Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting Re: "Go With the Flow" 2/22/99 Curious about how #@$ed up the play schedule has been here in Philly (or maybe just in general)? No? Then skip this paragraph. I got home last night (after a tiring 4 day weekend in Vermont) to find on my tape: "Go With the Flow", "Dark Voyage", and... "Flow" again!! No problem, I figured; I'll just wait patiently till next weekend for "Crossing the Rubicon"; in the meantime I'll resume taping Season 1 in order. Popped in my Season 1 tape, all ready for part 1 of "The Trigger"... and woke up this morning to find "Crossing the Rubicon" playing. Urrrrg!!! Things couldn't get any more screwed up!! Anyway. Whadda we want? SPOILERS! When do we want 'em? NOW! The episode begins with a long zoom on a mountaintop crevice, which seems to be glowing from within with intermittent flashes of light. In the forests below the mountain, more of Tarantulas's technospiders are skitting about... and Cheetor is on the prowl. But the hunter is the one who gets bushwhacked -- by Oona, the young female protohuman we met in "Cutting Edge", who leaps out of a tree to knock Cheetor down. "Totally ambushed!" Cheetor says. "Oh, yeah, I'm doomed now, okay, ya got me." Jack (Jock? Jaque?) joins in the fun, and is advised by Cheetor that "when you're battling bots, hack at the hinges." The trio is startled by Rattrap's abrupt arrival; he advises Cheetor to "give it up, blondie. These kids are primitives. They're way out of their league!" As one of the technospiders crawls down a tree, Rattrap impales it with his tail/whip, and reminds Cheetor that he's there to watch his back, since Primal thinks Megatron is up to something in the area. "Whatever. Just sit down and be quiet," Cheets responds. "Yeah, yeah, story of my life," Rattrap says, while Cheetor gives the two kids a lesson on basic mechanics including the lever and the pulley, the latter of which manages to drop a big rock on Cheetor's foot. "Educational stuff," Rattrap says derisively. "Me, I'd rather watch things explode." On that note, we cut back to the mountain seen before, where the Preds are hard at work constructing a big ol' funky device. Unfortunately, as they bring it on-line, it overloads them all with some sort of energy. "Predacons! Retreat!" Megatron orders. Retreating for Megs means moving to the other side of the room, where he proceeds to unveil his plan to... well, to no-one, actually. "The bipolar energon source affects all Cybertronians. The Ark is protected by Teletran One... but the Maximals are not. My disruptor ray will destroy them. However, I need a non-Cybertronian to finish the job." "Interesting you should say that, mighty Megatron," Tarantulas says, pointing to the readings of his techno-spiders: the two kids will be perfect. Cheetor has just shown the kids how to construct a simple hacking instrument when Waspinator and Inferno attack, damaging Cheetor and making off with Oona ("Waspinator sees helpless target! Oh, happy day!") Depth Charge arrives and drives the Preds off. Optimus calls in and orders Cheetor to fall back; DC flies in pursuit with Rattrap as an unwanted passenger. Ahead, Oona recalls Cheetor's advice -- and begins hacking at Waspinator's insect legs with the tool he made for her. Waspy radios Megatron: "Waspinator has female fleshy bot, but there is problem." "She had better not be injured!" "No! She injuring Waspinator!" "Ah, situation normal, then, yes." "Ohhhh... Waspinator want to re-negotiate contract!" Waspy promptly falls apart after delivering the fleshy-bot safe and sound. Megatron activates his giant McGuffin as the Maximals approach, despite Tarantula's protest. It fires an erratic beam which fries Depth Charge's "energon circuits", leaving him powerless. "Well, switch to -- glide mode or somethin'!" Rattrap says, as they tumble earthward. "I don't HAVE a glide mode, mouse," DC spits back. "I'm open to suggestions." "Oh. Okay. Hows about we crash down into those mountains, and die horrible agonizin' deaths!!" DC is in bad shape after the crash; Rattrap is beat up but, to his surprise, "Heh. I ain't dead!" "This day's just full of disappointments," DC says. Rattrap leaves DC stuck where he is, giving his systems time to recover, and drives off to rescue Oona. A butterfly lands on DC's chest as Ratty departs. "What're YOU lookin' at?" DC inquires nastily. Meanwhile, Megs works to complete his device... or to persuade Oona to do it for him. It takes quite a bit of talking to get Oona to attach a simple shield plate, and then she does it rather crookedly, then uses a wrench to bash the bolts down. "Oh... whatever," Megatron says. Some time later... the entire device is covered with similarly haphazard pieces of shield plating. The final step is to "install the stabilizer crystal", a glowing sparkly that Oona seems to like. "Yes, yes!" Megs exclaims as Oona closes the hatch. "My disruptor ray is complete. Triumph is before me!" "And da rat is behind ya!" Rattrap says, popping out with gun aimed. But Dinobot quickly disarms Ratty, while Tarantulas moves to destroy Oona. The protohuman isn't such easy pickings, however; she uses a convenient pole to lever a chunk of machinery onto Big T's head (complete with the obligatory "D'oh no!") Rattrap transforms to brodie mode and catches Oona as she falls from her perch, then clears out. Megatron orders Waspy and Inferno to pursue, and prepares for a full-power test of the device. At Oona's suggestion, Rattrap struggles to lever Depth Charge into a nearby river (by the lug nuts! Ouch!) "Quarry detected, grid Joona," Dinobot 2 says nearby, and the Preds attack. The explosions send DC sliding into the river, but he still can't move; Rattrap and Oona pole him downstream amid heavy fire (this would of course be the "flow" of the episode's title.) "Ow. Careful, you moronic mouse!" DC says as Rattrap bumps him. "Hey, if you could ride a little steadier, maybe I could steer better!" "You couldn't steer a garbage scow." "Yeah, like a floatin' flounder's any better." Just then they come to a convenient waterfall and tumble over it, coming out with nothing more than a bit of coughing. Oona scoops up some mud from the shore with her pole as the fliers catch up with them. "Lev-er!" she says, and Rattrap takes the cue, sending the mud flying into Waspy's face, blinding him. Waspinator goes crashing into Inferno, sending them both crashing into Dinobot. Megatron recalls his troops just then -- the disruptor is ready, and the Maximals are in line with Ark. The device builds power; Rattrap nervously tells Oona to clear out -- "If the ray don't hurt ya, our exploding bodies might!" Megatron gives the order to fire, and the device -- dies out. Oona holds up the stabilizer crystal, which she figures makes a nice hair ornament -- "Oona pretty!" -- and the mountain top explodes ferociously, rattling the Maximals at the Ark and tossing DC and company into the water. As the explosion settles, Optimus and Rhinox just exchange stunned looks. Elsewhere, DC notes that "those Preds are probably slagged and helpless back there. We ought to go finish 'em off." Rattrap disagrees: "We're not exactly in fighting trim ourselves. I say we go home." "Why am I not surprised?" DC wonders. "Say, Oona. Cheetor ever show you my recipe for fried flounder?" Rattrap asks, and gets a whack from DC's tail as the trio sails off into the sunset and the camera irises out. People have pegged this as a G1 homage, and personally I think that's right on the money. Let's count the ways, shall we? - The episode itself was completely self-contained. It could have fit almost anywhere in the season to date, aside from small things like Cheetor's newer body. - We saw just about the entire cast. Even those who said little or nothing (Blackarachnia, Quickstrike, Rhinox) showed up in the background at one point or another. Only Rampage and Silverbolt were missing. - "Mighty Megatron" and "Predacons, retreat!" are both familiar quotes for G1 fans - The plot revolved around a gigantic Ultimate Weapon plot device about which we've heard nothing before and will probably hear nothing ever again (Evil Invention/Alien Device, as Kendrick Chua used to say.) - The plot was resolved by a last-minute detail - Lesser plot problems -- like the fact that three Preds were after Rattrap and a helpless Depth Charge -- were resolved in silly manners, like having mud thrown in Waspy's face. - Other plot problems - most notably the fact that Oona went over a waterfall - simply went away, rather than being fixed. Classic G1, folks. This was a comic episode, much as "The Low Road" was. It set up a serious problem, then solved it in a silly manner, while tossing in some subtle and not-so-subtle humor along the way. It worked much better for me than TLR did, however, because the silly solution -- Oona taking the crystal -- was at least within the realm of possibility. And GWTF has a nice poetic justice to it: Megatron's attempt to twist a friend of the Maximals against them is instead sabotaged by that same friend. Come to think of it, the only thing missing from this ep was a declaration by Megs that "Now the Maximals will be destroyed by their own ally! How ironic!" Now, I do realize this was a humorous episode, and I did laugh at it - but I wouldn't be a good nitpicker if I didn't also dissect it for realism. Consider this a fun catalogue of the show's (intentional?) flaws, if you wish. In a different episode, I would be more seriously annoyed by these problems; here they're just part of the shtick routine... Others are complaining about the non-story arc plot, the annoying protohumans, the fliers' incompetency, on and on. Me, I'm going to complain about the fact that in Beast Wars you can't float down a river for more than fifty feet without coming to a waterfall. Many real-life rivers flow for thousands of miles and have NO waterfalls; why do cartoon rivers have them around every bend?! This gets to another annoying plot bit: don't write your characters into an impossible situation without plausibly writing them out of it. Case in point: Oona went flying into the air when her, Ratty and DC sailed over the aforementioned waterfall. By rights she should have drowned, smashed into a rock, or been crushed by several tons of Depth Charge landing on her head. Neither Ratty or DC made any effort to grab or protect her as they fell. Yes, it's possible she could have survived... but not too likely. To top it off, her and Ratty have no problem getting back on top of DC before they've even cleared the waterfall's rapids. Another beyond-plausibility bit was Oona hacking up Waspinator. I can buy that she might chop through a few of his legs, but enough damage to make him come apart completely? That seems like too much, and was clearly just another funny bit to make the kids laugh. OTOH, I really like the way Waspy rolls onto his back and continues to carry Oona after he's got no legs left, rather than putting us through one of those tiresome "catch the falling human" scenes. No, it was Rattrap who put us through that, demonstrating once again the law of cartoon physics which states, "A falling person will not be injured if they land on anything besides the ground toward which they were originally falling." Oona should have hit Rattrap's back and gone *crunch*; Ratty is just as hard and inflexible as the floor underneath him. And the scene that led up to that one was a third implausibility: Oona was able to move that huge hunk of machinery with a piddley little stick? Right. Granted, she didn't tip it all the way over, but just enough to make the supports buckle and give out, but still... this is a thing that Tarantulas had trouble getting out from underneath. And the fliers. Hello? Inferno and Waspy's aim is worse in this episode than it was in "Dark Voyage". How long can you shoot at a large and practically stationary target without hitting it? Sheesh! Nitpicking aside... some of the humor worked, some didn't. I like the idea of Tarantulas being squished by the little protohuman - but I think it would have been funnier if it'd been an accident rather than an aware decision by Oona. I laughed out loud when we saw the end result of all Oona's plate pounding. And Megatron trying to instruct her was hysterical... and masterful as well. Hats off to David Kaye for this bit - he did an incredible job. The protohuman school scene was painful to watch the first time through. After reading others' comments, and having seen the rest of the episode, I think I can take it in the goofy spirit in which it was intended. We've already seen that Oona and Jack are pretty intelligent - it makes sense that they could master a few simple words, whether they're English words or Cybertronian. Heck, your dog can understand some words in English if you train him right. Why is Cheetor bothering with this, though? I guess he came to think of the kids as friends while helping them out in "Cutting Edge", and just wants them to be well off. Who knows. And no, the kids do NOT become the source of the English language. This is all set about 3 to 4 million years ago. English didn't exist until about a thousand years ago or so. Cheetor's efforts, alas, are lost to history. I'm sure we'll never see the disruptor thing again, but presumably it has to have a line-of-sight to fire, and the Maximals will now be carefully watching the peaks around the Ark - so maybe that's not a real plot hole. Additionally, Megs would have to recruit another protohuman to help. OTOH, why not just use some simple mechanical armatures to reach inside the danger zone and do the work that way? Screwing in bolts doesn't require Cybertronian tech. For that matter, why not just wait till the protohumans go home, rather than grabbing them when the Maximals are around?... Oh well, it was the cute/funny episode, and I'm not as worried about fine plot details as I would be in a more serious episode. Welcome returns to the screen include Tarantulas and Inferno. Inferno didn't do much that was unusual for him; he flew around, shot big guns, and was bad-ass and funny. Tarantulas, on the other hand... wow. I'm beginning to think he's completely loyal to Megatron now. Maybe the speculation over his change of orders was correct? Or is he just covering for some further scheme? Who can say? But for now, he seems completely happy to follow Megatron's orders. It's nice for him to get some serious screen time, the most he's gotten since "Tangled Web", really. What happened to Cheetor's self-healing power? Perhaps my speculation on that subject was incorrect. The animation in this episode definitely suffered. The river rapids looked more like Megatron's energon bath than anything. And after three looks I still couldn't tell what Rattrap was doing when he flung the mud at Waspinator. The explosion of the mountain top, OTOH, was suitably impressive -- though it made us suffer through another one of those "good guys fly through the air in slow motion" scenes. C'mon, these shots were tired and old way back in Season 1, and they certainly don't help anything at this point. And finally, there's the inevitable comparison to "Dark Glass", the episode which was intended to air in this spot. For those who missed it: "Dark Glass" got as far as having a script written when Claster (the company which distributes BW episodes for airing) canned it, saying there wasn't enough action and excitement for the kiddies. Bob Forward hastily came up with this episode as a replacement. That considered, I think he did a respectable job; there were enough plot twists and turns to keep the viewer riveted, and enough gags to make the viewer smile the whole way through. It's not "The Agenda", but then, it doesn't try to be. Would "Dark Glass" have been a better episode? We can't say for sure, since all we have is a short plot summary supplied by Larry DiTillio via Joona Palaste -- and even if we saw the script we _still_ couldn't say for sure. Scripts are just the beginning, and go through a lot of changes before they wind up on your television screen. For example, "Dark Glass" author Christy Marx's other contribution to BW, "Transmutate", was great in first draft form -- but was mangled by later editing and directing, till it became somewhat lackluster. For all we know, DG might have gotten a similar treatment if it had been produced. I think DG has a better _premise_ than GWTF, personally, especially since it ties in with several earlier plot points. But the execution of that premise is and forever shall be an unknown. So, folks, what say we just... leave it at that. Overall: It was cute, it was funny, it was a fair bit better than "The Low Road". It was fun to watch, it got the Preds back on screen after a several-episode absence, and it showed that Megatron is still working to infiltrate the Ark. It's not perfect, but I had fun watching it, and isn't that what really counts?
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