TFARCHIVE

TFARCHIVE (http://tfarchive.com/community/index.php)
-   Site Media Reviews (http://tfarchive.com/community/forumdisplay.php?f=72)
-   -   Cartoon Episode Reviews: Beast Machines [completed] (http://tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=49392)

Blackjack 2011-03-03 03:14 PM

Home Soil
Airdate: 15 March 2000
Written By: Meg McLaughlin
Japanese Title: The Plants' Rebellion

SYNOPSIS
High above Cybertron, a spaceship make planetfall alongside several asteroids. The automated orbital cannons open fire, amaging the ship and sending it plummeting towards the planet. Silverbolt observes this and reports back to base. Underground, Optimus Primal and Cheetor are trying to figure out why the techno-organic trees are wilting. However, news of the ship's crash forces the Maximals to mobilise. Megatron has also found out about this as well, and sends Thrust with the Vehicon drones, with orders to destroy everything. Maximal and Vehicon race towards the shuttle, and Thrust sends several to stall the Maximals. The Maximals dispatch the Vehicons and split up. Optimus and Cheetor go on the surface, Rattrap and Blackarachnia go underground while Silverbolt and Nightscream takes the skies.

Nightscream is openly hostile and rude towards Silverbolt, even though the latter compliments him on destroying several Jet Drones. The two then assist Optimus and Cheetor in battling their own foes. Underground, Blackarachnia laments to Rattrap about Silverbolt's angsting and lack of affection despite all her efforts. Their conversation is cut short by two Mole Drones. They dispatch the Drones and rush again towards the crash site. The Maximals arrive at the ship to cover it overgrown with plant matter. As they inspect the ship, a tentacled beast-like plant attacks them. After a battle, the plant flees and heads underground. Fearing that the alien plant might contaminate the techno-organic orchard. They pursue the plant, and Optimus uses the powers of the Oracle to reformat the plant monster. Cheetor protests, telling Optimus that only Cybertronians can be reformatted. However the plant is revealed to be one as she is reformatted into a techno-organic version of herself.

She introduces herself as Botanica, and that she was part of an exploration crew similar to that of the Axalon. They reached a planet inhabited by sentient, mobile plants and her crew took their forms as alternate modes. Botanica further explains that the attack by the cannons have shorted out her ship and her higher mental functions, leading her to attack anyone who came near. Thrust leads an entire army of Tank Drones which begins to ravage the orchard. Botanica transforms, and uses her powers to destroy the drones. Thrust turns tail. Botanica examines the wilting plants, and uses some kind of device onto the lighting, causing the techno-organic plants to flourish. She then introduces her name. Aboveground, Megatron hovers above Botanica's crashed spaceship, transforms into his spaceship mode and obliterates the ship and the plants around it.

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

REVIEW
Many people give Botanica grief, but I am not among them. Her accent grates like that of G1's Marissa Fairborne, but otherwise she's an okay (if underdeveloped and somewhat lacking in personality) character. I have to tell you that being familiar with the BM toyline before watching the show, I was surprised by Botanica's inclusion — a transforming talking plant! Even though the triffid mode looks ugly — to think that a non-toy character could merit a CG model when 70% of the line didn't even get so much as an appearance. Botanica's inclusion is viable, since, hey, Optimus Primal's crew can't be the only ones out there who survived Megatron's purge. Speaking of Megatron, that scene at the end with the Grand Mal transforming into that jet mode is probably the most spectacular pre-2007 CG Transformer action sequence I have ever seen. The same with the callousness with which Megatron napalms Botanica's ship.

However the episode itself fails utterly in pacing. Events feel jagged, and some characters feel wrong. Blackarachnia, in particular, goes from a strong female who does what she thinks would benefit her most into a whiny ex-girlfriend. That sucks. Silverbolt, at least, is trying to settle into a balance between BW and BM. Nightscream, however, is still a dick, although here it's in-character with the events of last episode. Optimus Primal has gone all Yoda because the plot demands it.

Pacing is absolutely horrible, with the chase sequence being overlong, and action sequences uninteresting and repetitive bar the dogfight scene between Nightscream and Silverbolt with the Jet Drones. The tension while first discovering Botanica is extended too long and feels boring. Botanica, in particular, is overpowered in the final fight. Her- what was that- frenzy plant attack- looks so narmtastic and leads one to wonder if Botanica is so powerful why didn't they end the war immediately then and there. Yes, she's going to be nerfed next episode. Not the best origin episode. Pity, the quality is starting to take a steep dive.

(Five out of Ten)

NOTES
First appearance of Botanica, obviously. Botanica's speacial powers include reviving the techno-organic plants and doing some sort of funky glowing green lightning thing that blows up the tank drones. As an alien plant, she has a face, a lower body made entirely of vines and four 'arms'.

This episode marks the only time that Grand Mal Megatron transforms into its alternate mode — a kickass-looking spaceship of sorts. I want a toy of a giant transforming Megatron head now.

The Mainframe animators reused the background of Planet Jungle of their other cartoon Shadow Raiders/War Planets. Whether this is an intentional shout-out or just a random reusing for budget constraints is unclear.

Botanica's crew is part of the same exploratory mission that included Optimus Primal's crew. What happened to her crew is unclear.

Since Botanica is able to immediately transform after reformatting and do not need to do all the funky yoga stuff, it could be assumed that it was because, like Nightscream, she was reformatted by Optimus Primal instead of the Oracle.

In the flashback where Botanica gets a new body by scanning a plant, she doesn't need a CR chamber/stasis pod/what-have-you. Presumably this is the internal DNA scanner Nightscream mentioned before.

Nightscream mentions that Botanica might spread a virus while glaring at Silverbolt, lampshading the events of last episode. He also calls Silverbolt 'Typhoid Mary' at one point, a reference to the real-life carrier of the typhoid disease.

Nightscream and Silverbolt's line 'Do not pass Go! Do not collect 200 dollars!' Is a reference to the board game Monopoly.

GOOFS
Optimus Primal spends two episodes out of action after reformatting Nightscream, but that doesn't happen now.

The relative size of Botanica's ship varies with scenes. When the Maximals try to enter the door was massive, but when Botanica exits the door was only slightly larger than her.

On topic of the ship, it looks closer to the ancient pre-G1 Autobot shuttle instead of the streamlined, modern Beast-era ships like the Axalon or the Darksyde.

Optimus Primal forgot he could fly with his jet boosters to reach the shuttle.

Cheetor forgot that he is a cheetah, and thus doesn't have to keep up pace with an oversized rat and a giant spider.

An inconsistency instead of a goof — normally Rattrap has to transform into robot mode to access computers, but this episode he transforms into beast mode to do so.

Blackjack 2011-03-07 01:25 PM

Sparkwar Pt I: The Strike
Airdate: 22 March 2000
Written By: Brooks Wachtel
Japanese Title: Captured Souls

SYNOPSIS
The Maximals blow up a group of Vehicons, and easily knock away Thrust comically. They note that it's becoming easier to defeat the Vehicons, something Megatron isn't happy about. Rattrap cobbles a makeshift cart to carry drone parts to the orchard in order to assist Botanica in studying the techno-organic core. Botanica refuses to battle, because she is a scientist and not a warrior. Optimus Primal sympathises with her, despite objections from Rattrap and Nightscream. Nightscream also tries to get Silverbolt to lighten up and not be so tense to Blackarachnia. Silverbolt isn't interested in anything else until the war is won, though. In the Grand Mal, Megatron reprimands Thrust for his failure, but Thrust angrily defends himself that he is outnumbered six to one, and that he remained loyal, unlike Tankor and Jetstorm, who turned against Megatron because of their Maximal sparks. Megatron considers this, and takes out two sparks from his collection. Optimus Primal is alerted to this by a violent vision. Two Vehicons—Obsidian and Strika—reveal themselves, and an approving Thrust tries to boss them around... and is tossed aside by one of the new Vehicons as a result.

Nightscream and Silverbolt go topside, the former still trying to get the latter to lighten up. The two new Vehicons attack them, Obsidian screaming 'obliterate', while Strika screams 'terminate'. Nightscream calls for help, and all the Maximals bar Botanica move into action. The Maximals battle Obsidian and Strika, whose vocabulary is limited to their catchphrases. Silverbolt finds it unnerving why Megatron would create such stupid and easily knocked-around generals. Rattrap passes it off that goons are easier to control. Optimus Primal tries to reach the Vehicons' spark, but they two escape. The Maximals pursue them, seemingly cornering them... then an entire fleet of Copter and Ground Assault Drones arrive and surround the Maximals. Obsidian and Strika transform, mocking the Maximals for underestimating them and falling for their simplistic ruse. The Drones open fire and Optimus Primal manages to use his energy field to blow a way through the floor, but they are met at every turn by Vehicon drones. Optimus notes that their enemies are master strategists. Meanwhile, while all this is happening, a vat of techno-organic goop comes into contact with Botanica while she is working, overwhelming her with visions of drifting sparks. The Oracle treats her to flashbacks to the horrors Megatron had committed onto Cybertron before leaving her alone.

The Maximals find that even the sewers are filled with drones, and fall back to the Council Citadel. Botanica spies the going-ons with a vine. The Maximals hide behind the large doors of the Citadel, which soon comes under siege. Optimus realizes that they have been herded there. Obsidian contacts the Maximals, introduces himself and invites them to surrender. Optimus tries to negotiate with them, but both Obsidian and Strika are doing what they have always done... to defend Cybertron. The Maximals recognize them as the two greatest generals in Cybertronian history. The ground-based Vehicons break through, forcing the Maximals to retreat deeper into the Citadel. Botanica arrives in the nick of time, using her vine bombs to disrupt the nearby drones. Obsidian and Strika, watching from afar, note that the new Maximal, whose capabilities they know little about, had caused this. The Maximals retreat in the confusion, and the Generals arrive to find their quarry gone. They report to Megatron, prepared to accept punishment (something Thrust is happy about). Megatron, however, is pleased with their loyalty and is pleased that they kept the Maximals busy while he finalize his plan for the sparks. In the Maximal base, the team apologizes to Botanica for forcing her to fight, while she apologizes for not fighting her fight. Silverbolt is pessimistic on their chances, but Optimus vows not to let Megatron violate another spark.

Featured Transformers: Cycle Drones, Cheetor, Rattrap, Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Silverbolt, Thrust, Optimus Primal, Megatron, Botanica, Obsidian, Strika, the Oracle, Copter Drones, Ground Assault Drones, Tank Drones (flashback), Jet Drones (flashback)

REVIEW
Ah, after several episodes of the Maximals steamrolling over everything Megatron sends their way, the threat level is shot right back up with Obsidian and Strika. With their undoubtedly cool designs (Obsidian in particular is a personal favourite of mine. Hell, that crazy wasp with helicopter blades and a Vehicon head thing is probably the best design ever), a grand backstory as two of Cybertron's greatest generals, humility, professionalism and something I really like — a fanaticism to protect Cybertron so they threw their lot in with Megatron. Because, hey, guy's Cybertron. Also, their first transformation scene is simply astounding, the best transformation Transformers would ever seen until the live action Transformers Movie in 2007. Sadly both Obsidian and Strika won't get much chance to get their personalities developed apart from being deadly professionals that could coordinate an entire army. It is nice to see the cocky Maximals outsmarted at every turn, and can't even retreat properly. They're respectable warriors too, hanging their heads down in silence while Thrust razzes them about their failure.

Megatron himself is also reverting back to something akin to his BW persona, being back into being a ham instead of going all broody. Poor Thrust suffers severely from villain decay, however, and sadly he's relegated into butt monkey for this episode. Although kudos for him fearlessly standing up to Megatron when he was reprimanded for his failures and compared to Tankor and Jetstorm. Poor guy can't catch a break, though. The plot this episode is great, with the Maximals trying to find out what had happened to the sparks but encountering a force beyond their skills. After all, they only escaped due to Botanica's unexpected intervention.

However, the Maximals themselves are a little lacking. Poor Blackarachnia gets relegated to the 'underappreciated girlfriend' role. Also, her shrill voice has began to grate. Silverbolt has hardened his heart between 'In Darknest Night' and this episode, the bastard. Nightscream uncharacteristically tries to patch their relationship up for no particular reason. He's supposed to be the team's jerk! Optimus, at least, remains true to his roots this episode, so does Rattrap. Botanica has became the team's deus ex machina. Able to wipe out Vehicon squads with one wave of her hand, able to travel through Cybertron by simply drilling down and up... her pacificism and subsequent reprimand by the Oracle is, well, a weak attempt to give her some characterisation. Coupled with her irritating accent I could see why manu people dislike Botanica. I ain't a Botanica hater, though... I don't mind her, other than her deus ex machina properties, that is. Still, with the opposition getting an advantage things are starting to heat up. A solid episode, despite the inherent faults with Silverbolt and Blackarachnia's uninteresting not-romance, and a great set-up to the rest of 'Sparkwar'.

(Eight out of Ten)

NOTES
First appearances of Obsidian and Strika, former generals of Cybertron turned Vehicons because Megatron is Cybertron now. Also the first appearances of their respective drone armies, the Copter Drones and Ground Assault Drones (or Heavy Artillery Drones).

Obsidian's activation code is 'obliterate', Strika's is 'terminate'.

Presumably Obsidian and Strika are former Autobots (or Decepticons), considering that they are defenders of Cybertron. They had 'fought a thousand wars together' and won. Considering that Cybertron was ruled by Decepticons and later Autobots during the course of the G1 cartoon, it wouldn't be too far a stretch for Obsidian and Strika to be either Autobot or Decepticon, or even faction-hoppers.

Strika and Obsidian are described numerous times as 'consorts'. Nothing romantic about them in the show, but that doesn't stop the fandom.

In keeping true with the Vehicons' credo of unorthodox robot modes, Obsidian looks like a black hornet with shoulder-mounted helicopter blades substituting for wings, and wicked arms with long claws that retract to reveal machinegun ports. Strika looks humanoid, but she (yes, she) actually hovers slightly above the ground with the vertically-inclined wheels that forms her feet. So she walks like skating through the air. She can throw energy discs from her arms. Also, her mouthpiece glows a bit when she talks.

Discounting the quasi-official G2 Botcon exclusive Nightracer toy, Strika breaks the Transformers stereotype of being the first female Transformer not to have obvious female parts like a slimmer/hourglass figure, enhanced chest area, hair, lips or something akin to those.

Botanica displays her ability to interconnect with other techno-organic plants to spy what is happening in the undergrounds. Also, she is able to travel through solid soil while in plant mode, and utilize vine bombs similar to the kind Rattrap uses.

Even though it seems that Thrust is reverting back slightly to his Waspinator persona — he's brutalized but not hurt at least twice in this episode alone — note that he stood up for himself even when confronted by Megatron, something Waspinator has never done.

Rattrap's line 'honey, I'm home!' is a reference to Ricky Ricardo's catchphrase in I Love Lucy.

GOOFS
In the initial scene, Silverbolt blows up a couple of Cycle Drones but the resulting debris contains Jet Drone parts.

The wheelbarrow that Rattrap pulls is not strapped to Rattrap in any way and they just hover over his back and go with him wherever he moves.

When Obsidian's drones retract their fingers, the wrist is completely flat instead of having the ports where the fingers would come out from.

How did Megatron get the resources into building that large a fleet of Copter and Ground Assault Drones? Sure, he's got factories, but if he can build that many drones in such a short period of time it's a wonder the Maximals are still standing.

Nightscream is in bat mode before firing at Strika, but is in robot mode in the shot immediately afterwards.

Blackjack 2011-03-09 11:11 AM

Sparkwar Pt. II: The Search
Airdate: 29 March 2000
Written By: Michael Reaves
Japanese Title:The Illusion's Guidance
SYNOPSIS
Optimus Primal gets a vision from the Oracle, which informs him that the sparks have been moved. Megatron instructs his three Vehicon Generals, with orders to capture Optimus Primal alive. Rattrap has developed some scrambled field generators, which shield even their robot modes from Vehicon sensors. They field test it and hide right under Obsidian's nose as they pass by. Optimus Primal splits up the Maximals into three teams to investigate. Cheetor, Silverbolt and Blackarachnia are deployed to a processing plant. Silverbolt is not happy to take orders from Cheetor, despite Blackarachnia's assurances. Obsidian, meanwhile, prepares his strike force. Optimus Primal and Nightscream, meanwhile, walk under the surface. They find Noble's claw marks, but Optimus' eyes flash and he directs the two of them down. Rattrap and Botanica arrive outside the citadel, squabbling all the way, and find piles of Spark canisters... but they are empty. Strika finds them, and attacks. Botanica is angry that Rattrap's scramblers don't work very long.

Silverbolt and Cheetor argue about Cheetor's leadership capabilities, but Obsidian and his forces attack. Silverbolt charges headlong, gets knocked down and is rebuked by Cheetor. The Maximals fight back. Optimus and Nightscream, meanwhile, discover the abandoned ruins of Cybertron's former capital city, Iacon, under the surface. They trigger a ghostly hologram of Optimus Prime. The hologram of Optimus Prime picks Primal up. From Nightscream's point of view the hologram disappears while Primal floats mid-air. Thrust attacks, but Primal seems to be lost in a trance. Rattrap and Botanica transform to evade Strika. Rattrap finds several holographic pleasure chips and players, and enters the player, becoming enthralled in a vision of a peaceful Cybertron. Strika arrives and attacks again. Botanica pulls the plug to get Rattrap back into reality. Rattrap gathers up the chips he dropped, while Strika advances on Botanica. However, one of her feet is on the holo-player pads. Rattrap activates it, distracting Strika, allowing the two of them to escape. Botanica isn't too happy with Rattrap.

Cheetor takes command of his team and retreats, and uses a discarded power core to blow up the Vehicons. While Nightscream battles Thrust's Cycle Drones, Primal and Prime speak on a different plane. Prime claims to be the essence of Optimus Prime, and tells Primal that the Oracle lies within him, and he has but to summon it. Primal does so, and the Oracle envelops them... 'Optimus Prime' then reveals himself to be Megatron. Megatron gloats that he had moved the sparks to trigger a vision to split up the Maximals, in a bid to access the Oracle via Optimus Primal. Megatron has studied and mastered most of the Oracle's secrets, but there are a few pieces missing, which he downloads from Optimus Primal. Megatron gloats that he can complete his ultimate plan for the sparks, and the hologram disappears. Nightscream is being overwhelmed by the Cycle Drones, but Savage arrives, and comically chases the Cycle Drones away. Optimus recovers, and orders the Maximals into a rendezvous. Optimus tells the team that he gave Megatron access to the Oracle on purpose, so that he could access information from Megatron as well. He has discovered where the sparks are held... the Grand Mal.

Featured Transformers: Copter Drones, Ground Assault Drones, Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, Blackarachnia, Nightscream, Silverbolt, Botanica, Megatron, the Oracle, Thrust, Obsidian, Strika, Cycle Drones, Savage Noble

REVIEW
An action-filled episode, with some great character interactions. We alternate between the three teams with rather rapid speed, and Megatron driving the Maximals apart to get at Optimus Primal is a plan hinging on predicting Primal's actions, reminiscent of Beast Wars. The main plot takes a breather for a bit to re-establish the characters, with the only advancement in plot being the bit of exchange between Optimus Primal and Megatron. Megatron's master plan for the Sparks under his tender ministrations is sounding more and more sinister, and the Oracle being used for Megatron's advantage is a nice move.

Blackarachnia and Nightscream are relegated to basically extras, with Nightscream's initial walk-over-all-Vehicons status being diminished so he gets pwned by a group of Cycle drones. Botanica has been nerfed too as well, being quite helpless in battling against Strika. Rattrap and Botanica now has a squabbling relationship, which is all too natural for Rattrap. It's just not natural for Rattrap not to be arguing against somebody else. Silverbolt comes off a bit too much as a jerk in this episode, however, by the way he basically writes off Cheetor as a perky little kid. Of course it comes back to bite him in the ass, but isn't Silverbolt the clueless one back in the Beast Wars? Still, great interaction between the two. Optimus Primal and Megatron both shine in their exchange, and the little call-out to Iacon and Optimus Prime is nicely done. A nice build-up to the next episode. First we get genuine Vehicon threats, then Megatron masters the Oracle... what comes next is a great battle. Let's hope it'll be executed well.

(Seven out of Ten)

NOTES
Iacon is the Autobots' capital city in the original cartoon and comics. Iacon's introduction was partially influenced due to fans complaining about the capital being called 'Cybertropolis'. Cybertropolis is built above Iacon during the Great Upgrade after the Great Wars.

CG models of Prowl and Soundwave from 'the Agenda' are used as generic corpses again.

When the Grand Mal floats into view Rattrap references the song 'Bad Moon Rising'.

While not stated outright, it seems that Botanica's nature lightning powers can only work in the techno-organic orchard or thereabouts. Or else why didn't she use them in battling the Vehicons?

We see some evidence of Cybertronian entertainment in the holographic simulator things. Basically it's a booth, and when you plug in the chips they let you see what you want to see.

The Optimus Prime hologram is voiced by Gary Chalk, the same guy that voices Optimus Primal. Gary Chalk also stood in to voice G1 Megatron during Beast Wars. Speaking of which, Mainframe lost the model for Optimus Prime's head when animating this episode, so the Optimus Prime hologram uses BW Optimus Primal's head, albeit faceplated. Which is why he has curved antenna. Doesn't count as a goof, because it's a fake hologram in the first place.

While posing as Optimus Prime, Megatron references a 'Final Battle', after which Optimus Prime's essence was stored.

Megatron claims to have mastered most of the Oracle's secrets. While not stated outright, it probably is downloaded from the Diagnostic Drone working for Tankor that he destroyed. Where else could he have gotten information about the Oracle?

GOOFS
Why would Silverbolt call Cheetor 'kid'? Sure, he used to be immature but Silverbolt was birthed on Earth while Cheetor had existed before Beast Wars.

When he reaches down to pick Primal up, the hologram of Optimus Prime has a mouth. It's gone by the next shot.

Blackjack 2011-03-10 02:21 PM

Sparkwar Pt. III: The Siege
Airdate: 5 April 2000
Written By: Steven Melching
Japanese Title: Eternal Friendship

SYNOPSIS
The Grand Mal hovers above the central spaceport, and the Maximals get ready to try to use the opportunity to stop Megatron. Obsidian and Strika are nearby and are organizing the drones' movement, when Noble appears and strolls towards the Maximals' hiding place without caring of hiding himself. The Vehicons attack Noble, causing Cheetor to order a retreat. Nightscream tries to get Noble to come, but Noble continues fighting, forcing Nightscream to unleash a sonic burst that destroys the drones. Cheetor admonishes Nightscream, and orders him to cut Noble loose. Nightscream reluctantly leads Noble away. Optimus, Cheetor and Rattrap discuss on how to infiltrate the Grand Mal. Cheetor leads Silverbolt and Nightscream to distract the Vehicons, while the rest of the Maximals assault the Grand Mal to free the sparks. Rattrap prepares new and improved discs. As they began to head out, Cheetor gestures at Noble, and Nightscream reluctantly shoos a whimpering Noble away.

Thrust reports in to Megatron, who presents himself in the form of his glowing red Spark. Megatron releases several Sparks from his collection, and as Thrust stares in confusion, Megatron consumes them. Megatron tells Thrust that he has mastered the secrets of the Oracle and nothing can stop his ascension now. On the surface, the Maximals spread out and initiate a mass distraction, slapping Rattrap's discs which gives the Vehicons Maximal frequencies while the Maximals themselves hide themselves from the Vehicons' sensors, causing the Vehicons to fire at their own drones. While Obsidian and Thrust are dumbfounded, Strika discover one of the discs on the wreckage of the drones. However, Optimus Primal has led a team into the Grand Mal, following the Oracle's voice which direct him towards the Sparks. Strika reconfigures the disc's harmonics, causing feedback that overloads all the other discs, allowing the other Vehicon Generals to detect and attack the ground forces. Optimus Primal's team are detected by the Grand Mal's senses and are pursued by Thrust. Rattrap manages to seal a bulkhead before Thrust can get them. They find themselves in a large, round chamber with a gigantic container full of Sparks. Above them, Megatron's Spark floats. He gloats and uses tentacles to restrain the Maximals. Megatron absorbs even more Sparks, much to the Maximals' horror. He intends to unite every Spark on Cybertron into one perfect being — himself. The massive container opens and the Sparks drift towards their doom. Optimus pleads for them to resist but to no avail.

All the combatants on the surface stop and stare as Megatron's Spark rises from the Grand Mal. He sends out beams that suspend all the Maximals, drawing out their Sparks by force. Nightscream evades the beams, but trips and is dragged away as well. Noble charges in to rescue Nightscream, knocking out a group of Ground Assault Drones, and then Obsidian and Strika. Noble transforms into Savage and frees Nightscream, but is zapped by Megatron. Transforming back to Noble, he dies in Nightscream's arms. Driven mad with anger Nightscream sends out a sonic scream at Megatron, disrupting Megatron's hold on the Maximals and the captive Sparks. The Sparks return to the container, and the Grand Mal begins to plummet. Inside the head, Rattrap manages to regain control of the Grand Mal in the nick of time before it crashes. It is a bittersweet victory, however, when the Maximals gather around Nightscream and Noble. Optimus Primal later eulogizes Noble. Elsewhere, however, in the empty streets of Cybertron Megatron's Spark flits through the shadows...

Featured Transformers: Nightscream, Megatron, Ground Assault Drones, Cheetor, Blackarachnia, Copter Drones, Strika, Obsidian, Savage Noble (killed), Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Silverbolt, Botanica, Thrust, Cycle Drones

REVIEW
A grand conclusion to the 'Sparkwar' three-parter. Like the other three, it's rather stand-alone, but an increase in pacing from the slow-paced first and second parts. The Maximals and Vehicons go all out, with the frantic scene of the Maximals fooling the Vehicons, then the Vehicons easily conterattacking, is well done. I particularly like how Obsidian and Strika controls their drones in the beginning of the episode. After being humiliated and thrown around like his BW career, Thrust returns back to form as well. He's not as big a threat as he is in the initial episodes (justifiably so), but at least he doesn't go down from one shot again.

Megatron's master plan is to consume all the Sparks so he can control all of Cybertron, and well, there is a hint of an ascension to godhood or something similar too. Just the type of what you expect from Megatron... time, space, sanity... all are mere tools in his insane, far-reaching ambitions. Megatron again gets some of the best dialogue in the series, especially in his meeting with Thrust and his confrontation with Optimus Primal. Kudos to whomever managed to fit that deliciously ironic misquote of 'til all are one' when Megatron consumes his spark. Optimus Primal himself is well played, especially his grief at seeing the Sparks, even if only a few, get consumed by Megatron. Rattrap also has his moments, being the guy that basically saves the day numerous times. His holo-discs, his signal scramblers, the bulkhead, taking control of the Grand Mal... Silverbolt, Thrust and Strika all also get some great moments. Silverbolt is beginning to warm up after the events of last episode, which is good. We don't need that many jerks in the cast.

Speaking of jerks, here we see Nightscream as the hero that saves the day. Contrary to the expectation that Optimus must always be the one to end Megatron's plan, or at least one of the 'cool' guys (Dinobot or Rhinox or Ratchet or somebody) we get Nightscream to do the deed. But instead of an absurd new-toy-power, Nightscream only does what he does after seeing Noble, a kindred spirit that is brought painfully into life by Megatron in the first place, murdered in front of his optics by Megatron. A bit emo, perhaps — well, VERY emo. Just look at his expression. Just look at it. His voice doesn't help either. I do like Noble's last stand, though. Kind of a fridge brilliance that Noble is able to resist Megatron's powers. Lacking a spark and being completely bestial, the Generals are also unprepared for him. But he isn't immune to Megatron, nooo. Zap. Bang. Noble dies. A veritable exit for something that is so controversial. A nice touch of characterisation for Nightscream, if a bit cliched and fanwanky. Things haven't ended yet for ol' Beast Machines, though, but we're on the final loop.

(Eight out of Ten)

NOTES
Since he gets killed, it's the final appearance of Savage Noble.

At one point Rattrap suggests pulling a trick similar to the Trojan Horse to fool Megatron to let them into the Grand Mal.

Megatron's Spark is an unnatural orange-red, and can eat other Sparks and assimilate them into himself. It is unclear whether Megatron has a mutated Spark (just like Starscream's immortal one) or it is because of his mastery of the Oracle. Considering he can pull out Sparks, and seemingly control the helpless ones he ate to his whim, I'm betting it's the latter.

When Megatron is calling the sparks to him, he says 'let us all become one!' It's an appropriate, if twisted, parody of the Autobot credo 'Til all are one!' first introduced in the 1986 Movie. Just like Megatron to twist something into such a delicious irony.

The way Optimus Primal eulogizes Noble, clustered around a disc with a hologram of the deceased Maximal, is similar to how they eulogized Rhinox previously. Must be a Maximal custom.

GOOFS
At one point Strika is miscoloured as one of her drones, without the additional paint applications.

When Silverbolt is lobbing the feather bombs at the Vehicons, at one point his arm clips through his head.

Blackjack 2011-03-12 11:42 AM

Spark of Darkness
Airdate: 12 April 2000
Writen By: Nick Dubois
Japanese Title: The Terrifying Red Ball

SYNOPSIS
The Maximals celebrate Megatron's defeat inside the Grand Mal, while Nightscream mourns Noble's death. Optimus Primal assures a doubting Silverbolt that Megatron is truly dead, from their connection to the Oracle. Cheetor and Nightscream head out to recruit the Vehicon Generals, Silverbolt and Blackarachnia go to find the deactivated Transformer bodies, Optimus Primal stays in the Grand Mal while Botanica and a very disgruntled Rattrap are assigned to tend to the techno-organic orchard. Rattrap constantly gives Botanica grief that he is stuck with the least important job of all. The two argue until they inadvertently kiss each other. Embarrassed, they quickly agree to forget all about the kiss. At the shell yard, Blackarachnia tries to rekindle her romance with Silverbolt, but he is still worried that Megatron is not really dead. Blackarachnia berates Silverbolt for his obsession, but is cut short when a large lumbering corpse loom behind them. The two of them retaliate. Blackarachnia uses a power core from a nearby corpse to blow up the walking corpse. The corpse stumbles out, and a red Spark shoots away as it crumbles.

In the orchard, Rattrap tries to use parts from a Cycle Drone to see if it could be reused, but suddenly the deactivated Cycle Drone comes to life and attacks the Maximals. Botanica transforms and buries the Drone in wreckage. The red Spark shoots away from it. In the fountain chamber, Cheetor and Nightscream meet up with Obsidian and Strika and invites them over. The two debate, but Thrust arrives and tells them that he believes Megatron will soon return. Calling the other two Vehicon traitors, Thrust leaves. But a reanimated Jet Drone attacks them. The Vehicons and Nightscream manage to damage it, and as it collapses it pulls Cheetor down with it. Nightscream rescues Cheetor and the four see the red Spark flying out of it. All the Maximals sans Botanica and the two converted Vehicons rendezvous inside the Grand Mal. Obsidian and Strika are welcomed into the team and goes off to fortify the base. Rattrap detects the Spark heading towards them. The Spark knock out Obsidian and Strika, then Cheetor and Blackarachnia. It takes over a Tank Drone to battle Optimus and Botanica.

Rattrap studies the Spark with the Grand Mal's sensors and deduces a way to neutralise it. He uses a Spark Extractor to pull out the Spark, and 'repolarizes' the errant Spark. However, the Spark breaks free and flies into the Diagnostic Drone, and screams out 'I LIVE!' Rattrap, however, has the last laugh. He knows the Spark is Megatron, and has tricked him into being stuck in the useless body. The Maximals arrive, but Megatron is able to use the Grand Mal's internal defenses to attack the Maximals. The tentacles attack them, and Megatron starts to extract Optimus' spark, but Botanica destroys the control panel Megatron is accessing. Obsidian and Strika arrive, and is forced to choose, and they choose Megatron. They snatch Diagnostic Drone Megatron, and meet up with Thrust. Thrust berates the other two Vehicons for their betrayal, but an unappreciative Megatron calls Thrust useless. Obsidian stands up for Thrust, but Megatron doesn't care much, declaring that the time for action is now.

Featured Transformers: Nightscream, Rattrap, Cheetor, Silverbolt, Blackarachnia, Optimus Primal, Botanica, Noble (flashback), Megatron, Copter Drones, Obsidian, Strika, Ground Assault Drones, Thrust

REVIEW
Thing is, we've seen the exact same thing happen seven episodes before. Megatron is thought to be destroyed? Check. Megatron is placed in a body where he is at a disadvantage? Check. Mysterious thing that turns out to be Megatron attacking everybody? Check. The Maximals try to recruit the Vehicons? Check. Megatron getting a new body at the end of the ordeal? Check. Now substitute Megatron's spark and replace it with Noble, and we get the exact same thing as the 'Savage Noble' and 'Prometheus Unbound' episodes, only substituting Noble with Meggy's Spark... but anyone who has watched the last episode would know that it is Megatron's Spark, so none of us would be wondering alongside the Maximals what the hell is going on. In fact, it's a big idiot ball for the Maximals.

The zombies are neat, though. We've got some nice interactions as well, despite the repetitive plot. Strika and Obsidian defect to the Maximals, because they want only to defend Cybertron and the Maximals rule Cybertron now. Fickle, perhaps, but great character. Particularly like Obsidian's humble standing up for Thrust when Megatron bitches on him. Don't know why they would return to Megatron's service when he's reduced to a Diagnostic Drone, though. Thrust is great as well, being the perfect rebel without a cause, but once again Megatron treats him as the butt-monkey. Poor Thrust. Megatron himself is awesome for the few moments where he gains sentience back. 'I live! I- what kind of puny body is this?' And the irony of him ending up inside a Diagnostic Drone's body is hilarious.

Rattrap and Botanica's hate-hate-kiss relationship is a take it or leave it. While initially they bicker as much as Rattrap did with Dinobot, the kiss comes out of the blue and is kind of rubbish IMO. Must be that 'opposites attract' thing. Silverbolt also comes around to Blackarachnia, and the two are now back to where they were during Beast Wars. Nothing like vengeance to get your mate all romantic, eh? Not. The episode itself is rather solid, nothing wrong with it... except the repetition. Well, Beast Machines is only going to be around for three more episodes anyway. Love it or hate it, this kind of chapter-by-chapter, dark, somewhat-religious, and fast-paced storytelling is one of its kind in Transformers fiction. I love it. I hope you guys do too. But for now, the endgame begins.

(Seven out of Ten)

NOTES
Presumably body-hopping like this is the result of Megatron's unique Spark (which is depolarized) instead of something every Spark can do.

The Diagnostic Drone body's optics light up a la the Grand Mal when Megatron's spark enters it. Said Drone has a lighter silver-ish colour in contrast to the blue of the other Diagnostic Drones.

The shell yard was last seen in the 'Revelations' three-parter.

The corpse that attacks Silverbolt and Blackarachnia is composed of culled parts from Beast Wars characters. The head is partially based on Tigerhawk, the feet from either Rampage or Transmetal Tarantulas, while the torso and right arm are definitely from Transmetal Tarantulas.

Also, Depth Charge's head is seen among the littered corspes during that scene, when Blackarachnia says 'Whoever you are, that was a big mistake.' Likewise, Blackarachnia rips out a power core from a body that uses the CG model for Ratchet.

Lots of movie references in this one. The sequence where Optimus Primal and Botanica are first ambushed is a reference to the Alien movie.

Cheetor and Thrust's exchange, with Cheetor asking what Thrust is rebelling against without Megatron, while Thrust replies 'what've you got?', is a homage to The Wild One. A fitting and in-character one, too.

Rattrap's sarcastic dialogue to Botanica, mimicking a little girl that says 'what did you do in the war, daddy?' 'Oh, I make gardening equipment to help the troops plant petunias!' is a reference to an iconic British World War 1 propaganda poster, in which a young child asks Dad what he did in the war. The specific wording, 'What did you do in the war, Daddy' is the title of a 1966 film.

Both Rattrap and Botanica refer to the orchard as Botanica's 'Field of Dreams', the title of a 1989 movie. Rattrap uses it as a double entrende as well, though.

Strika's line 'you shall not pass' is a reference to Gandalf of the Lord of the Rings. Megatron passes her and Obsidian easily, though.

This episode's title is a play on Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness.

During the Dreamwave days, Bob Skir wrote the short story 'Singularity Ablyss' for the Transformers Anthology that takes part during the events of this episode, detailing Megatron's thoughts while as a disembodied spark, enforcing his will to become a god, to surpass the AllSpark, and the fact that he caused the dead Rhinox to become even deader.

GOOFS
What, none of the Maximals recognize that the red Spark is Megatron?

When Obsidian and Strika are welcomed to the Maximal fold, the normally textured bits of Obsidian (the shoulders, wrists et al) are rendered smooth and flat.

Blackjack 2011-03-14 02:45 PM

Endgame Pt. I: The Downward Spiral
Airdate 19 April 2000
Written By: Michael Reaves
Japanese Title: The All-out Attack of Hell

SYNOPSIS
Legions of Vehicon Drones roll across Cybertron's surface, with more still being assembled at the Drone factory. Megatron orders his three Generals to assault the Grand Mal. Megatron reflects that he needs a better body than a Diagnostic Drone, but has no time to design one, so he chooses one that is suitably ironic. In the Grand Mal, Optimus Primal refuses restoring the Sparks into their bodies for fear of Megatron recapturing them. Botanica changed the defense grid so Megatron can't hack it again, but Rattrap doesn't have the same luck with the weapons, which are keyed to Megatron's spark. Cheetor asks Optimus how they are supposed to reformat the planet, to which Optimus replies that he isn't sure. Optimus is determined that the Oracle is planning it, even Megatron downloading the Oracle. Before they can debate any further, legions of Drones arrives. Rattrap whips out more discs, these one causing those that are attached to it to see each other as different Maximals. Silverbolt, Blackarachnia and Nightscream head out to slow down the Vehicons. They distract the Vehicons by launching pods that contain Maximal signatures courtesy of Rattrap's other discs, while they fly down themselves. Nightscream tags Obsidian with a disc, causing him to see Maximals grinning and waving at him. Obsidian swiftly destroys them, only to see a second Nightscream. As the smoke clears Obsidian is baffled to find the ruins of three of his drones. Thrust is likewise met with a similar problem. The Maximals, however, are attacked by Strika.

Silverbolt urges Optimus Primal to raise the Grand Mal's shield without them, which Optimus reluctantly does. A wave of Copter Drones plow right into it, while the rest surround the Grand Mal and attack. Silverbolt's team manages to cause Strika to chase Thrust via the disc, before retreating underground. Inside the Grand Mal, Botanica is cut off from Cybertron's organic core by the shields, causing her to collapse, but they can't afford to lower the shields. Obsidian keeps the pressure on, both he and Megatron confident that the shields will run out of power sooner or later while they have an infinite supply of drones. Rattrap tries to formulate a plan to get Botanica to Cybertron by creating a specific frequency to penetrate the forcefield. While the Grand Mal holds the line against Obsidian's Copter Drones, Silverbolt's team make their way to said factory, and find themselves meeting with Megatron. After a scuffle, Nightscream uses one of Rattrap's discs to distrcat Megatron before blowing up some large machine. Megatron tries to stop it, but gives up and watches as the factory blows up around him. Silverbolt reports this apparent victory to Optimus.

However, the current drones are giving the Grand Mal a pounding. Rattrap loads Botanica into a pod and launches it from the Grand Mal and through the force field. Her pod is hit just as Silverbolt's group arrives, but Botanica manages to crawl out and regain her vitality upon contact. However, Vehicon ground forces arrive, forcing them to escape. Megatron is among the team and locate Rattrap's harmonic-matching disc. Megatron sends the frequency to Obsidian, who sends it to his drones. The Copter Drones' attacks break through the shield, and Rattrap slumps in despair. Cheetor bluntly berates Rattrap but he defends his actions. As the Grand Mal begins to crash, Rattrap diverts all the power to create a stasis field around the Spark containment unit. The Grand Mal crashes above the Council Citadel where it once lay. The Maximals survive the crash, Rattrap regrets his impetuousness, but Optimus dismisses it, vowing that Megatron will not take the Sparks. As he says this, the legion of drones arrive...

To be continued...

Featured Transformers: Copter Drones, Ground Assault Drones, Megatron, Strika, Obsidian, Botanica, Rattrap, Cheetor, Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Optimus Primal, Silverbolt, Thrust, Cycle Drones

REVIEW
Some good, some bad. The legions and legions of drones are simply great CG, and for once emphasizes the sheer amount of enemies that the Maximals have to defeat. Simply great action scenes. The siege around the Grand Mal, the hilarious distraction scenes with the Vehicon Generals, and the battle in the factory are all well done. Great characterisation all around. From Rattrap's concern about Botanica that blinds his common sense, to Cheetor's highly pragmatic point of view, to Silverbolt being a warrior intent to end everything but now more noble instead of vengeful, to Nightscream being the basic 'child appeal' one-liner shooting guy, to Optimus Primal obsessing about protecting the Sparks... only the women don't get much character moments here, and Botanica's got the excuse of being sick 70% of the episode. Poor, poor Blackarachnia.

The Vehicons are ace too. The legioins of Drones aside, Megatron has turned into his gorgeous Beast Wars persona. I mean, the win-by-all-costs BM Megatron that we see throughout most of the first season is great, but hey, BW Megatron pwns all else. That 'yeees' in particular is simply well done. And his little hamstring monologue when fighting Silverbolt, Blackarachnia and Nightscream... a villain can be a big ham while fighting, you know. Even in a Diagnostic Drone body, Megatron is badass. His slumping down when the factory blows up is also a great character moment. Obsidian, Strika and Thrust all have great character moments, the sarcastic Thrust especially. But while character wise and action wise are good, plot ties together the whole story. And how is it?

Well, there is a whole bunch of plot holes here. The drone factories are pulled out of nowhere and it's simply weird to think that the Maximals didn't attack it earlier on. Also, Optimus not releasing the Spark is a huge idiotic move on his part, although at least it is lampshaded by Silverbolt and Nightscream. The whole fiasco wouldn't have been necessary if things had proceeded in a more logical way. Still, the great character and superior VA is worth watching, and the plot holes don't become obvious until you finish the episode and think about it. Far from perfect, but a veritable start to the Beast Era's grand finale.

(Seven out of Ten)

NOTES
Megatron seems to have reverted to his Beast Wars persona instead of his steadfastly committed Beast Machines persona. Probably the effect of Spark hopping. I mean, just listen at that trademark 'Yeeeess' of his. Gloating, choosing a body on irony, monologuing—the whole someone thought I was vulnerable, someone was wrong! routine...

More Rattrap gizmos, this time an improvement over the frequency scramblers in that it causes others to mistake those tagged with the discs to see grinning, waving Maximals everywhere.

The Drone Factoryhad appeared in 'the Weak Component', although the Maximals haven't attacked it at all.

This episode features one of the few times a Vehicon Drone emotes; the Copter Drone cowers in fear after Obsidian slaughters the rest of the group.

Botanica new techno-organic form cannot be separated from Cybertron's organic core for too long, causing the trouble the Maximals face this episode.

Worth noting that the three Maximals left aboard the Grand Mal after Botanica is ejected to Cybertron are the original crew of the Axalon, sans Rhinox.

GOOFS
So, um, why didn't the Maximals attack the relatively undefended and easily blown up drone factories (compared to the Grand Mal or the Council Citadel) early on in the series, or disable them during the two times Megatron was thought to be dead? Because the factories are introduced only now when the plot sees fit, that's why.

Why didn't Optimus release at least some of the Sparks? True, he didn't want Megatron to recapture them, but having several million Transformers on his side, instead of seven, would surely guarantee victory and thus rescue the Sparks, what? The real life answer to this, of course, is that Mainframe didn't have the resources to animate that many extras.

Nightscream says that the drones will arrive within 'minutes' instead of cycles or whatever. More noticeable since Nightscream was the only one who never came to Earth, prehistoric or otherwise.

How can Megatron survive being at ground zero of an explosion without a scratch? Sure, his Spark is super mutated, but the Diagnostic Drone is fragile, surely?

The disc with harmonics is easily removable from Botanica's pod, so why can't Rattrap put a note or tell Botanica to remove it so the Vehicons can't use it?

Blackjack 2011-03-20 11:59 AM

Endgame Pt. II: When Legends Fall
Airdate: 26 April 2000
Written By: Steven Melching
Japanese Title: Hope's End

SYNOPSIS
The Grand Mal is besieged by the Vehicons. Megatron orders the Vehicon Generals to destroy the Maximals and recapture the Sparks, then returns to the project of his new body with a Diagnostic Drone. However, the Vehicons decide to undergo field repairs on their drones, buying the Maximals time. Botanica sprouts out near the Maximals in the Grand Mal and shows them a power conduit they can tap into. Rattrap is overjoyed but refuses to admit it. Silverbolt notes that they get only one shot, and that the power surge will be detected and cut off. Silverbolt and Blackarachnia, as well as Rattrap and Botanica, share a quiet moment. Optimus Primal enters the Spark chamber and calls on the Oracle for help. A vision overtakes him, and tells Primal that he already have the wisdom. The Sparks offer their strength, and the Maximals' Sparks all glow in their respective colours, powering them up. Megatron offers one last chance to surrender their Sparks painlessly, to which the Maximals naturally refuse. The Vehicon legion move in. The Maximals activate the shield with the power source, obliterating the first wave of the Drones. The Generals try the harmonics trick, but discover that the shield harmonics are changing rapidly. The Vehicons then send drones to ram the shield to deplete it, and the shield soon goes down.

There are no words and no sounds as the Maximals give everything they got at the Vehicon Drones, before falling back to the Grand Mal. A squad of Mole Drones attack the Techno-organic Orchard with wheels and flamethrowers, and Botanica feels the pain. She gang-presses Rattrap and Nightscream to go underground to fight the Mole Drones. They soon meet battle, and Nightscream veers off to protect the fossil chamber, also under attack. The rest of the Maximals battle the legions of drones, and Primal chases down a trio of Tank Drones that manage to enter the Grand Mal by being airdropped. Optimus Primal destroys one of the Drones, but the Spark power-up begin to glow and destroy the Tank Drones. The other Maximals also find the same thing happening to them, with Drones exploding everywhere. Elsewhere, Megatron states that his new body is complete. The Oracle is also part of Megatron, and he cuts the connection, severing the Maximals from their Spark boost.

Thrust singles out Silverbolt, and deals with the traitor by blasting him and dropping a tower onto him. Obsidian takes out Blackarachnia before she could get her revenge on Thrust. Cheetor confronts all three Vehicon Generals, and the battle manages to enter the Grand Mal. They enter a dark room, and a roof hatch opens as Cheetor activates the anti-gravity generators. Thrust had the presence to scoot away from under the hatch, but Obsidian and Strika are blasted into orbital space. Elsewhere, Megatron tries out his new body, and notes that he is alive again. Cheetor and Thrust circle each other, and Thrust throws away his Spark extractor. The two battle, but when Thrust grapple-hooks Cheetor, Cheetor picks Thrust's Spark extractor and tears out the Vehicon's Spark. Cheetor is shadowed, and mistakes it for Optimus Primal... but it's really Megatron, who zaps him. Megatron confronts Optimus Primal, revealing his new body to be Optimus' former Optimal Optimus body, albeit with a different face. He gloats that the day of the Maximals is at an end. All around the Grand Mal, the Drones despark the Maximals one by one. Megatron tells Optimus Primal that now it is his turn.

To be continued...

Featured Transformers: Obsidian, Strika, Thrust, Megatron, Diagnostic Drone, Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Cheetor, Botanica, Silverbolt, Blackarachnia, Nightscream, Tank Drones, Cycle Drones, Copter Drones, the Oracle, Jet Drones, Ground Assault Drones, Mole Drones

REVIEW
Out of any story, conclusions are always the hardest to write, and Transformers lore have a bad habit of having piss-poor conclusions in story arcs, or an adequate, mis-paced one at best. All conclusions, especially that of a cartoon, usually ends with a big-ass fight, though, and Beast Machines does not disappoint. More Maximals versus Vehicon action, and I especially adore that scene where the Cycle Drones were flipped and destroyed by the forcefield suddenly coming on. The moment of silent action sequence, on the other hand... granted, it is cool, but it is also rather narmish, especially with the rather 'dull surprise' look the Maximals have on their faces, and the streaky anime lines behind them. Pity, since they could've done something spectacular. Instead we get this.

Obsidian and Strika get one of the worst exits ever, by being blown into orbit. Before you ask, no, they don't get any conclusion to their character arc, not even a proper death in the battle against the Maximals, which would've added to the drama and to a satisfactory end to those two. One thing I have to note about Beast Machines is that despite the darker and the more psychological/spiritual tone, very few characters actually die, unlike Beast Wars or even Generation One. Only Rhinox and Noble made the grand total of death so far, since we all know desparking isn't permanent. And Noble isn't even a proper person. Unlike the finales in Beast Wars' Season Two or Three where a huge majority of the cast gets either killed or seriously incapacitated. Surely if they aren't going to use Obsidian and Strika in the climax it would be much better to kill them off, in a huge action scene instead of having random Drones blasted here and there? And the Maximals... we could've seen a climatic battle. Instead, we get basically a rerun of 'Revelations' part three, with all the Maximal troops being incapacitated and a fanatical Optimus Primal confronting Megatron. Only instead of the Key to Vector Sigma, it is the Spark extractors now. And the stakes are higher, but that's a given. This execution of the final Endgame always bothered me.

There are good things in this episode, though. The confrontation between Cheetor and Thrust is golden, with Thrust having enough honour to toss away his Spark extractor, only for the Maximal — bent to protect the Sparks — to go and use said weapon. The little quiet romantic moment between the two couples (Rattrap and Botanica felt forced and abrupt, though) are also nicely done. Also, I like the fact that it isn't just a single battle on a single front, but rather multiple fronts with the Mole Drones wanting to obliterate all techno-organic DNA in the orchard and the fossil cave. Megatron, meanwhile, has fully reverted into his hamfisted Beast Wars persona, yeeess, picking the Optimal Optimus body purely to taunt Optimus Primal. While the execution of the Maximal and Vehicon troops leave much to be desired, at least this promises an asskicking fight scene next episode.

(Six out of Ten)

NOTES
Final appearances of Obsidian and Strika. Presumably when the Maximals remember that they are still orbiting Cybertron they'll send someone to drag the two of them down.

Megatron's body is a replica of Optimus Primal's "Optimal Optimus" body from the third season of Beast Wars, albeit with Megatron's Transmetal face under the helmet. Fashionably ironic, yeeeess. Presumably he got the schematics during the course of Beast Wars (Tarantulas did make that control harness thing) or by downloading it off Rhinox's memories.

And he says yeeess again, yeeeess.

Another Diagnostic Drone, identical to the one that appeared in the first season, is featured here. He sounds the same but is voiced by a different voice actor. Also, he's less emotive, acting really like a lifeless drone.

Due to Optimus summoning the mumbo-jumbo powers of the Oracle, all the Maximals' sparks now glow and infuse them with power. They are colour coded too, with the same glowing effects when they transform (Blackarachnia's is green, Rattrap's red, Silverbolt's yellow, Nightscream's is light blue and so on). Presumably this multi-coloured Sparks is the result of their techno-organic body.

Note that the Tank Drones and Jet Drones, previously unseen ever since Obsidian and Strika entered the fray, are utilized alongside the Copter and Ground Assault Drones, presumably taken out of reserve for this final battle.

Also note that Silverbolt is knocked out by Thrust. In Beast Wars, Silverbolt was the only Maximal that Waspinator ever defeats. Twice, to boot.

At the end of this episode, Thrust and all the Maximals have all been de-sparked, leaving only Optimus Primal and Megatron functional.

GOOFS
If the Vehicons need to repair their Drones — which had always been shown as close to infinite in numbers — presumably they can't spare too many drones to be destroyed. So why would they resort to kamikaze tricks?

Why didn't Nightscream use his super-powered sonic scream thing during the initial battle? Rattrap was the one who needed to rely on vine bombs, not him...

One of the cycle drones is again miscoloured as Thrust.

Blackjack 2011-03-22 04:55 AM

Endgame Pt. III: Seeds of the Future
Airdate: 3 May 2000
Written By: Robert N. Skir
Japanese Title: The Whereabouts of the Future

SYNOPSIS
Megatron stands gloating over Optimus Primal, in his new body. Megatron takes a moment to rub it in Optimus' nose, before gesturing for a trio of Diagnostic Drones to enter, with the Maximals' Sparks within. Optimus Primal watches as his friends' Sparks are added into the Spark container, and the two began to battle in earnest. A stray blast from Optimus hits the Spark Container's machineries, distracting Optimus enough for Megatron to punch him out of the Grand Mal. Optimus looks at the sparkless bodies of Blackarachnia and Silverbolt in horror, the two stopped mid-track from reaching at each other. The Diagnostic Drones begin repairs on the console. Megatron rubs it in, before attacking again. After another battle, where Megatron seemingly gains the upper hand with his rapid fire Optimus Primal flies away through the city scape, leading jet-mode Megatron in a chase until he reaches a generator storage area.

Optimus Primal blows up the generators, creating a huge explosion. Optimus watches in satisfaction as Megatron's left arm falls down beside him, but Megatron soon walks out of the flames, and kung-fu kicks Optimus away. Megatron reattaches his arm and transforms into tank mode in pursuit of a flying Optimus Primal through the city, jarring him back into Beast Mode. Optimus hangs on for dear life on the edge of a building, but Megatron destroys the building into two and Optimus falls into a river. Megatron follows in, and after a brief scene of searching, fires, causing Optimus Primal to be sucked into the hole along with the water. Optimus wakes up to find himself at the Oracle chamber, to find the orchard completely destroyed, and Rattrap and Botanica's sparkless bodies lying on the ground. Megatron arrives, holds Optimus like a toy, and takes him to the surface, where the Drones have released the Sparks in the Grand Mal out into a whirling mass floating above the Grand Mal.

Megatron heads to the Council Citadel and activates a throne from the topmost part of the spire. He sits down and begins to absorb the Sparks to supplant the Matrix and ascend into godhood. The sparks swirl around Megatron and enter his body. Optimus tries to get the Sparks and Megatron to get to his ideals, but they fall on deaf ears. Optimus fears that he has failed, but the Sparks of the Maximals, the last to be sucked into Megatron, speak to him one last time, imploring him into action. Finishing the absorption, Megatron grows into a large size and glows, and begins to burn a hole through the Citadel, right to the organic core of Cybertron. Megatron readies the Key to Vector Sigma to fire on the core, but is unable to do so because Optimus Primal shares the Oracle link with Megatron, citing a stalemate. However, Megatron traps Optimus in an energy shell severs the link Optimus Primal from the Oracle, and activates the Key, beginning to turn some of Cybertron's core into technomatter. After a moment, Optimus breaks free and fires at Megatron's leg, reformatting Megatron's throne into techno-organic in the process. Megatron is still gloating, thinking Optimus is trying to harm him physically, but the vines from the throne grab Megatron's arms, breaking his concentration. Optimus flies and tries to push Megatron into the organic core. Optimus shoots the vines and pushes Megatron into the core, stating that he's planting the seeds of the future, as well as finding balance between the technological and the organic, as well as eternal enemies. Optimus bids Megatron farewell, and the two die in a flash of light. The Sparks are released, and a bright light begins to engulf Cybertron.

The Maximals wake up to find Cybertron itself reformatted into techno-organic, with techno-organic trees as well as buildings. Cheetor notes that this is Cybertron as it has been before. Botanica and Rattrap hug. Botanica causes flowers to sprout everywhere. The Sparks return to their bodies, and the Transformers run across the hill. The Oracle shows Cheetor a vision, of Optimus Primal's spark flying away, telling him to transform and transcend. Cheetor says he understands. Silverbolt and Blackarachnia are about to kiss, when a tiny, techno-organic Waspinator with Thrust's head flies past, complaining. Rattrap swats Waspinator away, and regrets Optimus' loss. Cheetor tells them that Optimus Primal had finally achieved his dream of reformatting Cybertron.

The End.

Featured Transformers: Megatron (killed), Optimus Primal (killed), Diagnostic Drones, Blackarachnia, Silverbolt, Thrust (reverted into sort-of Waspinator), Rattrap, Botanica, Nightscream, Cheetor, The Transformers

REVIEW
And thus, Beast Machines ends. And what an ending, too. Sure, it's far from perfect, and the epilogue at the end feels a bit too long and happy. And Optimus Primal beats Silverbolt in the corniness department with his speech in trying to get Megatron to convert. Also, somehow plunging Megatron reformats the entire planet in a blazing flash of glory and resurrects everyone, causing too much of a happy ending. It's too convenient, if dramatic. It's a little unsatisfactory, especially considering the fact that if mortality was a little higher, it would really be a suitable ending to the tone of the series. It's not just 'Blackjack likes people to die', but it's more of a suitable tone for the ending of a darker series. But those are my only complaints in this episode.

The fight between Optimus Primal and Megatron is one of the best battle royales I've ever seen, making full use of their abilities. It does feel a bit too long after some time, but look at the pretty visuals and just enjoy the monkey and the crazy beat the crap out of each other. Optimus Primal's final moment of burning justice is well done as well, as is Megatron's crazy megalomania. Things are just so well done, that you feel sorry even for Megatron — he just wants to get his ambition, and this little insect keeps getting in the way! Both Gary Chalk and David Kaye give it their all in this episode, and it's simply astounding.

The rest of the Maximals don't get much of a chance to interact, and I dislike Rattrap and Botanica's chemistry-less romance. Silverbolt's back to his BW persona after all is over, whic is a good thing. Cheetor transcends Optimus as a leader, and Cybertron's completely techno-organic. This ending, with Cybertron being techno-organic and everyone conveniently coming back to life, seemingly at the beck and call of the Oracle, is something that many fans have complained about, but I like it. It's a suitable conclusion, and well, the whole point of the series is to be different.

So ends one of my favourite shows. Beast Machines may not be as good as Beast Wars in terms of characterization, but it is a great sequel that simply tries to be a little different, and get endless tons of grief for it. It's a great show, and simply one of the best in Transformers. Sure, it isn't perfect, and has its faults, but it's got characterization, astounding CG, kick-ass Vehicons, a great set-up, a darker tone... Beast Machines! And it does too continue in fanfics, such as Obsidian's Lament, a toy-based done by Shane Anderson of TFW2005, something which I recommend. Compared to the redubbed shows which would plague Transformerdom until 2007, well... Beast Machines shines above all.

(Eight out of Ten)

NOTES
The final episode of Beast Machines, and indeed the G1 cartoon continuity as a whole. Cybertron and its inhabitants are now fully techno-organic. Optimus Primal and Megatron are killed off for good. Cheetor succeeds Optimus Primal as leader, appropriately, after being contacted by the Oracle at the end. Also, Cheetor gets the last line.

Megatron stores his spark in the vehicle mode cockpits, the way Optimus Primal stored Optimus Prime's spark in 'Optimal Situation'.

Naturally, Megatron never transforms into Beast Mode, only the jet and tank modes. Arguably he uses them to more effectiveness than Optimus Primal ever did in Beast Wars.

Megatron walking out of the flames after his left hand is blown away is too similar with that scene from the Terminator to be a coincidence.

In this episode, the Oracle sort-of materializes/is represented as a spinning circle summoned into being by Megatron's mastery of the Oracle.

Again, Megatron says a loud 'yeeess' at his moment of triumph. Rather ironically, his last word is 'NOOOOOOO!'

Poor Thrust/Waspinator has been reduced to a wasp with Thrust's robot mode head and Waspinator's voice. And a tiny wasp too, at that. Quite obviously the CG model uses a mish-mash of Waspinator's beast mode and Thrust's robot head. This final comedic form has been jokingly referred to as 'Thrustinator' among the fandom, but he still refers to himself as Waspinator.

Waspy's line 'Waspinator never gets what Waspinator wants!' is an ironic echo of Waspinator's final dialogue in Beast Wars.

Before you ask, yes, Silverbolt is back to his corny chivalrous speaking pattern, and his romance with Blackarachnia is fully restored after a bumpy ride. Ditto for Rattrap and Botanica.

Even the fallen Grand Mal is also reformatted into techno-organic.

A scene with Obsidian and Strika returning to Cybertron, apologizing and then declining to be reformatted was scripted, but didn't make the cut due to timing reasons.

The last shot we see is a close-up of a techno-organic flower, blooming in glory. The first shot we saw in Beast Machines was of a similar flower, trampled by Optimus Primal and the Tank Drones.

It's never the end, and the story of Beast Machines will be continued by 3H in their rather convoluted and unfinished comic series Transformers: Universe and Transformers Wreckers. Yes, Optimus Primal is revived. Yes, they retconned the whole techno-organic thing being the will of Cybertron, which is the most unprofessional, fanwanky thing someone working in TF has ever done.

GOOFS
Thrust's body somehow ends up next to Blackarachnia and Silverbolt outside the Grand Mal, when his body should've been with Cheetor in the anti-grav room. Megatron or the Vehicons could have moved him, but whyever for?

When Megatron first transforms into his jet mode, his spark is briefly coloured blue instead of the proper red.

Silverbolt's pupil is shifted as if he's staring at something when he delivers his final line.

The generic Transformers look mechanical instead of techno-organic. Also, their leg motions on some of them look as if they are running sideways instead of forwards.

Blackjack 2011-03-22 09:50 AM

Gad, Beast Machines is done. It was fun reviewing Beast Machines.

Next up: Robots in Disguise AND Prime.

I'll review RID because it's next in chronological order (plus it's mercifully short compared to any of the Unicron trilogy), while I want to do TF: Prime while it's still fresh in my head. Gives me an excuse to rewatch Darkness Rising, anyhow.

Afterwards, Animated, then Armada, maybe Cybertron if I am still interested. We'll see about Energon.

Also, Blackjack will review all the Timelines issues because he lucked out and got everything up until G2: Redux. And I do mean everything, even the OTFCC comics involving Skyfall and Landquake dimension hopping.

Prepare for lots of these.


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:09 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.