Shadowcon Reviews: Transformers Prime season 2, episode 6: “Loose Cannons”
I think this episode could be summed up as the “reintroduction” episode fro Wheeljack. As I pointed out last time, “Con Job” didn’t have much Wheeljack in it, and its premise made character introduction pretty much non-existent. But with “Loose Cannons”, a full season later, or thereabouts, we get a proper actual Wheeljack-centric episode, complete with interactions and conversations with Bulkhead that really work well to develop a cold, battle-hardened Wheeljack in contrast to a team-player and alive Bulkhead, as well as the debut of Wheeljack’s Earth vehicle mode, something that is usually a staple in any introductory episode of a character. So yeah, this is very much a second go at introducing ‘Jackie to the lineup and I think it works a heck of a lot better than “Con Job”.
While the Wheeljack reintroduction is the episode’s obvious draw, another draw is that it introduces us to a fully new character, Dreadwing, who shares his body with the late Skyquake whom we saw perish back in “Masters and Students”. I really like this character, and establishing that he and Skyquake are brothers in-show gives their sharing a chassis a good plausible explanation. Dreadwing is also fiercely loyal to the Decepticon cause, something that Optimus respects if nothing else (as we saw in “Triangulation”, these two have some decent chemistry). This character’s role this episode is to pretty much be the villain of the week, but his development over the season will prove that there’s more going on with him than just being evil. He’s a little like Dinobot from Beast Wars, and had the writers not completely fumbled the ball and killed him for no reason, I think Dreadwing could have gone the rout Dinobot took in the Beast Wars pilot except they could have explored his loyalties and honor code and all of that a little more before he made the switch to the Autobots side. Sadly, that didn't come to pass.
One of the things I liked about this episode was Wheeljack’s conflicting nature with Optimus Prime. Rarely do we ever see dissension among the Autobots (and when we do it’s usually due to Optimus’ absence rather than because of his decisions), and having heard of what Wheeljack was like back in “Con Job”, his friction with authority figures does fit in with what we supposedly know of him. “Loose Cannons” also finally does what I thought “Con Job” was going to do and present us with a more aware Wheeljack than the one Bulkhead knew back when they were both Wreckers. Wheeljack is distant, cold, perhaps a little guilt-ridden over the loss of so many of his Wrecker peers. And that makes the hints dropped in “Con Job” about Wheeljack being different than Bulkhead remembers him pay off pretty well here. Wheeljack’s relationship with Bulkhead isn’t as fulsome as it could have been, but the action and Wheeljack’s overall actions and odd acclimation to Earth more than make up for it.
The pace is quick this time around; I think the absence of the humans (with the exception of Fowler) makes it feel quicker, and the use of fairly short scenes in succession especially for the Decepticons’ scenes, means that this episode flies by. That’s both good and bad. It’s good in that it has a much different feel than “Con Job” and it fits with Wheeljack’s personality being fast-talking and blasters firing, but we never really get a chance to see Wheeljack’s character develop in any appreciable way. Now, this is an introduction episode of sorts, so that’s kind of forgivable, but much of what the characters have to say to each other is basically explaining the plot or backstory of how Wheeljack came to be here or who Dreadwing is. We don’t get that scene between Wheeljack and Bulkhead that has them questioning each other’s choices, certainly not to the degree that was implied back in “Con Job”, which I think should have been in here. It could have built on some of the stuff Bulkhead had experienced with the fake Wheeljack and developed that into actual conflict here. There’s a scene or two that kind of tries to do that, but because every scene is so short, we never get a chance to see it play out the way I think it should have. But that’s just me.
The action is typical of Prime: effective and thrilling, but nothing we haven’t seen before. I actually think Wheeljack’s brief fight scenes back in “Con Job”showed off his fighting style better than this episode did. Dreadwing is a pretty cool fighter especially with that underslung cannon, and I’m glad the Skyquake body-type was used for this guy. It’s tough and edgy but with enough litheness to give him grace in battle. Not Arcee-limber, but more of an Optimus-type where he can be bruising but also give a high-kick or two; it’s pretty good. His firefight with Optimus was good but again, nothing to write home about, and having Wheeljack essentially be assent for the fight at the end (since he was diffusing the bomb) was a mistake; he really should have gotten a second shot at fighting Dreadwing. All that said, the character of Wheeljack was at least introduced properly this time around instead of having a double that didn’t tell us anything about the real deal. I liked what little chemistry there was between he and Bulkhead and his friction with authority figures is a good trait that would go on to manifest itself more in Season Three.
Final score for “Loose Cannons” is 6/10. This is not a bad episode; it’s definitely a marked improvement over “Con Job”. Wheeljack’s character is a great one and this episode does do it justice by way of introduction. But the somewhat weak plot and quick pace actually detract from this episode in my opinion. This review was very short because I honestly can’t think of what else to say about this one; it’s a step up from “Con Job” but there are definitely better character-centered Prime episodes out there.