Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Rantings
Re: "Savage Noble"

Last week I rambled about how great new computers are. This week I'd like to ammend that they can also be a pain in the butt, especially when you're trying to figure out new software to make a 36-Meg download in 6 pieces work the way it's supposed to...










Episode summary:

After the recap, we pick up with the Maximals staring up at Megatron's floating giant head. "Oh man! I just knew it!" Rattrap exclaims. "Old Megamouth was just lyin' in wait, so he could crush us like -- like... um... why are we still alive?" he trails off, as... nothing happens. "Why doesn't he do something?" Blackarachnia asks. "I'm not entirely certain he can," Optimus ventures, sending her and Nightscream on a recon flight. "I'm going in for a closer look," BA says, as they approach uneventfully. "Isn't he ugly enough from here?" NS asks.

BA is dropped onto the surface -- and almost immediately zapped off by a repulsor field, which also knocks Nightscream for a loop (for some reason, the episode's title credits don't show up till this point.) BA saves herself with a web-parachute; Op transforms and catches NS in mid-air. "So Megahead's alive after all?" Cheetor wonders. BA: "I dunno. The energy field seem totally defensive." Optimus: "And automated! As if devoid of a living presence."

BA: "What about the Vehicons?"
NS: "Who needs them?"
BA: "WE do if Megatron's alive."
Cheetor: "What makes you think they'd want to fight on our side?"
BA: "Spider's intutition."
Rattrap: "Oooo, I'm sure it's got nothin' to do with wantin' her old boyfriend back."

Optimus sends the others after Jetstorm and Thrust, while he attempts to contact Megatron's Spark. Nightscream leads the group to "this place where me and my buds used to go," a big generator-filled room with a waterfall. Blast-marks on the walls confuse the group: "So who were they shooting at? Each other?" NS asks. The Vehicons themselves attack just then, in Thrust's words "for ambushing us!" BA answers: "On my word as a spider -- well... a Maximal... we're only here to talk!" BA wants to reason with "that part of you that is still... Silverbolt." "Get it through your CPU - that program has been... deleted. I'm Jetstorm. PERIOD!!" "Watch it, lugnuts, Silverbolt was my friend!" Rattrap says, ticked. "Forget it! I'm tired of pleading with you," BA says, exhasperated. "How about pleading for your life?" Thrust challenges.

A fight is about to break out, when an eerie howling distracts the group. "What in the name of processed cheese was that?!" Rattrap asks. "Looks like we found your new playmate," Cheetor says to the Vehicons, leading the others off in a hasty retreat. The Vehicons follow, as something massive, spikey, scaley, and four-legged lumbers across the screen behind them. The group pauses a moment later to observe the beast, a dragon-like creature with spike-covered wings, lips, nose, claws, legs, etc. They retreat as it begins a firebolt-spewing advance.

Elsewhere, Optimus goes on a spiritual hunt: "Not feeling very talkative? Let's see if your Spark wants to chat... Primal enters the Spark/astral/whatever plain. "Megatron, if your Spark can hear me, call out to me!" He's answered by Megs' voice: "Silence!!" Insubstantial visions of Megatron's head (original form from BW) surround him, laughing, mocking, screaming.... and the vision ends. "That... wasn't a sentient mind..." Optimus notes.

Cheetor, meanwhile, orders the group to stand down: "We don't know what this thing is, or where it came from. We're not going to find out by destroying it!" Jetstorm isn't happy about taking orders from Cheets: "Tell you what, pussycat. We'll bring you back the biggest pieces, and you can ask it anything you want!" But the creature easily repells his and Thrust's attacks, knockign them out. A random shot buries the Maximals long enough for the creature to escape.

Our Heroes track the creature to higher levels in the generator plant... and discover a hiding, blue-ish, wolf-like creature. "Stay away... don't hurt me," he says. "Another survivor, like me!" Nightscream says, offering friendship to the creature. "No! Go away... leave me alone!" "Please, tell us... how did you get here?" Cheetor asks. "I don't know... it all started with this... strange energy wave." We go to a flashback: "Everybody went off-line, then armies of tanks and cycle Transformers came out of nowhere. I fled, and fell into a pit. Next thing, I awoke... looking like this." "Megatron's virus," Nightscream says, brilliantly. The creature introduces himself as Noble... but further pleasantries are interrupted by a strafing attack by Jetstorm and Thrust. "Saaaaaaaavage.... come out 'n' play!" JS calls out. But before the Maximals can even worry about defending their new friend... he disappears while their backs are turned.

Cheetor recalls Optimus, who still hasn't found any trace of Megatron. The group goes hunting for Noble. "What was that?!" BA exclaims, hearing a growl. "Don't worry, keep moving," Cheetor orders. The creature appears just then, growling ferociously. "What did you do to Noble, you lousy--" Nightscream says, leaping to the attack. BA webs him and pulls him back just in time to keep him from getting blasted with fire-breath. The group follows as the creature flies off: "We can't have that thing loose in Cybertropolis!" Cheetor says.

"Man, this is nuts. I say we let sleepin' dragons lie, while we still have circuits left unfried!" Rattrap groans. "That thing is scared, confused! So we try to help it just like Optimus would if he were here." "I appreciate the vote of confidence!" Op himself says, landing just then. "Situation." "There's this savage lizard thing the size of Megatron's ego, with a worse disposition, and even worse breath!" Nightscream explains about Noble. Optimus splits the group up to cover more ground.

A series of shots follows of the Maximals walking around, until Rattrap finds the beast. Cornered, petrified, Rattrap is relieved when the beast... ignores him. Cheetor hems the beast in by chopping down a bridge, and the others stop it from the other direction. "He's just lost. We mustn't hurt him," Optimus says. "If he's hurt Noble I'm making no promises!" Nightscream replies. "Nice teamwork, Maximals!" Jestorm says, arriving with Thrust. "You catch 'em; we fillet 'em." But the creature bats them away with a tail-slash, sending them over the horizon. After a long moment of carefully approaching the beast, Nightscream touches him and calms him enough for him to transform... into Noble.

"He's pure organic," Optimus notes. "Good work, Nightscream!" "They're both the same guy?" Rattrap says. "A Transformer who changes from beast to beast -- now I've seen everything."

"Somehow... we'll find a way to help you," Optimus says later on, as the group walks towards parts unknown. Noble spills out a mouthful: "I appreciate the kindness you've shown me, but... you have to get away from me while there's still time. I can't control my other side. You're going to regret this... I hate what I am." Nightscream answers: "Optimus helped me get over my rage. In time, he'll help you control yours, too." Optimus smiles a gentle agreement, and Noble looks pensive as we fade out.


Boy, talk about a non-event of a cliffhanger! Beast Machines is becoming notorious in my book for this sort of thing: plot twists that, while unexpected, leave you saying "what was the point of *that*?!" Case in point: we see the giant floating head of Megatron, and naturally expect a huge attack: laser bombardments a la the Nemesis, or the entire city or whole planet transforming around the Maximals to squish them like bugs. Okay, it doesn't happen. *Nothing* happens. The big supposed threat turned out to be nothing at all.... so what was the point of it?!

In the longer term, the answer to that question will probably have to do with with Megatron's mysterious whereabouts, and hopefully it'll be something nifty. Perhaps further down the line, Megs will resurface and assume control of whatever that is floating up in the air (presumably a project he had in the works before the Maximals messed everything up in "End of the Line".) If not, then... sheesh! What a build-up for nothing! Ultimately, I think they are -- once again -- delaying the recovery of the missing Sparks. We've already had one diversionary plot twist, and that got left hanging in favor of a second. I can see this going on for another ten episodes, easily...

Speculation is already being thrown about that Noble is Megatron, somehow subsumed into a new organic body - perhaps affected somehow by Primal's aborted reformatting. Six months ago I'd have dismissed that with a groan and an "Oh, *please.*" (In fact, I did exactly that, and got burned.) Given what we've seen before, though... I'm definately inclined to entertain the notion (though my personal vote is for Silverbolt to be in there, lending credence to Jetstorm's repeated assertions that he is NOT Silverbolt -- maybe Megs could have pulled a switcheroo off-screen?)

In fact, based soley on the writing style of the series, it wouldn't surprise me at all if this turned out to be the case. Primal's Spark-encounter with the mad face of Megatron certainly seems to point that way. And so far, BM has given us a preponderance of plot twists that seem to say "Ha! Bet you weren't expecting THAT, were you?" (The usual rejoinder is, "Of course we weren't expecting that... because it DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!")

The idea of Megs=Noble certainly falls in this category. Okay, the foreshadowing and the precedents are both there. But... where would the body have come from? And more importantly, what would have happened to Megs' personality? The Vehicon Generals, it is assumable, were subjected to some sort of shell program to make them act the way they currently do. But who's going to reprogram Megs?

Looking again at precedent, perhaps we're going to be lead to believe that Noble is Megs, only to have the truth be something else entirely. Again, the Primal Spark encounter could be seen as a step in that direction.

Speaking of that... what's going on there? Did Primal expect Megatron to intentionally answer him? Primal speaks with that "let me help you" tone of voice that we've heard a lot in this series. Why would Primal want to help *Megatron* of all robots? I expected him to try and reform him somehow, if he actually located him. Urrg! Did he forget what happened last time he gave Megs the benefit of the doubt (Nemesis 2)? Or the time before that (Other Voices)?

Getting around to Noble himself, the quiet, cringing new guy who masquerades by night as a firebreathing demon-lizard from hell... well, I hate his "transformation", to start with. It makes no superficial attempts to pass itself off as a parts-rearanging transformation; it's a shape-changing metamorphosis, akin to the shape-shifters of the various Star Trek series (Odo from DS9; that alien in The Undiscovered Country.) On the other hand, both his modes don't look so bad -- the wolf has this nice war-paint aspect to its coloration, and the dragon... well... yeow! That may be the most fierce-looking beast we've ever seen on a Transformers show. I *love* those vicious teeth that came within an inch or two of Rattrap. I'm not so bothered by his lack of a true robot mode, since one of is forms is bipedal and appears to have working digits. Truthfully, he looks no more un-robotic than most of the Maximals... though he certainly bears no resemblance to any real-life animal, either.

We don't learn a whole lot about his personality, other than what I said above -- he appears to be nervous and stressed-out, though certainly not without reason. He purports to hate what he is. By that, does he mean his lack of a robot mode, his uncontrollable second form, or both? Or something else? I can already see that we'll have to deal with two or three scenes of him loosing control and running amuck, and the others having to calm him down.. probably one scene where he runs amuck and hence turns the tables in favor of the Maximals. But he could also provide some interesting character conflict -- something that Beast Machines has done a consistently excellent job with.

Nightscream's reaction to Noble is unprecedented -- he's concerned for this unknown entity. He sees in him a comrade, someone who's been through the same trauma that he has, and perhaps more. It's a nice character evolution and another clear sign of Nightscream becoming less of a selfish jerk.

Noble gives us a totally pointless recap of Megatron's take-over, which repeats that given by Nightscream almost word-for-word while adding nothing new. All it clears up is that he apparently gained his current beast form via DNA scanner -- no reformatting or anything else was involved. Though perhaps his dragon form is a result of later tampering, perhaps by the Key/PEC energies? Also, how does a robot (mostly or totally mechanical, judging from the flashback) become completely organic?

The episode dragged its feet at certain other points as well. Most notably, I found myself wondering how long it takes to convey the idea that the Maximals are crossing a bridge. That kind of shot is usually followed by the bridge getting blown up with our heroes on it (though it turned out to be a different bridge that actualy got waxed.) The other scene-without-end was the Maximal's final hunt for the creature: Rattrap rolling... Cheetor walking... BA walking... Optimus walking.... *yawn*. Several minutes could be shaved off of this episode with no effort at all.

The ending, with the group circled around Noble, is also very reinicient of the end of "Feral Scream" Part 2... though at least this ep was gracious enough to be only one part long. Although, it's not quite clear what exactly Nightscream *did* to make Noble calm down... did he just *talk* him out of dragon form?

People have commented that BA is now the Girl Character, and I think I've kinda figured out why: the Maximals rarely do anything independently of one anther these days. It's more like they run around as a clump, and you always know it'll be those four characters acting and reacting as one. Plot-wise, they're more like one character with four voices; the only difference is who'll say what line. It is in this capacity that Blackarachnia tends to get trivialized as the "token female"... because what else is there to distinguish her?

BA had some terrible moments this ep: I had to cringe at her "What was that?!" when Noble's dragon form growls in the shadows... it was a *painfully* Helpless Female reaction. Other horrid moments include her line "More like it found us!" when Noble first arrives, and her scared little gasp at his roars as the group is crossing the long bridge. On the other hand, she showed some fast reflexes in saving Nightscream from his own brash stupidity, and saving herself from her fall at the beginning.

The Vehicon team work continues... the two of them seem to get along pretty well. They kinda look at one another before charging at the Maximals at one point, as if to say "Yeah?" "Yeah!" Thrust also does this kick-ass thing where he pops up on one wheel and fires from the front end of his chassis, when the two make their strafing run on Noble.

Nice voice acting: Optimus's "Good WORK, Nightscream." Nightscream himself sounds more like the Thought Police than a reassuring friend when saying his final lines a moment later, though.

Nice shots: Thrust's wheely... Rattrap face-to-face with the beast... the gigantic generator room... the explosion when Cheetor axes the bridge. Awful shots: the waterfall. Is that supposed to be water or jello?

Overall: The cliffhanger amounted to nothing and then was dropped, for another plotline that wasn't too bad but definately dragged on for too long. A mostly-forgettable episode... though it brings in two plot points (Meg's empty head and Noble himself) that could prove interesting in the future.

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