102 - Beast Wars, Part 2
Previously on Beast Wars: The show started.
Optimus and Dinobot continue to banter. Dinobot goading optimus into a confrontation, while Optimus stands back. Optimus refuses to make anyone fight for him, which Rattrap is fine with, while Cheetor would rather just blast Dinobot. Optimus is willing to let Dinobot join, but lead, heck no.
Eventually the pair comes to blows, and we get a swordfight. Dinobot uses that stupid spiny helicopter thing made out of his tail. It never, ever stops looking stupid as a weapon. Eventually Optimus knocks Dinobot down, but refuses to finish him off despite him asking for it, so Dinobot exploits his weakness by shooting him in the face with his eye lasers, causing Optimus to fall off the edge, though he manages to catch himself with his, err, calves? Dinobot approaches and helps him back up, saying that defeating him like would have been dishonorable. The two fight some more, Optimus admitting that Dinobot has qualities he could like despite being a Predacon, and Dinobot calls Optimus a worthy adversary.
From a nearby hill the Predacons see the fight, and Megatron takes no time to realize that this a fight he would not mind seeing end in a bloody, lethal stalemate. So he and his bots transform and fire and stone bridge. Before the weapons hit, Optimus turns to beast mode, grabs Dinobot and jumps, clinging to the underside of the rock bridge by a toe and saving both their lives. The maximals transform to help their leader. It's here I must complain about Early Installment Weirdness
. The transformations are given way more gravitas than anywhere else in the series. Each time the predacons or maximals transform, we get each one saying their activation phrase and transforming. This pads things out so much... The first time was forgiveable, but we are at episode 2, this is getting annoying. Heck, it takes so long, Dinobot starts suffering from Energon build up. He can't transform with how Optimus is holding him, and begs Optimus to drop him. Optimus refuses, pointing out it'd be dishonorable. Both are saved by Rhinox, and as the 'cons blow the bridge, the Maximals run across, with Rattrap only making it with Optimus' help. He refuses to thank him because he feels it's Optimus' job.
Some of the Predacon Missiles keep flying, hitting a mountain and exploding it (Where was that kind of firepower a few seconds ago? Or when they were fighting in episode 1?) revealing a mountain full of energon crystals. The uncovering of the mountain causes the Predacons to suffer immediate energon build up, so they return to beast mode. Optimus tells us that Raw Energon is really unstable. Dinobot points out that a crystal that size would make Megatron unstoppable. Rattrap asks Rhinox to finish off Dinobot, and Rhinox is about to when Optimus stops him, asking Dinobot for some intel on Megatron's actions, which he provides. Rattrap is angry Optimus would trust a 'con, but Optimus points out it's his call. The Maximals decide to beat Megatron to the crystal, Dinobot coming with them.
You know how some people like to hum or sign songs when on long walks or trips? Well Megatron monologues, ranting about all the power he can get from such a crystal.
I am sure those will never be relevant to the plot.
Night Falls, Optimus notes his internal repairs are mostly complete, but he doesn't want to risk flying to the mountain on his own and leave the others vulnerable to a Predacon attack (Presumably, Megatron has similar ideas) or to other surprises on the planet. Rhinox points one of them out: A Stonehenge-like arrangement of standing stones. Rhinox points out the obvious: Its not natural, the Predacons didn't make it, neither did the Maximals. Before they can discuss things further, Waspinator and Terrorsaur arrive, transform (One at a time. Slowly.) and attack the Maximals. The Maximals transform, as a group, and quickly, (Yay!) and Rattrap decides now is the time to argue with Optimus on if they should trust Dinobot. Thankfully weapons fire from the Predacon fliers reminds him of his priorities. Optimus realizes their gunfire could start an avalanche, so he flies to engage the fliers himself. Not that he needs too, as the Cons immediately suffer energon build up. Still he blasts them away, and Dinobot decides to finish off the fleeing 'cons, causing a rock to almost crush Rhinox. This sparks Rattrap into thinking Dinobot actually tried to kill Rhinox, and he attacks Dinobot and puts a gun to his head. Optimus tells him to stop, Rattrap refuses, but Optimus asserts his authority, and Rattrap relents.
While Rattrap does come off as douchy, one thing we can say is he's got guts, Dinobot is twice his size, and could hold his own against Optimus, yet Rattrap had no issue jumping him. One thing we'll learn about Rattrap: don't let the size fool you.
The Predacons approach the mountain, Megatron still indulging in his favorite hobby. Tarantulas points out that at this distance, the energon build up would destroy them in less than a minute, confining them to beast mode, while the Maximals are getting closer. Megatron points out this is also true for the Maximals. Both sides reach the mountain, and a beast on beast fight starts.
It's actually not a bad fight, more visually engaging than the one of the previous episode, despite the lack of guns. Highlights include Terrorsaur playing matador using his wings against Rhinox, and Rattrap hoping on top of Tarantulas and pulling on his mandibles like if they were steering controls.
Optimus and Megatron duke it out, trying figure who is the largest ham. After a brutal fight, Optimus knocks Megatron down, but is gravely injured. Unwilling to lose, Megatron transforms, willing to die if it means taking Optimus down with him. A revealing trait of Megatron's character. He fires a missile at Optimus, but Dinobot deflects it towards the Energon. As the crystals begin to pulse and hum, the Maximals and Predacons retreat... Except Megatron, who is paralyzed by the energon build up. Until he manages to recover and flee also. The mountain detonates, the Maximals having somehow managed to be miles away by the time this happens. Optimus thanks Dinobot for saving his life, Dinobot saying he was returning the favor, not showing loyalty. Rattrap hopes they can go home, Optimus replying they can't and giving a quick once over of the show's premise, before declaring this to be the Beast Wars in what still stands to me as the most awkward, forced Title Drop
even 16 years later.
So the end of the pilot. It is a bit light on plot. As we'll see in later episodes, Energon is not exactly rare on the planet, so most of the second episode's conflict was pretty pointless in the long run. And the first episode's conflict pretty much only occurred because Cheetor's a hotheaded idiot. Optimus' inexperience at command will never be referred to again either. Still, the episodes mostly spend time setting up plot hooks. The golden disk, Megatron's goal to reach Earth, Dinobot's character arc, the strange stones, and other elements are all things that will eventually pay off. It does do a good job of setting each Maximal's personality up in Broad Strokes
. The Predacons, not so much, but they'll get theirs soon enough. Not the strongest of beginnings, but not a bad one either.
16 years later, the animation is rather primitive looking, but back in its days, it was hot stuff, so it's kind of hard to comment, as CGI is one of these things that does not tend to age very well, and Beast Wars
' cgi was often spotty, especially in their first season, since they operated on a TV budget and Mainframe were the first to make fully CGI TV shows. The models aren't too bad, but some of the animations (especially walking) tend to be bad, with characters appearing to glide on the ground while doing walking motions. Backgrounds were kind of bland too, something Transformers Prime
also suffers from (they have more in common than good writing!)