Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: "Dark Awakening"

We've gone from the bottom of the barrel, to a fair-to-middling episode, and now we're zooming right to the top with "Dark Awakening". This episode _disturbs_ me. It's easily the creepiest G1 episode ever made, and it throws into high relief the contrast between the more grounded, fun stories of the pre-Movie episodes, and the darker, sci-fi-tinged post-Movie shows.


The Decepticon mother ship is in hot pursuit of an Autobot craft (carrying Rodimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Kup, Arcee, Spike, and Daniel), and blasting away at it. "We need cover. Head for the asteroids!" Rodimus orders.

"You see, Galvatron, we kept our word. We led you straight to the Autobot leader." "And now he is yours to destroy," a pair of Quintessons tells Galvatron by remote, aboard the pursuing ship. "Oh yes. You are LOYAL allies. So long as it suits your purposes!" Galvy blasts the screen to junk. "Fortunately your purposes coincide with mine! For the moment." "They're getting away!" Scourge says, as the Decepticon ship blasts asteroids aside. "Launch torpedoes!" Galvatron orders.

"Company's coming," Rodimus notes gravely. "We can't outrun them, not with an engine down," Magnus points out. "Then there's only one option," Roddy replies. A moment later the missiles hit the ship and blow it to smithereens. "The end of Rodimus Prime!" Cyclonus declares. Galvatron: "Ahead full speed! I wish to examine the debris, and make certain!"

A much smaller craft soars away from the explosion. "We launched the life pod just in time," Arcee says within it. "Yes, but without communications it could be months until we're found," a worried Magnus says. Spike: "Aw, swell. What'll Daniel and I do when the air runs out?" Rodimus deadpans: "Basically you'll have two choices: suffocate, or smother. ...Or, we could dock at that... uh, whatever up ahead," Roddy finishes, pointing at a radar reading. "What is it?" Daniel asks. "We'll know when we get there, kid. Let's just hope it's friendly." The craft soars towards a floating monolith in the distance.

"There's something big out there!" Scourge reports to Galvatron. "Alter course to intercept?" Cyclonus asks; Galvatron nods.

The life pod passes asteroids and a red sun before approaching the unknown vessel. "It's awesome," Daniel says. "It's the size of... Manhattan!" Spike says, as they pass into a titanic canyon-like entrance. "I'd hoped never to see it again," Rodimus says gravely. Daniel: "What's wrong? What is that thing?" Arcee: "A tomb." Magnus: "We built it." Kup: "As a final resting place for the Autobots we lost in the great war." "Like... Optimus Prime?" Daniel says. The Autobots nod solomnly. "Do... do we have to go inside?" "Nothing in there can hurt us, Daniel," Rodimus tells him.

"That's the Veil of Remembrance. A memorial to the Autobot heroes whose servos and chassis rest here," Kup says, as the ship lands before a whispy screen. The passengers disembark. "I liked it better from the outside," Spike comments. Daniel lingers behind, reading off some of the names on the graves: "Ironhide... Ratchet... Prowl... Huffer," he finishes, downcast, walking off... as a blue pair of legs steps into view behind him. Daniel curiously presses a button, causing one of the lights to go out; when it comes back on, he turns around to see standing behind him the battered form of Optimus Prime.

Daniel screams and runs, then inadvertently bumps into a tomb, opening it. The deceased Autobot within falls to the ground. Daniel finally runs up to Rodimus, eliciting another startled yelp. "What's wrong?" Roddy asks. "I saw him!" "Saw whom?" Magnus asks. "Optimus. Optimus Prime!" "The shadows in here can play trick on you, Daniel," Arcee says. "But it was him! You believe me, don't you, Dad?" "Come on, Daniel. There's only one way to be sure," Rodimus says. "You're gonna open his tomb?" an incredulous Kup asks. "A waste of energy -- our reserves!" Magnus protests. "We'll wait here," Kup agrees. "The burial chamber's on the other side of the veil. Come on."

The 'bots approach a raised pedestal with a coffin atop it, capped by Op's likeness. "Optimus Prime... If he were alive, I'd know. The Matrix would have told me... somehow," Rodimus says. "Let's go back," Arcee says. "I've got to be sure..." Roddy slides the lid aside, and steps back in shock. "It's empty! I told you!" Daniel says. Some unseen signal alerts the Autobots just then -- "The Decepticons!" Roddy says; the group heads back the way they came.

Lasers greet the group as they burst through the Veil. "There are too many of them!" Magnus declares. "One Decepticon is one too many!" Kup replies. Galvatron blows up the life pod; the 'cons advance. "At least this beats seein' ghosts!" Kup says. Arcee is wounded protecting the humans; Rodimus orders a retreat. The 'cons follow: "We have them! Finish it!!" Galvy screams.

The 'cons knock the 'bots down a staircase and loom over them. Galvatron: "How convenient, Rodimus. We can lay your wreckage beside that of your mentor--AAHH!!" A laser blast hits Galvatron in the back -- and there stands Optimus Prime, firing on the group. "Decepticons, leave this place, or die!" he declares. The Sweeps flee; Cyclonus drags Galvatron out: "Cowards! Fight on!" The 'bots charge, and the 'cons flee. "Hold your fire! We've driven them off," Magnus says. "Yeah... thanks to... him," Daniel says, as Prime steps into view.

"Optimus... what are your commands, sir?" Rodimus asks. Prime grunts as if in pain. "Is it safe??" "What?... the Matrix. Yes. I've been keeping it warm for you." "Wait. Optimus is in no condition to assume leadership!" Magnus says. Rodimus: "Come on, guys; he's just shook up a little. You'd be too if you'd been dead for years." "That's the point, sonny," Kup says. "What happened, Optimus?" "Darkness... cold. Then, light." "Maybe he was in... y'know, a coma," Daniel suggests. Rodimus: "Hey. He's here! He's back! And who cares how!" "Must... complete.... plan," Prime says, walking off. "Yeah! What's the plan?" Rodimus asks. The 'bots follow.

"Optimus built himself an escape ship!" Arcee observes. "Still think he's unfit to lead us?" Roddy says, charging forward despite Kup's entreaties. "Sir... this, is yours," Rodimus says, bringing out the Matrix. Op reacts as if in fear: "No... no!" But Rodimus pawns it off on him anyway, and Optimus -- fighting himself -- puts it back in his own chest. Rodimus immediately shrinks a head or so in height: "Alright, Hot Rod is back. Let's party!" "Forgive... me," Op says. "Huh? For what?" Hot Rod asks. And with that, Optimus hauls out his rifle and blasts the group unconcious. "What... have... I... done?" Op asks himself. "Must... complete... mission!" Prime activates controls; alarms blare, and a Teletraan Two voice announces "Auto-destruct activated." Prime's ship launches as the tomb heads on a new course.

The Autobots revive, confused by this turn of events. Hot Rod: "He didn't kill us... he must have some plan." "More like a recipe... for Autobot fon du," Kup says, standing by a screen. "We're on a collision course with that red sun!" Magnus says with alarm.

"Rodimus... Kup.... Ultra Magnus and Arcee... they gave their lives, so that I might return to Cybertron," Op tells the Autobots back home. "Daniel? And Spike?" Perceptor asks fearfully. Optimus: "The Quintessons left no survivors." "Quintessons?? Me Grimlock stomp Quintessons flat into ground!!" Grimster says, tromping about angrily. "We will mobilize all our forces, and move against the Quintessons," Prime declares. "Those five-faced tentacled slime are gonna pay for this but good!" Springer snarls furiously, before quietly adding: "I mean it, Arcee..."

"The entire Autobot fleet moves to attack us," a Quintesson observes, as they watch a small asteroid near a red star. "Precisely as we predicted," another adds. "May I propose an anticipatory snicker of triumph?" The group... snickers.

"Say your goodbyes, folks. We won't be seeing this place, or the heroes in it, ever again. Nobody will!" Kup says aboard the tomb ship, as the group stands before a new ship. "Let's just hope this little improvisation gets us home," Magnus says. "It's got to. The mausoleum is breaking up!" Spike says, as the tomb rattles violently. The group boards their new vessel. As the disintegrating tomb ship falls toward the sun, the ship tears through the side and powers away, seconds before the tomb explodes completely. "Set course for Cybertron," Magnus says.

Some time later the ship crash-lands on Cybertron, with Sludge knocking the curiously watching Snarl out of its path an instant before it hits. "Sludge! Snarl! Are we glad to see you!" Arcee says, as the group exits the smashed ship. "Me Sludge not glad to see *you*..." "You all DEAD!" Snarl adds. The two look at one another, puzzled. "Maybe WE dead," Sludge concludes. "What are you yammering about?" Magnus asks. "Never mind that; where is everyone?" Kup says. Sludge: "All go smash Quintessons!" Magnus: "What have Quintessons got to do with any of this?" Snarl: "They kill you! Optimus Prime say so!... uh oh. Something not right." Arcee stands by a monitor with concern: "He's taken the whole fleet!"

"That central planet is the Quintessons' new base," Optimus says, as the fleet approaches. "We'll send out patrols!" Perceptor says. "And lose the element of surprise? *I* am in command here, Perceptor," Prime says angrily. "Uh, of course, Prime. But --" Blurr's voice cuts in just then: "Excuse me, pardon me, one side, coming through, ???, gang way, important message for Prime! Message recieved from Cybertron, urgent! Item: Rodimus Ultra Magnus Kup Arcee Daniel and Spike SAFE. Will join fleet shortly. Recommend that you halt attack and rendevous." "They're alive!" Perceptor gasps with hope. "A cunning Quintesson trick. A fake message. But it won't help them now. Full speed ahead!" Prime orders.

"Excellent. The Autobots have no idea that the central planet is a decoy." "And poor Optimus still doesn't realize what happened to him." "How could he? Even to himself he seems... alive." "Perhaps we should seek some cover." "No! Place your faith in our defense systems." The Quints fire from positions hidden on artificial asteroids; missiles decimate the incoming fleet. "This won't even be a war!" "Merely an exercise in... extermination."

"We're too late," Arcee says mournfully, as they approach. "Radio Prime's flagship. We've got to stop him!" Hot Rod orders. Magnus turns to his console: "Intercept One to flagship."

Blurr comes charging up to Prime: "Ship carrying Rodimus Ultra Magnus Kup Arcee Daniel and Spike sends [?]: imparative urgent priority one no kidding call off attack!! And can they come aboard?" "They live?" Prime groans as the Matrix flares up within him. "Impossible. Another Quintesson trick. Destroy the interceptor." The Autobots blast a hole in the ship; Hot Rod and company are sucked out into space. Perceptor spots them and sends out rescue teams.

"A complication?" one of the Quints asks, watching. "Ninety-six percent probability this discovery will only confuse the Autobots more," another replies. "And our defenses will still force them towards the detonator." "And once they are in range..." "There can be no escape," as a graphic shows the anihilation of the fleet.

"??????????; Rodimus is alive!" Wheelie observes, as Roddy drives up and transforms. Hot Rod: "I don't care how -- turn this ship around! I'm going Optimus-hunting!" "The blast doors to the command center are locked!" Springer points out; Roddy promptly bashes his own entryway, Brawn-style. "Optimus -- front and center!" "I've been waiting," Prime says, stepping out of the smoke. "I -- I'm taking command," HR declares. "What... took... you so long?" Prime asks, straining and grasping his head in pain. "What did they DO to me??"

We flash back to Prime's body laying on a table, with Quintessons working on it: "...and some lingering remnants of his memory and personality," one of them declares. "But without our circuit implants, he would be utterly mindless. An ordinary machine!" "A robotic zombie..."

We return to the present. "You're very sick. Let me help," Roddy says, walking up. "I... have... to --- " Op fires. "I don't want to fight you," HR says. Op fires: "Then... stop me!" "How? What do I do??" "PLEASE, Rodimus!" Smoke fills the room; Op blasts a shadow and hears a cry. "No... no!" HR pops up behind him and snatches his rifle away: "Hah, fooled you!" Optimus pounds Hot Rod: "Not... a game! Matrix makes me too strong!" "Now THERE'S a unique complaint!" Roddy grunts, as Optimus wails on him. Op gets him in a full nelson, straining him till something burbles and melts all the way through Hot Rod's chest. "If you lose -- Autobots.... all... destroyed!" Prime tells him. "Thanks for the tip!" Roddy says, fighting back with renewed vigor; he breaks free and tosses Optimus across the room, severing one of Op's arms in the process. "Optimus... can we *stop* now?" Roddy asks wearily, kneeling beside him. But Prime groans painfully and kicks him across the room. "You... should... have... finished me," Op says, approaching with rifle in hand. "Believe me! I tried!" Hot Rod moans, laying in a heap. Prime takes point-blank aim at the terrified Hot Rod, and prepares to fire, when the Matrix flares up again. "Until... all... are.... one!" Something within him breaks, and he drops to one knee, dropping his rifle and bringing out the Matrix. "Monsters... they made me a weapon, to destroy the very ones I loved in life." He opens Hot Rod's chest and places the Matrix within it. "But you will save them... Rodimus Prime,"he concludes, before standing and walking away. Roddy struggles to his feet as the others come running up. "Thank the stars we found you in time," Magnus says. Roddy desperately calls out after Optimus. Kup: "The ship's being blown to pieces! We're evacuating!"

Op sits alone on the bridge, with a view of the detonator asteroid before him. "Optimus Prime, to Autobot fleet. Return to Cybertron. That is my final command." The Quints recieve a shock: "The Autobot fleet is escaping!" "And their flagship is on a collision trajectory for the detonator!" "Direct all firepower on the flagship. Obliterate it!" The Quints do their worst, to no avail; Optimus remains in his seat even as the explosions blow chunks of his body away. The Quints: "It's not stopping!" "No Autobot could survive that..."

"Until all... are.... one..." the mangled Optimus whispers. The ship collides with the asteroid, and both erupt in a firey cataclysm.

"Good bye, old friend," Kup says sadly, as the retreating Autobots watch on-screen. "This nova will be his memorial," Magnus declares. Rodimus: "I don't know if I'll ever be the leader you were, but for sure, I'm gonna try." As the explosion burns itself out, the fleet departs, and an image of Prime wipes in across the stars. [And unless you're one of the lucky few who have a tape of this episode from its original airing, the narrator cuts in: "But is this really the end of Optimus Prime? Find out in tomorrow's exciting episode, 'The Return of Optimus Prime'!" Gee, with that kind of ambiguous title, I just don't know what to expect.] Fade out.

Double Plus Undead:

Okay. Let me start by saying that transcribing Blurr's speech is a friggin' NIGHTMARE. I had to rewind five times just to get the first sentence down.

It should be noted that this episode originally did NOT air at the end of Season 3. In fact, it was one of the earliest post-Movie episodes. However, after Season 3 had been aired once or twice, "Dark Awakening" was re-aired by itself, this time with the narrator's subtle hint dubbed in at the end; the next day, TRoOP came on. And there "Dark Awakening" has been ever since, much to my dismay and the fandom's confusion.

It's important to note this for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it means that a long time passed between the first few minutes of TRoOP (when the humans save Prime's body) and the remainder of the episode -- like, on the order of the entire third season. For another, it holds the death fanatics at bay. That exploding jet that looked like Powerglide can't be him if he appeared alive and well in "Ghost in the Machine" a few episodes later. And if it's not Powerglide, then it's just some generic ship, which is presumably also the case for that supposed Skyfire look-alike that also goes boom in the same scene.

[But if you want to do the math... at least two Skydives got blown up, as did an Air Raid, a Powerglide, and an all-white Skyfire. A third Skydive can be seen after all this. This scene also includes a rare instance of actual Generic Autobots, shown when the interiors of the ships get blown up. Another Skydive is hanging out in robot mode with Perceptor aboard the flagship some time later. And the Aerialbots show up in TRoOP. Take that, you death people. Nyahh.]

But, then, perhaps those facts are retconned away along with the single biggest internal contradiction in all of G1: the change in Optimus Prime's situation between "Dark Awakening" and "Return of Optimus Prime". At the end of DA, of course, Prime is still clinging to life and piloting the Autobot flagship into a hailstorm of enemy fire, with half his body burned away; finally he hits the detonator and the ship is blown to smithereens. At the beginning of TRoOP -- supposedly the same scene -- he's dead and sitting immobile at the controls of a ship that's just drifting along in *empty space*, with his body *completely intact*, and the only hazard in the area is a star that's about to go nova. To this day, this still boggles my mind -- the two scenes are completely irreconciliable, as if they occurred in different universes. Did they think kids are completely stupid? Any kid who's seen the final scenes of "Dark Awakening" is not likely to forget it. I recall reading recently that Marv Wolfman hated writing TRoOP because of how it cheapened Op's death, but really... he could at least make SOME pretense of consistency!

TRoOP also undoes at least half the drama of this episode, not only by retconning away the finale, but also by inserting that mood-shattering narrator's comment onto the end. Arrrrg!

So, getting back on track.... As I said, this ep gives me the creeps! First we've got Danny reading off dead Autobots in the crypt. A year before this ep aired we'd been empathizing with Ironhide's war-weariness in "The Immobilizer"; now we're walking past his grave. That's just *sad*, and it drives home more solidly than any other moment that the entire cartoon has been (as I believe Skyflight phrased it) rebooted. It's a bit callous on the part of Hasbro, IMO -- don't they realize that kids *liked* these characters? I guess it's no worse than the wanton slaughter on the Autobot shuttle, and at least this scene shows that somebody actually *cared* about those characters. When I was 12, this ep was sad confirmation that the guys who'd been so casually put down in the Movie the preceeding summer were in fact gone for good; and Huffer, who was never shown to be injured in the Movie, was thrown in for good measure. Then, just to rub it in, they go and blow up the tomb, killing even the most remote hopes of seeing those characters revived. Jerks! That said, the scene of the tomb ship exploding is very nicely produced, IMO. I love how the escape ship just tears through the walls and arcs away.

Then we have an Autobot CORPSE falling out of its coffin. Yikes! To the untrained eye it might look like Ironhide, which is even more disturbing -- but a careful look reveals that the resemblance is only vague. The chest window is much too small, for one thing. More obviously, the colors are completely wrong.

Then there's the entire zombie Prime bit. It's one thing to have Prime turned evil for a day as part of Megatron's Evil Scheme of the Week; there you know he'll be fine by the end of the twenty-two minutes. It's something else entirely to bring him back to life as an un-dead version of his own self, hell-bent on destroying the entire Autobot army through blatant lies and deception, then have Hot Rod forced to come beat up on him, then have him blow himself to atoms at the end of it all, with having half of his robotic intestines spilling out. This is no magic reset button of an episode. When Hot Rod asks what he has to do to stop Optimus, the answer isn't "shoot the three spots on my back and say the magic incantation to shut me down!"; it's "kill me." "Dark Awakening" takes the death we saw in the movie and stares it unflinchingly in the eye. When Prime comes back, it seems too good to be true, and hey, it is. The iconic figure who was the children's hero for two years is now a demented evil zombie only half in control of himself. How they had the balls to even think this episode up, let alone get it made, is beyond me.

Then there's the battle at the end. Whether or not that was Powerglide and/or Skyfire, the fact remains that a lot of 'bots got slagged in that battle scene, probably the most in any Transformer episode ever. Meanwhile, inside the flagship, Optimus is poking... *something*, we don't know what exactly, but *something*, all the way through Hot Rod's chest. Ow! Roddy's back ought to be pretty torn up after that...

There's also a tremendous amount of emotion running loose throughout the ep. The Autobots' grief is palpable as they approach the tomb. You can hear the fury in Springer's words as he swears vengeance on the Quints. And perhaps more than anything, there's the face-off between Roddy and Op at the end, which all by itself could be the subject of an entire essay. It's a battle where the contestants are fighting not only each other, but themselves as well. Prime's internal struggle is obvious. Roddy's is a bit more subtle. Even faced with the facts, he still can't bring himself to use decisive force on his one-time leader; he loses the fight as a result. He doesn't fight all-out until he breaks out of Op's choke hold; even then he takes the first chance he gets to try negotiation again -- to his detriment.

Despite the freak factor, a confirmed pre-Movie fan like myself (and when this ep aired, almost ALL of us were pre-Movie fans by default) can't help feel a thrill when Optimus lets loose on the Decepticons. For just that one moment, all's right with the world, and we're back in the good old days when Autobots still transformed and rolled out whenever the world needed saving, and the good guys couldn't possibly lose, no matter the odds, 'cause good ol' Prime is always there to save the day. It's yet another nice touch, given how strongly later events in the episode will contradict that feeling -- just one scene later Prime is blasting his friends and then lying about it to his other friends. But that one scene... oooooo, I just love it. And this coming from a guy who's not even a particular fan of Optimus.

The Quints are top-notch villians in this ep, pulling the strings from beginning to end. They set a trap on board the tomb, and lead the 'bots and 'cons right into it (at least, that's my take on it.) Then they set ANOTHER trap which very nearly wipes out the Autobots. Definately the Quints' finest moment as bad guys. And they play graverobber to boot.

This ep packs a lot of plot into a short amount of time... yet it hardly feels rushed at all. Call it narrative compression. For example, the attack on the Quints has barely started when events which will ultimately *end* the attack are set into motion, with Blurr reporting the others still alive. The dark moments of dread waiting, with the Autobots walking into a trap with no escape in sight, last only a few seconds before the plot gets moving again. In fact, with all this going on, the ep still finds time to show little random diversions like Hot Rod & co.'s ship crashing on Cybertron, and Daniel reading off dead Autobot names.

Some of the thematic plots are kind of glossed over, but you don't notice because the plot is so thickly packed with stuff. For example, when Hot Rod faces down Optimus, the scene reads as their final, climactic confrontation -- even though they've only faced each other one other time in the whole episode, and then not as enemies! What's important, though, is that the *viewer* has been following the chain of Optimus's gradually unfolding plot, and the decent of the Autobots into this dark trap -- so that when Roddy shows up to set things aright, it doesn't matter that he's been away from the action for so long. It's the absolution the viewer has been waiting for and expecting. I guess one could count Prime's attack on Roddy's interceptor as a confrontation -- notice that Rod seems to think Op has been tricked when they first arrive ("Radio Prime! We've got to stop him!"), but is fighting mad when he gets onto the flagship, after having his warning answered with laser blasts.

The ep also does a good job of rotating characters in and out. Notice that the humans fade into the background after the first 1/3rd of the episode. Perceptor comes in later. Blurr, Springer, Wheelie, Grimlock, Slag and Sludge all get a few lines each. The 'cons disappear for good after escaping the tomb, leaving the stage to the Autobots (who reciprocate in "Webworld". :]

You will notice, of course, that Brawn's name was not mentioned or seen anywhere during the tomb scene. It's redundant to point this out, of course, since everyone already knows that he lives on to this day, but I thought I would anyway. >:]

The shot of Cyclonus dragging away the wounded Galvatron while urging the others to "fight on!" pretty well sums up the status of the Decepticons during Season 3, IMO.

All this is not to say the ep is perfect, of course. There's lots of little and big niggling plot holes that were evident long before TRoOP came along. :]

Most prominently: How do the Autobots get off the mausoleum? Their escape pod got blown up, and Optimus's ship had long since departed. Ultra Magnus's commment about "this little improvisation" is the only explanation we get, and leads us to believe that they built this ship in the time after Optimus departed. Not a very effective auto-destruct, if it takes THAT long to go off. This is a classic case of G1 solving an unsolvable problem by simply pretending it never existed. Hey, maybe they cobbled that ship together out of dead Autobot parts. Eww!

On that note, what exactly makes a Transformer qualify as "alive"? "Even to himself he seems... alive," one of the Quints says of the reanimated Optimus. That seems to be a self-contradictory sentence, to me. If you are capable of having a qualitative impression of yourself ("I believe I am alive; I seem alive to myself"), what is it you lack that makes you NOT alive? I'm not real big on mixing series techno-jargon, but if you're a BW fan, you could say Optimus was animated but no longer had a Spark. The Quints attribute his awareness to their "circuit implants" and state that he'd be "utterly mindless" without them. But the fact that he overcame their programming indicates that there was more to it than that... perhaps those "lingering remnants of his...personality" were more than the Quints thought?

And what happened to Op at the end? Once he breaks free of the Quints' hold, he seems to be his old self... just beat up and mournful. Why, then, did he kill himself to destroy what appeared to be a stationary weapon? His return to his old self, followed immediately by his destruction, may be the greatest of this ep's numerous tragedies. Maybe he knew it was only a matter of time till the Quints reasserted control over him.

It's not an error per se, but Rodimus gets a large helping of Stupid Points for being so eager to hand over command. At LEAST find out what happened to bring Prime back to life first, and find out why he's stumbling around grunting like a zombie, and get him fixed up a little, too. Sheesh. This ep probably points out Roddy's insecurities better than any other -- he can't WAIT to get rid of the Matrix. Prime presented himself a lot more normally to the 'bots on Cybertron, but even they didn't seem particularly interested in the details of what happened, or in patching Prime up.

Was there supposed to be some audio cue that alerted the Autobots that the Decepticons had entered the tomb ship? Or was Rodimus assuming that Optimus's empty tomb was Galvatron's handiwork?

There's at least two Dirges flying alongside the 'con mothership. Apparently the Coneheads gained the ability to clone themselves sometime before the Movie, thus explaining their amazing ability to keep showing up and dying over and over.

Is Cyclonus taller than Galvatron? When he says "The end of Rodimus Prime!", he is substantially larger than his leader. Various other scenes during the series seem to confirm this... though at other times Galvy is the bigger of the two. Cyclonus IS supposed to be his ship...

When the escape pod launches, the sound effect goes past the camera long before the ship itself does. :]

How did Daniel and Spike survive Op's laser assault?

Someone with the right video equipment could make a hysterical sped-up video of Grimlock dancing, during the like five minutes that the camera lingers on him.

Since when do the Autobots even HAVE a fleet? And if the Quint's space power is so superior, why don't they use it to attack the 'bots head-on?

What happened to the hole in Hot Rod's chest? It just goes away after Optimus kicks him. And that sound effect! What, has he got a boiling cauldron in there or something?

Roddy's chest compartment is hinged by the tips of his flames?? That's just wierd. And it contradicts what's shown later in the episode -- when Op gives the Matrix back to him, his chest opens in two halves. Also, Hot Rod never really morphs back into Rodimus; he just kinda shakes and staggers a little bit as he stands up.

Uh, Magnus? A "nova" isn't an asteroid blowing up. It's a STAR blowing up. Big, big, big, very big difference. Though maybe that line explains how "Dark Awakening"'s asteroid became a star in "Return of Optimus Prime". One wonders if Marv Wolfman actually saw this episode before writing TRoOP -- maybe he only had a rough draft script to work from or something.

The Decepticon mothership is just an ugly, ungainly, clumsy-looking thing. I have never cared much for its design.

Heck, the artwork of most of the episode is an ugly, ungainly, clumsy-looking thing. It's definately on the low end of the G1 spectrum, only slightly above "City of Steel" and its ilk, and it's a fine example of what people mean when they talk about Season 3's supposedly poor animation. The backgrounds in particular have a tendency to look pasted on, like they don't mesh with the characters standing in the foreground. But, the episode really transcends that -- people praise it regardless, and I don't think I've EVER heard anyone mention the shoddy artwork before. That alone speaks very highly of the ep's writing and production. Man... imagine if it had been done by the same studio as "Call of the Primatives"! It's a shame such an outstanding episode got saddled with such poor artwork.

Even so, there are a few nice shots. The best one is probably Galvatron at the beginning, giving the order to "launch torpedoes!" And who could resist a screengrab of barbequed Prime?

As I've pointed out before, the first couple of scenes of this episode are lifted almost directly from an episode of "Superfriends", from the pursuit through space, launching the escape pod (or turning the cockpit into an escape ship, as the Superfriends ep phrased it), up to and including the line "It's the size of Manhattan!" I'm not sure what to make of it -- is it a bizarre tribute? Or just lazy writing? And how many other G1 eps have similar paraphrases? I know Zob has said that the plot of "Kremzeek!" has been recycled several times...

Lots of great lines in this ep. My favorite might be "suffocate or smother" (vintage Rodimus!), but there's tons of others, most of them also from Rodimus: "Believe me! I tried!" Blurr's two reports have a nice parallelism to them.

Dark Incomprehensible Cartoon Lines: 1, Wheelie's one and only line. 2, Blurr's various bits. Refer to the transcript above.

Two lines of the Quints' are recycled from "Five Faces of Darkness" -- "Perhaps we should seek some cover!" and the response. Wierd.

Rodimus here has his ultra-deep Five Faces of Darkness Part One voice, especially at the episode's beginning. I like it the best of all his many voices.

This ep was also the first time I'd ever heard the word "fon du". Heh. It also gets points for using the word "anticipatory".

Overall: After reviewing, I have to say it's even better than I initially thought. It's still not one of my personal favorites, but that's purely due to my personal tastes (I like *happy* stories, dammit!) This ep is layered with meaning, laced with darkness, tinged with creepiness, charged with emotion, sprinkled with sarcastic humor, and served on a platter of crappy animation. If you're looking to persuade someone of G1's worth as a cartoon, you could do far worse than to start with "Dark Awakening".

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