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Old 2011-08-21, 05:57 AM   #11
Blackjack
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Speed Metal
Airdate: 9 April 2011
Written By: Dean Stefan

Synopsis:
Knock Out cruises along a road at night and pulls up alongside several cars ready to race. The driver of one, Fast Willy, taunts Knock Out and uses his ring to put a long scratch on Knock Out's side. During the race, a pissed-off Knock Out slams and knocks Fast Willy's car off the mountain road as payback. Outside the high school, Jack encounters the local bully Vince, who mocks Jack's motorcycle. Jack and Arcee leave, but while stopped at a traffic light, Sierra calls Jack and asks for a ride. Before the startled Jack can answer, Vince pulls up with his car and challenges him to a race. Jack hasn't replied yet when Arcee takes off, reminding Jack that they cannot abuse power (much to Jack's disappointment). Vince catches up with them at the next stop, and calls Arcee ugly. This goads her to bend the rules, just this once. Thus Jack accepts the challenge, and as Sierra and her friend watches, Jack and Vince get ready to race on a straight dirt road. Arcee easily trounces Vince's car and they win easily, but Arcee refuses Jack's suggestion to offer Sierra a lift. On board the Nemesis, Breakdown buffs the comatose Megatron's exterior. Starscream enters to check on Megatron, and asks where Knock Out is. Knock Out enters the room, and complains about the scratch. Starscream disapproves Knock Out's racing, and his refusal to call Starscream 'Lord'. An angry Starscream tells Knock Out that until he makes good of his medical skills and revive Megatron, Starscream's rank is 'Lord'. An annoyed Knock Out tells Breakdown to buff his wound as Starscream walks away.

Arcee and Jack arrives at the Autobot base, and she reminds Jack not to tell anyone about the race. However, everyone at school (including Raf and Miko) already know. Jack gets the two of them not to say anything in front of the Autobots. The next day, at school Sierra tells Jack how impressed she was. Vince challenges Jack to race at the circuit. Jack agrees, but when he tells Arcee later she refuses to participate. As the day turns into night, Knock Out is attracted by a speeding car to Jasper. Jack asks Raf if he could borrow Bumblebee for the street race. Raf initially refuses, but Miko talks Raf into it (by mentioning that Jack needs to beat the bully). Shortly after Jack and Bumblebee enter the race track, as does Knock Out. Sierra is present at the race and gives the 'go' sign'. As Bumblebee and Vince battle for first place, Knock Out recognises Bumblebee and begins to open fire. The two do a set of stunt driving much to Vince's surprise, while Jack can't understand what Bumblebee is saying. Back at the base, Miko and Raf play a video game. Arcee arrives and asks them where Jack is. Miko, Raf and to a lesser extent Bulkhead attempt to cover for Jack, but Arcee sees right through them, right as Bumblebee's distress call comes through. In the race circuit, Bumblebee uses an oil slick trick to slow Knock Out before hiding under a bridge, losing Knock Out who drives past. However, Vince drives up and demand Jack finish the race. Jack tries to shoo Vince away, but Vince attracted Knock Out, who grabs and renders him unconscious. Knock Out drives away with Vince, telling Breakdown that he's captured Bumblebee's human friend.

Arcee and Bulkhead arrive, and Jack tells them what happened. Despite Bulkhead's reservations they head off to rescue Vince. Optimus Prime walks in and wonders where everyone is. Raf and Miko tries to cover but they are very unconvincing. The three Autobots track Knock Out to a warehouse area. After dropping Jack, Bulkhead and Bumblebee go in on foot while Arcee climbs a water tower. Breakdown ambushes the two Autobots on ground. Knock Out wonders where the third Autobot is, just as Arcee jumps on top of him. Knock Out shakes Arcee off and tries to escape, Arcee hot on his tail. Knock Out radios Breakdown with a heads-up, but the call distracts Breakdown and Bulkhead clobbers him with a street lamp. Arcee pursues Knock Out down a road, but Optimus Prime charges out and sideswipes Knock Out onto the edge of the road. Optimus rips Knock Out's door off and rescues the unconsciosu Vince. Knock Out is enraged at the damage, but when the other Autobots arrive, he beats it. Optimus tells the four that explanations will have to be made. Vince recovers in Bumblebee, and Jack tells him a cover story involving Vince getting jumped by thugs. As Vince is driven to his car Jack tells Vince that racing is not his thing. Starscream is upset with Knock Out's disobedience. Knock Out assures Starscream that he's learnt his lesson, but by not addressing Starscream as 'Lord', Starscream inflicts cosmetic punishment with his finger on a terrified Knock Out. The next day at school, Sierra asks Jack for a ride, but he turns her down. Arcee, however, allows the ride... just this once.

Featured Characters: Knock Out, Jack Darby, Arcee, Vince, Sierra, Megatron, Breakdown, Starscream, Miko Nakadai, Rafael Esquivel, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Optimus Prime, Vehicon Cars

Review:
It's a great, great episode. Characterisation abounds all around. It's an episode centering on the Jack-and-Arcee dynamic. Now I've never been happy with human sidekicks. Up until recently, they range from being banal uninteresting nobodies to flat-out irritants. But they pulled off a great human character in both the Movie's Sam Witwicky and Animated's Sari Sumdac. I was initially frowning at the three human sidekicks in Prime, but all of them prove amazing. This episode focuses on the Jack-and-Arcee dynamic, happily reusing the 'awkward tennage boy uses cool Autobot vehicle to get girl' formula that worked for Sam Witwicky. However, we get a great compelling villain in Knock Out, and even the obligatory human bully Vince is not annoying. The main selling point would be Jack and Arcee, but everyone else is well written. Jack is basically an expy of Sam Witwicky, yet he's got enough charm and is fun enough that he's quite distinct from kooky Sam. Arcee is very, very fun. The dynamic between the two is very well done, with the resposible-unless-a-pretty-girl-is-concerned Jack getting great moments with the stern-unless-she-is-called-ugly Arcee. Arcee's dialogue is loads of fun... 'the yahoo's going down!' 'Winning's not enough, Jack. You want to make him cry.' '...at least until I get my hands on him.' Her self-designated role as Jack's guardian is very appropriate; she does seem like a big sister to Jack. The chemistry between the two is very well done.

Knock Out is the other half of the focus of this episode, and we really get to know the guy. He's a sarcastic, smooth-talking evil Tracks. Any scene with the guy is golden, especially the point where he argues with Starscream. I think that moment when he runs off the redneck driver off the road is a perfect illustration of Knock Out's character. Vain, loves his paint job, insubordinate, and always has something witty to say. It's nice to see Starscream getting ahead, and his remark that Megatron won't be brought back online because of the poor medical care is an excellent comeback. And at the end... 'It! Is! LOOOOOOOORD!' Again, I can't believe this is the same guy that worked as Darkscream in RID. The quality is so different! Bulkhead's got a nice moment when he wants to leave Vince behind, guy's awesome. Bumblebee is, as always, very charming and funny for a mute guy. Optimus Prime by far is characterised well, like a stern-yet-kind father trying to control his kids. Raf and Miko, for their short role, are great. Raf not wanting to lend Bumblebee until the always-happy Miko points out about beating the bully... Miko and Raf trying to lie to Optimus but becomes an epic fail... Gad, I remember how I was a wee kid. My lies probably sounded as fake as that. It's charming because the delivery is so realistic. Breakdown is still the muscle, and while he's got several decent short moments if this is all he does it'll be a waste of Adam Baldwin's voice. Hopefully later episodes will be kinder to him.

The episode's plot itself has a little of Fast and Furious vibe in it, what with the illegal racing and everything. It's a fresh plot, and an appropriate one considering that the setting involves teenage kids with sports cars. Action scenes, are, as always amazing. I particularly like how Bulkhead clobbers Breakdown with a streetlamp, and Arcee transforming immediately after being knocked off Knock Out. I also like how the approach to battling is handled, with Bee and Bulkhead taking point and Arcee sneaking in ninja-like. And I like how conversations about who's fault are all put aside in favour of action. If this was an Armada or G1 episode, we'd expect a full minute where Jack apologises to Arcee for being irresponsible, which, in real life, would mean Knock Out would be long gone. This is much more realistic. A great episode. The only niggle is Sierra, who is very bland.

(Eight out of Ten)

Notes:
Knock Out calls Fast Willy a skinjob, a derogatory slang term used to refer to Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, itself homaging Blade Runner.

Vince calls Jack 'Ponch' at one point, a motorcycle-based reference to a character from CHiPs.

Arcee's dashboard screen has an Autobot insignia based on the one seen in the original Sunbow cartoon header the one with the top half silver and the bottom half red.

The place where Jack and Vince first raced, Drucker's Ranch, is a reference to Steve Drucker, Hasbro creative person.

Knock Out calls Starscream 'Herr Commandant'. Other than being absolutely hilarious, it is also apparently a homage to Hogan's Heroes.

The CG models of the cars seen in the night race track are repaints of Bumblebee, Cliffjumper (without horns) and Knock Out's vehicle modes, as well as Vince's car.

This is the first episode not to feature Ratchet.

Arm Gimmicks:
-Knock Out has a holographic driver, though we don't see his face. Also he disappears after the Fast Willy race.
-Knock Out has a pop-out twin barreled energy weapon on each side of his rear.
-Bumblebee can do the oil slick trick that many other Transformers in past series (G1 Breakdown, G1 Wildrider, Animated Oil Slick) did before.
-Knock Out has a miniature version of his Energon prod in his vehicle mode to shock captive humans. His safety belts can tie up captive humans as well.

Goofs:
Like last episode, Arcee's chest has miscoloured chrome-lavender parts.

Not so much a goof as Vince probably just trying to sound cool, but he challenges Jack to a race on a dirt road but the road they race on is paved.

When Jack and Arcee stop at the second traffic light, Arcee's front wheel's not moving properly.

Some of the background traffic lights have the green and the red reversed.

Arcee has already almost reached Optimus Prime and Knock Out at the chase's conclusion, but she is shown arriving with Bumblebee and Bulkhead again.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:07 PM.
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