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Old 2010-12-13, 01:58 AM   #3
Blackjack
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Fires of the Past
Japanese Title: Mark of Love
Airdate: 2 October 1999
Written By: Marv Wolfmand

SYNOPSIS
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)

REVIEW
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)

NOTES
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.

GOOFS
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.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-03-22 at 02:44 AM.
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