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Old 2011-03-07, 01:25 PM   #22
Blackjack
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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.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-03-22 at 05:00 AM.
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