes Energon, period) accept the fruit, thinking that it would help their organic components. Cheetor is suspicious of Nightscream and interrogates him. However, Nightscream hates Megatron as much as they do. Their little talk is cut short when the other Maximals began to behave in a bestial manner. Jetstorm arrives, and attacks. Cheetor and Nightscream unsuccessfully try to bring the others back to their senses, and finally takes the fruits away from the feral Maximals. Despite Nightscream's protests, Cheetor cuts down the trunk of the tree, restoring the affected Maximals to their old selves. The battle is joined in earnest.

During the battle Nightscream is wounded mortally by Jetstorm, and Optimus Primal tries to save the young Maximal by reformatting him. From Optimus' chest, a white light surrounds Nightscream's body, fusing his organic and technological components together, forming a techno-organic Transformer like them.

Nightscream transforms and uses his amplified sonic scream to decimate the jet drones, and launches his fangs into Jetstorm to drain his energon, defeating the Vehicon. Optimus Primal is weakened by the reformatting, and tells Cheetor to assume command. Optimus comments that the purely organic nature of the tree caused the imbalance in their bodies. Nightscream throws his lot in with the Maximals and tells them his name. As they leave, one of the abandoned fruit sprouts into what appears to be organic soil...

Featured Transformers: Blackarachnia, Cheetor, Optimus Primal, Nightscream, Rattrap, Jetstorm, Jet Drones, Tank Drones (flashback), Cycle Drones (flashback)

And we take a turn for the worse. This episode is very grating, and the fight scenes are blatant padding. Rattrap not being able to transform is still carried over and again is beginning to grate, and the organic fruit thing, while a nice foreshadowing in terms of what's to come, is executed poorly and is frankly stupid. The whole 'I eat a fruit and I go crazy' thing is rubbish as well. Jetstorm and Rattrap are great value in this episode, however, for their relatively minor role. Rattrap snapping in frustration at Optimus early on (I'd do that, too, if I were in his shoes) is believable.

Cheetor is excellent, having matured much (although some would argue that it's going against the grain but I digress) and able to take charge and not be as naïve as before. The real problem here would be Nightscream and Optimus Primal. This is where Optimus Primal began his transition into the infamous hippie monkey tirelessly bashed by BM-haters. But, hey, see a vision from God himself and you'll go out preaching. The fact that he is all mystical and zen and whatnot doesn't bother me, it's the fact that he has suddenly turned into a naïve guy that is unbelievable. And his mystical hogwash is rather poorly scripted in this particular episode. Nightscream here is, simply put, an annoying jerkass. Comparing Nightscream to other jerks like Animated Sentinel Prime or ROTF's Galloway, Nightscream comes off as really unlikeable this early in the series. Also, the fact that he's so insensitive and rude and downright irritating, with that stupid spitcurl... well, it's hard to feel any love for Nightscream, especially this early in the series. I really dislike Nightscream. And this from somebody who likes G1 Wheelie, Drift and Animated Bumblebee.

(Three out of Ten)

First appearance of Nightscream. His powers is a sonic scream that comes out of the speaker on his hunchback in robot mode, as well as a detachable upper jaw that can drain the enemy's energon Dracula-style.

The bestial elements of the Maximals overpowering them have been used as a plot in one of the Beast Wars episodes. 'Call of the Wild' or something. Also, the organic side influencing the Transformers have been done before with Tigatron and Inferno in Beast Wars, although those were executed in a better and more plausible way than here.

The unlucky Transformer that Nightscream hides behind and subsequently gets blown up is based on G1 Soundwave, whose CG model was available for the Beast Wars show. It's not him, though.

When Optimus holds down Nightscream, he says 'get your stinking paws off me, you big dirty ape!', quoting the line from Planet of the Apes.

This episode was later aired in MSTF fashion at BotCon 2000.

How would cutting down a tree free the Maximals of the organic imbalance thing? It's like if you eat a poisoned fruit and you cut down the tree you would be healed.

For some reason, immediately after reformatting Nightscream can immediately transform despite haven't gone through the whole 'finding your balance' shtick, unlike the other Maximals who had to spend a lot of time relearning Transformation. Even Rattrap notes this.

Cheetor's comment that they only eat Energon isn't exactly true. In Beast Wars Rhinox eats wild beans (with hilarious implications), Rattrap once ate an apple, Dinobot ate his clone, Blackarachnia was about to eat a frog and Tarantulas eats mice, deer, Cheetors and anything that gets stuck in his web. But then Tarantulas is just creepy.

Blackjack 2011-01-08 04:23 PM

The Weak Component
Airdate: 23 October 1999
Written By: Rodney Gibbs
Japanese Title: The Promised Dawn

Optimus Primal, still exhausted after reformatting Nightscream, gets a cryptic dream. Meanwhile, Cheetor leads Nightscream and Rattrap to a manufacturing facility where they are attacked by Vehicons. Rattrap is sent to download data from the computers while the other two battle the Vehicon forces. The Maximals realize that when the Vehicon Generals are stunned, their drones stop operating as well, and began to plan an ambush. Megatron observes this from the citadel, orders the Diagnostic Drone to purge his organic DNA, despite the Drone's concerns. In the battlefield, Rattrap, unaware of Cheetor and Nightscream's game plan, finally transforms out of concern and attacks, spoiling Cheetor and Nightscream's ambush. Rattrap's interference also accidentally causes the factory's machinery to build Tank Drones at a faster rate. Things get more complicated as Rattrap realizes that his short robot mode has no weapons in robot mode.

Megatron takes control of some of the drones from his generals, eager to finish off the Maximals himself. Rattrap attempts to stop the drones' manufacture by linking into the central computer, but it makes himself a sitting duck for the jet drones. The resulting feedback causes a system failure, the explosion of the manufacturing plant and a blackout for the sector. The Maximals wisely retreat. Cheetor and Nightscream harshly chewed poor Rattrap out. In their base, Rattrap walks to a still sleeping Optimus, and talks to him, but the others arrive and Cheetor knocks Rattrap to the ground. The impact causes Rattrap to replay his downloaded data, which reveals that Megatron is affected and weakened by the surge earlier. Cheetor brushes it off. Rattrap later listens as the other Maximals discuss about how Rattrap is being a burden. Bitter and angry, Rattrap leaves the Maximals. Rattrap travels to Megatron's citadel, where the Vehicon leader lay pinned under some pieces of machinery. After a bit of bickering between the two, they work out a deal — Rattrap will defend Megatron for one night in exchange for a gigantic power suit.

Cheetor leads the other two Maximals to rescue Rattrap. However, Rattrap was forced to honour his word, firing on the Maximals. As this happens Megatron began to reboot, taking control over Cybertron again. The Maximals and Rattrap are at a stand-off when a weakened Optimus Primal arrives, still exhausted, and tells Rattrap to look within himself, and that he is stronger inside than anyone realize. Megatron orders Rattrap to attack Optimus, but Rattrap points out that the sun has risen, and their bargain is dissolved. Instead of sending the Vehicons after the Maximals, Megatron upholds his word and lets the Maximals walk out, noting that he will liberate the Maximals' sparks another day.

Featured Transformers: Jet Drones, Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Tank Drones, Megatron, Blackarachnia, Tankor, Nightscream, Cheetor, Diagnostic Drone, Cycle, Thrust, Jetstorm

I am of two parts about this. On one hand, Rattrap, Megatron and Cheetor are so drastically different from their previous portrayals. On the other hand, this is a great character development episode for Rattrap, something that involves putting the character in a situation that involves temptation and whatnot. The build-up was great, especially since we have seen Rattrap's frustration across several episodes. Rattrap was genuinely trying to help Cheetor and Nightscream, and have finally transformed after five episodes of not being able to do so. However, he screwed up the ambush, discovered that his robot mode is lame and weaponless, and to top it all, his old pal Cheetor and snotty new brat Nightscream talk you down. And when you try to quietly sulk to someone you can trust like Primal, your old pal Cheetor knocks you down again. And then you hear them discuss on how useless you are. It is a nice reason to make Rattrap snap, and I for one have no trouble with the fact that he would make a mistake in decisions after that. The writers are really that good, and Scott McNeil is such a great voice actor that you could almost imagine Rattrap breaking down into tears. This is the kind of change-of-personas that would've worked, instead of shite like IDW's Spotlight Prowl.

What I have a problem with is what happened afterwards. It's so full of plot holes. Rattrap sees Megatron pinned by pillars, with the Vehicon troops nowhere to see. So does he strangle Megatron? No, he makes a deal with the guy who wiped out Cybertron's population and caused them untold grief in Beast Wars. This bit is more out of character than anything else. And when he gets the gun, does he shoot Megatron? No? Well, Maximal honour. But his friends come? Does he round them up to finish off the Vehicons once and for all? No, he SHOOTS them. Shoots them for crying out loud, when he had been the most paranoid and distrustful Maximal in Beast Wars and indeed the rest of this show. Sure, he's pissed off at them, but Rattrap has always been a staunch supporter of the Maximals, right?

While Rattrap's actions could be handwaved as circumstantial snapping, the same could not be said for Cheetor and Megatron. Cheetor becomes a bastard who doesn't hear to what his old and trusted friend Rattrap has to say, despite the two being practically best friends in Beast Wars. And this one has no excuse. I mean, Cheetor himself had gone through something similar in 'Feral Scream', right? Bloody selfish cat. And Megatron? He regains his power, the Vehicon generals are back, and the Maximals are honourable enough not to come in and shoot him while he's down? The guy who wouldn't let Dinobot II say the 'H-word'? Does he order his troops to take down the Maximals? No, he keeps his end of the bargain. What. I mean, this is Beast Wars Megatron, for crying out loud! The first half of the episode up to Rattrap's meeting with Megatron was good, bar the action scenes with anime streaky lines, as is Optimus talking Rattrap down near the end. Everything else will leave anyone watching the show closely to go 'huh?'

(Six out of Ten)

The first of Optimus Primal's prophetic dreams from the Oracle. These symbolic dreams actually have meaning instead of being just padding, but right now they are annoying.

If the Vehicon General is stunned or damaged, their corresponding drones likewise malfunction.

As of this episode, Rattrap can freely transform between his robot and beast modes. Not that it does him any good in battles, mind.

This would mark the start of Rattrap's character arc. Namely to make up for his weakness in robot mode and compensate for them with his agility, gadgets and stuff. By the same token, Rattrap has replaced Rhinox in this series as the group's tech-head.

Megatron's dialogue as Rattrap walks towards him, 'so this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a simpering... rodent', is a misquote of of T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Hollow Men'.

This episode features one of the few times in Beast Machines where the setting is not night, namely the sunrise.

Well, there is Rattrap and Megatron's character inconsistencies. Rattrap, usually one of the most pragmatic and distrustful of the Maximals, sells out his team for a battlesuit. Just out of frustration. And he doesn't simply strangle Megatron when he's disabled and at his mercy.

Megatron, meanwhile, makes a big deal out of honour, despite him always resorting to dirty tricks, and having knocked Dinobot II aside just for using the 'H-Word' before.

When Rattrap says 'gangway!', Jetstorm's mouth angles upwards as he turns towards the camera.

Art inconsistency — Nightscream is coloured in his original beast mode paintscheme (without the techno-organic blue paint) when they discuss Rattrap's robot mode.

When Megatron appears via floating viewscreens to try and convince Rattrap when he faces off against Maximals, Meggy's mouth stops moving before the dialogue finishes.

Where did Jetstorm, Tankor and Thrust disappear off to when Megatron needed them?

If one listens closely, when Rattrap says 'not when I'm standing' near the end of the episode, Scott's voice slips into his Silverbolt voice instead of his Rattrap voice.

So why didn't Rattrap take the giant power suit with him?

Blackjack 2011-01-26 09:29 AM

Revelations, Part I: Discovery
Airdate: 30 October 1999
Written By: Brynne Chandler Reaves
Japanese Title: The Power of Love

The Maximals are chased by Thrust and the Cycle drones, but Optimus Primal ruptures several coolant tanks, flooding the tunnel in which they were fighting in. Rattrap nearly gets himself swept away but Blackarachnia and Nightscream saves him. The Maximals make their way to the surface, but they were astounded to find bodies of hundreds of Cybertronians in some sort of dumping ground. Rattrap examined the remains and found out that the sparks were not extinguished but rather removed. Jetstorm, Thrust and Tankor arrive, and the Maximals stand and fight. During the battle, Thrust, for some reason, rescues Blackarachnia from a Jet Drone, causing a building to collapse on the two of them in the process.

The other Maximals and Vehicons recover from the crash and note that the coolant fluid they used to flood the tunnel earlier was meant to cool down the factory's machineries, and without it the factory would soon explode. Optimus tries to free Blackarachnia, while Cheetor and Nightscream question Optimus' actions. Blackarachnia wakes up in some sort of lower level, and sees Thrust rolling up to her. Again, Thrust saves her from a collapsing rubble. Blackarachnia asks the Vehicon why, to which Thrust tells Blackarachnia that it was his mistake and that it won't happen again.... only for Thrust to save Blackarachnia from a train moments later. Thrust has unclear flashbacks of having his spark extracted, and then memories of Blackarachnia during the Beast Wars. Blackarachnia and Thrust walk deeper into the factory, and inadvertently activates a giant spark extractor drone, which grabs them and tries to extract their sparks.

Thrusts knocks Blackarachnia out of the way and his spark is torn out of him. Blackarachnia, suspecting that Thrust is in fact Silverbolt, attacks and shuts down the spark extractor drone, releasing Thrust's spark. Blackarachnia realizes that this was the place where the Cybertronian bodies above had been de-sparked. The other Maximals knock out Tankor and Jetstorm, and finds Blackarachnia and Thrust. Thrust flees, much to Blackarachnia's disdain. Optimus mourns his inability of saving all the lost bodies. Cheetor sees that Optimus seems to be losing it, and orders a retreat. The Maximals get out of the factory as it explodes. Afterwards, Cheetor takes command back from Optimus Primal, and Blackarachnia tells the other Maximals that Thrust had Silverbolt's spark. The Maximals realize that their war had became more difficult now that they cannot kill their enemies...

Featured Transformers: Rattrap, Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Thrust, Cycle Drones, Silverbolt (vision), Jetstorm, Jet Drones, Tankor, Rhinox (flashback), the Spark Extractor Drone

So we begin the Revelations three-parter. It's a nice change of pace after several filler episodes to set up the guerilla warfare mood. However, such dark and fast-paced writing isn't exactly something that would appeal to Saturday morning cartoon kids, which, while making Beast Machines great fiction, would ultimately lead to its downfall. Still, it's a great episode. There are some places which feel like blatant padding like the whole 'fishing Rattrap out of coolant fluid' and the agonizingly long 'running away from fireball' sequence.

The revelations and complications given to us — that Thrust is apparently Silverbolt, that Megatron had stolen the sparks of everyone else, that the evil villains we saw were brave Maximals from the last show... if you aren't prepared, they would catch you unawares. It's great plot twisting, and the subplot of Cheetor and Nightscream thinking Optimus is still unfit to lead is nicely done. It was a bit cruel for Cheetor to wrestle leadership at the end. You could see the hurt on both their faces. As ugly as the BM Maximals may be, you have to admit that they were expressive.

The whole Blackarachnia-and-Thrust thing was well done, although not yet on par with Blackarachnia and Silverbolt on Beast Wars. The irony that the roles are reversed surely isn't lost to everyone? Although these won't mean anything to someone who hasn't watched Beast Wars, so... also, dialogue is kind of lacking in this episode, mostly introdumps and battle snarks other than Blackarachnia and Thrust. I do love Jetstorm's quirky jibes, though. While quite boring, it is a great set-up that couldn't be faulted.

(Seven out of Ten)

First and only appearance of the Spark Extractor Drone. The first time we see sparks being extracted from their bodies. It won't be the last. The CG model for the coolant fluid would be reused for the techno-organic goop we see later on in the series.

The models of G1 characters made for Beast Wars appear again as corpses. A Prowl coloured in his blue-replaces-black Marvel comics colour scheme is the most evident, and the Soundwave model seen earlier in Nightscream's flashback also appears. Since these guys are noticeably the size of the Beast Warriors, they aren't them.

In his flashback, Thrust recalls Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rhinox and Blackarachnia in their Beast Wars bodies.

When Thrust rolls up to Blackarachnia after his first save, his shadow is noticeably angled to look like that of Silverbolt's. Foreshadowing?

At one point Jetstorm says 'Gotta catch 'em all!', the catchphrase of the Pokemon franchise.

Thrust's dialogue about the 'positronic brain' is a reference to Isaac Asimov's works.

The colours of the other Cybertronian bodies that is not Marvel Prowl and not-Soundwave change from shot to shot.

At one point Rattrap's tail clips through his shoulders for a split second.

Blackjack 2011-02-05 12:03 PM

Revelations Part II: Descent
Airdate: 6 November 1999
Written*By: Marv Wolfman
Japanese Title: Memory of a Friend

Optimus Primal has a cryptic vision from the Oracle, seeing a bunch of plants become technological. He wakes up, finding that he's struggling against the Maximals; apparently he was screaming and trashing in his sleep. Cheetor has assumed command, and tells the Maximals that they must reach the brainwashed Maximal sparks from the Vehicon generals, and if possible, reformat them into techno-organic bodies to join the Maximal fold. Despite Blackarachnia's wishes to go after Thrust first, they decide to go after the slow and dumb Tankor. They split up, Blackarachnia and Nightscream distracting Thrust and Jetstorm respectively, while Cheetor and Rattrap will try to return Tankor to whomever he was before.

They find the three Vehicon generals in a spaceport, and Nightscream soon engages Jetstorm. Blackarachnia, meanwhile, appeals to Thrust to his past, causing the Vehicon to have flashbacks. Meanwhile, Cheetor and Rattrap, after a lengthy game of distraction and collateral damage, manages to get Rattrap to interface with Tankor's mind, and access the Vehicon's memories, which, at first Rattrap thought to be his. The Maximals are in the Autobot shuttle, but mid-flight Megatron broke free and was sucked away. The shuttle returns into Cybertron, and was shot down by missiles. Flash forward some time later, and the Maximals are running away from tank drones, who fire green gas from canisters which causes the Transmetals to be reverted back into their original beats modes. Silverbolt is paralyzed on the ground. The owner of the memories then sees the reflection of Rhinox from a nearby tank drone...

Cheetor and Rattrap conclude that Tankor is Rhinox. Jetstorm, meanwhile, manages to bury Nightscream under rubble and confronts Thrust and Blackarachnia, accusing the former of treachery. Jetstorm forces Thrust to prove his loyalty by removing Blackarachnia's spark. Nightscream arrives to back Blackarachnia up, but in the ensuing struggle Nightscream gets pinned under rubble, while Jetstorm extracts Blackarachnia's spark...

Featured Transformers: Optimus Primal, the Oracle, Megatron (flashback), Blackarachnia, Cheetor, Rattrap, Nightscream, Tank Drones, Jet Drones, Thrust, Jetstorm, Tankor, Rhinox (flashback)

As the second part of a three-parter, Descent is a great episode. It gives a great introdump on what has happened between BW and BM, thus dissolving a mystery. The whole planning stage to reach Tankor is well done. Many scenes in this episode are wonderful. Cheetor assuming command role when Optimus isn't fit, Nightscream and Jetstorm's counter-jibes, Blackarachnia applying to Thrust's inner good, Rattrap's frustration at subduing Tankor... A great episode. Very little fault to be found here, in terms of plot, dialogue, pacing and everything else. The surprise twist of Tankor being Rhinox... well, I didn't see that coming. It came as much a surprise, especially with the reveal being drawn out slowly, with the bluff that the memories being Rattrap's.

Reality check, though, since the review's short (the good episode doesn't leave much to talk about. It's just good). The plot of the series is intelligent, dark and thought-provoking. However, to the seven year old kids that expect a fun, campy series like G1 or Beast Wars, this isn't really working as a kid's show. As an older fanboy it is a great piece of fiction, possibly in my opinion one of the best in terms of characterization, but it isn't something accessible to little kids. I mean, they don't ever get the time travel aspect of the show, much less the reprogrammed part stuff. Which, I suppose, was what led to the series' shorter run compared to Beast Wars or G1. Still, there's no denying how good the series is.

(Nine out of Ten)

First appearance of the portable spark extractor.

Technically, this episode features the first appearance of Rhinox since his disappearance from the beginning of Beast Wars. The Tankor personality is stated to be a 'shell program', but it is arguable whether it is an AI, a wholly different being, or a split personality of Rhinox's.

We get to see what exactly happened between the end of Beast Wars and the beginning of Beast Machines.

We see another one of Optimus Primal's cryptic visions here. This time the vision had Optimus swinging around in an organic world, seeing a bunch of Sparks flying around, a bunch of vines catch Optimus, then the organic becomes fully engulfed by Megatron's technology.

In Thrust's flashbacks, we see Optimus Primal, Blackarachnia, Cheetor and Rhinox in their season three bodies.

Since Megatron had broken free of the Autobot shuttle while they were still in Transwarp jump, he presumably arrived on Cybertron some time earlier than the Maximals, allowing him to conquer the planet in the interim. Time travel is complex stuff, kids!

The green gas that is seen during the flashback is presumably a version of the transformation virus. To Transmetals, it de-volves them (if it makes sense) into their pre-Transmetal forms, then locks them in their alternate mode. Silverbolt and Rhinox, meanwhile are paralyzed and are unable to move, being locked in their robot modes instead.

It's worth noting that Silverbolt and fellow Fuzor Quickstrike had previously been able to resist the Vok's Metal Hunter weapon that did not affect Transmetals. Presumably the properties that saved him then wasn't enough now.

Presumably, as of now nearly all memory gaps are filled in, and the Maximals are up-to-date with events as much as the audience.

When trying to calm Optimus down, Cheetor's feet clip into the floot.

Again, Thrust is miscoloured as one of the Cycle Drones when he first enters the battlefield.

So why didn't the Maximals fight back? Transmetals have previously been shown to be insanely powerful, especially Blackarachnia and Cheetor. Even if they didn't, surely assuming vehicle modes or beast modes would let them escape the Vehicons easily?

Again, the problem of Optimus Primal somehow turning into his pre-Transmetal body.

Blackjack 2011-02-06 02:47 AM

Revelations Part III: Apocalypse
Airdate: 13 November 1999
Written*By: Steven Melching
Japanese Title: Mission of the Stars

Jetstorm has extracted Blackarachnia's spark and flies off towards Megatron's Citadel. Nightscream flies off in pursuit. Meanwhile, in their underground base Optimus tells the Oracle that he couldn't understand the visions, only to be granted with another disturbing one. Meanwhile, as Cheetor and Rattrap discuss about getting Rhinox back, Tankor regains consciousness, and begans to go all 'Tankor destroy!' The Maximals try to reason with Tankor, but the duo are forced to flee as Tankor and the tank drones began to pursue the Maximals, involving lots of destruction as they jump around archs. Elsewhere Nightscream manages to snatch Blackarachnia's spark back from a distracted Jetstorm. The two have an aerial chase, which continues into a building until Nightscream drops an elevator on Jetstorm.

Nightscream returns to Blackarachnia's body, only to find Thrust carrying the body. The two battle, and Nightscream manages to disable Thrust with his vampire fangs. Blackarachnia's consciousness, meanwhile, finds herself floating in a white void, and she encounters Optimus Primal. Ptimus tells her that her spark must've been separated from her body. In the real world, Nightscream tries to force Blackarachnia's spark back into her body. However, this action causes Blackarachnia to panic and run in the void, something that the spark also does in the real world. Optimus calms her down, and this allows Nightscream to catch her spark and return it to her body. Meanwhile, Tankor knocks down all the arches like dominoes, and Tankor holds Cheetor at gunpoint. Cheetor begs Tankor to remember who he is... prompting the Vehicon to have a mental struggle and scream.

Optimus Primal hears this on his meditative position, and finds himself in a field with long grass, face-to-face with Rhinox. However, the bitter and angry Rhinox tells Optimus that he prefers to side with Megatron, with Megatron's vision of a technological utopia being closer to peace than their constant war. Optimus is then jerked back into reality. Nightscream and Blackarachnia arrive to Cheetor's aid, disabling all the Tank Drones. The four Maximals offer to help Tankor, but he replies in Rhinox's voice that he doesn't need their help. Apparently Rhinox has been conscious all the time, but is suppressed by the Tankor personality the whole time. He also announces that Megatron is Cybertron's only hope. The Maximals wonder is Rhinox's spark had been corrupted. They pin Tankor-Rhinox to the ground, and Cheetor orders Rattrap to reprogram Rhinox... but they are stopped from doing so by Optimus Primal, who tells them that Rhinox had made his choice. Rhinox leaves. Back at their base, Optimus gives a speech about how the Matrix sent them to prehistoric Earth for a reason: to restore nature to Cybertron.

Featured Transformers: Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Jetstorm, Thrust, Cheetor, Rhinox/Tankor, Rattrap, Optimus Primal, the Oracle, Tank Drones

Not as good as the last episode, mainly because the spark-chasing sequence and Blackarachnia floating around is blatant padding to the main focus of this episode, namely Optimus Primal confronting Rhinox's spark. And what a confrontation! You'd expect that after that outburst Rhinox would calm down and follow the good guys, right? After all, he had done so when he was Tankor in 'Mercenary Pursuits'. Dead wrong, and this had to be the best character twist I've ever seen. The gentle, flower-smelling, never-angry Rhinox now views the world in a different manner after his time as Rhinox. Bitter, he thinks that only by removing free will can peace arrive. It's so dark, and, well, if I were a little kid growing up loving Rhinox from Beast Wars last year I would've cried seeing him turn into a villain... but it's one of the best Heel Face Turns I've ever seen in any sort of fiction, and more realistic as well.

Optimus Primal, having been kept out of action from last episode, now appears as some sort of spirit guide to help Blackarachnia, and to confront Rhinox. That moment as Rhinox reveals to Optimus Primal, then to the other Maximals, that he chooses Megatron... oh, that had to be one of the best well-scripted parts anywhere. And that moment where Cheetor basically tells Rattrap to reprogram Rhinox — with dialogue that eerily mirrors that of Megatron's in Beast Wars — it's so dark that it hurts to remember that this was meant to be a kids' show.

Thrust's slight enigmatic developments is handled well, and Rattrap is developing nicely to become the team's resident hacker and tech support. However, Nightscream is proving to be more of a pest this episode, and the whole Blackarachnia sequence is hinging on banality. Still, a great installment.

(Seven out of Ten)

Rhinox's true spark has been awakened, but thoughts of being abandoned, as well as the belief that harmony cannot exist with war — which, in turn, is only prolonged by individuality — makes Rhinox think that Megatron's way is the correct way. From now on, no more Tankor. Only Rhinox in Tankor's body.

Rhinox's dialogue confirms that Tankor is a separate personality. From his dialogue the Tankor personality suppresses Rhinox. While Rhinox is aware of what he is doing, he wasn't able to do anything. Presumably his time being stuck with Tankor in the driving seat has changed his viewpoint on life (as well as his hatred on his former friends for not helping him, presumably?).

Rhinox's character model and voice actor makes an appearance in this episode. Richard Newman voices Rhinox similarly to how he voiced the brainwashed Rhinox in 'Dark Designs', with a harsher undertone.

Another one of Optimus Primal's visions, this time again of plants being turned technological... but the plants have the Maximals' faces. Creepy.

After destroying several Tank Drones, Nightscream calls them 'Tonka toys', a take that to Tonka, the company that produced GoBots, the Transformers' primary competitors during the G1 era.

Tankor uses the buzzsaws on his arms that the toy has.

Cheetor references the turbo jets from his first Transmetal form.

Rattrap name-drops the Predacons. This is the only time the faction name is spoken in the entire series.

The size of Blackarachnia's spark relative to Nightscream and Jetstorm fluctuates slightly from frame to frame. It also cuts through the spark extractor at one point.

At one point Rattrap's red bits on his face is missing.

Blackjack 2011-02-09 01:56 PM

Airdate: 27 November 1999
Written*By: Brynne Chandler Reaves
Japanese Title: The Innards of the Machine

Megatron rages at another setback in purging his organic form. The Diagnostic Drone suggests capturing Nightscream so they could study the process by which the Maximal has scanned an organic body then reverse it. Megatron sends the Vehicon Generals and the Diagnostic Drone to the underground tunnels. Meanwhile, the Maximals try to help Nightscream unlock his memories, and discover that Nightscream has an inbuilt DNA scanner, the replacement to the stasis pods. Nightscream mocks the Beast Wars, causing some tension between him and Rattrap. The Maximals then puzzle how organic DNA — like wherever Nightscream scanned his bat mode and where the tree they saw earlier came from. They decide to return to the chamber where they found the tree. However, it is sealed off and their attempt to break it draws the attention of the Vehicons. During the battle Thrust and Blackarachnia do not fire at each other again. Tankor and Jetstorm knock out all the Maximals, and when they come to Nightscream is gone.

Meanwhile, Nightscream is stuffed into a CR tank. The Diagnostic Drone is fascinated by Nightscream's physiology and claims they will be able to purge Megatron's beast form. The Drone enters the regeneration chamber, but is blasted point-blank by Nightscream's sonic scream. Thrust and Jetstorm pursue the fleeing Maximal while Tankor digs out the Diagnostic Drone. Tankor hides in some rubble to evade the Maximals, and confronts the Diagnostic Drone, revealing his — Rhinox's — awareness. Rhinox explains that he understood that Megatron's plan has more merit, with the only problem being Megatron himself. Rhinox intends to replace Megatron at the head of Cybertron... and then proceeds to reprogram the Diagnostic Drone, giving him the task of tracking down a particular energy signature.

The Maximals arrive to help Nightscream. Optimus Primal flies off after Nightscream to calm him down while the other Maximals battle the Vehicons. Blackarachnia hesitates in attacking Thrust, allowing the Vehicons to escape. Nightscream and Optimus Primal arrive in a soil-and-rock cave staring at the skeletons of a bat that Nightscream had scanned to survive Megatron's purge. Nightscream angsts on why he was the only survivor, while Optimus is amazed at the evidence of organic life. The Vehicons arrive but Nightscream's sonic cry blasts them away, revealing more bones in the process. Nightscream regrets not telling other Transformers about the cave. Optimus plants the seed of the fruit that Rattrap had found prior. At the Citadel, the reprogrammed Diagnostic Drone explains to Megatron that this most recent failed purge is probably because of Megatron's subconscious desire. After it is dismissed, it contacts Tankor-Rhinox to report. Rhinox has found himself at the location where the Drone has tracked the energy signature... the Oracle.

Featured Transformers: Diagnostic Drone, Megatron, Jetstorm, Thrust, Tankor/Rhinox, Blackarachnia, Cheetor, Nightscream, Rattrap, Optimus Primal, Cycle Drones (vision), Jet Drones (vision), Tank Drones (vision), the Oracle

Good lord, Nightscream is a real dick. That insensitive bit where he basically disses off all the Maximals' work in the Beast Wars... there's absolutely no reason for him to do that. And not even the narmtastic revelation that he's an emo guilt-ridden kid could really make me feel sorry for Nightscream. He feels like a horrible fan character — a faux-angsty past, actually gets on my nerve, disses other characters like he owns the show, has a stupid-looking spit-curl, and is horrendously overpowered. Why bother having five members on the team when Nightscream's sonic attack can blow everyone away?

Optimus Primal's beginning to delve into fanaticism. See how he is more interested at seeing the fossil, before he goes off to comfort Nightscream. Blackarachnia and Thrust, likewise, continues the dance of their reluctance to shoot each other. Megatron, Jetstorm, Rattrap and Cheetor continue to build up on their characterization. I don't think I've mentioned it, but Jetstorm's so much fun! A nice contrast from the either crazy or bumbling Predacons, to have this mean-streaked, wiseass bastard as a villain.

The main plot, Nightscream's story, is uneventful and uninteresting, and could've been told as part of the flashback in 'Forbidden Fruit'. However, the Diagnostic Drone is golden. Amazing how something that's basically a ball with wings and hands can emote so well, something that puts much of TF: Energon and Cybertron, released some eight years later, to shame. Rhinox-Tankor, meanwhile, is shaping up nicely as an anti-hero. He genuinely believes that a wholly technological Cybertron would be good (any self-respecting G1 fanatic would nod their heads vigorously) but knows that Megatron is evil and stuff, so he thinks he can be a better leader. But by doing so he's delving deeply into power-hungriness himself. Check out that sinister 'meeee' at the end of his Nazi monologue. And that surprise reveal that Rhinox knows about the Oracle, unsurprising when you think about it, is a great plot twist. I am massively liking the Tankor-Rhinox plot, since the Maximals leave much to be desired for now.

(Seven out of Ten)

The organic tree, obviously, was from the episode 'Forbidden Fruit'. Nice cryptic parallel to the Oracle's mysterious 'seeds of the future' thing, no?

Apparently Nightscream (and possibly the rest of the Maximals as well) has accelerated healing abilities. By accelerated it would be compared to us normal flesh-and-blood organisms, I guess. Also, CR chambers do nothing to the techno-organic Nightscream.

Nightscream mentions that everyone eschews the stasis pods in favour of inbuilt scanners in the 'Quantum Cycle Upgrade', so they can scan alternate modes on the fly. Evidently with the purge with Megatron this doesn't matter.

Rattrap name-drops the previous show's name (Beast Wars) as a term for the events of that series. He also references 'lost friends' in that war, most likely referring to Dinobot (and to a lesser extent Depth Charge, Tigatron and Airazor).

One of the monitors near the one showing Nightscream's body has the schematics of a floating Megatron head. Foreshadowing, yesss.

When Jetstorm attacks the Maximals, he says 'Honey, I'm home!', a recurring line from the '50s show I Love Lucy.

Nightscream's line 'alone again, naturally', is a reference to the song of the same name by Gilbert O'Sullivan.

The montage with Rhinox envisioning himself at the head of Cybertron, with his poses and that of the Vehicons, are very Nazi-esque.

You cannot get DNA from a fossil, no matter what Beast Wars or Spotlight Shockwave says.

Thrust uses the transformation code 'accelerate' instead of his usual 'overdrive'. Granted, accelerate does sound a lot cooler...

Everyone else also scanned organic bodies in Beast Wars, albeit they can still transform into robot modes, unlike Nightscream initially. Why can't Megatron pull out records of that and reverse it?

Blackjack 2011-02-11 02:36 AM

The Key
Airdate: 4 December 1999
Written*by: Marv Wolfman
Japanese Title: The Silence of Iron

Rhinox and the Diagnostic Drone returns to the Oracle's chamber. Rhinox explains that the ancient Autobot supercomputer Vector Sigma is the same with the Oracle. However, what Rhinox really wanted to advance his plans is the Key of Vector Sigma, able to turn organics into 'technomatter'. Rhinox's attempts to enter the Oracle is violently rejected since he lacks a receptive spark. However, Rhinox deduces that a spark-less drone will be able to enter the Oracle and tosses the Diagnostic Drone inside. The Diagnostic Drone reappear, holding a string of codes that materialize into the Key. Meanwhile, the Maximals attempt to drill for water in the fossil cave, but instead struck uncovers a green techno-organic goo that floods the cave, bringing to life the freshly-planted seeds into plants. Rhinox arrives, however, wielding the Key, and began to convert the entire orchard. An attempt to do the same to Optimus Primal is intercepted by Nightscream (surprisingly), reverting him to beast mode and began to trash wildly as he began to be converted into a wholly metallic body, something that is apparently contagious.

Rhinox gets ready for another shot, but the Key overloads him. The Diagnostic Drone and a bunch of Tank Drones drag Rhinox away to safety. Blackarachnia uses her webs to drop Nightscream into the pool of technoorganic goo, which eases Nightscream's pain and reverts the change on one of the plants. Cheetor suggests stealing one of Megatron's Mole Drones to drill to the organic core to fully cure Nightscream. In the Citadel, Megatron queries the Diagnostic Drone on Tankor's sudden death, and orders the Drone to extract information from Tankor's head... Meanwhile, Optimus, Cheetor and Rattrap sneak up to the home warehouse of Mole Drones, only to be attacked by Cycle Drones, and subsequently Megatron's new upgrade to Cybertron — the buildings are now all under his control as well. The Maximals shatters one of Megatron's massive display screens to land inside the Mole Drones' warehouse, which is now flying. Cheetor and Optimus argue about tactics the whole time.

Meanwhile, in the fossil cave, Nightscream becomes increasingly unstable, and Blackarachnia became infected as well. Meanwhile Megatron tilts the warehouse to the side, knocking Cheetor unconscious and letting everyone inside drop out of the sky. Rattrap manages to hack into a Mole Drone, drilling as they hit the ground. The trio go into the fossil cave, but the Mole Drone breaks free and opens fire on the Maximals. This is made worse by the insane Nightscream and Blackarachnia beginning to divebomb them. The infected Maximals nearly touches Rattrap and Cheetor, but Optimus Primal had wrestled the Mole Drone to drill down, which showers the orchard with goo, curing the change. Cheetor and Optimus, again, argue among themselves. Cheetor finally spills out that he demands respect, and the two agree that they can't have two leaders. The other Maximals can only watch helplessly. Elsewhere, the Diagnostic Drone and a group of tank drones bear the dead body of Tankor to an undisclosed location. The Drone addresses... the real Tankor, online and well. Having faked his own death, he takes the Key from the hard-light double, revelling in his possession of the key to a new Cybertron...

Featured Transformers: Rhinox/Tankor, Diagnostic Drone, the Oracle, Nightscream, Rattrap, Cheetor, Blackarachnia, Optimus Primal, Tank Drones, Megatron, Cycle Drones, Mole Drones, Thrust, Jetstorm

Here we go, this is much better. Rhinox (I find it more natural to refer to him as Rhinox, so bear with me) plays both sides so well, pirouetting across the Vehicons and Maximals like a chessmaster. By faking his own death, and possibly letting Megatron gain an advantage... well, it's so well thought-out. The Diagnostic Drone is more charming than a non-entity has any right to be. You never see Teletraan-1 do that, have you? The tie-in with G1 episodes of Vector Sigma is well done, and with Rhinox explaining what the hell is going on we don't need to have a bachelorate in G1 to understand this episode. Rhinox is simply golden here.

Nightscream is no longer as irritating as before, but then he spends the better half of the episode as a crazed lunatic. Besides, both Nightscream and Blackarachnia gets shafted for the three-man band of Optimus, Cheetor and Rattrap. Optimus Primal and Cheetor constantly bicker about tactics, no doubt tensions left over from the 'Revelations' three-parter. It is a great character development for Cheetor, something that accentuates an organic growth from a wide-eyed over-enthusiastic soldier (BW season one) to a competent soldier (BW season two) to a rebellious teen (BW season three) and now to someone who can stand up for himself to question his leader's increasingly erratic choices. Had Beast Machines not featured Cheetor like this, I would've lumped Cheetor with 'always there but had nothing special' characters like, say, Armada Hot Shot or BW Terrorsaur. Rattrap, meanwhile is the only sane man between the trio, forced to be the middle man between his fighting friends. Anyone whose parents had fought when you were little would sympathize with him.

Megatron taking control of the buildings is ten levels of awesome (even though it fails to do anything but rule of cool), making him more like plugged in to Cybertron itself. It increases the danger levels to the Maximal's guerilla warfare. Sadly, the sequence with the Mole Drone at the end isn't that great. We're also introduced to techno-organic goop and the orchard, two things that would bring the plot forwards. Let's hope next episode can keep up this sort of standard. I'm rooting for Rhinox, by the way, not Megatron or the Maximals.

(Nine out of Ten)

The Oracle is Vector Sigma, the semi-sentient supercomputer that gives life to Transformer shells in G1. Sparks, if you will, with the retcon in Beast Wars. In Japan, Primacron's Assistant seen in the episode 'Call of the Primitives' has also been lumped as the same entity as Vector Sigma and the Oracle. That raises more complications that I would bother listing.

The Key to Vector Sigma, and indeed Vector Sigma itself, was introduced in the G1 Season Two two-parter 'The Key to Vector Sigma' episode. While in that episode the Key's effect of transforming organic into metal ('technomatter' according to Rhinox here) was unforseen, it is treated as normal here. The change into metal is contagious now, too, and drives them crazy.

Note that the Key of Vector Sigma is made from a string of data. It will be an important piece of foreshadowing later on.

The first appearance of the techno-organic goop from Cybertron's organic core. This would basically be one of the plot devices of the series. It's something of a healing element that cures all total-mechanical transformations, a super fertilizer and would later be able to contact the Maximal sparks inside the Vehicon generals. I just wish it's got a better name than 'goo' or 'goop'. Also, first appearance of the orchard.

While we're on the subject of it, technically the notion of Cybertron not being entirely metal had been explored during the Marvel comics, where Cybertron's origin was when Primus' essence crash-landed on an asteroid, and he built it into Cybertron. It's not inconceivable that there were living organic things that were accidentally killed by Primus. If the cartoon, well, the Quintessons built it so there must be some crazy brouhaha around. Plus, we've seen Techno-organics in the cartoon and Demons in the comics.

Megatron is hardwired to the buildings now, as if a legion of Drones isn't enough. Gives him lots of monologue opportunities, yeees.

Rhinox mockingly calls Optimus Primal 'old friend', something Optimus constantly calls Rhinox during Beast Wars.

The way that building falls through the air is too similar to Dorothy's house in the tornado from The Wizard of Oz to be a coincidence.

At the end of last episode Rhinox/Tankor has already been in the Oracle. Why does he act surprised with the holographic flame thing?

How the heck did a big bulky thing like Tankor leap up to the Oracle like that?

At the end of the episode, Tankor's headlights (those yellow lights on the side of his head) are missing.

Why bother using a hard-light hologram instead of just repainting one of the Tank Drones?

Doesn't Megatron put any trackers inside Tankor's body? Although considering Rhinox's know-how he would've disabled them...

Blackjack 2011-02-11 10:50 PM

The Catalyst
Airdate: 11 December 1999
Written By: Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg
Japanese Title: The Water of Life

The Maximals hold a memorial service for Rhinox in the orchard. Megatron, likewise, asks Jetstorm and Thrust about Tankor, and his actions prior to his 'death'. Unknown to both sides, Rhinox/Tankor is spying them. The Diagnostic Drone informs Megatron of Tankor's discovery of the Key of Vector Sigma. The Drone suggests attaching the Key to the drones to purge Cybertron of all organic matter. The Drone also tells Megatron that the Key will eliminate his Beast Mode, but accidentally blurts out Rhinox's rambling on how it would also drive Megatron insane. Although suspicious, Megatron orders copies of the Key to be attached to Cycle and Jet drones on a test drive against the Maximals. In the orchard, Rattrap uses tries to search for more techno-organic goop with the computers they salvaged. Blackarachnia approaches Rattrap and convinces him to let her take some of the goo to try turn Thrust back into Silverbolt. While Blackarachnia goes off to hunt Thrust, Rattrap has managed to turn up a catalyst program on the orchard. The catalyst program works better than before, however, creating large vines that ensnare Rattrap until the other Maximals rescue him. Blackarachnia locates Jetstorm and Thrust (being led on a wild goose chase by the Diagnostic Drone), and manages to seize Thrust and carry him off.

Optimus tells Rattrap to try his experiments on a smaller scale, but Cheetor and Nightscream thinks that the fast-growing vines would be a great weapon against Megatron. Optimus goes off to commune with the Oracle. Aboveground, Blackarachnia manages to knock out Jetstorm, and leads Thrust into a secluded location. She forces the organic goo onto a bound Thrust, bringing up his true personality... Waspinator. While slightly dizzy, Waspinator claims to have been bored on prehistoric Earth and flew back to Cybertron (whilst in reality the protohumans apparently rebelled against him). Blackarachnia is furious and disappointed that she spent all the effort for someone that is not Silverbolt. However, Jetstorm flies into the room, and the goo gets spilled onto him. Jetstorm's old personality also comes out, and it is Silverbolt. Meanwhile, while Optimus tries to access the Oracle, Rattrap confides in Cheetor and Nightscream about Blackarachnia's plans. Cheetor decides to take charge.

Silverbolt and Waspinator, still disoriented about their awakening, fight over Blackarachnia. However, the Cycle and Jet drones, no longer under their conscious control, attack. They use the Key on the clueless Silverbolt and Waspinator, eliminating the goo and reverting them back into Jetstorm and Thrust. Before they can attack, a gigantic vine ridden by Cheetor, Rattrap and Nightscream arrives to rescue Blackarachnia. Megatron has been observing and orders the drones to fire on the huge vine with the Keys, changing into technomatter. The Maximals jump off it and frantically race back towards the orchard before the change could reach the orchard. Thankfully Optimus Primal spots the problem and began breaking the vines before the change could reach the orchard. He berates Cheetor for disobeying orders, and informs the Maximals that he believes the Oracle has been tampered with. Meanwhile, Rhinox, via the Diagnostic Drone, manages to convince Megatron to load the Key program into all of the drones, including the tank ones...

Featured Transformers: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Rattrap, Rhinox/Tankor, Thrust/Waspinator, Megatron, Jetstorm/Silverbolt, Diagnostic Drone, the Oracle, Cycle Drones, Jet Drones
Notable Others: Protohumans (flashback), Chak (flashback), Una (flashback)

Things fall apart slightly with the multiple plot threads demanding attention. All of the multiple plot threads across the episodes are now brought up in full force — Blackarachnia's search for Silverbolt, Rhinox and the Diagnostic Drone's machinations, Cheetor vying for leadership, the Oracle, Optimus' growing fanaticism, Megatron's increasing aggressiveness... it's about all the major character and plot related stuff barring Nightscream's angst and Rattrap's insecurities. However, when you have too many stuff there's only so much you can dogpile in one episode. The action scenes can't be faulted. Cheetor leading the other Maximals to rescue Blackarachnia on their own then sort-of screwing up... Rattrap confiding in Cheetor when it's clear Optimus has began to become engrossed with the Oracle... One of the most memorable scenes had to be the Maximals' sombre eulogy of Rhinox, and the Vehicons' own version: Megatron: 'Tell me about Tankor.' Thrust: 'Strong but dumb.' Jetstorm: 'Your army will shine less gloriously without him... can I have his tank drones?' Jetstorm's so snarky this episode that it's almost a shame to see him revert back to Silverbolt...

So Thrust turned out to be Waspinator instead of Silverbolt. In a show that's usually clear-cut, this is one of simply the best plot twists ever. I mean, if I had not been spoiled by reading ahead of time I wouldn't have expected the sudden change. However, the execution of the reveal of both Waspinator and Silverbolt feels kind of rushed and leaves somewhat something to be desired, unlike the dramatic reveal with Tankor-Rhinox. Both are in tiptop form, however... Waspinator's flashback is so funny, as is the two's confusion at seeing the Vehicon drones. The Key being duplicated for the Drones is a great idea, as is Megatron testing it on the Maximals before using it on himself. If only the rest of the episode were better...

The organic goo and catalyst program is hit-and-miss. Either you hate it or you tolerate it. The Diagnostic Drone repeating Rhinox's monologue and spoiling Rhinox's plans while talking to Megatron is so horribly stupid, and even moreso for Megatron not to immediately act on it. Though this is kind of keeping with his Beast Wars persona where he lets people like Tarantulas have free rein to see what those loose cannons have in mind. But for Rhinox to blurt out his plans so early after faking his death is kind of bad pacing. The most irritating thing, however, was that while the proper plot point — Silverbolt and Waspinator interacting with Blackarachnia — is not explored fully yet (we don't even know how Waspinator got back to Cybertron other than 'it took a long time') we get nearly a so overlong action sequence of Optimus Primal gaping and tearing the vines apart with static backgrounds. Still, while nowhere as good as previous instalments it's still watchable.

(Six out of Ten)

First proper appearance of Silverbolt and Waspinator. Silverbolt is trapped in Jetstorm, while Waspinator in Thrust. As of now, all the survivors of Beast Wars are accounted for.

The Protohumans from Beast Wars (including Chak and Una) make an appearance in the flashback.

Somehow Waspinator managed to travel from the past to the future, from Earth to Cybertron, by being catapulted from a palm tree by protohumans. Jokes aside, there is probably another storby meant to explain this that just haven't been told. The writers admitted that they planned to come up with and explanation but just didn't get to it. Other writers could've explained this in later stories released after Beast Machines, but, you know, they decide to do Shokaract stuff.

From this point on Thrust stops helping Blackarachnia. Also, the Maximals never make any interest in trying to bring Waspinator to the Maximal fold, despite Waspinator having defected from the Predacons at the end of Beast Wars.

It's worth noting that Waspinator was able to influence Thrust's actions when rescuing Blackarachnia. However, Silverbolt, who loved Blackarachnia, was did not do so, even later on when Blackarachnia directly appealed to Silverbolt. This raises some questions about both Waspy and Silverbolt...

The Key to Vector Sigma was a bunch of codes last episode, right? So now here it could be replicated so all the drones could have it.

The Maximals' techno-organic orchard had been furnished with proper goo distribution channels and stuff. Plus the catalyst program. Rattrap also has managed to scrounge up some old computers as well.

At the beginning of the episode the scar on Megatron's eye merrily switches positions between the right and left eyes.

Why would Megatron threaten a spark-less Diagnostic Drone with a spark extractor?

At several points Tankor's headlights disappear and reappear.

Both Silverbolt and Waspinator are initially unaware that they are in Vehicon bodies, or that they could control their drones. However, Rhinox was fully aware of what he did while being Tankor, and Waspinator was able to say that 'chick-bots dig brooding, loner bit', which describes Thrust. Maybe Waspy and Silverbolt aren't just as strong-willed as Rhinox?

Blackjack 2011-02-13 01:51 AM

End of the Line
Airdate: 18 December 1999
Written By: Steven Melching
Japanese Title: The End

Cheetor and Rattrap try and hack into Megatron's central computer to try and find out if Megatron had tampered with the Oracle, but are ambushed by Tank Drones. Rattrap throws some vine bombs at the Drones, and they escape. The Diagnostic Drone reports to Rhinox that the Key to Vector Sigma has been downloaded to all the Tank Drones. However, Rhinox finds out that he no longer has command of the Tank Drones. While this presented a setback, Rhinox has the Diagnostic Drone interact with the Oracle to give Optimus Primal a fake vision which tells him he must undertake his final journey. The Maximals walk through a city and reach a dead end. While they prepared to turn back, Optimus' eyes flow and he reveals a large entrance. A quick ride in the elevator leads them to the Plasma Energy Chamber, something that Optimus Primal believes the Oracle intends him to control.

A mole drone arrives, and sure enough, Optimus uses a bolt of plasma energy to vaporize the drone. He explains that plasma energy will overload any technological systems, and plans to shut down everything technological on the entire planet. However, Cheetor argues with Optimus, citing the fact that Optimus mentioned the Oracle seems to have been tampered with. Optimus shuts down the Plasma Energy Chamber, and they decide to use Cheetor's plan — use the vine grenades to keep the tank drones busy while Rattrap disables the large Key cannon. Rhinox, meanwhile, knows that Optimus would never use a doomsday weapon like the Plasma Energy Chamber, but Megatron would never take that chance. The Diagnostic Drone tells of the Maximals' discovery to Megatron, who deploys the Tank Drones around a huge weapon-like structure that rises from the surface. The Maximals attack, throwing the drones into disarray.

Rattrap tries to hack into Megatron's mainframe, but Rhinox attacks him with a Key weapon. Rhinox then orders the Diagnostic Drone to try and convince Megatron to fire the large Key cannon. However, Megatron has reached the same conclusion as Rhinox that Optimus would never use the Plasma Energy Chamber, and destroys the Diagnostic Drone. Rhinox charges away, raging that he will not be denied. While the other Maximals fall to the Key weapons, Optimus Primal rushes into the Citadel to confront Megatron. In his rage Megatron transforms into beast mode and the two battle. Optimus tries to reformat Megatron, but Rhinox arrives and blasts Optimus with the Key weapon. However, he is unable to fire at Megatron as well due to a failsafe. Megatron binds Rhinox in energy bonds and transforms back into robot mode, gloating that all his enemies have been defeated. However, Optimus Primal sends out a mental command to open the Plasma Energy Chamber. Surprised, Megatron fires the Key cannon. The conflicting energies create a large maelstorm. And before Optimus' eyes, his hand begins to disintegrate...

Featured Transformers: Cheetor, Rattrap, Tank Drones, Rhinox/Tankor, Diagnostic Drone (killed), Optimus Primal, the Oracle, Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Mole Drone, Megatron, Jet Drones, Cycle Drones, Thrust, Jetstorm

Unlike Beast Wars' more spectacular season-enders, other than the big doomsday weapon battle it's nowhere better any other Beast Machines episode. Tensions reach a breaking point as Rhinox's machinations pits Megatron and the Maximals against each other... then fell apart because of his overconfidence. It's kind of stupid to believe that he didn't think of a failsafe Megatron might have installed, and being tied up and silent as Optimus and Megatron confront each other is a poor exit for Rhinox.

On the other hand, Optimus Primal, Megatron and Cheetor are all golden in this episode, and Rattrap has his moment when Rhinox mercilessly shot him with a Key. Cheetor pointing out that the Oracle may be tampered with, and Optimus Primal's fanatical overconfidence before Cheetor pointing this out is well scripted. The Diagnostic Drone has an exit, stage left, however... for a non-entity it's got a good run, and it's a viable exit. The rest of the cast, however, got shafted aside for the moment.

The Plasma Energy Chamber... well, it's sort of a nice antithesis to the Key to Vector Sigma, although the G1 fanboy in me is happy, the whole doomsday weapon battle is kind of poorly executed after all the build up. The Maximals go down almost immediately, and off-screen to boot. Although considering things, it's just as well that they didn't use padding sequences. While there's nothing particularly wrong with this episode other than Rhinox's sub-par exit, it just feels unspectacular, somehow, and fails to live up to all the build-up the past episodes have given it. The Maximals being turned into metal doesn't really have the same impact that keeps you on the edge like any of the cliffhangers for the characters there like any of the season finales for Beast Wars.

(Seven out of Ten)

This episode marks the end of the first season of Beast Machines

The Plasma Energy Chamber was the titular plot device in the final episodes of the original cartoon, 'the Rebirth' three-parter, where the plasma energy was able to overload all mechanical Transformers. As with the Key to Vector Sigma there has been a little bit of the writers' own interpretation of the effects of the device.

The first appearance of Rattrap's vine grenades. You know, grenades that encase the Vehicons in fast-growing vines.

Apparently Megatron has suspected that Tankor has grown rogue all the way from 'The Key', and possibly the third part of 'Revelations' as well. If anything, the Diagnostic Drone's stupidity last episode would've confirmed Megatron's suspicions.

The last appearance of the blue-and-silver Diagnostic Drone, unfortunately. Another Diagnostic Drone (with a different voice actor) will appear later on in the series.

At one point Rattrap references 'Control-Alt-Delete', the shortcut in Windows computers to open the Task Manager for the uninformed. Go on, try it.

For the better part of the first half of the episode, Tankor is portrayed using the Tank Drone character model. Also, the headlights are missing several times as well.

The Plasma Energy Chamber looks a little bit different than how it looked like in G1 (but then, so did the Oracle).

The swirly maelstorm bit cuts through Megatron and Optimus Primal at one point.

Blackjack 2011-02-13 03:43 AM

Well, that's fast... I finished season one after my hiatus prior to the Revelations three-parter. Got distracted with the comic book stuff and a bunch of real life stuff.

Since I'm going to be watching RID and Armada (wish my sanity luck) cartoon episode reviews would probably be less frequent.

So what's after Beast Machines? If I have finished watching RID (damned Youtube!), I'll do it. But most likely I'll do Animated first before/if I tackle the bloody Unicron Trilogy, though.

Blackjack 2011-02-15 04:21 AM

Airdate: 9 February 2000
Written By: Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg
Japanese Title: The Cost of Victory

Optimus Primal and Megatron, caught in the storm caused by the activation of their respective superweapons. As this happens, Optimus Primal sinks into the Oracle, seeing a vision of Cybertron's destruction. A distraught Optimus blames Megatron, but a spectral image of Megatron appears and tells Optimus that Cybertron is doomed not because of him but of Optimus. Optimus then finds himself on prehistoric Earth, and is attacked by a red-eyed copy of himself who scolds Optimus for his fanaticism and pushes him off a cliff. Optimus finds himself floating in space, and the faces of all his Maximals tell him that he failed them. Optimus realizes that he must make his own decisions, not the Oracle. The Oracle tells him that his fate still lies with him. Rhinox's spirit then appears, comforting him. He has suffered the consequences for his actions and is now one with the Matrix. Optimus is greeted with flashes of mysterious Transformers, and finds himself back in the battle. Optimus Primal uses his Oracle-given powers to take control of both energies and directs them back into the Matrix itself. There is an explosion.

The Maximals awaken, finding them back in their techno-organic bodies, with all the Vehicon drones laying deactivated on the ground. They regroup and head to Megatron's throne room, finding all the combatants there dead. Megatron's body crumbles into dust, leaving only his control shell. Rhinox/Tankor's inert body falls to pieces upon being touched. While Optimus Primal is but a smear on the ground. Cheetor laments their leader, but Nightscream tells Cheetor that the other Maximal always wanted Optimus out of the way. Cheetor denies the fact, but reluctantly takes command. Once outside, Rattrap plugs into Cybertron's system, only to find that the planet is brain-dead. Jetstorm and Thrust attack them, but before they could fight properly Cheetor comes between the two forces, telling them that the war is over. Blackarachnia invites Jetstorm to their side, but both Vehicons leave.

Some time later the Maximals descend into the Oracle again, and is astounded to find Optimus Primal inside. Optimus asks his Maximals to forgive him for going to such extremes. The Maximals tell him that there is nothing to forgive, and Cheetor insists that Optimus not give up. But Optimus disappears anyway... in the void, he sees a swirl of sparks from past, present and future, inviting him into the afterlife: the Matrix. Optimus seems eager to enter, but at the last second he changes his mind. Optimus Primal steps out of the Oracle into the real world. The Oracle tells him that it has taught him everything. Around them techno-organic plants sprout up. Optimus explains to the Maximals of his fault: Cybertron was not to be a purely organic or purely technological world, but a balance between the two, just like their bodies. Just as the Maximals head above ground, however, they find themselves below a gigantic vessel shaped the image of Megatron's head...

Featured Transformers: Optimus Primal (killed and resurrected), the Oracle, Megatron (killed), Rattrap, Cheetor, Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Rhinox/Tankor (killed), Tank Drones, Jet Drones, Cycle Drones, Jetstorm, Thrust, Diagnostic Drone (flashback)
Vision: Noble, Obsidian, Strika, Silverbolt, Botanica

Well, there sure is a hell lot of visions here, aren't there? Thankfully they are so well-scripted that I don't mind at all. Now this is much more spectacular than the last episode, even though not much happens other than some heavy characterization on the part of Optimus Primal. But we'll get to that later. Poor Rhinox had the worst exit in the show, and he gets shafted with a one line and the Tankor body collapsing. At least the poor fella has made his peace, and he gets to apologise to Optimus Primal... Megatron not being mentioned after his death is on purpose. Does anyone believe Megatron would be killed off for good? Still, his body shattering into bits is well-animated. Rattrap's 'there is nothing to forgive' line is also especially touching. Cheetor gets lots of character development as well for the little screentime he got, with him grieving over his dead leader, while that jerk Nightscream tells him that he seems to want that to happen. Nightscream is such an unsymphatetic jackass.

I just pity the little five year olds watching the episode who surely have no clue why the good guys aren't fighting the bad guys but is just floating in space talking... Optimus Primal's character gets explored, and he is confronted with his guilt, his ego, his fanaticism... everything in the initial set of visions is so emotional to Optimus, from Cybertron being destroyed, from ghost-Megatron telling Optimus it's all his fault, to the disembodied heads of his friends telling Optimus he failed them... and ends with a determined Optimus Primal knowing what he has to do, and blows everyone up. That sombre mood as we pan across dead Vehicon drones, as well as when the Maximals descend to the Oracle...

It's well done, with perfect pacing and emotional exploration. Even the little goof with Beast Wars could be overlooked as Optimus' brain trying to rationalise things. Although that bit at the end where Optimus Primal somehow gets stuck floating in the Oracle looks rather silly. The whole finding the balance and the Oracle admonishing Optimus for being a fanatic is well done, though. It is excellent with a few quibbles, but very deep and dark. No doubt kids wouldn't get this episode.

(Eight out of Ten)

The last in-show appearance of Rhinox and of Megatron's cloaked body.

The first appearance of the Well of All Sparks/the Allspark/the Matrix (not to be confused with the Creation Matrix or the Matrix of Leadership), the Cybertronians' equivalent to valhalla.

Beast Wars is heavily mentioned here. There are some short clips from the show (the only one that isn't about the present Maximal crew was Silverbolt coming out of his pod), and there is a little retcon that the Oracle intended for them to go to prehistoric Earth to restore the organic to Cybertron. See goofs.

In the vision we see the beast mode heads of all the Maximals in all their previous bodies, even for Beast Wars, telling Optimus that he failed them. Nightscream, not appearing in Beast Wars, had to make do with his Technoorganic head and his not-so-technoorganic head prior to his reformat.

As Optimus exits the vision thing he gets a vision of future Transformers he'll meet as the show progresses. It's all very brief, though.

As the four Maximals head down to the Oracle with Blackarachnia's web, it is near-identical to the similar sequence in the first episode of Beast Machines, albeit with different bodies.

The gigantic Megatron head seen at the end of the episode has been foreshadowed in the episode 'the Cure' on the Diagnostic Drone's screen. While never named on-screen, additional pieces of fiction dubbed it the 'Grand Mal'. Fandom names include 'Big Floating Head' or Megabolt, the latter named after the toy released a couple years later.

Rhinox would be resurrected from the Matrix/Allspark in the Universe comic to make penance for his sins.

Jetstorm's line in rejecting the Maximals' offer of alliance is a misquote of the rock anthem 'Won't Get Fooled Again'. You know, 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'.

Beast Wars started, lest we forget, with Megatron going back in time to change history, while Optimus Primal's crew just happened to be around to pursue them. Unless the Oracle had given Megatron some nudges the whole 'Oracle sends Maximals to the past to collect organic DNA' is rubbish. Although since it is Optimus Primal's conclusion, and he isn't quite in his right frame of mind at that point...

The recap concludes with Optimus Primal's hand disintegrating, but adds an additional dialogue of 'if this is the will of the Matrix then so be it'. Last episode Optimus only stared in horror as his disintegrating hand.

Blackjack 2011-02-20 12:01 AM

Savage Noble
Airdate: 16 February 2000
Written By: Len Wein
Japanese Title: The Monster's Anguish

The Maximals stare up at the giant floating Megatron head, anticipating an attack... but it doesn't happen. A recon attempt by Nightscream is repelled by a force field. Optimus Primal suspects that even if Megatron survived, he couldn't do anything in the Grand Mal. Nevertheless if Megatron survived or not, Optimus Primal tries to contact Megatron's spark. The other Maximals try to find the Vehicons. They arrive in an area with a waterfall. There are battle marks, and the Vehicons appear, accusing the Maximals of ambushing them earlier. They have a face off, and Blackarachnia attempts to reach Silverbolt, but an eerie howling distracts the group. The Vehicons are convinced the Maximals didn't attack them earlier. As Cheetor leads all of them in a retreat, they are soon confronted by a two-legged, spiky dragon, which begans to spew fireballs at them. Meanwhile, Optimus Primal enters the spiritual plane and tries to contact Megatron. However, he is surrounded by multiple Megatron heads, laughing and tormenting him. This jars Optimus Primal back into reality, and suspects that whatever he contacted wasn't a sentient mind.

The dragon manages to knock out the Vehicons and buries the Maximals under rubble before slinking away. The Maximals track the dragon, but instead find a bipedal wolf hiding in the shadows. Nightscream suspects the wolf, who introduces himself as Noble, to be another survivor of Megatron's purge like him. The Maximals offer friendship, and Noble tells him his story, which is nigh identical to Nightscream's. But they are interrupted by Jetstorm and Thrust, who are hunting for the dragon (whom they dubbed Savage). While the Maximals and Vehicons are talking Noble disappears. The group tries to hunt down Noble, but is attacked by Savage. Nightscream is convinced Savage must've abducted Noble. After fending against some attacks Savage flies off. Optimus Primal arrives and orders the group to split up and hunt the creatures down.

Savage corners Rattrap, but doesn't kill him. Later on, the Maximals manage to trap Savage in a bridge. Optimus tries to calm Savage down by offering friendship, but the Vehicons arrive, intent on killing the creature. Savage retaliates and knocks away both Vehicons away above the horizon. Nightscream approaches Savage, who transforms into Noble, revealing that they are both the same being. Optimus Primal and Nightscream offers to help Noble, even though he tells them that he can't control his other side.

Featured Transformers: Megatron's Body, Blackarachnia, Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, Nightscream, Jetstorm, Thrust, Savage Noble, Tank Drones (flashback), Jet Drones (flashback)

A filler episode and a new character episode. It doesn't really stand up to the high standards the Beast era episodes set, and plot isn't really moved forwards here. The Noble Savage mystery, as well as the supposedly dramatic reveal that they are one and the same, falls flat. As is the supposed tense when they try to hunt Savage. It is repeated so many times along the episode that I was left wondering why can't they just kill the ugly dragon already. Noble is also uninteresting and a fairly generic character. Nightscream, too, isn't doing himself any favours, though at least this time he doesn't insult the Beast Wars again.

The dialogue in this episode is simplistic, and the plot is rather childish, something you'd expect from a G1 or Robots in Disguise episode. None of the excellent characterisation we saw for Optimus and Cheetor are seen here. The more interesting plot of whatever the deal is with Megatron's giant head floating around Cybertron is shelved aside. Poor Thrust and Jetstorm, too, suffer from a mixture of villain decay and New Toy Syndrome, being basically reduced to the stupid goons who get blown away by everything instead of the threat they are supposed to be. Like when Nightscream was first introduced, Savage is so horrendously overpowered that everything thrown at him short of the power of friendship™ is blown away. The whole mystery-thriller thing they're probably trying to achieve fails, and as a result the episode has a particularly terrible pacing, with repetitive action sequences. A filler episode which is twice as long as it has any right to be.

(Five out of Ten)

The first appearance of Savage Noble, the beast-to-beast Transformer. While described as a 'fully organic' transformer here, it apparently only pertains to the fact that he has two beast modes and no robot mode. His toy was named 'Beast Changer' due to trademark reasons, and the concept would spawn a 'Mutants' subline, although it would be released under the Beast Wars banner.

The concept of Noble's characterization, and the Maximals discovering that the two are one and the same, is obviously inspired by the classic man-monster split personality story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. There's also a werewolf vibe to it, although the irony is that Noble the werewolf is the sane one.

Savage Noble's transformation is the first evident mass shifting transformation in the Beast Wars era.

While Noble is evidently based on a werewolf (albeit with chicken legs and massive claws) Savage is based on an obscure Asian dragon with only two legs, two tails, a large gaping maw and bat wings.

When trying to access the Grand Mal, Optimus Primal is tormented by multiple Megatron heads of the three designs that Megatron used during Beast Wars (original, Transmetal and Transmetal 2).

The episode title 'savage noble' is a play on the outdated term 'noble savage', which means that the so-called 'savages' that lived out in the wild beyond civilisation is untainted by things like technology and politics, so therefore they are more noble than the civilised people.

Why would the Vehicons mistake the Maximals as being the ones who ambushed them? Granted, they were the only ones left on Cybertron but since when do Maximals lob fireballs?

Why doesn't Savage attack Rattrap?

The way the Vehicons were tail-swiped above the horizon, Team Rocket style, defies the laws of Physics.

Blackjack 2011-02-21 09:37 AM

Prometheus Unbound
Airdate: 23 February 2000
Written By: Marv Wolfman
Japanese Title: The Monster's Awakening

Noble howls at the moon. The Maximals aren't exactly happy about Noble running off, but Nightscream defends their newest member, blaming the team's treatment of Noble. Blackarachnia and Rattrap are freaked out by Noble, noting that he has been going to the same place for the past five nights. Nightscream storms off to find Noble, who is banging on the doors to Megatron's citadel. Noble transforms into Savage and continues his assault. Nightscream tries to stop Savage, but is attacked by the automated defenses of the citadel. Savage leaps in the way, however, and is knocked out. When he wakes up (back in Noble form) he tells the Maximals that he is confused about how he got there, and tells them that the Maximals should lock him up. Optimus defends Noble, citing his rescue of Nightscream even in his Savage form. Rattrap isn't very pleased, which earns him some harsh words from Nightscream. Optimus defuses the situation, ordering them to try and find the missing sparks. They prepare to infiltrate Megatron's citadel. Noble wants to help because he feels drawn to the place, and Nightscream vehemently supports him, but Optimus Primal refuses on the grounds of they already having enough trouble to worry about. Nightscream pouts.

Rattrap hacks open the door, and Optimus Primal shoots down an obvious trap. As they enter, Noble charges in, followed by Nightscream. The doors close just as they enter. Optimus isn't very pleased, but Noble says he can't help himself. While the Maximals try to figure out other traps Megatron would've laid around, Noble runs off again, activating a field of mines, which blows up upon his transformation into Savage. The group recovers to find Savage missing. Rattrap blames Nightscream, and the team split up. Nightscream and Optimus Primal goes off after Savage, while Rattrap, Cheetor and Blackarachnia head for the throne room. As the Maximals navigate the Citadel, Savage watch from the shadows. Savage changes to Noble and opens the door to Megatron's throne room, declaring success. He tries to leap through the bridge pieces but falls down. Nightscream and Optimus fly down after him. Rattrap's team arrives a few moments later, and after Cheetor and Blackarachnia help the not-agile Rattrap get past the floating bridge pieces, Rattrap plugs into Megatron's abandoned control harness. Rattrap tries to figure out the encrypted data, just as Optimus and Nightscream arrive with Noble. Noble spots Rattrap in the harness, and immediately morphs into Savage. The Maximals are surprised that the creature can control his changes.

Savage blasts Rattrap out of the harness. Things are plunged into chaos, as alarms blare and spark extractor tentacles slide out of the walls. The Maximals and Savage destroy the tentacles. Much to Rattrap's relief, Savage morphs back into Noble... but Noble yanks Rattrap and tosses him away. Noble puts on the harness, but nothing happens. Telling himself that he can't interface while in an organic body, Noble leaps away and graps two of the spark extractors and applies them to himself. An aggressively pulsating orange spark shoots out of the body, moves into the control harness and up the wires. Megatron's voice booms around the room, telling them that he is free. The Maximals rush outside, to see that Megatron's spark has taken residence in the Grand Mal. Megatron explains that 'Noble' was just a rule, and that Nightscream played straight into his hands. He further tells them that he had succeeded in separating his body into their organic and technological halves, but his spark was stuck in the organic half. Megatron fires a beam into the planet, activating all the systems including the Vehicon drones. The Maximals have no choice but to retreat back underground. Nightscream laments his loss, and Rattrap comforts him. Meanwhile, in the Citadel, the Noble body's eyes open...

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Savage Noble, Cheetor, Nightscream, Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Blackarachnia, Tank Drones, Cycle Drones, Jet Drones

Simply put, it's dark. So we think Noble is just going to be another member of the cast, right? Albeit with a Jekyll Hyde complex that causes him to go Savage whenever he is angry. That's fine, he can be the Hulk of the team. But hey, turns out he's Megatron! And the whole 'Noble' character is an act. It's such a blow, that it's a shame that Maximal Noble isn't dragged on for another episode (which probably could tie up the really loose ends this episode has, we'll go about it in a bit) so he has a bit more of an impact. Nightscream's impetuous jerkassness early on in the episode to defend Noble, and his later grief at having been played like a puppet, is well done. This would be one of the few episodes — hell, probably the only one — where I don't want Nightscream to drop dead. Megatron is a glorious ham in this episode, the way he mocks Nightscream at the end. Simply excellent performance from David Kaye.

Both Rattrap and Blackarachnia also get some love after multiple episodes of being sidelined in favour for Optimus and Cheetor. Blackarachnia's characterisation isn't as strong as that in Beast Wars, but at least now she's doing something else other than trying to get Silverbolt back. Her snarkiness echoes her stronger chartacterisation during Beast Wars as well. Rattrap, meanwhile, takes back his Beast Wars characterisation in trying to undermine the new guy with suspicion, as well as his delicious pessimism, but thankfully Rattrap still retains the humbled character development he had in Beast Machines. That moment where he comforts Nightscream is particularly touching.

Sadly, the same couldn't be said about the plot. When on Earth could Megatron have separated his organic and technological halves? How did it happen? We last saw him plotting against Tankor and Optimus, then he fell apart. There was no way for his spark to be trapped in the wrong body. Poor scriptwriting, and one of the biggest loopholes in Beast Machines. While the irony of Megatron being trapped in a nearly totally organic transformer body is delicious, and his being freed into the Grand Mal (not so silly looking now that it can move) is simply badass. But sadly that doesn't forgive the bad scripting. Now if we have had hints of this beforehand... as it is, it seems like the writers were desparate to bring Megatron back and introduce a new character, and pulled a fast one out of their arses. Great characterisation and pacing, and very tense, but continuity takes a roundabout route.

(Seven out of Ten)

Savage Noble is Megatron. So everything that has happened last issue is all Megatron's trickery, and Noble was never a good guy to start with. However, the body of Savage Noble somehow gains a life of its own at the end of the episode.

Megatron existing as a giant talking head has already been done before in the Beast Wars episode 'Other Visits, Part 2', although that wasn't quite as impressive as the Grand Mal.

Rattrap compares the Grand Mal (Megatron's big floating head, for those who don't know) to Unicron. In season three of the original cartoon, Unicron's damaged head orbits Cybertron like a moon.

It's worth noting that in Beast Machines, Unicron's head is no longer orbiting Cybertron, while occasionally a metallic moon can be seen. Not necessarily a goof (partially because I can't be arsed to track down which episode had the moon) since the Transformers could've rebuilt the moons that Unicron ate during Transformers the Movie.

When connected to Megatron's control harness, Rattrap references 'Sunday funnies'.

'Prometheus Unbound' is a play that is inspired by the Greek legend of Prometheus, a minor god who stole fire to give it to humans, tricking the big gods. As punishment Zeus chained him to a rock and had eagles eat his innards every day. In the play, Prometheus obviously broke free. Presumably this is meant to symbolize Megatron's plight, where, after an effort to make Cybertron better (twisted, but still) he is trapped in a fate worse than death inside Savage Noble, but finally manages to break free. Or something.

When did Megatron had a chance to separate his organic and technological halves? Prior to his destruction in the 'Revelations' three-parter and 'Fallout', he was treated like usual, and one of Tankor's plans hinges on Megatron using the Key of Vector Sigma on himself to cure his organic contamination. Megatron was still obviously having his spark in his original body, so unless there's a funky offscreen scene between 'Fallout' and 'Savage Noble' that involved Megatron's spark surviving being disintegrated and going into the Noble body, it's a big plot goof.

There was no way for it to be done in secret from Rhinox-Tankor either; the Diagnostic Drone was in Rhinox's control. Plus, Megatron was clearly still in his original body prior to his seeming destruction.

And why does he have so much organic matter in his body?

So, presumably the Savage dragon gained its dragon DNA from Megatron's dragon alternate mode (if there is such a thing, since, well, TM2 Megatron didn't get his dragon alternate mode by scanning something) but where does the Noble bit come from? Megatron only ever scanned a T-Rex for hiss alternate mode...

Blackjack 2011-02-24 03:42 PM

In Darkest Knight
Airdate: 1 March 2000
Written By: Steven Melching
Japanese Title:The Beast's Gratitude

Nightscream flies alone in a derelict region in search for Noble, but he is attacked by Jetstorm and Thrust. In the Maximal base, Rattrap tells Blackarachnia about his newest invention, a combination of a spark extractor and a DNA scanner, which could be theoretically used to restore recovered sparks into Transformer bodies. Optimus Primal and Cheetor arrive, and along with Rattrap goes aboveground to try and locate Nightscream. Blackarachnia follows after she snags Rattrap's device. The Maximals arrive just in time to rescue Nightscream, and a battle ensues. Blackarachnia tries to get Rattrap's device on Jetstorm in hopes of turning him back into Silverbolt. Meanwhile, Megatron's gigantic floating head arrives and uses some gravity beams to capture Optimus Primal and Cheetor. Thrust is about to kill Nightscream but the arrival of Savage knocks out the Vehicon. Rattrap follows Savage as it drags Nightscream's unconscious body away, thinking that Savage intends to eat the Maximal.

Blackarachnia and Jetstorm go in a chase deep underground, and Blackarachnia manages to trap Jetstorm with some webs, causing him to topple into a pool of organic goop. The DNA scanner activates and scans the fossils in the chamber, including that of a birdlike creature. Jetstorm shrieks in pain and horror as he is reformatted. The Maximal Silverbolt is reborn, and is surprised by his new, techno-organic form. Appalled, angry and shocked, Silverbolt flies off, leaving Blackarachnia behind. She follows, but when she confronts Silverbolt, instead of finding the old corny idealistic Maximal she knew, Silverbolt is angry, sullen and self-loathing, telling Blackarachnia that he used to believe in things. However, Blackarachnia convinced Silverbolt to give her a ride to the Grand Mal, for revenge if not to help Optimus and Cheetor. Elsewhere, Nightscream wakes up in an abandoned warehouse. Noble approaches him and gives him a metallic apple. While not seeming intelligent, Noble seems to recognise Nightscream. Rattrap arrives to rescue Nightscream, but his presence confuses Noble, who transforms into Savage. Rattrap and Nightscream beat it.

In the Grand Mal, Megatron interrogates Optimus and Cheetor about information on the Oracle, and how he could use it to manipulate the sparks he holds captive. Blackarachnia and Silverbolt arrive. Megatron manifests as a hologram of himself made out of data, and tells Silverbolt that his honour would let him stay true to Megatron's ideology. Blackarachnia argues, trying to win Silverbolt back with friendship and love. After a short faceoff, Silverbolt transforms in a rage and attacks Megatron's insides with his feather blades. Optimus orders a retreat, but Silverbolt refuses. Blackarachnia uses her poison sting to knock Silverbolt out, and the Maximals escape. On the ground Rattrap and Nightscream manages to lead Savage to destroy the Cycle Drones. The rest of the Maximals arrive, and Silverbolt knocks Thrust away. Optimus welcomes Silverbolt back into the fold, but Silverbolt, not ready, flies away. Nightscream meanwhile argues to let Noble stay. The next morning, Silverbolt confesses to Blackarachnia that he enjoys and revels in being a Vehicon, but Blackarachnia tells Silverbolt that she believes in him, just like how he believed in her in the past. Together they return to the Maximals.

Featured Transformers: Nightscream, Megatron, Thrust, Jetstorm (turned into Silverbolt), Rattrap, Blackarachnia, Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Cycle Drones, Jet Drones, Savage Noble, Silverbolt

Some good, some bad. Silverbolt's post-Jetstorm characterisation is simply astounding. I mean, after you have your mind brutalised, forced to become a bad guy, helplessly watching as you gun down your friends... well, of course you will return a changed person. Silverbolt's initial conversion from his BW persona into this sullen, brooding, vengeance-ridden fella... at first I hated how he was portrayed. This was too far! But after a second watching and listening closely to how Silverbolt regrets the fact that he can't quit being Jetstorm, you can't help but admire how natural the radical change was. I have to praise Blackarachnia's characterisation as well. This is probably the first time Blackarachnia has taken center stage ever since 'Revelations', and she goes back to her Beast Wars roots... by going behind everyone's backs to get Silverbolt back, Maximal code of brainwashing be damned. It's a large improvement compared to her previous roles of being second fiddle to everybody. Her argument to win Silverbolt over with Megatron is also well done.

The plot is also advanced a little, with the problem of the sparks being brought into full center after our little detour with the Savage Noble arc. Although there's nothing too interesting revealed here, not like the tense mysteries of the past episodes. Nightscream and Rattrap's little misadventure is also kind of a rubbish side-plot, though at least it has credence by reintroducing the new, animal-like Noble. Don't see the point of bringing Noble back, but whatever. Now, the bad stuff... Thrust, for one, suffers from severe villain decay over the past few episodes. In the past he is as dangerous as the other Vehicons, now a single hit or two can put him down. Must suck not being the new toy anymore, eh? Pity. I really liked Thrust. Another problem is the ignoring of past plot points that had been dragged on for multiple episodes like maintaining robot mode in battle, mastering transformation, et cetera.

There's a bit of bad pacing in this episode as well. Despite the great characterisation on the part of 'Bolt and Blackarachnia, the rest of the episode falls short. While not particularly bad, it just feels lacking somehow. Oh, and at times, the animation — especially Blackarachnia's funky webs — look weird and unrealistic. And have I mentioned how bloody ugly Silverbolt's new body looks? I mean, Nightscream and Cheetor and Blackarachnia are already unsightly in their robot modes, but Silverbolt has to be the worst-looking one of the bunch. His robot mode, with that silly goatee and bulging, emo eyes, and that silly pose he strikes every time he transforms... blah. 'Purplebolt' looks like a bloody chicken painted like a peacock, and his alternate mode doesn't look any better either. What kind of bird looks like that? It's hunchbacked, ugly, and coloured like a painting disaster. And the parts don't move smoothly like other CG models, with the feathers looking all the world like stickers. Great characterisation in this episode, but poor execution.

(Six out of Ten)

First appearance of Silverbolt's new body. Final appearance of Jetstorm.

Silverbolt's robot mode is clearly based on a Japanese samurai (even though his BW character is more of a medieval knight). He throws feather bombs from the feathers that sprout from his shoulders. These for some reason can never run out.

The Savage Noble body that is now vacant from Megatron's spark has became alive, albeit acting like an animal. Not sure if he is still considered as a transformer now since it doesn't have a spark.

This is one of the two episodes in the entire series to feature sunlight, and the other episode is the final one. Every other episode happens entirely at night.

To interact with the Maximals inside him, Megatron appears as a three-dimensional rendition of his head formed by scrolls of data a la the Matrix.

With both Tankor and Jetstorm gone, Thrust has sole command of all the tank, jet and cycle drones for the moment. But still he can't catch a break. Thrust will continue calling Silverbolt 'Jetstorm' throughout the rest of the series.

More techno-organic plants appear, this time in the metallic apples that Noble gives Nightscream.

So apparently while someone like Waspinator can break through his Vehicon shell program to save Blackarachnia, Silverbolt apparently enjoys and revels in being a villain so he subconsciously stops himself from helping Blackarachnia. Not surprising, because men with noble intentions are usually those prone to having subconsciously sadistic traits...

Silverbolt's darker side has appeared once, before, in 'Crossing the Rubicon' when he very nearly murdered an unarmed Tarantulas, but then that was in grief because he thinks Blackarachnia is dead.

The fossil scanned by Silverbolt is a bat fossil instead of a hunchbacked bird, identical to the one scanned by Nightscream. The fossil doesn't even have a beak!

Somehow Rattrap recognizes Silverbolt even though he looks nothing like his previous body.

Previously, it is a big point that the Maximals must be focused to remain in robot mode, and if they lost focus they turn into Beast Modes. Here Nightscream remains in robot mode even when unconscious.

Also, Silverbolt is able to transform without any training whatsoever, and he doesn't have the excuse of being directly reformatted by Optimus Primal that Nightscream has.

Blackjack 2011-02-25 11:49 AM

A Wolf in the Fold
Airdate: 8 March 2000
Written By: Brynne Chandler Reaves
Japanese Title: The Spiral of Hatred

In the undergrounds, the Maximals are celebrating Silverbolt's return. However, Silverbolt isn't that pleased, since for him things aren't the same. Blackarachnia tells him that he'll adjust, but things begin to shake. Megatron unleashes several giant claw-ended tentacles, smashing their way into the planet's surface. They emit green pulses of energy, and when the Maximals make their way to the surface, a pulse activates a tiny spiderlike device that attaches itself to Silverbolt. It shoots out some red stuff, causing Silverbolt's eyes to glow red. Cheetor touches Silverbolt's shoulder to check on him, and promptly receives a dose of the red stuff as well. The red stuff is quickly passed along to Blackarachnia, Rattrap and Nightscream. The Maximals then begin to argue with each other, growling and snapping. Optimus tries to calm down the group. The Maximals turn on Optimus, forcing the Maximal leader to fly off alone.

Thrust leads a band of Cycle Drones and opens fire on the rabid Maximals, who battle back. One of the deflected laser blasts slams onto one of the tentacles, which knocks Optimus and allows another tentacle to scoop him up. Thrust leads his Drones underground. Cheetor has a moment of clarity and forces the other Maximals to pursue them before the Vehicon finds the Maximals' base. Inside the Grand Mal Megatron greets Optimus in the form of the disembodied head, and the two argue about their goals. While they want harmony, both Megatron and Optimus have different views on how to obtain it. They argue about free will, chaos, harmony and individuality. The Maximals, meanwhile, destroy the Cycle Drones, but quickly turns on each other. Silverbolt mutters that he shouldn't have returned and flies off. Thrust returns with more Drones, and battle begins anew. Cheetor has a moment of clarity and declares something is amiss, but sinks into rage again. Optimus sees the Maximals fight from the Grand Mal and flies off to help his teammates. Silverbolt approaches one of the tentacles, and then plucks off the spider thing from his back. Optimus Primal, meanwhile, arrives amongst the Maximals. He knocks out Thrust, but is attacked by the Maximals, and is infected. Optimus joins in battle, until Silverbolt comes and tells them that they have been infected with a virus.

Rattrap examines one of the tentacles, and finds out that it's sending an activation signal to activate a pre-planted virus on Silverbolt, which is a variation of the Hate Plague of old. Megatron sends a shockwave from the tentacles, cracking the ground apart. Optimus Primal tells the other Maximals that the Maximals need to work together to rebuild their neural pathways. To counteract the Hate Plague. The Maximals catch each other before falling, and they are cured somehow. Optimus lifts the group out of the crevice onto the surface. Silverbolt is upset that he was the first to cause the Hate Plague to spread, but the Maximals aren't holding any grudges. Megatron pulls the tentacles back, and laughs as Optimus realises that the Plague doesn't create the conflict, but rather magnifies them, and considers the possibly that Megatron is right that harmony cannot be achieved by individuality.

Featured Transformers: Blackarachnia, Silverbolt, Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Cheetor, Nightscream, Megatron, Thrust, Cycle Drones

One of the worse episodes in Beast Machines. Things just gets dragged on and on — you never believe that any of the Maximals will kill each other because of the Hate Plague, and the scripting is abysmal in this issue. Also, it's hard to take the Hate Plague seriously when the Maximals can become sane at the critical moments. Why does Silverbolt suddenly realize that they has been tricked? Why do the Maximals listen to Silverbolt? Clearly this is something they pulled out to fill in the gaps between reintroducing Megatron and Silverbolt and the grand finale. That doesn't stop it from being slow-paced, though. Optimus Primal and Megatron's debate about ideology is superbly performed, and every scene with Megatron monologuing is golden. But otherwise there is little in way to interest in this episode.

The Hate Plague is an unnecessary calback to G1, and unlike the Key to Vector Sigma or the Plasma Energy Chamber isn't executed well. Silverbolt, after the hassle of getting him back... well, despite being a fan of his portrayals in Beast Wars and in the last episode, here Silverbolt is all angsty. As if we needed another Nightscream. And all the screaming and shouting are so narmy that it hurts. The Maximals shouting stupid jibes at each other is horribly stupid... and the resolution, with the Hate Plague somehow disappearing when they formed a human chain is a WTF moment. meh, basically it's a slow-prodding mess. There is little to catch your interest here. But considering that this episode is the least Beast Machines would come to, it speaks volumes about the overall quality of the show.

(Four out of Ten)

The virus is identical to the Hate Plague, the title 'villain' in G1 Season Three's episode 'The Return of Optimus Prime'. It is even referred to as being similar to the Hate Plague of the Great War by Nightscream at one point. They don't unleash the Matrix on this Hate Plague, though. Also, only the eyes and face glow with a red hue instead of the entire body turning red. Also, the Maximals at times can regain control of their senses but maybe it's because of their techno-organic personas.

Rhinox is referenced during the first scene, so we remember that he's not all forgotten by the Maximals.

The effects of the Hate Plague is described by Rattrap as 'an adrenalin booster, a neocortex suppressor, and a shut-off on the self-diagnostic'.

The Grand Mal can sprout large tentacles from where the neck should be.

Ironically, while the title is 'A Wolf in the Fold', it does not feature Noble at all, and Silverbolt is no longer a winged wolf.

Cheetor references 'King Kong' as a jibe to Optimus Primal.

Along with 'Forbidden Fruit', this episode was touched up in MSTF fashion during one of the BotCons. Typical, all the bad episodes get the shining treatment.

Why did the freak energy thing only deposit the spider thing on Silverbolt and not the others?

When did Megatron had the chance to plant the spider thing on Silverbolt?

At one point Thrust is much larger than his Cycle Drones.

When Blackarachnia dangles Spider-Man style from Nightscream, her head clips ough the web strand at one point.

Rattrap said he has two words in response to stopping the Hate Plague, but he says 'impossible', which is one word.

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