April 12, 2012

A Look at Arcee



Transformers Prime has a very nicely defined cast, with its star clearly being Arcee. She's been the focus of my last three reviews, and being that "Partners" is the end of her arc for Season One, I figured I'd do a post about why I like her so much. Arcee, to me, is really a toned-down version of what Optimus Prime could be, if he were ever done with a semblance of emotion. She's flawed, has seen the horrors of war firsthand, and has had to keep her emotions in constant check. Any deviation from her sense of duty, and you've got a situation that culminates in the escape of a prisoner... it culminates in "Partners".
Arcee's relationship with the rest of the cast is the strongest. Her ties to Jack, June, and Bumblebee are all really powerful. She's protective of Jack, but knows when to let him go, having done so many times, often to his protest, but it ultimately does benefit him in the end. When June enters the picture, Arcee now must contend with the fact that she's now competing against Jack's actual mother, a figure who knows him far more than Arcee, who understands him better than Arcee, and who thinks that she cares more for him than Arcee. Now, I'm not going to turn this into a chick fighting arena sponsor, I'm just trying  to point out that Arcee's had to face challenges not only in combat, but in character and in responsibility as well, which makes her comparatively strong compared to her previous iterations. Her past, though presented rather clumsily in "Predatory", nevertheless is really touching. Having lost two close partners already, you can see why she's so protective of Jack, and why his mom presents a certain amount of trust issues between her and Arcee.
Her boldness as a character is exemplified in her approach to a problem. When battling Airachnid back in "Predatory", her judgment was impeded, not only because it was Airachnid who she had to contend with, but it was Jack who was in danger. Her third partner, a weaker partner than the last two, who was unable to defend himself... and he nearly got killed because Arcee wasn't there to help him. Airachnid is Arcee's greatest flaw, and the villain takes advantage of this fact. "Partners" had Airachnid come back to haunt Arcee, only this time, Arcee's emotions would be amplified by the arrival of Starscream. Both of Arcee's past partners could now be avenged at the same time. It was only because of Bumblebee that Arcee was able to stop herself from killing Starscream. I think that this development in her character was natural, and helped flesh her out as a person. It was only Bumblebee that really didn't work for me. As I said in my follow-up section of my last review, I think it would have been more effective had Optimus shown up instead. The impact on Arcee would have been the same, but it would have driven home the point that she was emotionally compromised.
Overall, Arcee remains my favorite character on the show. Her complex character and chemistry with the rest of the cast is outstanding, and she's a great fighter to boot. Unlike her previouse incarnations, she's much more of a team player, provided her judgement remains in check, and the choice to make her more of a badass was, I think, really necesary for the character's reputation. Up until now, Arcee had been portrayed as either a surrogate mother figure for the human allies, or as a male cast memeber with female accoutromonts. This itterations of Arcee takes the female side of that and amplifies it, without making it overt. Arcee isn't a bitchy schoolgirl, but she's also not a female Optimus Prime. She's a person, and that in the Transformers lore, is really rare, and a true gift to be proud of.