Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting re: "Nemesis" Part Two 5/07/99 Before I do anything else, I would just like to say this about "Nemesis" Part 2: It ruled! It ruled!!! Oh, it ruled, it ruled, it RULED!!! Okay, now that that's out of my system, on with the review. But, oh, where's the fun in that? A little SPOILER SPACE I think, yesssss... In Spoiler Space, No-one Can Hear You Scream... (heck, they can't even hear you Starscream.) After the recap of last episode wraps up, we open on a peaceful forest scene, with an antelope and a little bug crawling on a leaf... and Megatron doing a voiceover: "I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning, and the end." Sudden firepower from the Nemesis incinerates the jungle, as Optimus radios in to Rhinox: "Deploy Operation Eternity," an order which puzzles the other Maximals. "I am that which is, which was, and is yet to come. And you will know my name is Megatron, when I lay my vengeance upon you," Megs continues, not even looking at the book. "You have already read the Covenent of Primus?" asks Dinobot, manning the helm. "Just the good parts," Megs answers flippantly. Optimus and Tigerhawk attack the ship, but Op gets taken down by the last of a huge barrage of missiles. "I'll say one thing for my namesake -- he liked his artillary big and plentiful," Megs says. "Now, where was I? Ah, yes. Mindless destruction! Good for the Spark, I always say." "My own spark has... changed," Dinobot observes, sounding hesitant, reflective. "It feels at last... complete." "Yes, the destruction of Rampage no doubt," Megs says dismissively, before ordering a new course. Below, Tigerhawk tells Optimus to go prepare the others, while he tries to stop Nemesis. "You can't stop that thing alone!" "Perhaps. But it is my destiny to try. I will hold the line here. Go!" At the Ark, Rattrap is not happy as the Maximals busily haul stuff out of the cave. "Boss bot calls up with his gears in a grind, and suddenly I gotta pack up my Pred parts collection? Man, you know how many pieces of Waspinator I got?" "Rattrap," Rhinox says, "we may have to move the Ark." Tigherhawk, meanwhile, unleashes a series of atmospheric disturbances on Nemesis, causing several primary circuit and weapons failures. "A brave stand," Dinobot notes. "And noble." "Perhaps," Megs says, routing all power to weapons and firing on Tigerhawk. TH fires back, and the beams meet in one of those 'my laser's stronger than your laser' confrontations, a confrontation which Tigerhawk loses. Megs' beam engulfs him. Optimus radios in as he lands outside the Ark; he can't raise him -- and his on-board informs him that "Unit Tigerhawk terminated." "NO!" Optimus shouts, anguished, then furious. "This ends here, Megatron. No more good friends will be sacrificed to your insane ambitions, I swear it. No more!!" Just then, Rattrap pokes his head out the door: "Uh... you knock?" Inferno and Quickstrike, meanwhile, have routed the protohumans. "You see 'em run, partner? Like shootin' protoforms in a stasis pod!" QS says. Inferno is about to blast one last defiant protohuman, standing above them on a rock, when the air itself rumbles, and Nemesis hovers overhead. Dinobot sees the protohuman onscreen: "This all seems hauntingly familiar... but why?" And we flashback to "Code of Hero", with the valley in flames, and Optimus's final words to the original Dinobot: "You save the valley..." "I suppose given my eminent godhood, these primitives should really be beneath my attention. Still, no score is too small to settle, I always say," Megs says, reaching for the firing button -- only to be stopped by Dinobot, causing his merry smile to collapse to a furious scowl. "You would turn the full fury of this mighty warship on a lone anthropoid?! Tell me, Megatron: where is the honor in that?" "You dare use the H word to me?" Megs says, furious. Dinobot glares back. "I... I..." he backs down, "I apologize. I merely felt our power should be conserved for the... the larger battle." "Duly noted," Megs says, relaxing. "And ignored." He presses the firing switch, as Dinobot gapes. "Royalty! My queen! We are down here!" Inferno cries out. "Oh, I don't like the looks o' this," QS adds. Sure enough, the beam pours fire on them both, as the protohuman flees the area. At the Ark, the Maximals have loaded everything onto the ship, and are preparing to boot up the main engines when the ground rumbles, and Nemesis hovers overhead. Unable to fire the main fusion cannon, Megs uses a tractor beam to suck rocks from the mountain into a series of slicing, dicing turbine blades. "And the stone of their protection shall rise upward for ever and ever," Megs says, waving the Covenant about, "as they who live and war as beasts confront their final cycle." Optimus, meanwhile, rides the tractor beam upwards... and gets KOd by one of the upward-floating rocks, then lands on another. Awakening, he sees a door beyond the turbine blades; he pulls off one of his own wings (ouch!) and with a smooth throw jams it into the gears that drive the blades, grinding them to a halt. In the Ark, the Maximals (floating around due to the tractor beam) are still trying to get the Ark running. Blackarachnia needs a conduit to finish a connection; she finds a handy one by yanking Rattrap's whip/tail out of its holster. "Hey!" he protests. "Ya emasculatin' femme bot." On that note, Silverbolt winces as she slices off the end of the tail. "Yes! Main thrusters now connected to Teletron One," she says. "It's TeleTRAN!" Rattrap says, annoyed. "WhatEVER," BA answers, as Rhinox prepares to start the ship up. Optimus bursts into the control room, dukes up. "Well, come on, let's have it. The usual 'destiny and honor' speech," Megatron taunts. "Speech this," Op answers, backing it up with a fist -- eliciting an amused chuckle from Dinobot. Below, the Maximals try to start up the Ark's engines... and fail, the thrusters powering down with puffs of smoke. Megs continues the Covenant quoting: "And there came a hero who said, 'Hurt not the earth. Nor the sea. Nor the trees.. Nor the very fabric of time!' But the hero would not prevail!" "Finish the quote, Megatron. 'Nor would he surrender!'" But Optimus gets his keister kicked but good, landing at Dinobot. The Maximals are in despair: "No power... no weapons. Huh. We're all gonna die," Rattrap says. "Yup," Rhinox agrees. Megs orders Dinobot to prepare to fire: "Victory is at hand!" "A coward's victory," Dinobot murmers. "The Ark is defenseless. Not much sport in this." He types in commands, and the computer responds: "Class 3 emergency data. Downloading." as a read-out of the Ark spins on the screen, and Dinobot smiles. A moment later, Teletran One says the same thing, and the graphic displays to the Maximals, who have been glumly waiting for the end. "It means we just might have a weapon. Come on!" Rhinox says. As Megs brings the fusion canon online and gives the order to fire, the Maximals reach Rhinox's discover: an Autobot shuttle. "The history tracks never mentioned this!" BA says. "History's still being made. Let's move!" "I am alpha and Omega, Optimal Optimus. Now and forever. Until the end of time! Destroy them!" he concludes to Dinobot. But Dinobot turns: "Negative." The Autobot shuttle, Rhinox at the helm, launches just then. "What?! What possible reason do you have to disobey me? I am your master! I am your creator!" "And I have my honor!" Dinobot's stand gets him thrown aside. "Stand aside, traitor. And observe as I fulfill my destiny!" But his destiny is cut short: "For everything that ever was," Rhinox says quietly, a look of grim determination on his face as he pilots the shuttle right into the bridge of Nemesis. Megs splats against the windscreen, as the shuttle careens right through the back wall of the bridge and out the other side of the ship, carrying Megs with it. "Dinobot! Save yourself!" Optimus says on the bridge. "Farewell, Optimus Primal," Dinobot salutes, an instant before a fireball engulfs him. Optimus flees as the whole place goes up, and a flaming Nemesis veers off into the distance. "It's done," he says, rejoining the others on the ground. "All is as it should be... at last." The shuttle's thrusters power up again a moment later, with Optimus at the controls. "Let's go home," he says, as the shuttle launches into space. "In the spark of an enemy, there will be salvation," he says, turning to the others. "And in the darkest hour, there will be a light." "Yeah, from a very unexpected source," Rattrap says. "Old Chopperface's clone... who'da thunk it." "And let us never forget those other brave bots whose sacrifice saved our past, present and future," Optimus adds, as we pan across the survivors. "You know what the best thing is?" Rattrap says. "We don't have to see Megatron's ugly mug again till we get back to Cybertron!" And on that note, the shuttle shoots into the distance... with Megatron's wailing form strapped to the top. On the planet below, the protohumans are having a feast, using various pieces of Inferno and Quickstrike as tools and ornaments. And observing the ceremony, seated like a god on a raised throne, repleat with attendants, fronds and a chalice, sits... Waspinator, who sighs contentedly. "Ahhh... Waspinator happy at last." And with another pass of the fronds across the screen, we wipe to black. Well. That's that, as they say. No more BW. It's been a hell of a trip. I won't say the show went out in the fully grand style it deserves, 'cause it didn't -- though if Bob'n'Larry had their way, apparently it _would_ have. Alas, 'twas not to be. That's the way the cookie bounces. But it _did_ get an appropriately rousing closure, which contained several of the show's finest moments. Foremost among them, of course, is the last 60 seconds or so, the fate of Waspinator. Now THAT is well-placed humor. I think it was the funniest moment in the entire series, culminating a non-plot thread that's been building since the middle of Season 1. I'm sure my housemates wondered what I was laughing so hard about that early in the morning. The final scene of a series is a great time for such surrealist touches, a bit of humanity and humor amid all the dramatic seriousness of the end. Poor QS and Inferno -- wonder if they could be repaired? QS's faceplates got separated from the rest of his head -- that ain't good. They could probably be revived, given a proper CR tank. But not by Waspy, that's for sure -- their last mistake was shooting him in the back. Heh heh. That's justice. One wonders what eventually becomes of Waspy, but as the story ends... he's happy. And that makes us happy. The other stand-out moment was Blackarachnia and Rattrap's short conversation in the Ark. The "emasculatin' female" is a terrific double entendre, espcially combined with the slicing off of Rattrap's tail and Silverbolt's look of pain. Ow ow ow. (Just in case you aren't familiar with the word "emasculate" -- it wasn't the thought of his _tail_ being sliced off that caused Silverbolt to grimace. Rank this one up there with the "many skills" comment.) But the best, something I didn't think in a hundred years we'd see, was "It's TeleTRAN!" I didn't even think it _was_ a mispronunciation, despite all the complaints on ATT for the last year about characters saying TeleTRON. I figured it was just a different way of accenting the word (of course, I don't hear any difference between "pen" and "pin", either, so whadda I know.) But somehow the back-and-forth pronunciation got recognized and made 'official'. I have to wonder if the writers spent the whole season planting the different pronunciations in the scripts just to build up to that one line... Rattrap mentioning a collection of Waspy bits was also funny, again referencing stuff that's happened throughout the entire series. Folks have always wondered what happened to all those bits that get blown off the bots during battle; now we know. :] Other nice touches: Depth Charge's shark-gun floating among the debris in the Ark... Megatron staring into Rhinox's face right through the windscreen of the shuttle... Cheetor and Rhinox's helpless sighs as they sit in the Ark and wait for the end... Rhinox struggling under that gigantic box and grunting "Can't we discuss this later, Rattrap?!"... and Rhinox's look of furious determination as he pilots the shuttle. This may have been Rhinox's best episode all season; only "Crossing the Rubicon" compares. The Biblical parody/Pulp Fiction rip-off I could have done without. People keep saying that the Covenant of Primus is a big plot device. No it's not! It had nothing to do with the plot! It was an embellishment, one that I mostly found unnecessary. Are we to believe that the BWs' adventures are indeed "ordained" by Primus and recorded in some kind of holy book? It makes a bit more sense if you've read the BotCon story written by Furman for this year's convention, but we have to assume most folks have not. Ah well, I suppose if some of our resident Christian BW fans can put aside their disbelief in evolution for the sake of enjoying the series, I can lay aside my own atheism for the same reason. :] Moving on to the characters... Dinoborg's continued existance took me completely by surprise -- I thought for sure he was slag after Rampage bought it. But he lived on for one last episode... and in that time, fulfilled every hope I could have had for his character being developed, with the original Dinobot's programming and nature showing through, and Dinoborg finally turning on his honorless master. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Bob'n'Larry! Suddenly everything we've seen of this character is thrown into a new light (especially the events of "Proving Grounds".) I'm sorry he didn't flee with Optimus... it would be very interesting to see the Maximals (especially Blackarachnia) react to this sudden defector, who's not quite the Dinobot they once knew. In fact, on my somewhat static-filled tape of the episode, I didn't see any reason why he couldn't make a break for it. But at any rate, now we know what that flashing that we saw when Rampage died was. The change in Dinobot's mannerisms, his expression, his body language, was simply amazing. I stand in awe of what the animators are capable of with these characters. And in a very nice touch, the modulation on his voice gradually faded away through the course of the episode. Of course, it seems a bit contrived that Dinobot practically throws away Megatron's victory simply because there's "not much sport in it". I'd rather have seen the Maximals figure out the shuttle's existance on their own somehow; there are numerous ways a creative mind could have them do this. The refusal to fire on the defenseless Ark, however, was a terrific moment, and could have been used to provide the necessary delay for the Maximals to save themselves. In Dinobot's flashback to "Code of Hero" we see (perhaps) further evidence for the events of "Dark Glass" being considered canon -- there's really no way such specific memories could carry over through a genetic cloning process (OTOH, Dinobot made his download in "Bad Spark" _before_ the flashback in question occurred, so they wouldn't have been included in the memories that Rattrap tries to implant in Dinoborg during "Dark Glass".) I've since heard an (official?) explanation from Ben Yee, saying that when Rampage died, his spark -- and therefore Dinoborg's spark -- made contact with the Matrix... where the original Dinobot's spark is. Interesting theory, but nothing on the show really explained this to us, alas. It makes sense, given the Dinobot flashes last episode, but you'd really have to stretch to guess that on your own. Furthermore, if that's the case, why would DB2's Spark make contact with that of the original, as opposed to any other old Spark in the Matrix? All DB2 has is the original's DNA patterns; his Spark, by contrast, is all Rampage. (Heck, why would the Spark of the original Dinobot -- a self-proclaimed Predacon to the end -- go to the Matrix, instead of the Pit?) Tigerhawk's demise meant little to me personally; as I said, I don't consider him Tigatron or Airazor, but something new (their "child", perhaps, as others are speculating) -- character-wise, at least. And since we've hardly gotten to know him in the three episodes he's been in, it's not as though I'll miss him terribly or anything. Shoot, we hardly got to even see his beast mode clearly. I'm very surprised that Mainframe would animate such a complex character for only three shows; this isn't a Ravage made of recolored Cheetor and Tigatron parts, but an entirely new computer model, which some poor animator presumably slaved over for countless hours to create. You'd think Hasbro would want to milk it for more than just three episodes. But anyway, it wasn't affecting to me emotionally, especially since we didn't even see it directly on-screen (though maybe that would have been gory and unnecessary, considering what happened to DC and Rampage yesterday). He's all that physically remains of Tigatron and Airazor, but they were already gone in my book. And now TH is gone, too -- the Furmanator strikes. TH's passing did, however, serve to heighten the tension of the situation, the sense that things were swiftly falling apart for the Maximals and everything was headed for disaster. And Optimus's reaction to the news constitutes a fine moment. Here's a leader who's really had it, is fed up with the situation, is mad as hell and not gonna take it any more. This was the reaction I expected to see after Depth Charge bought it last episode; I guess it was building up to this instead. The Last Flight of Rhinox was a swift turnabout of events, and his finest moment all season. For a moment, I really thought he was going to perish, as certain people have been expecting/hoping for a while now (should I also call Optimus a monkey here, for good measure? :] The Extreme Closeup Shot (tm) reinforced this notion, as did his nicely delivered line ("For everything that ever was...") I briefly envisioned the Beast Wars ending much as the BW2 manga series ended, with all the characters apparently dying together in a gigantic cataclysm. This was reinforced by one of those wide-angled close-up shots that always means something big and dramatic is about to happen. But much to our (and perhaps Rhinox's) surprise, the shuttle flies right through the bridge, carrying Megatron with it. Heh. And right out the back. Guess they build those Autobot shuttles tough, or at least they did four million years ago. I can't say as much for the circa-2005 ones... The ending seemed a bit rushed, for obvious reasons: this episode wasn't originally intended to be the end of the series. Some hasty re-writing by the creative team at the end of last summer amended that, but -- obviously -- didn't leave much time for a lengthy wrap-up. That's okay by me. Given the choice, I'd rather have a good story played out full-length, than spend time watching the Maximals pick up the pieces. That's for the fanfic writers to do... and I'm sure there was quite a lot of picking up indeed, since it's not clear at all how much time elapsed between Nemesis's crash and the Maximals launching the Autobot shuttle: could have been hours, could have been months. Knowing Optimus Primal, though, it's a fair bet they spent a while cleaning up their mess, removing all traces of the Beast Wars from the planet. Though if so, they missed a bit -- namely, the remains of the Pred strike team. Still, presumably, there's all the time in the world for the Maximal elders to send another ship back to Earth to complete the clean-up job. Questionable plot points: The Nemesis has a bridge very much in the style of the Executor from Star Wars -- that is, if you fly a small ship through a fragile windshield, the whole ship goes boom.... The flying Maximals don't even try to board Nemesis once the tractor beam has stopped? The Maximals -- not even the irreverent Blackarachnia -- haven't made a thorough examination of every inch of the Ark and catalogued everything there? Nemesis has knowledge of the Ark that Teletran doesn't? Nemesis can force a download into the Ark's computers? As Thylacine2000 said, this was a gigantic deux ex machina, but I don't blame the writers; I blame the combined forces of animation limits and corporate shortening of the season. I think Furman did about the best that could be expected with it. And I don't mind such plot devices as much when they're character-driven. They could just as easily have had Rhinox say, "Wait! Let's try re-routing the conflibulation modulator through the transwarp unit to bring the power cells up to 98 percent!" (didn't I say up above that I *would* rather see this? No pleasin' me, I guess.) But instead, the Maximals are given a chance because Dinobot won't destroy a helpless foe. Unanswered questons: If the Covenant of Primus is so sacred and important, why did the Autobots haul it along with them on the Ark? How did Megatron get immobilized long enough for the Maximals to secure him to the back of the shuttle? Was getting rammed by the shuttlecraft enough to knock him out? Can we assume that the Maximals removed G1 Megatron's spark from him (presumably decreasing his power) and restored it to its rightful place? (evidently so, considering the cut footage available from Ben Yee's page, which shows exactly that.) Where did the Maximals get more transwarp cells to power the shuttle? And what fate awaits Megatron back on Cybertron? No glorious victory today... Some speculation: "Nemesis" Part 2 was supposed to end with a cliffhanger to top even that of "The Agenda". I wonder what it was? Two possibilities came to mind when I pondered it: the Ark launches successfully, or Nemesis actually manages to destroy the Ark. I've since learned the former was correct. Originally, Nemesis was supposed to contain the Decepticon jet warriors Thrust, Dirge, and Ramjet, who would have actually been revived; the Ark was to launch to fight Nemesis. Unfortunately, all this got axed as too complex to animate. Too bad... I'd love to see CGI coneheads (the standard nickname for those three jets collectively, if you're not a G1 person, based on where their jet-mode nosecones ended up when they transformed to robot mode.) How complex could it be? The Coneheads were physically identical, except for their wings and color schemes; they could have basically re-used the same model three times. But what alt.forms would they have had? Pyramid jets, like the original Decepticon jets had in "More Than Meets The Eye"? Or something else? Hmm... And you know what else? We'd have gotten to hear the original transforming sound effect again, if this had gone through. Darn... how cool would that have been? Further axing occurred due to the shortened season; Bob'n'Larry originally wanted "Other Victories" to be 2 parts, and "Nemesis" to be three or four. I think "The Agenda" proves what they could do with such freedom... I think it's a shame they didn't get it. But anyway, all that still doesn't answer the original question: what was the cliffhanger going to be? And finally, a bit of looking back on the series as a whole, now that it's finally complete -- specifically, the questions left unaswered. Things we've gotten hints at will now go forever unresolved, such as: the nature and powers of the Tripredacus council. Who the Maximal Elders are and what they're like. What Blackarachnia was doing with those film canisters in "Cutting Edge". The origin of the Transmetal driver. What became of the rest of the stasis pods. The purpose of the alien experiment. The way the Great War ended, and what role the Swarm and the G2 Decepticons may have played in it (I had really hoped we might get something to make this off-the-record backstory official.) The meaning of Cheetor's dreams. An explanation of how Rattrap acquired so many combat skills. How far back he, Rhinox and Optimus go. How Tarantulas knew what he did of the aliens. How much he and Megatron knew of each other's schemes. Why Earth's location is now a mystery. How Megatron recruited his original band. What normal Predacons are like. And what exactly were Waspinator's plans! I suppose a body count is also in order, now that the series is over: * DEAD: Scorponok, Terrorsaur, Dinobot 1, Transmutate, Ravage, Tarantulas, Depth Charge, Rampage, Tigatron/Airazor/Tigerhawk, Quickstrike, Inferno, Dinobot 2. * ALIVE: Optimus, Rhinox, Rattrap, Cheetor, Silverbolt, Blackarachnia, Waspinator, Megatron. Whole lotta dead folks, not many survivors. Consider yourself lucky if your personal favorites are in that second list, 'cause almost none of mine are. Big T, Bird Lady, Stripes, Dinobot, Rampage... all down for the count. :[ As I said, that's that. No more. And no more reviews, either, till "Beast Machines" begins this fall on Fox. I'll be watching closely... from the sound of things, it's got great potential, if you're not adamantly opposed to changes and new concepts. We'll see. All I know for sure is that, as the successor to "Beast Wars", it has some pretty big shoes to fill. Bob'n'Larry, thanks for the ride.
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