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Old 2011-06-06, 06:04 AM   #7
Blackjack
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Scrapheap
Airdate: 18 February 2011
Written By: Marsha Griffin

Synopsis:
Bulkhead and Bumblebee investigate a reading in the Arctic and find a huge metallic pod buried in the snow. They return to the base and go through a defrosting procedure by Ratchet. The pod is left to thaw out in a part of the base. As the Autobots head to the main chamber, the pods begin to crack open from the inside. Ratchet warns Optimus and Arcee, who get ready to travel to the Arctic to find out the origin of the pod, that if they stay there too long it would be fatal. The kids arrive to stay for the Saturday, and are easily dissuaded from tagging along. Raf is disappointed though. However, as Optimus and Arcee disappears through the Ground Bridge, the system fritz out. The three other Autobots start trying to repair it in order to bring Optimus and Arcee back. Raf wanders off, and plays 'being in the Arctic' in a corridor when he stumbles upon a cute metallic creature. Raf uses a stray bolt to play fetch with the creature... and is mildly shocked that the creature quickly eats it. Raf takes his new pet to show the others, unaware that there the equipment nearby is damaged. Ratchet puzzles over damaged Ground Bridge components that seemed to have chunks bitten out of it, when Raf returns with the little creature.

The Autobots react in abject terror at what they identify as a Scraplet, aiming their weapons at it. The kids aren't convinced that the Scraplet could harm the Autobots, but at the sight of the Autobots, the Scraplet opens its mouth to reveal rows of sharp teeth and scuttles off and attacks Bumblebee, and starts eating bits off him. A horrified Raf beats the Scraplet to death with a crowbar. The kids and Autobots check the Arctic pod, and Ratchet identifies it as a Scraplet Trap, meaning thousands of Scraplets are on the loose. In the Arctic, Optimus and Arcee find that their sensors indicate that their temperature are in the danger zone. However, they are unable to contact base, since the Scraplets ate through the comm system as well. Bulkhead, terrified, suggests abandoning the base (and gives a detailed description of how Scraplets can devour a Transformer), but they can't do so or they'll doom Optimus and Arcee. The kids, who the Scraplets won't harm, volunteer to help and pair up with the Autobots. Jack watches Ratchet as he repairs the Ground Bridge, while the other two kids partner up with their Autobots. Bulkhead is tense and lets out a girly scream and panics at a bunch of overhead cables. However, the Scraplets soon beset them. Likewise Bumblebee and Raf encounter another group. Repairs to the Ground Bridge is done, but it still refuses to function. However before Ratchet can investigate further a swarm of Scraplets fly into the room and attack Ratchet. Jack uses a nearby fire extinguisher to kill some of the Scraplets and drive the others away. The others return to the main room, but a large group of Scraplets attack the three Autobots.

In the Arctic, Arcee and Optimus try to keep themselves conscious by talking, Optimus having the utmost faith that Ratchet will come through, while Arcee suggests that it is Bulkhead's fault that things are in the state it is. In the base the kids manage to kill off the swarm of Scraplets, only for Ratchet that it's only a scouting party. They come up with a plan to send the Scraplets back to the Arctic via the Ground Bridge. Ratchet figures out that an Energon fuel line breach must be preventing it from working. With the Autobots unable to stand, the kids go and patch up the fuel line, just as the main swarm arrive into the main control room. In the Arctic, Arcee bemoans their ignominious death, while Optimus offers what words of comfort he can. The two get ready to go offline should it be their fate. In the base Ratchet activates the Ground Bridge before falling down. Bulkhead manages to drag himself up and use himself as bait to lead the Scraplets through the Ground Bridge. The Ground Bridge opens up near Optimus and Arcee, and Bulkhead staggers out. The Scraplet swarm bursts out, ready to attack, but they freeze and fall down harmlessly. Back in the base, Ratchet supervises repairs on all of them, and notes that without the humans none of them would have survived. Miko runs away screaming from a spider, much to Bulkhead's amusement.

Featured Characters: Bulkhead, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Arcee, Optimus Prime, Scraplets, Miko Nakadai, Rafael Esquivel, Jack Darby

Review:
Surprisingly, for an episode that should have been a throwaway episode that is unrelated with the main Decepticon plot, this one manages to be so entertaining. Unlike similar episodes in other series (such as that dire one about Space Barnacles in Animated), the voice acting and whatnot are top notch here. The scene when Ratchet turns at Raf with his withering look, before jumping away with the other two Autobots in fear is so well done. The Autobot treat the Scraplets as some kind of killing creature, and the resulting hunt which feels like something out of Alien, is amazingly perfect. You know that the Autobots won't die to these enemies, but the tension is undoubtedly in the air, and the Autobots' fear is perfectly executed without overblowing it. And their expressions! It's not the dull surprise you see in G1 or Armada, it's pure, abject fear. And placing Optimus and Arcee elsewhere to thin out the cast is a nice move. The Scraplets are a great homage to their original counterparts, and is surprisingly true to their origin... and are they cute!

Although I had doubts about Raf and Miko initially, this episode makes them instantly likable. Raf being the wide-eyed little kid, excited at everything... his pretending to be in the Arctic is a charming little scene... come on, you do that too when you were a little kid. It's charming and cute, and it's something you can relate to. And that scene where Raf falls in shock after killing the Scraplet that attacked Bee is well done too. Miko is very charming as well, acting as some sort of surrogate little sister to Bulkhead, who thinks that 'big brother' can't be hurt by anything. Speaking of Bulkhead, he steals the show. He is still true to his Animated counterpart, being a sometimes-stupid gentle giant, but here his fear at the Scraplet is perfectly captured, especially when he desribes how a Scraplet will eat an Autobot. 'Until there's nothing left... not even your optics!' Kevin Michael Richardson is a great voice actor, and Bulkhead gets the greatest lines too. 'Eat this! [beat] AAAAA!' And can he scream like a little girl, too...

Ratchet has his moments as well, treating the humans as incompetent, realistically, but gradually admitting that they can do simple things the Autobots can't do, like beat Scraplets to death. It's a great episode in which the kids save the day in a way that makes sense without needing to use exo-suits or Allspark keys or burning power of kiddie flavoured justice. For the little that they appear, both Optimus and Arcee deliver great lines as well. Arcee has a sarcastic wit that I like, with that snarky back-and-forth with Jack about going to the Arctic, and blaming Bulkhead without any evidence whatsoever. The conversations with Optimus are well done as well. Optimus is great too... Peter Cullen delivers Optimus' lines with all the gravitas he could muster. And this extends to his 'I will bring you a snowball' line, which cracked me up. Definitely a great, enjoyable episode with no grating moments, which, considering the track record for terrible throwaway episodes, is a great thing.

(Ten out of Ten)

Notes:
The first appearance of the Scraplets. Surprisingly, while they are gray and more physically resemble Sharkticons or Mecannibals, the Scraplets are relatively true to their namesakes from the G1 Marvel comics in that they are a swarm long thought-dead plague, comprised of miniature robots that eat metal, but they prefer living Transformers. They ignore humans like their G1 namesakes as well. Also, they fly. Damn are they cute! Four tiny legs and two tiny arms and those big eyes...

Prolonged exposure to subzero conditions can cause permanent systems damage to Transformers. The Autobots must undergo a defrosting procedure everytime they return from the Arctic. Note that you freeze faster in, say, the Arctic than in space due to the vacuum preventing heat loss via the conventional means.

Ratchet comments that the bites on Bumblebee is 'just a mesh wound', a reference to Monty Python's Black Knight.

The Arctic Pod is identified in passing by Ratchet as a Scraplet Trap, indicating that Scraplets may have been weaponized in the war.

Miko calls the hunt for the Scraplets as a 'bug hunt', a reference to hunting the titular aliens from the movie Aliens.

Arcee mentions that Bulkhead ran onto power lines during their first arrival on Earth, something which happens to the Movie incarnation of Ratchet.

Optimus Prime refers to 'being one with the AllSpark' if they die, a concept introduced in the Beast series.

The 'bio-pulse monitor' is the Transformers' equivalent to a ECG, only appearing once before in the G1 episode 'Divide or Conquer' where it stated Optimus Prime is dying.

By now it's a standard sci-fi fare, but the Scraplet's vision is similar to that of a Predator. Instead of detecting body heat, Scraplets detect Transformers.

Arm gimmicks:
-Ratchet's arm can transform into a claw-prong thing that is both a torch and a sensor.

Goofs:
In the first establishing shots as the kids reach the damaged fuel line, the breach on the duct is shown beneath. However when they solder the thing the damage is shown on the side.

How did the kids have enough fire extinguishers to kill the initial swarm?

Why didn't the Scraplets attack the immobile Ratchet and Bumblebee?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:05 PM.
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