Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Rambings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: "Quest for Survival"
10/15/00

Hooray! It's another G1 review!

Original:

In China or some place like it, harvesting of crops is interupted by the arrival of about a bazillion Insecticon clones. The farmers run. "Was it something we said?" Bombshell wonders. Some time later the horde raids what seems to be a farm in America. A squad of Autobots (Huffer, Inferno, Sokescreen, Tracks, Warpath, and Skids) arrives. Bombshell: "Hey. This a farm or a parking lot?" The Autobots attack at Track's orders. "They're trying to wreck our picnic!" Kickback grumbles. The Autobots are quickly outnumbered and surrounded by the huge numbers of Insections, and Smokescreen orders a retreat. "Hahahahaha! Will ya look at that!" Kickback laughs. "Now they've got their tailpipes between their legs!" Bombshell adds.

"We were outnumbered, Prime!" Smokescreen explains back at HQ, as the other 'bots undergo repairs. "So we disengaged before we received any more casualties." "You did the right thing," Prime tells him. Huffer: "What're we gonna do?!" Prime: "Don't loose your coolant, Huffer. Cosmos, Bumblebee and Spike are on the job." Bumblebee calls in just then from somewhere called Floron 3, reporting that "We've got the robotic insecticide, and we're on our way home." When they try to leave a moment later, Cosmos suddenly jolts. "Cosmos! What happened?" Spike asks. "I'm caught!" Cos says, straining against some funky metal vines that have wrapped themselves around him as he lifts off an asteroid-like world. "Fire -- the emergency jet!" he says; Spike hits a button, and Cos blasts free. "Boy. I wonder what that plant-thing wanted?" Spike wonders. "Us. For breakfast," Bum replies. "I'll never eat a salad again!" Spike replies, as Cosmos hurtles onward -- with some grey spore-type stuff attached to his hull.

On Earth, the Decepticon conning tower rises out of the sea to admit the Insecticons and their clone hordes. "Welcome Insecticons! Prepare our friends for the energon transfrer machine, hmmm?" Megs says. The Insections step into some clear cylinders which remove their stored energon. "Can't you go any faster, Megatron?" Kickback grouses. "Yeah. We've got some acerage to raid before it's harvested!" Bombshell adds. "Patience my friends! We want to make sure to get every last drop of energon." When the procedure is over, Skywarp enters and hands each Insecticon a tiny cube: "Ahhh! Here is your cut, Insecticons." Shrapnel is shocked: "This is *all*? all?" "Oh, I'm afraid so, Shrapnel. The transfer process is costly, and uses a great deal of energy. Maybe we'll do better next time." "Thanks for nothing, Megatron," Bombshell snaps. "Big deal," Kickback adds. "Big spender! spender," Shrapnel says. Megs leaves for another chamber, where plenty of energon cubes are swiftly being filled: "Ha ha... If the Insecticons had *brains*, they'd be dangerous! Heh heh!"

As Cosmos nears Earth, we see he's spouted a proliferation of the metal vines. "The plants from Floron 3 seem to have hitched a ride. I'm losing control!" Spike: "Why don't we blast them with the jets again?" "I... I'm too low on power. I don't know how long I can maintain control -- power completely expended! Both of you, into the ejecta-chamber immediately!" "But what about you, Cosmos?!" "This is no time to argue, Spike! Just do what he says!" Bumblebee says, as the vines worm *inside* Cosmos. "I'm gonna crash!" Cosmos moans, as a capsule fires out of him. The capsule parachutes to safety; Bumblebee and Spike drive off to find Cosmos. When they do, he's rapidly being covered by the vines. "Cosmos? Are you alright?" "Well, I'm still in one piece... but I can't transform!" Bum and Spike decide to head back to HQ: "Cos, we're gonna go get help," Spike explains. "Tell Prime the insecticide is still intact," Cosmos says. Spike: "Hold tight, Cosmos! We'll be back before you can fire a sparkplug!" The pair drive off. Cosmos: "Where am I gonna go?"

"Decepticons are accumulating massive quantities of energon!" Teletraan One reports to Prime, showing him a visual of the 'cons' energy transfer machine. Bumblebee arrives just then. "Where's Cosmos?" Prime asks. "It's easier to show you than to tell you," Spike says, as Bum transforms. "What's that on your back, Bumblebee?" Prime asks. "Oh no... it's those mechanical plants!" Ratchet gets to work welding them off of Bumblebee, and gives a sample to Perceptor to study. "Cosmos isn't here," Prime says, viewing an image of the valley, now covered with the vines. Bumblebee: "He's covered by the plants!" Prime: "They've taken over the whole valley!" Outside Autobot HQ, a squad of Prime, Huffer, Smokescreen, Warpath, Bumblebee, Tracks, and Beachcomber rolls out. En route, they're observed by Laserbeak, who flies back to 'con HQ and returns to Soundwave's chest. "Megatron!... Laserbeak reports Autobots en route to acquire robotic insecticide." "Good! I might have use of it myself some day." "Also report of alien plant life at location of." "Never mind that! We must get to the insecticide before the Autobots." Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp head out.

"Hmmm... very interesting," Perceptor mumbles to himself at Autobot HQ. "What is it?" Prowl asks, watching through Percy's lense as the plants spontaneously grow. "Mm? What is what?" "Your diagnosis!" "Hmm... Morphobots!" "...I thought they were extinct!" "As did I," Perceptor says.

Perceptor and Prowl report this news to Prime. "It seems the Morphobots have left their planet in a desperate search for sustinence!" "Also, Prime, we have reason to believe that they are capable of devouring any robotic form," Prowl says. "Yes. Approach them with extreme caution!"

Thrust overflies a valley where the Insecticons are feasting: "I've never seen so many Insecticons! Shrapnel must be working overtime." Megatron radios him: "An Autobot convoy appears to be heading for a northeast valley; the insecticide must be there. Order the Insecticons to stay away until we've destroyed the insecticide!" "What does that loud-mouth show-off want? want?" Shrapnel wonders, as Thrust circles and loops overhead before landing and transforming. "Well! Here comes Megatron's messenger boy!"Kickback says. "What brings you here, Thrust?" Bombshell asks. "Megatron sends a warning. The Autobots have acquired a robotic insecticide, which is capable of destroying you and your forces. You are not to go near the valley just northeast of here over those mountains. Once he destroys the insecticide, he will let you know it's clear. Then you may continue on any path you wish." "How *considerate* of Megatron!" Bombshell says. "Do you expect us to believe that sentimental trash?! trash?" "He values your safety!" The Insecticons transform and advance on Thrust. "What's Megatron *really* hiding in that valley?" Kickback asks. "Your insolence is disturbing!" "Here's an *electronic* message to take back to Megatron! Megatron!" Shrapnel says, blasting Thrust. Kickback says "Give our best wishes to Megatron!" as he kicks Thrust into the air.

Thrust transforms and circles around: "Those dirty roaches! I'll show them!" He launches a pair of missiles, which the Insecticons easily avoid, with much laughter. Thrust flies off. "Thrust never could take a joke," Bombshell comments, as they watch him depart. "Let's pay Megatron a little visit! visit! I'm sure he's deceiving us, us," Shrapnel says; they and their clones head off. "This time we'll get what's coming to us! us!"

Megatron arrives at the valley with Soundwave, Starscream, Blitzwing, Dirge, and Ramjet (what happened to Skywarp and Thundercracker? Who knows?) "I'm picking up an Autobot distress signal," Soundwave reports. "Excellent! We'll investigate!" Megs says; the group lands. "Very unusual! I've never before seen plant life like this on Earth." "So let's find this Autobot junk heap and see if he's got the insecticide! I'll clear this overgrown spinach patch in a flash!" Starscream says. "Refrain, Starscream! These plants may be dangerous!" "Where is your courage, Megatron?" Screamer answers, firing. The blast comes back and knocks him down; Megs and Soundwave have a good laugh. Megs picks up Screamer by the neck: "You test my patience, Starscream! I--" "Megatron! Autobots in vicinity!" Soundwave reports. "I'll deal with you later," Megs tells Screamer. The 'cons hide to let the Autobots get the insecticide for them.

The Autobots arrive and note that Cosmos is now completely grown over. "Warpath! I want to blast a path through to Cosmos." "Hey, no problem, Prime! Whhhham! The only thing you have to worry about is -- zap! -- how big a path you want. Zaamm!" "Ironhide. See if any of your liquids can act like week killers," Prime adds. Warpath's shells "didn't even make a dingin' dent!" "Yeah, leave it to me, Prime," Ironhide says, spraying the plants with some grey stuff that looks like graphite. The plants break right through it: "They didn't even wilt!" "Alright, let me try something," Blaster says, striding forward. "Blaster! No music please! We're in the middle of -- " But Blaster half-transforms anyway and unleashes "Cold Slither" on the plants -- which immediately sway away from him. "Blaster's music!" Warpath exclaims. "I know! It's frying my brain transistors, too!" Prime says. "The music's working!" Beachcomber points out. The 'bots have Blaster move closer and away to verify this. Prime: "Who says plants aren't intelligent. The Morphobots are repelled by your music!" "Yeah, like the rest of us," Huffer groans.

"For once I hope your speakers don't give out, Blaster!" Bumblebee says, as he drives into the plants with Blaster on top, along with Tracks and Hoist. Ironhide follows, hosing the plants with liquid nitrogen to freeze them in place. They finally locate a battered Cosmos: "Boy... am I glad to see you guys!" he comments, as Hoist hitches him up. "When we get home, I'm going to give you the best overhaul you've ever had!" "Uh, could we chit-chat later, guys? I don't wanna be here during the big melt," Bumblebee says, as the 'bots clear out and the Morphobots shatter through the ice.

A bump in the road ends Blaster's music; he transforms and lands in front of Prime, jauntily saluting: "Hah. Mission accomplished, Prime!" "Good work, Blaster. You've just gone platinum," Prime says. "The insecticide is still intact, Prime," Cosmos says, ejecting a giant spray can. Just then, Megatron and his troops attack.

"Prime! You never learn, to you?... Here's a demonstration of what's to become of all you pathetic Autobots!" Megs transforms; Soundwave uses him to destroy the insecticide. "That could mean the entire human race will starve!" Spike says, wincing. "That just breaks my energon converter!" Megs says, laughing. The Autobots advance on him: "You'll never get away with this, Megatron," Prime says grimly. "And who will stop me, Prime?" The Morphobots choose that moment to grab Megs by the legs and drag him away. "Don't just stand there with your cockpits open, you fools!" "I'd shoot at the thing but you ordered me not to, Megatron," Starscream says innocently, as the others futiley tug at the vines. The 'cons get thrown around by the vines; then Tracks blinds them with his black beam gun. The Autobots charge, when something off-screen grabs everyone's attention.

"The Insecticons! Those noble creatures have come to save us, despite the danger to their own lives!" Megatron says. "Our friend Megatron's in trouble!" Kickback snidely observes from high above. "If I wasn't so hungry, I'd stop to help him out!" Bombshell laughs. "Do you see that delicious-looking forest? forest? We were right! right! Megatron was trying to horde it! horde it," Shrapnel says, outraged. The ravenous Insecticon army dives towards the Morphobots, as a befuddled Megatron watches: "W-what are they doing?!" The Morphobots' reaction is instant and overwhelming -- they stream towards the Insecticons.

"The Morphobots feed on robotic insects!" Prime observes, as the plants devour the clones. Kickback and Shrapnel just manage to save Bombshell from getting eaten; the trio takes off: "You didn't tell us they'd bite back!" Bombshell whimpers. "I don't believe it! Those plants just ate the Insecticon army!" Starscream says. "But those three ingrates got away!" Megs says, before ordering a retreat.

"Lookit those Decepticowards split!" Huffer laughs. "Y'know, I hate to admit it, but the Morphobots saved the day," Bumblebee says. "Yeah. In a way, I guess... they're heroes!" "That's true, Spike. But we can't let them stay here on Earth." Some time later, a rocket stuffed full of the plants launches from outside of Autobot HQ, with Cosmos playing chase plane. Prime continues: "Yes, they saved the Earth... but soon they'd be wanting the Earth itself." "Yeah. Sendin' them to a planet inhabited by robotic insects was a good idea!" Ironhide adds. Prime's communicator beeps; it's Perceptor: "I could use some.... *help* in the lab," he says, as he fights with his rampantly growing Morphobots sample. "And incidentally... I hope there's another space ship available... REAL soon..." Fade out.

Clone:

I think I'm gonna add a new little section to my reviews -- call it "Breaches of Physics" -- since physical impossibilities seem to occur in just about every G1 ep. In QfS, it goes like this: There's one leeeetle bitty problem with the Morphobots making Cosmos crash. Where are they getting the material to grow with?? Plants can't just grow out of the ether; they need nutrients and stuff to make new plant material from. Were they feeding off of Cosmos' armor? Eww, that's kinda nasty. And if they were, shouldn't there not be much of his exterior left when the 'bots find him? Likewise, the plants in Perceptor's lab grew apparently out of nothing.

Poor Cosmos! He crashes in this episode; he's shot down in "The God Gambit"; he crashes in "Grimlock's New Brain"; he's captured and welded to the wall in "Blaster Blues"; he's shot down in "Sea Change". About the only eps where something bad *didn't* happen to him are "Megatron's Master Plan", "Secret of Omega Supreme", and "Make Tracks". Poor little feller.

This was a simple but fun story. Over half the action takes place within maybe half an hour's time, and is basically just the Autobots trying to free Cosmos and the subsequent battle. I actually like episodes with such simple plot structures, because they leave lots of time for interesting character banter and the like -- bits like Cosmos's "Where'm I gonna go?" line, Starscream sarcastically refusing to shoot the plant, the Insecticons having fun on the farm, and Thrust having it out with the Insecticons. The last bit, in particular, is an interesting look at Decepticon interpersonal politics. There's also various little silly gags that suceed or fail to various degrees -- the plants vs. Blaster's tunes; the Decepticons getting whupped by a plant; Perceptor at the end; the fact that the Insecticon problem was solved by a carniverous plant. G1 is generally funniest when it doesn't try so hard, unfortunately; the first two gags fell flat for me.

I think Bombshell is the most likable of the Insecticons. Kickback doesn't have much personality, and Shrapnel is all uptight and haughty and leadery most of the time. But Bombshell seems to have a sarcastic streak that I find appealing (love his dismissal of Megatron's troubles!) "Thrust never could take a joke," he says, one of the best lines of the ep. He's the glutton of the bunch, as well, as seen here and -- moreso -- in "The Insecticon Syndrome".

The elusive Skids makes a short appearance here, one of only two in the whole series (the other is "Triple Takeover".) He gets one line: "Robotic insecticide?", in what I like to think of as his "real" voice (it fits better with his bio as a thinker, researcher, and introverted, absent-minded sort.) He then disappears again after the initial battle and its aftermath. Why he was so rarely used in the cartoon remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of Transfandom (sorta like Glo-Bot Soundwave); one might speculate it was a reflection of his major role in the comics (where he had his own issue and big parts in two or three others.) Perhaps as more parts of the G1 series bible come to light this will be explained. From a story perspective, maybe he simply wasn't much use as a fighter, so the 'bots assigned him to other duties?

The warning scene is pretty much Thrust's biggest scene ever. At no other point does he get so many lines all in a row. The Insecticons' reaction to his arrival is amusing...

Typical Starscream. In almost every ep where it comes up, he's the one who wants to jump the gun, skip the tests, throw caution to the wind (reference "Kremzeek", "Traitor", and "Atlantis, Arise!") Instead he gets shot by his own shot. Heh heh. Then Soundwave *laughs*, and it is freaky.

Kickback is, somewhat disturbingly, drawn to look like his toy in insect mode -- specifically, instead of having a plain black insect head like he usually does, his robot face is still underneath his insect head, as if he's just staring at the ground the whole time he's in his bug mode. Usually it's covered up. His mouth even moves when he speaks. Freaky.

How the heck did the Autobots get that interior view of Decepticon HQ? Damn, the Sky Spy is *really* good. :]

Speaking of interiors... Cosmos's insides randomly fluctuate in both size and appearance. In "Blaster Blues", he's barely big enough for Blaster to turn around in; he's also grey and covered with flashing lights. Here he's big enough for Bumblebee and Spike to have plenty of walking space, and most of the sparkly lights are gone.

And speaking of that, why does he need to have Spike fire his jets for him? Cosmos IS the ship. He should have full control over all of his own systems. Even if he's occupied with other stuff, he's a robot. He should have *some* multi-tasking capabilities. I seem to recall Skids having this same problem in the comics, as does Brainstorm in "The Rebirth".

The Autobots' randomized command structure shows up again here. Tracks is seemingly in charge of the group when they arrive at the farm. But it's Smokescreen who gives the order to retreat, and who reports to Prime afterwards (maybe he's explaining why he countermanded Tracks's orders to attack?) I find it odd that Tracks would be in charge of a group to begin with... but then, I also find it odd that Sunstreaker would be command material, either; yet that's what's implied by "The Core" and "The Golden Lagoon".

Tracks' first two lines are both modulated like he's an Insecticon, and it freaks me out for some reason. It's as though, after several minutes of continuous Insecticon airtime, it's happening to *everyone*. Ironhide standing around for a very long moment with no fingertips (after he's sprayed the plants with graphite) is also a disturbing image.

More disturbing than that is the Autobots' plan to send the Morphobots to a planet inhabited by robotic insects. The hell? How would the Autobots like it if someone sent a rocket full of Autobot-eating plants to Cybertron? One presumes these robotic insects aren't sapient....

I love the Insecticons' buzzing noise as they fly into Decepticon HQ. But how do all of them fit into that little elevator tower? (Actually, it's not that little at all, but it still doesn't look like it could hold the hundreds of Insecticon clones seen in this ep.) For that matter, why don't the 'cons use these clones to attack the Autobots with? I guess they're too easily defeated, as seen in "A Plague of Insecticons", when Trailbreaker's force field is enough to seperated them from Shrapnel and essentially destroy them.

The firing noise when Megs destroys the canister is really funky. Also, he doesn't make TFing noises when he transforms in this scene. When Soundwave throws him back to return to robot mode, it looks like he's falling apart in mid-air. :]

If the vines worked their way *inside* Cosmos, shouldn't his hull have been breached? Wouldn't that cause all the air to be sucked out? Wouldn't that make Spike pop like a bubble? Spike's a big risk taker, going into space with no space suit...

Clone of the Incomprehensible Cartoon Lines:

Megatron: "That just [what???] my energon converter!" Braced it? What does THAT mean?

Kickback: "Garbage wishes to Megatron!" WHAT kind of wishes?

Then there's these lines, which I understand -- but they don't make much sense:

Kickback: "Big deal." Shrapnel: "Big spender!"

Isn't "big deal" something you say to dismiss something that other people are making a fuss over? Like when Powerglide dismisses Perceptor's rock at the beginning of "The Golden Lagoon"? And "big spender" is what you sarcastically call a tightwad. If Shrapnel thought Megs was giving them a legitimate cut, why is he a tightwad? Maybe Shrapnel sees through Megs' little deception, to some extent at least...

"You'll never get away with this, Megatron!" Uh, he just DID. Duh. Don't be so damn mellodramatic, Prime.

That scene highlights one of the things that never makes sense about G1. The Autobots just casually *walk up* to Megatron and co. Aren't these guys mortal enemies? Shouldn't they be shooting to kill from the moment they see each other? This happens a LOT in G1 (and the lack of it is why I like the two battle scenes in "Enter the Nightbird".) Heck, it happens again a second later -- Prime yells "Megatron is mine!" and charges at him, then just stops and stands there again! For that matter, what happened to Track's black beam gun? Didn't he shoot Megs with it right before that? Shouldn't Megs be fumbling around in that scene?

Good artwork in this ep. I especially like some of the Insecticon horde shots, and the whole sequence of Thrust flying loop-de-loops over the Insection army. Screenshots I want: Inferno's face, just before he transforms at the beginning of the ep (one of the few times he's drawn with proper angles, instead of all roundish-like); Prime and Smokescreen in Autobot HQ; Prowl and Perceptor in 'bot HQ just as Percy finishes transforming; Starscream blasting the Morphobots; Prime clutching his head and commenting on the Morphobots' reaction to Blaster's tunage.

Overall: Simplistic plot, good animation, silly at times, but definately fun.

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