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102 - Beast Wars, Part 2
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!)
Just a quick correction sorry if I sound nitpicky but it's Tarantulas
I adored this show as a kid, especially as along with Spider-Man The Animated Series it was my introduction to the whole concept of story arcs. I've heard that the CGI was so primitive during the first season that a maximum of four characters could ever be onscreen at once. I'm sure that caused some headaches for the directors, but I never noticed it.
Actually you see all the predacons and most of the maximals in one shot◊ in the first episode, so I doubt that is actually true. That said, the CGI isn't that great in season 1, but as I said, it was really a precursor thing at the time, and CGI is one of these things that ages badly. Season 2 and 3 look much better, and Beast Machines still looks better than some modern CGI shows.
Quick question - will you talk about the prequel animation as well, when the time comes?
I was considering if I should or not. I was leaning towards not doing it since it would open the door to then doing the comics (and I really don't want to do those), but I guess if it is wanted, I could cover it at some point.
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