208 - Bad Spark
We begin in a swamp filled with scary critters, where Cheetor spots a giant Stasis Pod with a large X on it. It is partially opened and looks damaged, having landed on top of stable Energon. He radios back to base. Optimus and Rhinox react with shock at this, Optimus telling Cheetor to wait for him to show up. Rhinox mutters "Primus help us all if that thing survived..." as Optimus and Silverbolt departs.
Megatron somehow HAS FOOTAGE of Cheetor finding the pod. How?
Is Waspinator filming from offscreen? It's important because this scene, as he sends Blackarachnia and Waspinator out to retrieve the protoform, he sneaks a bug on Blackarachnia's butt. He glances to his armrest where Tarantulas has hidden one of his huge oversized emitters with spinning antenna and spider legs. Of it also flashes and emits a loud beeping. Megatron's action makes it clear he knows the bug is there. No shit. This thing's bigger than your fist. It couldn't be easier to find even it shouted at you to speak clearly so it can listen.
Now you may ask why Megatron would send his troops out recover a soldier who even the Maximals seem to think is dead. And there is a reason for it. Megatron is back in his The Chessmaster
groove. The protoform is an excuse to send Blackarachnia out. Tarantulas hears the order on his comically oversized bug and leaves his lair, intending to intercept the traitorous female.
Optimus and Silverbolt meet Cheetor, and we get what I think is the first Transformers Fart joke. The protoform did die, and Optimus explains that "Protoform X" was an attempt to copy Starscream's indestructible spark. But X turned out to be insane, and treacherous. What? Someone based on Starscream being a traitor? Really? Ya don't say? And BTW, how DID the Maximals go around replicating the Starscream's spark when it was drifting in space? Did Starscream make a point to leave detailed readings of his Spark during the Great War (Despite at the time not knowing of its properties) for shit and giggles? How do you replicate something you never got to study. Just saying that the experiment going to shit doesn't seem all that surprising when you think about it. Anyway, Optimus explains that the Axalon's true purpose was finding an abandoned planet to dump X at. Since he couldn't be recycled.
Waspinator and Blackarachnia arrives and attack the Maximals. Which is kinda surprising. I mean, don't get me wrong, but Blackarachnia is not the kind to jump into fights that have he severely out gunned. It's been a fairly consistent part of her character. She'll avoid facing an angry Megatron, and is the kind to know where to cut her losses and run. And here she's rushing headfirst to take on a numerically superior Maximal forces, with OPTIMUS there. Who I remind you has as a gun system so big it covers his entire back. And she's doing it solely because Megatron told her too? She's oddly compliant today...
Maybe she read the script and knew the Maximals would fight like crap. She beats the crap out of Silverbolt while telling him to fight back, but he refuses. Tarantulas arrives and leaps on her, threatening her to reveal the information he wants )He evidently caught up to her lies about Megstron's backup). Megatron on the other side of the bug does want to hear it. Silverbolt stands and doesn't take to someone hitting girl, even if it's Predacon on Predacon. He knocks Tarantulas and punches the ever loving crap out of him. But the fighting has triggered the Energon, which causes a detonation and... tornado? which blows all 6 transformers present and the Stasis pod all over the marsh/valley thing.
Blackarachnia and Silverbolt crash near one another. And with some UST
, they decide to stick together, because Tarantulas is still around. Both are damaged, and Silverbolt can't fly, so they need to find their way up the valley. out of the Energon storm where they can communicate with one another's base. Oh, despite the storm blocking comms, Megatron's bug works perfectly with barely any interference. Optimus and Cheetor got blown out of the Valley, and badly damaged, they must return to the Axalon for repair before returning to search for Silverbolt. Of course, Optimus does not think of sending Rattrap and Dinobot out while he's repairing. No. That'd make sense.
Tarantulas landed near the Pod, mostly intact (some assholes get all the luck!). He inspects it and finds it empty. Behind him, a huge shadow approaches, and Tarantulas turns around and screams in terror.
duo walk till Silverbolt spots Tarantulas' arm, saying to Blackarachnia he's been "disarmed". They both laugh at that, to the disgust of Blender Butt listening with Megatron. But Megatron says she's no fool. With Tarantulas gone, she will reconsider her use for the Maximal. Indeed, they make their way to a log across a chasm. We've seen this show long enough to know any narrow surface across a chasm either get blown up by the enemy, or involve a party betraying the other. Since Megatron and Blender Butt remain at base, it's the later. Blackarachnia draws her gun, and Silverbolt realizes she's about to shoot him. We then get a Look Behind You
bit till Silverbolt saves her from a Sabertooth tiger, bur falls down the chasm. Blackarachnia fires a web to save him. Then more of them hitting on one another, UST
style, while the Predacons (Quickstrike having join them) all listen with clear disgust. It's pretty funny.
At the Axalon, Optimus come out of CR. Dinobot is there, he suggest they instead attack Megatron. He lost two soldiers, they lost one, but Optimus will not give up on Silverbolt, and voices this to show a bit of anger to Dinobot, showing he too remembers Maximal, No More
. He leaves and Dinobot transforms and connects to the Axalon computer, saying: "It may yet be up to me
And you know what? I am still not over this: Optimus looked like he went swimming in a volcano, and he's fixed in what? A few minutes, an hour tops? Airazor gets shot in the wing and she's in CR for 2 days? Fuck Call Of The Wild
. That episode was TERRIBLE!
Silverbolt is now trying to convince Blackarachnia she's part Maximal, and she still has some good in her from her Maximal origin, but she doesn't want to hear it. Some gunfire from her convinces Silverbolt to end that particular thread of conversation. The duo finds Tarantulas dismembered, his body spread all over. And they see the storm can't have done that. So.... whoever trashed him left all his limbs there except for the one arm they took and left on a tree miles away? Guess it's good to have hobbies. Silverbolt says it's the work of Protoform X. How? How do you know that? Optimus never mentioned X liking dismembering people? And Tarantulas could've just been blown to pieces by another Maximal, like many Predacons have in the past. But of course, turns out he's right. He explains what X is, in very quick terms, and Megatron listens, catching that X is supposed to be immortal. He orders his computer to fashion him an Energon knife.
And X is behind the duo. Gigantic and laughing like a maniac. He's a crab in beast mode, but he transforms and knocks Silverbolt aside, shrugs off Blackarachnia's gunfire, and shoots her with his three-barreled BFG. He returns to beast mode, grasping Silverbolt and crushing him.
"Is that fear you're feeling, Maximal? Mmm...yes. My spark, it feeds on terror. Let it grow! Let it consume your circuitry! Feel it! Yes, feel it! Feel the fear!"
Optimus and Cheetor (Where did Cheetor come from? He did not leave the base with Optimus...) spot X and radio their location to base, which Megatron intercepts (Coz he can listen to their radios on a whim now. Funny, we had a whole episode about how they needed a chip to do that and now it's just casually when the plot demands it). Megatron sets out with his new knife. The Maximals use their combined firepower to attack X, causing him to drop Silverbolt. With Blackarachnia's help, they go Five Rounds Rapid
on him, causing him to fall of a cliff. But X reveals his alternate form: a Tank, and begins to climb up the cliff, till Silverbolt tosses one of his sword missile things into X's thread, blowing him up and causing serious damage. But as he falls, X shoots Blackarachnia, and causes her to fall into another chasm which I am pretty sure wasn't there before. Silverbolt dives after her, and through heroic willpower alone gets his wings to repair and work, catching her and letting her go, the couple separates almost reluctantly, despite the UST
. Optimus, Genre Blind
, decides to leave the damaged X till he can confer with Rhinox on what to do. At the base. As opposed to making Rhinox come here and park his own monkey ass next to the damaged X to avoid something stupid happening.
Megatron thus approaches the broken X, and draws his knife. At the Darksyde, X comes out of CR, and Megatron complements how he's immortal: His spark could even take an Energon blade. Megatron carved a pieces of his spark out and put in a squeeze box filled with Energon, so he can torture his new soldier into obedience. Megatron welcomes Rampage to the Beast Wars!
Despite some small bits I nitpicked the crap out of, the episode is very good. Pulling a tough double duty of setting up Blackarachnia and Silverbolt's romance, and of introducing Rampage. It does both jobs fairly well, the two story complementing each other. Rampage's own first outing is very good, showing us for the first time a new Predacon who truly seems a threat: He's a monster, both in form and in spirit, that seems barely stoppable.
- Rhinox mentions Primus, the first mention of the Transformer deity on television. Word of God is they picked up the name from the Transformer fan Usenet group, unaware of its significance.
- X's origin explain why Starscream's records are sealed. Of course, it doesn't explain why Optimus, who is aware Starscream's spark was inestructible, didn't know Starscream was a Trope Namer for The Starscream and had Chronic Backstabbing Disorder till Dinobot told him.
- X, in the flashback, is clearly a transmetal. He lacks his beast mode kibble, but you can see his robot body is mostly organic and covered in chitin, and his feet are the same organic-looking feet he has once he acquires a beast mode. Plus his head is clearly insect-like. Hurray for re-using the same models!
- Of course, X's history of insanity and treachery will form the background of another future major character.
- This episode would be released in theaters in Japan (bundled with a Clip Show of season 1 and an episode of a Japanese Transformers Series I'll cover later) as a preview to Season 2 and 3.
- Cheetor, and presumably Rattrap, did not know the Axalon's true mission.
- A deleted line in this episode would've had X paraphrase Hannibal Lecter swearing to feast on Megatron's brain with some fava beans. It was removed, but X's cannibalistic tendency would be (re-)introduced in season 3.
- Rampage also breaks the pattern for Transmetalization, being a Transmetal despite coming from a Stasis Pod. It could be handwaved by saying that Rampage, despite being in the pod, was already active (not a protoform), as we saw in the flashbacks.
- Megatron shows he's figured out Blackarachnia's got his copies of the Golden Disk data. We are not told how he figured it out, though he is brilliant, he might just've made a lucky guess which Tarantulas unwittingly confirmed.