Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Rantings
Re: "Prometheus Unbound"
2/26/00

I have nothing snarky or worthless to say here. So let's cut through the signal noise, shall we?...

I

was

just

gonna

say....

I'm

really,

really

SPOILERed...

The Lowdown (I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder whoooooo...):

We start off with a short, succinct recap of last episode, that -- unlike most of these things -- actually managed to convey what happened in a clear and understandble manner.

A giant Cybertronian moon is passing (rumbling, actually) overhead as the ep opens. Noble howls at it... to the consternation of the distant Maximals -- their new friend has run off yet again. "Maybe if we tried treating him less like an animal and more like a person, he wouldn't want to escape," Nightscream says. Cheetor gently defends their actions as being for Noble's own good. "And ours," Rattrap adds.

"I can't say why... but something about him gives me the creeps," BA ventures. "Well, let me see," answers Rattrap. "Is it his eyes? The hair? Or maybe it's his little tendencey to keep turning into a giant, wigged-out, flesh-eating GILA MONSTER!" -- the final words directed at Nightscream. NS is pissed: "With friends like you, who needs Megatron?" he says, storming off, with Optimus in pursuit. Rattrap and BA note unhappily that Noble is probably heading for "the same place as the last five nights."

Noble is furiously banging on the doors to Megatron's citadel when NS and Op arrive; he transforms to Savage form when they confront him, then continues trying to claw his way in. A bunch of snaking cables worm out to attack Nightscream when he tries again to stop Savage -- and Savage knocks him out of their way. The cables envelope and constain him, and the Maximals peel him free to find him back in Noble form.

"Did I do it again? Why do I keep coming back here?" Noble asks. "...You should lock me away, like the animal I am." Optimus: "No. Even as Savage you sprang to defend Nightscream. Your sense of loyalty clearly outweighs your feral impulses." Rattrap: "Heh! Not on my scale it don't. Only thing I trust about this character is that know I can't trust 'em at all!" "Attaboy, Ratbreath. Harsh on him right out of the gate, the same way you did me!" NS snaps. "...I know what that's like, to be alone and afraid. You wanna try it some time?"

As usual, Optimus calms things down. "Our war with Megatron has delayed our search for the missing Transformer Sparks far too long." "Now that laughin' boy's a Sparkless floating tribute to Unicron, we can finally get down to wakin' up the rest of the planet!" Rattrap notes. The group prepares to infiltrate the citadel to look for clues. Noble wants to help, but Optimus refuses -- "It'll be hard enough for us to survive in there with all of the citadel's the automated defenses." "I've been drawn here for a reason... I have to find out why," Noble pleads. "You helped me find my answers. Now, I gotta help him find his!" NS adds. Optimus refuses -- "it's far too dangerous" -- and NS storms off again, with Noble. "I don't blame them. It really is my fault..." Noble laments.

"Rattrap, would you do the honors?" Op asks. "Why soitenly," RT says, plugging in: "Open... seza me." The doors slide open. Rattrap is restrained from rushing in by BA... and Op reveals a destructive force field across the entryway. A quick shot to the control panel takes it out. "Well that was easy. Too easy," Cheetor notes. "That was the one the late great Megatron wanted us to find," Op explains. The group enters... and Noble, some distance away, turns and sprints through the doorway. A pursuing NS follows just as it closes.

"Are we unclear on the concept of 'no'?" Optimus asks, peaved. "I... couldn't help myself," Noble says, struggling to control himself. Optimus and NS calm him once again. "When your buddy gets us all scrapped, don't come cryin' to me, kid," Rattrap snaps at NS.

As Rattrap begins a search for the security shut-off, Noble takes off running for the control room... and promptly steps on a floor sensor, activating a field of floating mines. "Nobody move!" Optimus orders. But just then Noble's eyes glow red, and he morphs back into Savage, setting off a string of the mines. KaBOOM!

The group groaningly gets to its feet, and Rattrap says to NS: "Toldja draggin' along the dragon was a mistake. But did you listen? Neee-oo!" "Shut your trap, rat, and get out of my face!" They hear distant roaring, and split up -- NS and Op hunt for Savage; Rattrap heads for the throne room. "Cheetor and Blackarachnia - watch his tail." "Oh. The glamerous assignment," BA notes.

As the two groups procede, we see glimpses of both Savage and Noble watching from the shadows. "Something's following us," Cheetor says. "Oh man... I sure hope it ain't Savage," Rattrap moans. BA: "You better hope it is. Anything else is bound to be worse." "Oh. Brighten my day," RT replies.

NS hears Savage's roaring and takes off after him.... and we see Savage change back to Noble and open the doors to Megatron's throne room. "Sucess!" he says blissfully, as the camera pulls in close on Megatron's empty control harness. Noble begins leaping across the floating jigsaw puzzle bridge... and loses his grip on one, falling -- a throaty "Nooooooooooooo!" escaping as he does. NS and Op arrive, and go after him.

Rattrap and company arrive a moment later. "Eh... must be the maid's day off," RT observes, stairing at the drifting pieces of floating bridge. Cheets and BA go first and offer the less-mobile Rattrap assistance in getting to the harness. "Hey guys! How do ya like the new housecoat?" he asks, plugging into the harness. "Frumpy, but functional," BA says, as the bridge assembles itself under their feet. Screens of data assemble before Rattrap. "You searchin' for those missing Sparks?" Cheetor asks. "No. I'm readin' the Sunday funnies. Whaddaya THINK I'm doing?! Trouble is, everything's encrypted, including the encryptions. It'll take some time to break through." "Time is a luxury we don't have," Op tells him, arriving with NS and Noble -- and the latter's gentle meekness abruptly disappears.

"I'm here. I'm really, finally here!" he says, before spying Rattrap in the harness: "No! Get away from that!" Noble immediately morphs to Savage. "He changed on purpose... he can control it!?" Cheetor says. "But... that's impossible," NS says, disbelievingly. Savage blasts Rattrap out of the harness: "Alright... who ordered the charbroiled rat?" RT says, shaken.

Immediately, the bridge deconstructs and alarms go off. "Why do I have a bad feelign about this?" BA wonders. "Past experience?" Cheets answers. Tentacled Spark extractors slither out of the walls. The group (including Savage) makes quick work of them, and Rattrap gets back into the harness as Savage morphs back to Noble, standing next to the harness. "Glad you could join the party --" Rattrap starts to say to him... but then Noble yanks him out by the tail and, in a dramatically backlit scene, tosses him away. He enters the harness himself, but nothing happens.

"Work... work... why won't you work?! Of course... I can't interface with it as long as I'm trapped in this accursed organic form!" Noble leaps clear, grabs two Spark extractors, and applies them to... himself. A furiously burning orange Spark emerges, and the body collapses. "How can he have a Spark when he's completely organic?" Optimus wonders. The Spark enters the control harness, and shoots up the wires as Megatron's voice cackles: "Free... at last. Free at last!"

The Maximals charge outside to see the giant Megatron head now fully animated. "Where's Noble! What have you done with his Spark!" NS demands. "There never was any Noble Spark," Megatron deigns to answer, his gigantic eyes glowing in synch with his words. "No! He was my friend..." NS says, shattered. Megatron explains further: "For an eternity, I slaved to free myself from the organic material contaiminating my otherwise perfect technological body. I finally succeeded in separating the two, but my Spark remained with the wrong half -- the organic half. I knew that the answer to curing myself lay inside my citadel -- but as an organic beast, I could never hope to enter it and survive. Which is why I needed *you*... Nightscream. Naive. Headstrong. And utterly malleable. You proved the perfect pawn... and now in gratitude, I will free *you* from your organic bodies."

The BFH fires a beam into the planet, and all systems come back on-line -- including the drone army, which storms to the attack. As the others fight them off, Rattrap opens up a panel, and Optimus orders a retreat. Nobody objects as the badly outnumbered group scurries underground.

"I should have realized Megatron could not be vanquished so easily," Optimus laments some time later, as the group gathers in one of those caves we haven't seen for a couple of episodes. "It can't be... we were friends," NS says, still dumbfounded. "Err... listen kid," Rattrap says hesitantly. "Yeah, I know, you TOLD me so, but I wouldn't listen," NS snaps. "I was just gonna say... I'm really, really sorry," Rattrap says, in all sincerity.

Back in the empty citadel, Noble's eye opens, and he stirs with a growl...


My take

DAMN! What an episode! This is how it oughta be!! Full credits to Marv Wolfman for a job well done. No down time this week... no time to reflect that nothing's happening, 'cause there was stuff going on from the get-go. Things that happened off-screen since the last episode -- things we didn't need to see -- were quickly and succinctly explained, and the story moved straight ahead with no needless exposition or extended dead air time. The two plotlines of Noble's identity and struggles and the search for Spark dovetailed beautifully, both evolving on their own and coming together at the end.

Megatron, though more or less absent this episode, was in rare form -- pulling the strings, manipulating the players, scoring a massive coup, and topping it all off by gloating about it to Op and company. Y'know, I honestly think he's at his best when the chips are down -- it's then that he gets thinking, playing his cards carefully and to maximum effect. Only when he's sitting on top does he start to make sloppy, careless mistakes. But I suppose that's just the nature of a cartoon villian... It was nice of him to give a big long expository speech about his scheme at the end, so we weren't left hanging. His new visage is creepy, by the way... only a pair of glowing red eyes to show emotion... and his voice is more modulated than ever, as befits his mechanistic god-like form. What's that head gonna change into, anyway? And when? Does it plug into a larger body, or just float around and be like unto a deity?

For some reason, I wasn't bothered by the latest incarnation of "New Character A is really Old Character X". I think they pulled it off in truly flawless form this time. For one thing, we'd hardly gotten to know Noble at all before his true identity was revealed, so it's not like we had any emotional attachment to him. For another, the fact of Noble didn't turn out to mean the end of Megatron. And thirdly, it was clearly (if not necessarily believably) explained to us WHY Megs wound up in there, and why he had done what he did since then.

And a fourth reason it wasn't annoying -- it would seem that Noble isn't gone for good (not surprising -- those CGI models are expensive!) His future characterization should be interesting -- is there a true, independent personality in that bod? How much of it shown through in these episodes? Perhaps that was the "real" Noble who says that he hates what he is (last ep).... perhaps Megatron was exerting enough control to keep him from explaining exactly what it was that he hated?

The deception of the last two episodes has been totally grand. The subtle hints were there... and they were indeed subtle. It was nothing you'd catch if you weren't really looking (hey, I totally missed it the first time through.) From the first moments of this ep, however, it's fairly obvious... and not only did that spare us lots of boring "simple lack of information" mysteries stretching across many episodes, it also led to some terrificly tense moments as the Maximals tip-toed through the citadel. You just *know* something bad's gonna happen... not a dinky booby-trap that the Maximals will escape from with fancy gymnastics, but something bad Megatron-style. There was a nice high-pictched synth horror-movie chord playing over these scenes, incidentally, that contributed to that feeling -- a chord that also played over Megatron's expository oration at the end.

On the down side of things... The Magic Reset button has been pushed, and it seems we're nearly back to the status quo. Aside from losing Tankor, having Jetstorm and Thrust run off, Megs being a BFH, and Noble's introduction to the mix, we're back to where we were before "Fallout". I guess I'm only bothered by this because I really don't want to have to look at the Maximals hanging around in brown dirt caves anymore. It's visually uninteresting compared to the surface of Cybertron (or any number of natural environments we saw in BW -- even caves!) And, of course, there's the nagging question of what JS and Thrust will do now that Megs is back in action... return to him (willingly? unwillingly?) Remain free agents? I guess Megs wouldn't allow the latter, now that I think about it. I suspect we'll see this point come up next episode.

Also on the downside... the Spark search has been put off yet again! Arrg! I'm beginning to think that plot point has its own music: those beautiful, anthemic chords that also played when NS and Op were lamenting at the Cave o' Bones in "Survivor"... The Search for Spark, we'll call it. :]

I'm a bit unclear on just how NS actually assisted Megatron in getting into the citadel. Sure, he did a lot to defend him to the rest of the group, but ultimately it was Megs who got himself into the place. He might not have made it to the harness if NS hadn't saved him from falling... but what if he'd simply not contacted the Maximals at all? Just waited till they got in, changed to Savage, stormed gates, taken the group out, and resumed control? Woulda been a lot simpler... but not as good a story. :] I guess it was helpful to him that Rattrap was there to assemble the bridge... and hanging around the Maximals meant they didn't have *too* much of a problem with him being right there in the throne room.

Rattrap's bigot side comes out yet again in this ep. He isn't giving Noble even half a chance, and he has no problems with letting him know. Of course, this time, he just happens to be right. Should the Maximals have known? Well... there is this little smirk that crosses Noble's features when Optimus defends him at the episode's beginning - was it Megs gloating, or was it supposed to be a smile?! Based on his fleeting Spark contact last episode, and Noble's actions during this one, I guess the pieces should have fallen together for Optimus a bit more quickly than they did. I guess he was confused by the Spark vision, which really didn't tell him much of anything. The only thing I can fault the Maximals with is not taking a shot or three at Megs' Spark while it was vunerable. Me, I'd have been unloading every bit of not-a-gun ammo I had.

Bits of the old Optimus shown through this episode -- "Are we unclear on the concept of no?" I noticed some of that last ep, too... nice to see our rough-and-tumble starship captain hasn't been totally displaced by the Zen Master. Cheetor and BA were mostly background this ep, though they showed they haven't entirely left their macho-cool/dryly sarcastic sides (respectively) behind just yet.

As for Nightscream, well... I'd feel worse for him if he weren't such an abrasive punk, but he is, so I don't (as Picard42 put it on IRC, "Anything that hurts Nightscream is good.") He gets on my nerves with lines like "Get out of my face!", trying to be cool or tough or something. And the other half of his lines this ep consisted of "Noble! NO!!" Still, it's nice to see he can have sincere compassion for someone else... even if that comes at the cost of blustering rage at the rest of the group. He still doesn't know the first thing about tact or controlling his temper (how does he ever manage to stay in robot mode?!) And his dispension of the word "loser" to describe anyone he happens to disagree with at the moment only adds to the image of him as a clueless wonder-cretin.

For once, the anime dramatics worked -- the backlit shot of Noble casting Rattrap aside was terrific. And speaking of that...

Not being up on my Greek mythology, I can't really comment on the episode's decidedly original title. I though Prometheus was bound to a rock for giving fire to humanity, and his liver got plucked out by a buzzard, only to grow back by the next morning so the cycle could repeat. Somebody wanna step in with the rest of the story?

Cybertron has a moon! Cool! And Rattrap gives us a nice homage to G1 Season 3, pre-"Ghost in the Machine". Another nice bit is his incoherent mumbling as he begins sifting through Megatron's database: "Okay, lessee, eeeeahhhhh, ehh, gotta gotta geeeda gotit..." And another: "Hey, what're ya doiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!" as Noble dumps him out of the command harness. And still another: Rattrap's final line to Nightscream -- very nearly a tear-jerker, coming out as weary, sad, regretful... and sympathetic. Speaking of that, so much for my NS-RT bonding theory... they were at each other's throats the whole episode.

Other nice bits included the generally creepy nature of a lot of the scenes... best of all Megatron yanking out his own Spark. Coooooool... and eerie.

Plot device ambiguities: What are those cables outside Megs' place supposed to do -- just contrain? That's not Megs' style... What happened to the mines? Did Savage just set 'em all off, and the Maximals survived just fine and dandy? So much for Cheetor's fears of being blown to bits... Does Savage's tail(s) get longer when we're not looking? Seems like every time he swings it/them, someone always manages to get whapped, even when nobody's close by.... Man, I hate that "transformation"! His wings just shrink and disappear into his back. At least give us some nanite technobabble to explain it!...

The obligatory "look how cool these techno-organic Maximals are" scenes were blissfully short in this episode: namely, and in order, the gymnast contest to get RT into the command harness; the battle with the Spark extractors; and the drone battle at the end. That's how more of Season 1 should have been.

Overall: Need I repeat myself? This episode rocked in both the plot and character departments. What else is there to say? The coming eps are ripe with possiblities...

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