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Old 2011-03-09, 11:11 AM   #23
Blackjack
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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.
 
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