Thus far, the reception to the latest Transformers cartoon has been, what can best be described as acceptably underwhelming. I thought season one was a solid foundation for a pretty good series, albeit missing the impactful, dark overtones and strong character development of the franchise’ predecessor, Transformers Prime, a splendid show.
What I like is that Robots in Disguise decided to take a huge tonal shift from the much more macabre, linear plotline of the Prime series. That isn’t taking anything away from the former, but in my eyes, different is always a good way to start. Not everything is perfect in the land of RiD, because some things need to be explained. Like why exactly do the Decepticons, Cybertronian life forms, resemble Earth’s animal kingdom? Also, the Autobots Windblade and Drift resemble a geisha and a samurai, respectively. I know the show was animated by Japan’s Polygon Pictures, but it noticeably stands out. Not to say it looks too Japanese, or that that’s a problem…LOOK, I DON’T KNOW, it seems obtuse!!
After the defeat of Megatronus in last season’s finale, Optimus Prime, now a part of the regular team (dubbed Bee Team in season 1, which is cute.) still takes a back seat and Bumblebee continues to be the leader. I have stated in the past that I do not have a problem with this decision. If any other Autobot fits the role to be a team leader that ISN’T Optimus, it’s Bee. And it certainly isn’t HOTROD, who sucks!! Speaking of Hotrod, my most hated transformer of all time, as Optimus is recanting stories of lore to Strongarm, Slipstream and Jetstorm, this series’ resident party boy, Sideswipe interjects by calling OP “Pops”. You know, because Optimus is old!! That is a line, by design, to light a gigantic fire under me. If Goof Troop and Quack Pack taught me anything as a kid is that calling the classics “Old” is the kiss of death. This is a different instance, as this is Sideswipe’s nature (though I exercise my right to not be cool with it), and Prime will eventually get his in the end.
Strongarm and Sideswipe continue their buddy cop routine from the season before, and I’m sort of fine with it, though I would’ve expected some growth from these two by this point, given the many ordeals in which Sideswipe’s arrogance got them in some rough situations. That doesn’t look to change any time soon, either.
In fact, it’s their clumsiness that sets up the plot for this two-parter. What may be a season long story involves a weakened Optimus Prime, returned to normalcy after the sparks lent to him by the Primes are removed. Not to be that guy, but have you ever noticed that most authority figures or deities turn out to be gigantic jerks? So Micronis, who was Optimus’ mentor in season one, retrieves these shards and pretty much reduces the big guy to a potential liability. This move also ensures that Bumblebee will continue to prove what a strong leader he can be in light of this new predicament. Sure, the Autobots have a strong and proven veteran, but just how useful will he be when time call to action arises? INTRIGUE!!! Prime will recover, but time will tell. The plot pretty much stays the course; hunting down fugitives in a monster-of-the-day formula, which introduces a lot of new Decepticons. Sure, that may mean some establishing filler is set to come, and Overloaded 1 and 2 didn’t set up anything else down the road. So, time to talk about a few things that are a little different…
Windblade: I didn’t get a chance to talk about Windblade since I only talked about the Pilot. She’s the second female Autobot on Bee Team, and unlike Strongarm, whose essentially a by-the-books rookie, she’s very charming, a seasoned pro and a skilled tracker/fighter. While she tended to flirt with Sideswipe, she’s much more business oriented and the latter is more likely to try and go out of his way to impress her. Her demeanor is similar to that of Arcee from the Prime series, though Windblade is much more calculated and calm under pressure. She’s also the only Autobot so far that can fly.
Optimus Prime: Long time fans may not be too happy to see the iconic big rig reduced to a bit of a bit player, and I can assure you, I’m as big an Optimus Prime fan as they come. But things shouldn’t always be the same for the sake of familiarity. As I said before, O.P. is cool, but Bumblebee always seemed to be shaped for this kind of role, and I’m not talking about that Goldbug stuff!! Optimus will always be amazing, nothing will change that. If anything, fans should be more upset with the live action movies that believe O.P. is cool because he does cool stunts. Those movies completely misunderstand the character and what makes him so great. THIS role gives Optimus a chance to apply his veteran savvy and brazenness from a different perspective, mostly to teach this new team. He has no pride on the line and has no reason to question Bee’s leadership. And it isn’t like putting him out to pasture. Although, one thing does kind of bug me. Since this is a direct sequel to Transformers Prime, shouldn’t he have come back with his upgraded form as opposed to his original body?
As for the plot itself, again, not much to establish. The ground bridge exploded, leaving the Away team (Drift, Sideswipe, Windblade, and Prime) stranded in the Arctic to track down Polar Claw, a polar bear Cybertronian. Meanwhile, Bumblebee has an episode long battle with Overload, a thespian Deceptacon that talks like Calculon from Futurama……Again, RiD can be very weird. As far as two-parters go, this one was honestly not too effective. Both Deceptacons were dispatched by relatively normal means, if you’re familiar with this show. You wouldn’t have missed anything and it’s not something to go out of your way to see, it just felt like an hour long episode that happened to be broken in two. I’m sure this season will have more to say as it plays out.