Transformers: Prime "Darkness Rising - Part Two" Episode Review
Original Air Date: 11/26/10
Written by: Nicole Dubuc
The Decepticon ship descends on Earth above a mountain. As it lowers a tube into an Energon collection mine, Starscream explains that the gathering of Energon has gone well. Megatron reclaims his leadership role but Starscream sarcastically wonders if he should activate the Space Bridge to bring the army he has gathered for the last three years he has been gone. Megatron explains that he has found something even better - the "blood of Unicron" also known as "Dark Energon". It is said the crystal can bring the dead back to life. At first Megatron suggests Starscream should be the test subject, but he offers the dead body of Cliffjumper instead!
Back at the Autobot base, Optimus explains to the humans that as of last night the Decepticons will be after them now. Miko is excited about the propsect of being part of a new adventure. Ratchet is concerned that the humans are in danger no matter where they are, but especially at Autobot headquarters.
Suddenly, the proximity sensors go off. It turns out to be Agent Fowler, the designated Autobot liason to the outside world. Fowler enters the base and is not happy about the damage caused by Transformers battles, especially Bumblebee and Arcee's recent tangle with the Decepticons. Fowler knows the Decepticons are back and Prime doubts they ever left. Fowler suggests calling the Pentagon, but Prime warns him against it, saying the Autobots are the best defense against the Decepticons. He fears military involvement will cause widespread casualities. Fowler agrees to let Prime handle it "under the radar" or he will!
In the Decepticon mine, Megatron jams a piece of the Dark Energon into Cliffjumper and his body absorbs it. He is brought back to life, but not as he was before, instead he is more monster like, breaking out of his bonds and destroying a Drone in the process! As he hisses he is blasted by a Drone but the weapons blasts do nothing to him. When Cliffjumper charges at Megatron, he slices him in half and tosses him over a cliff!
Back at Autobot base, Ratchet finds Cliffjumper's signal has come back online, but chalks it up to an error of the Earth based technology. Arcee and Optimus however think it is worth investigating regardless. The Autobots head out via the "Ground Bridge", leaving the humans with Ratchet. He explains that the Autobots use the Ground Bridge is a smaller version of the Space Bridge, which they do not have enough materials and Energon to build - effectively marooning them on Earth.
The Autobots arrive in the Energon mine and see Drones everywhere slicing up Energon crystals. The Drones spot them and fire, even charging at them with a large drill vehicle! The Autobots fight back with Prime leading the charge. This time they don't hold back and take out Drones one by one!
At the Autobot base, Ratchet is acting rather cranky around the humans, explaining that the base is a former missile silo with mostly human technology. Raf offers to try to fix the errors in Ratchet's computers. He works some magic on his laptop and suddenly the errors are gone!
Inside the mine, the Autobots charge the Decepticons, breaking through their line. They arrive near the tube leading to the Decepticon ship when the battling begins again!
Above, Megatron analyzes the "Blood of Unicron", trying to understand it. Starscream reports intruders are in the mine. He orders Starscream to depart, needing more time to "suitably" greet the Autobot leader. Starscream protests since the mine is so valuable, so Megatron orders him simply to destroy the mine.
Below, Arcee gets a visual on Cliffjumper and goes to recover his fallen body (the half with the head still attached) but the "undead" Cliffjumper snarls and falls into an Energon pile. High above, Starscream drops a bomb to destroy the mine and then takes off into the ship! The Autobots quickly roll for it, charging towards the Ground Bridge. They make it through before the mine's explosion can get them, but without Cliffjumper in tow.
Ratchet asks about Cliffjumper, but everyone just gives her a sad look. Miko wants to know about the fight, but Jack takes her away gently. Optimus asks Arcee what happened and Arcee explains that Cliffjumper was not himself, like something from experiments during "the war". Arcee feels dizzy and Ratchet finds a spot of the Dark Energon on her and takes a sample to analyze.
Jack is apologetic, but tries to call home. Optimus explains there is no signal inside the silo on purpose. The kids explain they have to go home. Bulkhead is told to take Miko home. Bumblebee watches over Raf while Arcee is told to accompany Jack.
Back at Jack's house, he tries to offer his condolences to Arcee but she isn't ready to take it. As his mom pulls in, Arcee transforms back to vehicle mode. Jack's mom is not happy about a sixteen year old potentially riding on a motorcycle. He explains that he will be responsible. The next morning, Arcee revs up, waking up Jack and telling him they have to go.
On the ship, Starscream thinks Optimus is dead, but Megatron doubts he is so easily destroyed. Starscream mocks interest in Megatron's well being and tells him to leave the Dark Energon alone for a while. Megatron is impatient however and decides to take a crystal into his own Spark Chamber!
Elsewhere, Ratchet continues his analysis of the Dark Energon "goo". A bit of the goo gets into a claw and it transforms into a small insectoid robot with a cannon!
Episode one of "Prime" was a good introduction into this movie-inspired Transformers universe, but this is the episode that begins to define just where the story is going and gives fans an indication as to some of its roots. Specifically, this story brings about one big revelation: its connection to the "War for Cybertron" game and past history of the Transformers universe via the introduction of "Dark Energon" aka the "Blood of Unicron". The introduction of this element alone creates a strong connection between this summer's "War for Cybertron" video game where "Dark Energon" plays an instrumental role in the game's storyline (which is the current canon version of Cybertron's history). The suggestion of this power also being tied to Unicron ties into the game as well, but also gives an idea of the scope of this Transformers universe.
The effects of the Dark Energon are quite gruesome indeed. Cliffjumper's "zombie" awakening is scary and sad at the same time. Again I applaud the writers for not just offing an Autobot in episode one, but frankly torturing the bejeezus out of his corpose afterwards. Not only does it show the frightening scope of Megatron's ambition but it also shows us how evil he can be. Arcee's mention of "experiments" during the war also allude to how the Decepticons may have once performed such depraved experiments on Autobots in the past as well.
On a smaller, character based level I really began to enjoy Ratchet as a character in this episode. His interaction with the kids and the other Autobots is funny and somehow comforting at the same time. He's kind of like that grumpy uncle sitting in an armchair at a party who tells stories all the time and while abrasive, you'd miss him if he wasn't there. I do enjoy the way the kids are trying to be useful, each in their own ways. Raf being the "computer whiz" was a nice touch since he's the youngest. Miko's enthusiasm is funny, but can borderline on annoying and that's where Jack comes in, taking her away gently (one of my favorite moments from the episode).
The battle sequences with Optimus leading the Autobots were fun. Like the last episode, a lot of the camera angles and action moves reminded me a lot of the feature films. This episode made liberal use of "shaky cam" and a frenetic battle style. I'm glad that's not all it is however. I really liked seeing each Autobot use their own battle style (yay Bulkhead wrecking ball!) and Optimus swiping through the Drones and drill vehicles in vehicle mode.
As for the cliffhanger ending, it didn't have me on the edge of my seat, but I did smile a big grin seeing the movie influence in how the insectoid Transformer was created. It's very much like the Allspark infused machines from the feature films. I'm looking forward to seeing what havoc this little Transformer is going to cause!
This episode was definitely a much stronger showing than the previous one, but I'm fine with that. If the strength of the episodes continues to build I'll be one happy fan.