Transformers Prime: "Rebellion" Episode Review
Episode Review: "Rebellion"
General Air Date: April 12, 2013
*Special thanks to the awesome crew at The Hub for sending out this episode (among other cool preview items) for review! You can see the neat package they sent in my Facebook Page's "Promotional Items" album!
The Autobots have regrouped with Ultra Magnus as their Commander. Their goal? Take out Darkmount! However, their first priority is destroying the tower's giant fusion cannons. Despite having munitions, the Autobots are still heavily outnumbered so they hatch a plan to split up the Decepticon forces as much as they can!
Meanwhile, underground Smokescreen has to make a choice whether or not to use the Forge to revive Optimus Prime or let the leader pass away and take on the mantle of the Primes!
When the Autobots begin their assault, they find it to be tougher than expected. Slowly they begin to be beaten until suddenly a new warrior emerges on the scene: Optimus Prime! Using his newfound power and weaponry, Optimus defeats the Decepticons. With the help of the human "Sky Striker" jets led by Fowler, they destroy Darkmount tower and send the Decepticons into retreat!
There was a moment in this episode towards the beginning where Ultra Magnus tells Wheeljack and Bulkhead that he "can't deal" with their ways where something in the back of my brain said "This episode is going to be super fun.". That casual but fun reference to G1 Ultra Magnus' famous "I can't deal with that now!" line starts the ramp up for an episode that escalates scene after scene and simply never lets up. I'll get nit-picky lower down in this review, but first what did I really enjoy? The non-stop action! Once the Autobots mobilize, it's almost nothing but scene after scene of the Autobots fighting to take down the Decepticons and Darkmount. This (non-Transformers) clip (from Youtube via user PAINTANK) sums up the overall mood of the episode's action sequences. I have to admit among my favorite parts was watching Ultra Magnus bust into the Decepticon base and confront Megatron. Of course he didn't win, but man, kudos to Magnus for nteven flinching when facing Megatron. Remember, this is the Decepticon responsible for thousands if not millions of Autobot deaths but Magnus just soldiers on without fear. It's a pretty badass display even if he isn't victorious.
The other really ridiculously fun part of this episode is Optimus Prime's journey to the edge of death and back. First, all hail the return of George Takei as the "Prime" version of Alpha Trion! I'm a Star Trek fan from way back, long before Takei became an internet sensation. Hearing his very distinctive voice as one of the most senior Autobots in this universe is super gratifying and appropriate. For a while now many fans have speculated that Smokescreen either becomes an "Optimus Prime" looking robot or somehow merges with Optimus. This episode pretty much puts those theories to rest (as valid as they were in many respects). Smokescreen and Optimus remain quite separate entities but it is fair to say that if it were not for Smokescreen, this "Optimus Prime 2.0" (as Miko calls him) wouldn't exist. This ties the two together in a less obvious but more "spiritual" way. And boy, Miko isn't wrong to be impressed by "Optimus Prime 2.0". Based on his "Beast Hunters" toy appearance, but extremely lked up, Optimus Prime now looks more formidable than ever! His bulk is massive, he towers over most Decepticons and seems to be a bit larger than Megatron himself! When he pulls out his giant gatling gun, it's really quite a sight as he takes on Megatron and soundly defeats him.
So...does that mean everything's perfect? Hurray? Let's move on? Well...unfortunately no. You'll notice I haven't mentioned Predaking's role in this episode and that's because he really doesn't have one. He shows up, attacks, then gets tricked into a Ground Bridge to somewhere snowy and icy and winds up freezing. For a small moment after I felt "Whew! Yay Autobots!" I suddenly felt this feeling of "Oooh...damn...poor guy." I mean, let's take stock here. You've been dead for millions of years, you suddenly get brought back to life by a bunch of thugs who just want to use you and then lock you away the rest of the time. Then you go to do your thing and get your tail handed to you twice in a row. Predaking has got to be one miserable Transformer right now, and it would not shock me at all if he winds up going ballistic on everybody (Autobots and Decepticons alike) for this farce of an existence he's been forced into. There's a small part of me that honestly feels terrible for the guy.
One shout out I have to give is for the voice work in this episode. This series is normally outstanding with its voice work, but some of the elements here really go beyond the usual. Peter Cullen's understated performance as a dying Optimus Prime definitely touched a nerve that brought back memories of G1 Optimus Prime's death in "Transformers: The Movie". Michael Ironside does a great job making Ultra Magnus serious with a touch of bravado. David Sobolov's Shockwave manages to somehow convey contempt even though his tone of voice is very even most of the time. Steve Blum also does a great job of a Starscream who (for once) is trying to hold things together instead of freaking out as they fall apart. A great job all around!
On another note that I'll try not to harp on too long, this episode furthers the disconnect between the television show and the toy line in many respects. First, Predaking is barely utilized, despite being a centerpiece of the "Beast Hunters" toy lines and ad campaign. Next, the Autobots do "load up" on weapons in this episode, but none of them carry weapons like the ones on the "Beast Hunters" toys. Bumblebee for instance gets an energy shield and blaster, Bulkhead gets a cannon - which are all super cool and look great, but they have no roots or connection to any of the toys on the market right now. Also, while Optimus looks great in his new form, it sort of doesn't match up well with the Voyager Class Optimus Prime figure. Ironically, what causes this incongruity is just how bulky and awesome the CG model looks. Now, the "bulk" does match up nicely with the "Ultimate" version due out later this year, but that version does not have things or gatling gun. Basically this means no actual version of the CG character exists in toy form (thus far). In terms of the episode by itself, this is sort of all besides the point, but taking the "Beast Hunters" series as a whole made up of the show and toys, these incongruities do bother me after so many years of the TV show and toys aligning so well.
If you kind of remove your train of thought from linking the "Beast Hunters" television show to the toy line, it's actually a ton of fun. The excitement definitely builds up over the course of the episode, and it uses the fun trope of having the "good guy leader" charge in at the end to save the day. I'm looking forward to more of everything we saw here from Optimus' new form, to Ultra Magnus and of course Predaking. This was a fun episode and a good way to follow up the opening three episodes of the season.