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Old 2011-03-27, 04:09 AM   #2
Blackjack
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Darkness Rising, Part 2
Airdate: 26 November 2010
Written By: Nicole Dubuc

Synopsis:
The Nemesis hovers above a mountain, hollowed out to reveal the Energon mine beneath, the results of Starscream's work. As the drones mine the Energon, Megatron reminds Starscream who's boss, and Starscream asks when the army Megatron has surely gathered would arrive. Megatron shows what he had found Dark Energon, the blood of Unicron, a legendary substance which is said to have the power to revive the dead. Megatron inquires if Starscream wants to volunteer to die and test it out, but Starscream suggests using Cliffjumper's corpse. In the Autobot base, Optimus Prime tells the kids that the Autobots must now protect them, since the Decepticons will likely be interested in the Autobots new allies. Agent Fowler, their liaison with the US government, pays them a visit. The kids hide. Fowler is not happy with the Autobots' antics during the freeway chase, but Bulkhead points out that no humans were hurt, breaking one of Ratchet's tools in the process. Optimus Prime assures Fowler that the Autobots will take care of things with no human casualties, and Fowler leaves.

Megatron stabs the Dark Energon shard into Cliffjumper, who is revived as a snarling beast, and savagely attacks the two luckless soldiers nearby. Starscream is horrified, but Megatron simply slices Cliffjumper into two, and drops the zombie down the cliff. Megatron tells Starscream that Dark Energon is the key to a vast, indestructible army. Ratchet detected Cliffjumper's life signal coming back to life briefly, and the Autobots head out. The kids offer to come and help, but Optimus leaves them with Ratchet. Both Ratchet and the kids aren't happy. As the Autobots head off, Ratchet sort-of explains the Ground Bridge to the kids. The Autobots arrive in the Energon mine and a full out brawl happens between the Autobots and the Decepticon drones, where the Autobots knock all the drones apart. Starscream alerts Megatron, but Megatron tells Starscream that he needs more time to prepare to face Optimus, and orders the Nemesis to departure. Starscream points out that this will leave the Energon in the mine to the Autobots, and he is ordered to blow the mine. As the battle moves to the chamber where the Nemesis is hovering above, Arcee spots Cliffjumper (well, the slice with the head, anyway), and the other Autobots cover her as she leaps to reascue Cliffjumper. However, she discovers to her horror that Cliffjumper has been changed. The snarling Cliffjumper fell down among the Energon crystals as the Autobots watch, but Starscream arrives and drops a bomb before retreating up the Nemesis. The Autobots race back to their entry point where Ratchet reactivates the Ground Bridge.

Back in the base Arcee tells the others what she saw. Jack stops Miko from asking too many questions. Arcee suddenly becomes dizzy and Ratchet scans her, finding contamination in the form of purple fluid on her wrist. While Arcee is decontaminated, the kids explain to Optimus Prime that they really need to get home. Bulkhad takes Miko home, Bumblebee with Raf and Arcee with Jack. When Jack gets home, Jack's mother also arrives home at the same time. Jack's mother is not happy that Jack have 'brought' a motorcycle, but Jack manages to talk her around. Arcee stays in Jack's garage for the night, then the next morning insists that they return to base. On the Nemesis, Megatron doubts that Optimus has died. Starscream is concerned that Megatron is affected by the exposure to Dark Energon, but Megatron merely takes a shard and stabs it into his own Spark. In the Autobot base, Ratchet analyses the sample of Dark Energon, and as he moves it around, some of the fluid drips on the machinery Bulkhead broke earlier. The piece of machinery twitches to life, transforming into a one-eyed insectoid creature...

Featured Characters: Vehicon Miners, Starscream, Megatron, Cliffjumper's Body (revived), Bulkhead, Arcee, Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Miko Nakadai, Jack Darby, Rafael Esquivel, Agent Fowler, June Darby, Dark Energon Mutant

Review:
Simply astonishing. The fight scene in the Energon mine is, while a little dizzying at one point, brings action scenes up to eleven. This isn't robots hiding behind rocks and shooting lasers at each other, kids! I particularly like how Arcee beheads a Vehicon by jumping onto the Decepticon, then using her legs to twist the head off. The Autobots tearing the Decepticons apart is simply so much fun. You know that the drones have no chance, yet you'll enjoy it. And those drones are pretty too! My favourite action scene has to be Starscream diving from his perch, twirling mid-air and transforming as he falls vertically, then shooting back up. Best use of physics ever. Cliffjumper turning rabid and being sliced into two from shoulder to hip by Megatron is well done as well. Megatron is fun in his own right, a slightly-crazy leader who risks everything and has no qualms about cutting his losses. Dark Energon as a zombifying substance (and undoubtedly a power up) is nicely done as well. Although it has inconsistencies with War for Cybertron... meh, screw WFC, they both work better independently.

I particularly like the little character moments, especially when Miko bombards the Autobots, clearly shell-shocked after seeing zombie Cliffjumper, with questions and the more mature Jack steers her away. Or the human kids realising that, hey, the big alien robots have feelings and can die! Arcee's little moment of disbelief as zombie Cliffjumper bats her hand away, Megatron's joke-not-joke of asking Starscream to die to test out Dark Energon, Starscream's veiled question to Megatron's competence as a leader... ah, Starscream. Starscream is very evidently unhappy that Megatron is back, but he is smart enough not to show it, with that remark about Megatron gathering a Decepticon army a subtle jab at his leader that is delivered like a compliment! It doesn't even sound sarcastic. And the concerned yelp as Megatron stabs himself (all right, granted the idea of a rabid Megatron would mean instant death)... Starscream is evidently a competent leader, gathering Energon for three years (just listen to his voice as he complains about blowing the mine) but despite his disagreements with Megatron he shows a unified Decepticon faction in front of the Autobots.

I like Agent Fowler, he seems to be a fun character from what we see, and gives a military presence to the show. The human kids being left behind is realistic, although that bit with Jack and his mom is a tad longer than it deserves. A nice reminder that the humans actually have lives other than hanging out in the Autobot base, though. Jack is basically Sam, Miko is basically the over-enthusiastic sidekick... Rafael pisses me off a wee bit, though, for some reason. The kid is the guy who 'knows more about technology than Transformers', though it is justified by Ratchet not understanding the rubbish human software, so Ratchet doesn't look like a fool. Raf is humble and charmingly cute, at least. The star of the show had to be Ratchet. The guy has a dry wit, and has an instant love-hate chemistry with the humans. That moment where he does all 'Buuuulkhead, I NEEDED that!' is delivered perfectly, as well as his line when Miko asks if the Ground Bridge could transfer her to Tokyo, and Ratchet says something along the lines of 'allow me to send the lot of you there now.' I enjoy this incarnation of Ratchet more than most. He has a great camaraderie with deadpan snarker Optimus as well. 'The humans will go squuuueeeiish!' 'Then, Ratchet, in the meantime we'll have to watch where we step.' and when Optimus tells the humans to stay with Ratchet. The kids let out a groan, and Ratchet says his own 'aaaaw' groan. It's not over-the-top, it's not a joke, but it's a funny moment.

(Nine out of Ten)

Notes:
The first appearance of Agent Fowler, as well as Dark Energon. It seems that the main cast has never encountered Dark Energon before, despite WFC.

The Miners seen in this episode are Car Vehicons with slightly tweaked head design (two optic bands instead of one and a different helmet). Later episodes would call them as their own class, so I'll consider the two to be separate for clearness' sake.

Starscream and Megatron say that according to legend, Dark Energon is the Blood of Unicron the Destroyer. Unicron is, of course, a homage to the multiversal Dark God that as the force of chaos that wants to consume everything.

This episode features a bunch of drills that the troopers operate, which bear more than a passing resemblance to the Mole Drones in Beast Machines. Also, Starscream refers to the Vehicons collectively as 'drones'. Although the drone whose skull zombie-Cliff crushes screams with fear.

Ratchet explains the concept of the Ground Bridge to the humans here as a downscaled Space Bridge.

Like his Animated counterpart, Bulkhead has a tendency to destroy things around him. But this time it's not because he's clumsy, it's because he wants to show off. Which comes to Ratchet saying, 'Buuuulkhead I needed that!'

Optimus Prime says his catchphrase 'Autobots, roll out!' when retreating from the explosion.

Optimus Prime also says 'Maximum overdrive!' here. It would soon be repeated as a catchphrase in the series.

Starscream says Megatron stabs the shard into his Spark Chamber, referencing Sparks, which is essentially the life essence of Transformers, first introduced in Beast Wars.

The way the blob of Dark Energon changing ordinary technology into spiderlike hostile Transformers is, of course, based on the AllSpark's behaviour in the live-action Movies. The manipulator mutant in particular looks quite a lot like Scalpel/the Doctor from the live-action movie, albeit with one single optic.

Arm gimmicks:
-Megatron's fusion cannon has an extending switchblade, similar to his live action counterpart's second body in ROTF, where his Murder Claw is attached to his cannon (or vice versa).
-Both of Bulkhead's arms can retract and transform into wrecking balls to punch Vehicons, like his Animated counterpart. Unlike Animated, the balls are not on strings, though.

Goofs:
When the Autobots walk into the main part of the mine, they have no shadows.

If this is in continuity with the War for Cybertron game, then Dark Energon has wildly different properties. Instead of granting super-strength and corrupting computers or Cybertron, here Dark Energon raises the dead.

Also, Starscream, Ratchet and Bumblebee all act unfamiliar around Dark Energon despite experiencing it first-hand in WFC. Starscream in particular is the one charged with studying it. Which settles it- WFC is a different continuity!
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 11:31 AM.
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