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Old 2011-02-11, 10:50 PM   #13
Blackjack
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The Catalyst
Airdate: 11 December 1999
Written By: Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg
Japanese Title: The Water of Life

SYNOPSIS
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)

REVIEW
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)

NOTES
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.

GOOFS
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?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-02-12 at 08:55 AM.
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