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Old 2011-02-11, 02:36 AM   #12
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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...
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