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Old 2011-11-25, 10:41 AM   #15
Blackjack
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Shadowzone
Airdate: 14 May 2011
Written By: Marsha Griffin

Synopsis: Starscream, having been punished by Megatron, lies groaning in the Nemesis, hooked up to the life-support units. Megatron arrives, and gloats how their positions have changed. Once Megatron leaves, Starscream rips the cables feeding him and limps away. Knock Out tries to stop the still-damaged Starscream from leaving, but Starscream waves it off and moves away. In a secluded location Starscream retrieves the shard of Dark Energon that he initially ripped from Megatron's body, promising revenge on Megatron. At the Autobot base, Ratchet reports that he's detected a moving Dark Energon signal, and talk of zombies pique Miko's attention. Starscream arrives at the site of Skyquake's grave. He breaks off a chunk of the Dark Energon shard and throws it into the pile of rocks, before plunging the rest into his own chest. The power of Dark Energon flows through him, causing him to glow purple. Meanwhile, Optimus readies the Autobots to move out, and brings Ratchet along because of his expertise with Dark Energon. Jack and Raf suspect Miko is up to something because she's acting disinterested. As the Autobots head through the Ground Bridge, Miko bolts to follow (the Autobots don't notice). Jack and Raf give chase, and after a brief struggle where Miko's cell phone is knocked loose, the three kids make it through the Ground Bridge to the other side. The Autobots are surprised to find Starscream instead of Megatron. Starscream opens fire and gloats about his newfound power... but Optimus easily shoots off Starscream's right arm off. Starscream hides behind cover as the Autobots close in, and he's forced to request for an emergency Ground Bridge from the Nemesis. Meanwhile, the kids' noise (as well as a call from Arcee, who's on base) alerts the Autobots to their presence, and Arcee opens a Ground Bridge for the kids.

When two Ground Bridges open, a surprised Ratchet orders the kids to rush in, and they do so. Starscream, leaps into the Decepticon Ground Bridge. Ratchet tells them that two Ground Bridges in close proximity is dangerous, and the energy from the two Bridges interact and causes a massive explosion which knocks the four Autobots away. Starscream arrives back on the Nemesis, missing his arm, and removes the Dark Energon shard from his chest. The kids and the Autobots recover, but the kids find out that the Autobots can't see or touch them. Raf theorizes that the three of them are in some sort of alternate dimension which he dubs as the 'shadowzone'. Optimus Prime finds that Skyquake's grave is empty, but decides that their main priority is finding the kids. As the Autobots get ready to return to their base to figure things out, Skyquake--now a Dark Energon zombie--appear and attack the Autobots, but like the kids Skyquake just goes through them. Realising that the Skyquake zombie is in the same dimension as they are, the kids run for it, just as the zombie gives chase. After a short moment where Raf's glasses fall and Miko recovers them, they continue running. In their base, the Autobots are watch as Ratchet tries to figure out what happened to the kids, and Bumblebee suggests calling them. Bulkhead's attempt to call Miko reveals that her cellphone is left in the base. Arcee calls Jack, but when Jack picks up, there is too much interference for them to communicate. Raf gets the idea of texting Miko's phone, but runs as Skyquake approaches them.

Starscream is examined by Knock Out, who claims vehemently that his arm just fell off. Knock Out tries to get Starscream to upgrade his arm, but Starscream stubbornly insists that he wants his old arm. The kids find themselves near Starscream's detached arm, and fires the missile by pulling on Starscream's finger. They manage to blast Skyquake's arm off, but the arm leaps up and starts scuttling towards them faster than the Skyquake zombie did. The kids run again. In the Autobot base, Bulkhead notices the message on Miko's phone, and Ratchet begins to work on getting the kids back from the alternate dimension. Starscream's chunk of Dark Energon starts pulsing, informing Starscream that Skyquake has risen from the dead. He moves out of the medbay, telling Knock Out (who has just returned with a new arm) that he's going to try and salvage his old arm. The kids see Starscream arrive, while Skyquake's arm pursues them from behind. A Ground Bridge portal opens between the kids and Starscream. Seeing that they don't have much of a choice, they run through the Ground Bridge, much to the surprise of Starscream. The Skyquake arm follows through, and slams onto Starscream's head. A second Ground Bridge portal heralds the arrival of the Autobots, forcing Starscream to retreat. Back at the Autobot base, Miko apologises and takes responsibility for the whole mess. The Autobots decide that being stuck in near a zombie is punishment enough. In the Nemesis a slightly puzzled Knock Out repairs the damaged Starscream, and asks him if he managed to salvage his arm. Still trapped in the shadowzone, the Skyquake zombie lurches around, trying to attach Starscream's detached arm to himself before tossing it away.

Featured Characters: Starscream, Megatron, Knock Out, Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Arcee, Bulkhead, Miko Nakadai, Jack Darby, Rafael Esquivel, Jet Vehicon, Skyquake (Zombie)

Review:
On paper, this is one of the kinds of episodes that probably won't work well. Alternate dimensions that make no sense, a basically throwaway plot involving the impulsiveness of a character... yeah, it's got RID written all over it. However, it's a testament to the voice actors and scripters that the episode proves to be much more entertaining in person. I was pleasantly surprised that they handled the kids in a crisis pretty well. However, the main highlight of this episode is undoubtedly Starscream. He's so much fun! From his swift delivery of his irate excuses to Knock Out, his weak pain when confronted with Megatron, flaunting around his power when the Dark Energon impressively causes him to glow with purple flames... Starscream is so very solid here, and you can just see how arrogant he is. And his expression when Optimus shoots off his arm when he thought he was invincible is priceless! So are his irate outbursts to the Vehicon Ground Bridge controller and to Knock Out. It's so natural and fun.

The kids surprisingly get a lot of great lines as well, and I'm surprised that Miko actually proves to be more fun than annoying. Granted, it's a mighty stupid thing to do to follow the Autobots through the Ground Bridge, but she is meant to be a wee bit over the top. Also, I like how the kids only run and don't make any attempt whatsoever to fight the zombie Skyquake. If this was a G1 or an Armada episode, we'd see the kids defeat the zombie with some kind of dropping rocks or something. Nice to see that they don't do something like that. Again, Jack remains the responsible sane one of the bunch, and Raf is the little geek who figures out the alternate dimension thing. Ratchet is pretty fun as well, spouting technobabble while Arcee and Bulkhead sarcastically quip around. The Skyquake zombie is fun enough, a way to make use of the CG model without shamelessly reviving the dead. Megatron's tortured Starscream quite a bit, and there remains the question on why he doesn't kill Starscream off immediately after the whole 'I won't be making the same mistake' bit from last episode, but it's not so glaring. There's quite a bit too much of coincidences regarding the Ground Bridges and stuff, but it's an enjoyable episode through and through despite its faults.

(Seven out of Ten)

Notes:
Starscream stole the Dark Energon shard from Megatron's chest in 'Masters & Students'. Skyquake's death also happens in that episode. Starscream gets the idea of rising Skyquake as a zombie, as well as stabbing Dark Energon into himself, from Megatron in 'Darkness Rising'.

Between the events of the last episode and this one, Megatron has put Starscream through punishment (though not kill him). For this episode, Starscream sports some wicked-looking scars on his face and arms.

Apparently, Skyquake was buried in the ground by the Autobots.

The Decepticons have a Ground Bridge as well.

Ratchet fears that the two Ground Bridges may have 'crossed streams', a reference to the original Ghostbusters movie. Like Ghostbusters, crossing streams is not a good idea.

The Decepticon warship Nemesis is referred to by name in this episode. The Nemesis is the name of the Decepticon ship in the original cartoon, although it would go unnamed until the Beast Wars cartoon, 'Nemesis Part 1'.

When Knock Out suggests alternative arm weapons for Starscream, he first suggests a sonic cannon (the weapon of Animated Starscream according to toy bios) but soon says that he prefers a null ray (the infamous weapon of the original G1 Starscream).

According to Knock Out, Starscream's equipment and systems are obsolete because of his stubborn refusal to upgrade.

Arm Gimmicks:
- Starscream has to flex his index and middle fingers to launch his arm-mounted missiles. (Jack only pulls his index finger, though)
-Not exactly an arm gimmick, but Knock Out brings a Starscream arm with lots of missiles attached to it, similar to the blueprint of the sonic cannon Knock Out suggested earlier.

Goofs:
Really, I understand they're panicked and everything, but couldn't Jack or Raf shout at the Autobots when Miko ran to the Space Bridge?

If Ratchet knew about crossing streams and saw the Decepticons' Ground Bridge, why did he tell the kids to run through their Ground Bridge? Granted, if the kids didn't go into the shadowzone, they'd probably be cooked by the explosion, but still...

So how did the Skyquake zombie enter the shadowzone? It's not like it entered the Ground Bridge...
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