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Old 2011-05-21, 10:30 AM   #33
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The Two Faces of Ultra Magnus
Airdate: 20 October 2001
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Michael McConnohie
Japanese Title: Stalemate! 3 Car-Robo Brothers

Reviewing their encounters with Ultra Magnus, Megatron, Sky-Byte and Scourge ponders the mysterious Autobot. Sky-Byte points out that Magnus does not get along well with Optimus Prime, and suggests recruiting him to the Decepticons. Megatron dispatches Sky-Byte to go forth with his mission. In the Autobot base, Koji and the Autobots likewise discuss about Magnus. In the city, the Brothers encounter Sky-Byte, and later Ultra Magnus, and a rumble ensues. Sky-Byte manages to get Ultra Magnus alone, and the Predacon offers a team-up against Optimus Prime. Magnus pretends to be interested in the offer, while secretly wanting only to gain information from the clumsy Predacon. The Brothers have been eavesdropping and confront Magnus (who they think is a traitor). Before Magnus could decide whether to keep up the act, the Commandos ambush the Brothers and trap them in a net. Optimus and T-AI send Team Bullet Train to investigate the Brothers' disappearance. As a test of loyalty, Megatron sends Ultra Magnus to kill any one of the Bullet Trains. Scourge, meanwhile, sets up a trap with the Brothers as bait to lure Optimus Prime in. Ultra Magnus gets the location of the trap from Sky-Byte, and rushes from the cliff to attack the Bullet Trains... before turning around and shooting Sky-Byte. The four Autobots quickly take care of the Predacon shark.

Optimus Prime arrives in the location Scourge has contacted them with, but Ultra Magnus has told the Bullet Trains of the trap, and they charge in to the rescue. However, they cannot fight back as well due to Scourge holding the Brothers hostage. Ultra Magnus arrives to the warehouse where the Predacon Trio are guarding the Autobot Brothers, and tricks Slapper into letting him in. Sky-Byte's warning comes in too late, and Magnus knocks the Predacon Trio silly before freeing the Autobot Brothers. Magnus carries the Autobot Brothers into the battlefield. Seeing that the Brothers are free, Optimus Prime and Rail Racer hold nothing back. Everybody joins the battle, but Megatron stomps down on the three Brothers. Ultra Magnus' chest glows with a green power at this, something that surprises even him, and the energy is transferred to the Autobot Brothers. The Brothers change colour into stronger versions of themselves. To add more fuel to the fire, Optimus and Magnus form Omega Prime, and the Predacons and Decepticons quickly hightail it. Despite this, Ultra Magnus tells Optimus that their grudge still stands. Privately, Magnus wonders if the strange power is caused by the two of them somehow sharing the Matrix...

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Sky-Byte, Scourge, Ultra Magnus, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Prowl, Mega-Octane, Ro-Tor, Rollbar, Optimus Prime, Railspike, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Gas Skunk, Darkscream, Slapper, Movor, Armorhide, Rail Racer, Omega Prime
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Actually a pretty fun episode. While as with other episodes of RID, there are a lot of superfluous scenes that could be cut to avoid banality -- Ultra Magnus driving the Brothers past a stunned Kelly; the Autobots basically repeating what the Decepticons had just said about Ultra Magnus, et al -- the episode is still quite fun. Both Ultra Magnus and Sky-Byte are well defined, and Sky-Byte's voice actor has improved a lot, delivering Sky-Byte's lines with the same sort of incompetence and surprise that the character has. It's so fun to see the naive Predacon be tricked by Ultra Magnus. Ultra Magnus also comes along as a jerk and one of the smarter characters of the series, stringing along Sky-Byte like a guitar before cutting him off. The plot is pretty nice too, although it is pretty repetitive. I mean, how many times does an Autobot need to be taken captive by the Predacons? Side Burn and Prowl's indignance at Magnus' apparent betrayal is well portrayed as well.

However, the whole 'brothers hating each other' point is rendered moot somewhat. While Magnus and the Brothers are warming up to each other, if Magnus hates Optimus so much why do they keep combining into Omega 'unstoppable' Prime? The Brothers' supercharged modes do nothing other than look cool, and the poor Decepticons and Predacons just can't catch a break. Makes you wonder why they don't just shoot the Brothers when they had the chance. Megatron comes off as uninteresting and boring, while Scourge is reduced to Megatron's lackey for this episode.

(Seven out of Ten)

First appearance of the 'Super' colour versions of the Brothers. This, of course, reflects the new repainted toys that the Autobot Brothers have in the market. Side Burn becomes red in a paintjob similar to Hot Rod, Prowl becomes dark blue, and X-Brawn becomes somewhat similar to G1 Wheeljack's paintjob. Unlike most 'upgrades', however, these Supercharged modes are not permanent and are called upon as necessary, somewhat like Super Modes.

It's a bit unsettling that Side Burn, whose main characterisation amounts to molesting red sports cars, is now turned into a red sports car himself. This raises, some, um, interesting questions about what this is supposed to represent. Self-harassment?

According to Side Burn, he is first in his class in theoretical mechanics back on Cybertron. Apparently Side Burn is the team's medic, based on the dialogue. Kind of an informed ability, considering how the guy acts...

The Japanese show has Ultra Magnus' Matrix activating for the first time to power up the Autobot Brothers. Here it is theorised by Magnus to be the two of them somehow sharing the Matrix of Leadership's power together. Although it begs to question why Magnus would show more concern to the Brothers than Optimus Prime.

Surely a net can't hold the Brothers down? At the very least Side Burn has a bayonet that could easily cut through the net...

Why didn't the Brothers contact T-AI? 'HALP THE DECEPTICONS HAVE CAPTURED US!'

Why didn't Optimus Prime suspect a trap? Surely the Spychangers or the Build Team could've teleported in nearby, ready to support Optimus Prime?

Apparently the time Sky-Byte needs to remember that he needs to warn Slapper that Magnus has crossed them is the same time that Magnus needs to drive to said location.
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