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Old 2011-03-14, 02:45 PM   #26
Blackjack
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Endgame Pt. I: The Downward Spiral
Airdate 19 April 2000
Written By: Michael Reaves
Japanese Title: The All-out Attack of Hell

SYNOPSIS
Legions of Vehicon Drones roll across Cybertron's surface, with more still being assembled at the Drone factory. Megatron orders his three Generals to assault the Grand Mal. Megatron reflects that he needs a better body than a Diagnostic Drone, but has no time to design one, so he chooses one that is suitably ironic. In the Grand Mal, Optimus Primal refuses restoring the Sparks into their bodies for fear of Megatron recapturing them. Botanica changed the defense grid so Megatron can't hack it again, but Rattrap doesn't have the same luck with the weapons, which are keyed to Megatron's spark. Cheetor asks Optimus how they are supposed to reformat the planet, to which Optimus replies that he isn't sure. Optimus is determined that the Oracle is planning it, even Megatron downloading the Oracle. Before they can debate any further, legions of Drones arrives. Rattrap whips out more discs, these one causing those that are attached to it to see each other as different Maximals. Silverbolt, Blackarachnia and Nightscream head out to slow down the Vehicons. They distract the Vehicons by launching pods that contain Maximal signatures courtesy of Rattrap's other discs, while they fly down themselves. Nightscream tags Obsidian with a disc, causing him to see Maximals grinning and waving at him. Obsidian swiftly destroys them, only to see a second Nightscream. As the smoke clears Obsidian is baffled to find the ruins of three of his drones. Thrust is likewise met with a similar problem. The Maximals, however, are attacked by Strika.

Silverbolt urges Optimus Primal to raise the Grand Mal's shield without them, which Optimus reluctantly does. A wave of Copter Drones plow right into it, while the rest surround the Grand Mal and attack. Silverbolt's team manages to cause Strika to chase Thrust via the disc, before retreating underground. Inside the Grand Mal, Botanica is cut off from Cybertron's organic core by the shields, causing her to collapse, but they can't afford to lower the shields. Obsidian keeps the pressure on, both he and Megatron confident that the shields will run out of power sooner or later while they have an infinite supply of drones. Rattrap tries to formulate a plan to get Botanica to Cybertron by creating a specific frequency to penetrate the forcefield. While the Grand Mal holds the line against Obsidian's Copter Drones, Silverbolt's team make their way to said factory, and find themselves meeting with Megatron. After a scuffle, Nightscream uses one of Rattrap's discs to distrcat Megatron before blowing up some large machine. Megatron tries to stop it, but gives up and watches as the factory blows up around him. Silverbolt reports this apparent victory to Optimus.

However, the current drones are giving the Grand Mal a pounding. Rattrap loads Botanica into a pod and launches it from the Grand Mal and through the force field. Her pod is hit just as Silverbolt's group arrives, but Botanica manages to crawl out and regain her vitality upon contact. However, Vehicon ground forces arrive, forcing them to escape. Megatron is among the team and locate Rattrap's harmonic-matching disc. Megatron sends the frequency to Obsidian, who sends it to his drones. The Copter Drones' attacks break through the shield, and Rattrap slumps in despair. Cheetor bluntly berates Rattrap but he defends his actions. As the Grand Mal begins to crash, Rattrap diverts all the power to create a stasis field around the Spark containment unit. The Grand Mal crashes above the Council Citadel where it once lay. The Maximals survive the crash, Rattrap regrets his impetuousness, but Optimus dismisses it, vowing that Megatron will not take the Sparks. As he says this, the legion of drones arrive...

To be continued...

Featured Transformers: Copter Drones, Ground Assault Drones, Megatron, Strika, Obsidian, Botanica, Rattrap, Cheetor, Nightscream, Blackarachnia, Optimus Primal, Silverbolt, Thrust, Cycle Drones

REVIEW
Some good, some bad. The legions and legions of drones are simply great CG, and for once emphasizes the sheer amount of enemies that the Maximals have to defeat. Simply great action scenes. The siege around the Grand Mal, the hilarious distraction scenes with the Vehicon Generals, and the battle in the factory are all well done. Great characterisation all around. From Rattrap's concern about Botanica that blinds his common sense, to Cheetor's highly pragmatic point of view, to Silverbolt being a warrior intent to end everything but now more noble instead of vengeful, to Nightscream being the basic 'child appeal' one-liner shooting guy, to Optimus Primal obsessing about protecting the Sparks... only the women don't get much character moments here, and Botanica's got the excuse of being sick 70% of the episode. Poor, poor Blackarachnia.

The Vehicons are ace too. The legioins of Drones aside, Megatron has turned into his gorgeous Beast Wars persona. I mean, the win-by-all-costs BM Megatron that we see throughout most of the first season is great, but hey, BW Megatron pwns all else. That 'yeees' in particular is simply well done. And his little hamstring monologue when fighting Silverbolt, Blackarachnia and Nightscream... a villain can be a big ham while fighting, you know. Even in a Diagnostic Drone body, Megatron is badass. His slumping down when the factory blows up is also a great character moment. Obsidian, Strika and Thrust all have great character moments, the sarcastic Thrust especially. But while character wise and action wise are good, plot ties together the whole story. And how is it?

Well, there is a whole bunch of plot holes here. The drone factories are pulled out of nowhere and it's simply weird to think that the Maximals didn't attack it earlier on. Also, Optimus not releasing the Spark is a huge idiotic move on his part, although at least it is lampshaded by Silverbolt and Nightscream. The whole fiasco wouldn't have been necessary if things had proceeded in a more logical way. Still, the great character and superior VA is worth watching, and the plot holes don't become obvious until you finish the episode and think about it. Far from perfect, but a veritable start to the Beast Era's grand finale.

(Seven out of Ten)

NOTES
Megatron seems to have reverted to his Beast Wars persona instead of his steadfastly committed Beast Machines persona. Probably the effect of Spark hopping. I mean, just listen at that trademark 'Yeeeess' of his. Gloating, choosing a body on irony, monologuing—the whole someone thought I was vulnerable, someone was wrong! routine...

More Rattrap gizmos, this time an improvement over the frequency scramblers in that it causes others to mistake those tagged with the discs to see grinning, waving Maximals everywhere.

The Drone Factoryhad appeared in 'the Weak Component', although the Maximals haven't attacked it at all.

This episode features one of the few times a Vehicon Drone emotes; the Copter Drone cowers in fear after Obsidian slaughters the rest of the group.

Botanica new techno-organic form cannot be separated from Cybertron's organic core for too long, causing the trouble the Maximals face this episode.

Worth noting that the three Maximals left aboard the Grand Mal after Botanica is ejected to Cybertron are the original crew of the Axalon, sans Rhinox.

GOOFS
So, um, why didn't the Maximals attack the relatively undefended and easily blown up drone factories (compared to the Grand Mal or the Council Citadel) early on in the series, or disable them during the two times Megatron was thought to be dead? Because the factories are introduced only now when the plot sees fit, that's why.

Why didn't Optimus release at least some of the Sparks? True, he didn't want Megatron to recapture them, but having several million Transformers on his side, instead of seven, would surely guarantee victory and thus rescue the Sparks, what? The real life answer to this, of course, is that Mainframe didn't have the resources to animate that many extras.

Nightscream says that the drones will arrive within 'minutes' instead of cycles or whatever. More noticeable since Nightscream was the only one who never came to Earth, prehistoric or otherwise.

How can Megatron survive being at ground zero of an explosion without a scratch? Sure, his Spark is super mutated, but the Diagnostic Drone is fragile, surely?

The disc with harmonics is easily removable from Botanica's pod, so why can't Rattrap put a note or tell Botanica to remove it so the Vehicons can't use it?
 
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