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Old 2011-04-03, 08:30 AM   #3
Blackjack
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Darkness Writing, Part 3
Airdate: 1 December 2010
Written By: Marsha Griffin

Synopsis:
The three kids hang out with their respective partner Autobots and are generally having fun. In the base, however, Ratchet came under attack by the reanimated spider-like creature. Optimus Prime shoots the creature and steps on it, and he and Ratchet conclude that both Cliffjumper and the creature were revived by Dark Energon. In the Decepticon ship, Megatron, now powered up by Dark Energon, decides to implement his next move and tells Starscream to wait for orders. Starscream, meanwhile, observes that Megatron hasn't been himself. After a short one-sided debate with Soundwave, he orders the silent Decepticon to increase surveillance. Optimus, meanwhile, realises Megatron intends to use the Dark Energon to create an army of the undead. Ratchet scoffs at this but the two soon get serious. The kids and the rest of the Autobots arrive. Optimus and Ratchet head off, leaving Arcee in charge. Not taking kindly to playing babysitter, Arcee takes Bumblebee and zooms out on patrol, leaving Bulkhead in charge.

Miko attempts horribly to get Jack, Raf and Bulkhead into a band, but the proximity alert goes off to herald the arrival of an angry Agent Fowler. The kids hide behind Bulkhead's feet while Fowler berate Bulkhead about the explosion of the Energon mine. However, Miko's loudspeakers give the kids away, and Fowler very nearly takes them into federal custody. Bulkhead stops Folwer by putting his foot between the Agent and the kids, and then using his finger to put the phone in the base out of order. Fowler storms out. Optimus Prime and Ratchet arrives in a remote, foggy location. Optimus explains that they are looking for the remains of an old Transformer battlefield, where war had been waged on Earth in a part of the war in the past when Energon was being hidden on other planets.

Meanwhile, Fowler flies away from the Autobot base in his helicopter and radios in to his superiors. Soundwave intercepts this transmission, and Starscream orders the capture of the Agent upon hearing the words 'Autobot base'. Soundwave's Deployer takes off and arrives. After a skilled dogfight and deft maneuvring on the part of Fowler, the Deployer gets the better of him and slices off the helicopter's tail and abducts the Agent. However, Fowler manages to press the distress call button to contact the Autobot base. While Bulkhead doesn't want to help initially, the kids point out that Fowler knows the location of the base. Raf hacks into a federal computer to locate Fowler, since government agents are outfitted with trackers. Fowler is brought to Starscream, who holds him in chains and begins interrogating him. Bulkhead bridges out from the base, leaving Jack in charge, and but arrives at where the Decepticon ship is parking with an unpleasant surprise Miko has tagged along. Bulkhead kills a sentry, and contacts Arcee. Jack and Raf uses the ground bridge to follow, leaving mere seconds before Arcee calls in and tries to get them to bridge Bumblebee and her back. The boys' arrival attracts the attention of the Decepticon guards. In the ship, Starscream's interrogation is going nowhere, so he resorts to using an energon prod to torture the human. In the valley, Optimus and Ratchet reach the graveyard they've been looking for. Unfortunately Megatron arrives as well, and uses a chunk of Dark Energon to raise the dead corpses into life...

Featured Characters: Arcee, Jack Darby, Bulkhead, Miko Nakadai, Bumblebee, Rafael Esquivel, Ratchet, Dark Energon Mutant (killed), Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Agent Fowler, Deployer, Vehicon cars, Zombies

Review:
Not as great as the first two parts, certainly. There are sequences that make you raise your eyebrow. Most notably is Rafael hacking into the federal computers with his not-Macbook, which is hauntingly familiar to the adventure kids in Cybertron being able to repair Transformers, or Chip Chase in G1 knowing more about the Transformers than they do themselves. 'I saw it on TV?' I mean, come on! Miko strikes me as annoying as well, and the band sequence is pretty horrible... until you realise it's there so Fowler could spot the kids. Visuals are still amazing, although there are some places like the fogs and the zombies rising out of the ground where it needs a little 'oomf' to make it spectacular. But just watch the scene when Fowler is brought before Starscream. The shadows, the dmmed lighting, Starscream partially shrouded in shadow, the way the light glints off metal... like their movieverse counterparts, they may not look like much in still promotional images, but when they move it's so realistic you can't help to be impressed.

Fowler turns out to be entertaining for a stuck-up MIB agent. He certainly isn't as loony as Simmons in the Movieverse, but a hell lot more realistic and entertaining, with vibes similar to Walter Barnett in the Marvel comics. The scene where Fowler pilots a helicopter and go toe-to-toe with Soundwave's Deployer is stunning. More minor characters like Ratchet, Bulkhead and Soundwave are pushed to the forefront here, Bulkhead being the most prominent. He's a pretty competent guy, and loads more fun than his original Animated counterpart. I especially like the scene where he refuses to help Fowler on the grounds that he's a jerk, or when he goes 'don't use that phone! It's -crush- out of order!' with Fowler. Yet he backs it up with a gorgeous battle scene with the Vehicons. The Vehicons keep scratching and shooting, but Bulkhead punches them in the face and tears their hearts out. I especially like how Bulkhead tells the young Miko to look away, to spare her from the gore. Soundwave is great as well, having a personality despite only repeating whatever others say. He clearly is loyal to Megatron and Starscream is scared of what Soundwave would do, but he is pragmatic enough to listen to Starscream when the other 'Con is correct.

Ah, Starscream. With his crazy long nails and his vaudevillan posturing, Starscream turns out pretty well, and any scene where he's with Megatron or Soundwave is golden. This isn't your 1980s Decepticons or those dumb thugs from the Japanese import shows; these are proper characters. Vehicons prove to be great fun as well. Aside from being pretty cool in general, they give the Decepticons a big threat and someone for the Autobots to pound on, a solution to the 'Decepticons look stupid every episode' syndrome, without needing to resort to ugly Marvel supervillain washouts. Optimus Prime and Ratchet have great dialogues and feed off each other pretty well. I particularly like Optimus saying every single line with a gravity that comes off as natural with Peter Cullen's voice. Cullen's on fire and every line is delivered superbly! Megatron, meanwhile, is much closer to his short-sghted G1 counterpart, with crazy idiot ball moments like stabbing himself with Dark Energon, and the Welker voice fits this crazy warlord better than using, say, David Kaye or Hugo Weaving. He's G1 Megatron, but he's scary. I especially like how the Decepticons' fingers are these demonic claws. Now, the plot. Zombies? Eh, it's not as bad as it could be, but if the zombies aren't handled properly we may have a dip in storytelling quality by the next episode.

So far? Great. It's got a blend of the Bay Movieverse and initial IDW Furmanverse comics, with bits of Animated thrown in. Excellent characterisation, superb voice acting and score, mind-blowing action scenes, reined-in and mature humour... it's far from perfect, sure, but it's damn close.

(Nine out of Ten)

Notes:
First appearance of Soundwave's Deployer. While obviously a homage to his silent avian minion Laserbeak (although the bat wings resemble Ratbat) the way the Deployer is, um, deployed detaching off Soundwave's chest is more akin to the aptly-named Breastforce Decepticons from Victory. The name Deployer, meanwhile, harkens to a little-known subgroup in the Beast Machines toyline of animals that transform into guns.

Ratchet's catchphrase seems to be 'By the AllSpark!', saying it at least twice in this episode. Another 'I neeeeded that!' also appears.

When Bulkhead transforms, objects in his seat gets transferred to a compartment in his upper chest. Note this, it's foreshadowing.

Ratchet's comment about his hearing still being good despite being rusty mirrors a similar scene in Animated, although there it was Bumblebee instead of Arcee. Like his Animated counterpart, Ratchet is considerably older and is somewhat akin to a retired war vet.

Fowler mentions that the Energon mine blown up last episode is in Nebraska. Nebraska is also the location of an Ore-13 Energon mine in the early IDW comics.

Megatron notes that as the Dark Energon courses through him, it's like he could hear the thoughts of Unicron the Destroyer. Also, his voice becomes a wee bit harsher and his eyes and insignia glows purple.

Unlike most Transformers shows not having any problem with the kids seeing Decepticons being brutalized, Bulkhead tells Miko to look away as he tears out the Vehicon's heart. Of course Miko doesn't, but then to us humans it's a bunch of thick wires.

The first appearance of the Energon prod, used by Starscream to torture Fowler. At one point Starscream prods Fowler in the groin. Off-screen, of course.

Also, Transformers seeding Earth with Energon is very reminiscent with IDW Comics and Beast Wars (to some extent). Having massive wars on Earth in the past over Energon also mirrors Beast Wars, but it's a closer resemblance to Revenge of the Fallen.

Arm gadgets and gimmicks:
-the Deployer can extend tentacles to grab human hostages.

Goofs:
When Megatron turns around before leaving the room with Dark Energon ('await my command'), his fusion cannon is missing.

12-and-a-quarter-year old Raf can hack into United States government computers to track down agent Fowler. With his laptop. (No, he doesn't even use the Autobot computer.) National security? Hah!

How did a Transformer graveyard get past the radar of the Autobots and whatever organization equivalent they have to the MIB that Fowler works for?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 11:32 AM.
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