Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Rantings
Re: "Fallout"

Man, the things you can do with a brand-new computer! This thing has powers beyond my comprehension! It lets me manage my web site from home... lets me create and send images... lets me run Telnet, a web browser, an irc client, and a word processor all at once... and it sucks away my time like a leach! And... it lets me download Transformer episodes long before they've actually aired here in the US. So, I mark this bizarre first with a return to full episode reviewing.

















Episode summary:

No new opening sequence, by the way. Does that mean we gotta keep lookign at the same butt-ugly bunch of Maximals for the next 13 episodes?

After a rather lengthy (a whole 2 minutes, but still vague) recap of the last episode, we open to more swirly stuff in Megatron's headquarters. Optimus watches his hand disolve (again), and declares, "If this is the will of the Matrix, then so be it!" His body then disintegrates, and the scene cuts to another funky Matrix-Oracle-mind-altering-drug vision.

Primal finds himself floating in nothingness for a moment, till he bumps into Megatron. "Is it my destiny to fight you forever, Megatron?" he asks. He is then treated to the sight of Cybertron exploding from within. "You forced my hand. Tricked me into destroying Cybertron!" he says. "We are all responsible for our own decisions," Megs replies. Primal lunges at him, but lands in a jungle. "Now pay the price for your unyielding fanaticism," he says, turning -- to confront his own robot-mode self. The second Primal blasts the first off a cliff, where he finds... blackness. The various beast-mode heads (current, original, TM/2) of the other Maximals drift by, all repeating that Primal has failed them, as an Earth-like planet erupts in the background. "Megatron didn't destroy Cybertron.... I did!"

"At last, you see the truth," the voice of the Oracle proclaims. "We each make our own choices. Carve out our own destinies." "Punish me... not my friends!" "Their fate yet lies with you..." "Please! Spare Cybertron." The head of Rhinox then materializes before Optimus: "My Spark has rejoined the Matrix. I paid the price for my misguided deeds," he says, as his face morphs into that of Tankor. "But it is not too late for you. Embrace the true nature of your Spark...." Optimus howls - and is swept back to Megatron's chamber.

With much screaming and groaning, Optimus draws in some sort of red beams that simultaneously knock the drones offline and restore the metallized Maximals to normal. Primal then draws the beams into himself, and fires it back into the center of Cybertron, into the Oracle. Everything goes white....

All is silent and still on Cybertron as Cheetor, Blackarachnia, and Nightscream wander down a road sometime later, past numerous deactivated drones. They freeze in alarm as one of the Cycle drones stirs -- and is pushed aside to reveal Rattrap pinned beneath it. The group enters Megatron's chamber, to find Megs frozen in the middle of some grandiose gesture. Before their eyes, the body disolves. "If I had to guess... I'd say we won't be getting any holiday cards from him for a while," Rattrap ventures. Tankor's nearby body also falls apart at the slightest touch. "Looks like all our enemies are gone," Blackarachnia notes. "I'm not so sure it was worth the cost," Cheetor says, as we pan to the melted remains of Optimus's body.

"I thought you wanted Optimus out of the picture," Nightscream says to Cheetor a while later. Cheets pins him to the wall: "Disagreeing with somebody's ideas isn't the same as wanting them slagged!" Rattrap calms Cheetor down as Nightscream yields. Rattrap notes the planet's utter emptiness. "No," Cheetor asserts. "Their Sparks are still here. And once we find them we can repopulate the whole planet!" Rattrap plugs into the planet to reactivate its systems, but reports a central core flatline -- "It's like the whole planet's brain-dead!"

Before they can set to work rectifying that situation, Jetstorm and Thrust arrive. We run through a typical sequence of tranformations and 'bots gearing up for battle -- when Cheetor brings a halt to it all by shouting "TIME OUT! Why are we even fighting? The war is over! Megatron's gone." "Oh! Like you've got something better to do," Jetstorm says. "You're free to join us now! We can be together again, Silverbolt," BA says. "Why is she so hung up on getting her old boyfriend's Spark out of that guy?" Nightscream wonders. "Eh, you're young... you'll learn," Rattrap says knowingly.

BA looks into JS's eyes for a moment... till Thrust interrupts. "Forget it, spider lady. I just lost my boss, everything's fallen apart... I'm not losing my only friend as well." "We're... friends?" Jetstorm asks uncertainly. "Why not?" Thrust replies.

"Why don't you both join us?" Cheetor asks. "With you as the new boss?" JS asks, blasting Cheetor. "Don't think so, pussycat. We just got rid of the old boss!" "I thought they always landed on their feet!" Thrust notes of Cheetor's landing.

A series of funky psuedo-anime battle shots follow, till BA shouts "Alright, quit it! This isn't getting us anywhere. You don't want to be Silverbolt again? Fine! I won't force you. It's not worth fighting about!"

"C'mon, 'storm," Thrust says, rolling off. "We got places to go, things to see!... and destroy." The two depart. "Losers... what are they gonna do *now*?" Nightscream wonders.

Cheetor decides they should try to contact the Oracle; we're therefore treated to a semi-repeat of "The Reformatting"'s rappelling scene. The Oracle fire-wall hologram shatters to reveal... Optimus. Trapped within the glowing sphere, he warns them to stay away. "Leave me... I've made my peace with the Matrix. All I ask is that you forgive me my transgressions, so that I can move on from this plane!" Rattrap: "There's nothing to forgive." Nightscream: "You gave me a family, when I had no-one!" BA: "You lead us to victory at the cost of your own life!" Cheetor: "I can forgive you for your mistakes... but not for giving up!" Cheetor gives Primal a pep talk about all the stuff Primal has done for the group. "My fanaticism almost destroyed this planet... lead them, Cheetor! Lead them well!" And Primal fades from view...

Primal finds himself floating into a swirling malestrom of thousands of Sparks. "Yes... I'm ready to come home now." He sees the plant from the opening scene of "The Reformatting", then recaps -- against various BW flashbacks -- the Maximals' mission once more of restoring the organic to Cybertron. "But the Matrix never intended for the organic to replace the technological. It didn't want us to fight a war, but to create a balance. The techno-organic balance between the machine and the organic! Yes, I am ready to join the Matrix... but not today." And as the Maximals watch, a fully-restored Optimus strides forth from the blinding light of the Oracle.

"Congratulations, Optimus Primal," the Oracle speaks. "You have passed your greatest test, by asserting your own free will -- the very thing that makes you more than a mere machine. Clearly there is nothing left to teach you. The time has come for you to sieze your own destiny..." A vision of plant life surrounds the Maximals -- techno-organic trees. "What starts in simplicity, must grow in simplicity. We must not forget this..."

Back on the surface, the Maximals head for Megs' HQ to start searching for the missing Sparks -- when an earthquake siezes the planet, and something huge rises into the air above the Maximals... a gigantic version of the head of Megatron. "Looks like you're not the only one who's decided to make his own destiny," Rattrap comments, as we fade out.

First things first.... what a sorry, crappy, cruddy, horrid, nasty, ignomious, unfortunate, ill-considered, ill-concieved, and generally sucky way for Rhinox to die: "I'm dead now; bye!"

Well, okay, it's not nearly as bad as it could be. It'd be far worse if he'd just been shot and killed off-screen, or in the manner of the Autobots on the shuttle in TF:TM. At least this story makes the attempt to give his death some meaning -- the old "he brought it on himself" bit. But the problem is... Tankor, not Rhinox, is the one who runs around and gets himself killed -- but it's Rhinox who's dead now.

Y'see, I accepted the whole "Rhinox-is-evil" thing as a result of Megatron's tampering, and of that alone. Much as I hate to say it, there is NO WAY the Rhinox we knew in Beast Wars would ever voluntarily CHOOSE to go along with Megatron's plans for Cybertron. Rhinox was attuned to life. He was gentle, mystical even. The only way he'd go for elimination of individuality was if his very character was fundamentally altered. The only way THAT would happen -- given what we've been shown, at least -- is if Megatron forced it. So we must assume that's what happened... and now Rhinox is dead because he must "pay the price for his misguided deeds"?!? Something in this equation really doesn't add up.

I guess there's one other way for Rhinox to be corrupted -- Rhinox's Spark and true personality somehow "merged" with whatever shell programming Megatron used to create the original dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks Tankor, to create the Tankox thing that ended up getting killed. But again, that's not "Rhinox's misguided deeds"... that's Megatron's interference.

I think I'd be more compelled by the events shown in Beast Machines if they weren't so damn *surreal*. Wierd swirly shit happens, and a few months later we find out that means that Rhinox has died, and Primal might or might not have died, and Cybertron blows up, but wait, it didn't really blow up, and now Primal's gone for good, no wait here he is in the Oracle, alright *now* he's gone for good, no wait he's alive again! Admittedly, this technique does a good job of keeping you off-balance.. but how are you to know when something's for real? I mean, I can't help but think that maybe we'll see Rhinox yet again in the future. God knows if any character deserved to be resurrected, it's him. As is, I'm just pissed that he was turned evil to drive the show's plot, then killed off to get his toyless ass outta da way.

For a cliff-hanger resolution, this has got to be one of the least action-filled episodes I've ever seen. A great deal of it is simply waiting around to find out who's alive and who's dead. I found it especially bizarre to head into a dream vision in the first 10 seconds of the episode. Maybe that two-minute recap counts as the initial burst of action?

Much of the episode shows things metaphoricly coming full circle, with many repeats of scenes and matras from "The Reformatting", including rappelling past the old underground civilizations, the Oracle speaking to Primal, and Primal walking out of the Oracle. Primal restates the Maximal's Matrix-appointed mission -- and at last says what we've all been noting, he's gone overboard in his organic zeal. (Nightscream, incidentally, also says what we've all been thinking: why is BA so Silverbolt-obsessed?)

So, nobody wants to turn Cybertron into a jungle... but one wonders what's up with this techno-organic stuff. I'm still not too keen on the idea of techno-organic robots -- especially if they're all going to be as ugly as the Maximals. One of the neat things about TFs has always been that they weren't organic -- ever. They were living machines. But not cold and impersonal living machines, but ones with feelings and thoughts and stuff. That's.... cool. Now they're gonna be some kind of mutant oranic/technical blend? Even Pretenders and *masters kept the line between flesh and metal pretty clear. The robots were still robots. But now?...

The Oracle visit seems a bit contrived: first Cheetor wants to find the missing Sparks, then suddenly he wants to talk to the Oracle, then once Optimus is back, THEN they get back to the Sparks. You get the feeling they're putting off the retrieval of the Sparks -- any Sparks -- because that would require lots of bothersome CGI models? *Sigh*... again, I hate to say it, but Hasbro has really backed its show into a corner with CGI. The idea that a small cast means better character development doesn't quite wash with me anymore -- the cast is *too* small. Beast Machines *needs* a few background guys, some one-shot appearances, some characters that come and go. It'd be NICE to see something besides the three flavors of drones running about in the background.

Anyone else think that Nightscream might be a bit like Rattrap might have been in his youth? The two seem to have developed a bit of a bond -- remember their mutually sympathetic exchange when manning the drill bit?

Speaking of bonds... it was nice to see the "friends" exchange between Thrust and Jetstorm. This is the first time I can *ever* recall the bad guys in a Transformers cartoon blatantly acknowledging friendship. And Thrust is apparently turning out to be a pretty nice guy... just one who likes to blow stuff up. Of course, Jetstorm isn't "really" a bad guy, and Thrust "isn't so bad, either" -- or rather, Silverbolt and Waspinator are. Urrg! With this latest turn of events (Thrust and JS heading off on their own), the abysmal idea of making them be older, previous characters seems more pointless than ever. Why not just let the old characters rest in peace? Lump Silverbolt and Rhinox in with the rest of the missing Sparks; leave Waspy be. I'm actually starting to take a liking to Thrust, but's it's already ruined because I can't help thinking "Oh, that's really Waspinator shining through."

On the other hand... the two of them driving away reminded me of various G1 stories, where peace between Autobot and Decepticon was forever dismissed as an utter impossibility, due to fundamental imcompatability or too much spilled blood. Nice touch.

How did Primal get the power to counteract the key to Vector Sigma? Sheer will? Deus ex Beast Machina strikes again.

Nice touch: Cheetor somehow ends up with a piece of Thrust in his hand when BA stops the fighting the second time. He grins sheepishly as Thrust, annoyed, swipes it back. Heh!

Worst shots: the damn anime crap! It looks really, really, really WRONG when the background scenery suddenly disappears, to be replaced with fuzzy shimmering lines or shining lights. Knock it off! It doesn't look cool; it just looks *cheap*! I'd much rather see bits of Cybertron shooting past in the background.

Nicest shots: Cybertron, dark, empty, silent, motionless. Very haunting and post-apocolyptic. Megatron's frozen shell was neat, too.

Today's musical reference (quoted above) is by Jetstorm, and it's an homage to the Who's rock anthem "Won't Get Fooled Again": "Meet the new boss/same as the old boss..." Yes, the writers on this show *definately* have good taste in music.

Finally: the episode cliffhanger. B'ware the floating head of Megatron!! So, has Megatron downloaded himself into Cybertron itself? Or just Cybertropolis, perhaps? Or is he just a head-shaped flying warehouse? At any rate, it's not very menacing, so far, considering that the floating head has yet to actually *do* anything, and (again) because we don't really know what it is that we just saw.

Overall: Well, it resolved the cliffhanger. And left another one. And in between, it killed three characters and brought two of them back. And if the show is going to be that cavelier (and abstract) about killing off old BW regulars, I'm kinda dreading the rest of the season.

Oh, and BTW, the BM Quote List IS coming. Won't be too long now. Promise.

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