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Old 2011-08-27, 05:02 AM   #12
Blackjack
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Predatory
Airdate: 16 April 2010
Written By: Marsha Griffin

Synopsis:
An object shoots through space before crash-landing in a forest. It happens that nearby, Arcee and Jack are on a routine outing searching for an underground Energon deposit. Jack and Arcee trade barbs for a bit before Arcee picks up readings, leading them to the crash site. Arcee seems unnerved and tells Jack to stay where he is, before moving in and examining the space ship. Arcee recognizes the owner of the ship and flashes back, remembering a certain Decepticon. Jack snaps her out of her stupor and she attempts to call a Ground Bridge, but the ship is scrambling the signals. Leaving Jack again, Arcee finds some odd webbing, and again flashes back. Jack interupts the flashback, and Arcee transforms. With Jack on top of her, she drives like crazy to put some distance. Arcee leaves a confused Jack on a side of a deep fissure before heading back. Jack starts climbing down the side of the fissure. Arcee walks around the trees and finds a tree stump melted by acid, and has a longer flashback. Cybertron. Arcee runs through a warzone whilst talking to her partner Tailgate. However, she is attacked by a web blast from a Decepticon. She wakes up to find herself chained and prisoner to Airachnid, who uses an acid-tipped nail to scratch her face. On Earth, Airachnid scuttles through the forest, about to attack a random camper. However, Arcee tackles her and the pair roll down a hill. Airachnid is amused at meeting her old enemy. Airachnid reveals that she had quit the Decepticons and travel solo in pursuit of her hobby, namely hunting and collecting the heads of endangered species... which she causes to be endangered. Now, apparently, she has her sights on humans.

Through the conversation Arcee and Airachnid battle, each unleashing their respective arsenals. Jack arrives, distracting Arcee and causing Airachnid to web her to a nearby rock. Arcee manages to slice through a strand of web with her arm-blades, before shooting Airachnid, causing her to tumble away. Jack tries to help Arcee get free, who tells him that he's more a liability than a partner. Jack tells Arcee that she's uncharacteristically afraid. Arcee flashes back again. Airachnid finds Arcee difficult to crack, and has her underlings drag in a wounded Tailgate and threatens to kill him. Arcee doesn't know the coordinates, and despite her pleading Airachnid calmly executes Tailgate. Airachnid recovers from the blast and closes in. She calmly moves in to the still-trapped Arcee and tells her she has heard about Cliffjumper's death, and asks Arcee if she has trouble with losing partners. Arcee screams for Jack to run, which he does. Airachnid tells Arcee that she'll kill her after killing Jack. Airachnid leisurely goes after Jack. Jack runs through the forest, hiding behind a log, knowing full well he doesn't stand a chance against Airachnid. Airachnid visibly enjoys toying with Jack, letting him run and moving relatively slowly. Arcee, struggling to get free, flashes back again. As Airachnid is about to execute Arcee, Bumblebee and Cliffjumper burst in to rescue their fellow Autobot. Airachnid escapes, and the two Autobots free Arcee, who cry out that she couldn't save her partner.

Arcee is overcome with grief at causing Jack's life to be in danger, but realises that instead of lamenting her losses she should just keep driving. She transforms, and does so until the webs break. Jack and Airachnid's chase reaches the fissure, and later Airachnid's ship. There were a few close encounters and amused comments from Airachnid. Jack manages to hide, and Airachnid enters the ship, thinking that Jack had snuck inside. Jack tries to escape, and in the process finds a puddle of Energon leaking from the ship. Jack uses his flint and pocket knife to set fire to a stick, and throws it to the leaking port. Airachnid grows wise to Jack's plan, but as she sees what Jack is doing, it's too late. Jack runs and the ship explodes. Thinking that he's safe, Jack begins to relax but Airachnid turns out to be still alive and pins Jack to a tree. Airachnid is about to go for the kill, but Arcee charges in and beats Airachnid. Arcee cuts Jack down from the tree, but this allows Airachnid to drill and burrow into the ground for escape. Arcee radios for a Ground Bridge, and acknowledges Jack as her partner... junior partner.

Featured Characters: Arcee, Jack Darby, Airachnid (flashback and present), Tailgate (flashback, killed), Car Vehicons (flashback), Bumblebee (flashback), Cliffjumper (flashback)

Review:
A very, very effective episode. I'd never thought that focusing exclusively on Jack and Arcee would be a good episode. If last episode was good to their team dynamic, this one blows it out of the water. Arcee's character is explored very deeply here, what with facing so many losses. Her fear and pain are both portrayed excellently by the animation as well as the voice actor. The whole mood of the story centers around fear and tension. Jack is very much a great foil for both Arcee and Airachnid. I like how Jack's involvement against the Transformers is taken realistically. Airachnid evidently can squish Jack flat in seconds, the fissure scene where she just hops over it (while Jack takes some time to scale it) is solid proof, but Airachnid's just loves toying with her prey. How Jack throws away the ineffective Swiss army knife, and later blows up Airachnid's ship with a burning stick, is rather sensible for the limitations of what a human can do. Again, the relationship between Arcee and Jack are explored so they're now more like partners instead of Arcee being a guardian.

Airachnid, for someone with a relatively silly name, proves to be rather sinister and engaging as a villain. She's the type that keeps her cool, and is the type that simply enjoys inflicting pain. No need for backstory for this killer, she's just an evil Decepticon that happens to be female, and that's that. I like how she likes to toy with her prey. And she's very impressive physically, with her multiple robot mode configurations. Tailgate's short-lived career adds another layer to the Transformers' long-standing war. And hey, Cliffjumper! Scripting is, again, excellent. So is the voice acting. Action scenes between Arcee and Airachnid are very brutal and simply amazing, with fluid blows and shots between the two Transformers. Likewise the music is very engaging. We take a break from the normal soundtrack to a more unnerving Predator-esque music which suits the episode plot very well. It's a great mood episode, and one of the better introductions out there.

(Ten out of Ten)

Notes:
The first appearance of Airachnid, an all-original character. Airachnid has two variations of her robot mode, one which is humanoid with the spider legs on her back, and another is where her humanoid legs fold up and she walks on her spider legs like a... spider. Airachnid is very visibly physically inspired by Blackarachnia in a female spider, although her colours more closely resemble the Insecticons from G1. Her head design is inspired by Maleficient from Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and her hobby is a reference to Predator, see below.

Also first appearance of Tailgate. He is a repaint of the Cliffjumper model in gray and red, although we don't get a good look at his face or his full body. Like his G1 namesake, Tailgate is a scout. Tailgate is the fourth named character to die on the show.

Cliffjumper appears in the flashback, the first real appearance with new animation since 'Darkness Rising'.

This episode has a plethora of homages to the Predator movie. Also, did you know that Peter Cullen, voice of Optimus Prime, is also the voice of the Predator? Now you know.
-First of all, Airachnid's ship entering Earth's atmosphere resembles the Predator movie's opening scene. That, as well as Protoforms from the live action movies.
-Airachnid's purpose of coming to Earth to hunt its resident species (humans) is similar to that of the Predator. She also collects heads, and has a trophy case, like the Predator. She enjoys the hunt, too. Unlike the Predator, Airachnid makes sure that the species she hunts is endangered... usually because of her.
-The setting of a one-on-one fight between a human and a hunter alien in a dark jungle is again similar with Predator's plot.
-The scene where Jack uses a makeshift flaming arrow is one of the tactics that Schwarzenegger's character Dutch uses in the film.
-Not to mention that the music is quite inspired by the Predator score.
-And there's the title, Predatory. Appropriate for a Predator-y episode, no?

Alternatively, 'Predatory' may refer to the faction Predacon, since Airachnid is an expy of Blackarachnia, who is a Predacon.

Airachnid is a former Decepticon, so since she is unaligned with either faction, her eyes are a pink-purple shade. They are also compound eyes. Real spiders don't have compound eyes, but Airachnid is not exactly a spider.

The sound effect used for Airachnid's webbing is the same as used for Spider-Man in the 2008 Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon. Note that Josh Keaton, voice actor of Jack Darby, voiced Spider-Man in that series.

Click/Klik (first used in Beast Wars) is used again as a unit of distance. Also, mentions of Sparks and the Allspark are made by Airachnid and Arcee, respectively.

This episode almost exclusively features Arcee, Jack and Airachnid, with Bumblebee and Cliffjumper only appearing in non-speaking roles in the flashback. This makes Arcee and Jack the only characters so far that has appeared in all episodes.

Arcee, Cliffjumper, and Bumblebee didn't have different robot bodies on Cybertron, retaining all of their Earth vehicle-specific kibble long before reaching Earth. This seems to be intentional.

Not exactly connected to this episode, but the fandom first discovered the existence of the name 'Airachnid' from a trademark application by Hasbro, which was sadly denied.

Arm Gimmicks:
-Airachnid's vision looks like night vision. No, not Predator vision.
-Airachnid can spew webbing from her palms. It's a given, really. Airachnid can also shoot beams from her palms, GoBot style.
-Airachnid's index finger has an extendable fingernail that's tipped with acid.
-Arcee is able to deploy both gun and blade at the same time.
-Airachnid is able to spin around like a drill to burrow into the ground, an ability she'll be using quite often after this episode toe scape.

Goofs:
Not necessarily a goof, since Airachnid may be holding on to it for sentimental reasons, but she sports a Decepticon insignia despite being 'retired'.

All of the characters retain their specific Earth-mode kibble in the flashback to Cybertron, which does not make sense. This seems to be intentional, though, since it has happened before with Skyquake in 'Masters and Students'. Note that like Skyquake, Airachnid also has vehicular kibble, though hers are very subtle and you won't know that those are kibble until you realise that she can transform in a later episode.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:08 PM.
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