Shadowcon Reviews: Transformers Prime season 1, episode 16: “Crisscross”
Okay, so while I said that my next Prime review would be “Operation Breakdown”, I decided that that episode is less prominent than this one. This episode, “Crisscross”, combines both villains introduced in my last two reviews, and while “Operation Breakdown” is technically part of the MECH storyline, it doesn’t directly impede the overall arc of the MECH/Arcee story. This episode is also the strongest for MECH out of their three central titles, and is a pretty good Jack/Arcee story as well. Airachnid makes her return and is far more villainous than in “Predatory”. The main draw of this episode, however, is the fact that Jack’s mom finds out about the Autobots. Jack is back to his common-sense self, and bringing his mom into the inner circle was a logical move from a story point of view: she was going to find out about the Transformers sooner or later, and I think that they introduced this element at the perfect time in the season. This brought about a huge change, and elevated the elements of this episode, making it stand above its immediate neighboring ones. Episodes 12 through 16 made the bulk of the low point for the first season, and from here on out, the episodes and plots and characters continue to thicken and get better. I’m impressed that the writers were able to pull themselves out of the mud this quickly, too, considering that after this, they only had so much to do before the huge awesome ending.
Anyway, let’s get started. The episode starts with Silas and some MECH guys wondering around in the forest. They’re here because they picked up a Decepticon distress signal (which turns out to be a simple ruse to lure them out here). It turns out Airachnid has sprung a trap, though instead of killing the humans, she strikes a deal with them: they get to keep their lives in exchange for Arcee and Jack. Airachnid holds grudges, and unlikeEnergon, won’t forget about what was done to her back in “Predatory” any time soon. So Silas agrees to the deal, because even Clancy Brown has to submit to somebody, and a gigantic spider robot would be a pretty good candidate for that job.
Jack returns home late with Arcee in vehicle mode, only for Jack’s mother, June, to catch him. June, not knowing of the Autobots, grounds him for a couple of weeks, telling him that he can’t ride his motorcycle. Well, obviously, Arcee can’t just sit around in the garage for two weeks, but Jack points out that if she isn’t here and his mom finds out, she’ll think that Jack’s just blowing her off. Arcee’s plan is simple: she’ll try to be back in the garage before Jack’s mom gets home. Well, as someone who has had to lie and cover his tracks, let me tell you that this will ultimately end in disaster, and that fact isn’t hidden in the episode. That’s one of the nice things about this episode: the constant reminder that sooner or later, Jack will have to come clean with June, and that the entire charade that he’s been dancing behind will eventually topple. MECH’s involvement is only the catalyst; they’re not the villains because the episode needed some action. They’re the villains because the episode needed something to push Jack’s mom into discovering the Transformers.
Anyway, the next day, Jack gets a call from June, who is on her way home early to make dinner for him. Jack calls Arcee, who’s in the middle of a battle with some Decepticons. Jack’s mom arrives home to find the garage empty, and she blows up at Jack as he arrives on his bicycle. Arcee arrives in the garage behind her, but this merely results in June thinking one of Jack's friends snuck the motorcycle in. Well, looks like Jack’s caught, and he has no choice now but to tell June all about the Autobots. Arcee, however, is less than cooperative, and Jack's mom asks if he's been hanging out with a science fiction club. Ha! Man, I love the conclusions that the humans in any of these universes come up with regarding the Transformers. Jack could be being blackmailed by terrorists and his mom still wouldn’t believe him. Well, June has to return to work, but promises to continue the conversation with him when she returns.
We finally cut back to Silas, who uses images from the black box from Airachnid's ship to track down information on Jack, including the identity of his mother. June gets captured, and Jack and Arcee now need to find her. Any communication with the rest of the Autobots or Jack’s mother will result in June’s death. Jack and Arcee follow the communicator's map to a disused factory, where they're met by Silas and a bunch of MECH guys. Airachnid reveals herself as well, webbing Arcee, who is then zapped by a MECH soldier. Airachnid tells Jack he has until midnight to rescue his mother. Jack tries to plead with Silas for help, but Silas just shoves him away. Man, what a dick. Jack races off to find his mom, followed by Airachnid. Silas tells his men to start working on Arcee, as he suspects Airachnid will double-cross them.
Jack runs through the factory, but is unable to find June. Airachnid helps him out, but it seems that Jack’s yelling her name has awakened June. Jack thinks he’s beat Airachnid’s deadline, but she points out that even though Jack located his mom, the actual task was to rescue her before midnight as well. Jack is then captured, and Airachnid leaves him to deal with the more pressing matter of Arcee… oh, no wait, that’s what someone with common sense would do! Seriously, look at the situation: MECH has Arcee captured, and Silas can’t have been the only one to suspect fowl play by his mutual ally, so why is Airachnid taking her time with Jack and June, who aren’t likely to escape, instead of Arcee, whom she knows is likely to escape from MECH?
The MECH surgeons finish cutting through the web holding Arcee, and Silas instructs them go for the heart, as they only have time to take one component. Arcee regains consciousness, but feigns sleep, and eventually escapes.
As Jack continues to try to free himself, Airachnid moves in on June. Arcee comes barreling up a nearby roof and tackles her enemy, leaving Jack time to get free and go help June,. Arcee and Airachnid battle on the factory superstructure in good ’ol fashioned feminine melee. Their fight eventually reaches the ground, but Airachnid's laser fire damages the platform June is dangling from, and Jack has to scramble to avoid falling. Arcee manages to kick Airachnid into a container nearby, with Jack able to dump cement on top of her. Airachnid starts climbing out, but is frozen by the quick-drying substance. Not to nitpick, but cement just doesn’t harden that quickly.
Anyway, Arcee goes to help June, but Airachnid is still able to move somewhat, so she webs Arcee back to the ground. Agent Fowler arrives, much to Silas’ surprise, but a quick flashback sorts this out: turns out Jack stole Silas’ communicator while pleading with him. Airachnid scans Fowler's chopper and make her escape in her new alternate mode. Silas in impressed by the new data they’ve collected on how the Transformers gain alternate vehicle modes. I like the fact that even when they lose, MECH is still able to gain important information about their targets.
Fowler introduces himself to June and attempts to weave a cover story, but June doesn't buy it. After the night she’s had, nothing but the truth will suffice. Jack introduces her to Arcee, and June says thanks for, y’know, saving her life and all that. The last scene is pretty good. Jack takes June to the Autobot base to introduce her to the rest of the crew. What’s nice about this is that the scene is almost shot for shot the same as when Jack, Mike, and Raff first entered the base themselves. The same music even plays. June is aghast at the sight of these titanic giants, and the episode closes out with her sheepishly raising her hand in greeting to Optimus Prime.
Post-episode follow up: Final Score for “Crisscross” is 8/10- I really enjoyed this episode. Unlike “Predatory”, the pace of the entire event seemed fluid, despite the somewhat jumbled day-to-night transitions. The action was there, but didn’t completely consume the episode, which can often happen with this type of show. The dynamic between Arcee and Jack is furthered here, and the threats seemed real enough. MECH once again brings a sinister side to humanity, and Airachnid makes a triumphant encore appearance after her rather weak introduction episode. Bringing June into the story of the Autobots was logical, and would prove to be a wise move, especially in the final episodes of Season One.