TV Shows: "Combiner Wars" Episode 5: Homecoming
Air Date: August 30, 2016
Summary (from Go90):
The unlikely trio of Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Windblade make their way to the headquarters of the Council in order to destroy the 'Enigma of Combination.' But, that's not so easy with a suspicious Rodimus Prime, Starscream, and Mistress of Flame standing firmly in their path. Old wounds are re-opened as former friends face-off against each other in an escalating situation that could forever change the face of Cybertron!
The more I see of "Combiner Wars", the more I am convinced that its format does the story a tremendous disservice. I watched "Homecoming", saw five minutes of action with some dialogue thrown in and realized that aside from three things, I learned nothing that I didn't know already and the plot barely moved. Here's the new information we have:
- Starscream is the one who sent Computron to get Menasor from Caminus.
- The city is actually a Titan (most likely Metroplex).
- The Constructicons are able to form Devastator (previously we had only seen three of them).
Here's what we still don't know, keeping mind that we are now over halfway through this series:
- Why did the Mistress of the Flame leave her people on Caminus?
- Why did Menasor go to Caminus?
- Where is Cybertron's population? We were told there is fighting in episode 2, but we did not even see guards with the Council.
- Where are the other Combiners? I have a hard time believing all of three Combiners were responsible for trashing Caminus and Cybertron on their own.
Really, I'm not trying to nitpick. These are questions I have wanted to know since the second episode (the first episode gets a pass in my book). The problem I'm having is as the episodes progress, I keep wondering about these questions and it takes me out of the episode. I had hoped this episode would provide some solid answers but few are to be found. Indeed, with Metroplex speaking to Windblade, now I have even more questions.
Questions aside, I have a lot of logic problems with this chunk of the story. You have this potentially devastating artifact (no pun intended) and instead of locking it in a vault and guarding it with dozens of troops, you have three Transformers and you put the Enigma in a tower that everyone can see? From a visual standpoint it sure looks pretty, but logistically it makes no sense. I was also confounded that all Rodimus and company had to back them up were a bunch of laser cannons. And again, no guards?! I'll chalk this up to some type of budget restriction. If so, it's sad that there was no time or money to render a generic robot guard. I would have accepted a grey, blocky dude with reused parts from other models and an Autobot symbol slapped on his chest.
Going back to my opening statement, I think if this episode was the bridge between one scene to another in a one hour movie, it would be no big deal. However, watching this as a standalone episode is sort of like reading three pages of a comic book and having that represent the whole issue. I truly hope that once the entire series has been released a lot of these questions I have will be addressed.
From an animation standpoint the show looks spectacular. Almost every other moment is worthy of being a screen capture for your desktop. However the animation framerate is very inconsistent. In some scenes the characters move as if someone slowed down a DVD player. In other shots they move gracefully and smooth. It's very jarring when you see it and it is another element that takes you out of the episode.
Where this episode shines is the voice work. Frank Todaro does a great job with Starscream. When he is calm he reminds me of "Armada" Starscream. When Starscream gets excited he seems to be channeling the more panicked tones of Chris Latta. It's a great performance. Jason Marnocha's Megatron continues to be one of my favorite parts of the series. His performance is wry and world-weary at the same time. There's some great nuance in his performance. Jon Bailey's Optimus Prime finally doesn't get overprocessed to death, allowing his voice to come through properly. Lana McKissack's Mistress of the Flame sound infuriatingly superior and in that respect she's nailing the voice. Finally Ben Pronsky's Rodimus gets some nice moments, especially when trying to stand up for and warn his colleagues about Optimus Prime at the same time. He sounds like a more mature version of Judd Nelson's Hot Rod and I'm glad the character actually gets some more dialogue this time out.
I found this episode very frustrating. It did not address many of the major questions I've had about the show and it introduces even more. The show has about fifteen minutes left to wrap everything up (and keep in mind, we still haven't seen Victorion). I really hope they pull a hat trick and manage that in the last "chunk" of this series.