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Old 2011-08-12, 03:27 PM   #9
Blackjack
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Convoy
Airdate: 4 March 2011
Written By: Joseph Kuhr

Synopsis:
The Autobots receive a distress call from Agent Fowler, whose plane has been shot down while transporting a volatile nuclear device named the D.N.G.S. which could destroy five states if exploded, and requests the Autobots' help in completing the mission. Optimus Prime says that using the Ground Bridge to transport the device is too dangerous, and they soon load it to a trailer attached to Optimus, while Bumblebee and Bulkhead acts as escort. Fowler sits in Optimus' cab, but is not allowed to drive (he likes Optimus' horn, though). Ratchet and the kids monitor their journey from the Autobot base. Optimus and Fowler discuss whether there was evil on Earth before the Decepticons. The convoy is followed by a helicopter, the pilot whom orders ground forces to move in. Fowler spots the helicopter and identifies it as 'the Decepticon' that shot down his jet. Five sports cars move in on the convoy, but Ratchet informs them that none of the new arrivals are Transformers. Optimus warns the Autobots to maintain their vehicle modes. The sports cars reveal themselves to be manned by masked humans. Optimus orders the other Autobots to use non-lethal force. After a brief vehicular battle, Bumblebee flips one of the cars over and Optimus knocks another off the road. One of the attackers manages to climb and tries to saw off the trailer, but Fowler climbs out and confonts the attacker, who falls off before Fowler could interrogate him.

As Fowler returns to his seat within Optimus, the leader of the organisation, onboard the helicopter, introduces himself to Fowler via the communications channel as Silas, member of a revolutionary organization called MECH, who intends to steal the D.N.G.S. for their own use. One of the MECH troops manage to blow open the rear of Optimus' trailer, but Fowler tells Silas that they have technological marvels themselves. Arcee drives out and knocks the offending car down, causing it skid out of control, slam to another MECH car and blow up. Optimus compares Silas to Megatron and warns Fowler not to take him lightly. Ratchet informs the team that they are reaching the rendezvous points, but the transmission is intercepted by Soundwave. Starscream sends a fleet of Vehicons to attack. The Autobots reach a tunnel and move in alongside a train. Bulkhead transform and seal the entrance with a rockslide. A short while later the train and Autobots emerge on the other end of the tunnel, Silas still in pursuit from his helicopter.

However, the Decepticons arrive and open fire, blowing up Prime's trailer and alerting Silas to the fact that it's a decoy. The Autobots break cover and transform to battle, and Silas notes that the rumours of living technology are true. Silas gloats to Fowler that he is aware of the decoy plan, and the helicopter moves off to intercept the cargo. However, while Fowler gives Optimus the intel, the Autobot is knocked off a cliff by a Decepticon armed with a tree.

He lets Fowler know that he's aware the D.N.G.S. was transferred onto the train while the Autobots were in the tunnel, and the helicopter moves off to intercept the cargo. Unfortunately, while Fowler's giving Optimus the bad news, the Autobot leader takes a tree trunk to the face and falls off a nearby cliff. In the base, the kids and Ratchet discuss an alternate plan. Despite Ratchet's concerns, Miko manages to persuade Ratchet to allow them to bridge aboard the train. Raf helps to get coordinates for the moving train. The MECH helicopter open fire with a weapon that knocks out the soldiers guarding the D.N.G.S., just before Jack and Miko bridge aboard. Raf manages to hack and flip a switch to move the train, but the MECH pilot counter-hacks Raf, disabling his laptop. Without interruption the helicopter lands atop the train and begins to saw through. Miko and Jack get ready for a last stand with improvised weapons. The Autobots, meanwhile continue to battle the Decepticons, but Optimus Prime heads off to intercept the train. Silas spots Optimus coming and calls for a retreat. As the helicopter flies away, Silas fires a missile that takes out the track in front of the train. Ratchet and Raf are unable to bridge out the D.N.G.S. due to the malfunctioning laptop, but as Miko and Jack say their farewells, Optimus zooms past, and physically restrain the train in the nick of time. Silas scans Optimus Prime and promises that the playing field will be levelled in their next encounter. Optimus notes that the human equivalent of the Decepticons have entered the war.

Featured Characters: Arcee, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Agent Fowler, Jack Darby, Miko Nakadai, Rafael Esquivel, Bulkhead, Bumblebee, MECH Soldiers, Silas, Soundwave, Starscream, Vehicon Jets

Review:
I never thought human villains were any good. The ones in Animated were barely tolerable due to their quirk, but human villains either fall in the category of 'stupid and absurd' like Circuit Breaker, or 'banal shifty organization' like the ones in IDW comics. The most interesting human antagonists I've ever seen was the movie's Sector Seven, and that's merely a misunderstanding before they become allies. When episode summaries of this was leaked to the web, I groaned and steeled myself for a terrible filler episode like Animated's 'Nanosec'. Was I surprised!

Not only does MECH prove interesting without being unnecessarily silly, they also prove a credible threat. It's almost like the early IDW comics with the Machination, only the writers actually seem to have an idea what they want to do with MECH. A new world order as opposed to the vague goals that IDW's Skywatches or Machination have. Clancy Brown (a.k.a. Lex Luthor in all his animated glory) is a great voice actor which brings the necessary levity and gravitas to the organization. And the road battles are simply stunning. It's very realistic, with the sideswiping and everything. While the first two car-fu made me wince when the drivers escape unsatched, Arcee very clearly kills the driver of the car she blew up, and probably the other one that she slams onto as well, so it's a mixture of cartoon censors and realistic human deaths, which is a good thing. And the Decepticons don't sit still, too! The Decepticon jets are cooler than they have any right to be as cannon fodder, and the scene where the swoop down and transform is unbelievably cool, as is the resulting battle against the Autobots, which feels like something out of the live action movies. It's smooth, and epic.

Raf's gimmickry is played well. Relative to Ratchet, Raf knows all the human jargon and tricks, but the kid's never better than Ratchet in actual technical stuff, and the hacker easily shows that Raf is out of his league. Miko and Jack play off each other well, for their smallish role in the episode. Miko is basically a more likable version of the Armada kids thrust into a world of reality. But the human that shines this episode is undoubtedly Fowler. From his serious discussion with Optimus Prime about evil and humanity, to beating up a MECH goon during a high speed chase, to trash-talking Silas, to quoting Silas' 'had a train to catch' line, Agent Fowler is every bit as likable as any of the main cast. As expected, Optimus Prime shines this episode. And while the other four don't get to say much, it's nice to see how Autobots function professionally instead of wise cracking every other moment. When they do, it's usually just Bulkhead or Arcee giving a Bond one-liner. Despite being another filler episode (we've seen two out of three stereotypical filler plots: human villains and kiddie adventure. A giant cannon episode and we're all set) this episode is, simply put, impressive. Like both Beast Wars and Animated before it, Prime does not fail to impress, no sir.

(Nine out of Ten)

Notes:
First appearance of Silas and the MECH organization.

The plane Fowler flies is the same with the one he flies in 'Masters and Students', i.e. the one Skyquake scanned.

The D.N.G.S. continues the trend started in Transformers Animated for human technology with hilarious acronyms that no one bats an eye to.

The locomotive is apparently an accurate model of a four-axle GP series model locomotive. I can't say, trains all look alike to me. Apparently the train piece is the result of Alex Kurtzman's desire to have a train Transformer, which didn't make it due to budget reasons.

Certainly the Autobots aren't averse to inflicting human casualties as long as they're hostile. At the very least the car Arcee blew up most certainly killed its driver, not to mention possible casualties from running cars off the road.

'Convoy', other than the literal meaning, is also Optimus Prime's Japanese name, and indeed the counterpart to the Prime rank, so all the Autobot leaders have Convoy in their Japanese name.

Optimus continues to say 'roll out' and 'maximum overdrive'.

Like his movieverse counterpart in Revenge of the Fallen, when Optimus transforms, his passenger ends up in his hand.

Arm gimmicks:
-Not exactly an arm gimmick per se, but Optimus Prime has a trailer in which to transport the D.N.G.S. It's pretty much a given that it's painted exactly like his G1 trailer was. Like its G1 counterpart the sides can slide down. No Roller or battle stations here, though.

Goofs:
The 'glow' effect of Ratchet's eye clips into his mouth when he asks Fowler why Starscream is interested with human technology.

Fowler still doesn't wear an oxygen mask or any sort of protective pilot gear while flying a jet.

On the monitor in the Autobot base, the fork is shown on the right side of the rails but the real fork is on the left.

Optimus and Bumblebee each run off a MECH sports car, but when Arcee does her killing thing, there are four cars when there should be three.

Why didn't Jack or Miko take the discarded gun of the unconscious soldier, instead opting for a fire axe and a fire extinguisher?

When Silas gives his last line, his helicopter straps clip onto each other.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:06 PM.
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