June 12, 2012

Shadowcon Reviews- One Shall Fall



            Shadowcon Reviews: Transformers Prime season 1, episode 23: “One Shall Fall”

            “One Shall Fall” kicked off a seven-episode story arc that spanned the last four episodes of Season One of Prime and began the first three of Season Two. We’ll be taking a look at this epic arc, and what better way to do so than with a prophecy, ‘cause those things create tension wherever they appear. This particular prophecy, told to us and to the rest of the Autobot team by Optimus himself, tells of how a massive planetary alignment will cue a the culmination of a massive conflict “upon a world forged from chaos”.

Everyone’s on edge and chomping at the bit to figure out what to do, while onboard the Decepticon warship, the Nemesis, Megatron is engaged in his own melodrama with his doctor, Knock Out:

“I did not seek out the Blood of Unicron to simply keep my Spark aflame, but to rule undead armies, and conquer worlds. And to accomplish that, I require  more than this mere sliver  which lies within me. So… WHERE IS MY DARK ENERGON!!!”

I particularly like how Knock Out is just checking out his nails in the background while Megatron does his little speech. Just adds that extra notch of insanity to Megatron and reinforces the character of Knock Out, who is obsessed with his looks more than anything else.

Anyway, Megatron declares himself as the rising darkness that the prophecy refers to, and has a vision of himself standing over Optimus, ready for the kill, and in the background is an erupting volcano. Pretty ominous stuff.

Naturally, then, after the teaser, we cut back to our three requisite humans, Jack, Miko, and Raf looking at a conspiracy website, where users post images of supposed alien findings. They find the promo art for Bumblebee on there, though, and Raf switches the image out with a LOL cat. Right, ‘cause that has “close encounters” written all over it. Anyway, the scene helps establish two important things: The first is that we learn that the Autobot medic, Ratchet actually has emotions, as he laughs at the LOL cat, much to my annoyance, and that Optimus is like Jack:

“Hey, Optimus, you wanna see something funny?”

“No.”

Except in that sense; evidently Optimus doesn’t have a sense of humor. Ratchet elaborates on this, though:

“While Optimus certainly keeps his emotions in check, I’ve known him far longer than any of you have, and he was different before he became a Prime.”

“Optimus wasn’t always a Prime?”

“On Cybertron, one isn’t born into greatness, rather, one must earn it.”

Right, because the Prime lineage is renowned for its fair approach to choosing Matrix Bearers (I still grieve for you, Ultra Magnus).

Miko’s intrigued:

“So, different how? We talkin’ party animal?”

“No, no. Optimus was a lot like… Jack.”

Jack’s naturally a little startled by this comparison, a subtle point that will be brought up later, but what is somewhat amusing to me is that the entire team is talking about Optimus as though he weren’t there. That’s a little rude. Thankfully for Optimus, Agent Fowler, the Autobot’s government liaison, calls him up and informs him that the Decepticons have stolen a ton of experimental government technology.

“Plasma injector, neutron shield, tesseract?!”

Well, I’m sure S.H.E.I.L.D. isn’t happy about that. Actually the real purpose behind the Decepticon’s thievery is because they’re building a second Space Bridge, after the Autobots blew up the last one in “Darkness Rising, Part 5”, and it turns out that they need only one more piece to complete it. Also, it should be worth noting that Megatron’s obsessive behavior regarding his plans is becoming increasingly more prominent, as he simply yells at fellow Decepticon Airachnid for suggesting that they use stealth to acquire the last piece of their Space Bridge, saying that they can no longer afford stealth with the prophecy’s end nearly upon them all.

Optimus himself makes note of this to Agent Fowler, saying that with Megatron becoming increasingly more desperate, he’ll kill as many humans as need be in order to secure his plans of domination, and Optimus himself can’t have the death of even one human on his conscience. So, Fowler evacuates the lab, and sends Optimus’ team in to clean up the mess. The battle is surprisingly minimalistic for Prime, with much of the actual fighting being glossed over to make time for Bumblebee.

Turns out he’s taking Raf for a drive during this important mission. This scene’s only purpose is to have Megatron injure Raf and Bumblebee without interference. The point still gets across, but I would have liked it if it had been better integrated into the main plot and less contrived. And what does Bumblebee do when he and Raf get injured? Does he send for medical assistance? No, he goes straight into the line of fire, showing an injured Raf to Arcee, who’s with the rest of the already-engaged Autobots. So, what the hell? Ratchet even offered to bridge Bumblebee back to base, and then send him on his way over to the battle without Raf. So, did ‘Bee just forget? The whole ordeal is, as I said, contrived, but the point is still made clear.

Megatron shows up at the battle to snarl and smirk at Bumblebee’s human companion, and Optimus’ line of how he couldn’t condone “a single human casualty” echoes in the back of our minds, as here lays Raff, alive, but very badly injured. Optimus orders Bumblebee and Arcee back to base, and Megatron’s warship arrives to pick both he and the package up.

But Optimus has indeed been clever, with he and Bulkhead scaling one of the many spiky wings of the warship so as to climb aboard and take back the device. The scene is really cool, and the music accompanying it is great.

Back at base, Ratchet’s having some trouble curing Raf:

“Rafael isn’t responding. We must run diagnostics of his assemblage… uh, vital statistics. Argh! My tools, they’re all wrong!”

Bumblebee’s anger is quieted by Arcee’s insistence that he keep his emotions in check, while Jack calls up his mother, June, to come in and help. Ratchet’s medical position is taken over by June, much to his discomfort.

Meanwhile, Megatron gets another vision, this time of Unicron’s head and a volcano. Airachnid and Knock Out are somewhat worried, though Airachnid’s far more devious, as her voiced concerns of Megatron’s health drip with malicious intent. Anyway, Megatron declares that he has “something [he] must attend to”, and goes away.

Optimus and Bulkhead sneak aboard the ship and take back the device, and then contacts Ratchet to get a progress report on Raff. Ratchet confides in him that he’s allowed his pride to obscure his attempts to understand humanity’s medicine or science. I like the small bit of character revelation that Ratchet has. Optimus calls up a GroundBridge, and orders Bulkhead back to base, with himself having an ulterior motive in mind.

“Bulkhead, return to base. There is something I must do.”

“You’re… serious?”

I like Bulkhead’s reaction to this theatrical deceleration. Optimus says that he will no longer stand by and allow Megatron to roam free if it means the destruction of another race. Optimus then, in full drama-queen mode, vows that “Megatron must be destroyed!”

And it’s about time, too. Optimus has been fighting with Megatron for centuries, with neither side gaining or loosing any ground. In short, the war has become stagnant, and it could be argued the Optimus has allowed this to carry on for far too long. I don’t really see Optimus’ declaration of Megatron’s destruction to be the result of Optimus’ hatred for his foe, but rather as a sign that Optimus wants this to end so badly, that he’s using this entire event (the prophecy, Raf’s injuries, the Decepticons’ Space Bridge) as an excuse to kill.

Megatron arrives at the volcano from his visions, which he amusingly calls a “flaming mountain”, and his plan is clear:

“This is where I am to position my Space Bridge. The place from whence I am to harvest Dark Energon.”

Megatron gets a call from Optimus, and he orders his men to leave Prime alone, and for him to be transported to Megatron’s coordinates. And so, the pieces are set: Optimus and Megatron are ready to face off, Ratchet and June are busy trying to stabilize Raf, and the planetary alignment is drawing nearer.

Ratchet realizes that Raf’s system hasn’t been infected with Energon, but with Dark Energon, as Megatron, who is infused with the stuff, was the one who blasted him. This revelation causes Ratchet to use technobabble science and have the good Energon siphon out all the Dark Energon from Raf’s body. June is hesitant about this, of coarse, as Ratchet had previously stated that even normal Energon is damaging to both humans and Autobots for that matter. So, which is it? Is it that Energon is harmful, or is Energon good? You can’t have it both ways. Well, it doesn’t matter, because it works, and Raf is okay. No ill-effects from absorbing two harmful, possibly life-threatening substances, nothing. Wow, I haven’t seen medical drama like this since Star Trek Voyager: “I’m going to kill all the Bad Tom DNA so that all the Good Tom DNA can reassert itself!” Yeah right.

Well, to make up for that logic flop, what do the writers do with Optimus and Megatron? Smash ‘em! Smash ‘em up good! The two fight in a really brutal fashion that almost makes you want to weep, because this is the kind of fighting that could have been in the film franchise but was instead replaced with Optimus ripping faces apart. No, this fight is awesome, and Optimus just wails on Megatron, not letting up until the killing blow. Megatron catches the blade, and breaks it (which also happened in “Darkness Rising, Part 5”), and their roles are reversed, with Megatron standing over Optimus, ready for the kill, and in the background is an erupting volcano. Pretty ominous stuff.

Post episode follow-up: Final score for “One Shall Fall” is 7/10. It does a good job of solidifying plot elements introduced early on in the series, and the end battle is really fun to watch. The medical drama seemed almost tacked on, and the resolution for it was really disappointing. However, it did give some character moments for Ratchet and Bumblebee, so that was nice to see. There were also some awkward scene shifts that resulted in jarring transitions.

The main plot was tight, and Optimus’ character underwent a significant change from angered war hero to enraged badass ready to kill Megatron. That’s not a trait that we see done right very often (the only other example of this is in the 1986 movie, the fight of which this episode’s mimics), and it was a welcome character change. Next week, we’ll see the resolution of the fight, expository goodness and Unicron’s reveal in “One Shall Rise, Part 1”.

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