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Old 2011-03-25, 02:28 AM   #1
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Default Cartoon Episode Reviews: Transformers Prime

Darkness Rising, Part 1
Airdate: 26 November 2010
Written By: Duane Capizzi

Synopsis:
The Autobots Cliffjumper and Arcee are on open roads, talking over the comm about Cliffjumper's recent exploits of messing with the humans. However, Cliffjumper detects a large amount of Energon crystals nearby and goes to investigate, but the landscape is shadowed by the Decepticon warship that appeared above him. A group of Decepticon troopers drop down, and Cliffjumper. Arcee alerts the rest of the Autobots before going off to help Cliffjumper. Meanwhile, Cliffjumper fights on, beating down several Decepticons. However, they outnumber him and manage to knock him down into the crystals. Several stray blasts blow up the energon, causing a massive exosion. The surviving Decepticons drag Cliffjumper back into the warship. Decepticon leader Starscream isn't happy about the loss of the Energon, and Cliffjumper's defiant attitude isn't making his mood any better. Starscream stabs Cliffjumper through the chest with his arm, executing him. The rest of the Autobots — Optimus Prime, Arcee, Bumblebee and Bulkhead — arrive too at the crater via ground bridge, and Ratchet reports that Cliffjumper's life signal has just terminated. Arcee picks up the horn Cliffjumper lost during the battle. Back on the warship, Soundwave replays a recording of Arcee's comms talk, and Starscream marks her as their next target. Optimus Prime briefly eulogise Cliffjumper and Arcee drives away to cool off.

In the small town of Jasper, Nevada, Jack Darby works at a drive-thru in KO Burger, being tormented by a couple of his friends. Arcee finds herself being tailed by two Decepticons, and tries to lose them by parking at KO Burger. Jack mistakes her for a real motorcycle and fantasizes about having a motorcycle of his own, rubbing Arcee before hopping on. Two girls catch him talking to a motorcycle, but before Jack could come up with an excuse the Decepticons spot Arcee. With Jack still on-board, Arcee takes off, Decepticons in pursuit. After a wild chase Arcee drops Jack and threatens him not to tell anyone before driving away again. However, one of the Decepticons head after Jack, so Arcee backtracks and does some stunts to distract the Decepticons so Jack could hop on. The chase heads to the freeway, and the Decepticons begin to open fire. Bumblebee arrives and sideswipes the Decepticons, slowing them down.

In a nearby drainage canal, Rafael Esquivel is playing with a remote-controlled car when Arcee and Jack drop in. The Decepticons transform and battle Arcee, but the Autobot is outnumbered. Bumblebee arrives to help, but is distracted when he accidentally steps of Rafael's toy. The Decepticons knock Arcee, then Bumblebee, down. Raf draws the Decepticons' attention. One of the Decepticons stalk towards the two humans who flee into a drain. This distraction allows Bumblebee and Arcee to get a second wind, and when Bulkhead arrives (apparently held up by traffic) the two Decepticons flee. Optimus Prime tells the Autobots that since the Decepticons have seen the boys, the two may be targeted. Bumblebee and Arcee try to take them to HQ. Raf trustingly rides Bumblebee, but Jack walks away. Miko Nakadai sits outside the school, drawing Arcee, and eavesdrops when Arcee transforms in an alley and tries to convince Jack to come along. In on the secret, Miko joins the Autobots to their HQ, concealed in a mountain. Optimus Prime meets the kids, giving them an exposition regarding the Transformers' war, which had had a hiatus of three years. Optimus fears that with the Decepticons back, Megatron will return as well.

Soundwave detects a transmission from deep space, and under Starscream's orders, a space bridge is activated. A Cybertronian jet shoots out of it, transforming into Megatron, who announces his return.

Featured Characters: Cliffjumper (killed), Arcee, Vehicon Cars, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Bulkhead, Bumblebee, Starscream, Soundwave, Jack Derby, Sierra, Rafael Esquivel, Miko Nakadai, Megatron

Review:
After the first live-action movie, we were treated to the first non-dubbed show since the G1 trilogy (G1, Beast Wars and Beast Machines), namely Transformers: Animated. While a good show, with great characters and animation, it's got pacing problems, as well as a penchant to fill their episodes with needless jokes. And it's over-hyped. Now, after Animated's untimely demise, we get Transformers: Prime. It's the first Transformers cartoon to be fully done in CGI ever since Beast Wars and Beast Machines (Energon and Cybertron don't count, in those shows only the robots are CGI. Pretty poor CGI, too.). Now the transfans are always sceptical about anything remotely new. Will it be a show catering to kids like Armada? Will it be a pointless character/weapon-of-the-week like G1? Will it be a fangasm like Animated? Will it be a dark episodic fast-paced show like Beast Machines? Will it be as good as, God forbid, Beast Wars?

First up, the CGI is just gorgeous. Now understandably they stuck with uninhabited areas, mostly, because animating dozens of human extras would be too much. Forests, rocky cliffs, the freeway, the drainage canal, but they all look simply amazing. The only bit I have a problem with is any scene with buildings — the Burger stall and the school. The squeaky-clean buildings just seem so uninhabited, like a ghost town bar the main characters and one or two odd extras. But otherwise? The CGI is great. The looming Nemesis in particular is simply realistic and spectacular. Battle scenes, all of them without an exception, are stunning, it's like watching one of those complex battles of the live-action movie. And I particularly like the effect of the expolosion blossoming after the Decepticon troops blow up the Energon. The humans have the right touch of realism and cartoony in, and not as terrible as I thought they would be when seeing their character models. Transformations are astoundingly smooth, and the way light is reflected/glinted off metal is well done as well. Fighting scenes are astounding too, and I like how the Vehicons drop out of the Nemesis, Terminator-like. The background score is great as well, feeling like something that came out of a movie instead of repeating the same jingle all over again like most other shows (Beast Machines, I'm looking at you).

But pretty CGI and awesome music can't save a horrible show, which, decidedly, TF: Prime is NOT if this episode was any indication. Instead of repeating the same old tired first encounter with Earth thing, apparently the Transformers have been among us for a long time. Three years, in fact, after their last battle. See? Robots in disguise. And the characters? Well, the show writers take the best qualities of those characters they want to use, and that's it. Bumblebee's basically his movie self, charming yet able to bash the Drones' faces in. Optimus Prime is an Expy of his Movieverse counterpart, it seems, and Peter Cullen again outdid himself as Optimus' baritone voice. We don't see much of Ratchet here, but his voice is nice as well, and he carries the whole 'veteran warrior' bit without feeling too much as 'whiny, rusty old man' like Kup or Animated Ratchet. See, the good bits (Ratchet being old) are taken, the bad bits (Ratchet being a whiner) go away. Likewise, Bulkhead, despite being based on his jolly Animated counterpart, is no longer a self-pitying stupid village bumpkin.

What I do applaud is the different take on Arcee and Starscream. Arcee (her voice is brilliant as well. In fact, all the casting for voices are simply astounding.) breaks the female Transformer stereotype again by not being pink/damsel in distress/somebody's love interest/femme fatale/queen bee. Like her Movieverse namesake, as well as BM Strika and maybe Airazor before her, Arcee is one of those few female Transformers that's not treated differently. She's just there, and she can kick your ass. Starscream, likewise, is a Movieverse-inspired take in that he is actually competent. Hey, he hid that bloody massive warship for three years, secretly plotting, that's got to count for something! And his voice is so malicious, especially when he kills Cliffjumper (more on that later). Oh, yes, he's silver and wings and helmet aside don't look a shit like G1. Which is good; it makes him distinctive instead of being just another Starscream. Soundwave, although we don't see much, seems to be an amalgation of his G1 persona (shadowy advisor) and his live-action take (I can know everything that happens in the world). Megatron, well, his design is badass but we don't see him do anything. Welker's voice sounds a bit off, though.

Aaaand, the humans. The first encounter here is handled better than anything, almost a good as the Movieverse. In fact it feels like a Bay epic, not just because of the wildly stunning action scenes, but also because there are times when it's just silent action with screaming and stuff, and there are times for subdued jokes. 'What took you?' 'Traffic'. None of those gag-or-reference-every-two-minutes like Animated, noooo. Jack Darby is basically Sam Witwicky in all but name. He doesn't want to be involved in big robots, but he's in on the secret, sadly dragged along in the chase by way of misfortune. Also a funny moment when he basically gropes Arcee all over. He's also got that same geeky charm Sam has. Rafael... Raf is just your basic human kid, I suppose. Fearless and trusting. Miko... Miko strikes me as annoying, but it's more of the perky voice instead of anything. Still, it's great for Miko and Raf to go 'Giant friendly robots? AWESOME!'

Now, how awesome was it to hear Cliffjumper's voice voiced by the Rock? His personality is pretty generic, but he's there to die. This is probably to establish the maturity of the series, and that uh-oh, anyone outside the main cast can die. And, hey, the rules are different this time; this isn't the same Decepticons that spends their time building a giant griffin, or can't find their way out of a mine. These guys are dangerous villains that will kill our heroes at first sight. A nice set-up. Animated had started off like this (without the killing part) but the Decepticons suffer from villain decay over time, let's hope the same doesn't happen to the 'Cons here. Shame about Cliffjumper, though. While it might have had more impact if they killed off somebody from the Movies/Animated like, it's still effective. At least Cliffy got a kickass scene before his death. The main selling point here, however, is the battle between Arcee, Bumblebee and the two Vehicons. It's a stunning road battle, something that no Transformers cartoon has ever done properly until now. Arcee's acrobatics, those sexy Vehicon muscle cars slamming onto her, Bumblebee (awesome revamped vehicle mode) sideswiping the cars... and the melee fistfight between the quartet... all well done. I particularly like the scene when the Vehicon stalks slowly towards the humans, lifeless visor glaring down, the light glinting off the purple armour, and the camera shakes a little with every step he takes... I'm just bummed that the two Vehicons are just drones and not actual characters, they're just so darned pretty!

Basically, it's as great as it can be in introducing characters and concepts. Also, great action scenes are a bonus, and the maturity that TF: Prime has... without being too serious (I wager that's why Miko is thrown into the bunch). Characters that usually annoyed the hell out of me, Starscream and Arcee, get revamped into something better. Not flawless, certainly, but a great set-up which is enjoyable rather than repetitive or irritating. More, please.

(Four and a Half out of Five)

Notes:
Apparently the Autobots and Decepticons have been battling on Earth for a long time, hidden. The Decepticons were last seen 'three years ago', until they reappear in this episode.

Since the show is run by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, writers of the script for the first two live-action movies, the 'three years ago' reference is no doubt a shout-out to the first Movie, which aired in 2007.

Many of the characters, of course, draw inspiration from their previous incarnations.
-Optimus Prime is an amalgation of mainly his G1 and Movie selves. His alternate mode is similar to Movie Prime, but in G1 Prime's colours. His retractable faceplate and mouth underneath is also based on Movie Prime. Voiced by Peter Cullen, the original G1 Optimus as well as Movie Optimus.
-Bumblebee's general appearance, alternate mode and inability to speak makes him an Expy of Movie Bumblebee. He's considerably less psycho, though.
-Bulkhead's general appearance and personality is also imported from Animated Bulkhead, although his jaw is his mouth instead of just being the chin. He also traded in for a military truck alternate mode.
-Ratchet is based somewhat on his Animated self, being gruff and considerably older, but not that old. His sarcastic wit is probably inspired by G1 Ratchet.
-Arcee's alternate mode is based on Movieverse Chromia (who is 1/3rd of Arcee in some way. Don't ask.) but for the most part have nothing in common with any other Arcees other than being female.
-Cliffjumper's gung-ho attitude, head design and general brashness is based on his G1 counterpart. Hey, he's tired of being known as 'red Bumblebee' all the time!
-Starscream's design is all new, although he retains his Animated counterpart's chin, his movie Counterpart's hunched countenance and his torso is his Movie counterpart's face.
-Soundwave's design is all new as well, taking cues from the Movieverse. As a twist Soundwave doesn't speak in monotone. Rather, he doesn't speak so much as repeating whatever he hears to others. Making him the counterpart to Bumblebee.
-Megatron's design is mostly based on G1 and Animated, but his clawed fingers, shoulder armour and face, as well the revamped fusion cannon are all based on the Movieverse design. Also, funky alien jet alternate mode. Megs is voiced by his G1 voice actor Frank Welker as well.

Technically Prime is supposed to be in continuity with the War for Cybertron game. We'll take the radical change in Arcee, Bumblebee, Soundwave and Starscream's appearances as being due to millions of years of war, eh?

Starscream's warship is called the Nemesis and pretty obviously based on the G1 Decepticon warship of the same name.

The Space Bridge is introduced in G1, and has had different shapes and sizes. The one Megatron uses is an amalgation of the G1 cartoon and Animated, being placed on an asteroid but is a ring on the ground instead of a tuning fork.

The Ground Bridge seems to be based on the Global Space Bridge from Robots in Disguise, but it makes more sense because it just teleports from the base to anywhere on Earth, instead of being some random unexplained highway.

Since 'slag', introduced and made popular in Beast Wars as a kid-friendly curse word now have negative connotations, 'scrap', by virtue of sounding like 'crap', replaces it. Arcee is a big fan, saying it three times in the first episode alone.

Energon crystals. Energon is a recurring theme in almost all franchises, while Energon crystal deposits are first introduced in Beast Wars.

The Decepticon troops (they're pretty!) are generics. While originally their character models were shown with the title 'Eradicon', the official name is 'Vehicon', after the faction that employed legions of identical drones in Beast Machines. Their sexy muscle car alt modes are rather subtly based around the Decepticon symbol.

Arcee calls Bumblebee family. Whether she's being a smartass or if there is really a familial connection remains to be seen.

Arcee has a holographic rider called Sadie. No, not that Sadie.

Optimus Prime introduces the Autobots in the exact same way his Movieverse counterparts did. Although he also introduces the short-form 'Autobots' instead of waiting for Ratchet to do so.

According to Optimus, the split between Optimus Prime and Megatron happened during the war. A little inconsistency with War for Cybertron here.

Speaking of the game, the shot of Cybertron is directly copied from there, albeit in a dark hue.

As established in War for Cybertron and reinforced here, Cybertron has been rendered uninhabitable by the war, like it was in the Movieverse continuity and IDW comics. Though everybody ignores it in the latter.

Jack references Fight Club at one point when talking to Raf.

Note that unlike Movieverse or even Animated, mass shifting is again used here. Most notable is Arcee, in the scene where she talks to Jack in the alley. She expands from a motorcycle into a robot that towers over Jack, nearly filling the entire alley.

Last but not least, it is worth mentioning that Cliffjumper got a lot of hype prior to the debut of the series, having 'the Rock' as his v/a, being the main character in the prequel comic released by IDW and used in many trailers and promotional photos... but he gets killed off in five minutes. TF: Prime's sister show, G.I. Joe: Renegades, did the same with Ripcord, killing him off... only it's more effective since Ripcord was one of the stars of the live action movie.

The arm gimmicks introduced this episode include:
-Cliffjumper's hands can both change into triple-barrelled guns.
-The Vehicon cars' right arm change into triangle-shaped guns. In vehicle mode they have miniature versions of those guns that pop out of their hoods.
-Optimus Prime's arm transforms into a double-barreled rifle based on his iconic Movieverse one (long big barrel and a shorter one).
-Bulkhead's massive arm also transforms into an equally chunky blaster.
-Arcee's arm changes into a rifle, albeit a slender one.
-Bumblebee has pop-out guns that come out of both his wrists, somewhat similar to Animated Ratchet's EMP Gun.

Goofs:
When Ratchet scans for Cliffjumper's signal, only five signals are shown (including Cliff's, who terminates during the scene) instead of six. Ratchet's own signal might be excluded, though, explaining it.

It kind of bothers me that Jack's legs aren't crushed (or at least sheared off) when Arcee passes between the two Vehicons. Sparks fly, damn it! And Jack doesn't seem to be tucking his legs in...

The insignia embalzoned on the floor of the Autobot base is based on the live-action Movie's Autobot insignia (four-sided optics) instead of the standard Autobot insignia. However, when the episode was re-aired weeks later, the error was re-edited into the proper insignia.

Cliffjumper's name is parsed Cliff Jumper in the credits.

If War for Cybertron and the Exodus novel are supposed to be in continuity with the Prime cartoon (which I doubt; the novel and the game itself contradict each other on everything but the basic plot) there are multiple inconsistencies with the character's voices/appearances/personalities et cetera. Also, a little difference in details with respect to the flashback, but that may be because of the 'unreliable narrator' effect.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 2011-03-27, 04:09 AM   #2
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Darkness Rising, Part 2
Airdate: 26 November 2010
Written By: Nicole Dubuc

Synopsis:
The Nemesis hovers above a mountain, hollowed out to reveal the Energon mine beneath, the results of Starscream's work. As the drones mine the Energon, Megatron reminds Starscream who's boss, and Starscream asks when the army Megatron has surely gathered would arrive. Megatron shows what he had found — Dark Energon, the blood of Unicron, a legendary substance which is said to have the power to revive the dead. Megatron inquires if Starscream wants to volunteer to die and test it out, but Starscream suggests using Cliffjumper's corpse. In the Autobot base, Optimus Prime tells the kids that the Autobots must now protect them, since the Decepticons will likely be interested in the Autobots new allies. Agent Fowler, their liaison with the US government, pays them a visit. The kids hide. Fowler is not happy with the Autobots' antics during the freeway chase, but Bulkhead points out that no humans were hurt, breaking one of Ratchet's tools in the process. Optimus Prime assures Fowler that the Autobots will take care of things with no human casualties, and Fowler leaves.

Megatron stabs the Dark Energon shard into Cliffjumper, who is revived as a snarling beast, and savagely attacks the two luckless soldiers nearby. Starscream is horrified, but Megatron simply slices Cliffjumper into two, and drops the zombie down the cliff. Megatron tells Starscream that Dark Energon is the key to a vast, indestructible army. Ratchet detected Cliffjumper's life signal coming back to life briefly, and the Autobots head out. The kids offer to come and help, but Optimus leaves them with Ratchet. Both Ratchet and the kids aren't happy. As the Autobots head off, Ratchet sort-of explains the Ground Bridge to the kids. The Autobots arrive in the Energon mine and a full out brawl happens between the Autobots and the Decepticon drones, where the Autobots knock all the drones apart. Starscream alerts Megatron, but Megatron tells Starscream that he needs more time to prepare to face Optimus, and orders the Nemesis to departure. Starscream points out that this will leave the Energon in the mine to the Autobots, and he is ordered to blow the mine. As the battle moves to the chamber where the Nemesis is hovering above, Arcee spots Cliffjumper (well, the slice with the head, anyway), and the other Autobots cover her as she leaps to reascue Cliffjumper. However, she discovers to her horror that Cliffjumper has been changed. The snarling Cliffjumper fell down among the Energon crystals as the Autobots watch, but Starscream arrives and drops a bomb before retreating up the Nemesis. The Autobots race back to their entry point where Ratchet reactivates the Ground Bridge.

Back in the base Arcee tells the others what she saw. Jack stops Miko from asking too many questions. Arcee suddenly becomes dizzy and Ratchet scans her, finding contamination in the form of purple fluid on her wrist. While Arcee is decontaminated, the kids explain to Optimus Prime that they really need to get home. Bulkhad takes Miko home, Bumblebee with Raf and Arcee with Jack. When Jack gets home, Jack's mother also arrives home at the same time. Jack's mother is not happy that Jack have 'brought' a motorcycle, but Jack manages to talk her around. Arcee stays in Jack's garage for the night, then the next morning insists that they return to base. On the Nemesis, Megatron doubts that Optimus has died. Starscream is concerned that Megatron is affected by the exposure to Dark Energon, but Megatron merely takes a shard and stabs it into his own Spark. In the Autobot base, Ratchet analyses the sample of Dark Energon, and as he moves it around, some of the fluid drips on the machinery Bulkhead broke earlier. The piece of machinery twitches to life, transforming into a one-eyed insectoid creature...

Featured Characters: Vehicon Miners, Starscream, Megatron, Cliffjumper's Body (revived), Bulkhead, Arcee, Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Miko Nakadai, Jack Darby, Rafael Esquivel, Agent Fowler, June Darby, Dark Energon Mutant

Review:
Simply astonishing. The fight scene in the Energon mine is, while a little dizzying at one point, brings action scenes up to eleven. This isn't robots hiding behind rocks and shooting lasers at each other, kids! I particularly like how Arcee beheads a Vehicon by jumping onto the Decepticon, then using her legs to twist the head off. The Autobots tearing the Decepticons apart is simply so much fun. You know that the drones have no chance, yet you'll enjoy it. And those drones are pretty too! My favourite action scene has to be Starscream diving from his perch, twirling mid-air and transforming as he falls vertically, then shooting back up. Best use of physics ever. Cliffjumper turning rabid and being sliced into two from shoulder to hip by Megatron is well done as well. Megatron is fun in his own right, a slightly-crazy leader who risks everything and has no qualms about cutting his losses. Dark Energon as a zombifying substance (and undoubtedly a power up) is nicely done as well. Although it has inconsistencies with War for Cybertron... meh, screw WFC, they both work better independently.

I particularly like the little character moments, especially when Miko bombards the Autobots, clearly shell-shocked after seeing zombie Cliffjumper, with questions and the more mature Jack steers her away. Or the human kids realising that, hey, the big alien robots have feelings and can die! Arcee's little moment of disbelief as zombie Cliffjumper bats her hand away, Megatron's joke-not-joke of asking Starscream to die to test out Dark Energon, Starscream's veiled question to Megatron's competence as a leader... ah, Starscream. Starscream is very evidently unhappy that Megatron is back, but he is smart enough not to show it, with that remark about Megatron gathering a Decepticon army — a subtle jab at his leader that is delivered like a compliment! It doesn't even sound sarcastic. And the concerned yelp as Megatron stabs himself (all right, granted the idea of a rabid Megatron would mean instant death)... Starscream is evidently a competent leader, gathering Energon for three years (just listen to his voice as he complains about blowing the mine) but despite his disagreements with Megatron he shows a unified Decepticon faction in front of the Autobots.

I like Agent Fowler, he seems to be a fun character from what we see, and gives a military presence to the show. The human kids being left behind is realistic, although that bit with Jack and his mom is a tad longer than it deserves. A nice reminder that the humans actually have lives other than hanging out in the Autobot base, though. Jack is basically Sam, Miko is basically the over-enthusiastic sidekick... Rafael pisses me off a wee bit, though, for some reason. The kid is the guy who 'knows more about technology than Transformers', though it is justified by Ratchet not understanding the rubbish human software, so Ratchet doesn't look like a fool. Raf is humble and charmingly cute, at least. The star of the show had to be Ratchet. The guy has a dry wit, and has an instant love-hate chemistry with the humans. That moment where he does all 'Buuuulkhead, I NEEDED that!' is delivered perfectly, as well as his line when Miko asks if the Ground Bridge could transfer her to Tokyo, and Ratchet says something along the lines of 'allow me to send the lot of you there now.' I enjoy this incarnation of Ratchet more than most. He has a great camaraderie with deadpan snarker Optimus as well. 'The humans will go squuuueeeiish!' 'Then, Ratchet, in the meantime we'll have to watch where we step.' and when Optimus tells the humans to stay with Ratchet. The kids let out a groan, and Ratchet says his own 'aaaaw' groan. It's not over-the-top, it's not a joke, but it's a funny moment.

(Nine out of Ten)

Notes:
The first appearance of Agent Fowler, as well as Dark Energon. It seems that the main cast has never encountered Dark Energon before, despite WFC.

The Miners seen in this episode are Car Vehicons with slightly tweaked head design (two optic bands instead of one and a different helmet). Later episodes would call them as their own class, so I'll consider the two to be separate for clearness' sake.

Starscream and Megatron say that according to legend, Dark Energon is the Blood of Unicron the Destroyer. Unicron is, of course, a homage to the multiversal Dark God that as the force of chaos that wants to consume everything.

This episode features a bunch of drills that the troopers operate, which bear more than a passing resemblance to the Mole Drones in Beast Machines. Also, Starscream refers to the Vehicons collectively as 'drones'. Although the drone whose skull zombie-Cliff crushes screams with fear.

Ratchet explains the concept of the Ground Bridge to the humans here as a downscaled Space Bridge.

Like his Animated counterpart, Bulkhead has a tendency to destroy things around him. But this time it's not because he's clumsy, it's because he wants to show off. Which comes to Ratchet saying, 'Buuuulkhead I needed that!'

Optimus Prime says his catchphrase 'Autobots, roll out!' when retreating from the explosion.

Optimus Prime also says 'Maximum overdrive!' here. It would soon be repeated as a catchphrase in the series.

Starscream says Megatron stabs the shard into his Spark Chamber, referencing Sparks, which is essentially the life essence of Transformers, first introduced in Beast Wars.

The way the blob of Dark Energon changing ordinary technology into spiderlike hostile Transformers is, of course, based on the AllSpark's behaviour in the live-action Movies. The manipulator mutant in particular looks quite a lot like Scalpel/the Doctor from the live-action movie, albeit with one single optic.

Arm gimmicks:
-Megatron's fusion cannon has an extending switchblade, similar to his live action counterpart's second body in ROTF, where his Murder Claw is attached to his cannon (or vice versa).
-Both of Bulkhead's arms can retract and transform into wrecking balls to punch Vehicons, like his Animated counterpart. Unlike Animated, the balls are not on strings, though.

Goofs:
When the Autobots walk into the main part of the mine, they have no shadows.

If this is in continuity with the War for Cybertron game, then Dark Energon has wildly different properties. Instead of granting super-strength and corrupting computers or Cybertron, here Dark Energon raises the dead.

Also, Starscream, Ratchet and Bumblebee all act unfamiliar around Dark Energon despite experiencing it first-hand in WFC. Starscream in particular is the one charged with studying it. Which settles it- WFC is a different continuity!
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 2011-04-03, 08:30 AM   #3
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Darkness Writing, Part 3
Airdate: 1 December 2010
Written By: Marsha Griffin

Synopsis:
The three kids hang out with their respective partner Autobots and are generally having fun. In the base, however, Ratchet came under attack by the reanimated spider-like creature. Optimus Prime shoots the creature and steps on it, and he and Ratchet conclude that both Cliffjumper and the creature were revived by Dark Energon. In the Decepticon ship, Megatron, now powered up by Dark Energon, decides to implement his next move and tells Starscream to wait for orders. Starscream, meanwhile, observes that Megatron hasn't been himself. After a short one-sided debate with Soundwave, he orders the silent Decepticon to increase surveillance. Optimus, meanwhile, realises Megatron intends to use the Dark Energon to create an army of the undead. Ratchet scoffs at this but the two soon get serious. The kids and the rest of the Autobots arrive. Optimus and Ratchet head off, leaving Arcee in charge. Not taking kindly to playing babysitter, Arcee takes Bumblebee and zooms out on patrol, leaving Bulkhead in charge.

Miko attempts horribly to get Jack, Raf and Bulkhead into a band, but the proximity alert goes off to herald the arrival of an angry Agent Fowler. The kids hide behind Bulkhead's feet while Fowler berate Bulkhead about the explosion of the Energon mine. However, Miko's loudspeakers give the kids away, and Fowler very nearly takes them into federal custody. Bulkhead stops Folwer by putting his foot between the Agent and the kids, and then using his finger to put the phone in the base out of order. Fowler storms out. Optimus Prime and Ratchet arrives in a remote, foggy location. Optimus explains that they are looking for the remains of an old Transformer battlefield, where war had been waged on Earth in a part of the war in the past when Energon was being hidden on other planets.

Meanwhile, Fowler flies away from the Autobot base in his helicopter and radios in to his superiors. Soundwave intercepts this transmission, and Starscream orders the capture of the Agent upon hearing the words 'Autobot base'. Soundwave's Deployer takes off and arrives. After a skilled dogfight and deft maneuvring on the part of Fowler, the Deployer gets the better of him and slices off the helicopter's tail and abducts the Agent. However, Fowler manages to press the distress call button to contact the Autobot base. While Bulkhead doesn't want to help initially, the kids point out that Fowler knows the location of the base. Raf hacks into a federal computer to locate Fowler, since government agents are outfitted with trackers. Fowler is brought to Starscream, who holds him in chains and begins interrogating him. Bulkhead bridges out from the base, leaving Jack in charge, and but arrives at where the Decepticon ship is parking with an unpleasant surprise — Miko has tagged along. Bulkhead kills a sentry, and contacts Arcee. Jack and Raf uses the ground bridge to follow, leaving mere seconds before Arcee calls in and tries to get them to bridge Bumblebee and her back. The boys' arrival attracts the attention of the Decepticon guards. In the ship, Starscream's interrogation is going nowhere, so he resorts to using an energon prod to torture the human. In the valley, Optimus and Ratchet reach the graveyard they've been looking for. Unfortunately Megatron arrives as well, and uses a chunk of Dark Energon to raise the dead corpses into life...

Featured Characters: Arcee, Jack Darby, Bulkhead, Miko Nakadai, Bumblebee, Rafael Esquivel, Ratchet, Dark Energon Mutant (killed), Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Agent Fowler, Deployer, Vehicon cars, Zombies

Review:
Not as great as the first two parts, certainly. There are sequences that make you raise your eyebrow. Most notably is Rafael hacking into the federal computers with his not-Macbook, which is hauntingly familiar to the adventure kids in Cybertron being able to repair Transformers, or Chip Chase in G1 knowing more about the Transformers than they do themselves. 'I saw it on TV?' I mean, come on! Miko strikes me as annoying as well, and the band sequence is pretty horrible... until you realise it's there so Fowler could spot the kids. Visuals are still amazing, although there are some places — like the fogs and the zombies rising out of the ground — where it needs a little 'oomf' to make it spectacular. But just watch the scene when Fowler is brought before Starscream. The shadows, the dmmed lighting, Starscream partially shrouded in shadow, the way the light glints off metal... like their movieverse counterparts, they may not look like much in still promotional images, but when they move it's so realistic you can't help to be impressed.

Fowler turns out to be entertaining for a stuck-up MIB agent. He certainly isn't as loony as Simmons in the Movieverse, but a hell lot more realistic and entertaining, with vibes similar to Walter Barnett in the Marvel comics. The scene where Fowler pilots a helicopter and go toe-to-toe with Soundwave's Deployer is stunning. More minor characters like Ratchet, Bulkhead and Soundwave are pushed to the forefront here, Bulkhead being the most prominent. He's a pretty competent guy, and loads more fun than his original Animated counterpart. I especially like the scene where he refuses to help Fowler on the grounds that he's a jerk, or when he goes 'don't use that phone! It's -crush- out of order!' with Fowler. Yet he backs it up with a gorgeous battle scene with the Vehicons. The Vehicons keep scratching and shooting, but Bulkhead punches them in the face and tears their hearts out. I especially like how Bulkhead tells the young Miko to look away, to spare her from the gore. Soundwave is great as well, having a personality despite only repeating whatever others say. He clearly is loyal to Megatron and Starscream is scared of what Soundwave would do, but he is pragmatic enough to listen to Starscream when the other 'Con is correct.

Ah, Starscream. With his crazy long nails and his vaudevillan posturing, Starscream turns out pretty well, and any scene where he's with Megatron or Soundwave is golden. This isn't your 1980s Decepticons or those dumb thugs from the Japanese import shows; these are proper characters. Vehicons prove to be great fun as well. Aside from being pretty cool in general, they give the Decepticons a big threat and someone for the Autobots to pound on, a solution to the 'Decepticons look stupid every episode' syndrome, without needing to resort to ugly Marvel supervillain washouts. Optimus Prime and Ratchet have great dialogues and feed off each other pretty well. I particularly like Optimus saying every single line with a gravity that comes off as natural with Peter Cullen's voice. Cullen's on fire and every line is delivered superbly! Megatron, meanwhile, is much closer to his short-sghted G1 counterpart, with crazy idiot ball moments like stabbing himself with Dark Energon, and the Welker voice fits this crazy warlord better than using, say, David Kaye or Hugo Weaving. He's G1 Megatron, but he's scary. I especially like how the Decepticons' fingers are these demonic claws. Now, the plot. Zombies? Eh, it's not as bad as it could be, but if the zombies aren't handled properly we may have a dip in storytelling quality by the next episode.

So far? Great. It's got a blend of the Bay Movieverse and initial IDW Furmanverse comics, with bits of Animated thrown in. Excellent characterisation, superb voice acting and score, mind-blowing action scenes, reined-in and mature humour... it's far from perfect, sure, but it's damn close.

(Nine out of Ten)

Notes:
First appearance of Soundwave's Deployer. While obviously a homage to his silent avian minion Laserbeak (although the bat wings resemble Ratbat) the way the Deployer is, um, deployed — detaching off Soundwave's chest — is more akin to the aptly-named Breastforce Decepticons from Victory. The name Deployer, meanwhile, harkens to a little-known subgroup in the Beast Machines toyline of animals that transform into guns.

Ratchet's catchphrase seems to be 'By the AllSpark!', saying it at least twice in this episode. Another 'I neeeeded that!' also appears.

When Bulkhead transforms, objects in his seat gets transferred to a compartment in his upper chest. Note this, it's foreshadowing.

Ratchet's comment about his hearing still being good despite being rusty mirrors a similar scene in Animated, although there it was Bumblebee instead of Arcee. Like his Animated counterpart, Ratchet is considerably older and is somewhat akin to a retired war vet.

Fowler mentions that the Energon mine blown up last episode is in Nebraska. Nebraska is also the location of an Ore-13 Energon mine in the early IDW comics.

Megatron notes that as the Dark Energon courses through him, it's like he could hear the thoughts of Unicron the Destroyer. Also, his voice becomes a wee bit harsher and his eyes and insignia glows purple.

Unlike most Transformers shows not having any problem with the kids seeing Decepticons being brutalized, Bulkhead tells Miko to look away as he tears out the Vehicon's heart. Of course Miko doesn't, but then to us humans it's a bunch of thick wires.

The first appearance of the Energon prod, used by Starscream to torture Fowler. At one point Starscream prods Fowler in the groin. Off-screen, of course.

Also, Transformers seeding Earth with Energon is very reminiscent with IDW Comics and Beast Wars (to some extent). Having massive wars on Earth in the past over Energon also mirrors Beast Wars, but it's a closer resemblance to Revenge of the Fallen.

Arm gadgets and gimmicks:
-the Deployer can extend tentacles to grab human hostages.

Goofs:
When Megatron turns around before leaving the room with Dark Energon ('await my command'), his fusion cannon is missing.

12-and-a-quarter-year old Raf can hack into United States government computers to track down agent Fowler. With his laptop. (No, he doesn't even use the Autobot computer.) National security? Hah!

How did a Transformer graveyard get past the radar of the Autobots and whatever organization equivalent they have to the MIB that Fowler works for?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 2011-04-18, 11:16 AM   #4
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Darkness Rising, Part 4
Airdate: 2 December 2010
Written By: Steven Melching

Synopsis:
Optimus Prime and Ratchet watch in horror and disgust as the revived zombies shamble towards them. The Dark Energon has given Megatron complete control over his army. Optimus and Ratchet begin shooting, and then hacking their way through the zombies with their blades. At where the Decepticon ship was parked, Bulkhead rescues Jack and Raf from the Decepticon sentries. The boys explain that they were worried about Miko. Bulkhead drops the humans behind some rocks, before transforming, scaling a cliff and jumping atop and began tearing the sentries apart. However, Bulkhead realizes that a dizzy Miko had stowed away inside him, and releases her from his chest. More drones appear and Bulkhead uses a piece of machinery to knock down a couple of Decepticons, before taking Miko and moving into the ship. Jack and Raf, left behind the rocks, are discovered and captured. However, as they are taken into the ship and about to be taken to the brig, Arcee and Bumblebee arrive and rescue them, having entered unopposed. The two groups meet each other in a corridor, and the boys, having overheard the drones discussing about where the other human is kept in, directs the Autobots to the brig. In the brig, Starscream is close to breaking Fowler, who begins to speak... but sounds of gunfire could be heard, and Fowler stops being helpful. In rage Starscream shocks Fowler with the Energon prod, stunning him unconscious.

Meanwhile, Ratchet and Optimus are overwhelmed and dogpiled by the zombies, but Optimus shoots and carves his way apart and rescues Ratchet as well. In the Nemesis the Autobots clear out a room so the kids can hide, because they are slowing them down. Miko and Jack immediately start arguing about whose fault it was, which upsets Raf, who shouts and sulks in a corner. Both Jack and Miko calm down and try to comfort the younger boy, and Jack notices a huge computer screen. Distracted by this, Raf thinks it has important information. However, they have no idea how to get it to the Autobots. Raf contemplates a flash drive, but a Decepticon walk in. The kids dive for cover, but Raf runs back for his backpack, and is spotted by the Decepticon, who raises his gun. In the brig, Starscream finds Fowler delirious, but can't do anything else as Bumblebee and Bulkhead barge in, kill his troops and point their guns at Starscream, who points his gun at Fowler. Arcee had sneaked onto the ceiling, balanced over Starscream and points her gun at him. The combatants have a tense standoff but the delirious Fowler blurts out something, which distracts Starscream. The Autobots fire at Starscream, knocking his aim off. Starscream leaps into the air, transforms and flies down the corridor. In the room, the lone Decepticon starts firing at Raf. Jack runs out, tackles Raf onto cover behind the Decepticon corpses. Jack orders Miko to take a picture. Miko photographs the Decepticon, before realizing Jack had meant the computer screen.

The kids run away from the room, the Decepticon stalking after them... only to be met with a very angry Bulkhead who proceeds to slam the Decepticon around. The kids and Autobots escape. In the valley Optimus and Ratchet finish off the last of the zombies. Optimus climbs up towards Megatron, eager to confront his nemesis, but Megatron merely complements Optimus, boasts that this was merely a prelude and flies off. Back at the base, Ratchet has his arm in a brace, Optimus tells off Bulkhead, and Miko shows the Autobots the photographed screen. Jack is upset that Miko can be still so cheerful despite the fact that they were almost killed, and wants out. Optimus tries to talk to Jack, but after some sad farewells (and a happy one from Ratchet) Jack goes home via ground bridge. In the Decepticon ship, which had taken into orbit, Megatron beats Starscream for disobeying orders, which resulted in a delay. Starscream tells Megatron that he has a way to get their plan back on course. In Jasper, Miko pays Jack a visit, and tries to talk to him, saying that he's special and can't be normal, but Jack is content to go back to his normal life. Ratchet, meanwhile, checks out the data Miko photographed and realizes it's a spec for a Space Bridge. Optimus points out that the Bridge might be able to bring an army to Earth... and the only place with enough Cybertronian corpses is Cybertron.

Featured Characters: Zombies, Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Vehicon Cars, Jack Darby, Rafael Esquivel, Bulkhead, Miko Nakadai, Bumblebee, Arcee, Agent Fowler, Starscream, Soundwave

Review:
You know, I want so bad to give this episode a lower score. Seven or six, maybe. The zombie-hacking sequences are blatant padding, and the moment where Jack and Miko fight (and later try to reason each other to their thinking) are overlong. Certainly it isn't up to the standard set up by the first three episodes. But I look at the G1 cartoons, I look at Beast Machines and Robots in Disguise, even Beast Wars... this episode, despite it faults, isn't six or seven material if I use those series as a measuring stick. Besides, the action scenes are simply spectacular. Bulkhead takes it all up to eleven, with his excellent scene of climbing up to the Nemesis, using the momentum from his vehicle mode to boost up the cliff, the climb it, hop onto the ship, throw a Vehicon off and begin charging and beating the crap out of them. Heads fly! Body slam! And again in the corridor, where Bulkhead drives and transforms on top the kids, charges the Vehicon in a bear hug, flips him around and slamming him onto the floor... Bulkhead hogs all the best action scenes here, a nice variation of the bumbling Patrick-Star-idiot from Animated. But he doesn't get changed into a war machine, no. He's still gentle to his pals, a little bumbling, and goes all Papa Wolf when Miko's safety is concerned. It's a change for the better. Also like it when the adrenaline rush nearly caused Arcee and Bulkhead to shoot each other: "Friendly!" "Hello!"

Ratchet also has a dry wit that I simply adore. "I recommend dissection, the smaller the pieces, the better!" "No point in long goodbyes, there's the door." Starscream's got a nice Mexican standoff with the Autobots, and the results of the mostly-offscreen interrogation scene... poor Fowler is clearly driven nuts, and nearly broke had the sounds of fire outside the corridor not been audible. Though do we need those cookie pie jokes? My favourite scene so far is the battle at the crossroads in the Decepticon ship, where we see it from the humans' POV, the Autobots and Vehicons looming over them, giant legs, bodies collapsing, heads falling... and we go into a 'Saving Private Ryan'-esque quasi-silent action scenes with the Autobots fighting in the background and we go in a rather speedy swirling action... simply amazing. Starscream is not as great as past installments but still a load of fun, especially that scene near the end cowering under Megs' foot. Optimus Prime and Megatron's little exchange is also chilling, despite the sub-par script. 'As long as Energon runs through my veins' isn't a great line, but Peter Cullen's delivery of it is simply the bomb. Megatron's reply is also great as well, it's nice to listen to a Frank Welker Megatron that you don't have to strain to understand. Megatron's pretty much enjoying himself. No, he isn't the vaudevillan BW or Animated Megatron, he's a mix of G1 and Movie — short-sighted, short-tempered, scary, and more concerned in some grand yet easily-guessed plan above anything else. I particularly like his line on how he and Optimus have been at this for a long, long time. Optimus' talk with Jack is excellent as well.

But the zombie hacking sequences isn't that good. I think it's a shame that Optimus' swords aren't glowing orange like ROTF because it'd be more prominent, but it is pretty fun to see Prime and Ratchet hacking apart those mooks like a video game. And this episode is the most excellent evidence why human kids shouldn't follow Autobots into battle. 'They slow us down and they are easy targets.' We see how the kids are helpless against the Transformers, and there is an emphasis that the humans can easily die. Jack and Miko aren't shy of waving the D-word around, which is usually taboo for human characters in cartoons. Jack is basically Sam Witwicky again, and it's a safe bet that by next episode he'll change his mind. Excellent exit for him, though. Raf, well, I thought he was going to be like those annoying Energon/Cybertron kids that can download high-tech Transformers stuff, when Jack asks him what the symbols mean, and Raf says something about a flash drive... and it's then subverted by Raf realizing that the 'Con computers don't have a USB port. Charming. Miko's kind of a wild card, she's pretty irritating and treads the fine line between adorable jerk like Animated Sentinel Prime or ROTF's Galloway, and irritating jerk like BM Nightscream. Her little argument with Jack that causes Raf to sulk (as if mom and dad are fighting) is as well-scripted as it could be, so it the discussion about death. She's this gung-ho girl that's basically bored of normal life. I had been worried that she would be a flat character, but they again proved me wrong by providing characterisation when she tries to bring Jack back in. The zombie plot may be silly, but it doesn't detract from the whole gorgeousness of the series. It's a safe bet that this has been pretty well thought-out, like Animated but better. If this continues it may even surpass Beast Wars.

(Eight out of Ten)

Notes:
Megatron says that symbiosis has occurred and that he has complete control of the zombies. Trying to create a zombie army has been done before by rogue Autobot Flame in the Marvel UK comics.

According to Ratchet, Dark Energon saps the Autobots' strength.

Last episode we saw aything inside Bulkhead goes into his chest compartment when he turns into robot mode. This happens, unfortunately, to poor Miko, who hides inside Bulkhead when he transforms.

The zombies fall over relatively easily, unlike Cliffjumper, who survived Vehicon fire and being bisected. It's probably because Cliffjumper is a fresh corpse while those in the valley have been rotting for quite some time.

The exchange between Optimus Prime and Jack, about responsibilities and stuff, recalls a similar conversation between Optimus and Sam in ROTF. The specific words, though, is akin to Optimus' confrontation with Galloway from the same movie ("We respect your decision to leave" vs "If you make that decision we will respect it").

Miko name-drops the city as Jasper, Nevada. She's a pretty rich bored Japanese brat. She also calls the undead as 'zombies'.

The technical term of a space bridge according to Ratchet is a 'space-time vortex generator'.

Cybertron again uses the model seen in the WFC game.

Arm gimmicks:
-Like his live-action movie counterpart, both of Optimus' hands can retract to become those long barreled cannons. Both of his hands can also retract to reveal swords, again inspired by his movie counterpart. He can switch between both weapons within seconds.
-Ratchet makes up for being in a support role by having scalpels to substitute for his hands for zombie-hacking action.
-After being damaged, Ratchet's right arm is on an arm brace.
-Starscream's right arm transforms into a segmented futuristic alien cannon thing.

Goofs:
How did Arcee and Bumblebee arrive at the Nemesis so fast, and how did they so coincidentally bump into Jack and Raf?

Difficult to believe that the drones didn't inform Starscream or Soundwave about the break-in immediately after Bulkhead attacks.

After Miko took the picture, how did the kids manage to open the door to escape the Vehicon?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 2011-05-01, 03:36 PM   #5
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Darkness Rising, Part 5
Airdate: 3 December 2010
Written By: Joseph Kuhr

Synopsis:
Optimus Prime grimly imagines what will happen if Megatron succeeds to use Dark Energon to raise all the corpses on Cybertron into a legion to conquer Earth. At KO Burger, Jack arrives and is accosted by Arcee. While Jack initially refuses to go back, Arcee tells him that her recent loss of a good friend makes it hard to say goodbye. At the Autobot base, Ratchet have pinpointed Megatron's Space Bridge in Earth orbit. Ratchet explains to the team that they must extend the Ground Bridge to its limit to reach it, a risky process. Arcee and Jack arrive, and the Autobots sans Ratchet leave, shooting into space and locking onto the gigantic Bridge portal. The Decepticon ship looms into position, and the Autobots get ready to fire. On the bridge of the Nemesis, Megatron berates Starscream again, while Starscream assures Megatron that Soundwave is locking on to Cybertron's coordinates. The Autobots, ready for a last stand, is befuddled why the Decepticons haven't moved. A quick scan shows that Bulkhead had damaged the Decepticons' navigation dish prior while rescuing Fowler, and since Cybertron is so far away, they need pinpoint accuracy.

Ratchet is smug, since there is no way they could get a targeting array that sophisticated on Earth. Raf suggests that the Decepticons may be using several radio dishes, specifically the one in Texas. However, Fowler is still out, unable to alert the staff. Raf is unable to hack in, and Jack thinks they should go on-site with the Ground Bridge, justifying that this is their home as well. In space, Megatron sends out a squad of Vehicons to engage the Autobots, and a battle soon commences where the Autobots tear the drones apart. The kids Ground Bridge to the Texas array, and sneak into a small, unused room. Raf finds a computer, and confirms that the Decepticons have already hacked in. Raf takes the opportunity to download the weird schematics they saw previously into a flash drive. Raf assures Jack and Miko that it's like online games... but they don't know that Soundwave is in the next room, crouched down and plugged into the system. Soundwave aligns the array and locks onto Cybertron, but Raf hacks and disables it. Megatron and Starscream demand what is going on, and Soundwave taps into the security cameras and locates the kids. One of Soundwave's tentacles arrive, and trash the room, destroying the computers and knocking the wind out of the kids. Miko grabs a fire axe and attacks, but Soundwave's tentacle picks the axe up. After a moment where it seems like Soundwave is going to strike, Soundwave withdraws and uses the axe to cut the hard lines, making it impossible to undo his work again. As Soundwave leaves, the kids arrive and Miko takes a photo of him... and vice versa.

Starscream activates the Space Bridge, and Megatron lobs the entire chunk of Dark Energon through. Despite Optimus' attempts to shoot it away, the Dark Energon strikes Cybertron, coursing through the dead planet and reviving the dead into a legion of undead. Optimus knows they don't stand a chance against the legion, and realizes the only course is to destroy the Space Bridge. Raf supplies the schematics, and after a moment of hesitation Ratchet instructs Bumblebee, Arcee and Bulkhead on what to do. Optimus Prime, meanwhile, faces Megatron personally. After a brief exchange, the two battle and Megatron manages to knock Optimus down. Before he could deliver the killing blow Starscream alerts Megatron to the sabotage attempt. Megatron remarks how Optimus would've made a great Decepticon, but Optimus takes advantage of the distraction to shoot Megatron. Megatron transforms and flies off. Arcee manages to reverse the Energon flow when Megatron arrives, blasting her off into space. As the Space Bridge begins to crumble the Autobots jump into the Ground Bridge, Bumblebee catching Arcee in the way. Starscream has taken the ship away and screams for Megatron to retreat from the explosion. Instead Megatron tries to reach for his army, just as the Space Bridge explodes. Starscream sadly notes to the watching crew that Megatron couldn't have survived that... and proclaims himself new leader. The Autobots make their way to the base safely, although Arcee is injured. Optimus affirms that Megatron couldn't have survived. Fowler thanks the Autobots and leaves. Optimus Prime gives a speech and sends a signal to space declaring that Earth is now their home, and the Autobots will protect it from anyone with hostile intentions.

Featured Characters: Zombies, Jack Darby, Arcee, Ratchet, Bulkhead, Miko Nakadai, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Rafael Esquivel, Megatron, Starscream, Agent Fowler, Vehicon Jets, Soundwave, Vehicon Cars

Review:
And so the first arc ends. This is what I was talking about when reviewing the IDW comics — if executed well, even a stupid, basic plot involving zombies going through a warp gate could be a wonderful episode. On paper, this would be basically similar to a random throwaway sci-fi plot. But everybody is characterised so well here, with great dialogue, stunning action scenes and everything. It's by far not up to the level set by the previous episodes, but it's still well head and shoulders above most of Transformers fiction out there. A quibble I have is how fast Jack returns to the fold, and why the hell he is so important to the Autobots. Sure, he's a friend, sure, he knows things, but if Arcee didn't pop out he's content to live his life. Unlike Sam, Jack doesn't have the justification of having the magic eyeglasses to catch the Autobots' attention, although I suppose it couldn't be helped. I also disliked the ending, with Megatron caught in the Space Bridge explosion. It seems like a dead horse to beat, since we know Megatron can't be taken out so early in the series... or could he? I would love to see Starscream get some rightfully deserved air time, and this Starscream would prove more entertaining than the others. He is clearly competent, finding a way to atone for his mistakes last issue, with his quasi-hammy manner, long finger-claws, and well... just listen and look at him, bordering between great acting and real concern as he grips the console, screaming for Megatron to turn back (even though he just steered the ship away).

As the third member of the Decepticon power trio, Soundwave sees some action here. For somebody who does not speak at all, his skeletal gait and expressionless face manages to exude a sinister feel. Amazing how five episodes with no dialogue could give that much impact, eh? There's this sinister feel that Soundwave could easily cripple, if not kill, any of the three kids. Raf thinking that it's going to be easy to hack once they've Ground Bridged into the facility, only for Soundwave to stop the kids in thirty seconds flat (he's cut the hard lines!)... again, the kids prove themselves competent (downloading schematics even though they have no idea what) whilst not actually winning the fight. Ratchet's little ah-nah-at-ah moment when Raf suggests the satellite farm is great, a little unwillingness to be shown up by a bunch of kids. 'If you leave me alone in a planet teeming with humans, I'm never going to forgive you' is one of the best lines of this episode. Ratchet proves to be a great, sarcastic McCoy to the team. The little moment where he hesitates to destroy the Space Bridge, only to get right to it with determination when it's confirmed thrre's no other way is great as well. Arcee's good fun as well, showing a little vulnerable side (which she clearly isn't comfortable showing) but shaping up to action girl mode soon afterwards. And there's that moment of 'will they kill her off?' at the end.

I like those little character moments like Bumblebee cheering when the Space Bridge momentarily shuts down, or Fowler going 'YES! ...right?', or Miko smiling when she sees Bulkhead safe... the zombie plot is basically just a springboard to tell the story. What's got to be the best part of the episode would be Optimus Prime and Megatron, though. Both Cullen and Welker are literally on fire. Optimus delivers all his lines with perfect grim gravity, although I'll never get used to 'maximum overdrive!' Welker is stunning as well. Hell, I've never been a fan of Welker's G1 Megatron voice, but this is one great leap of improvement, showing that the ol' voice-acting god still has some kick in him. Combined with Megatron's scary, shadowed, fanged, full-of-expression face, their little taunting match before the swordfight is again one of the best O.P.-vs-Megatron battles ever. 'You would've made a great Decepticon.' 'I already chose my side.' I'm glad they did not opt for the G1 axe and flail, but rather stuck with the more practical blades from the Movieverse. Optimus' speech at the end is well delivered, and Megatron's growing instability as he reaches for his legion... just listen to him! 'My legion...'

I just feel that the episode takes too much time recapping and showing the what-could-have-been in the first two minutes of the episode. And simply sabotaging the Space Bridge isn't exactly a spectacular way of ending the climax. But compared to basically every single non-Beast TV series out there, Prime has to be the best and most well-organized show. It feels like a movie from start to finish. Again, zombies may not be the best way to kick-start this, but it manages to work so well that I'm simply impressed by the production team. Everybody in the main cast, even the bad guys, are well-defined by the time we reach five episodes, something even Beast Wars didn't manage to achieve. This isn't just a great Transformers episode, it's a great episode full stop. Compared to things like Ben 10 or Teen Titans or whatever they are showing the kids nowadays, Prime is certainly up there on the top in terms of quality. It's mature, it's got great characterisation, great action scenes, greet voice actors, subtle references, fresh exploration of characters, great CGI, good fun and even plot...

It's not perfect per se, but, yup, this bodes well for us indeed.

(Seven out of Ten)

Notes:
The first appearance of the Jet Vehicons. They transform into Cybertronian jets somewhat resembling Cybertron Sideways' alternate mode. Alternate mode and kibble aside, they are identical to their car counterparts. Also, first appearance of Soundwave's alternate mode, a Reaper Drone jet.

Whoo-ee. Lots of subtle homages here. First up, the Autobots not being able to fly recalls their situation in early G1 episodes, an often-repeated setting in cartoons.

Miko refers to space as 'the final frontier', prompting Jack to say 'space?' a reference to 'Space, the final frontier', the opening credits of the several Star Trek shows. Note that Prime producers Kurtzman and Orci also wrote the newest Star Trek movie.

The way Miko tries to use a fireman's axe to cut Soundwave's hacking tentacle seems to be a homage to how Tom Cruise's character tries to drive away the Tripod tentacle in War of the Worlds.

In an ironic twist to a similar scene in the 2007 Movie where Blackout hacks the SOCCENT base and is foiled by Colonel Sharp using a fire axe to cut the hard lines, here Soundwave uses the axe to cut the hard lines so Raf can't tamper with the satellite dishes. Raf even says 'they've cut the hard lines'.

Remember Bulkhead ripping off a dish as a throwing shield last episode? Yeah? That's the reason the Decepticon ship can't just warp to Cybertron.

The way Megatron rises out of the Nemesis with the boulder of Dark Energon is clearly meant to evoke Atlas carrying the sky on his back.

Ratchet says 'then by all means, let us light our darkest hour', a variant of the 'light our darkest hour' oft-repeated line from the 1986 animated Movie.

Optimus Prime: "I might derail its objective... by removing its head." If it were anyone other than Orci and Kurtzman, it might be just another passing line. As it is, it's probably a homage to Movie Prime's face/head hacking obsession. Prime tears off the head of a Vehicon this episode as well.

Optimus Prime and Megatron say 'One shall stand, one shall fall', the same words that preluded the two's epic battle in both the 1986 and 2007 Movies, and had been oftn repeated afterwards.

The way Megatron and a Zombie tries to reach feach other's fingers through the Space Bridge is too similar to Michaelangelo's The Creation of Adam to be a coincidence. You now, God and Adam reaching, fingers touching...

Megatron thought dead after being caught in a Space Bridge explosion has been done in an early G1 episode 'Transport to Oblivion', twice in the Marvel comics, as well as the season 2 finale of the Animated series.

'All Hail Starscream' is a variant of 'All Hail Megatron'. Starscream proclaiming himself leader is the same with every other Starscream out there, although arguably only this one and the Movie Starscream did so without actively double-crossing Megatron.

Optimus' speech at the end, sending a message into space stating that the Autobots have a home, and have forged a bond with humans, and 'My name is Optimus Prime, and I send this message...' is very similar to the closing speeches Optimus did in the end of both live-action movies.

Arm gimmicks:
-So they don't float in space, the Autobots have magnetic soles on their feet.
-All of the Autobots can morph both their hands into their weapons at the same time.
-Arcee has blades that pop out of the sides of her lower arms.
-Soundwave can grow multiple tentacles from his chest like his Movieverse counterpart. At the end of each thick tentacle are four squirming worm-like tendrils. Which is a bit disturbing, really.
-Megatron can fire laser blasts from the front end of his alternate mode.
-While the real zombies did not do so, the zombies in Optimus' imagination shoot laser blasts out of their palms, Go-Bot style.

Goofs:
How can the Zombies leave Cybertron and go into the Space Bridge, which materialized in space? When even healthy Autobots can't fly...

Why doesn't Starscream deploy the group of Vehicons in the Decepticon ship towards the Autobot troops, allowing Megatron to finish Optimus off?

When the Autobots jump off of the exploding Space Bridge into the Ground Bridge, they should've floated in space instead of 'falling' down. Of course, we don't know how these Bridges work, so...

Presumably the Space Bridge was in orbit all along and built sometime prior to this, why didn't the humans notice it?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 2011-05-07, 04:13 PM   #6
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Masters & Students
Airdate: 11 February 11 2011
Written By: David Slack

Synopsis:
After reviewing Megatron's death footage, Starscream gives an eulogy and a speech in front of the crew. One of the Vehicons question whether they will be able to bring down the Autobots, and Starscream proclaims himself the new Emperor of Destruction, but the crew are less than enthusiastic. Starscream considers that there is one Decepticon on Earth that could turn the morale around... In the Autobot base, Optimus Prime and Ratchet discuss about Megatron, and Optimus hopes that he had a chance to change Megatron's mind. However his determination remains, and notes that the Megatron he fought beside perished the day he became a Decepticon. They are interrupted by an explosion, which is apparently caused Raf's papier mache volcano. The kids are working on their science project with their guardian Autobots. Ratchet scoffs at the idea of the other Autobots helping out in science projects but Optimus thinks it's a good way to learn about Earth. Elsewhere, in a canyon, Soundwave detects one of the few Decepticons left on Earth eons ago to protect the Energon deposits, and both he and Starscream head to recruit the lost Decepticon. Starscream explains that during the Great War a lot of Energon is hidden on Earth, and Megatron had sent some of Cybertron's greatest to guard them, albeit in stasis.

While working on Raf's volcano, Bumblebee and Raf discuss Bumblebee's status in the Autobot army, and Optimus tells Raf that Bumblebee has a long way before reaching warrior class. Their sensors detect Energon in the desert, and Optimus takes Bumblebee with him to investigate (Ratchet electing to stay behind to help the kids' projects). Starscream and Soundwave, meanwhile, haul out the metallic structure and inserts an Energon cube to revive the Decepticon inside, Skyquake. Starscream immediately tries to recruit the powerful Decepticon but Skyquake announces he only serves Megatron. An impatient Starscream tries to point out that Megatron is dead and Skyquake must serve him. The two nearly come to blows when Optimus Prime arrives. Optimus and Skyquake recognize each other from the Battle of Technar, and Optimus tries to get both Decepticons to peace in this new era. Starscream, however, would only be willing to consider peace if Optimus bows to him... at which point Skyquake loses his patience and bashes Starscream aside, before charging Optimus — he remembered one of his last orders from Megatron is to annihilate Optimus. Starscream flies away and rendezvous with Soundwave, and muses that all Decepticons will obey him once they see that Skyquake has killed Optimus Prime under his command, and orders Soundwave to record everything. In the canyon Optimus and Skyquake battle, and despite orders to the contrary Bumblebee joins in the fray. Observing that Skyquake does not have an alternate mode the Autobots transform and drive away, whipping up a sandstorm that disorients the Decepticons.

In the Autobot base, Ratchet have gone crazy and builds all the kids' projects by himself. In the canyon, Soundwave picks up a Decepticon signal from where the Space Bridge has exploded. Starscream tries to dismiss it as a false alarm, but realizes that he cannot talk his way out of it and flies off to investigate, ordering Soundwave to stay. Soundwave dispatches a Deployer to keep an eye on Starscream. With some clever decoy tactics and transformation, the Autobots manage to knock Skyquake down. However, Agent Fowler flies by in a high-tech military jet to investigate the energy readings in the area, and Skyquake scans his jet. Skyquake takes to the air, and divebombs the Autobots below. Fowler assists the Autobots and opens fire at Skyquake, but after a little dogfighting Skyquake unleashes a barrage of heat-seeking missiles. Fowler manages to lose them with some stunning manoeuvring. In space, Starscream arrives and lands on a piece of debris to find Megatron, still intact (if dying) in space. A surprised Starscream finds that Megatron is kept alive by a sliver of Dark Energon, if barely. Starscream leans in to Megatron, monologues a little and rips the Dark Energon out... just as Soundwave's Deployer arrives. Starscream quickly hides the Dark Energon and tries to put up a facade that he was planning to bring Megatron to sick bay. On Earth Bumblebee manages to get on top of a plateau and get the jump on Skyquake. Despite the dangers, Bumblebee rips pieces out of Skyquake, sending the Decepticon into a crash dive. Fowler brings his plane close enough so Bumblebee can hop on, while Skyquake crashes and is killed. Optimus observes that had Skyquake chosen peace he wouldn't be dead. Some time later, Bumblebee is repaired and Optimus commends him. The kids return to tell Ratchet that their projects didn't exactly go well — Miko had a model of Cybertron, Jack has some kind of flying saw while Raf's volcano blows a hole through the school. Ratchet leaves in frustration and disappointment. On board the Decepticon ship, the Decepticons have gotten Megatron into stasis, and Starscream sincerely hopes he gets better... while scowling.

Featured Characters: Zombies (flashback), Megatron (flashback and present), Starscream, Soundwave, Vehicon Cars, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Rafael Esquivel, Miko Nakadai, Bulkhead, Arcee, Jack Darby, Skyquake (killed), Deployer, Agent Fowler

Review:
While at first the episode seemed shallow — introducing a generic Decepticon and establishing that Megatron is still alive — a second rewatching proved that it is actually better than it seems. There are some nice silliness with the base Autobots... Ratchet's clearly gone off the rocker with creating the projects; just see him going ah-zip-ah-ah when Raf objects. Also, that initial scene when Optimus and Ratchet discuss about the merits of second chances and Megatron is a great moment. It does not take too long and feels natural rather than cliched. The kids, Arcee and Bulkhead don't get to do much this episode, but Raf's innocent 'I should be doing my own homework!' attitude is irresistibly cute, while Arcee's "Can you build me a human intestine, Jack?" when the latter asks her to build a motorcycle engine is the best ever comebacks I've heard. That aside, really, we don't fool around too much. It's an interesting side plot that should by rights be really, really annoying but it isn't! It's actually pretty charming unless you've got yourself dead-set in the haters position.

Optimus Prime himself is portrayed grandly as well. No, he's not unwilling to pull out the big gonzo guns and start shooting and dicing Decepticons Movie style, but from this episode it is made clear that Prime does not enjoy doing this at all, and would prefer for peace to win out, even with the Decepticons. But when push comes to shove, Optimus Prime shoves back... hard. Very hard. This episode excellently sets the tone of who Optimus Prime is... Likewise, Bumblebee is well defined as a low-ranking scout, although he gets drafted into combat due to them being short staffed. So he's like G1 and Movie blended into one, but in a good way. He's brash, yes, and can do lots of funky action scenes but not flat out irritating with unnecessary dialogue, unlike Side Burn or Hot Shot or Nightscream or Cheetor (in Season 1) or the G1 and Animated versions of Bumblebee. But he can still emote!

The new character, Skyquake, is again original, not another retreaded G1 character. While I don't mind homages it's refreshing to see all new ones. Skyquake's pretty basic, a highly respected ancient Decepticon with a bad ass voice and a loyalty to Megatron... but he's not a flat, uncreative expy of Lugnut or Sky-Byte or Inferno, not the way the Japanese shows have been doing. Skyquake is loyal and powerful but not dumb, and the way he goes irritated at Starscream's ego is nicely done. Great action scenes which employs his massive bulk and clawed hands (is it a rule that all badass bad guys must have claws? Looks awesome so whatevs) and that slow-motion face punch with Optimus... Stunning action scenes, with great attention being paid to whether it looks cool and whether it makes sense. I like how Starscream isn't immediately received, and he has to try to win over the army's approval by getting the support of others like Skyquake. But instead of unnecessarily bogging down the cast with characters who disappear offscreen, they kill off Skyquake. It's not the most glorious death, a plane crash after getting bits ripped off by Bumblebee, but the directors have said that when characters die, they die. Presumably this applies to everyone not named Optimus, Megatron or Starscream, so we can safely say Skyquake's dead for real unless someone brings him back as a zombie or whatever. Like Cliffjumper this establishes that this is war, and anyone can die.

Starscream thoroughly steals the show here, though. Every line delivered by Starscream is golden, and he has the effect of bringing the otherwise sub-par episode up. His moment with Megatron, his camaraderie love-hate relationship with Soundwave, his stubbornness to get everyone to bow to him, his schemes, barely keeping the facade of caring for Megatron up, little 'natural' voices like sighing and shaking his head after Skyquake decks him... you know by rights egomaniacs who keeps wanting others to bow to him should be irritating like an anime villain but like Sentinel Prime of Animated, Starscream becomes a lovable jerk. And he feels dangerous as well, not bumbling and stupid. Soundwave, despite the lack of voice, is also great. He basically acts like Starscream's conscience and his watchdog of sorts, keeping him from killing ol' Megatron or abandoning him. A much, much sinister and better improvement over 'Eject, operation termination', no? Unless you've set your mind to hate this, you can't help but to admire how they took everything cool about a character, distil it and exorcise all the annoying bits. And package it in good-looking, simply stunning CGI.

I had so wanted to give this episode a lower review score but after rewatching it I was so impressed I can't bring myself to do it.

(Seven out of Ten)

Notes:
The first appearance of Skyquake. While he shares his name with the G1 European exclusive Predator leader, this Skyquake has nothing in common aside for being a green Decepticon jet. Skyquake also seems to be based visually on the classic Seeker layout, in contrast to Starscream's all-new transformation.

Starting with this episode onwards we see a title sequence. After about a minute or so of a 'prequel', we fade into the title sequence and then the episode begins proper.

Starscream proclaims himself 'Emperor of Destruction' and 'Lord Starscream'. Emperor of Destruction is the title used in Japan for Decepticon leaders (every single one of them) while Lord Starscream is used passingly in the IDW Movie comics, as well as the Cybertron cartoon.

The idea of Transformers being left on Earth ages ago for a purpose has been done first in RID with Fortress Maximus, and reused ever since. The concept is also quite similar with the Movieverse's Seekers.

Energon cubes stem waaaay back from the original G1 episodes, and has been re-used in other series as well. Here Energon cubes are bright blue and are carried around in metallic containers.

The concept of 'Warrior Class' being a caste originated from the Exodus novel, which was probably partially inspired by IDW's Movieverse and/or Megatron: Origin comic.

Skyquake screams 'I will never side with a Prime!', hinting that there may be more than one Prime present. As it is the way he uses 'a Prime' seems to imply the quasi-religious state Primes are in the Movieverse instead of the random military rank in Animated.

Agent Fowler's first name is William. He can also fly jets, with as much skill as his helicopter.

The Autobot base has a healing chamber somewhat similar to CR chambers used in Beast Wars, but these have to be operated from the outside by Ratchet.

Ratchet's model of Cybertron has two moons, based on how Cybertron was in the G1 cartoon.

Megatron is in 'stasis' due to his damages, as is Skyquake before Starscream revived him. The condition of 'stasis' being one similar to hibernation is first introduced in G1.

Arm gimmicks:
-Soundwave has a spinning radar dish that pops out of his back.
-Skyquake's weapon of choice is a collapsible, multi-barreled gatling gun thingy that he holds with two hands. Kind of the one that Heavy Duty uses in the G.I. Joe movie; I'm sure there's a name for that kind of gun but I can't be bothered to remember what.
-In vehicle mode Skyquake can shoot laser beams as well as heat-seeking missiles.

Goofs:
Throughout this episode Bumblebee's pupils are black instead of blue.

The copies of the Jasper Daily newspaper Raf uses are identical back-to-front.

No matter how good a special agent he is, Fowler cannot fly a fighter jet without wearing a helmet and oxygen mask. No matter what G.I. Joe says.

Since they use the same CG model, Fowler's jet has Skyquake's transformed kibble arms and legs in its undercarriage.

Skyquake already has his Earth alternate mode kibble even before scanning. Surely it's not too much a chore to delete those wings and cockpit? Even Beast Wars can make a 'naked' version of their CG models...

How can Skyquake not transform? Doesn't he not have a Cybertronian alternate mode?

There are lots of sound in space, apparently — it echoes a lot, Starscream finds Megatron only because he groans in pain, Starscream is alerted to Soundwave's drone... perhaps the Space Bridge had its own atmosphere, which didn't dissipate yet?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 2011-06-06, 06:04 AM   #7
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Scrapheap
Airdate: 18 February 2011
Written By: Marsha Griffin

Synopsis:
Bulkhead and Bumblebee investigate a reading in the Arctic and find a huge metallic pod buried in the snow. They return to the base and go through a defrosting procedure by Ratchet. The pod is left to thaw out in a part of the base. As the Autobots head to the main chamber, the pods begin to crack open from the inside. Ratchet warns Optimus and Arcee, who get ready to travel to the Arctic to find out the origin of the pod, that if they stay there too long it would be fatal. The kids arrive to stay for the Saturday, and are easily dissuaded from tagging along. Raf is disappointed though. However, as Optimus and Arcee disappears through the Ground Bridge, the system fritz out. The three other Autobots start trying to repair it in order to bring Optimus and Arcee back. Raf wanders off, and plays 'being in the Arctic' in a corridor when he stumbles upon a cute metallic creature. Raf uses a stray bolt to play fetch with the creature... and is mildly shocked that the creature quickly eats it. Raf takes his new pet to show the others, unaware that there the equipment nearby is damaged. Ratchet puzzles over damaged Ground Bridge components that seemed to have chunks bitten out of it, when Raf returns with the little creature.

The Autobots react in abject terror at what they identify as a Scraplet, aiming their weapons at it. The kids aren't convinced that the Scraplet could harm the Autobots, but at the sight of the Autobots, the Scraplet opens its mouth to reveal rows of sharp teeth and scuttles off and attacks Bumblebee, and starts eating bits off him. A horrified Raf beats the Scraplet to death with a crowbar. The kids and Autobots check the Arctic pod, and Ratchet identifies it as a Scraplet Trap, meaning thousands of Scraplets are on the loose. In the Arctic, Optimus and Arcee find that their sensors indicate that their temperature are in the danger zone. However, they are unable to contact base, since the Scraplets ate through the comm system as well. Bulkhead, terrified, suggests abandoning the base (and gives a detailed description of how Scraplets can devour a Transformer), but they can't do so or they'll doom Optimus and Arcee. The kids, who the Scraplets won't harm, volunteer to help and pair up with the Autobots. Jack watches Ratchet as he repairs the Ground Bridge, while the other two kids partner up with their Autobots. Bulkhead is tense and lets out a girly scream and panics at a bunch of overhead cables. However, the Scraplets soon beset them. Likewise Bumblebee and Raf encounter another group. Repairs to the Ground Bridge is done, but it still refuses to function. However before Ratchet can investigate further a swarm of Scraplets fly into the room and attack Ratchet. Jack uses a nearby fire extinguisher to kill some of the Scraplets and drive the others away. The others return to the main room, but a large group of Scraplets attack the three Autobots.

In the Arctic, Arcee and Optimus try to keep themselves conscious by talking, Optimus having the utmost faith that Ratchet will come through, while Arcee suggests that it is Bulkhead's fault that things are in the state it is. In the base the kids manage to kill off the swarm of Scraplets, only for Ratchet that it's only a scouting party. They come up with a plan to send the Scraplets back to the Arctic via the Ground Bridge. Ratchet figures out that an Energon fuel line breach must be preventing it from working. With the Autobots unable to stand, the kids go and patch up the fuel line, just as the main swarm arrive into the main control room. In the Arctic, Arcee bemoans their ignominious death, while Optimus offers what words of comfort he can. The two get ready to go offline should it be their fate. In the base Ratchet activates the Ground Bridge before falling down. Bulkhead manages to drag himself up and use himself as bait to lead the Scraplets through the Ground Bridge. The Ground Bridge opens up near Optimus and Arcee, and Bulkhead staggers out. The Scraplet swarm bursts out, ready to attack, but they freeze and fall down harmlessly. Back in the base, Ratchet supervises repairs on all of them, and notes that without the humans none of them would have survived. Miko runs away screaming from a spider, much to Bulkhead's amusement.

Featured Characters: Bulkhead, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Arcee, Optimus Prime, Scraplets, Miko Nakadai, Rafael Esquivel, Jack Darby

Review:
Surprisingly, for an episode that should have been a throwaway episode that is unrelated with the main Decepticon plot, this one manages to be so entertaining. Unlike similar episodes in other series (such as that dire one about Space Barnacles in Animated), the voice acting and whatnot are top notch here. The scene when Ratchet turns at Raf with his withering look, before jumping away with the other two Autobots in fear is so well done. The Autobot treat the Scraplets as some kind of killing creature, and the resulting hunt which feels like something out of Alien, is amazingly perfect. You know that the Autobots won't die to these enemies, but the tension is undoubtedly in the air, and the Autobots' fear is perfectly executed without overblowing it. And their expressions! It's not the dull surprise you see in G1 or Armada, it's pure, abject fear. And placing Optimus and Arcee elsewhere to thin out the cast is a nice move. The Scraplets are a great homage to their original counterparts, and is surprisingly true to their origin... and are they cute!

Although I had doubts about Raf and Miko initially, this episode makes them instantly likable. Raf being the wide-eyed little kid, excited at everything... his pretending to be in the Arctic is a charming little scene... come on, you do that too when you were a little kid. It's charming and cute, and it's something you can relate to. And that scene where Raf falls in shock after killing the Scraplet that attacked Bee is well done too. Miko is very charming as well, acting as some sort of surrogate little sister to Bulkhead, who thinks that 'big brother' can't be hurt by anything. Speaking of Bulkhead, he steals the show. He is still true to his Animated counterpart, being a sometimes-stupid gentle giant, but here his fear at the Scraplet is perfectly captured, especially when he desribes how a Scraplet will eat an Autobot. 'Until there's nothing left... not even your optics!' Kevin Michael Richardson is a great voice actor, and Bulkhead gets the greatest lines too. 'Eat this! [beat] AAAAA!' And can he scream like a little girl, too...

Ratchet has his moments as well, treating the humans as incompetent, realistically, but gradually admitting that they can do simple things the Autobots can't do, like beat Scraplets to death. It's a great episode in which the kids save the day in a way that makes sense without needing to use exo-suits or Allspark keys or burning power of kiddie flavoured justice. For the little that they appear, both Optimus and Arcee deliver great lines as well. Arcee has a sarcastic wit that I like, with that snarky back-and-forth with Jack about going to the Arctic, and blaming Bulkhead without any evidence whatsoever. The conversations with Optimus are well done as well. Optimus is great too... Peter Cullen delivers Optimus' lines with all the gravitas he could muster. And this extends to his 'I will bring you a snowball' line, which cracked me up. Definitely a great, enjoyable episode with no grating moments, which, considering the track record for terrible throwaway episodes, is a great thing.

(Ten out of Ten)

Notes:
The first appearance of the Scraplets. Surprisingly, while they are gray and more physically resemble Sharkticons or Mecannibals, the Scraplets are relatively true to their namesakes from the G1 Marvel comics in that they are a swarm long thought-dead plague, comprised of miniature robots that eat metal, but they prefer living Transformers. They ignore humans like their G1 namesakes as well. Also, they fly. Damn are they cute! Four tiny legs and two tiny arms and those big eyes...

Prolonged exposure to subzero conditions can cause permanent systems damage to Transformers. The Autobots must undergo a defrosting procedure everytime they return from the Arctic. Note that you freeze faster in, say, the Arctic than in space due to the vacuum preventing heat loss via the conventional means.

Ratchet comments that the bites on Bumblebee is 'just a mesh wound', a reference to Monty Python's Black Knight.

The Arctic Pod is identified in passing by Ratchet as a Scraplet Trap, indicating that Scraplets may have been weaponized in the war.

Miko calls the hunt for the Scraplets as a 'bug hunt', a reference to hunting the titular aliens from the movie Aliens.

Arcee mentions that Bulkhead ran onto power lines during their first arrival on Earth, something which happens to the Movie incarnation of Ratchet.

Optimus Prime refers to 'being one with the AllSpark' if they die, a concept introduced in the Beast series.

The 'bio-pulse monitor' is the Transformers' equivalent to a ECG, only appearing once before in the G1 episode 'Divide or Conquer' where it stated Optimus Prime is dying.

By now it's a standard sci-fi fare, but the Scraplet's vision is similar to that of a Predator. Instead of detecting body heat, Scraplets detect Transformers.

Arm gimmicks:
-Ratchet's arm can transform into a claw-prong thing that is both a torch and a sensor.

Goofs:
In the first establishing shots as the kids reach the damaged fuel line, the breach on the duct is shown beneath. However when they solder the thing the damage is shown on the side.

How did the kids have enough fire extinguishers to kill the initial swarm?

Why didn't the Scraplets attack the immobile Ratchet and Bumblebee?
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 2011-07-02, 11:26 PM   #8
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Con Job
Airdate: 25 February 2011
Written By: Steven Melching

Synopsis:
Bulkhead and Miko walk in on the rest of the team as they receive a signal from a starship headed to Earth. Arcee speculates that it is a trap, but when contact is established with the starship, Bulkhead immediately identifies the incoming Autobot's voice as his old friend and fellow Wrecker Wheeljack. Optimus Prime, despite only knowing Wheeljack by reputation, sends landing coordinates for Wheeljack's landing. On the Nemesis, Soundwave relays the intercepted transmission to Starscream. Seeing a chance, Starscream summons Makeshift, who, upon receiving data from Soundwave, begins to alter his shape. The next day, Ratchet has trouble getting the Ground Bridge starting up due to the damage sustained during the Scraplet infestation. The Autobots' radars pick up Decepticon signals closing in on Wheeljack's ship. The Decepticon fliers shoot down Wheeljack's ship in a desert in Egypt. However, as the Vehicons land, Wheeljack emerges and starts to tear the Vehicons apart with his bare hands, and later swords. In the Nemesis, Starscream tells Soundwave to deploy their plan. Ratchet gets the Ground Bridge operational. The Autobots go through only to find Wheeljack finishing off the last of the Vehicons in style. Bulkhead greets his old friend with a massive bear hug, and they return to base.

Bulkhead introduces Wheeljack to Miko, and the two seem to get along well. Wheeljack checks in with Optimus Prime. Only Ratchet is irritated at the situation, for the Ground Bridge fritzes off for good. In the Nemesis Starscream and Soundwave discusses their success in getting a spy into the Autobot base. The two Decepticons pay a visit to their prisoner, the real Wheeljack. While Makeshift's tracking device has stopped transmitting, Starscream is confident that Makeshift will improvise and activate the Ground Bridge so Starscream can send his troops in. Wheeljack scoffs at Starscream's leadership, nearly causing Starscream to kill the Autobot. Soundwave prevents Starscream, and the Decepticon leader concedes that Wheeljack may be of use. During the night, the Autobots (bar Optimus, because Primes don't party) and kids party. Miko plays the guitar, Bulkhead and Wheeljack (rather, Makeshift) engage in a game of lobbing, while Raf and Bumblebee dance. Makeshift takes the opportunity to fish information about the Ground Bridge from Ratchet. The Ground Bridge is in the middle of defragging and can't be used for a few hours. Starscream is not aware of this, of course, and wonders why Makeshift is taking so long, since Makeshift won't be able to keep the Autobots fooled for very long. Later on Bulkhead tells the kids about a battle the Wreckers were in, and Makeshift manages covers up for himself. Bulkhead comments that his old friend seemed different, but Makeshift waves this off as rocket-lag. Makeshift asks Miko to show him around the base. Left alone, Bulkhead confides his suspicions in Arcee and Bumblebee. Arcee tells Bulkhead that people change, but Bulkhead is determined that Wheeljack isn't the type to change.

On the Decepticon ship, Wheeljack manages to use his legs to strangle the Decepticon guard that gets too close, and use the guard's active weapon to free himself from his bonds. Miko leads Makeshift around the base, and despite Makeshift asking to get out for a drive, he manages to get the location of the Autobot base out from her. They return to the command center, but Bulkhead asks 'Wheeljack' in a rather hostile manner to tell the Battle of Darkmount Pass. After a short stand-off, Makeshift tells the story perfectly... but gets one crucial detail not found in Wheeljack's public record wrong, for Bulkhead was not part of the battle. Realising his cover is blown, Makeshift takes Miko hostage. In the Decepticon ship, Starscream, Soundwave and a legion of Vehicons wait for Makeshift to open the Ground Bridge. However, Wheeljack arrives. Starscream sics a wave of Vehicons on Wheeeljack but the angry Autobot tears them apart and pounces on Starscream. In the Autobot base Makeshift activates the Ground Bridge, allowing Wheeljack to return to the Autobot base, knocking Makeshift down. With Miko free, Ratchet shuts off the Ground Bridge before any Decepticons come through. Wheeljack and Makeshift draw their swords and battle, but the real Wheeljack trounces the impostor. In the Nemesis, Starscream recovers from Wheeljack's assault, only to see the Ground Bridge open again. He orders the Vehicons through, but Bulkhead lobs Makeshift into the Ground Bridge, knocking the invading Vehicons. As the Ground Bridge disappears, Starscream demands the location of the Autobot base from Makeshift. Makeshift was about to tell him when Starscream realizes a bomb is strapped to Makeshift's waist. He and Soundwave retreat off as Makeshift and the Vehicons around him blow up. The Autobots and kids party again. Early morning in the next day, Bulkhead suggests that they pick out a vehicle mode for Wheeljack, but Wheeljack tells them that he's not staying. Bulkhead concedes that his friend never changes. The next morning Wheeljack is about to leave, and offers to take Bulkhead with him, but Bulkhead is too attached to Earth and Miko to leave. Miko snaps a photo of Bulkhead and Wheeljack with her cell phone.

Featured Characters: Bulkhead, Miko Nakadai, Ratchet, Optimus Prime, Arcee, Bumblebee, Jack Darby, Rafael Esquivel, Soundwave, Starscream, Makeshift (killed), Vehicon Jets, Wheeljack, Vehicon Cars

Review:
Excellent. This episode follows the 'guest star of the week' that is the staple of current franchise-based cartoons, just like Transformers: Animated. Like past episodes, TF: Prime handles this excellently. While the G1 fanboy in me is crying bitterly that Wheeljack is not an crazy scientist (rather, he actually looks like Drift with his swords when seen from afar), this affirms that the Prime continuity is something new. Wheeljack is pretty cool, too, and I really like him. He's like a Wolverine-type loner, but even loners must have friends, right? His bad-ass attitude, and the softer (and party animal) side he shows in front of Bulkhead and the others, is very natural, not like characters who are constantly in full 'badass killer' mode 24-7. His arrival story is very plausible as well. No need to rely on gimmickry, he's just an Autobot who happens to come by! The whole switcheroo is not handled as obviously like similar tricks in the Japanese dubs, and the scripting was excellent. I literally did not see the switch happening between the panning off the Wheeljack vs Vehicons scene. Hell, in the very first scene where the fake Wheeljack appears, he kills two Vehicons! That's cold. Makeshift himself is a great character that is an excellent usage of one of Hasbro's stock 'name-to-slap-on-random-repaint' toy. Makeshift is certainly capable, with all his attempt to extract information from Ratchet and Miko sound off-handed like something the real Wheeljack might've asked in the same position. If you didn't know that Wheeljack was swapped for Makeshift (and if the show didn't pan to his narrowing eyes every time he gets information) it would be like one of those episodes in Armada or whatever where the kids welcome a new Autobot into their base.

The plot is the whole premise of what is happening in the Robots in Disguise series — the Cons want to find the Bots' hidden base — but in one episode this had more impact than twenty RID episodes. No, there are no things like 'why didn't the Decepticons rush into the Bridge?' in Prime, nosiree. Both Starscream and Soundwave shine for their short appearances here. While Wheeljack wipes the floor with Starscream's face in battle, Starscream is pretty great as a leader that no one actually respects. He actually comes out with a plot that would have worked if the Ground Bridge was not damaged due to the Scraplets last episode. I really, really love Starscream's voice here. It is hard Steve Blum was the same guy that worked on RID as Dark Scream! I just can't believe it. Soundwave also acts as Starscream's conscience of sorts, helping him to manage his temper when dealing with Wheeljack. I like how the generic Decepticon that threatens Wheeljack actually speaks, affirming that, hey, all the generics Wheeljack slew, even the two that Makeshift slashes to keep up his cover, are living, thinking beings. Optimus Prime not knowing everyone is a nice edge, and the episode gets rid of him pretty sensibly in that he goes off for a drive when the rest of the cast par-tay. Arcee also continues to impress, being a lovable snarker all the time, while being a voice of reason when it's needed.

Raf and Bee don't do much this episode but their dancing antics are pretty fun. Bulkhead and Miko both shine, undoubtedly. Wheeljack (and by extension Makeshift) really bounces off both of them well, and Miko's rather reckless and impetuous nature, like telling the fake Wheeljack that 'I'll have to kill you if I tell you' the location of the base, prompting a beat to see if Makeshift will squish the human... before Miko laughs and blabs the real base. She has grown from annoying brat to charming brat, although I dislike the 'barrage of questions' Miko uses sometimes like when she goes off with Makeshift-Wheeljack. Bulkhead is very fun, being like this big bear of a brother to Miko and Wheeljack, ever-faithful that he knows his friends better than anyone. And the scene at the end, while short, is effective so it is touching instead of being narm. Action scenes are, as always, the highlight of the episode, being excellently spectacular despite the focus not being placed on them. The two scenes where Wheeljack tears through Vehicons, and the curb-stomp battle between 'Jack and Starscream, are both excellently done. An excellent episode and an excellent introduction of a new member of the cast, but hopefully 'coming from space and leaving again' won't be repeated quite as much.

(Nine out of Ten)

Notes:
First appearance of Wheeljack. Wheeljack's appearance is heavily inspired by his G1 counterpart, but instead of the mad scientist from G1, Prime Wheeljack is an ass-kicking Wrecker. Also, like Optimus Prime, Wheeljack is given a mouth, but the battle mask turns his face back into his G1 self. Currently Wheeljack is the only character not part of the main cast that survives his debut episode.

Also the first appearance of Makeshift, the shapeshifter that copies Wheeljack's appearance with the help of Soundwave. Since it is pretty clear that he was intended to copy Wheeljack, no CG model was developed for Makeshift, and his 'true' form is a spiky robot, but is constantly kept in shadow. Note that when his cover is broken, his voice changes from James Horan (Wheeljack's VA, or a great impression thereof) to a raspy one voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.

The Autobot base is named 'Autobot Outpost Omega One'.

There are several subtle visual homages to Revenge of the Fallen: the way Wheeljack's ship crashes in Egypt near the pyramids evokes ROTF's Decepticons landing. And when fighting the Vehicons, at one point Wheeljack tears off the arm of one and beats up others with it, like what Optimus Prime did to Starscream in ROTF.

Wheeljack and Bulkhead are both former members of the Autobot strike team Wreckers. Any self-respecting Marvel comic reader would know this as the crack strike team introduced in the Marvel UK comics, and has since made other appearances in other G1-based comics. This is the Wreckers' first mention in the cartoon medium, though. Wheeljack mentions that they might find some of the old crew in space, suggesting that the team has been scattered across the stars.

Arcee mentions that a huge mass of Autobots escaped to the stars when Cybertron went dark, just like the setting for the live-action Movie. Optimus Prime does not know every other Autobot out there.

Ratchet mentions the Scraplet infestation from last episode, which causes the Ground Bridge to fritz out at times. Also, Optimus vaguely references Cliffjumper's death.

Bulkhead and Makeshift play a game of 'lobbing', a warrior-class Cybertronian sport which involves, well, lobbing a huge wad of metal at each other. Later Bulkhead lobs Makeshift into the Ground Bridge.

Both Raf and Bumblebee dance to Michael Jackson's 'the Robot', and near the end they later evoke some moves from John Travolta's Saturday Night Fever.

Also adding to the G1 comic references, Makeshift mentions a battle in Darkmount near the Smelting Pit. Both were first introduced in the Marvel comics. Like the Marvel comics, the Smelting Pit is filled with molten metal. Although here it's called 'Darkmount Pass'.

The reason why Makeshift knew so much about Wheeljack (well, he barely covers up) is that he (or rather, Soundwave) read Wheeljack's public service record. Presumably every Autobot has one.

The way the Decepticons are baffled where the Autobots' base are due to Autobots using a teleporting system, whilst the Decepticons have a mobile base, is very similar to that of the setup of the Robots in Disguise series. Starscream is much more sensible than the RID baddies, though, knowing that to find the Autobot base they only need to run through the portal the second it pops up. Also, the Autobot base is able to block tracking devices planted on Makeshift.

As long as coordinates are known, the Autobot Ground Bridge can materialize even on the Nemesis.

Note that Wheeljack has Earth-mode kibble even though he hasn't scanned an Earth mode. Apparently the animators do not have Cybertronian models, and just go with Earth mode CG models even if they haven't scanned it. More of a budget reason than anything, I reckon

Arm Gimmicks:
-Soundwave is able to use his tentacles to input Wheeljack's data to Makeshift, allowing the latter to assume Wheeljack's appearance.
-Wheeljack can transform his right hand into a chunky blaster. Also, he has a G1-inspired battle mask.
-Wheeljack's melee weapons of choice are twin swords sheathed on his back.
-Makeshift, by virtue of copying Wheeljack, presumably has all of Wheeljack's gimmicks, though we only see the swords and the battle masks.
-Starscream launches one of the missiles attached to his forearms, the first time we see him do so.

Goofs:
When Optimus says that he knows Wheeljack only by reputation, the shadow of Miko's leg is oddly drawn.

Following with the grand tradition of differing bogey numbers, when the alarm goes off five Vehicons are seen, but when we pan back to the scene proper there are six Vehicons.

While last episode the Autobots left tracks in the snow, they do not leave any in the desert sand this episode.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 2011-08-12, 03:27 PM   #9
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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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Old 2011-08-16, 02:33 AM   #10
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Deus ex Machina
Airdate: 11 March 2011
Written By: Nicole Dubuc

Synopsis:
Miko is stuck in detention when Bulkhead drives up outside the school. Miko takes advantage of the detention teacher's inattentiveness and sneaks into Bulkhead, who isn't very happy that he is used as a getaway car. As they head to the Autobot base, Bulkhead tries to explain to Miko that school is for her good, but fails to get through. Ratchet, meanwhile, reports that he has found an Energon pulse in Greece. In the Nemesis, an impatient Starscream is approached by Knock Out, who had taken some time to arrive because he had to drive (something which disgusts Starscream). Starscream tells Knock Out that he has brought him in to assist Megatron medically (after the crew took a vote) and brings him to see the comatose Megatron. Knock Out tells Starscream that he can work better with his partner... but Breakdown is on the trail of Energon. In Greece, Bulkhead and Miko arrive on an excavation site. Bulkhead tells Miko to research her history report, while telling her that humans have hit an Energon vein. However, something Cybertronian in an ancient fresco among the ruins caught Bulkhead's attention. Bulkhead identifies the object drawn as an Energon Harvester, and Miko snaps a picture. However, the Decepticon Breakdown interrupts them and after trash-talking Bulkhead, attacks the Autobot. After a quick struggle, Breakdown smashes Bulkhead into the fresco, destroying it, before driving off.

In the Autobot base the other Autobots look at the picture from Miko's cell phone. Optimus Prime and Ratchet confirm the identity of the device, and are relieved that the fresco is broken so the Decepticons won't be able to find the Harvester. However Raf points out that there are photos of the actual Harvester online, placed in display at a museum. The Autobots try to contact Agent Fowler, but only get his answering machine because Fowler is in a training retreat. After briefly considering entering the museum themselves, the Autobots agree that the kids are their best bet of obtaining the Harvester. Soundwave has found the same thing, and Starscream says Megatron's revival will have to wait. At night, the Autobots move into position around the museum. The kids are Ground Bridged in along with a motorized lift. Miko covers the security camera in the room with a photograph from the cell phone. Knock Out and Breakdown attack Optimus Prime, and Breakdown opens fire with a missile. Optimus catches the missile before it could impact on the museum, but Knock Out knocks Prime down with an Energon prod. Breakdown uses his missiles to knock Bumblebee and Arcee around, and physically throws Bulkhead onto the museum (and Knock Out), setting off the alarm. The kids get the Harvester onto the lift platform and move towards the rendezvous point. Miko, scouting ahead on foot, is caught by a security guard, who takes her into a security room. Raf and Jack run towards a ramp door, but are accosted by Soundwave. Soundwave grabs the Harvester with no opposition and flies away, and the other Decepticons likewise drive off. In the museum Miko claims to say she was locked in while doing her history report.

Despite Bulkhead's insisting that they go rescue Miko, Optimus convinces Bulkhead that Miko is fine, and sends the rest of the Autobots to try intercept wherever Starscream might go to gather Energon. In the base Ratchet works on creating a replica of the Harvester to return to the museum, and Bulkhead (after smashing one of Ratchet's tools) realise that the Decepticons will be going for easy prey; namely the excavated vein at Greece. Starscream, Knock Out and Breakdown are indeed in Greece. Knock Out and Breakdown try to claim credit for the discovery of the weapon, but Starscream uses the Harvester on a hapless Vehicon behind the two, draining the poor sod to death. Knock Out and Breakdown become much more cooperative. Starscream starts to drain the Energon in the rocks. Bulkhead tries to sneak up, but reveals himself to the Decepticons. Bulkhead manages to cause Breakdown to whack Knock Out, and deals with Breakdown, but Starscream turns the Harvester on Bulkhead. Struggling as the Harvester drains his Energon, Bulkhead manages to reach Starscream, punch him in the face and breaks the Harvester. Bulkhead lobs the device into the sky, which explodes. The Decepticons are about to finish off the collapsed Autobot, but the Autobots arrive and chase all of them away. In the museum, Miko tells more Greek history to the guard, when Fowler turns up to collect Miko (and to point out that the exhibit has been 'returned'). Miko is reunited with Bulkhead and tells him how her report will be about Autobots and ancient civilisations.

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

Review:
A grand episode. Yes, the synopsis does not seem much, and if it were, say, an Armada or RID episode it'll be just another banal repetition. But Prime has a way with dialogue, characterisation and animation which makes a stock plot like this impressive. Action scenes are superb, like something out of the live action movies, yet the robots are as smooth and stylised as Animated. Every battle scene is well rendered. From Knock Out spinning his Energon prod, to Starscream sucking the life out of the redshirt goon, to Breakdown's initial appearance and wrestling match against Bulkhead in Greece, to Breakdown accidentally clobbering Knock Out, to Breakdown's missile exploding and Bumblebee transforming through it, to Soundwave's rotating Reaper alt-mode, to Bulkhead's showdown against Starscream... clearly the action scenes alone are enough to warrant rewinding and rewatching. The rather large goofs section might cause you to think that the animation is sub-par this episode, but none of them are noticeable until after rewatching it.

This episode introduces two all-new Decepticons, Knock Out and Breakdown. Breakdown is, so far, just a thug rival of Bulkhead's and Knock Out's assistant. It's a nice breaking of the stereotype, since, like Animated Bulkhead before him Breakdown is a genius bruiser. And despite his name, Breakdown is not a slavish G1 homage, which is refreshing. Knock Out, however, stands out as one of my favourite characters in the show, and that's saying something. He's like an evil version of G1 Tracks, and Darran Norris' rather campy and aloof performance as his voice only seals his likability. It's a nice touch that the Decepticon medic is not portrayed as a stereotype mad scientist, and while Knock Out is still sadistic, he's a whole lot more fun to watch. This episode moves things forwards too, with the Starscream-Megatron situation progressing despite being sidetracked by the Energon Harvester. Miko's performance here as the impulsive daredevil character, and her dynamic with Bulkhead as a surrogate big brother, seals the deal and I like Miko now. Bulkhead's also pretty badass this episode, especially when his large size actually saves the day, what with there being more Energon to drain. Both Starscream and Optimus Prime continue to impress, even though they don't do as much this episode. I'm very optimistic about this series, and I do hope Knock Out becomes a regular character.

(Nine out of Ten)

Notes:
First appearances of Knock Out and Breakdown, although technically Breakdown appeared before in the IDW prequel comic, and, if you take the War for Cybertron game as part of Prime canon, there as well. WFC Breakdown and Prime Breakdown are considerably different in personality and shape, so personally I don't buy that they are in the same continuity. While WFC Breakdown is a direct expy of G1 Breakdown, Prime Breakdown has nothing in common with his G1 counterpart other than his red face, yellow eyes, and having blue in his paint scheme.

Breakdown and Bulkhead have a history. Fitting, since both are bulky bruisers of their respective teams.

Making a cameo in detention is Sierra's unnamed friend from 'Darkness Rising'.

The Energon Harvester is loosely based on function from the Solar Harvester from Revenge of the Fallen, in that it absorbs energy and is connected to ancient human ruins. A golden orb which turns out to be alien technology instead of a magical device of the gods might be based on the Assassin's Creed line of games.

Speaking of the fresco, the god holding the Harvester has a trident, so he is presumably Poseidon, and the soldiers' shields have the Lambda, so they are Spartans. The notion that Cybertronian symbols are on ancient frescos (and ancient Transformers interacting with ancient civilisations) is also a minor plot point in ROTF.

Megatron's comatose condition, hooked up on life support, is common knowledge among the Nemesis crew, causing majority voting to bring Knock Out in. This might mean that Knock Out wasn't the crew's regular medic, although after this episode he appears frequently.

Starscream expresses derision that Knock Out chose a automobile alternate mode instead of a flight mode, a reference to how in early G1, all Decepticons were jets and electronic devices and all Autobots were cars. It's a wee bit odd when you take in the fact that we've seen lots of car mode Vehicons before.

Agent Fowler's first name is William, revealed both in here and in 'Convoy'.

Ratchet says another 'Bulkhead, I neeeeded that' this episode. That said, Ratchet's 'I hate talking to machines' may be a rather far-fetched homage to Animated's Captain Fanzone's running gag.

A T-Rex skeleton and an Easter Island moai aren't things that look strange in a museum. But seeing them together calls to mind the film Night At The Museum. Especially their placement in the lobby.

Knock Out's wolf-whistling comment on Optimus Prime may be based on RID Side Burn's harassment on red sports cars. Or it may just be me getting off an RID hangover. Regardless, hitting on Optimus Prime have caused some fans to claim that Knock Out is gay.

Promotional blurbs for the episode mentioned that Lugnut will be on the episode, and fans thought that Lugnut is an early working name for the similarly thug-like Breakdown. BotCon 2011 reveals that Lugnut is an early working name for Knock Out which was dropped for not being sexy enough.

Arm Gimmicks:
-Knock Out's hand can retract into a wicked-looking dentist-drill-like apparatus. It's one of those curved spiralling drills.
-Knock Out's weapon of choice in battle, however, is an Energon prod of the same design that Starscream used to torture Fowler in 'Darkness Rising'. Knock Out uses the prod like a stun baton, and it can collapse into a shorter version.
-Breakdown has a triangle-barrelled missile launcher on his vehicle mode roof.
-Breakdown's hand retracts to reveal a massive carpenter's hammer.
-Soundwave has claws to grip things in his jet mode's underbelly.

Goofs:
The two pages in Miko's textbook mirror one another.

The detention teacher and the security guard both read a copy of the Jasper Daily. The model again uses the reverse page order, and is the exact same newspaper that Raf used to make his volcano in 'Masters and Students'.

Also, how did the guard, who is working in a museum in a large city, get the Jasper Daily anyway?

For the entirely of this episode (and the next), Arcee's chest have a bunch that are miscoloured in the metallic lavender colour used for her rims. These parts are usually clear.

Really, it's very silly for a special agent liaison like Fowler to be unreachable. At the very least, the Autobots should've been able to contact another agency.

During action scenes, Bumblebee's eyes alternate between glowing blue in the center and black in the center.

I swear, I'd kill if my cell phone could fool security cameras like Miko's. In real life trying a trick like that would give a blurry, low-res image.

Speaking of the cell phone, at one point on the guard's screen the phone is clearly visible, but on others the image covers the entire screen.

In real life surely there would be more than just one security camera in a museum surely?

Despite the guard having informed the authorities after the Harvester goes missing, they never show up. Even accounting that Fowler might've called them off the hunt, it would only take a couple of minutes for police cruisers to reach the scene.

When the Autobots find Bulkhead on the ground, their eyes are in various state of brightness.
 

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Old 2011-08-21, 05:57 AM   #11
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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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Old 2011-08-27, 05:02 AM   #12
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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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Old 2011-09-16, 11:02 AM   #13
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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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Old 2011-10-02, 10:26 AM   #14
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Out of His Head
Airdate: May 7, 2011
Written By: Nicole Dubuc

Synopsis: Ratchet declares that Optimus Prime has been fully recovered from the cybonic plague. As they discuss recent events, Megatron’s psyche monologues to himself, determined to completely take control of Bumblebee’s body to return to his own. A short while later, Bulkhead and Bumblebee play a scaled-up version of basketball, but Bumblebee has a flashback to the Space Bridge explosion and lobs the ball, nearly hitting Bulkhead’s head. They shrug it off and play on. A short while later, Bumblebee freezes as Megatron takes control of his body. Megatron wonders how he escaped death, and recalls Starscream pulling the sliver of Dark Energon from his chest. He vows revenge, as well as knowing what he needs to revive his body. On the Nemesis, Starscream taunts Megatron’s mindless body with the Dark Energon shard, monologuing to the otherwise empty room, announcing that he will lead the other Decepticons with a new, epic plan. Knock Out enters to hear the tail end of the speech, and Starscream manages to hide the sliver from sight. Knock Out is very interested in being promoted to Starscream’s second-in-command. Outside his house, Raf calls Jack that Bumblebee hasn’t picked him up for school. Bumblebee is on the Autobot base, under control of Megatron. Mega-Bee crushes a piece of equipment, but this was seen by an angry Ratchet. Bumblebee, regaining control, explains his visions of Megatron. A short while later Ratchet, Optimus and Raf induces a power-down to allow Bumblebee’s mind time to rest and recover. Agent Fowler contacts the Autobots just then, telling them that Decepticons have broken into an Observatory in Hawaii and stole the Heuck Nigoghossian telescope’s primary lens. Fowler has traces the lens to the Arctic. The Arctic has a massive, unmineable energon deposit, and the Autobots realise that Starscream plans to melt the glacier with the lens, an action that would devastate coastal cities. In the Arctic, the Nemesis have been equipped with a giant heat ray cannon, and Starscream begins opening fire on the glacier with the ray. Optimus Prime, Arcee and Bulkhead Ground Bridge to the Arctic.

Raf chats to the sleeping Bumblebee, and tells Ratchet that he’s doing so because Bumblebee is family. Raf talks a bit about family, how Bumblebee listens to him to a rather disinterested Ratchet. Ratchet leaves Raf and Bumblebee to find parts to repair the equipment Bumblebee had damaged, but as soon as he leaves, Bumblebee powers up and heads to the control room despite Raf’s questions. Bumblebee activates the Ground Bridge, knocks Ratchet away and leaves. Ratchet is shocked to find out that Bumblebee has gone to the canyon where Megatron had first used Dark Energon to raise zombies. Realizing that the only one other than him and Optimus to know of the location was Megatron himself, Ratchet realises that Megatron has taken over Bumblebee’s mind. Just as Ratchet activates the Ground Bridge to take down the possessed Bumblebee, Bumblebee returns just then, with a shard of Dark Energon, and knocks Ratchet down. The possessed Bumblebee notable doesn’t harm Raf, only placing him on a ledge. Bumblebee activates the Ground Bridge to go to the Arctic. Ratchet decides to follow, but Raf insists on coming, causing Ratchet to relent. Meanwhile, in the Arctic, Bulkhead and Arcee drive across the terrain towards the spot above which the Nemesis is hovering. Starscream and Knock Out sics Breakdown to deal with the two Autobots, and a massive brawl soon ensues. Optimus Prime, unseen by the Decepticons, scales a nearby cliff.

Ratchet and Raf Ground Bridge into the Decepticon ship, finding disabled troopers everywhere. The two reach the lab, finding Bumblebee hooked up to Megatron’s body with a cortical psychic patch. The possessed Bumblebee knocks down Ratchet easily. Raf tries to talk to Bumblebee, convincing him to take control and telling him that Megatron is not fully in control, and for a while it seems to work. However, Megatron takes full control, flicks Raf away and gloats. Ratchet pulls off the life-support cable off Megatron’s body, but is tossed across the room. Raf tries to jump and pull off the cord, but fails. Bumblebee stabs Megatron’s body with the Dark Energon, resurrecting the Decepticon leader in both body and mind. A group of Decepticons enter the room to find Megatron, who orders them to get rid of the Autobots while he does his own extermination. Bumblebee, Ratchet and Raf battle the Decepticons and retreat. Outside, Optimus Prime charges and leaps towards the Decepticon ship, boarding on one of the spiky protrusions. Bulkhead and Arcee continue to battle Breakdown on the ground. Starscream and Knock Out spot Optimus Prime coming across them across the hull of the ship. Starscream turns the heat ray on the Autobot, but Optimus Prime is so hardcore he braves the ray all the way to the machine, where he slices it apart with his blade, blowing the device and causing a massive explosion which blows everybody. Optimus Prime, heavily damaged, lays prone on the ground. Starscream divebombs Optimus Prime, gloating that he wouldn’t make the same mistake that Megatron did… only to have Megatron intercept him, taking him onto the warship. Starscream attempts to flee and beg, but Megatron beats Starscream down, promising retribution. Not even the promise of Autobots to destroy could deter Megatron. The Nemesis leaves. The Autobots regroup, and later at base Bumblebee is declared healthy, and the mute Autobot thanks Raf.

Featured Characters: Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Arcee, Megatron, Miko Nakadai, Bulkhead, Jack Darby, Rafael Esquivel, Zombies (flashback), Starscream, Knock Out, Agent Fowler, Car Vehicons, Breakdown

Review:
Allright, hands down so far this has one of the most spectacular animation of the show. From Starscream's lively facial expressions, to the playing of shadows to make Bumblebee-Megatron look threatening, to anything involving Starscream or Megatron transforming, to Optimus Prime's assault on the Nemesis, to the excellent fight scenes between Arcee, Bulkhead and Breakdown, and most especially I like how all the metal glints in the daytime Arctic, what with the superpowerful laser lighting the area up and everything. And I particularly like the moment where Starscream basically just monologues his heart out to the vegetative Megatron. Another particular scene I'd like to point out is the exchange between Rafael and Ratchet. Ratchet initially just shoots down Raf's claim about them being a family, and only leans down out of politeness (that disinterested 'mmhmmyesverynice' must be heard to be believed) but it's a charming moment when Raf just tells Ratchet that Bumblebee listens. Megatron is great fun, and his monologues, and his single-track egomaniacal mind (any sane person would’ve killed Optimus Prime first before punishing Starscream) is pretty entertaining, but unlike Beast Wars Megatron, this hybrid of G1 and Movieverse might not be to everybody’s liking. Personally, though, I love this Megatron.

Great animation, great dialogue. But the episode itself really leaves something to be desired. On the first watching I was so astounded with the pretty pictures that I didn't notice it, but yeah, this episode has a bit of pacing problems. Also, while charming the first time around, on rewatching some of Raf’s momens do seem a little forced. Most jarring is when Bumblebee places Raf on the ledge, that borders on Armada narminess, a stark contrast to the excellent character moments between Raf and Bumblebee from a few minutes earlier. Things also move way too fast, with the teleporting to the Nemesis and whatnot. The giant laser cannon (finally we have one again) seems more of a distraction, and more of a way to get the other Autobots out of the way and to get the Nemesis in a place where Bumblebee-Megatron can reach. While it does give a great bunch of action scenes, it isn’t pretty good for the pacing, which moves back and forth constantly. And, despite his role from last episode as Megatron’s staunch supporter, Soundwave is missing, which is a wee bit jarring when you realise it. The ending is a wee bit unsatisfying too. What happened to Breakdown? Why is Megatron carrying the idiot ball? Where is Knock Out or Soundwave?

Not much to say, really. Like the rest of Prime, astounding animation, action sequences and dialogue. Plot moves forwards, but it’s a bit wonky. Mind, don’t compare the 6.5 here with the 6.5 I give the G1 or RID cartoon. Really if they two use the same scale, all RID cartoons won’t ever get a score past 3.

(Six and a Half out of ten)


Notes:
A wee bit of continuity callbacks to previous episodes here. The events of last episode, of course, are recalled. The battlefield against the Dark Energon zombies that Megabee goes to take the new Dark Energon shard is the same one in ‘Darkness Rising’, the events of which are referenced several times by Megatron as well. Megatron apparently vaguely remembers a glimpse of Starscream tries to steal the Dark Energon shard from his chest in ‘Masters and Students’. Arcee recalls her disastrous trip to the Arctic from ‘Scrapheap’. And a more subtle one, Jack’s ringtone is the same as it is in the pilot episode.

In case you’re lazy to keep track, that big chunk of Dark Energon was at Cybertron. The small shard Megatron used to power-up himself is stolen by Starscream, and the shard that Megatron tossed to create his zombies in ‘Darkness Rising Part 4’ is used by Megabee to revive Megatron’s body.

Sierra’s unnamed friend cameos again this episode as one of the students in Jack’s class.

Bumblebee and Bulkhead play a basketball using the ball they used for lobbing, a sport introduced in ‘Con Job’.

Ratchet says one of his catchphrases, ‘I needed that’, although the recipient here is Bumblebee instead of Bulkhead.

Raf states that he doesn’t know how he understands Bumblebee, but he just does. Other Transformers (including Megatron) have no problem understanding Bumblebee’s R2-D2 speech as well, so apparently it’s just humans bar Raf. Maybe Raf is a robot in disguise? Also, Raf has seven people in his family, including himself.

In the Arctic, Optimus Prime references an ‘end run on Polyhex’. Polyhex is one of the earliest named Decepticon cities on Cybertron, dating as far as the Bob Budiasky Marvel comics.

The Heuck Nigoghossian telescope is apparently named for TF: Prime directors Vinton Heuck and Shaunt Nigoghossian.

Starscream definitely watches cable, for in this episode he channels his inner Hannibal Smith by quoting the A-Team’s leader’s catchphrase, ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’

Starscream announces the ‘reign of Lord Starscream’, a possible reference to the movie tie-in comic series ‘the Reign of Starscream’.

Megatron carrying Starscream away for punishment is a tired staple from the G1 episode. Hopefully this Megatron would follow his Animated counterpart’s footsteps and not retread old ground again.

Goofs:
Despite all the fuss made about him last episode, Soundwave is conspicuously absent even when Starscream and Knock Out are basically taking over.

At the end as Starscream tries to fly away from Megatron, his engine is not producing any flames.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-04 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 2011-11-25, 10:41 AM   #15
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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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