"Power of the Primes" Episode 2 "Volcanicus" Review
Air Date: May 8, 2018
Summary (from Go90):
Megatron awakens miles away to find a mysterious structure. Curious, he makes his way there, leaving his team to fend for themselves. Vulnerable without him, the team is on the brink of defeat at the hands of Volcanicus when another threat arrives hoping to destroy them.
Review (SPOILERS AHEAD):
As I watched this episode I found myself having emotional flashbacks to being a kid sitting in a theater in Brooklyn watching "Transformers: The Movie". While the emotional punch was nowhere near the same, this was an episode that had a series of surprising deaths that I did not see coming, and they happened in fairly rapid succession. While it was presented as the "B" story in this episode, seeing the Combiners all fall one by one was a bit jarring given the titanic force they represented in the last two shows. I do feel that the show would have benefitted from having a focus on this battle because we sort of walk in after it started, and the Combiners seem to be engaged in conflict, but they are just standing around getting slaughtered. I could not help but wonder, why not split up and overwhelm Overlord and Rodimus Cron with their numbers and firepower (for that matter, why don't the Combiners have blasters?!). The best moment of this scene was seeing Menasor truly distraught over his comrade Devastator being tortured. It is not a dynamic I would associate between the two and it made me regret that we did not see the two being friends or comrades-in-arms more before this to really add an emotional punch.
As the Combiners died, it was interesting to see that their Sparks were just one ball and I could not help wondering if that one Spark represented the souls of the individual team members in one? Or shouldn't there have been say, six smaller Sparks floating up and then merging into one? This may seem nit picky of me, but it is an aspect of the Combiners in this series that has always confused me. Are they individuals who merge into a greater whole? Or is the "real" soul the Combiner form and the individual limb pieces are just "drones" of some sort? Volcanicus seems to represent a "traditional" Combiner, where several clearly independent Transformers form one unified "soul", but I am not sure that applied to Computron, Menasor and Devastator. (Side note: part of me keeps wondering where Bruticus is. I know, I know, budget...).
For me, the less interesting part of this episode was the "A" story, where the Autobots are trying to find a way to subdue Volcanicus. They are of course unsuccessful, with only Predaking's intervention giving Volcanicus pause. Ironically, while this scene involves two of the "feature" Combiners of "Power of the Primes" it does not really go anywhere. It also made me wonder, given the cantankerous history of the Dinobots, what was the plan? The Dinobots clearly retreated to the Swamp to get away from the war, so what incentive do they have to get back into it? I feel like they should have sent the Autobots without Megatron. I also could not help but think that this would have been a great opportunity to bring Kup into the story. If this story is indeed a G1-esque timeline, the Dinobots may have an affection for the older Autobot that they could have worked into the story (again, I know, budget...). Either way, having Megatron front and center basically set them all up for failure, and now with Predaking in the mix things will undoubtedly get worse before they get better!
As the episode ends, it is interesting to see Overlord and Rodimus Cron (by the way, I really don't like that name, it's so awkward) acting as servants of Megatronus and not necesarily Unicron. I initially wondered if it was Unicron manipulating them, but it seems more like Megatronus is using them to eventually gain control over Unicron. I like the idea of one of Primus' original children deciding to use his father's greatest weapon as a tool in his mad quest. This does make me wonder what Megatronus' ultimate goal is. Is it as simple as just destroying all Transformers? Would that include Overlord and Rodimus eventually? I am hoping we get answers to these questions down the line.
- As the Combiners die, the effect of seeing their Sparks leave their bodies and float off is visually beautiful but also recalls the way Sparks were shown in "Beast Wars" (where the concept of the round "Spark" representing the soul of the Transformer originated).
- I do wonder if Predaking is like Volcanicus, with five independent units that each have their own personalities, or is he just "one being" like Computron and other Combiners have been portrayed in this series. Given that he is supposed to have the most fluid "personality combination" among the G1 Combiners, I am guessing he is going to only be shown as Predaking and not the separate Predacons.
- You know, Windblade has to be seriously powerful to survive that punch by Volcanicus.
- The presence of Unicron as a story element (and not just a graphic in the opening sequence) is interesting because we have Megatron in the picture too. Unicron's busted eye suggests the events of "Transformers: The Movie" happened in some form, so in this "G1-esque" timeline this leaves one wondering if Megatron ever became Galvatron (and then somehow switched back?). Of course, the G1 Marvel comic showed that with enough alt-universe shenanigans you can have Megatron and Galvatron in the same universe (and duking it out no less) but it is a huge unanswered question that I wish had been addressed in dialogue.
"Power of the Primes" episode two features some compelling questions, but they are an aside to the main story. The central story is one I want to see more of, but there are some storytelling gaps that I hope are filled in later. While this episode keeps up the momentum from the first episode, it does slow down the pace a bit thanks to the Volcanicus storyline.