Transformers Armada

Hey, this is Alaina with my first post/work for the site. I’ve always had a fascinating with writing and reviews, and had always wanted to try my hand at it. So here is my first review of an old favorite (although a guilty pleasure of mine), Transformers Armada.

Overview/Review


Cartoons.
Something about them is so fascinating and fun. I find them a staple in my life, which many say is odd for fully grown woman with responsibilities. (23, married, stay at home mom with a two year old.) And yet, I find myself constantly seeking out shows to watch. Sure, I like TV shows like Supernatural and Sherlock and even some Doctor Who. But I find myself attracted to cartoons the most. And not just anime.

Danny Phantom, Megas XLR, Ben 10. These are shows that I have not only watched as a kid, but have gone back and rewatched as an adult.

I realize NOW Transformers Armada is an anime. But I thought it was just a Cartoon Network show as a kid.
I remember watching it at a specific time, but I would almost miss the last couple minutes of an episode to leave for Tae Kwon Do lessons. And I missed a portion of season 3 and all of season 4 because of a move. I didn’t really think about it much until I was much, much older…

So ten years later, and being the internet junkie I am, I grew curious about some of the shows I used to watch and starting looking them up on TV Tropes. I was shocked to find that Armada was considered one of the worst Transformers series made.

Well that couldn’t be right…could it?

Mind you, I had recently watched the latest season of Transformers Prime – another show I find myself absolutely in love with – and in my head had compared it to Armada.

Obviously, my eleven year old self had a much better view of the show than most viewers.

My curiosity was peaked. I found the series and watched it straight through.

And…yeah, there are problems. Mostly technical. But problems. If I’m going to be honest though, I feel no different about the show now then I did when I was a kid.

I don’t know if it’s because my younger me could sense the problems and just couldn’t identify them yet, or if its because I have the best pair of nostalgia goggles ever for this series. But damn do I still love it.

The technical issues stand out like a sore them, but from what I understand there were absolutely massive production issues. It was a serious rush job, and it shows. The dialogue suffers from translated anime syndrome, with ‘uhs’ and grunts being stuck in and translation problems are rather relevant where conversations have a weird flow.

By all means though, I find it far from unwatchable.

I have seen dubs far worse than this and the technical issues are just that. Technical. They don’t really hinder whats going on in the episode. The animation gets significantly better with time as well, with season three and four being smoother and shinier in most places. Honestly it’s more fun to spot the issues and laugh when you catch them. Like the Decepticon insignia being stuck on Hot Shot at one point. It made me giggle.

I really can’t compare this show to any former series. I’ve seen the original movie and a few random episodes. Other than that, I’ve watched the newer series Prime and seen a bit of Beast Wars.
Now for the show itself.

The first episodes starts…with human kids. Which is not something I was expecting seeing the opening for this show. And honestly, I find it to be a bad move. I get that humans often played a part in the Transformers series. But here it just seemed…awkward. The kids go through a regular school day and decide to check out a cave they found afterwards…I’m skimming them because they really aren’t that important.

They come across a weird glowing plate that shoots a singal into space. Towards Cybertron apparently.
They leave (taking the plate with them) and are rather shocked to find a giant robot come through a badly animated black hole. The plate glows and turns into a miniature robot, called a minicon, and we see the little guy scan one of the kids bike and transform. Whee, robot bikes. A chase scene ensues. Which is pretty stupid since Megatron could just reach down and pick them up.
Anyway, what matters here is that we meet our cast. For the Decepticons we have Megatron, Cyclonis, Demolisher, and Starscream, and for the Autobots we have Optimus Prime, Hot Shot, and Red Alert. They barely talk at first, but oh well. The Transformers appear one by one, having a bot to bot showdown. And this is one of the biggest problems.

In the first and second season, we barely get any fights. Well there are plenty of fights we just don’t get to SEE them. A bunch of still frame cuts to show what is kind of happening without actually showing what is happening seems to be par for the course for many episodes. We don’t get alot of animated fights in this series and its a bit of an annoyance. Especially since its supposed to be a bot to bot smackdown series!

The good animation is all put into the reused sequences, like Optimus’s mega form transformation and the PowerLink sequences with the mincons.

As it turns out the minicons are going to be the reason for the struggle in this series, and the first seasons are a collect a thon and barely diverge from that. Even when new characters show up they don’t have massive introductions or episodes dedicated to them. There are character development episodes, but I will go through those with characters.
The more interesting side of the episodes is when it focuses on the Decepticons though. Constantly we see the forces being berated and mistruted by their almost always angry leader. What’s most interesting is Starscream, of course. He seems to have a problem with Megatron from almost the get go, which is not very surprisingly but I like how they do this. he gets alot of observation shots, and is generally quite and reserved when he isn’t being overconfident and boastful on the battlefield. He is obviously smarter than his comrades, and knows it, which is one of the reasons for his overconfidence.
The episode ‘Ruin’ is where things start to pick up. They find a minicon (in Atlantis no less!) that is supposedly one of three that create an ultimate weapon. We don’t get to see the completed weapon until the season finale, where the three mincons form together as the Star Saber. It looks like the Decepticons have the win until Hot Shot steals the show with some fancy bladwork. That we don’t get to see much of, really. Mm. Disappointment…

The first episode of season two picks up a bit though. We get a decent fight scene with Starscream vs. Saber wielding Hot Shot, which is refreshing, with a mystery bot in a cloak (ooooh!) observing. He mentions he doesn’t think either fighter is very good at what they do.
At this point in the series the Autobot side has expanded to Smokescreen and the ambiguous Sideways, who is too obviously foreshadowed to not really be on their side. The mystery bot in the cloak turns out to be a mercenary named Scavenger who teams up with the Decepticons.
In the episode ‘Credulous’ Hot Shot and Sideways hitch a warp ride back to the Decepticon base during the episodes minicon battle. They sneak around and stumble their way through, Sideways getting captured in the process, and Hot Shot wielding the oh so important Star Saber is faced with a choice. His comrade or the Star Saber. He even mentions its the old ‘my friend or the ultimate weapon’ schtick. Being the good guy, he gives up the sword and Sideways is pushed into him, who has been mentioning this whole time how he is going to regret that decision.

Sideways turns on him, and the Decepticons begin a thorough beating on Hot Shot. This scene is pretty brutal in my opinion, the Decepticons visibly kicking and beating him into a mess of wires even while he’s face down on the ground. Megatron orders to have him finished off, but Scavenger says there is no need. I want to say he convinced Megatron to send him back as an example or something, but I don’t think the show was that smart.

We don’t see how, but the scene cuts to Hot Shot standing in the doorway of the Autobot base, completely silent and falling promptly to the ground. We get a dialogue outro from the human girl Alexis about how damaged Hot Shot was and how it took him a long time to come back online.

This would be a lot more dramatic if we actually got to see the injuries and see him go through this, but I’m actually gonna give this scene a pass for now…I hate that the kids talk out all the outro, and its bad enough that human kid Brad does the opening for the first season. Still, it probably wasn’t a bad move to go with the exposition bits since the series was a rush job. I can think of worse ways. Like, not explaining anything at all, or skipping episodes.

Either way, the Autobots are now on a severe losing streak (as implied via exposition dialogue) and are trying to hide their growing injuries from the kids. I don’t like the kids much but if there is one thing they are good for it’s showing off the characters of the Transformers themselves. The Autobots are putting up a good front for them, and they actually show that. Even Hot Shot, who is feeling terrible at losing the Star Saber, is trying to put on a brave face. I mean sure they could have done this with just the Transformers too, but seeing the worried look on an innocent kids face, no matter how annoying they can be at times, is still a bit more moving.

The episodes move on into minicon recovery status, and we get more interesting bits with the Decepticons.
Starscream has taken charge of the Star Saber, which has done nothing good for his ego and has Megatron worried. Being careful, he conducts a ploy in a foggy forest, where they are looking for a minicon, that causes Starscream to mistaken Demolisher as an enemy. Megatron takes the hit for his subordinate, gaining a decent injury and Demolisher’s full trust, while distrust grows between Starscream and everyone else. They begin to think maybe Megatron should have the Saber instead of Starscream, who has seemingly gone ax crazy with it.

The Decepticons seem to get more of an edge as the next major weapon appears, called the Skyboom Shield. Another three minicons combine to create the powerful shield, able to stop the Star Saber in its tracks (supposedly). The last of three for the shield is found when another Autobot by the name of Blurr shows up, and he is a serious cookie. Hot Shot and Blurr don’t mesh well and in the end they lose the Shield to the Decepticons but gained a friendship.

Awww.

In ‘Rebellion’ it’s a completely Decepticon episode. And one of the best. Megatron is livid about another loss (even though he has both the Sword and Shield at this point) and seeks to take out his anger on Starscream. He calls Starscream to a private room and Starscream is obviously confused, the poor sap. He gets the beating of his life, nearly getting killed in the process, and Demolisher sees this as a gross over punishment. He smashes through the door in the nick of time, convincing Megatron to stop. Starscream, beaten within inches of his life, leaves humiliated. Sideways manipulates Starscream into challenging Megatron to an outright duel, which he loses badly, but Megatron spares his life. This is where we start to see hints of confusion in Starscreams mind.

Before season three hits we get a couple more battles and a few more allies. A famous Decepticon tactician named Thrust who has allegadly won many battles for his side and second in command for the Autobots, a boastful and show off type named Jetfire. Jetfire and Optimus can powerlink together for a more powerful form, which is pretty cool. Scavenger was also revealed to be working as a spy for the Autobots the entire time, which was hinted at when he saved Hot Shot’s life. It turns out he was who Optimus learned to fight from and has since taken Hot Shot under his wing. Hot Shot seems to get a lot of attention in this series. Hmm…

Season three starts off peacefully enough, and we see more of Sideways trying to manipulate the Decepticons to create more discord and distrust amongst themselves. This is rather infuriating to their tactician, Thrust, who has noted their lack of teamwork and discipline has caused them to lose their battles even though they are individually superior fighters. It’s been hinted at that Sideways is in league with someone else.

Eventually we get a couple more minicon signals, and a large scale battle on a shoreline. These new minicons are another set of three that put together the Requiem Blaster, arguably the most powerful thing ever known. These ultimate weapons just get more and more ultimate apparently.

The battle takes place over three episodes, the minicons for the Requiem Blaster being hesitant to fight at all and end up helping almost when its too late. The mega size Decepticon Tidal Wave joins the fight under Thrust’s orders, and things start to look grim for the Autobots. The blaster falls to the side of the Autobots, Optimus firing it once or twice to show its power, which is impressive, and forcing the Decepticons to retreat.

After that we get a two partner that introduces Wheeljack and Sideswipe and acts as character development for Hot Shot.
In ‘Sacrifice’ the Autobots have been lured out of their base to fight and Starscream engages them with the Star Saber. Thrust, banking on that they had brought the Blaster with them, realizes soon enough it is not there. Optimus had left the minicons at the base because he didn’t feel right forcing the minicons to fight. The Blaster minicons in particular are hesitant about taking part in battles, and it’s unclear whether they are standoffish because they just want peace and are in denial they have to fight to get that, or they realize the power they possess and would just like to make it off limits to anyone. The latter seems more likely, but that would be giving this show a lot of credit. Either way, it’s not a bad story.

Thrust realizes the Blaster is not on the battlefield and Megatron orders a retreat and marches into the Autobot base. He does this without Starscream, however….and Starscream slowly realizes that he has been left alone on the battlefield. Hot Shot taunts him about it, meaning it as a joke, but the entire party soon realizes that what he said was true. The Autobots almost look sympathetic for Starscream, as he flies about and looks around for the comrades that just up and left without so much as a ‘hey we’re leaving now!’
The Autobots don’t have time to waste however, and return to base fast, finding an injured but alive Red Alert who had stashed the human kids in a vent. Not a bad hiding place, honestly.

Smokescreen is standing up to Megatron, promising the minicons that he will not let the Decepticons take control of them. He is overpowered, however, and is in the middle of a fight when backup arrives. The Requiem Blaster is formed, however, and Megatron is not afraid to fire it. An opening arrives, and Smokescreen gets blasted straight through.

This is the scene that I remember the most as a kid, and it made me cry then. The imagery here, the way Smokescreen just stands right back up with a huge gaping hole in his torso and he is just fighting with whatever strength he has left to try to get back the minicons.
The Decepticons decide they really don’t want to deal with a pissed off Prime so with Blaster in hand they make a hasty retreat. Prime holds Smokescreen and they utter some heart wrenching words before his optics dull and we get a big dramatic ‘no’ from Optimus after a full salute from the Autobot forces.

And then we find out his spark is fine and he is being revived. If he had died permanently here it would have been far more memorable. Even as a kid I saw the next episode and was completely baffled as to why they would do that. All the sadness I had felt the week before was just gone and I feel like I felt it for nothing. It was a good death scene…for an actual DEATH SCENE.

Anyway, with his body totaled Red Alert works on building him a new one while Hot Shot gripes about revenge. On the Decepticon side of things Starscream wants to give Thrust the creaming of his life for closing the Warp Gate on him and leaving him abandoned on the battlefield. Starscream is once again highlighted here as he enters a healing chamber sort of thing and the Star Saber minicons beep around him worriedly. He admits he’s fine, and mentions that they have have been injured as well and invite them in with him. They nearly jump at the chance, and Starscream almost…smiles? As he watches them. Demolisher comes in to take the Saber minicons to Megatron, but Starscream insists on taking them himself. Demolisher blathers about orders being orders, but Starscream prepares to draw his swords and Demolisher back off. On his way down Starscream overhears Megatron and Thrust laughing about how they left Starscream, mocking him and essentially insulting him. Now thoroughly pissed, Starscream attacks, saying he will get revenge on Megatron even if he has to join the autobots, which is exactly what happens.

He runs away to the Autobot base, who take him in and Optimus decides to give Starscream the benefit of the doubt. You know, being Optimus Prime and all. Hot Shot is still sour over what happened to Smokescreen and challenges the Decepticon to a fight, being interupted by the newly built Smokescreen.

Now with Decepticon information, courtesy of Starscream, the Autobots infiltrate the Decepticon base on the moon and liberate the minicons. It’s apparent that Starscream has trouble following orders when Megatron enters the picture however, as he has a one track mind on felling the Decepticon leader. He eventually comes around, but mentions that he has no idea what the right decision is for him anymore.

He ends up doing just one more mission with Jetfire, even convincing the minicon they were after to not go with the Decepticons no matter what, before being manipulated by Thrust again. Thrust is now in league with Sideways, who still has an unknown master and is no longer in league with the Decepticons.

He grabs the Skyboom shield and Star Saber and takes them to Megatron to beg his forgiveness and return to the Decepticons. He is accepted, and they begin work on combining the three weapons into the Hydra Cannon.

The Cannon is tested on a meteor and it’s power is proven to be devastating, and Megatron decided to aim the cannon at the Autobot base.

At this, Starscream is horrified. He acknowledges that Megatron wants to defeat the Autobots, but is confused as to why he would kill off more than one third of the population of a world just to achieve that goal. Even Thrust seems a little offput by Megatron’s orders, and Starscream reflects on what to do if he is ordered to fire.

They get in position, their movements not going unnoticed by the Autobots as Optimus and Jetfire prepare to move out. Before they leave, Optimus offers the Matrix to Hot Shot, who respectfully declines, but also yells at Optimus trusting Starscream in the first place.
Optimus just nods and says he understands, and hopes that Hot Shot will come to understand his decision someday.

Prime and Jetfire leave for the Decepticon ship, creating a skirmish. The Decepticons battle, Starscream noticeably trying to stand back as he honestly doesn’t want to fight Prime. He does, however, see Prime in trouble and purposely botches the fight to save him. Megatron sees that he is forced to go outside and take care of things himself while Thrust prepares the Cannon for firing. Jetfire, pinned down, is helpless as Optimus draw power from what I assume is the Matrix and single-handedly stops the Cannon from firing upon the earth. His body is utterly destroyed, breaking apart into space dust. Megatron, wearing a disappointed frown, says their work on earth is done and they should take their new weapon to Cybertron to conquer it.

Sparkplug, Optimus’s minicon, is left floating alone, holding the Matrix and Jetfire screams his sorrows into the nothingness of space.
The Autobots start to fall apart, bickering amongst themselves and Hot Shot seems to be taking it particularly hard. He feels bad for yelling at Optimus, and is taking it out on everyone. He is suddenly and roughly dragged by his arm by Scavenger who proceeds jump them both through the warp gate to a safe secluded area and just lay into him. Hard. And everyone just watches. Scavenger even goes so far as to say the only reason he joined the Autobots was because of Hot Shot. The only ones who even seem concerned about the fighting are the kids. They basically hold an intervention, bot style, for Hot Shot who at the end finally gives up his idea that they need to avenge Optimus and just continue on with the mission they started with. Protecting the minicons.

They get to work putting their spaceship together so they can go to Cybertron, and this is where I have to start talking about the kids because they become a massive plot point. Brad’s parents are the only ones we see, and the kids have been griping that they want to go to Cybertron. First off, it’s stupid. Yes going to space is a cool idea and all but there are literally willing to jump head first into an all out war with a bunch of oversized bots that can crush them at any second just by misstepping. That’s not my biggest gripe about this though. I can get around wanting to go and all, and with how used they are to the transformers being around them isn’t that big of a deal. But being around ENEMY transformers on a planet that you know can’t sustain your life. If they get stranded for God knows what reason they could very well suffer a fate worse than death before their deaths. They’ve witnessed big battles too at this point and know that they are going into even bigger battles. They stopped warping WITH the Transformers towards the end of season one! If they were smart enough to stay out of battles then what makes them think they can just go in now?!

Well, part of it is justified in that Brad gets this trippy nightmare scene where the minicons are asking for his help on what looks like their deathbed. He has a strong feeling that he MUST go to Cybertron, and even tells his parents about everything.
His mom waves it off, like a sane person would, but his dad buys into it and basically says he should do what he feels right, and asks his son to promise him to return someday.

These kids are seventh graders! Yeah I’m totally okay with my twelve or thirteen year old son to go off on his own and into space to an unknown planet and possibly never see him again. Go ahead, go on, live your dream.

As nice as the sentiment is, no parent would really act this way. I would actually prefer it if Brad had to sneak out but they have his father acts like his son is really going away long term and is totally okay with it. It’s just dumb.

Hot Shot in the meantime has been appointed commander in Optimus’s absc-, er death. He still doesn’t accept the Matrix, and they do a good job of showing him stumbling in his speeches and adjusting to the position. They finish the spaceship and ask the minicons who wants to volunteer to fight the war and who wants to stay behind on peaceful earth. All the minicons volunteer, and even convince the Autobots to allow the kids to come along, as the bots were very sanely against the kids hopping the ride.
Hot Shot gives in though, saying Optimus would have done the same. And they are off to Cybertron.

On their way Megatrons ship attacks them full force, the lights of minicons scattered throughout the galaxy gather around the ship and follow them. In the midst of their attack though the minicons bring Optimus back to life through the power of DEUS EX MACHINA!
Anyway, Optimus is back to kick some serious ass and Megatron’s sour mood about Optimus’s death is lifted. Apparently having your arch nemesis defeated isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The conflict ends with the appearance of a black hole that manages to nearly suck in Carlos, the other human boy. Red Alert manages to save him, getting caught himself and Hot Shot risks a failed rescue attempt. Both of them get sucked through and land on an unknown planet with salt making up the dirt and trees that are made of wires.

A dark Optimus omniously approaches and attacks them. Red Alert and Hot Shot escape, running into the Megatron and most of his crew. It seems they were pulled into the portal as well. Red Alert activated a beacon so the Autobot ship could track and find them.
The dark Optimus, Nemesis Prime, attacks both parties. Megatron tries the Requim Blaster, firing at Nemesis with Hot Shot and Red Alert nearly in the way. Starscream yells for Megatron to not fire, but he does anyway. Nemesis is seemingly defeated, and on the Autobot ship Red Alert’s singal dies. But we cut back to the planet and find that Hot Shot and Red Alert are indeed still alive, just badly injured. Megatron once again orders them to be finished off (this will be the second time for Hot Shot) but Starscream convinces him that they are more valuable as hostages. Megatron agrees, and they start to move out…

Until Nemesis Prime somehow revives even bigger than before and wreaks havoc on everyone. In the end everyone ends up badly damaged, to a point where the minicons swoop in from literally nowhere and heal them. Red Alert mentions that the minicons took data from everyone and reformatted it to save everyone. They all basically get a recolor and Megatron changes his name to Galvatron. Hot Shot looks good in red though.

Optimus Prime falls in from the sky, having that his ship was able to lock into Red Alert’s singal before it faded out. I find myself wondering how much time has passed seeing as how they mentioned Red Alert was supposedly halfway across the galaxy to begin with. Either that or their warp engine is really really good. I mean they did mention the Autobots were in posession with a good warp engine but…damn.

After Nemesis Prime is defeated Galvatron fires the Blaster at the Autobot ship, damaging it before he and his comrades warp back to their own vessel. They make a bee line for Cyberton and instantly start gaining massive ground in the war.
The Autobots are stuck in space…though the issue of the warp drive is confused. I’m going to chalk this up to a translation error somehwere, but they mention Red Alert is fixing the warp drive, then Sideswipe says there isn’t a point because there is nothing left of it, and then everything seems better again and they warp to Cybertron.
O…kay?

The minicons keep flickering into talking – actually talking, not just beeps and boops- to the kids about a danger called Unicron. The Autobots get the hint and decide that they should try to convince Galvatron to stop the fight and turn their attention to this new threat.

Galvatron takes it as an Autobot trick. He doesn’t buy into it and Thrust reinforces the idea that the whole thing is a big lie. Thrust wants Unicron to be a secret though. His partnership with Sideways has deepened throughtout the episodes.

Hot Shot decides to go off on his own to infiltrate the Decepticon main base and convince Galvatron that they are not lying. The kids try to stop him, but to no avail, and after hearing him out a little decide he should go. We also get a little scene where Brad’s frustration about not being able to do anything boils over and he practically has a meltdown. Geez kid what did you think you could do? I get that he wants to repay the Autobots, Optimus especially I’m sure, for basically saving the entire planet but its a giant robot war. I just have to wonder exactly what he was THINKING beforehand. Anyway, Red Alert appears too, seemingly to stop Hot Shot as well, but he admits he wanted to go with Hot Shot instead, and backs off, letting Hot Shot go on his own.

Hot Shot gets a really good bit with this, rounding corners with a blaster rifle at the ready and jumping into the enemies base head on. He takes on all kinds of bots and is finally pinned by Cyclonis and Wheeljack, desperately trying to convince them to take him to Galvatron so the leader can hear him out. Wheeljack, while dueling him, finally gives in and pushes him into what seems to be Galvatrons throne room.

Demolisher has mentioned to Galvatron that the Autobot forces have been pulling out one by one, although they have been doing so reluctantly. We keep seeing shots of the main forces questioning their new orders.

Galvatron decided to hear Hot Shot out, and is interupted once by Thrust. One death glare from Galvatron though is more than enough to shut his trap up. Once Hot Shot is finished, looking extremely relieved I might add, Thrust continues his insistance on the whole Unicron ordeal being a lie. Galvatron turns on him and confronts asks him directly what has he been so nervous about lately. Starscream also pipes up at this point and asks ‘I am curious as to why are you so insistent on me betraying Galvatron as well’. At this point, Thrust nabs the Saber and Shield and makes a break for it, revealing his true alliances and infuriating both Galvatron and Starscream. Wheeljack and HotShot pursue him together, closely following Starscream.

The kids, in the meantime, have decided that it will be nice to take a lovely little stroll on the war torn Cybertron. Yeah that’s smart. Half of their reasoning here is because Carlos is ‘bored’, but we have been seen Brad become more and more thoroughly confused. The longer he stares at the fighting from his balcony seat in space, the more he wonders if coming was even the right thing at all. He and Carlos have some trippy flashbacks, cementing their confusion. They roam the surface of Cyberton, being guided by the minicons to some underground tunnels. They eventually run across Starscream, who is chasing Thrust, and is killed by Thrust…but then the minicon Highwire does something really weird and we get a trippy scene of the kids in what looks like a Transformer graveyard. They recognize Hot Shot immediately, covered in wires and laying on what looks like a bed of spikes. Ouch.

This is another darker a bit of a gruesome scene, as everyones colors are muted and they all look like they’re dead. And it doesn’t just look like any old graveyard, all the Transformers are the main character ones. Stuck in walls and what seems like solidified grey goop and wiring and metal framework sticking out everywhere. I’m not gonna lie, I seriously think this whole trippy vision, or whatever it is, is creepy as hell.

They talk to Hot Shot, finding out that not only does he not know who they are, but that he has never even been off planet before! Talk about weird. He utters something about the minicons being the cells of Unicorn before his colors fade and he stops talking. We then see the minicons being born, and Brad fights to get through to Highwire and connect with him. The kids note that even though the minicons are a peaceful species they are all marching for battle in this particular moment. Brad yells at Highwire that he should go to earth, where they will meet again.

We then get a much younger Brad waking up from a car trip, his parents talking to him like he was dreaming as he looks around and asks about Starscream and the others. His parents shake it off as a dream and he looks out the window to the astronomy station where his parents work…

And then we’re shoved back into the moment right before Starscream was killed. Highwire, Grinder, and Sureshock save Starscream from being killed and in turn Starscream saves the kids from a rockslide. Alexis, who has had constant hope in Starscream, is particularly happy about this.

Wheeljack and Hot Shot catch up with Starscream and they send a recording the Optimus, who tells Jetfire to go back them up.
Starscream ends up in a fight with Sideways and Thrust, being attacked by cybernetic parasites that threaten to eat him alive. Hot Shot and Wheeljack arrive to help and get stalled enough for Sideways and Thrust to escape with the Saber and Shield, skipping on their chance to kill the kids. When then learn that Hot Shot and Wheeljack can powerlink! Which WOULD be totally awesome if they didn’t just stick their backs together and perform the human top. It was stupid looking. I actually laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of it. Either way, it kills the parasites and they can move on, Starscream insisting he can handle his own and tells them to go on ahead. Alexis, however, waits for him. Starscream does finally shoot down the parasites and he asks Alexis why she waited for him. She responds that they are still friends.

Hot Shot, Wheeljack, Brad, and Carlos with their perspective minicons get seperated from Starscream, Alexis, and Grinder. Starscream and Alexis have more bonding time as they try to escape the tunnels filled with deadly goop and parasitic tentacles. They all eventually do get out, and Wheeljack and Starscream go off. They try to convince Starscream to stay, but he admits that he doesn’t know what the right move is anymore. He confronts Galvatron, trying to convince him to listen to Prime and the rest about teaming up against Unicron. Galvatron says he won’t do it, positive he can take on Unicron on his own. Starscream rationally calls him a fool and gets beat down for it.

Optimus plans to confront the Decepticons, ordering his men to not cause any casualties. He goes to Galvatron himself, and they fight, exchanging banter and reasoning and pride. Galvatron refuses to think he even needs the Autobots help, and Starscream interrupts their fight, coming onto the battlefield sword in hand, shouting Galvatron.

Galvatron and Starscream exchange harsh blows, damaging one another as Optimus looks on hoping Starscream knows what he is doing. Eventually, Starscream is hit with the Star Saber, and Galvatron is incredulous at how much stronger Starscream is.
And we get one of the most heart wrenching speech from Starscream. He tells Galvatron that Optimus is the better leader, and he desperately begs Galvatron to join forces with Optimus. Spark chamber open and exposed, sword in hand and Star Saber yanked from his chest wound, Starscream fires all he has skywards towards Unicron, his beam running just short of hitting it before Unicron fires and disintigrates Starscream, Swindle his minicon being pushed off towards the last few seconds.

This. FUCKING. SCENE. I’ll get to this more in character development but holy shit.

Starscream’s sacrifice is enough to convince Galvatron of what he needs to do. He and Prime meet up and form an alliance against Unicron. They send a small stealth team of Hot Shot, Sideswipe, Demolisher and Cyclonis to scope out Unicron and see if they can find a weakness. Bickering and sweetness ensue, Cyclonis and Demolisher constantly fighting the Autobots on authority.

They don’t find much, but eventually Unicron begints to Transform and they launch an assault. The kids remind Galvatron their forces are still on one side of Unicron. Galvatron is thoroughly annoyed by this, telling them to ‘go play’ or something. Optimus tells him that is ‘enough’, and Galvatron orders for a rescue ship to be sent out, sighing in annoyance. ‘Taking order from humans…honestly.’ I know I’ve mentioned my dislike for the kids, but seeing Galvatron act this way around them is…actually pretty humurous. And after Starscreams death scene, humurous is good.

They end up launching a full scale attack, with Hoist analyzing Unicron’s frame for a weakness. They find one in the neck, where his armor is thinnest. Makes sense, really. It’s a little weird though because we see Demolisher talking with Hoist’s voice in this episode…and Hoist is doing something smart and Demolisher is…not smart. Whoever put the episode together with it’s audio really dropped the ball, or someone wrote the script with the names mixed up or something. Really of all the technical issues I’ve seen, that is the single most distracting one. And they were doing so well this season too! Darn.

Anyway they launch their assault, Galvatron and Optimus putting together a plan to attack Unicron from the inside by waking up the nine minicons that create the ultimate weapons. It’s a good plan, and after they leave the minicons talk to their kids and say that Optimus and Galvatron won’t be able to do it, and they have to go in themselves and wake up the other minicons. Red Alet agrees to help the minicons and the kids follow after Optimus inside Unicron, and prepares a warp gate for them.

Outside, where the main fighting is going on, Galvatron has made a short stop on his way inside of Unicron. Thrust has been attempting to guide Unicron around, trying to get a response out of the giant Transformer with little success. Galvatron is ready to obliterate Thrust, when Thrust gets pulled into the floor he’s standing on. Well, I guess Unicron responded finally.

We then proceed to see Thrust be very slowly squished to death between two slabs of powerful whirring metal. The imagery here is not pretty and neither are the death screams he makes.

Optimus and Galvatron make their way through Unicron, finding the weapons but they are being absorbed by Unicron and are heavily protected. It is also here where we find that Sideways is actually Unicron if smaller, more portable form. His voice has even changed a bit. He reveals that the more they Transformers fight, the more negative energy he has been able to absorb and make himself more poweful. This makes the battle outside seem…rather fruitless as all the damage inflicted is quickly regenerated.

Galvatron is absorbed by Unicron via parasitic tentacles, Unicron Sidways has been talking Optimus down into getting him to admit that Optimus actually LIKES war and doesn’t want the fighting to stop. Optimus is insisting that he has fought for peace. But the more Sideways talks the more uncertain Optimus seems to become…

And then the kids and minicons show up as well. The minicons are zombified…I don’t really have a better term for it since the only physical change is their eyes go dark and they stop responding to the kids. At this point they have been very active with their little human companions, giving all kinds of talks and running off on their own to try to help and things like that. They are given a trippy trip into the heads of those being absorbed by Unicron, as they land in a deserate and almost instantly are warped to the elaborate throne room of ‘Galvatron the Destroyer’, who rules the ‘Kingdom of Decepticons’.

I feel like the show is trying to add a few light hearted bits with all the seriousness going on. As entertaining as seeing Galvatrons fantasy from his own mind is, viewers are sure to notice the addition of Starascream still in his ranks.
…You’ll tear up at the sentiment, don’t lie.

Alexis gets it and immediately imagines a fantasy of her own to get them out of trouble with Galvatron’s guards. They end up in a forest, and Brad mentions he sees Highwire among the trees. They look for him, earning Unicrons attention. Unicron tries to end the kids’ lives, but their yells for Highwire reawaken the minicons from their zombified state, and they rebel against Unicron. This causes the three weapons awaken and turn back into the nine minicons, and Galvatron and the kids are freed from their parasitic prison. Sideways attempts to rush Highwire, but Optimus fires the Blaster at him, effectively cutting him in half and laying him to waste. Sideways last words are ‘this could all have been avoided if you had listened to Unicron’… and Galvatron turns to Prime and states that it’s time to fight.

That brings us to the final episode, ‘Mortal Combat’. The episode before was oddly named ‘Origin’,
Hot Shot hogs some more screen time before we get Galvatron insisting on fighting Prime inside of Unicron. He makes a valid point here, stating that every battle fought up til now would be completely in vain if there is not a clear winner between Autobot and Decepticon. He mentions they could never rule together, they are far too different and that his alliance with Optimus was to take out Unicron. Period. Alexis, because the kids are still here, asks what the Starscream sacrified himself for, and Galvatron says he died because he was a fool.
Alexis states he died for peace.

This conversation ends up getting very serious and deep, namely Galvatron confronts Prime on how he feels about everything. Namely…if Prime hates Galvatron or not.

One of the lines uttered by Unicron mentioned that as long as there was hate Unicron would be impervious.
Outside, Hot Shot has settled back into taking orders, offering to go look for Optimus and Galvatron while Unicron seems immobilized.
Jetfire punches Hot Shot rather hard and says he should go instead, since Hot Shot is in charge of both armies at the moment. Jetfire take off, Cyclonis following.

Optimus and Galvatron prepare to show down. Optimus gives a thanks and a good bye to the kids before sending them off with the minicons. He then proceeds to simple chuck the Matrix away and declares he is fighting as the leader of ALL transformers.
SHEESH! What about the Matrix?! It literally is thrown into what looks like a black abyss and disappears from view! Isn’t that a famous Cybertronian relic of great power?!

Meanwhile the troops of both armies start to wonder what they should do. Hot Shot has a serious inner debate on what he should do. He decided that a careful strike against the still possibley alive Unicron is the best course of action, keeping in mind that Optimus and Galvatron are still inside the massive Transformer.

Oh man the fight between Galvatron and Optimus is awesome. I think it’s the only fully animated extended fight in the entire series, and it is SHINY. The detail is much better and the animation is smooth. There’s even honest fighting styles SHOWN. It still has one or two cut shots, but no still frames, thank God.

Galvatron lands a solid hit on Prime as the forces outside chip away at Unicron. Highwire informs that Unicorn is in a dormant state, but then he starts moving towards Cybertron again.

The Matrix is seen just floating around in space amongst all the fighting too. The kids see and mention it. Geez that’s weird. They bring up a good question, why WOULD he toss it away during a match?

Unicron starts moving sparatically, and Optimus finds himself hanging by a wire…check that, a thick wire, with Galvtron in hand. Galvatron questions why Optimus is trying to save him, and he responds with a shut up and lets get the heck out of here.
In a surprising move, Galvatron refuses, instead saying to let him go. Optimus denies the request, but then Galvatron pulls a knife on him, cutting himself free and falling to his death to end the war and kill Unicron.

Optimus floats in space, his Matrix coming into view as he stares at it, stating he doesn’t deserve to wear it.

The episode ends with Hot Shot and Jetfire dropping the kids off in their home desert. Through exposition conversation we find out that Optimus has been missing since the final battle. They all say their good byes, and we get a peace-filled outro speech from Optimus.
The final episodes message is a little confusing, it feels like we missed something in Optimus’s past because he seemed awfully remorseful about…something. It’s a bit unclear, and that’s is a bit depressing because I would have loved more moral grayness from Optimus instead of the squeaky clean imagery we’ve had thus far. The only hint we get is the sheer brutality he displays in the final fight with Galvatron and Galvatron complimenting that the fight is ‘just like old times’.

I wanna know more about these ‘old times’ dammit! Did Unicron say something to Optimus eons ago?! It’s implied Optimus KNEW about Unicron for a really long time! It makes sense since he instantly accepts the minicons worry about it, though to be honest I don’t think Optimus would have ignored the minicons warnings anyway…but still. It feels like something big was left unfinished here.

Final Thoughts

This series had such a slow start, with a ‘minicon of the week’ feel up until a little bit into season three and just really ramping up the drama from there. It’s true that it’s fraught with animation errors, but they aren’t so distracting that they diverge much from the story or the heart of whats in the series. There are a few good characters, and they do well enough to carry the show on their own in my opinion. Even if it takes awhile to get there.

The main problem is probably the first season or two, where the fight scenes are cut to still shots and the episodes are a bit on the boring side because of it. This IS a giant robot series after all! What do we watch it for?! Giant robot FIGHTS! The fourth and last season though has quite a few good animated battle sequences, which may not make up for lost time, but it does help to forgive and forget the shoddiness of the earlier episodes. Tho, we still get a funny miscolor or animation error. Grinder was simply missing in a shot on scooter form, making Alexis looking like she was holding onto an invisible stick and Jetfirst is colored as Optimus in one scene.
The dialogue is a little padded with the anime translation syndrome, (uh’s and grunts where they aren’t needed), but the story thankfully is not really that padded. I still think every episode is somewhat important, since you still need the introduction of the kids because of the plot points that surround them and even if a character isn’t important himself he creates conflict or development for someone else, like Blurr to Hot Shot. Most of the Decepticons beside Cyclonis and Demolisher were plot relevant, but even then they had personality. I felt that the Autobots had less actual characters and more ‘toys to sell’ and were just there to even out the teams.
Alot of characters kept switching sides too, which was a little odd. Good though, as it kept things ambiguous and a little harder to figure out. I wish it all wasn’t so heavily foreshadowed though, the kids don’t exactly keep things subtle in their outro monologues.

We had Scavenger, who seemed Decepticon who was an Autobot spy, Starscream, for massive massive character development and complexity, started Decepticon and went Autobot, Decepticon, Unicron, then for himself in the end, Sideways, who was Autobot, then Decepticon, then Unicron, Thrust who was Decepticon and went with Unicron, we also had Wheeljack, who was an Autobot friend in the past and introduced as a Decepticon.

So is it one of the worst Transformers series? Possibly. I don’t know. I haven’t seen enough Transformers through the years, but if this is the second worst, sign me up for more, geez. The main complaint, again, seems to be the technical issues. And honestly, if you can put of with Beast Wars CG, then this shouldn’t be a problem. I HAVE started Beast Wars on Netflix and I find it to be a show I just listen to. There are worse anime dubs out there too, though maybe not worse Transformers dubs. Like I said, I don’t know. With all the production issues I realize it it, I’m willing to give this show a bit of slack. I know it’s not a good excuse, but you can’t blame the show.
I think it is a real tragedy that this show was so rushed though. If it had its time taken on it, I think it could have been something really special. Alas, I try not to dwell too much on what could it have been (even though it honestly could have been much worse) and just take it for what it is. I understand some people, fans especially, can be nigh unforgiving when it comes to a good series to watch. But if you are willing to wade through some of the junk of the earlier seasons, I think it’s something a person can really learn to appreciate.

For the character developments sections (which I had separated for length), click this link.

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