Transformers: Prime Season 1 Finale Review

Karan here, with the first review by the eldest sister of the team. The Season 1 finale of Transformers: Prime has already aired in some markets. Episode 26, wraps-up the first season, which began with a five-part miniseries aired in 2010. The Transformers: Prime series, developed by the team of Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, Duane Capizzi, and Jeff Kline for Hasbro Studios, is roughly in continuity with the War for Cybertron video game and the Transformers Exodus and Exiles novels. This current continuity draws heavily on past incarnations of the franchise, but is yet another of the franchise’s multiple universes.

The finale episode does not disappoint. It is part of a season-end story arc, which deals with revelations about the nature and origin of dark energon on Earth, and continues to establish the lore of the current continuity. Absent are the near-featureless, desert expanses of other episodes, in favor of backgrounds for a new location. There is plenty of action, including some beautiful, animated-robot stunts. The sometimes annoyingly-present human companions, are relegated to one of two subplots and serve as vehicle for the audience to learn more of the history of the Transformers.

The only think I miss is a certain character, who I fully expect to show up in the next season.

Overall, I recommend the series, and particularly the current story arc.

***SPOILER ALERT – following part of review includes spoilers for Transformers: Prime episode 26.***

Optimus Prime and Megatron fight back-to-back inside Unicron's body

Optimus and Megatron together again?

The main plot, of episode 26, deals with the recent revelation that the god-like “Chaos Bringer” Unicron is in fact the metal core of the Earth, and that his awakening is causing freak storms and catastrophes across the planet, and threatens its existence. This is a new concept to the franchise, as in previous Transformers stories, Unicron has appeared as a wandering planetoid (1980s Generation One), or disguised as Cybertron’s moon (Unicron Trilogy). The dramatic impact is that Optimus Prime as a “disciple of Primus”, cannot seek to destroy Unicron without sacrificing all the life that Earth sustains, including his human friends.

The episode picks-up from the previous, in which Megatron saved Optimus Prime from drone-like manifestations of Unicron, and proposed a truce to defeat their common foe. Optimus Prime realizes Megatron is motivated by his own desire to preserve the planet long enough to conquer it and its resources himself, but agrees, as Megatron’s previous exposure to dark energon enables him to sense where Unicron’s spark lies. He requires Optimus’ help in turn, because only the Matrix of Leadership can possibly return Unicron to stasis, and stop the disruptions to Earth.

While Optimus, Megatron, Arcee, Bumblebee and Bulkhead bridge down into Unicron’s body, and confront his internal defenses, Ratchet remains at the base with their human friends Agent Fowler, June and Jack Darby, Miko, and Raf. It is the concerns of the humans that lead Ratchet to explain that once before, Megatron and Optimus were on the same side.

Ratchet’s account is told through voice over and still-frame images, which reveal a history much similar to what is presented in Exodus, and employs elements from various Generation One comics and cartoon. A clerk named Orion Pax and a Gladiator named after one of the 13, Megatronus, realize a common goal of changing the current government corruption on Cybertron. These are, of course, younger versions of of Optimus Prime and Megatron.

They still frame art is attractive, and slightly stylized, in comparison to the series’ animation. Orion Pax and Megatronus curiously seem to have nostrils, and other characters are mainly shown in silhouette. Notably, the images which accompany Ratchet’s mention of Soundwave, depict a bulkier bot at Megatron’s side. This would be somewhat more in keeping with his appearance in War for Cybertron, although Megatron appears in his current, much pointier form.

Ultimately, the governing council recognized Optimus, over Megatron, and this was what turned Megatron against his friend, as he had viewed himself the superior, and perhaps, arrogantly, viewed himself as more important than their shared goal of change.

Ratchet also tells how Cybertron was infested by dark energon, and that at its core, Primus granted Optimus the Matrix of Leadership, which contained the collective wisdom of the Primes. This version of the Matrix is similar to what we see in Transformers: The Movie, in terms of its power against Unicron, but differs from that continuity, in that the previous Primes do not seem to be a series of Autobot commanders, each to hold the Matrix. It is implied they may be more like The Primes or The 13, mentioned in more recent parts of the Transformers franchise, such as the 2007-2011 movies, and Exiles.

Meanwhile, with Megatron inside Unicron with the Autobots, and Starscream run off on his own several episodes ago, Airachnid has been left in charge of the Nemesis. In curiously Starscream-like fashion, she suggests Megatron has abandoned the Decepticons, and that as commander, she orders the crew to head for Regulon IV (a planet referenced in other continuities), unless any object. Knock-out and Breakdown look on as loyal Soundwave objects. With some help from Laserbeak, defeats Airachnid and continues his scanning for Megatron’s signal. Knock-out, who is not heavily featured in the episode, get to make a snarky comment about the “quiet ones”.

As the humans are wondering how they will know when the Autobots will need to be bridged out, Jack reveals that he has the “key to the ground bridge power supply”, which Optimus entrusted to him in the last episode. Seeing the key, Ratchet reveals that the important piece of technology is actually the Key to Vector Sigma, a relic from Cybertron. In Reluctant Hero fashion, Jack tries to give it away to Ratchet, but Ratchet does not accept, saying that Optimus gave it to Jack.

The fact that there is a Key, suggests that, as in Exodus, and other continuities, Vector Sigma exists in Transformers: Prime. Though little but its existence is revealed, in past continuities Vector Sigma has been an entity or object on Cybertron, which grants life, in addition to, or in place of the AllSpark or Matrix. The further implication, as Ratchet mentions, it that prior to bridging to Unicron’s body, Optimus must have doubted that he would return.

The battle scenes inside Unicron are filled with action. The backgrounds have a bio-mechanical, or technorganic feel, and glow with the violet glow of dark energon. Arcee does impressive flips and kicks. Bumblebee watches out for Bulkhead, who is the first to suffer from dark energon exposure. And, Optimus and Megatron fight back-to-back and cover each other like they’ve practiced it a long time.

Inside Unicron’s spark chamber, Megatron and Optimus Prime confront Unicron, who manifests as an MCP-like (or Wizard of Oz or Deus Ex Machina, if you like) face superimposed on his gigantic, purple, glowing spark. Here there are several allusions to Transformers: The Movie, as Megatron struggles to resist Unicron’s control, through the influence of dark energon, much like Galvatron; and Prime calls on the Matrix to “light our drakest hour”.

Unicron is returned to stasis, and the Earth saved, but is it soon revealed that Optimus has lost his own recent memories in the confrontation, and with some prompting from Megatron, seems to revert to his Orion Pax identity, who sees Megatron as his friend Megatronus. The other Autobots try to argue, but Megatron is quick to interrupt.

Both Soundwave and Ratchet are able to detect their leader’s signals, now there is no interference from the strange storms. Bridges to their location are opened, and taking advantage of Optimus’ trust, Megatron convinces him that the Autobots are enemies, and they must go.

And so we have our cliffhanger and set-up for Season Two, as Megatron returns to the Nemesis with Optimus, introducing him to the Decepticons as “Orion Pax” who has long been on their side.

Overall, the episode gives us the best things about the series: action, giant robots, an epic confrontation, and nods to past series. It lacks some of the things that were annoying about past episodes. The humans stay where they are safe, but provide motivation for the Autobots to be truly noble. The Decepticons are variously mean, arrogant, back-stabbing, and shady. Even Soundwave, though loyal, is sneaky in deploying Laserbeak to attack Airachnid from behind. The Autobots, though allied with Megatron, do not maim anyone but Unicron’s antibodies, and have no prisoners or substances to abuse. We don’t see the overused, barren landscape that appears in so many Transformers series.

I don’t know what they have planned for next season, but I hope we see more episodes like this, and I hope we get to see Starscream return, even if it’s with yet another plot doomed to failure.

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