Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Rantings
Re: "Master Blaster"

 I would like to dedicate this review to Sir Stack.  Without his timely
Beast Warnings, I would have taped this episode onto my Season 2 tape,
mucking up what has till now been a flawless taping run since the middle
of Season 1.  Thanks, Mr. Stack!




   You can run but you can never hide, she-SPOILER!!

 Well.  The folks who've been complaining about lack of story arc movement
should be satisfied now -- this episode had enough plot development and
twists to make up for half a season's lack of them.  This was an
edge-of-your-seat ride the whole way; I just wish I'd not known the one or
two spoilers I did, namely the appearance of Megatron, and the appearance
of Megatron...

First, a synopsis:

 All's quiet as Silverbolt paces back and forth on his guard duty in front
of the Maximal base... but in the shadows nearby, we see the lurking forms
of Predacons, who are preparing some sort of machine.  Megatron tells
Waspinator that he will be the subcommander for this mission; Waspinator
promises to "make Megatron proud!" and flies off to dispose of Silverbolt.

 "Why am I hauling scrap while Fishface and Legs are out having all the
fun?" Rattrap wonders inside the base, as he and Cheetor labor under heavy
loads of equipment.  Just then the sensors pick up Waspy incoming,
delighting Rattrap: "Now THIS kind of scrap I don't mind!"  Optimus,
Cheets, and Ratty charge out as Waspy dumps a huge bomb on Silverbolt,
knocking him out.  "Predacons, attaaaaaaack!" Waspy orders, charging --
and skidding to a halt as he realizes he's alone.  "Where Waspinator's
troops?" he wonders.  "Ah, sometimes deception is the better part of
valor," Megatron observes, watching from afar.  Optimus literally squashes
Waspinator like a bug, flattening him between those giant orange fists of
his... but at that moment Tarantulas pops up from behind a rock and uses a
blow-gun to fire a little tube thing at Optimus [no comments from the WWFF
gallery, please! :].  The tube-thing drills its way into his foot, unfolds
like one of Tarantulas's techno-spiders, and goes on a tour of his insides
-- till it finally comes to rest clamped around his spark.

 "You okay, Big Bot?" Cheetor asks, as Optimus twitches oddly.  "Sure
thang.  Eyahh, I mean, no problem." Op says.  He orders Rattrap to take
Silverbolt to the CR chamber.  "Always haulin' scrap.  I must be a pack
rat!"  [Well, yes, but only at WalMart...]  Optimus then orders all field
units to return to base; when Cheetor asks what Op wants him to do, he
gets told to "Take a rest" -- and then is promptly punched out...

 Blackarachnia returns to base to find the doors open, no-one on guard,
and the lights out all over the base.  "If this is a surprise party,
somebody's going to be eating cyber-venom," she notes wryly.  Optimus
appears just then, explaining that it's a power failure.  After BA tells
him that Depth Charge is still out working on some sensors, Optimus grabs
her.  "Hey!  What's gotten into you?!"  "Ah yes, what's gotten into him
indeed?" Megatron smirks, stepping out of the shadows, along with Rampage
and Dinobot 2.  "Surprise, sugarbot!" Quickstrike's voice comes from
Optimus's body, as a crude replica of Optimus, suspended on a
hoverplatform, floats into view -- with Quickstrike at the controls.  "How
'bout a little kiss?" he smirks, raising her toward's Primal's head.
Inferno presses a lever, which lowers a cage containing the other four
Maximals -- who look like scrap and are unconscious.  "Six little
Maximals.  Well.  I've almost collected the whole set," Megatron chortles
as we fade to a commercial.

 "Rampage.  See to the traitor," Megs orders.  "But you said --"
Quickstrike starts to protest.  "Silence fool!  I need you for more
important matters."  "Awwwww--" QS groans, disapointed.  Megs dispatches
Dinobot to dispose of Depth Charge; just then, BA makes a break for it,
but Rampage transforms and snares her with a claw.  "Uh-uh uh-uh," he says
chidingly.  Megs orders Inferno to guard the prisoners; "The Ark awaits!"

 Megs tries to download the access codes to the Ark from Optimus, but
can't: the computer requires a Maximal energy signature.  Not to be
foiled, he has Quickstrike do it instead.  BA, meanwhile, is struggling to
keep Rampage from squashing her underfoot.  "You'll live to regret this,
crab legs!"  "I regret everything, my sweet!  Struggle as much as you
like.  I'll enjoy it!"  "You'll enjoy this even better!"  BA shuts her
eyes, and when they re-open they're glowing with a weird green energy.  A
nearby I-beam levitates into the air, sails across the room, and knocks
Rampage for a loop (wrecking two spare elevator doors in the process.)

 Megatron, meanwhile, has entered the command center of the Ark, and goes
into explication mode as he approaches a familiar steel-grey figure: "Ah,
Megatron.  Greatest leader of the Decepticons.  My namesake.  Yours is the
first chapter in the history of Cybertron.  A chapter that is about to
be... re-written!"  Quickstrike is very worried by this: "Somethin' don't
seem right about this, boss!" he says in a tone we've never heard before
from him.  "Fool!  Optimus gained his power from Prime's Spark.  Imagine
what I will gain when I mingle my Spark with his," Megarex says, gesturing
toward the prone G1 Megatron.  He opens his chest, exposing a very
well-shielded Spark; a writhing, spike-covered tentacle unwraps from it
and opens G1 Megatron's chest plates, then wraps around his Spark,
removing it.  It's quite a load, apparently, because Megarex's tentacle
goes nuts for a few seconds while he wails in pain before being knocked to
the floor as he finally absorbs the Spark.  Optimus leans over him... and

 "He done it.  Just like you figured he would!" Quickstrike
observes to Tarantulas, who is leaning on the Optimus control machine.
"Naturally.  But we haven't much time.  Take him now!" Big T urges.  QS
has Optimus grab Megarex by the leg.  "What are you doing?"  "Takin'
over.. boss!" QS responds.

 BA, meanwhile, enters the control chamber and challenges Inferno, who
pursues her.  QS flies Optimus (still bearing Megarex) high above the lava
flows in the cave outside the Ark.  "No!  You can't!" Megarex says,
sounding desperate.  "Oh yes I can!" QS says, dropping him: "Happy trails!!"
As he and Tarantulas watch Megs submerge into the lava, Big T gloats: "The Ark is
mine!  Along with the destiny of Cybertron itself!"

 After another commercial, QS flies Tarantulas into the Ark and gives him
access to Teletran-One.  "Access granted," the Autobot computer replies.
"We really pulled it off, didn't we, partner!"  "I couldn't have done it
without you... partner," Big T says sourly.  "Now finish the Maximals
while I secure the Ark!"  "Ha ha!  Time to open me up a can of Kick
Keister!" QS says elatedly, departing.  Big T finishes his work, and
Teletran announces: "Warning.  One hundred clicks to core implosion."
"And now for the grand finale," Tarantulus gloats.

 Inferno, meanwhile, sails along looking for BA; an open door leads him to
believe she's escaped.  Out he goes -- and BA slams it shut behind him.
"Let me in!" Inferno bellows furiously, pounding on the door.  "The only
thing worse than a salesman is a pushy Predacon," BA mutters, arming the
autoguns.  Inferno hears the whirr of the guns, and actually WHIMPERS:
"No..."  BA heads back into the Ark.

 Tarantulas is walking into the cave, when something horrific pushes its
way out of the lava.  A dragon head rises up... and up... as Megatron
rears his hideous way out of the magma.  "By the pit -- you live!!" Big T
exclaims.  "And thanks to your treachery, my power is greater than ever!
Let me... thank you," Megatron says, transforming to dragon mode and
unleashing a torrent of flames.

 BA is about to free the Maximals from their cage, when Quickstrike's
voice interrupts: "I knew old crab cake couldn't do you in, sugarbot," he
says nastily.  He traps her between the control platform and Optimus
himself -- but BA blasts the control platform, sending it and Optimus
crashing to the ground, and breaking the controller's hold on him.  Back
to normal, Optimus tells BA what Tarantulas has been up to...

 Megs has Tarantulas up to his face, as it happens, grasping him like a
doll.  "I can suffer your treachery, _lieutenant_... but NOT your
incompetence!"  He tosses him across the cave, where he bounces away among
the lava flows.  "Treachery requires NO mistakes."  "Yes, Megatron," Big T
says, shakily.

 Megs ambushes Optimus as he and BA enter the Ark; Op orders BA to head
for Teletran as he deals with Megatron.  "Primal!  It's you again!" Megs
realizes.  "Surprise," Op responds.  BA wrestles with Teletran, while Op
wrestles with Megs.  "Yield, Megatron.  We're all in danger!"  "Megatron
does not yield; he CONQUERS!"  Megs flips Op away and retreats; Op pursues

 "You're a sneaky one, Tarantulas," BA grits.  "But I can play your game,
too."  Then she has a last-minute inspiration: "Teletran One.  Upload and
run datatracks Viron."  As Megs and Optimus grapple in mid-air outside, BA
urges the program to "work, slag you, work!"  With only one click left
till the core implosion, the computer aborts it: "All systems normal.
Have a nice day."

 Megs downs Optimus with a nifty freeze ray.  "Did you think you could
stand against the fury of BOTH Megatrons?"  But before he can administer a
killing blow, all the other Maximals open fire on him.  "It seems I have
once again been cheated of my victory," Megs laments.  "But beware the
dragon's wrath!"  As he soars out the volcano's vent, he yells: "Vengence
will be mine!"  

 "Whoah.  Talk about a make-over!" Rattrap says, as the group watches the
Pred leader fly off. "It's no joke, Rattrap," Optimus says, grimly.  "What
Megatron's done has just made it more important than ever for us to win
this war... and win it soon."  Megatron, meanwhile, flies straight into
the camera, bringing the episode to a close.

 This episode did several of the things that Beast Wars has done well in
its finest moments.  It snuck in unexpected character development for
several characters, during a fast-moving and intriging plot.  And it had
fun along the way.  It focused on several characters, including one who's
been largely ignored, and another whose motives have of late been a
mystery, while letting others who've gotten lots of airtime recently
(Depth Charge, Rhinox, Dinobot 2) lay silent.

 This episode opened all kinds of plot points and left them hanging.
First off, Megatron still has the spark of G1 Megatron in him as he flies
off at the end.  Second, Big T and Quickstrike's fate is in serious
jeopardy now that they've both overtly betrayed Megs.  Third, Dinobot went
off on an unseen mission to finish Depth Charge, and never returned --
this could mean anything, from one or both of them being dead, to Dinobot
simply not being able to locate DC (for plot convenience, I suspect the
latter.  After all, it's a big planet.)  For that matter, Tarantulas and
Quickstrike never clearly made it out of the Ark; for all we know they
could be Maximal prisoners by now -- though Big T probably snuck out
during Megs and Optimus's little tussel.

 So, Tarantulas has just been biding his time, waiting for the right
moment.  Should have known that the scheming spider would be up to his old
tricks again... still, I have to admit, I kind of liked the illusion that
him and Megs were getting along famously for a change.  But no more.  It's
nice to have an answer; however, still more questions have been raised.
Tarantulas was happily preparing to blow the entire Ark to smithereens,
and gloated that Cybertron's future would be in his hands.  Would it be?
Does Big T know something we don't?  This whole issue of what will happen
if the Ark or its inhabitants are destroyed is WAY confusing, and bears
further examination...

There's been a lot of supposition that if the future is changed so that
the Autobots lose, then the Predacons -- including Megatron -- would no
longer exist.  But the premise for that was just that Optimus Prime was
destroyed.  What happens if ALL the Ark's inhabitants are destroyed,
Autobot and Decepticon alike?  Without those new warriors to give things a
shot in the arm, most likely the Great War would continue to be at a
stalemate, which is pretty much what we saw in early Season 1 of the
original cartoon.  It seems unlikely the Predacons would be created; thus,
Big T is most likely negating his own existance, unless he knows something
we don't.  But Tarantulas is a clever one -- surely he would have
calculated this risk.  Despite all appearances, I don't think he's a
raving loony by any means.  Sadistic, twisted, yes; suicidal, no.  It
seems, alas, that there may be more going on behind the scenes with him
than we'll ever know, unless the revelations fly fast and furious in the
remaining three episodes.

 I wonder what will transpire now between Megatron and his two deserters?
His words to Tarantulas seem to indicate that he's willing to put up with
treachery -- and with his ego, I can believe it.  I can easily envision
Megatron figuring that no matter who plans what against him, he'll find a
way to prevail.  Still, I REALLY believed that Tarantulas was going to die
for his treachery... in fact, I almost felt short-changed that he didn't.
Not that I'm complaining -- but Megatron's reasons for letting him live
seemed arbitrary and contrived.  After all, Big T had just tried very hard
to kill HIM; it would seem that some payback was in order.  Of course,
Megs might just feel ultra secure in his new form, and confident that
nothing could harm him.

 Speaking of which -- major plot hole here.  Once he was in the Ark, why
the heck did Megatron bother altering himself, anyway?  Why not just cut
straight to the chase and destroy Optimus Prime again, and achieve his
ultimate goals (especially since there were still a couple of Maximals on
the loose)?  Time enough for more powerful bodies later.  Perhaps that WAS
going to be his first act after acquiring his new form, but still, with
the possibility of him being erased from time, why bother with the new

 What on earth was that telekinetic power that Blackarachnia had?  Is this
another incarnation of "Transmetal 2 power"?  There's been no indication
or mention of such powers till now; it wreaks to me of last-minute plot

 The plot resolution of this episode is nothing to write home about; it
falls into the same category as Rhinox's techno-journey in "Crossing the
Rubicon".  Phew!!  Thank goodness Blackarachnia did some techno-babble and
magically waved her hands around in time to stop the countdown!  The only
thing that makes me wonder was the datatracks she used in the process --
"Viron", eh?  The very same one that Big T used on the Metalhunter in
"Other Visits" 2.  Knowing Bob'n'Larry, there's some connection there,
like BA retaining a portion of Big T's knowledge or something.

 Furthermore, why can't the Preds just build another control suit and
resume their control of Optimus?  Near as I can tell, the Maximals never
got Tarantulus's little doojermabob out of him; all that happened was that
the suit fell over and Quickstrike fell out of it.

 How did Megatron survive being dumped into lava, when it apparently was
enough to finish off Terrorsaur and Scorponok (who, incidentally, were
also morphing at the time.)  Is a Transmetal Megatron just tougher than a
non-Transmetal Terry and Scorp?  Or did having G1 Megatron's spark somehow
make him lava-resistant?

 Despite all my questioning complaints, there was a LOT of continuity in
this episode.  We've got Blackarachnia's use of "datatrax Viron" (possible
reference to her possession by Tarantulas in early Season 2, and Big T's
use of the same datatrax in "Other Visits"); Megatron's copying Optimus's
enhancement ("Optimal Situation"), Megatron and Tarantulus's plan from
"Crossing the Rubicon" carried out, Quickstrike willingly allying himself
with Big T as seen before in "Tangled Web"; a return to the Ark's
interior, last seen in "Optimal Situation"; and perhaps a reminder of
"Aftermath", with Megatron's hand being the last seen of him as he sinks
beneath the lava -- shades of poor Terrorsaur.

 This ep also gets kudos for mood-setting.  The first segment is only four
minutes long, and yet as the first act fades out, it's hard to imagine a
much darker day for the Maximals -- Optimus is mind-controlled, BA is
captured, and the others are slagged.  And in a brilliant play on
expectations, it ISN'T Depth Charge who sails in to save things at the
last minute; in fact, he doesn't appear at all.  And the entire first act
is eerie and mysterious, with the probe making its way through Optimus,
and the Pred-controlled Op turning on Blackarachnia.  The mood is
continued with Megarex's horrific taking of Megatron's Spark,
Quickstrike's very unusual worries, and Megarex's emergal from the lava
(maybe that should be Megadragon?  Medragatron?  No, sounds like a
Cybertronian who wears armor plating of the opposite gender...)

 Honestly, I never thought we see another episode that concentrated so
much on Quickstrike.  He's been reduced almost entirely to one-liners
since "Other Visits", but he spends considerable time in the spotlight
here.  Not only that, he actually gets some character development: we see
that even he has some limits ("Somethin' about this don't seem right!"),
but he also has a perhaps unspeakably sadistic side.  His disapointment
when Megatron orders Rampage to deal with Blackarachnia instead of him is
telling -- I think he had more in mind for the widow than just painful
destruction.  Exactly what I don't care to venture... but this ranks up
Silverbolt's "My beloved has many skills" as one of the most subtley doubl
meanings in the series to date.  This time, however, it has seriously
ominous overtones, the sort of thing that's deep enough that anyone old
enough to pick up on it is probably too old to be subject to parental

 It was nice to finally hear it explicitly stated that G1 Megatron is BW
Megatron's "namesake" -- this season has been full of such official
confirmations of little things we've heard from the writers in the past.
The question remains, though: did BW Megs choose the name himself, or was
he given it by someone else?  Did he have a different name before, or has
he always been Megatron?  Just another thing for the fanfic writers to
speculate about... 

 More importantly, how will G1 Megatron's spark be restored to him?  This
must be done to maintain the timeline (otherwise it'll be a quick victory
for the Autobots!)  This implies that at some point Megatron (BW Megatron,
I mean -- boy, this sure is confusing!) has to get back into the Ark
AGAIN, or else be captured long enough for the Maximals to remove the
Spark from him (but presumably he would then escape again, given the
premise of next season's Beast Machines show.)

 We got a much better look at Blackarachnia's spider mode; it looks a lot
like Tarantula's TM spider form, though not as cool.  BA got a lot of air
time in this episode, responding to one crisis after the next with
ingenuity and level-headed thinking (and a strange deu ex machina plot
device.)  As for the new body: I think I can accept the new look as a
counterpart to her new Maximal programming.  Although, honestly, her
personality doesn't seem particularly changed by the reprogramming, beyond
having some rough edges slightly softened.  And that is a change that's
been gradually building all season, really, as BA has tried to fit in with
the Maximals.  Honestly, though, I still have trouble thinking of her as a
Maximal -- to me the group is still six Maxies and a rouge Predacon.

 Megatron's dragon form is... well, magnificent is the best description I
can think of.  The way his head reared up out of the lava was incredible
(though confusing, as it lead one to believe that he was in dragon mode
when in fact he wasn't.)  And his highly organic form and rather Gothic
coloration makes a stark contrast to Optimus's very mechanical lines and
artificial color scheme.  The robot mode is odd; like someone else said,
it looks like a bunch of red armor got glopped all over TM Megs.  I must
confess, I'm becoming rather eager for the toy to be released.

 Just in case it needed to be pointed out: Rattrap gives a mention to his
BotCon repaint, Packrat, at the beginning (when he's hauling Silverbolt
back to the CR chamber.)  Cute, and nicely timed considering that there's
currently a WalMart exclusive repaint of Rattrap in stores that could
easily pass for a Transmetal Packrat.  Elsewhere in the toy department,
Megatron's role in plugging the new toys becomes more overt than ever, as
he all but urges the viewer to "collect the whole set!" -- a wonderful
play on the show's origin and corporate purpose.

 This ep had two additional treats for G1 fans.  First, Teletran-One
speaks!  It wasn't quite the old voice done by Casey Kasum; however, it
was within the right range (deep male monotone.)  I wonder if they tried
and were unable to get the original voice actor, as they did with Megatron
in "The Agenda" part 2?  The main problem with the voice they used is that
Teletran never spoke with the placid calm that characterizes BW computer
voices; it was more tense, more urgent, less matter-of-fact.

 Second: we get to see G1 Megatron in full CGI glory.  Somehow, he didn't
look quite right to me... his main chest was definately too large.  And
his fusion cannon wasn't there, though one could say it just got knocked
loose in the crash -- heck, it happened all the time in the old cartoons.
Still, it was a very cool thing to see; really I can't complain as every
other detail I noticed seemed darn near perfect.  The facial features in
particular were spot-on.  

 Anyone else notice that the interior of the Ark only contains whatever G1
Transformers are essential to the plot at the moment?  Okay, granted, we
did get to see a few glimpses of Optimus Prime, as well...

 Other nice visual touches: Rattrap's staggering under his load at the
beginning was very realistic, as anyone who's ever handled a very large
and heavy box knows... Silverbolt licking his chops in determination as he
blasts at Waspinator... Optimus moved very differently while under
Quickstrike's control; several of his sentences started in Op's voice and
ended in QS's... When TM2 Megatron rose from the lava, the angle of his
dragon head made it briefly look very much like the head on TM Megatron's
chest, which had been featured prominently earlier in the episode -- a
nice way of letting us know that it's the same character... 

 And finally, a quick explanation of the episode's title, which has been
causing some confusion.  "Master Blaster" is a character from the 1984 Mel
Gibson movie "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome", or rather, two characters.
"Master" is a diminutive dwarf with a vast intellect; he rides on the back
of "Blaster", a hulking brute who does whatever the dwarf tells him.  The
title therefore refers to Quickstrike riding the Optimus control module...
and it can also be seen as referring to Quickstrike himself, since he
(effectively) blasted his master, Megatron.

 Overall: an ominous and fast-moving plot, loads of wonderful detail, some
great lines, numerous references and in-jokes, unexpected character
development, and lots of stuff left to speculate about.  Is there anything
this episode *doesn't* have?  "Master Blaster" is perhaps the best ep of
the season to date.

 The final ride has begun, folks.  Hang on tight, 'cause it only promises
to get wilder from here...

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