Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Rantings
Re: "Spark War Part 3: The Seige"
4/12/00

When I announced last week that this review would be a week late, I promptly got an email telling me "don't bother, we got the info already." Heh heh. Some folks just don't get it. What, you mean you thought I was doing all this for YOUR benefit?! :]

Come

to

me,

my

Transfans!

Let

us

all

be

SPOILED!

Beast Mode:

The typical recap that only manages to convey the plot in the most vague terms. Do people who missed last week actually understand what happened in the previous episode after seeing these things?...

Nightscream flaps along beneath another Cybertronian moon (looks like a cueball with a few claw slashes in it), evading hordes of drones. He meets up with Cheetor and Blackarachnia, and together they wonder why the BFH is floating over the central spaceport... and how they can put a stop to whatever Megs is re-supplying for.

Obsidian and Striker are nearby, ordering troop movements, when a familiar howl sounds. It's Noble, who obliviously strolls up to the Maximals' hiding spot, in plain sight... leading the drones right to them. "This is a recon mission, not combat! I'm pullin' the plug," Cheetor says as the group transforms and engages. The group disposes of their attackers and begins to retreat, but despite Nightscream's pleadings, Noble continues fighting. NS: "We can't just leave Noble behind!" BA: "Watch us!" Nightscream finally fires off a sonic burst that destroys Noble's attackers, and the beast retreats along with them.

"Your little pet jeopardized the mission. He almost got us slagged!" Cheetor snaps afterwards, as the group walks through a tunnel. "He follows me, okay? It's not like I can control him...." "I talk; you listen! Either you put a muzzle on him or we cut him loose!" NS reluctantly heads in the other direction, with Noble following like a puppy.

Later, Op reminds Cheets and Rattrap of their upcoming mission's importance. "What if we built something?" Rattrap speculates. "Like a giant horse! A-and leave it out for Megatron as a gift, only we're hidin' inside, see. And then -- after they bring us into the big cheese -- we hop out, and BLAMMO!" A silent pause, then: "What?"

Cheetor, Nightscream, and Silverbolt are to distract the Vehicons; the rest go to infiltrate Megs and free the Sparks. "I got just the thing!" RT says, pulling out another little blue disk. "Oh, not again! These things didn't work for slag last time," BA grouses. But RT persists: they're new and improved, with newly added "special features". "They're all we've got... so let's make the best of them," Op says. As the group heads out, Cheetor coughs meaningfully and nods in Noble's direction. Op responds with a look to Nightscream. "No, it's too dangerous, understand?" NS tells his pet beast, recieving a downcast look. "Go on, get out of here. Scat!" And Noble departs with a puppy-like whimper, and the group moves out.

Thrust reports to Megatron, who manifests himself in the form of his glowing red Spark. "Open the containment grid," he directs his systems, releasing a pair of drifting Sparks. Energy shoots out from Megatron... and the Sparks are consumed, absorbed into his own, as Thrust watches dumbfounded. "Thrust!... You have something to report?" "Uh... no sign of the Maximals." "The Maximals no longer concern me," Megs says, gobbling up a couple more Sparks. "I have mastered the secrets of the Oracle. And now, no force in the universe can prevent my assention!"

On the surface, Nightscream and company make their move: "One noisy distraction comin' up!" Optimus's group tries out the scramblers, which seem to work, and leap aboard a hovertransport that's heading for the BFH. The distraction group, elsewhere, plays a game of cat and mouse with the drones. Cheetor slaps a disk on one of the drones... causing the others to read it as a Maximal, and blast it to scrap. "Well, if anyone knows how to create confusion, it's our... little Rattrap," Silverbolt says, almost admiringly.

The generals examine the wrecked drones, and find one of the disks. Primal and co, meanwhile, have infiltrated the BFH. Primal listens to the voices in his head -- literally -- which direct him toward the Sparks: "This way."

Striker: "If I can reconfigure the harmonics, I think I can cause feedback, overloading all of the other units. Meaning --" "--They will no longer be able to elude us," Obsidian completes the thought. Apparently they do just that, since a moment later the Maximals are picked up by the BFH's sensors. "New and improved?" Botanica asks pointedly. "Hey! They got us this far," RT says, but Thrust's arrival cuts short any further debate: "We riiiiide," he hisses.

"We can't play hide and seek forever. I say we go for the generals!" Silverbolt says to the others. Cheetor says they're not there to fight a war. "Guys, a thousand pardons for interrupting, but --" A drone attack finishes the thought. "Any more tricks up your sleeve?" SB asks. "Just one," Cheetor says, rushing the ground drones head on. "Kid's got... style," SB observes.

Rattrap gets the Maximals througha doorway, then seals it before Thrust can get through. The group finds themselves in a large round chamber with a seal at the bottom... a seal which opens to reveal a huge canister full of glowing, seathing Sparks. The canister rises to meet the orange-red form of Megatron above: "Optimus Primal, right on schedule." Tentacles lash out and snare the group. "Thanks to your help I can finally achieve my transassension!" he says, chomping down on a few more Sparks. "The Sparks -- what are you doing?" Optimus asks in horrified outrage. "Fulfilling my destiny, Optimus! Uniting every Spark on Cybertron into one, perfect being -- ME. Come to me, my children! Let us all become one!" The canister opens, and the Sparks drift upwards. OP: "Resist him. If you allow Megatron to fuse with you, you will be obliterated!" But Megatron just laughs.

On the surface, all the combatants stop and stare as Megatron's ultra-Spark rises out from the BFH. "The Maximals are MINE!" he declares, lashing out with energy beams that suspend the team in mid-air and begin to draw out their Sparks. Nightscream manages to evade the beams momentarily, till he trips on a fallen drone. But as the beam begins to drag him away, he sees Noble lurching towards him. Striker sees him too: "That creature is most amusing... units Sigma and Epsilon advance to Sector 3!" But the mighty beast is too much for the drones. "I'll finish you myself, dogmeat!" Obsidian declares, but he and Striker are bested as well. "Disgusting animal!" Megatron says, as Noble reverts to Savage and blasts the beam holding Nightscream, freeing him. Savage takes off, heading for Megatron, but Megs zaps him, knocking him out of the sky: "I'll grind you into pulp... you dare contaminate the purity of MY world!" Savage falls and hits the ground hard. He reverts to Noble, and -- cradled in Nightscream's arms -- dies.

Nightscream, infuriated, blasts Megs with his sonic weapon... disrupting his hold on the Maximals, the captive Sparks, and himself, too, as he howls in agony. The Sparks begin falling back into their canister. "We're going down," Botanica says, as the BFH begins to plummet. "Abandon head!!" Rattrap shouts. But Op won't abandon the Sparks. RT extends a bridge to a control center, and finds the manual control system. The head falls from view... then rises again. Cheetor and Silverbolt are briefly exhultant... till they turn back to Nightscream, still kneeling beside Noble.

The group gathers around a holo-image of the slain beast, as Optimus speaks: "Our fallen friend may have sacrificed his life, but he did not do so in vain. He allowed us to defeat our enemy, ensuring the salvation of our people. He has made it possible for Cybertron to be reborn, free from tyrany and fear." But as we pan around the empty streets of the aforementioned Cybertron... Megatron's orange-red Spark can be seen flitting through their shadows.



Other Beast Mode:

Uh... uh-huh. I dunno, somehow there's not a huge amount to say about this one... at least not a lot that's positive.

The story involved two catastropic plot points (Megs eating the Sparks, and the falling BFH) that were resolved by a change of premise: the sparks weren't really "absorbed", and the BFH suddenly has a manual control system. Okay, both aren't *impossible*, but both seem unlikely. I mean, why the heck would Megs include a *manual* control system? Does he even HAVE a body anymore? Who was he intending to operate the BFH, and under what circumstances? Maybe it was for himself, before he freed his Spark from his old body, in case he needed a ship for whatever reason. Who knows. But Optimus's assumption that there HAD to be a manual control seemed like a HUGE leap of faith.

Likewise, Rattrap gets into and around the BFH FAR too easily. Doesn't Megatron have some kind of built-in defenses to repel Maximal computer systems? Not to mention something to ensnare or destroy invaders? C'mon, all he needs is some webbing and a few autoguns, or maybe the Key to Vector Sigma (though I suppose that's kind of a standoff situation -- so long as Primal has the Plasma Energy Chamber, it's Mutual Assured Destruction.) And a manual control that quickly and easily responds to his enemies??? Come ON.

Megatron's "grand design" was -- initially anyway -- freaky beyond belief. My first thought when he absorbed those first few Sparks: "My god, he just KILLED some poor schmuck!" The freak factor increased as it hit me that he didn't just kill them... he ATE THEM ALIVE. Now THAT is cold slag. This was the best moment of the entire episode by far. (His attitude towards Thrust was kinda funny, too -- "Whaddaya want? I'm eating!")

But! In a Magic Reset Button that ranks right up there with Issue #53 of the comics**, when Nightscream blasts Megs' Spark, all of his victems... fall out of him. A-ha. I see. That wasn't much of an "aborption", now, was it? Theories have been floated that perhaps he didn't need to permanently absorb the Sparks, that perhaps he got what he needed from them. But his words to me leave little doubt -- he wanted them to become a part of him *permanently*, and that was what he was doing. Maybe he just hadn't had enough time to "digest" most of them yet? Always take time to chew your food, kids.

Incidentally, this episode puts one HELL of a freaky spin on "Till all are one", doesn't it?

Silverbolt's "I don't like anybody" sub-plot gets a tiny bit of advancement, as he admits some grudging respect for both Rattrap and Cheetor at various points. Not very compelling on either count, really. Other than that, there's hardly a thing going on in the character department.

Oh yeah. Noble died. Nightscream lost his puppy, almost literally. Poor kid. If I'd been more into this episode, I might have felt badly for him. The sad whining puppy bit was cute, a little sad, but in retrospect seems contrived to garner up greater pathos for this beastly creature who, up till now, has been anything but cute. Noble, to me, is best seen as an embodiment of Megatron's ruthless carelessness, a used-and-discarded victim. There certainly wasn't much to him as a character. Funny how, after losing his world, his friends, and very nearly his new-found family, it still takes the death of Noble to motivate Nightscream to actually DO something about the situation he's in. Hey, shoot Megatron! What an idea!

And, as others have said, what the heck is Megs thinking, coming out in the open like that? What happened to the Megs who wouldn't leave his Spark "vunerable -- not even for an instant"? Whatever he was planning or thinking, he obviously WAS vunerable. There was Noble, 7 Maximals who weren't quite de-Sparked, and 3 generals still running about on the planet, all of whom were in the immediate vicinity. I guess we have to fall back on the old "drunk with his own power and arrogance" excuse, but that is a very old and tired way of explaining away a villian's last-minute stupidity. Megatron should REALLY REALLY REALLY know better by now.

What sort of "assension" is Megatron hoping for? Will he move on to some higher plane when he eats enough Sparks, or does he just become really big and powerful? And doesn't absorbing a Spark also mean absorbing its personality? Shouldn't Megatron come out as the average of all the personalities of all the Transformers if he succeeds with this, rather than his egoistic meglomaniacal self? This could be seen as further evidence that he didn't finish digesting the Sparks, actually.

This episode was VERY lacking for noteworthy dialogue. I got half-way through my summary having written maybe two lines down, and even those were more for explication purposes than because they were well-written. Rattrap's Trojan horse idea was nice as a literary reference but incredibly forced -- a giant horse? One can see how it worked for the Greeks but what in HELL would Megatron concievably want a giant horse for? Or any other "gift" for the Maximals, for that matter? I suppose this could be a sort of bizarre foreshadowing of the group's infiltration of the BFH, or perhaps some other plot point we've not yet seen... wierd. At least the delivery on Rattrap's "What?" was sufficient to offset the "WTF??" factor of his preceeding speech.

"A thousand pardons"?? Wow. Nightscream got some manners. Odd manners, but manners nonetheless.

RT's disks don't seem very well thought out. Okay, so you make a drone seem like a Maximal, and the others blow it up. Okay. But to do so, you have to get close enough to the drone to touch it! And this has to be done for each and every drone! Wouldn't a far better system be to cause the affected drone to go around destroying others, rather than getting itself blown up?

Okay, the cut-scene editing is starting to get out of hand. I actually found myself switching the order of events a bit, to keep things clear. Do we really need to cut back and forth between the various parties every 5 seconds? I suppose it was necessary to illustrate that the generals had hacked into the disks at exactly the point that they did, but there were several earlier scenes that could have been amalgomated. The seperate editing seems like a gimmick to make it seem like more's going on than there actually is. Part one and two did this as well, but there WAS more going on there.

Someone should do a video compilation of all the cool ways that Cheetor has disposed of drones with his swords (maybe that should be "kewl" ways?) This one was actually a bit below par, though: he tosses them away as two Helidrones float towards him, then stands there waiting... waiting... till the swords fly through the drones from behind, taking them out, as he catches them. Not bad, but not as keen as when he took out that tank drone without even looking...

I'm positive that tower that got knocked down by the MegaHead has been seen in Transformers before. Possibly surrounding the Smelting Pit back in Issue #17 of the comics?... no, that's not it. Maybe it's just such a generic-looking form that I'm imagining it?

Late Night Beast Machines HORROR CAM: we get to see just what it's like to be on the receiving end of Nightscream's Dentures o' Doom, in a head-on shoot of this most vile and twisted of Transformer attacks. Just what I never wanted.

Other visual notes: That didn't look like 10 million Sparks to me (ref: Cheetor in "Fires of the Past" on the population of Cybertropolis), nor did it look like the canister had *room* for anywhere near that many... the BFH falling coulda been a lot cooler than it was; it was the perfect chance for some kewl shots of a huge object falling out of the sky, a chance that seemed squandered, somehow... Noble's last morph into Savage looked REALLY bad -- Savage's face just kind of *appeared* out of thin air. Ick. You know it's bad when *I* notice it...

So what's Megatron up to now? Looks to me like he's flitting about in desperate fear, trying to escape detection, perhaps. Not that the Maximals are actually bothering to go out and look for him. Sheesh. You'd think that they'd jump right on the task of getting those Sparks into bodies, but noooooooooo, THAT would require CGI models. :/ And what about the Generals? Thrust seemed... hypnotized by the sight of Megatron snacking on those Sparks. This is 100% unfounded speculation, but maybe he's having second thoughts about this? Maybe not, since he was happy to attack the invading Maximals. He's finally got his cool back, by the way... "We ride!" is the most befitting line that biker-bot has gotten since before he started whining about how unfair it is that there's 7 of them and one of him. And the other Generals? What will they do in the interim, with Megs apparently gone? Sit and brood? Have a tea? Go off on their own like Jetstorm and Thrust did earlier this season? And are the drones off-line now? And does Barbara know about John and Ellen's secret affair? How many licks DOES it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?

Speaking of the Generals, Striker's line seems to support my supposition that she's more of the back-line watcher and thinker, while Obsidian is the one who goes out in the field more often. She also has a bit of a sense of humor that he seems to utterly lack -- not much, but it's there ("What a *pretty* little plant!" "That creature is amusing!" and so on.)

But -- getting back to Megatron -- does he have a back-up plan? Or will he find and exploit some chink in the armor, some mistake the Maximals have made? It'd be a freaky ending to the series if he managed to sneak into a new body and steal off anonymously into the night... he's done too many nasty things in this series to deserve to come out of it alive, and somehow it'd be pleasingly dark if he managed to do so. Of course, in my heart I really really want to see him get the painful death he so richly deserves by now... but how do you kill a Spark that's just floating around? Beast Machines has, come to think of it, taken a lot of liberties with the concept of what you can do with a Spark. Apparently a Spark can only be killed if it's within a body? Huh? At any rate, Megs has to pull off *something* to keep the plot moving for the next 2-3 episodes. And Primal's due for a good drubbing if he really thinks Megs is dead... again. Megs has the Oracle. That sounds scary... no matter what it implies.

Overall: Another 3-parter conclusion that fell on its face. Heaven help you if you thought this was the season finale, 'cause it'd seem awfully lame. And for a climactic "final battle", it was. Fortunately, having 3 or 4 episodes remaining ensures that it's not nearly as "final" as the plot and dialogue might make it seem.

** Issue 53 of the comics centers on Autobots Cloudburst and Landmine seeking parts for their injured comrades. They meet up with some traders called "the Mechanibals", who eat other robots alive, then sell the parts. The two Autobots gain the upper hand at the end of the story, and order the Mechanibals to "repair and free all the robots you've 'recycled'" -- implying that, oh, those robots weren't really dead after all, kids! Yeah, right.

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