Finally an episode not about Cheetor disobeying orders! Woohoo! Also, the fist episode of a long Myth Arc
that will last us for most of the series.
The episode opens with one of the moons eclipsing the sun
, as the Maximals investigate the standing stones seen in the second part of the pilot. Rhinox notes that the stones are not natural, and further, that the Energon on the planet does not match the planet's geology. Lastly, they detect Energon coming from a pile of stone in the middle of the stones. Rattrap notes this is a bit too much like baiting a mousetrap.
Megatron and the Predacons seems to have decided to investigate the stones at the same time, for he shows up and orders the Predacons to attack. Even if the crystal is small, why not take the opportunity to claim and maybe kill a few Maximals? During the ensuing fight, Terrorsaur takes a potshot at the stone mound, Megatron yelling at them since he's caused the Energon to go unstable. The Predacons flee, as do the Maximals, but rather than explode, the Energon causes the stones to glow and then emit a large beam that travels into space. The Maximals wonder what that was, Rhinox guessing it was a signal to someone.
Some time later, we see a transwarp wormhole open in space, a golden egg-shaped ship travels to the planet, preparing to land. Optimus, reading a book outside the Axalon, sees it, as does Megatron outside the Darksyde. Both decide to investigate thinking it is one of the planet's orbiting stasis pod that is crashing - though Rhinox informs Optimus that the ships scanner reveals it is not so - and that the object is heading for the Standing Stones.
Optimus and Dinobot arrive at the stones, seeing the UFO hover where the Energon crystal was. Optimus is shot however, as Megatron and Waspinator are there. Dinobot transforms to fight them, but the probe begins to glow, and cripples the combatants. A beam of light shoots at Optimus, and he vanishes. The remaining bots pass out.
Dinobot comes to in the Maximal repair chamber, initially confused, thinking he's in a torture room, he spazzes out before remembering he switch sides. Rhinox explain Dinobot was found outside the ship, offline. Dinobot explains Optimus has been taken by the probe, and that they need to return to secure it. Rattrap and Dinobot start to get at it over who should be in command. Dinobot is about to claim command as per his idiom set in episode 2, but Rhinox opts to do it the Maximal way: Secret Ballot.
At the Predacon Base, Megatron and Waspinator come out of repair. They too were found outside their base. We get a funny bit of Scorponok being relieved to see Megs back: He was stuck alone with Terrosaur and Tarantulas, it creeped him out. Megatron remember Optimus is dead. He orders Waspinator and Scorponok to secure the probe, the rest to go march with him on the Autobot base, intending to capitalize on their disarray following Optimus' lost.
After results of 2-2 on the election, things get violent as Rattrap infers Dinobot might have cause Optimus' death. He gets shot for his trouble, but the fight is interrupted by a call from Optimus, who is alive, but outside his body (how's he calling the base then?) having been dematerialized and stored inside the probe. He puts Rattrap in command, and warns them that Megatron is bound to strike soon to capitalize on his advantage. Speaking of the devil, the base is under attack.
Rattrap orders a sortie, but asks Rhinox to stay design something to extract Optimus from the Probe. Cheetor, Dinobot and Rattrap take the fight outside. We get a really good fight, where Dinobot takes on Megatron and has him on the ropes. Eventually the Axalon's shield circuit fails. Rattrap, spotting this, orders Dinobot to go reboot it before the shields are depleted, which would take only one more bad hit. Dinobot refuses, still in a melee with Megatron.
Hrrrm, Rattrap, why not ask Cheetor? Who is A) Faster than any of you, and B) not engaged in a melee with the most powerful Predacon?
Rattrap opts to do it himself, narrowly reactivating the shield and taking out Terrosaur right as Terrosaur was about to destroy the base's shield.
Inside the base, Rhinox laments having to make a machine to something he can't fathom doing all the while the base is shaking from enemy gunfire.
The Predacons retreat to the Standing Stones at Tarantulas' advice, after Dinobot manages to land a few blows on Megatron. The battle over, Dinobot excuses himself to Rattrap for not following his orders, saying he's dishonored, while complimenting him on reactivating the shield. Rattrap, embarrassed by the praise from Dinobot of all people, brushes it off.
The Maximals gather to pursue the Predacons and free Optimus. Once there they find no one, till the Predacons come out of hiding. Rhinox gets to work with his gizmo while the rest of the Maximals provide cover. Rhinox's device is not working however, and he notes it's almost like the standing stones and the probe form a single machine.
The exact moment Waspinator's life went to shit.
Waspinator has been sneaking about the stones, trying to get behind Rhinox, but Rhinox sees his reflection on the probe, turns around and fires on him with his Chainguns, severely damaging Waspinator, who falls back, hitting one of the pillars while sparking, causing the stones to glow in unison, and the probe to open. A pillar of light rises from the probe, re-materializing Optimus, transformed and fully repaired. He fires on all the remaining Predacons, who retreat, after Megatron notes that while the Maximals might have won, not all aliens are beneficent.
Optimus congratulates Rattrap on his command, but Rattrap says it's a pain in the tail, and Optimus can keep the job, as the probe suddenly fade away, its job completed. Rhinox notes that whoever sent the probe now knows they have reason, and destructive capabilities. Dinobot wonders why they would want to know, if they are friends, enemies, or something else entirely...
Chain of Command is a great episode, following up on one of the story hooks laid out in the pilot. The aliens, who go nameless for most of the series (They are called the Vok, not that it spoils anything) will form one of the longest ark of the show, lasting to the very end of the third season, and are the driving force for most of the first season's plot. On its own the episode is fun. Good action. Good character bits, and the mystery of this alien probe all make for an entertaining show.
- This episode introduces Rhinox signature chainguns, called by the fandom "The Chainguns of Doom" or the "Chainguns of Command" after this episode.
- Rattrap will find himself in the position of field leader in Optimus' absence again in the future. Though Rhinox is Optimus' right hand bot, Rhinox seems to shy away from command unless the situation is drastic.
- This episode marks Waspinator's taking the role of Chew Toy and Butt Monkey, in a Running Gag where he constantly gets damaged or destroyed. While he's been damaged before, it was always along others. This is the first time the episode singles him out for brutal damage or destruction. It will not be the last.
- Subtle animation bits can make you guess who voted for who: When Optimus puts Rattrap in command, Cheetor frowns and shakes his head, and Rhinox smiles, patting the new commander on the shoulder.
- The bots originally think the landing probe is a stasis pod. Future episodes will show us why both sides want to acquire those.