Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: "More Than Meets the Eye" Part Three
First, a couple of things from Part 2 that I forgot:
Why are Gears and Cliffjumper just sitting around in vehicle mode in the repair bay? Are they stuck?
I really like the tone of Megatron's voice as he flies off and says "You'll never stop me..." It's ominous, threatening, and dismissive all at once.
The mini-series in general does a good job of contrasting the compassion of the Autobots with the brutality of their opponents -- not only through the destruction left in their battles' wake, but also through the soundtracking of the scenes and their content. Compare the quiet music that plays as the Autobots recover after the Sherman Dam battle and reflect on their role, with what we see next time the 'cons are left alone -- Starscream getting chewed out by Megatron, then trying to kill him.
Thundercracker and Skywarp really come off as a couple of thugs when they bash Bumblebee around. Their dumb, malicious glee as they finish him off is best heard in Thundercracker's nasty little laugh.
And now, Part Three:
Again, the recap of last ep. Prime finishes rolling down the hill and lands on his side. The other Autobots fly down (or up?) and lift him back to his wheels. "Prime, can you hear me?" Ratchet asks, eliciting a pained groan from Prime. "He's still generatin'!" Jazz notes. "Roller... what happened to him?" Prime wonders, till the little cart come rolling and beeping up. "Down but not out. Roller's one tough little Autobot," Jazz observes. Ratchet has Prime transform -- slowly and painfully -- and when he does, he's fine. "Welcome back to the land of moving parts!" Jazz says. "That was some blast you took," Ratchet notes. "The blast.... Bumblebee and Sparkplug. They're still inside." "How will we find them under all that rock?" Prowl wonders. "Only one way," Ironhide says, pulling out a drill. "Stand back!" The 'bots start digging, till Jazz locates the missing pair. "Jazz... I thought we'd had it!" Sparkplug rasps. "Thanks to you two, the Decepticons are finished," Prime says. "Well, we were almost finished too!" Bumblebee says. "Wheeljack wasn't kidding when he said it would blow in sixty seconds!" Sparkplug adds. "Fifty-nine point ninety-nine, to be exact," Wheeljack notes. Prime says they can "resume our search for the resources we need," and reassures Mirage that they'll be heading home soon. But just then, the lid blows off the mountain.
"We're free! We can get out!" Skywarp enthuses inside. "We are indestructable! Power to the Decepticons, forever!" Megatron shouts, and the 'cons cheer. They escape with the "still functional" energon cubes. Ironhide is incised: "After them! They're--" "Save it, Ironhide. They're too fast for us in the air," Prime says. "Well, I'm tired of suckin' their vapor trail. I'll stop 'em!" Ironhide takes off; when Prime orders him to return, Bluestreak takes off to bring him back. "Call it off, Ironhide! There's too many of 'em! They're outta reach!" "Stop yappin', Bluestreak. This is MY fight." "Make it OUR fight!" Ironhide fires and hits Skywarp, who then teleports behind the pair. "It's like fighting a shadow!" Bluestreak says. Ironhide gets shot down and lands in a lake; Bluestreak goes in after him. The 'bots arrive and haul them to shore. "I can't move," Ironhide grumbles. "At least you can still talk, old buddy." "Where'd they getcha?" Ratchet asks. "Back end somewhere. Think my linkage is busted!" "You gave us all a pretty good scare," Prime says. "It's been worse... I remember the time on Cybertron --" "Save the war stories, hot shot. Just remember there's a fine line between being a hero, and being a memory." "Maybe Ironhide's ready for a nice cushy office job!" Jazz chuckles, as they load him into Ratchet. "Hey, no way. Soon as Ratchet tightens a few bolts, I'll be right back in action!" "We'll see," Prime says, before adding: "Let's get out of here!"
"Optimus Prime cares a lot for his fellow robots, and he doesn't want anything to happen to them. I think... he'd make a neat president!" Spike writes in his journal back at Autobot HQ. Nearby, Hound dangles a key in front of Ravage's cage. "Uh-uh, Ravage, this key's not for you! Don't think he likes being a prisoner," Hound comments to Mirage. "Can't say I blame him. You know, I'm surprised the Decepticons haven't tried to rescue him." "I'm not. They don't care about anyone. Not even their own. Hey Ravage! Watch this!" Hound projects a hologram: "Here's your friend Megatron, to keep you company!" Mirage laughs: "Hound, when we get back to Cybertron, will you make me a big house, with a four car garage... holograms look so real, nobody'll know the difference!" "Mirage, you just gave me a honey of an idea," Hound says, shutting off the image.
"A hologram?" Prime repeats. Hound: "That's right Prime. But I mean a big one!" "What did you have in mind?" Prowl asks. "A gigantic illusion -- that'll trick the Decepticons into coming to us on OUR terms." Jazz: "It might just work!" Prowl: "What's the hologram of?" Prime: "I've got an idea...."
Hound rejoins Mirage: "I just saw Prime! He told me Teletraan's located a secret supply of rocket fuel." "Where?" "Not far from here, about a hundred forty kilometers due west." "Then we can return to Cybertron?" "Why there's enough rocket fuel at that base to make four trips to Cybertron! C'mon, let's go tell Ironhide. Make him... feel better!" "But what about Ravage?" Mirage asks. "Don't worry about him. He's not goin' anywhere," Hound says, idly dropping the key on the ground. Ravage paws at it after the two walk off, then extends a little grabber-thing from one paw that allows him to reach it. In short order he's out and, despite the Autobots' pursuit, away.
"What happened?" Prime asks afterwards. "Ravage. He escaped!" Mirage says. "Perfect," Prime replies to the seemingly shocked Autobots.
"The rocket base is one hundred and forty kilometers due west of the Autobot camp," Ravage reports from within Soundwave, back at the 'con base. "Excellent, Ravage! Excellent! That rocket fuel is the last resource we need to defeat the Autobots and control Cybertron." "Right on schedule, aren't we?" "No thanks to you, Starscream." "I've MADE my contribution!" "You've also made clear you desire to replace me as leader of the Decepticons! Mistake number one." "It's time for a change, Megatron! It's time for action, not words. I am the leader of the future!" "You couldn't lead ant-droids to a picnic. How can you pretend to lead the Decepticons?!" Megs walks off, and Screamer takes aim. "Megatron!!" Soundwave calls out; Megs spins and blocks Starscream's shot with an energy shield. "It -- it's empty!" Screamer says, looking at his gun. "You failed to dispose of me when you had the chance, Starscream -- mistake number two. Now it's my turn!" "Please -- don't fire! I -- I was wrong. I shouldn't have done it. Please don't shoot!" Megatron blasts him anyway, and Screamer crawls on his knees. "Megatron! Megatron!" Megs ignores him: "We attack the rocket base at sunrise!"
Hound steps up to an empty desert plain, and "the rocket base" materializes from the ether. 'Cons pop up from behind every rock, and Megatron gives the order: "Decepticons... attack!" He fires, and the 'cons charge. The Autobots shed lab-coat disguises to reveal themselves, and the battle is joined. But after a few seconds, Prime calls out: "Hold it! Stop fighting! What in the universe is going on here?" as the 'cons quite literally fall apart in the Autobots' hands. Jazz: "Scrap!" Prowl: "Springs!" Hound: "Junk." "We've been had." "That's right, Prime," Megatron gloats. "I was on to your little scheme from the very start. Did you really think you could fool me by allowing Ravage to escape? DID YOU??" "Go on, Megatron. You're in the driver seat." "While you and the othe rAutobots have been fighting a bunch of loose screws, the real Decepticons have been at the REAL rocket site! You've lost, Prime. The Decepticons have won!" "The race isn't over yet, Megatron." "Oh it's over, Prime. You just don't know it!" Megs laughs and takes off as the hologram disappears, leaving Prime standing alone in the empty desert.
The 'cons, meanwhile, have no problem overrunning a panicked military base. Megatron arrives and declares their work to be "Excellent. Excellent!"
Later, the 'cons load their ship. "Course back to Cybertron charted. Space cruiser fueled and ready for departure. What are your orders, Megatron?" Soundwave asks. "Prepare for blast off!"
"We have come to a moment of truth," Prime tells his assembled forces. "The Decepticons are in position to return to Cybertron. We have no choice but to attack them directly. But this battle will be most dangerous. So I ask for volunteers. Jazz?" "Volunteers... step forward!" Everyone does... even Spike and Sparkplug. The 'bots transform and roll.
"So close, Soundwave!" Megatron whispers estatically at the 'con base. "Space cruiser, ready for boarding," Soundwave says. "So very very close to conquest!"
The Autobots approach the bluff. "Prime to Autobots -- encircle the base!" Prime orders.
"Decepticons -- it is time to return to Cybertron, and conquer the Autobots forever!!" The 'cons cheer. "Board the space cruiser!!"
The Autobots transform and charge. Megatron: "We are under seige! Decepticons -- transform!" The 'cons leap off the elevator and engage. "I owe you one from Sherman Dam, Rumble!" Hound says, grappling with the smaller robot. "You couldn't swim -- what makes you think you can fight?!" "Watch me!" Hound pummels him as the other TFs battle.
Prime fires a blast from his trailer, knocking aside Megatron's cannon just as a shot from it blows up the trailer. "It's just you and me now, Megatron." "Then you'd better get some help, Prime." "Ohhhhh no. I've been waiting for this chance." They swipe at one another. "Only one of us is going back, Megatron!" "It won't be you, Prime!" Starscream takes aim at the Autobot leader while his back his turned, but a rock thrown by Spike knocks his gun off his arm -- then Prowl runs over it.
"You're finished, Megatron!" Prime says, judo-throwing him to the ground. "Call it off -- call it off!" "Never, Prime -- you and every last Autobot will be destroyed!" Ravage knocks Prime off just then, and Megs gets up: "To the space cruiser!" The 'cons drop the fight and run; the elevator carries them up as the Autobots open fire. Megatron seals the hatch behind him, and the ship lifts off. Prime screams after it: "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!" ...err, actually, he says "MEGATROOOOOOOON!!!"
"It's over, Prime. We've lost," Jazz tells him glumly. "No, not yet. Sideswipe! Give me your rocket pack." "My rocket pack?" "NOW!" "Uhm, yeah. Right." Swiper hands over the pack. "This is crazy, Prime! You'll never catch 'em!" Jazz says. "I'll be back, Jazz." Prime takes off.
"It's done! We've seen the last of the Autobots. And Optimus Prime!" Megatron gloats aboard the ship. "Not yet, Megatron. Prime is right behind us!" Screamer reports. It only takes a shot from the ship's gun(s?) to send Prime spiralling back to Earth. "You got him! You got him!!" Screamer cheers. "Soundwave -- full throttle. We're going home... OUR home!"
Below, the Autobots watch in shock as Prime hits the ground HARD. "Prime! You alright?" Jazz asks as they drive up to him. "I'm fine. I'm alright." Prowl: "Let Ratchet check you out." "I said I'm FINE!" Prime snaps. "You did all anyone could do, Prime," Sparkplug says. "I dunno.... maybe. Where's Mirage?" Prowl: "That's strange... I saw him before, during the fight." "He's gone now," Jazz says.
Cut to the 'con ship. "At last... total victory is within my grasp," Megs says. "Not yours, Megatron -- mine!" Starscream announces. The other 'cons make room; Megatron -- sans fusion cannon -- chuckles and stands undaunted. "I see that you have learned nothing, Starscream." "Wrong! I've learned a great deal. I won't miss this time!" "Be ware, Starscream. If you dispose of me, there will always be someone waiting to dispose of YOU." "Let them try! I've waited for this moment a long time, Megatron. And my time is now!"
Soundwave's sensors interrupt: "Autobot invader! Autobot invader!" he reports, just as Mirage materializes out of thin air -- and blasts the ship's controls. Starscream turns and blasts him; Megatron immediately uses the distraction to grab his fusion canon and blast 'screamer in turn: "Extinction to all traitors!" "Space cruiser losing power," Soundwave reports. Skywarp puts out the flames, to no avail. "Do something Soundwave! Regain control!" "Control impossible. Prepare for impact." "We're gonna crash... we'll be destroyed!" Rumble says frantically. "No! ???????????????????????, Soundwave. Do something. Do somethinnnnnnnng!!" Megs shrieks. Mirage recovers from his blast and heads for the door: "I'll say hello to Prime for you, Megatron... happy landing!" "Stop him!" Megs yells, but Mirage is out the door.
The Autobots watch as the ship swerves madly across the sky and impacts the ocean. The 'bots cheer; Prime speaks: "The Decepticons gone. Our path is clear now." "They were on their way to Cybertron! Must've been a mechanical malfunction," Jazz speculates. But Prowl thinks otherwise, pointing skyward as Mirage parachutes back to Earth.
The Autobots cheer Mirage. "We knew you were anxious to get back to Cybertron... but at least you could have waited for us," Prime says. "Sorry, Prime; the ship was... full." The Autobots have a cheesey laugh at that. "Well done, Mirage."
"Let's get back to the base. We have a ship of our own to repair!" Jazz says. "Can I go back to Cybertron with you?" Spike asks. "Maybe you'd better ask your father," Prime says. "Only if I can go with ya!" Sparkplug answers. The 'bots head home.
"Because the Autobots stopped the Decepticons from stealing Earth's resources, the governments of the world have agreed to give Optimus Prime the energy he needs to revitalize Cybertron. It's probably the first time all the governments ever agreed on anything! Well, that's it from Earth. Next stop: Cybertron ," Spike writes, as trucks pump fuel into the ship. "Ready, Spike? It's almost time to blast off," Optimus calls out.
"One more thing. I sure am glad we don't have to worry about Megatron and all those Decepticons any more," Spike concludes. But below the sea, where the fallen Decepticon craft sits, a hatch opens... and Megatron swims out and to the surface. Fade out.
The plot, such as it is, wraps up here. Things actually HAPPEN -- the Autobots try (and fail) to take decisive proactive measures; the 'cons prepare to leave, then actually DO so. Neat. Then Mirage single-handedly brings them down with ONE shot. Heh. The Decepticons should learn not to hard-wire their engines directly into their control panels (though this DOES explain why that trick worked for the Maximals at the end of "Nemesis" Part 2. :] One wonders why they never really tried to leave Earth again during the remainder of the series. First person to tell me that "Because if they did there'd be no cartoon" gets a knee in the groin.
Okay, so Sparkplug and Bumblebee survived through sheer dumb luck. Why weren't Skywarp and Thundercracker right there with them? They were standing next to them when the bomb went off.
Bluestreak and Ironhide get this episode's heapin' helpin' of Stupid Points. Instead of staring dumbly at one another while one missile after the next streaks past, why not try something like... say... I dunno... trying to get out of the way? Or better yet, since you came after the 'cons looking for a fight, how about, oh, maybe, SHOOTING BACK?!
And is that Ironhide saying "Don't worry, we'll get 'em!", or Skywarp? It's kinda muffled and deep for Ironhide's voice. It almost seems like this scene was stretched out to keep in time with the soundtrack. Cut out all but the first of Skywarp's missles flying past the Autobots, and it makes a LOT more sense. I do like the desperation in Bluestreak's voice through much of this scene -- poor guy always sounds like he's hanging on to his life by the skin of his teeth. (now I wait for the comments about how you didn't know Transformer teeth HAD skin.)
Someone in the writing department just LOVES that grappling hook of Jazz's. You'd think it was an actual accessory that came with the toy, the way he uses it. I think it's just about the only handy pull-out attachment ever used more than once by a cartoon character in the series.
Hound is a bit callous toward poor Ravage, but then, hey, the dude was spying on the 'bots. Whaddaya expect? I like Hound... he's just so -- *sincere*.
Mirage gives us more nicely subdued voice acting when he's talking with Hound about the 'cons rescuing Ravage -- probably the best delivery of any line in the episode.
When Starscream grovels, it looks like... no. I shouldn't say it. I WON'T say it. There's enough TF porn fodder on the 'net already.
Why would a hologram work on beings that have sensors like infrared, radar, etc? And why the silly looking lab coats? A little visual bonus here, as Megatron fires his rarely-used back-mounted gun.
Why bother with the dummies? It seems like a huge amount of time, energy, and effort for a diversion that not only would buy extremely little time, but would in fact hurt the 'cons by alerting the Autobots that their deception had failed.
Furthermore, how DID the 'cons figure out the charade? I thought the Autobots WANTED Ravage to escape, and that the rocket base Hound spoke of was in fact where the hologram was going to be. Maybe Hound's hint and dropping of the key was a little too blatant? But if that was the plan, why did it fail? How did the 'cons know? This is about the only time the plot gets complex enough to actually have any holes. Or was that the REAL rocket site that Hound spoke of and Ravage reported, and I'm simply overestimating the subtlety of this show?
Why is a base named *Cape* Carleson in the middle of a desert?
I like the scene of all the 'cons leaping off the elevator as it continues to ascend.
Okay, so, Mirage sneaking aboard the 'con ship is a big plot point. The animators could have at least been smart enough not to include him among the three or four Autobots shown on the ground firing as the 'cons board that very same ship.
Here's another favorite #wiigii! animation screw-up: Optimus Prime and the FINGER OF DOOM!!!! In sequence: Prime points and commands his trailer to fire, which it does. Megatron fires his cannon. Prime's trailer blows up, kaboom, kaput. But as this happens, Prime points again -- and a shot from out of the blue knocks Megatron's gun away. It's the finger!! The FINGER OF DOOM!!!!
Optimus Prime, Graduate, 1984, William Shatner Academy of Acting.
"WAAAAAAHHHHH!!! You got him! YOU GOT HIM!! WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! I'm Starscream."
I do like how Starscream goes through a sort of mini-story arc of threats and attempted usurpal during the course of the three episodes. That same bit would be played out on a much larger scale during the course of the following two seasons. Here it's compacted down to four or five scenes. If there'd been no further episodes, the last we'd see of him would be Megatron blasting him into the wall, which seems nicely appropriate.
So 'Screamer turns and blasts the Autobot. Megatron, instead of doing likewise, blasts Starscream. Shows ya where HIS priorities are (mind you, I'm not condemning him for blasting ol' Starcreep by any means. :] And I almost have to laugh at his pathetic mewlings as the ship spirals out of control. "Do something! DO SOMETHINNNNNG!"
Don't the 'cons remember that they can FLY? Just jump out the door and be fine! Sheesh.
This episode begins a tradition of G1 eps ending with a shot showing that Megatron is still alive -- at least 3 other eps in Season One ended this way. And would a crash into the *ocean* really be all that fatal for the 'cons? I guess at re-entry speeds, there's not much difference between rock and water.
So why *didn't* the Autobots leave? Prime says they're "almost read to lift off". But later episodes show that much of the ship's interior is still in the shattered condition seen at the beginning of Part One, so it hardly seems like they could be unaware of the ship's decidedly not-ready status.
Talk about your jarring transitions... the artwork of Megatron in the cave at the beginning -- especially his half-shadowed fusion cannon -- is terrific (just don't look at his face.) But then we pan across to Soundwave, who looks out of focus and moves his head like a chicken when he talks. Oy vey! Come to think of it, a lot of the animation in this ep isn't quite up to the standard of the preceding two episodes. Check out Laserbeak, Thundercracker, and Skywarp diving to attack near the end -- not only is Laserbeak FAR too big, but the way the three turn downwards looks *terrible*. The sequence right before it of the two jets transforming looks pretty bad as well. The Autobots transformations to robot mode as they approach the base are rather "cheaty" and morphish. Likewise, when the 'bots drive up to where Prime has crashed, it looks like they're just sliding across ice instead of driving. I also don't like that upward-perspective shot of Prime where he's all curvey edges and heavy shadows.
Still, there's some decent moments too. I like the scene of Prime getting shot by the cruiser, and his impact with the ground is awesome (funny how atmospheric re-entry didn't phase him nearly as much as rolling down a piddley little hill did.) Starscream turning to blast Mirage is a nice sequence, too.
And finally, I sincerely hope that during the course of these reviews I've managed to adequately convey Megatron's incredible over-use of the word "excellent".
Overall: Excluding the visually cool Cybertron bits from Part One, this is probably the most interesting part of the mini-series. Still, it's a long way from the heights the show would reach in various parts of Season 2 and 3.
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