(originally posted July 25th 2014)
(WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for ‘Beast Wars’)
If you didn’t read last week’s post on ‘Beast Wars,’ why not? That hurts my feelings. You should read it. But if you really don’t want to, then the short version is that I love the show. So, to follow up on it, I bring you ten of my favourite episodes across the series.
1. Dark Designs
I always found Rhinox to be a fascinating character; he’s this big-ass tank of a Maximal with chain guns, yet he’s also the smart guy of the group and enjoys smelling flowers. So to see what would happen should he ever become a Predacon was very interesting.
Normally, such a change in alignment would be terrifying but, as Optimus expected, Megatron’s plan to forcefully change Rhinox horribly backfired. Rather than having the Maximals forced to fight their friend, we instead see the Predacons being taken apart by the now evil rhino. It’s actually a rather comical episode, given how the Maximals don’t really need to do much to save Rhinox. They just sit back and let him pick off Megatron’s men one-by-one. Despite that, though, it’s also a reminder that Rhinox is a very smart bot, and should he ever put that mind to evil purposes, he could very well be unstoppable; something the sequel series ‘Beast Machines’ (poorly) followed up on.
2. The Low Road
Many find this episode to be daft filler, and while that’s true, this episode remains one of my faves for that very purpose. Rhinox is infected with a virus that is making him expel Energon via hiccups and sneezes, causing him to blow holes in the base, and soon he’ll blow up himself. And for whatever reason, Rattrap and Dinobot are the ones sent to retrieve the cure.
Anytime these two are together, you are guaranteed some fantastic back-and-forth between them. Their relationship is one of the best things about the show in my eyes, especially since they share a voice-actor in Scott McNeil (yes, Scott McNeil argues with himself a lot). The episode also provides many of my favourite gags in the series (the show had a surprisingly good sense of humour), including quite possibly the best fart joke ever.
3. Coming of the Fuzors
This was technically a two parter, but I felt both episodes needed to be grouped together. This came right after the season 2 opener, with the Maximals still recovering after Optimus’ death. They were in a very difficult spot, as Tigatron and Airazor left on a long-term scouting mission, and Rhinox was unconscious as he tried to revive their leader, leaving only three Maximals against the Predacons, whose numbers had now grown thanks to the two new Fuzors.
The very concept of Fuzors intrigued me as a kid and I still love it now. Robots that turned into animals were cool already, but now we had robots that could turn into a strange hybrid of two animals. Plus, these two were welcome additions to the cast.
There was Quickstrike, a scorpion with a cobra head for a tail, who spoke like a cowboy and while he was pure dumb muscle, he was a lot more entertaining than the likes of Scorponok and Terrosaur (who both died in the season 2 opener) and then there was Silverbolt, a cross between a wolf and an eagle who was easily the most chivalrous and kind-hearted character in the show. His personality and Scott McNeil’s performance immediately made him one of my favourite characters.
Plus, it ended with the return of an upgraded Optimus. Nowadays, the return of a supposedly dead main character wouldn’t have surprised me that much but as a kid, I was in awe. I mean, we saw him blow up! Admittedly, I don’t think it was ever properly explained how he came back, but it was awesome and it was where I feel the second chapter in the Beast Wars truly started.
4. Maximal, No More
Dinobot may have been a Predacon, and he may have been a prime source of discord amongst the Maximals, but throughout the first season, it was apparent that he was a reliable ally. But he was a far more complex character than I initially thought, as evidenced here when Dinobot finds himself re-joining the Predacons, following the discovery that they were in fact on Earth as originally intended.
It made sense, after all. Dinobot defected because he thought Megatron had messed up; and he was still a Predacon at heart despite working with the Maximals. But things weren’t as simple as that. Dinobot began showing signs of hesitance towards working with Megatron again, culminating with his refusal to kill Rattrap. I love this moment because it’s not a case of Dinobot being honourable. The expression on his face shows that he just doesn’t want to do it, despite threatening Rattrap’s life several points throughout the series. It shows how he has subtly changed. But this wasn’t his finest hour. That would be the next one on this list.
5. Code of Hero
I couldn’t not include this episode. This is the one that broke any fan who saw it. Seriously, ask any ‘Beast Wars’ fan; they’ll probably admit to weeping at this one. Dinobot has spent the last several episodes in doubt, fearing that his future has already been decided and that he has no control over his destiny (the episode opens with him contemplating suicide!) But upon witnessing Megatron actually change history thanks to the Golden Disc, he realises that he is in control of his life, but ironically only has one choice before him.
Megatron has located the human race’s ancestors and plans to wipe them out so humans would never exist and couldn’t aid the Autobots in their war with the Decepticons. Dinobot proceeds to take on the entire Predacon force, single handedly, using only his wits and skills, even fighting Megatron with just a stick and a rock (which would later inspire the pre-evolved humans to use as weapons) and ultimately destroys the Golden Disc. But it’s all too much for him, and he soon dies.
His death may have been an executive decision so they could introduce a new character to sell toys of, but the writers knew they had to send him out with style. His request that his actions aren’t sugar-coated; that he be remembered for both the good and the bad that he has done, and his final share of insults with Rattrap, who is the first to salute him as he dies… just thinking about it makes my eyes go slightly misty. This is how characters die awesomely; with no regrets and a smile on their face. God speed, Dinobot.
This episode has a bit of a mixed reception, considering it followed the death of Dinobot, and is meant to make you feel sad for a new character who’s just been introduced and dies by the end of the episode. But as you can guess by its presence on this list, I actually rather like it.
It revolves around a new protoform who is essentially the Cybertronian equivalent of someone with special needs; unable to transform, can barely string a complete sentence, and apparently quite powerful. Megatron deems it useless and orders it destroyed, while Optimus thinks it’s a risk to itself and everyone else. Only Silverbolt and Rampage wish to accept it.
While it’s understandable for Silverbolt to, as he puts it, extend the hand of friendship to Transmutate, seeing the psychotic, immortal Rampage genuinely form a bond with it was quite the eye-opener. It actually showed a small shed of decency from him, and seeing Silverbolt request that the Maximals let him be in the wake of Transmutate’s death always kind of gets me. It might not have been the most tragic death, but I’ll always remember the momentary brotherhood between these two polar opposites.
7. The Agenda
This was a big one. It was not only the series’ only three-parter, but it was also the season 2 finale. Everything about this episode was big. The action was probably some of the best we had seen and the story truly kicked up a notch, thanks to the appearance of Decepticon Ravage from the original cartoon, and Megatron’s true goals finally being revealed: to change history so the Decepticons win the war with the Autobots.
The series was no stranger to appealing to old fans of the G1 show, but this was probably the first time the two felt connected, no doubt due to Ravage and the discovery of the Autobot ship, the Ark. And whereas the first season ended with the shock death of Optimus Primal, this season ended with Megatron shooting an unconscious Optimus Prime in the face. I repeat: he shot Optimus PRIME in the face. Seeing time itself gradually distort, and Megatron’s final speech directed towards both the Maximals and the viewers was a truly epic way of ending the season; probably one of the best cliffhangers I’ve seen. Good thing it all worked out in the end.
8. Feral Scream
While ‘Beast Wars’ has certainly had a few creepy moments, I’d argue this two parter to be the creepiest (probably intentional given the Frankenstein reference). Cheetor, the usually happy-go-lucky kid appeal character is seemingly killed during a conflict with Megatron, but has in fact mutated into a feral Transmetal II.
There wasn’t any real mystery to it, but at least Optimus quickly got suspicious so I didn’t have to sit there watching everyone run around like idiots and ignoring the obvious. The episode was certainly scarier when I was younger, though Cheetor’s nightmare still gives me the chills. It was also the moment where Cheetor began to mature somewhat, which is always a plus in my book, though they never went far enough with it; it was more cyber-puberty than anything. Cheetor wouldn’t get proper development until ‘Beast Machines’ but this episode still gets points for one of the best upgrades to a character and being pretty damn scary to boot.
9. Crossing the Rubicon
Blackarachnia’s presence on the Maximal’s side throughout the third season was certainly interesting, as the only reason she joined them was because if Megatron changed history so the Maximals wouldn’t exist, she would be wiped out due to being a Maximal protoform. Really, the Maximals only let her stay around was probably because she was going out with Silverbolt. So, seeing everyone rally around her when she finds herself slowly dying was a true show of how the Maximals care for their teammates.
Though the real meat of the episode was her transformation into a Transmetal, which also marked the real moment she joined the Maximals. Blackarachnia always kept herself to herself for most of season 3; the only one she ever really spoke to was Silverbolt, but upon her transformation, she noticeably got a bit friendlier. In fact, it cemented her relationship with Silverbolt. While I never doubted Silverbolt’s love, it was never fully clear whether she genuinely felt the same or if it was more of a physical attraction, so to see her immediately rush to save him removed any doubts.
I always love seeing villains undergoing a change of heart like this, and while Blackarachnia’s turn happened towards the tail end of the series, I think it makes for one of the most memorable episodes regardless.
While ‘The Agenda’ was probably a better finale and this one suffered due to having to be rushed and bring the series to its end, I still felt it was a satisfying ending. Why?
Well, most of the deaths didn’t feel cheap and unnecessary. Depth Charge was finally able to exact revenge on Rampage in an admittedly tragic end, and Tigerhawk… well, he was there for one episode and was OP as shit so his end didn’t really have an impact.
Then there was the final battle between Optimal Optimus and the now dragon Megatron; both at their strongest, duking it out with everyone’s lives on the line. Megatron has the upper hand and seems victorious, but then the Transmetal II Dinobot clone suddenly defies him, having somehow reclaimed the original’s spirit due to Rampage’s destruction. Though he doesn’t make it, it was a joy seeing Dinobot temporarily revived and heroically dying again.
Finally, the reason I love it is because the heroes win. Simple as. Rhinox drives a pod into Megatron’s ship, trashing it almost instantly and defeating Megatron, allowing the Maximals to finally return home with the dragon captured. Before ‘Beast Machines’ came and ruined it, everything just felt right. It was a perfect way to end things; just seeing them head off to Cybertron with smiles all round.
Oh, and Waspinator was finally happy.