Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Rambings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: "More Than Meets the Eye" Part Two
1/31/00

Hey, I was right. First part of my review ain't up, and here I am posting the second part. ATTCMod NEEDS MORE MODERATORS!!!

Eye:

After a dramatic, narration-heavy last episode recap that I don't have on tape, we look in on the waterlogged Autobots. Brawn cuts Huffer loose from a fallen girder that has him by the arm. "There's two things I really hate, Brawn," Huffer says. "Yeah? What are they?" "Fire, and water." "Great, you're in the right place! There." The two lift off after Brawn finishes cutting. Prime, still struggling with the derrik, has Trailbreaker "activate your force field, and take a shot at that fire!" Wheeljack follows behind, extinguishing the flames with some sort of powder. Prime frees the humans; Jazzs throws them a grappling hook and reels them back onto the collapsed rig.

"I don't know who you are, but you saved our lives," Sparkplug tells him. "We're Autobots," Prime explains. "We're from Cybertron -- a planet far from Earth." Spike: "Another planet -- that's awesome!" Prime: "Those who tried to harm you are called Decepticons. We must stop them before they destroy your world," Prime says, his eyes flashing briefly." "Can me and Dad help?" "We are the only ones who can stop the Decepticons." "But my son and I know more about Earth than you do!" Sparkplug points out. "Hmm, maybe you *can* help us," Prime reflects.

Back at Autobot headquarters, Spike sits on a rock outside the volcano and writes in a journal: "The Autobots are a highly advanced form of robot. I don't really know if they're from the past, or the future, but they can think, and have real feelings." He pauses. "I can't believe this is happening to me!" He heads back toward HQ; a watching Soundwave transforms and shrinks into his tape deck mode, to conveniently be found by Spike, who naturally carries him into the base. Setting his new "acquisition" aside in the empty control room, Spike goes to see Trailbreaker: "Hey, tell me more about Cybertron!" "What would you like to know?" "Well, for one thing, why do you transform into cars and other things?" "Simple -- disguise! Besides... it sure beats walking." "Yeah, but how do you do it?"

The two enter Ratchet's repair bay, where several 'bots are lounging about. "Spike here wants to know how we transform, Hound," Trailbreaker says. "Easy! Like this!" Hound says, shifting to jeep mode. Hound then wows Spike with a holographic human driver; Mirage then demonstrates his powers of invisibility. "Hop in, Spike," says Hound. "I'm going to take you for the ride of your life. Belt up, and hang on!" The two drive out.

In the control room, Soundwave transforms and ejects Ravage: "Enter Teltran One [sic]; acquire knowledge of Earth's resources." Ravage transforms to tape mode and starts bringing up data on the screen; Soundwave reverts to tape deck mode and starts recording.

Out in the desert, the sun is setting as Hound drives along. "Sure is pretty out here, Spike. Earth must be a nice place to live!" "It's okay. But tell me about Cybertron!" "Before the war with the Decepticons, it was quiet and peaceful." "You miss it?" "Sometimes," Hound says casually. "Hold tight!" he adds, leaping over sand dunes

Back at HQ, Spike comes across Ravage's flashing images. "Hey - what's goin' on here?" Soundwave transforms, grabs at the human, and misses; Spike sounds an alarm. "Ravage -- eject, eject!!" Soundwave calls, sprinting out; Ravage follows. "A Decepticon. Get him!" Prime orders outside the base. Brawn and Bumblebee corner Ravage; Soundwave calls his name once more before fleeing. Ravage eludes the 'bots for a bit, before being spotted via Gears' infrared and captured in a net.

"Sherman Dam is the largest in the western hemisphere," Teletraan's voice reports to the Decepticons via Soundwave. "The hydroelectric power plant has a capacity of one million seven hundred fifty thousand kilowatts." "Good work, Soundwave," Megatron says greedily. "But that's not enough electrical power to make the energon cubes!" Starscream protests. "Your knowledge is only overshadowed by your stupidity, Starscream! We are going to generate a tidal wave -- one that will send enough power surging through that dam to make all the energon cubes we need. We attack the dam at sunrise!"

Sunrise comes in the very next scene, as the 'cons land at the damn. "Rumble: activate pile drivers. Operation: tidal wave," Soundwave says, waving an arm for emphasis. Rumble goes to work on the riverbed, making Megatron happy: "It's working... excellent!" The 'cons head for the power plant.

The humans at the plant are alarmed as their gauges begin to go nuts. "The river's risin'! Man your emergency stations!" one of them shouts. Teletraan picks up the trouble as well, as Spike observes: "The power output's ten times normal!" "Could be the Decepticons alright. I'll tell Prime," Jazz says.

The dam is showing signs of strain... and so does the power plant, whose wall bursts open to reveal Megatron. He fires a shot into the roof: "I am Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. You will do exactly as I say." We cut briefly to see the Autobots approaching, then back to the dam: "Starscream. Prepare the null ray." The humans watch their instruments anxiously: "It's gonna blow!....this whole place is gonna go sky high!" "Perfect! The elecrical output is at its peak. Exactly what I wanted. Starscream! Activate the null ray!" Megatron replies. The 'cons go to work.

The 'bots arrive, and Megs fires at them: "You're too late, Prime!" The 'bots take off. Hound and Spike, meanwhile, locate the "heart of the tidal wave"; Hound heads underwater to find out. He finds Rumble and atttacks.

Ironhide and Bumblebee land near a town. "Ironhide, we gotta stop that water!" Ironhide transforms: "Stop talkin, tighten your shock absorbers, and get in. We're gonna make a new river." Using a laser in Ironhide's cargo bay, Bumblebee blasts various channels to divert the water from people's homes. The Autobots, meanwhile, are STILL heading toward the power plant; they shoot down two Starscreams and enter.

"Gather the energon cubes. Return to base," Megatron orders. "Stick it in neutral, Megatron. You're not going anywhere!" "Try and stop me, Prime?" Sparkplug leads the humans to safety as the 'bots and 'cons fight it out. Megs knocks Prime off a ledge, where he dangles by his fingertips: "Any last words?!" "None you'd wanna hear, Megatron." "Nothing can stop me now... not even you!" Megs says, mashing Prime's fingertips.

"So long, Autobots. Here's one Starscream's been saving for you!" Screamer says, preparing an energon slingshot. The bolt hits the wall and knocks Megatron backwards. "You FOOL Starscream! Help save the energon cubes. Get them out of here! Follow me!!" Megs manages to get out, before Prime tackles him out the door. The two end up on top of the dam, and fight it out with energy weapons extended from their wrists. "You destroy everything you touch, Megatron!" "Because everything I touch is food for my hunger. My hunger for power!" "No! I'm going to end your hunger once and for all." Prime strikes, knocking Megs down. "Almost Prime, but almost doesn't get the job done. You can't stop me!" "You're old, Megatron. Yesterday's model. Ready for the scrap heap!" "We'll see who's ready for the scrap heap." "Junk! That's what you are -- junk!" "Silence!... when I'm through with you, Prime, there won't be enough pieces left to sweep up!" Hound, meanwhile, is still having it out with Rumble, who suceeds in burying him under some rocks before heading to the surface; he bats Spike aside and walks off. Spike tackles him; Rumble grabs him and Spike calls for help -- distracting Optimus long enough for Megs to knock him off the dam. "Who's the scrap metal now, Optimus Prime? You'll never stop me," he laughs, as the 'cons fly off and Prime struggles in the river. Jazz throws out his handy grappling hook: "Prime! Use this for an emergency brake!... ??????, Prime. You did it!"

Spike gets up and heads underwater; he frees Hound, who carries him back up. Hound does some Heimliching on Spike, who's coughing and choking. "Easy, Spike. You almost flooded your engine!" "Thanks, Hound... you save my--" "Even. Okay?" "Okay!"

"Maybe we should repair our ship and go back to Cybertron. Forget about the Decepticons!" Mirage says later to the assembled 'bots. "We can't do that, Mirage. If Megatron succeeds here, he'll be impossible to beat on Cybertron." "But we're not fighters like they are, Prime!" "We must have courage, Huffer. We can't ignore the danger... we must conquer it."

We're treated to various seens of the Decepticons gathering energon cubes in numerous locales and climates. At base, Soundwave reports: "Space cruiser nearly complete." "And the energon cubes?" Megs asks. "Three thousand astroliters more required." "We need one more source of energy, Soundwave." "The ruby crystals of Burma." "Right. They're the richest source of energy on the face of the Earth. I can almost see those ruby crystals now." The two find Starscream blasting the top off a mountain with a laser cannon. "Starscream! What in the universe are you doing?" "Testing the energon cubes. They work!" "Of COURSE they work!" "YOU didn't know; YOU never tested them. *I* proved it!" "You only proved your defective mentality! Now we need two strikes before we'll have enough energy to return to Cybertron." Megs curses, kicking the gun battery aside. "What's the difference? There's plenty here for us!" "The difference is TIME, you fool. You've set us back!" Soundwave's chest flashes, as with realization: "Rocket fuel is another highly concentrated form of energy," he announces. "DESPITE your stupidity, Starscream, our mission WILL succeed!" Megs says -- and his words are repeated via a satellite dish mounted on Trailbreaker's roof.

Megs' voice continues: "First we strike the Burma crystal mines, then we locate the rocket fuel we need." "That's what we've been waiting to hear. Let's radio Prime," Sparkplug says to Spike, as they sit nearby.

"Don't push me, Megatron. My desire for power is as great as yours!" "Power flows to the one who knows how. Desire alone is not enough." "Time makes all things possible. I can wait." Soundwave assembles the strike force and the 'cons scramble.

"You know something? I like bein' a spy a lot better than working the oil rigs," Sparkplug says, as Trailbreaker rolls for home. Just then two of the jets stumble across Trailbreaker and attack. "Can't you go any faster, Trailbreaker?" Spike asks. "Sorry. This is it! I'm not built for speed." They radio for help. "I may not be fast, but I'm tough!" Trailbreaker declares. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe soon arrive and pull alongside Trailbreaker. "Hey! That's a new paint job!" Sunstreaker protests when one of the jets strafes him; he fires and hits one of them. "I'm headin' in for repairs!" the jet says. "I'll settle your back!" his equally nameless companion answers. Trailbreaker says thanks to the pair. "What about my paint?!" Sunstreaker replies. "Don't worry; nobody'll notice Just make left turns!" Sideswipe chuckles.

In the crystal mines, the Decepticons are rapidly gathering tons of glowing red rubies in pipes. "Let's go, hurry up, get this car loaded! Faster!" Starscream lords over the other 'cons. "Ahhhh, this place is magnificent. Unbelievable!" Megs says. "Enough here to power the entire planet of Cybertron," Soundwave notes. "Exactly. I will build the ultimate weapon, to defeat the Autobots -- to control the planet -- to conquer the universe!!" Megs laughs maniacally as he gleefully sifts through a carload of the crystals.

"There they are," Prime observes from the ground outside the mines, where he and the other Autobots are gathered. "Let's blast their tail rudders outta there," Ironhide grunts. "We got just the trick to do it with, too. There's enough explosive in here to bury them forever!" Wheeljack says, holding a little bomb. Prime: "Not so fast. We know they're in there, but we don't know where." "I'll go. I've worked these mines. I know my way around," Sparkplug says. "And since I'm the smallest, I have the best chance of getting through. I'll stick that bomb right under their nose gear," Bumblebee says, transforming. "Once you set this timer, you've got sixty seconds. Remember, once it's set that's it. No turning back." "I understand," Sparkplug says. "If there's any problem, get out of there. We'll find another way." "There won't be any problem, Prime. This one's for Cybertron AND Earth." The two roll out.

"I've never seen anything like this," Bumblebee says, inside the caves. "It's the ruby crystals that make it glow. They're almost alive!" The two hear a noise ahead. "Y'know, Skywarp, I can't wait to get back to Cybertron. Earth's so flat," says Thundercracker as he and Skywarp push a mine car through the tunnels nearby. The human and Autobot head the other way and find the 'cons, who are readying their last load. "We have to do it now!" Sparkplug says. "It's.... done," Bum says. The two head out -- but run right into the two jets, who promptly swat them both to the ground.

The Autobots outside are growing nervous. Jazz: "They oughta be out of there by now!" "I don't like it. Something's wrong," Prime says. "I'll check it out," Ironhide volunteers. "No. I'll go. I'll use Roller. He's small enough to get in there without being seen." "We'll come with you!" Wheeljack says. "Stay there. If I'm not back in five minutes, come get me."

"Let's give Megatron a little present," says Skywarp, as he knocks out Bumblebee. "Maybe we oughta tie him up and put a little bow on him," sneers Thundercracker. Outside, Prime rolls up the hillside; a little six-wheeled cart scoots out of his trailer. "Find out what's going on in there, Roller. And be careful!" Roller heads in just as the bomb goes off; fire and rock tear the caverns apart. The blast tears out the entrance and hits Prime, knocking him sideways off the cliff. "Roller!!" he calls out, before going over. "Prime!" Jazz yells, as Prime rolls unchecked down the mountain. Fade out....

I:

This ep packs a lot of adventures into twenty-two minutes: the conclusion of the oil rig adventure, Hound's talk with Spike and the Soundwave/Ravage incident, the entire Sherman Dam attack, Starscream and Megatron's bickering, Trailbreaker's getaway, and the entire ruby crystal sequence. In light of all that, it's amazing that they still find time to throw in such pathetic filler lines as "Come on. Let's go inside!"

That's not to say there's a lot of plot going on here. The story is pretty much Decepticons gather energy; Autobots try to stop them; Decepticons gather energy; Autobots try to stop them; ad nauseum. Much of this episode could be cut, and it wouldn't affect the plot one way or another; the prolonged fights seem primarily done to stretch things out to three episodes instead of two.

As with some other simplistic episodes, however, the beauty is that these straightforward plots allow plenty of room for bits of characterization to be slipped in among the cracks, things like Hound socializing and Starscream rebelling. And some of the action ain't half-bad either. I especially like the final sequence of the bomb countdown, which has a terrific feeling of lots of things going on at once. The background music is perfectly chosen for the scene.

On the other hand, the music completely DESTROYS the continuity of the battle inside the powerplant. The way it's soundtracked makes you think we're watching three totally different battles all in a row, each of which has nothing to do with the others -- there are totally out-of-place pauses when Prime first confronts Megs, and again when Screamer prepares his slingshot. And what's up with that slingshot, anyway? Not only does he waste a huge amount of time loading it, he fires it in a direction where there doesn't seem to be any Autobots.

Not only is Brawn's voice different from what it would be later in the series, it's also a bit odd that he didn't just bash the girders off of Huffer. That'd be a lot more in keeping with his macho persona.

What's the point of Trailbreaker using his force field on the fire if Wheeljack can just instantly put it all out a second later? And how is he going to repell it by flying in circles? Does the field stay put once he "fires" it?

We can forgive Soundwave getting Teletraan's name wrong on the first try. But why use that resource *now*? Why didn't they download all its info when they first awoke, before the Autobots were reactivated? For that matter, why didn't they just set up shop in the Autobot ship? If Beast Wars is to be believed, it's because the ship is a dangerous place for non-Autobots. But surely they could have reprogrammed the computer to account for that -- Megatron has fiddled with Teletraan at least one other time in the series, and it's not hard to take the thing out with a simple laser shot or two. Maybe at the time, Teletraan simply hadn't had time to investigate Earth very much? Maybe they *were* planning to come back and check on it? Or maybe Teletraan is something that Wheeljack cooked up in his spare time during the first 1.5 episodes?

Hound and Trailbreaker's short talk about transforming is the first of many cases where the Transformers shows would taunt us with limited hints about technology and so forth that don't really tell us much of anything. *Sigh*.

A nice bit of continuity: it's late afternoon when Spike first goes to see Trailbreaker and Hound. The sun is setting during Hound's drive. It's getting dark when the 'bots capture Ravage. It's night when Soundwave reports to the 'cons. And it's (presumably) sunrise when the 'cons attack the dam. Neat, eh?

Hound is one of the most likable characters in the mini-series, and in this episode in particular. You get the sense from his conversation with Spike that he misses the Cybertron of old (the one that was "quiet and peaceful"), but for today, he's quite content to hang out on Earth.

And no, you perverts, the "flooded your engine" scene does NOT look like... well, whatever twisted interpretations your demented minds can think up, that's NOT what it looks like. You sickos. Get out of the house more often!

That's not really a tidal wave... more like just choppy water. And shouldn't a dam with that kind of damage just shatter instantly??

I've always thought Prime and Megs' energy weapon battle looked silly, and I still do. The worst is the end, when Megatron flies away with his... um... what're those things called?.... still spinning around slowly. It looks absurd, like they forgot to stop animating it. Still, I admit that some of the animation of this scene is fun. And I like Prime's taunting of Megatron, trying to goad him (works kinda well, eh?)

"Just make left turns." Urrrg. Truly, Sideswipe is one of the most mis- and under-used characters in the entire TF mythos. I'm not sure if I've EVER seen a canon story use him to his full potential... I guess G2 #1 maybe kinda comes a little bit close, but not really. And of course Sunstreaker just sounds like a pansy through most of the cartoon, which IMO is totally WRONG for his supposed character. He's an egotist, sure, but he's supposed to be a tough and nasty egotist.

Man, Megatron really is a scarey, psycho kinda dude, eh? Just look at him playing with those crystals and ranting about ultimate weapons and conquering shit all over the place. He's like a big out of control baby.

Weird that Wheeljack's voice changes in this one ep. The version done in Part One is exactly the same as he'd be for the rest of the series.... except for this one episode. Also, his flashers are orange, which only happened one or two other times.

The ruby crystals are, of course, a completely absurd plot device. "The richest power source on Earth"? Please. If they're so valuable and easily obtainable (they're practically falling out of the walls at the mine entrance), why hasn't that mine stripped the hills bare by now?

"WAAAAAHHHH!!!! Let's go hurry up get this car loaded faster look at me I'm Starscream!!!!! I'm a leader too! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!"

Prime rolling down the hill isn't much of a cliffhanger, considering that the hill's only about as tall as he is. And even less so considering that Transformers can take plenty more substantial damage than THAT and come through fine. The fate of Bumblebee and Sparkplug is far more compelling.

Some "subspace" (or whatever it is) samples: Jazz's forearm flashes when he brings out his grappling hook for Prime at the oil rig; Ravage's missiles flash and disappear as he transforms.

There's a slight jump in the animation when Soundwave does the Funky Chicken at Sherman Dam -- his arm just suddenly teleports over to his right.

More of that fantastic animation: check out Mirage and Cliffjumper taking on Skywarp and Thundercracker, or the 'cons transforming as they land and take off at the dam -- especially when Soundwave ejects Rumble. Absolutely beautiful! This is stuff you just can't catch with a screengrab. I also like the way Ravage crouches and curls before entering Teletraan, and the way his tape mode spins around when he pops back out a bit later. Man, Soundwave sure is cool. The tape-ejecting bit was just about the most brilliantly milked gimmick on the entire show... except maybe that nifty transforming noise.

What did Jazz say? "Hydraulic, Prime!" ????

Worst filler line: "I can almost see those ruby crystals now." Ow. Ow. Ow. Shoot me.

Overall: pretty hokey, due to the series still not having settled into its "groove". Not much plot, but some nice bits of action and characterization here and there make it kind-of sorta maybe a little bit worthwhile.

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