Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Rambings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting 
re: Other Victories 
Okay, so, I was a bit premature in my crying about how I'd miss the Final
Three.  Either WB17 Philadelphia has boosted its broadcast strength
since I last checked it, or my memory of poor reception is a bit
exagerated.  Either way, this morning I was treated to the beginning of
the end: "Other Victories"... and a treat it was.
  Monster mega mongo spoiler mania!
  Sunday!  Sunday!  Sunday!
    (So they say!)
  The episode begins with a long pan through deep space, past 
asteroids, glowing things, and gaseous tendrils.  In the center of a 
swirling, glowing nebula, two alien skull-things made of energy  converse
(they look familiar -- I'm sure someone else will identify what they
resemble.) "There has been a serious disruption in the time flow. 
Location: Nexus Earth," one says.  "Impossible," another answers. 
"That nexus is closed. The experiment has been terminated."  "The
nexus is gone, but the danger still exists.  If we are to restore the
damage to the time flow, we must send a new agent."  And we pan
away to reveal, floating along side the two skull- things, the stasis locked
bodies of Tigatron and Airazor, hands overlapping (but not clasped.)  As
the aliens watch, the Sparks emerge from the two Maximals, then a
third spark-like thing appears between them, swelling to consume the
camera.  Then we see a new robotic form surrounded by spark-like
energy; after several seconds of panning around mysteriously, this
spark-cloud shoots out of the nebula, followed by the first two Sparks...
At Pred HQ, Megatron is in full court regalia, including a wig and gavel:
Quickstrike is being tried for his treachery in "Master Blaster."
Waspinator speaks for the defense, as Inferno busily takes dictation  in
the background: "Waspinator like defense!  A little more defense and
maybe Waspinator not get blown up all the time!"  "Looks like this is my
last round-up," Quickstrike gulps glumly.  Waspinator makes his case:
"Two-head throw Megatron in lava pit.  Megatron angry.  Think two-head
a traitor!  Want to slag two-head.  Waspinator down with that!"  "Brilliant
as always," Megatron notes.  The Predacon judgement comes in the
form of Dinobot and Rampage's guns.  "Anything to say before sentence
is carried out?" Megs asks.  "I -- I know I done you wrong, boss,"
Quickstrike says, terrified.  "Gimme another chance -- I swear I'll make it
up to ya!" "Very well.  Tell me why Tarantulas tried to destroy the Ark." 
"I plain don't know!  But I do know that dang spider double-crossed both
of  us. I'd be happy to track him down for ya -- and -- and kick his 
keister!" "Ha ha.  Dang spider.  I applaud your good intentions.  But we
are through being lenient with traitors!"  The barrels of Rampage and
Dinobot's guns pull closer -- but just as it looks like it's all over for QS,
the computer sounds a priority alert.  "Hold your fire!" Megs orders. It's
an alien signal, which is approaching the planet.
In his lair, Tarantulas isn't too happy: "Blast Megatron!  He's ruined my
plans!  And those of the Tripredacus council as well."  But then he picks
up the signal incoming: "Those meddling aliens again.  How fortunate,"
he gloats.  The Preds, meanwhile, are at full alert; the signal will hit the
base in four cycles.  Megs orders them to battle stations and releases
QS.  "Thanks boss!  You won't be sorry!"  "Well, if I am... you will be
sorrier."  The Maximals, meanwhile, have also picked it up: "If it's not a
comet... what is it?!" Rattrap wonders, watching the Pred base
on-screen from the Ark.  "Something I thought we'd never see again,"
Rhinox murmurs, before calling Optimus.
The Preds open fire on it, to no effect.  The alien energy causes all
systems to fail -- including the Sentinel shield.  After a long moment,
Megs gives what is obviously a difficult order: "Abandon base."  He's the
last one out the door a moment before the energy-ball thing hits the
Pred base and blows it to smithereens (any Scorponok or Terrorsaur
bits among that flying debris?  I couldn't tell on my screen.)
"Looks like the Beast Wars are over," Rattrap observes solemnly -- "For
the Preds! Heh heh heh!"  But the others are still quiet -- "They're back,"
BA observes.  "Just like Tarantulas always said they'd be." 
  As the Preds recover from the explosion, a rather G1-esque winged
figure emerges from the blast crater, and speaks in a voice like an evil
Tigatron: "I am Tigerhawk, emissary of the Vauk.  Your form's 
changed... but I know you, Megatron.  The Vauk charge you with  the
willful disruption of time and space.  Surrender to me, immediately. 
Violence will not be tolerated."  "Megatrons do not surrender; we
conquer!" But as the Preds try to attack, Tigerhawk blows them away
(literally) with an energon tornado and a well-placed missile.  "Its power
is awesome," Megatron notes, impressed.
"Whatever he is, he's makin' circuit salad out of the Preds!" a  watching
Rattrap observes.  "So now can we par-tay?"  But the others _still_ don't
share his enthusiasm; Optimus orders Cheetor to rendevous with him
there. "Am I missin' the interface here?!"  Rattrap exclaims.  "You're
jumping in to HELP Megajerk?"  "Megatron is carrying the spark of the
original Megatron.  If he's destroyed there'll be a time storm which could
wipe out Cybertron as we know it."  "And when that flying tabbie is
finished with my old pals, where do you think he's coming next?" BA
asks.  "Just when things are finally lookin' up... heh heh heh... we're all
gonna die."
As Megs and Tigerhawk battle in mid-air, Cheetor arrives: "Gallopin'
galaxies -- what's goin' on?"  "Something you have no part in," Tarantulas
says, stepping out of cover to put Cheetor down with a web. "Let the
power of the Vauk end this," Tigerhawk exclaims to Megs.  "This is my
world now.  You have no place in it!" Megs replies, before getting
machine-gunned out of the sky.  As Tarantulas happily watches from
afar, Tigerhawk prepares to finish Megatron  off -- only to be interrupted
by Primal's arrival.  "The Vauk know you well, Optimus Primal.  We'll
speak when my primary program is completed."  "I cannot let you
destroy Megatron."  "His disruption of time and space must end before
the damage grows greater.  "Destroy him, and you'll only make things
worse!" "Interference will not be tolerated," Tigerhawk mutters, before
turning and blasting open a whole in the ground which swallows Optimus
up.  "A curious species," he says to himself, turning back to Megs.  But
before he can deliver the killing blow, several of Tarantulas's
cyber-spiders latch onto Tigerhawk and knock him out.  "Now you're
mine," Big T gloats. 
Some time later, Megatron revives and flies off; nearby, Cheetor still lies
in the stasis web.  The two sparks fly out of the sky, hover over him, and
merge as we enter a dream sequence: Cheets sees the ghostly forms of
Tigatron and Airazor, hands clasped; their sparks emerge, unite, engulf
them both, and then race away... only to be replaced by a hideous Vauk
face racing right at Cheetor -- who then wakes up and frees himself from
the web, to find a bright floating light hovering nearby.  As he follows it,
Optimus begins to extricate himself from the ground nearby. 
"Stars of the Nebula," Tigerhawk mutters, awakening in Tarantulas's
lair.  "Tarantulas.  The Vauk know you all too well."  "The Vauk!  A
simple name for so arrogant a race.  Keep struggling if you like.  In a few
clicks my datatracks will destroy the alien influence within you. And
then you will serve me!"  
Cheetor, meanwhile, has tracked the glowing thing all the way to
Tarantulas's cave.  Inside, Tigger and Big T are still at it: "I'll never serve
one as evil as you." "You have little choice.  And while you deal with the
Maximals, I will complete the destruction of the Ark."  "You can't.  The
time storm from such an action would wipe out your entire race."  "Only
those decended from Autobot and Decepticon.  But I, and the
Tripredacus councel, have different origins.  Under our rule, Cybertron will
conquer the universe.  And your precious Vauk!"  "You're insane,"
Tigerhawk says quietly.  "So they say!" Tarantulas answers mirthfully,
before unleashing his best giggle ever.  He then activates his devices,
which fire eerie beams into Tigerhawk... and while his back is turned, two
of the Vauk faces emerge from him.  Tarantulas turns in horror to find
them inches away from him.  He fires his guns, but the shots pass right
through the aliens; the faces enter his body.  His device is spun about by 
the shots he fired, and unleashes its anti-alien beams, knocking Big T into another one of the
devices.  Tarantulas has a moment to scream, and then he explodes,
leaving nothing but a pair of feet behind.  Most of this has been
heard/seen by Cheetor, who enters after shredding some techno-spiders
-- "Whoa.  Talk about your wild parties!" He grabs Tigerhawk, escaping
as the rest of Big T's equipment overloads and the lair goes BOOM.
Cheetor awakes to find Optimus standing over him.  "How did you get
here?" Cheets asks.  "You left a pretty big trail," Op answers, gesturing
to the remains of the cavern.  Just then the glowing spark thing arrives
again -- "Old friends," Cheets explains to Op -- and enters Tigerhawk's
inert form.  "What has happened to me?"  Tigerhawk asks, standing and
examining himself curiously.  "Tigatron and Airazor have come home,"
Cheetor says.  "Home... yes.  This is  home.  I remember now... things
have changed.  What... have I become?"  "You're Tigerhawk now.  A
Maximal like us," Cheetor explains.  "Tigerhawk... I like the sound of
that." "There's a lot of questions still to be answered.  For all of us,"
Optimus says, not quite to the viewer.  "But for now... welcome home."
He offers a giant orange hand in friendship, which Tigerhawk takes
hesitantly.  "Things _have_ changed.  A lot," he notes wryly, comparing
it with  his own relatively small hand.  This elicits a chuckle from
Cheetor, eliciting an annoyed cuff from Optimus, and another all-is-well 
chuckle from Tigerhawk.  But as the three fly off... a watching Megatron
is anything but pleased
  Well... what can I say.  I've been afraid of this since the day I first saw
the web pix of the Tigerhawk toy.  Two of my favorite characters are, for
all intents and purposes, no more.  They're not dead; they're not alive. 
They're merged, whatever the hell that means.  I can't help having a big
problem with this "fate" for Tigatron and Airazor.  It's just so freakin'
fanboyish!  "They merged and turned into TIGERHAWK!!" Whoop-ee! 
What the heck does it mean for two people to "merge"?  How often has
this happened to people in the real world?  Without a thorough
exploration of what it means for the two minds involved, I feel cheated.
It's not really an appropriate fate for either character, since *both*
personalities are subsumed into this new one.  Being in love with
someone is not the same as BEING that someone.  He may be *made*
from them, but Tigerhawk is neither Tigatron nor Airazor, or at least in
theory he shouldn't be.  In truth, his few words after waking up are most
reminiscent of Tigatron's confusion upon emerging from his stasis pod.
This impression is reinforced by the return of Blu Mankuma (formerly
Tigatron) as his voice.  But then, where does this leave Airazor?  Does
nothing remain of her but a set of wings in Tigerhawk's beast mode?  I
guess my preference -- to have both of them return in new  forms -- would
be even more fanboyish, but at least it would not mean having both
characters subsumed beneath this new one.  Also disturbing is that the
Maximals don't seem bothered by any of this.  Doesn't it bother them
that they lost two people -- two _friends_ -- and got back only one?! 
Still, I have to admit -- this has HUGE fanfic possibilities.  The whole
thing touches on some weird philosophical stuff about what  defines a
person, what makes you "you", etc.  Tigerhawk's characterization will be
something to watch for closely in the remaining two episodes; by rights
he should be one mixed up character.  His mind is made of two people
that were in love or at least showed signs of it; does this mean he'll be
narcissistic?  Will he simply have traits of both personalities (the easy
way out, and the one I'm expecting)?  Or are both personalities alive and
separate within him, maintaining some sort of running dialogues?  I'm
beginning to hope he'll appear in Beast Machines, giving us more time to
hammer out these issues (if only because two episodes of Beast Wars
is rarely enough to get a handle on a new character.)
Now, on to the aliens.  Here we find a plot of the swiss cheese variety...
full of holes.  First off, the aliens have taken yet another step backwards
in aggression.  First they tried to blow up the entire planet.  Then they
tried to knock out all the Beast Warriors.  Now they've... sent an
emissary!  Ooooooo!  What's next?  Will they (gasp) politely ask the
BWs to leave the planet?  Oh the horror!
  More seriously -- why the heck would the Vauk (that's my spelling till
we get something more official) send a single robot to Earth, when in  the
past they've sent Planet Busters, Flying Islands, and MetalHunters?
Possessed or not, what changes could Tigerhawk really effect?  And
why are the aliens suddenly deciding to assume the form of a
Transformer, when in the past they've always come on  their own terms,
in their own forms?
And that's not all the plot holes:  The aliens were aware of the time-
stream disruption caused by Megatron in "The Agenda" part 3; they've
done nothing about it till now?  How can the Vauk blame Megatron for
tampering with the time stream, when they were doing so in a much
more drastic fashion in "Other Voices" by trying to destroy the Earth? 
Why are they simply trying to capture Megs,  when before they were
willing to kill all the BWs?  Didn't the Tripredacus council specifically
mention "our Deception ancestors" in "The Agenda" Part One, yet now
Big T says they have "different origins" (or did the Triped counsel just
say "the Predacons'  Decepticon ancestors")?
And now, some unanswered questions: Why were Tigatron and  Airazor's
spark(s) sent to tag along with Tigerhawk?  Was Tigerhawk  possessed,
or just programmed?  It certainly seems that two of the  aliens came out
of him at the end, leaving him a blank slate for  Tigatron and Airazor at
the end.  And what became of those aliens  at the end, when Big T's lab
exploded -- were they destroyed or did  they just float away?  Do they
represent the entire Vauk race, or just  two members?  Were they the
same ones we saw at the beginning?  If the Vauk know of the events of
"Other Visits", why haven't they  done anything to confirm that the
Metalhunter did its job?  How do  the Vauk know Tarantulas -- perhaps
he's had prior dealings with  them?  The only time he's directly interacted
with them was in "The  Probe" and "Other Visits" Part 2, and in OV I got
the impression that  the aliens themselves never actually came to the
planet.  Is Tarantulas really dead this time?  That explosion seemed to
take out  his entire lab and, presumably, his supply of robo-spiders to put
him together again.  And the real biggie, where DID Tarantulas and the
Tripeds come from, if not from Autobot and Decepticon?  And the  real
tiny one, what did Rhinox think he'd never see again -- the  aliens, or
Stripes & Bird Lady?  Also, where were Silverbolt and  Depth Charge the
whole time?  Looks like they were this episode's  victims of Random
Disappearance Syndrome, which has plagued this entire season.
As with "Master Blaster", we got a lot of continuity and references,  as
well as a couple of mysteries unraveled: why Big T wants to  destroy the
Ark; what actually happened to Tigataron and Airazor in "Other Visits";
QS actually having to answer for his treachery; the name of the aliens;
and -- best of all -- the Maximals being fully aware of the consequences
of Megatron having G1 Megatron's Spark, and Megatron also noting the
apparent illogic of Big T trying to blow up the Ark.  The aliens also
specifically identify the "danger" they spoke of in "Other Voices"; it is,
as we've long suspected, the disruption of the time stream (though,
again, this raises the question of why they then tried to destroy the
Checking in with the character department... Quickstrike shines in  this
ep perhaps even more than in "Master Blaster".  He's _terrified_  at the
court proceedings, which Megatron seems to revel in.  I _loved_ his
delivery of "I know I done ya wrong!"  Interestingly, he and the other
Preds disappear after Act II; the episode does a nice  job of shifting focus
from the Preds to the Maxies as it progresses.  After that it's mostly
about Tarantulas and Tigerhawk, with some  Cheetor thrown in -- betcha
didn't think we'd see yet another Cheetor dream sequence, eh? We're up
to, what, five of 'em now?  (2 in "The Web", "The Spark", "Feral Scream"
Part 2... is that all?)  Cheets really seems to have some sort of
precognizance when it  comes to Sparks; he saw the joining of these two
before it actually happened.
Big T goes out (or seems to) with a bang... a BIG bang, taking his whole
lair with him, and perhaps a couple of his hated aliens as well.  And he
does so as a victem both of his own machines and his own schemes --
there's a nice symetry there. There was nothing left but his boots
*before* the lab blew up, so I'd wager that's the end of our friendly
neighborhood mad arachnid.  Besides, that last bizarre giggle, that
wonderful "So they say!", the prolonged shot of him getting zapped by
his machine, all smacked of this being his final bow.  Season 3 claims
its first victim. 
Well, actually, its second victim, since the Predacon base got vaped
earlier on.  The destruction was swift and spectactular, not to  mention
totally unexpected for me (how wonderful it was to be  unspoiled for this
episode!)  And it gave us one of Megatron's finest  moments; his order to
abandon the base was one of the few times  we've ever seen him truly
defeated, truly at a loss and upset by it.  However much they may hate
him, his troops clearly do look to him  for direction and reliable
leadership; they're all waiting for his word as the alien energy thing
approaches.  And plot-wise, they're now in big trouble.  They've lost
Tarantulas, they have no CR tanks, and the Maximals have gained yet
another new member.  What's the score  now?  Preds: Megs, Rampage,
Dinobot, Inferno, QS, Waspy.  Maxies: Op, DC, Rattrap, Rhinox, Cheets,
BA, Silverbolt, and  Tigerhawk.  Six to eight.  No wonder Megs spared
The aliens... look silly.  Floating skulls with glowing eyes and long hair. 
Yeesh.  Tigerhawk, OTOH, looks tough.  And he _sounds_  scarey.
Tigatron could be scary, if you'd done something to piss him  off.
Tigerhawk is scary even when he's not pissed off.  A couple of  his lines
sounded like they were delivered by a Borg.  Megatron,  meanwhile, has
shrunken drastically from his apparent gargantuan size in "Master
Blaster"; he fits in his control chair at base, same as always.  
Given the general seriousness of the episode, I found the courtroom
antics -- Inferno typing, Megs with a wig, Waspy happily  proving the
case against his "client" -- to be misplaced.  It was especially hard to
laugh when I was not at all certain that Quickstrike would be alive at the
end of the scene.  This is the second time in as many episodes I've
been convinced a character was about to be  killed (the first was
Tarantulas last episode.)  But then, I guess Big T's destruction proves
that when death comes, it's a death you won't be expecting.
I'd rate this episode around the middle of the Season 3 episodes -- better
than "Feral Scream" or "Crossing the Rubicon", but not as  good as
"Master Blaster", "Deep Metal", or "Changing of the  Guard", and of
course nowhere in league with the stand-out "Proving Grounds".  How
can I say that, you ask?  How can "Other Victories" with its aliens and
destroyed Tarantulas and returned Airazor and Tigatron be
overshadowed by "Proving Grounds", which had nothing but BA and
Dinobot running around?  Allow me to explain.
"Other Victories" has an ambitious plot which moves fast and keeps 
your eyes and mind occupied.  Unfortunately, as noted above, that plot
is far from flawless.  A lot of folks (myself included) generally don't
notice such things till they've had a long time to digest it all, however;
hence I expect enthusiasm to be high for this episode.  OV is also full of
revelations, answers to questions that we've been wondering about for a
long time.  But these answers, in typical BW fashion, mostly don't relate
to the episode's main plot; they're asides thrown into the dialogue -- they
don't relate directly to the story the episode is telling. Revelations aside,
then, OV's plot is almost entirely event-driven: the aliens come, this
happens, that happens, the machines blow up, the lights flash,
Tigerhawk wakes up, the end.  It really could have happened any way the
writers wanted it to; the flashing lights could have blown up the Maximal
base, killed all the Predacons, just about anything.  Compare this with
"Proving Grounds".  Here we have a plot that's largely character-driven. 
It's a much more down-to-earth story; no mystical lights, no aliens, no 
floating sparks, no new bodies.  And it's an almost air-tight plot, too.  The
characters act sensibly and believably... and realistically.  They take
over the story and run it themselves, rather than having the events
happen around them and to them.  They ARE the events.  What more
can I say... I found PG to be an enchanting little story in a way that no
other episode this season has matched.  But enough of that.
Overall: Even on the first watching, where I'm usually very
impressionable, this episode had way too many sparking lights and
mysterious fancy flashing thingies going on for me to really enjoy it -- I'm
tired of all the mystical stuff that's been showing up in Season 3, like
telekinesis and pixie-dust Spark energy.  And as the plot holes began
popping out, I found myself liking it still less.  Still, a fast-moving plot, an
awesome first act, numerous revelations and resolutions, and a couple
of great character moments make up for a lot of that.  As I said, not the
best of Season 3 -- but hardly the worst, either.

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