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Old 2011-09-16, 11:02 AM   #13
Blackjack
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Sick Mind
Airdate: 30 April 2011
Written By: Steven Melching

Synopsis:
While experimenting with different frequencies, Ratchet locates the Decepticon warship by chance. But before they can mount an assault, Ratchet detects an Autobot emergency beacon. Optimus Prime declares that they have to check out the emergency beacon first. Prime and Ratchet arrive at a crashed Autobot ship in the middle of the desert, which is centuries old. They enter the ship to find the crew dead, and Ratchet reveals that the crew didn’t die in the crash but had succumbed to a disease known as cybonic plague. The ship suddenly shifts, dripping some energon from a corpse onto Optimus Prime. A while later at base, Optimus lays stricken with the plague, while the others discuss the plague. Cybonic plague was apparently a Decepticon chemical weapon, the project spearheaded by Megatron himself. Ratchet theorizes that they may be able to find information in the Decepticon databases, and he dispatches Arcee and Bumblebee through Groundbridge into the Decepticon ship which is open to them. After eluding a nonsuspecting Knock Out, Bumblebee and Arcee enter the laboratory. Arcee scans the database, and whilst arguing with a terse Ratchet through the radio, fails to find anything. Bumblebee, meanwhile, stumbles upon Megatron’s comatose body, which is on life support. Arcee is ready to shoot Megatron in the brain, but Ratchet stops her, telling them that if a cure exists, Megatron would surely now. Ratchet suggests getting into Megatron’s brain to find out said information. He knows of a procedure (developed by Decepticons and outlawed by the Autobots) involving a ‘cortical psychic patch’ to do so. Bumblebee volunteers to try it. On the bridge of the Decepticon ship, Starscream shouts at the Vehicons to hurry up and fix the electromagnetic shielding before the Autobots detect them. Starscream has a private word with Knock Out, suggesting to the medic that the Decepticons deserve a leader who is conscious. The pair comes to a deal where Knock Out would assist Starscream, in exchange of becoming the new second-in-command.

Bumblebee is plugged into Megatron’s mind via the cortical psychic patch, and Bumblebee finds himself standing in a simulation of Kaon. Ratchet creates a communications downlink so he can see whatever Bumblebee’s mind avatar sees. Bumblebee wanders around until he comes across Megatron sitting on a throne, slaying ‘an’ Optimus Prime and several other Autobots. A confused Bumblebee tries to ‘save’ Optimus, only to find that none of Megatron’s attacks can harm him. megatron works out that Bumblebee is… different, and realizes that he is in his own subconscious. In the real world, Arcee drags Bumblebee into a hidden alcove as Starscream, Soundwave and Knock Out enter the room. After a report from Knock Out, Starscream begins to ramble about how Megatron is beyond saving and ending his life may be the most respectful thing to do. Ratchet, however, states that if Megatron is dead Bumblebee’s mind, which is in Megatron’s head, will also cease to exist. In the dream world, Megatron yells at Bumblebee a little before pondering what has happened to him. Looking at Bumblebee’s blue eyes jogs Megatron’s memory of the similarly-shaped Space Bridge and the explosion.

Megatron manages to persuade Bumblebee to tell him about what had happened. Learning of Optimus Prime’s infection, Megatron initially refuses to help Bumblebee, and reflects on the irony that Optimus will be killed by a mere virus. However, Bumblebee manages to convince Megatron that the Decepticon leader wants the satisfaction of ending Optimus Prime’s life himself. Megatron briefly gloats and shows Bumblebee the chemical formula for the cure, but will only share it if Bumblebee can release him from his mental prison. In the real world, Starscream was about to pull the plug on Megatron, but Soundwave points out the psychic patch cable. A baffled Starscream follows the cable… Ratchet can see everything Bumblebee sees, and having gotten a screenshot of the formula, Ratchet shouts for Arcee to cut the link, which Arcee does. Megatron’s dream world begins to break apart as Bumblebee disappears, and Megatron launches himself towards Bumblebee, shouting ‘take me with you!’ Just as Bumblebee wakes up, Starscream finds the two Autobots, and as they jump backwards towards the Groundbridge, Arcee shoots the cables attached to Megatron’s chest. Starscream notes how tragic Megatron’s death is, but Soundwave’s insistence causes Starscream to give in, knowing that it is improper for Megatron to die by an Autobot’s hand. A short while later, a cured Optimus Prime stands up and thanks Bumblebee and everybody cheers for him. On the Decepticon ship, Starscream enters to check up on Megatron, and Knock Out tells him that unlike before, Megatron is no longer exhibiting brainwave activity. In Bumblebee’s head, Megatron lurks… and laughs…

Featured Characters: Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Arcee, Bulkhead, Rafael Esquivel, Miko Nakadai, Jack Darby, Knock Out, Megatron, Car Vehicons, Starscream, Soundwave

Review:
You know, the pacing in this episode is rather terrible, compared to the standard this show had set up. We jump from point to point relatively quickly, and there are several contrived coincidences—Ratchet happens to be testing out the radar frequencies just as the Nemesis’ shield is down, the Autobots in the Nemesis just as Stascream and Knock Out play their little coup d’état, the staple sci-fi ‘into the mind’ whatchamacalit… but really, watch the episode and you’ll be impressed by the characterization of the guys. It is amazing how Bumblebee can emote without a voice, with simple bleep-weeOOOoowws like that. Bumblebee’s body language expresses a lot, and as the star of the episode he is very fun. The other star has to be Megatron. Frank Welker really shows that he isn’t obsolete yet. This new incarnation of Megatron may not be a seamless plotter like Animated, a big ham like Beast Wars, or a complete beast like the Movieverse, but TFPrime’s Megatron is a great amalgation of most Megatrons. Yes, he is smart, but he also has that G1 Achilles’ Heel of being proud and arrogant, though not stupid. Frank Welker’s voice is simply wonderful, and his contemplation of whether to save Optimus Prime, alternating between smooth ‘I can make you an offer you can’t refuse’ growling purr, and his loud roaring shouts... really, Prime’s Megatron is very easily one of the most entertaining villains full stop.

Speaking of villains, both Starscream and Knock Out have surpassed their past characterizations again. Really, this is a much more realistic way of taking over, by stepping over the dead body of your former commander. It is very much realistic that the troops wouldn’t follow an usurper, so Starscream has to go through the ‘formal’ way before being treated as supreme commander. And Knock Out being devious in order to advance through the ranks is great as well. Soundwave, being described as ‘hearing and seeing everything’, is what exactly Soundwave should be, explored to perfection. Although initially I abhorred the idea of Soundwave being mute, it’s shown here how eerily effective it can be, especially since by just pointing you can make Starscream just exhale and note that he’s been outmaneuvered you also establish Soundwave as a force to reckon with. Less is more, you know. Decepticon politics is clearly one of the funnest part of this show. Arcee and Ratchet both got their own moments as well, with Arcee rearing to take the fight to the Decepticons but self-admits that she can’t take being separated from her body, or Ratchet simply shouting in frustration at Arcee, and the eternally golden line ‘I won’t let Optimus die knowing that Megatron will outlive him!’ Ratchet is massive fun, I tell you. And the kids? Well, if this were an Armada episode every five minutes we’d get a reaction shot from them, having them repeat variations of a dialogue. Well here, all that they do is listen to Raf translate Bumblebee’s speech to Miko and Jack, and vis a vis the audience.

Also, there’s quite a bit of background shown here, which shows that the show was not built with a single paragraph or two for the background, like how early G1 episodes, or RID or Armada feels… those shows felt hollow in that there’s only the next episode with little to no background at all. We have mentions to former skirmishes, crashed shuttles forgotten by the war, Autobots outlawing medical practices, Megatron’s funky science projects, Kaon… and Soundwave’s implied influence… stuff like that is what makes Transformers Prime take its place alongside Beast Wars and Animated as one of the best Transformers show. Who knows, if it can maintain this quality up to two or three seasons, Prime will be the default best show of all Transformers. This is very Ultimate Transformers, I can’t stress it enough. And, wrapping out the review… how’s the episode? Fantastic. Plot? Okay. Characterization? Superb. Villains? Awesome. Heroes? Engaging. Animation? Basically technology porn. Moving the main story forwards, changing the status quo? Yes. The two points deduction is only for the pacing.

(Eight out of Ten)

Notes:
The premise of an ancient Cybertronian disease which cure is difficult to find recalls the Cosmic Rust from the G1 cartoon.

Cybonic plague is probably based on real-life bubonic plague. According to Ratchet, it is part of the Decepticon Biological Warfare Program.

Kaon being the Decepticon capital on Cybertron and being all spiky and stuff was first introduced and popularized in the Dreamwave G1 comics.

Bumblebee is continually referred to by many of the characters (most notably Megatron, who most likely didn’t know or didn’t bother to remember Bumblebee’s real name) as ‘scout’, his function. The function ‘scout’ was applied to the movieverse incarnation of Bumblebee in several stock biographies.

The dream Optimus Prime says 'one shall stand, one shall fall'. The first time that Megatron clashes with a dream Optimus, it mirrors the final part of the opening sequence, what with the red background and everything.

Starscream uses two human phrases this episode ('You scratch my back, I scratch yours' and 'speak now or hold your peace'), and Bulkhead uses a Cybertronified version of 'pushing up daisies'. No idea where Starscream gets these phrases, though.

At one point Megatron asks whether he 'still functions', a homage to the oft-repeated 'I still function' line.

Megatron at one point says that he'll let Optimus Prime 'fade to gunmetal grey'. When G1 cartoon Optimus Prime dies, his corpse faded into grey.

Arm Gimmicks:
-It's not new per se, but I think this is the first time Megatron uses his fusion cannon in robot mode; in Darkness Rising he only uses his it in vehicle mode.

Goofs:
On Ratchet's computer the crashsite is shown to be in an area with green background, implying a forest or grassland, but the real crashsite is in the desert.

Just as Megatron has been disconnected from Bumblebee, at one point one of the monitors show brain activity, when in reality this shouldn't happen, what with Megatron's mind already in Bumblebee.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:09 PM.
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