Shadowcon Reviews: Transformers Prime season 1, episode 24: “One Shall Rise, Part 1”
After a quick “previously on” segment, we’re put right back into the action of the preceding episode: that of Megatron looming over Optimus, ready for the kill. Optimus wonders why Dark Energon is erupting from the volcano as, by all previous indications, normal Energon was the only type to be found on Earth, albeit in limited quantities
Megatron’s victory over Optimus is short-lived, as the rest of the Autobots arrive and rescue Optimus, while Megatron gloats to the stars that he now has more than enough Dark Energon to reawaken Unicron. Well, that’s bad news, and Ratchet muses why Dark Energon has been found on Earth, and why it erupted from the volcano, much like Optimus did when he was, um, getting his ass kicked by Megatron. This leads to Miko’s infamous line of “the ‘Cons killed a Unicorn?”, which is the only in-cannon Unicron/Unicorn joke in existence. Good on you, mate.
Ratchet lays out some exposition:
“Unicron, an ancient evil, who’s fossilized blood comprises the matter which we call Dark Energon.”
“So, you’re saying this Unicron is some kind of Boogyman?”
…”No, nurse Darby. Unicron is very real. Was… that is, while I do believe he once existed, I just don’t subscribe to the theory that his primordial life-force is the substance that… harmed Raf.”
June is rather displeased that Optimus would so carelessly allow a human to be harmed while in his care, and she has a point. The Autobots took the three humans under their wing, and deemed themselves their protectors. And here’s Raf, who had been exposed to both harmful Energon, and even more harmful Dark Energon. He’s survived, sure, but, as June points out, these kids are just that, children, and they don’t belong in the Transformers’ world or war.
Jack had made a similar argument back in “Darkness Rising, Part 4”, and his decision to stay here this time is a nice callback to that, showing that Jack himself has grown as a character, and has become stronger as a person, now able to deal with this sort of thing. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to the viewer’s interpretation, but for me, I’m glad that this scene was kept in here, as it shows once again that the Transformers’ war, or really any war, is no place for children. I particularly like Optimus’ almost futile apologies to June, as he knows that she has every right to be upset. It’s an interesting position to put him in.
Anyway, June drives off with Raf, just as Agent Fowler informs the Autobots of some pretty messed up weather conditions around the globe. Apparently, at the same time during the Dark Energon volcano’s eruption, there were also seven major quakes all over the globe, as well as a bunch of other storms, tsunamis, lightning storms, power-outages, Thor’s hammer falling from the sky… it’s pretty bad.
June and Raf fall victim to a pretty nasty tornado on the way home, but are saved and brought back to the Autobot’s base by Bumblebee (he’s trying to make up for his lack of action last episode). June’s a little shaken up, and humbled after, y’know, insulting Ratchet, and questioning Optimus’ authority.
“I know. But you’re grounded ‘til you’re thirty… twenty-five.”
Agent Fowler arrives in person, demanding to know if Optimus has garnered any new information. Ratchet tells of how the tremors from the quakes originated at the Earth’s core, and the tremors continue to rise and fall in a pattern, almost like a heartbeat, and the only thing inside the Earth to pump is Dark Energon, which is the blood of Unicron. So, yes, the Earth (or at least its core), in a surprising plot twist, is Unicron. As if we needed confirmation, a quick zoom-in shot of the volcano reveals Unicron’s face through all the smoke and lava, and an awesome, John Noble-empowered “I awaken!”
Well, looks like the Autobots are screwed, and everyone’s now wondering both how they can stop Unicron, and how he can be alive in the first place, after all, the Earth itself isn’t alive. Optimus merely responds with the following:
“Such a thing is not unprecedented.”
Like Planet Goo. Actually, this leads into Optimus’ retelling of the Transformers’ creation myth. Primus and Unicron had battled, and it was only by creating the original Thirteen Primes that gave Primus the ability to defeat Unicron, after which he merged with the core of the (in this continuity) already-existing Cybertron, and created the rest of the race through the Well of Allsparks. This entire exposition is ripe with Transformers references, and they thankfully don’t go into detail about each one, but the nods to the fans are nice, and we do get the first on-screen representation of the Original Thirteen Transformers. In-universe, Optimus surmises that Unicron has in fact transcended physical form, and that it is imperative that they keep Unicron from fully awakening.
Meanwhile, Megatron’s been collecting all the spoils of Dark Energon from the volcano, with Airachnid informing him that the troops are weakening from its effects, and that they should move away before they loose any more men. Megatron ignores her, though, and instead puts her in charge of things while he goes and talks to Unicron.
This scene is pretty cool, but also amusing, simply because Megatron has to talk to a giant mouth and eyes. I know they’re trying to represent Unicron as having no physical form, but come on. Anyway, Megatron tries to worm his way into Unicron’s good fortune, but Unicron’s having none of it:
“Prideful fool! How dare you think yourself capable of summoning my life-force. I rise because I have deemed it my time!”
“Master, I did not mean to overstep-“
Things are made even worse when Unicron discovers Optimus still alive, and promptly eschews Megatron to go deal with Optimus himself. Man, now Megatron knows how it must feel to be Starscream.
Optimus, meanwhile, scouts out an epicenter that is apparently rich in ore, and Ratchet explains that the natural metals in the Earth are extensions of Unicron, and that he did in fact have his morning stretch, which was signified by the earthquakes. I love how June says that, too, as if the voice actress knows how silly this entire ordeal is.
Optimus is then confronted by a rock avatar of Unicron, and here we get to see his full body. It’s a little different than previous incarnations, taking a large cue from Armada Unicron with two sets of horns, and having large spikes all over his body. I like the spikes that form his weapon hands, and just his overall stature. Anyway, Optimus tries to appeal to Unicron’s sense of logic, arguing that if he awakens, Unicron would wipe out humanity, who is, in a way, his creation. Unicron responds as expected:
“Parasites! They too shall know my wrathful hand, once I am finished with you!”
So they fight, and throughout it all, Optimus never puts up his faceplate, as though he were giving Unicron the finger. Unicron prophesizes that Optimus shall fall, as the line of Primes has grown weak over the past million years or so, and continues his attack. Well, Optimus takes a page from Movie Prime and just blasts Unicron in the freakin’ face! Damn. Guy’s hardcore. Unicron’s avatars surround Optimus en mass then, and we’re treated to a nice “to be continued” card before the credits roll.
Post episode follow-up: Final score for “One Shall Rise, Part 1” is also 7/10. These past two episodes had the difficult job of setting things up for the finish, and they do a great job of it, though this episode suffers a little more than last week’s, just due to the lack of multiple plots going on. That said, I liked this episode’s dialogue, and its exposition is presented in a sleek manner, and surprisingly doesn’t bog down the episode. I like Optimus’ character traits being presented here: strong will, knowledge of ancient events, smarts, and courage. These are all presented within situations that put those traits up against a wall and thus its interesting to see Optimus try to remain true to himself as a character under these conditions. Next week, we’ll see the return of Megatron to a more active role in the story, more Transformers fan Easter-eggs, and a really badass battle.