"More Than Meets the Eye" Part III
Written By George Arthur Bloom

"You've lost, Prime! The Decepticons have won! Hmh-huh-heh-heh-heh-heh-ha!!!!!"

Synopsis

....."In search of precious energy, the Autobots venture forth into outer space; but the evil Decepticons attack them. Four million years later, the Autobots and Decepticons are re-activated. The Autobots track the Decepticons to the Crystal Mines of Burma, but their dangerous mission backfires as we begin the final episode of The Transformers....."

.....After what seems like an eternity, Prime stops tumbling end over end and lands on his side at the foot of the mine. Jazz has Ratchet look at the Autobot Leader, and after the Autobots turn him over, Ratchet tries talking to Optimus, who responds by groaning and asking about Roller. The little Autobot emerges from the rubble unscathed, an returns to his docking bay, obviously relieved to be functioning normally.

.....Ratchet then asks Optimus if he can transform, and with great difficulty, he does. Jazz happily welcomes his commander back to "the land of moving parts," as Ratchet comments on the power of the explosion, which prompts Prime to worry about Sparkplug and Bumblebee. Dismissing Prowl's concerns about how to find the two, Ironhide produces a drill, and begins digging through the side of the mountain.


"Only one way. Stand back!"

After some time, the Autobots find their allies dirty, but otherwise unharmed. Sparkplug is also impressed with the blast, to which Wheeljack replies that the explosive was set to explode at 59.99 seconds, to be precise.
.....Optimus then announces that the Decepticons are essentially trapped forever, and that they can now begin collecting energy on their own in order to repair the ship and revitalize Cybertron, much to Mirage's delight. However, an explosion rips through the top of the mountain, as Megatron has successfully blasted a hole for the Decepticons to escape from.


"It worked! We're free!! We can get out!"

As they fly away with their still-usable Energon Cubes, Ironhide gets mad and flies after them on his own, only to be followed by Bluestreak.
.....In the air, Ironhide closes in on the enemy, as Bluestreak tries to stop Ironhide from doing something stupid. Undaunted, the other Autobot fires at the Decepticons, hitting Skywarp (but casing no damage). Skywarp then asks for permission to teleport, and does when Megatron grants it.

After missing with his missiles, Skywarp hits Ironhide square in the back, immediately paralyzing him. Bluestreak goes after him, as Ironhide lands in a lake. The other Autobots arrive, and Jazz pulls the two out with his pulley. Ironhide is unable to move, but when Optimus remarks that he gave them all quite a scare, Ironhide interjects by saying that he's seen worse damage. Prime warns him that there's a distinct line between being a hero and a memory, at which point Jazz wonders if Ironhide is ready for an office job. Ironhide disagrees angrily, as he knows he'll be ready for battle soon enough, at which point the Autobots head back for home.
.....Later on, once they have returned, Spike again writes in his diary, remarking the Prime has Presidential potential as Hound and Mirage keep watch on the still captured Ravage. Mirage wonders aloud as to why the Decepticons have not tried to rescue him, at which point Hound decides to have some fun, producing a hologram of Megatron.

Ravage treats the image as the real deal, and begs his "leader" for help, as Mirage jokes that Hound should make him a house with a four-car garage when they return to Cybertron, seeing as how his holograms look so real, which gives Hound an idea.
.....Going off to see Prime, Hound says that they can play right into the Decepticons' hands if they create a huge hologram. Prowl wants to know what the hologram will be of, and Prime announces that he has an idea.
.....After a while, Hound returns to his guard duty, and announces to Mirage that Teletraan 1 has discovered a secret supply of rocket fuel some 140 kilometers due west-enough to make four trips to Cybertron. Hound suggests that they tell Ironhide about it, but intentionally lets the key to Ravage's cell fall to the ground near him. Ravage gets free, and makes a run for it, and is futilely chased by Mirage, Hound, Jazz, and Prowl. Once the Decepticon is gone, they report to Optimus, who is openly pleased.
.....Upon returning to Decepticon Headquarters, Ravage reports his findings, much to the enjoyment of Megatron, who announces that this source of energy will allow the Decepticons to return to Cybertron and finish off the Autobots. Starscream replies that their schedule hasn't been broken, which upsets the Decepticon Leader, mainly because of Starscream's attempts to slow the progress of their mission. Starscream, however, sees no fault with his contributions, which sparks an argument between the two. Megatron states that Starscream's first error has been his much-avowed desire to unseat him.
.....Frustrated, Starscream replies that, "It's time for a change," which makes Megatron laugh, stating that the Air Commander is incapable of leading antroids to a picnic, much less the Decepticon army. Convinced that the argument is over, Megatron turns and leaves, but Starscream fires. Thanks to Soundwave's warning, though, Megatron is able to turn and put up a shield, deflecting the blast.

Megatron labels Starscream's failure to destroy him as his second mistake, and decides to fire his own blast, as Starscream is now out of energy for his Null Ray. The shot damages Starscream's arm, and the injured Decepticon begs for forgiveness. However, Megatron only states that the attack will begin at sunrise...
.....The next morning, Hounds creates the hologram of the rocket base. Soon after, the Decepticons arrive, and Megatron appears, calling his troops into battle....

.....After a second call to arms, the attack begins, as some large and decidedly robotic looking scientists begin running from the Decepticons....until they remove their lab coats, revealing the Autobots. The battle is joined, until, suddenly, the Decepticons begin to fall apart. Megatron alone stands before his foes, and begins gloating.


"Did you really think you could fool me by allowing Ravage to escape? Did you???"

While the Autobots have been playing around with scrap, the true Decepticons have been at the real rocket base. Megatron announces that he has won, and laughs heartily as Optimus says that the battle isn't yet over, then flies away.
.....At the true rocket base, the human military tries to determine who the Decepticons are, but are horrified as the Decepticons trash the defenses with little to no effort. Megatron arrives, and is openly pleased with their progress as he orders Soundwave to prepare the Energon Cubes.
.....Afterwards, the Decepticons return with the Cubes, and Soundwave tells Megatron that the ship is fueled and the course plotted. Presented with this information, Megatron orders that they prepare for blastoff.
.....Meanwhile, Optimus Prime is briefing the Autobots, telling them that the time has come for a final confrontation with the Decepticons. Due to the danger involved in a direct assault, Prime asks for volunteers. Everyone, including Spike and Sparkplug, steps forward when asked by Jazz. After they all transform, Optimus orders them off to the Decepticons, and the final battle.
.....Later on, Megatron comments in awe of his impending conquest, as Soundwave informs him that the space cruiser is ready for launch. At the same time, the Autobots approach the area, and are ordered to encircle the base by Prime. As Megatron announces their impending victory, and ushers his troops into their ship, the Autobots surround them, and the battle begins as Megatron transforms, and is fired by Skywarp. Soundwave unleashes Rumble, Ravage, and Laserbeak, for their next mission: warfare.


"Rumble, Laserbeak, Ravage, prepare for battle. Operation: Warfare. Eject! Eject!! Eject!!!"

.....Ravage attacks Sparkplug, who is saved by Cliffjumper. Rumble renews his rivalry with Hound, who begins to soundly thrash his opponent. Laserbeak is joined in the skies by Thundercracker and Skywarp, who promptly strafe Wheeljack and Cliffjumper. Optimus, however, takes on Megatron, using his cab's battle station mode for the extra firepower. Megatron destroys the unit, and Optimus faces him in hand-to-hand combat. The two trade insults, each determined to be the victor.
.....Meanwhile, Starscream takes aim at something, but his laser of choice is knocked off his arm as Spike dislodges it with a rock. Before the Decepticon can recover the weapon, Prowl runs over the weapon, crushing it. At this point, Prime tackles Megatron, and appears victorious, until Ravage leaps on the Autobot Leader, giving Megatron enough time to call a hasty retreat. The Decepticons make a run for the space cruiser, and escape with the Autobots desperately firing at them with no luck. All Optimus Prime can do is shout out at his enemy as the space cruiser leaves the planet.....


"Me-Ga-TRON!!!!!!"



.....As the Decepticons shoot off into space, Jazz tells Prime that the battle is over, but Optimus refuses to accept defeat. He angrily takes Sideswipe's rocket pack from him, and flies off after the ship. On the ship, Megaton gloats about having left behind his foe, until Starscream sees Optimus speeding after the space cruiser. Megatron orders Soundwave to open the artillery hatch and fire. Once Prime has been shot down, Megatron orders the full thrust of the ship to be used, and the cruiser speeds off towards Cybertron at an even faster rate.
.....Back on Earth, the Autobots watch in horror as Optimus tumbles through the sky, landing head first into the ground. Still mad, Prime refuses to be checked out by Ratchet for any injuries. However, while looking over his troops, he notices that Mirage is no longer with them.....
.....Meanwhile, Megatron goes back to gloating, but is again interrupted-by Starscream. Chuckling, the Decepticon Leader decides to face off with Starscream for the final battle between the two.


"Hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm-hmmm....I see that you have learned nothing, Starscream."

Starscream declares that he has, in fact learned quite a bit: he won't miss this time. Megatron warns Starscream that if he is killed, there will be someone waiting to do the same to him, something that Starscream dismisses, at his is now his time to rule.


"Let them try! I've waited for this moment a long time, Megatron, and my time is now!"

.....Suddenly, however, Mirage appears out of thin air.

Mirage quickly shoots a control panel, and Starscream screams and shoots the Autobot, but is himself gunned down by an angry Megatron. Megatron declares, "Extinction to all traitors!" as the space cruiser begins to lose power. Skywarp begins to try to put out the fire started by Mirage, but it's too late: the ship is going to crash.
.....As Rumble begins to panic, Megatron begs Soundwave to do something. Mirage, however, is the only one capable of doing anything. He gets up, opens a hatch, and leaves.


"I'll say hello to *gasp* Prime for you, Megatron. Happy Landing!"

Megatron yells for someone to stop him, but it's too late.


"Stop him!!!!!"

The ship crashes into the ocean, not far from the Autobots, and all aboard are presumably destroyed.

.....Upon seeing the crash, Jazz presumes that a mechanical failure is the cause, until Prowl points out Mirage, drifting to Earth on a parachute. Mirage is the hero, although Prime comments that he could have waited for the rest of them. Mirage apologizes, noting that the ship was already full.


"Sorry, Prime. The ship was....full."

Jazz notes that they have a ship to repair themselves, when Spike asks if he can go too. Optimus says that he should ask his father for permission, and Sparkplug's only condition is that he gets to go, too. Prime agrees, and the victorious Autobots return to base.
.....Some time later, Spike again writes in his diary noting that the Autobots are repairing their ship.

Surprisingly, all of Earth's leaders have agreed to give Optimus Prime all of the energy the Autobots need to both repair their ship, and restore Cybertron to its former glory. Optimus interrupts Spike for a moment to tell the human that they are now ready to leave. Before going, Spike adds a final note that he is happy that the Decepticons are no more.
.....A dark shadow in the middle of the ocean notes the place where the Decepticons' space cruiser finally landed. While the ship looks dead, a hatch opens. Out of the hatch emerges none other than Megatron, who silently rises to the top of the ocean, still determined to defeat his foes, the Autobots.....




Commentary

.....Being the final episode of any multi-part arc requires a distinct style, but "More Than Meets the Eye" Part III is truly unique among closing parts of Sunbow's multi-parters, due to the finality of the episode. Like many other pilot episodes ("Where No Man Has Gone Before", the second Star Trek pilot, comes first to mind), the adventure is far more climactic, and the actions of the characters far more severe than in a normal episode. Of course, this is because no one really knows what will become of pilot episodes. Some are aired first, and while the characters act a bit odd, it fits in fairly well with the other early installments of the series. The aforementioned episode of Star Trek aired some three months into the series, meaning that "Where No Man Has Gone Before" stuck out like a sore thumb to viewers. Some, like "Diamond Ray of Disappearance", weren't even approved first! (Although that episode was definitely completed and aired first.)
.....Despite this, one can easily tell that Sunbow skimped on the episode review, as the first half is exactly like the first half of the review from Part II. And, like the prior review, "raw" footage is used in the review, however, the most noticeable difference is due to an error, not a design inconsistency between this part and the last.

The zero (which remains unchanged throughout the countdown) is painted white, as opposed to the same color as the other two digits (as in the final print of Part II). The shots were likely re-ordered and completed after the review was produced, as the review shows snippets of each look at the bomb (from the actual episode) with this same error.
.....The animation of Prime tumbling end over end is consistent, though, almost due to the possibility of stock footage (which is all over this episode, perhaps the most of any Toei-animated episode of the series). The extent of the damage is well-considered, but Prime's labored transformation (even if it makes for great drama) is a bit hard to swallow. Of course, this is because I've seen the entire series. Getting shoved off a mountain by an explosion is kid's stuff compared to what happens to Optimus Prime in episodes like "Divide and Conquer", "Heavy Metal War", and "Dark Awakening", to say nothing of the movie. Here, in just the third week of the series, it's a big deal, and is treated as such.
.....The experience does allow for a unique look into how Prime's transform sequence works in the cartoon. Thankfully, there is a cut to Huffer, Gears, and Cliffjumper that breaks up the monotony, in addition to leaving at least a little bit of the transform a mystery, including the crucial question of where Prime's cab goes. ;)
.....Prime is the center of attention when he finally finishes transforming, and it's impossible to tell that he's any worse for wear.


"Welcome back to the land of moving parts!"

There's a bit of a jump from Prime's resolution to that of whether or not Bumblebee and Sparkplug survived, though, and it stands as the worst such transition in Sunbow history. However, Peter Cullen's voice acting covers the gaffe nicely, as Optimus immediately concerns himself with the two, his health be damned.
.....Ironhide's drill is a nice invention, even if we never see it again. The nicer touch, however, is how Wheeljack takes pride in the success of his bomb.


"Fifty-nine point ninety-nine to be exact."

With all the spectacular failures his devices would later have, it's nice (and pretty funny) to get to see him brag for once.
.....Mirage's continued glee at the prospect of going home is further foreshadowing of the last battle in this episode, especially when you consider that Mirage never complained about it in his later (and somewhat limited) appearances. That's a minor issue, though, compared to the huge animation error with Soundwave inside the mine. The animators royally screwed up, giving him an Autobot symbol, as opposed to a Decepticon symbol, on his chest. The colorist got it right, though, by painting it purple.


"Energon Cubes-still functional."

It's also a sign that either one of the directors did a horrible job on this episode, or the budget didn't allow for re-takes (which seems likely, given the missing ship and mountain top at the start of Act 3), as the "look" of the episode changes heavily, and not necessarily for the better. The animation from this point through the first diary entry of the episode by Spike has a huge number of errors, and is extremely sloppy, looking heavily Japanese-like, as opposed to being on model like most of the rest of the episode.
.....Ironhide's actually flying after the Decepticons would later be impossible on the show, as by the end of the first season he would decidedly be on the "not able to fly" list. It's something I disagree with, seeing as how it's implicitly spelled out that the Autobots can fly, but very slowly compared to the Deceps. Besides, it's limiting dramatically, as would become apparent in the second season, when Skyfire was not used much, and the Autobots faced off against the Decepticons in increasingly exotic locales.
.....The chase gives Bluestreak (a.k.a., "Autobot Shaggy") some exposure, which is in and of itself quite rare, despite the fact that Casey Kasem was present in many episodes before the third season, at most voicing Cliffjumper and Teletraan 1. It's also rare in that no other sequence of a Sunbow cartoon is so static, or so filled with stock footage. In fact, the first shot of Bluestreak and Ironhide after Bluestreak catches up is both stock footage (at least by the end of this scene, that is) and a continuity error. 


"Call it off, Ironhide, there's too many of 'em! They're outta reach!"

Ironhide's back gun suddenly appears, and the happy tape splices and poor resolution reveal that instead of a re-take, footage was inserted from later in the scene. Rhino's DVD set would reveal that whatever was supposed to be photographed was obscured by a folder or other piece of paper.
.....Things return to normal seconds later, as the close-up adheres to continuity. Then, the offending shot is used again, before we finally see Ironhide's gun emerge from his back. We can see why Ironhide never uses the gun again (to say nothing of the trailer-like unit it's supposed to be connected to), as his missiles do nothing to Skywarp, outside of make a nice looking explosion that doesn't even make a scratch.

.....The chance to see Skywarp use his teleportation abilities is nice, especially since he kicks mucho grande ass with it. here. In this case, it seems that Skywarp has some honor, as he takes out Ironhide, but not Bluestreak. Normally, the teleportation trick is used either as a gimmick ("Divide and Conquer"), or to see a villain being evil ("Heavy Metal War").
.....The comments between Ironhide and Prime are profoundly prophetic, as Ironhide's courageous qualities did eventually cause him to bite the big one in the movie. Jazz's joke is also a bit prophetic, as Ironhide would actually question his abilities in "The Immobilizer". As a result, a filler scene has absolutely no significance to the adventure at hand, but would provide a springboard for other stories (or story elements)-exactly what a pilot episode should do. However, Prime looks awful before he transforms, as he's completely off-model and out of proportion.


"We'll see."

.....Spike's "diary" scene is again a bit annoying, even if it's a quick and dirty way to develop him (sort of). Thankfully, the scene cuts to that of Hound and Mirage, guarding Ravage, which is a great scene, both for its comedy, and its superb use of Hound's hologram abilities. I love how Ravage freaks out when he sees "Megatron", as it makes the Decepticon look like an idiot-no easy feat, that.

Mirage's joke is also funny, and his suggestion is actually one hell of a good idea, unlike some other cartoon character "ideas" (*cough*Scooby-Doo*cough*). Seeing Hound "sell" the idea is nice, as most such ideas are cut and dry in their acceptance and concoction.
.....Ravage's "grabber" isn't exactly unique, but it's used on the right Transformer, that's for sure.

A neat gimmick for Ravage would've been a number of similar tools in order to help him spy, and get the hell out of Dodge when the Autobots caught him throughout the series, a la Scarlett and Lady Jaye's crossbow and javelin gimmickry on G.I. Joe. The chase is interesting as well, as Mirage is noticeably the only one who runs at full speed after Ravage, as he is the only Autobot involved in the chase to have not heard the plan inside Headquarters.


"After him!!!"

The end result of the chase is a terrible case of misdirection, as the shock on the Autobots' faces when Prime announces his pleasure with Ravage's escape is handled all wrong. For one thing, I think that George Arthur Bloom was trying to emphasize Cliffjumper's presence, as he would definitely not be told about the plan (as he would prove to be a total big mouth as the series progressed). However, the scene makes the shock on Hound, Jazz, and Prowl's face look legitimate, ruining the scene.
.....Thankfully, the following scene is perfectly directed, acted, and scored (unfortunately, the less appealing of the visual styles in this episode prevails here) as Megatron and Starscream have their most heated argument of the series so far. The scene begins with the dissolve to a close-up of Soundwave's tape reels, emphasizing that it is Ravage that is "speaking" now.


"The rocket base is 140 kilometers due west of the Autobot camp."

Megatron's pleasure with Ravage is well stated, as it is a big find. Better yet is Starscream's sarcastic reply, which is his way of saying that his Energon tests have affected their overall progress in no way. Megatron's reply is great, as he's indignant, and with good reason. I love the animation of Starscream as he lashes out, as he has the most interesting posture, to say nothing of the darkly comical way his eyes are animated.


"I've made my contribution!"

Both Starscream and Megatron are animated in great fashion in the next shot, as Megatron begins it by looking like he's posturing himself as a pure badass, while Starscream looks like he's simply looking for some proper credit.


"You've also made clear your desire to replace me as leader of the Decepticons...."

Megatron points at Starscream in a manner that says clearly that he's not going to throw Starscream a bone. Not today.


"....Mistake Number One."

Starscream goes from disappointment to sheer determination in a couple of seconds, and it looks great, and adds layers of depth to his character in quick fashion.

Starscream's movements are highly expressive here, as each movement has a purpose. First, he turns around, and hunches into a defensive position, as if he's trying to mount a defense (which he is).


"It's time for a change, Megatron! It's time for action..."

Then, he opens his arms as he presents his proposal-a nice and very realistic touch.


"...not words."

In fitting fashion, Starscream gets highly flamboyant, and his tone of voice and postures reflects it wonderfully.


"I am the leader of the future!"

Starscream's expression of anger is great as Megatron lays one of his best insults of the entire series.


"You couldn't lead antroids to a picnic! How can you pretend to lead the Decepticons!?!"

Megatron caps his dressing down perfectly by leaving Starscream in an obvious sign of disrespect, and the surprise is handled with great continuity as the close-up changes to a wider angle.

Soundwave's interference here irks me (as the entire scene generates tons of sympathy for Starscream), but it totally in character. It also demonstrates just why Starscream is unable to overthrow Megatron-he's unable to inspire such loyalty in anyone, be it Decepticon, Autobot, human, or alien. Of course, this charisma is precisely why the Decepticons would thrive with Megatron as leader.
.....Starscream's face is quite off-model as he looks down at his empty laser (which makes absolutely no sense to me, btw).


"It's-it's empty!"

It actually resembles an off-model shot of Lady Jaye in "The Vines of Evil", when Doc shows off the Energy Mirrors for the first time.
.....The only thing that saves Starscream here is Megatron's continued need for Starscream's services. There's no way that Megatron didn't aim directly for Starscream's arm, seeing as how 'Screamer didn't even try to run. In fact, it seems apparent that Megatron is giving Starscream a chance to screw up (as opposed to a chance to redeem himself).
.....This classic scene ends with Megatron again stonewalling Starscream, in great fashion. I've quite noticeably slammed the work of the animation unit responsible for this scene in my review, but I'd like to think it's because this scene looks so good. In fact, the only error is a colorization screw up with Megatron's cannon near the end of the exchange.


"Mistake number two."
* * *
"Megatron! Megatron!!"

.....The end of Act 1 is something that hasn't been seen properly by most audiences in ages, mainly because of FHE's stupidity. Since Act 2 begins with the exact same shot of Megatron calling the Decepticons into battle,


"Decepticons, attack!"

saving a few seconds by splicing out some 15 seconds of video (just to eliminate one repeated line) was nothing to FHE. Of course, it ruins the pacing of the scene(s), as the break is supposed to created tension. I very much like how the other Decepticons look at the end of Act 1, as they look like zombies-a great visual foreshadowing point. On the other hand is how silly the Autobots look in lab coats.

The director and storyboard artists try to make it less absurd by only showing the "minicars" (at this point, Brawn, Windcharger, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Huffer, and Gears), which saves the scene. The weird scene reaches its apex when the Decepticons simply fall apart for no reason. I can imagine more than a few groggy adults and/or children who were watching this on some Saturday morning in 1984 jumping to attention as this fucked up thing just happens out of nowhere. Bloom takes advantage of the scene excellently by coining the series' trademark "shock" phrase.


"We've been had!"

.....No matter how many times I hear, "We've been had!" I'll always crack up. It always comes well at least five seconds after the tables have turned, and it's always when you expect Megatron to turn them. It's not mocking laughter, mind you; it's laughter in appreciation of how much like life this is. God knows the Service Desk at work (that being at Target, of course) sees this same look of utter surprise at least five times daily, and it's one reason why I don't (and won't) work over there. ;)
.....Megatron looks great at he gloats, and is animated impressively as he laughs. The scene ends wonderfully as the camera angle is essentially designed to make Megatron look as big as possible, and Prime look as small and as isolated as a ten-story tall robot can. It's quite effective, especially since the music and script ("The race isn't over yet, Megatron...") make it obvious that a major crossroads has occurred.
.....Next thing we know, humanity is treated as being totally screwed. The effectiveness of the other Decepticons' attack is absolutely amazing, especially since the early run of most cartoons establishes the enemy leader (i.e., Megatron) as the only character able to lead a truly effective assault, unless it's a BS operation (like Trap Jaw's mildly successful diversionary attack on Eternos in "Diamond Ray Of Disappearance", the first episode of He-Man). Here, the Decepticons (who seem to be led by Thundercracker-sort of) are efficient, cold instruments of destruction. One angle I like is that of Thundercracker, Starscream, and Soundwave looking forward, as it emphasizes the point of view of the soldiers that is essentially this scene's claim to fame.

The first crossover between The Transformers and G.I. Joe occurs in quite a sly way, as the gun emplacements Thundercracker destroys are metallic colored Mountain Howitzers (which were released in 1984 as one of the economy playsets for the Joes).

Ironically, Sunbow never used the Mountain Howitzer, or any of the other economy playsets (save the Cobra bunker that was released later) on G.I. Joe. Of course, the economy playsets kind of sucked. :) That, and the Mountain Howitzer has terribly bad scaling compared to the other Joe toys.
.....When Megatron shows up, he immediately shifts into a managerial mode that doesn't cease until the Autobots attack Decepticon Headquarters. Better management through cartoons. Hell, I could make a college course out of it! :)
.....The scene with Prime asking for volunteers is some seriously lame filler. Of course everyone is going to volunteer! They're the good guys! A nice touch is how Ironhide has rivets across his chest, an indication of his recent repairs. Once again, Jazz does the roll call. Obviously, no one liked the idea, because it's the last time in the series to have such a formal roll call.
.....Ironhide's and Trailbreaker's transformations would be used later on in the first season, and Prime's transform is from earlier in the episode. Cheap ass Toei.... :-P The spread formation the Autobots are in when they leave makes them look like a group (Flock? Gaggle? Why the fuck does every animal have a different word to describe them moving in groups?) of ducks. Pretty stupid stuff.
.....The suspense that follows is great, as Johnny Douglas' slow burn music plays, and everyone acts in a carefully orchestrated manner. A big, big, big coloring error happens with the miscellaneous Deception jets as the move towards the gantry elevator.

It's so obvious, there are blind people who could see it. (I am so in trouble for that one..... ;) )
.....The battle that ensues is just cool. No other words are needed; it's cool. Soundwave lets everyone know that it's a major battle by calling it warfare, pretty much the only real admission of total war in series history. The battle itself is a chance for Hound and Rumble to settle their differences, and it's unfortunately a very short part of the battle. Unfortunately, the rest of the battle utilizes a lot of "filler" shots, a point emphasized by how quickly it takes Op and Megatron to start going at it.
.....As Prime uses his trailer unit in battle for the only time in series history, we see a horribly sloppy job with the backgrounds, as each shot of Prime has a completely different background, while the two backgrounds used for the shots on Megatron more or less synch up perfectly.


"Fire!"

......Another major continuity error occurs with Starscream, as Spike dislodges one of his laser cannons by throwing a rock at it, with Prowl running over it, in effect trashing it.


"Hey! Who did that!?!"

Problem is, right as Megatron calls off the Decepticons, we see Starscream-with both lasers intact, and smoking!

A reasonably entertaining (and quite important) battle is effectively ruined by a couple of moron mistakes, all of which seem to be storyboarding issues.
.....Act 2 has one of the better endings in Sunbow history, as the Decepticons' rather wise retreat leaves the Autobots totally screwed. Peter Cullen does an excellent job here, as Prime sounds very desperate. I really enjoy how Optimus is very angry at the start of Act 3, as it shows that he isn't perfect after all. His use of Sideswipe's rocket pack is novel in its absurdity. Does Prime seriously think he can do anything to stop the Decepticons?
.....There's a coloring glitch at this point, as the Decepticon space cruiser looks brown as the artillery hatch opens and fires, possibly in a failed attempt to illustrate the glare of the Sun. Oddly, though, the 35mm masters show a perfectly purple ship.

.....The header that Prime takes into Earth looks painful, and Prime's reaction is great as he struggles to get up, and is still upset as Jazz offers to help him up. He's pretty quick to calm down, though, which is believable only if you remember that he's a ten story tall computer. As such, the transition between the filler, and to the real stuff is more of a jump than anything else. Mirage's disappearance is nicely handled, given that the battle really didn't focus on him at all, even though his desire to go back to Cybertron was stated pretty specifically at the start of the episode.
.....The Mirage plot is shelved for the final round in the Starscream/Megatron conflict, which is again handled with excellent precision. Megatron's statement to Starscream is very prophetic, given the events of Transformers: The Movie.


"Beware, Starscream! If you dispose of me, there will always be someone waiting to dispose of you."

Of course, Flint Dille (as Ron Friedman grabbed the writing credit for the movie much like he did with G.I. Joe's feature film) wrote, with a lot of irony, a script that featured Galvatron (who, in the movie, was very much Megatron, but with a new body and voice) doing the dirty deed. At this point, however, Megatron is just trying to warn his potential usurper of the perils of seizing power.
.....If not for Mirage, the battle would have ensued, and it's safe to say that Starscream would've done some damage before getting thoroughly trashed by Megatron. But, I seriously doubt that Megatron would have killed his subordinate, as Starscream's value is extremely high, even if he causes a lot of trouble for his leader. The Null Ray alone is an asset of immense proportions. But when you consider the fact that Starscream, even with all 98 episodes (and the movie), is the only Decepticon other than Megatron to have an accepted, believable level of charisma and personality. Rumble, Frenzy, Thundercracker, Reflector, Dirge, Thrust, Ramjet, the Stunticons, the Terrorcons, the Predacons, the Combaticons, Trypticon, Sixshot, the Decepticon Headmasters, the Decepticon Targetmasters, Scorponok, the Battlechargers, and the Decepticon "Clones" are all thugs. Skywarp is a bit crafty, but not too far from being a thug. Ravage, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, and Ratbat are surveillance cameras crossed with about the sneakiest animals known to man. The Constructicons are independent contractors. The Insecticons are lazy pigs with a chip on their shoulder. Soundwave is Mr. Spock from Star Trek without the human side. Galvatron is the Decepticons' mental patient, and Cyclonus is his bitch. Scourge and the Sweeps are severely sissified thugs. And I've probably forgotten a few Sunbow era 'Cons, as well.
.....Starscream's reaction to Mirage is in perfect character, as he totally flips out, while leaving himself open to Megatron's counterattack. While somewhat crudely drawn, the reaction shot of Megatron after he blasts Starscream is excellent, as is his line.


"Extinction to all traitors!"

Of course, Megatron doesn't get much of a chance to gloat, as Mirage somehow has managed to totally screw up the space cruiser. In classic fashion, Megatron goes into "villain panic mode" as everything starts to fall apart right when he has every right to be practicing his victory speech.
.....The image of Rumble is wonderfully done, and it's no surprise that it was immortalized on both the cover to Rhino's Blockbuster exclusive release of "More Than Meets the Eye" and one of Milton Bradley's "action cards" that helped to condense many episodes of both G.I. Joe and The Transformers in both series' heyday.


"We're gonna crash! *gasp...gasp* We'll be destroyed!"

.....Mirage is quite nonchalant as he leaves, and it's great for a chuckle, as it makes Megatron look totally helpless-a rare feat, indeed. Of course, Mirage has a good reason to joke, because he made it look easy, pitifully so, in fact. It's a bit odd, seeing that the Autobots basically pull their biggest victory in over four million years completely out of their ass, and a generally forgotten Autobot like Mirage (who didn't even merit the indignity of being slaughtered in the movie) is the one responsible for it.
.....Seeing the Autobots and Spike freely discussing the end of the war, and the eventual revitalization of Cybertron at such an early juncture in the series is quite odd from the perspective of someone who knows how long these things would actually be in the offing. With that said, the last moments of this episode are pure brilliance. The Decepticon space cruiser is smack dab in the middle of the ocean, and Megatron lives! I can think of no better way to end the initial three-part arc of this series, and to kick off the regular run.

Final Verdict

.....Despite being the most inconsistent episode so far in terms of animation quality, "More Than Meets the Eye" Part III is on the whole an entertaining and enjoyable episode. For better or worse, the series begins to emerge here, as the pacing, writing, music, and voice acting are generally on par with later episodes. It appears that Bryce Malek and  Dick Robbins (story editors for the first two seasons of The Transformers) took to this part of the miniseries in particular when deciding upon the "feel" of the series, as this episode is even more like a normal installment of the series than Parts I and II.
.....A unique animation style, however, is not picked up in any future Sunbow series. The style I refer to is the way the color black is used, particularly for shading. Items like Mirage's missile launcher have copious amounts of black in certain views. Of course, the reason why this wasn't carried over is because it is an effect carried out by the "inferior" animation team, who is the source of the bulk of the inconsistencies.
.....Regardless, you can't go wrong with this episode. There's a lot of action, plus there is some excellent character-building as well, which makes for a very well-balanced half hour. Not too many cartoon episodes can boast this, with fleetingly few being origin episodes, which are either too wordy, or filled with shallow action scenes. As such, one can only label "More Than Meets the Eye" Part III as a successful episode.

Miniseries Commentary

.....If anything surprises me about "More Than Meets the Eye", it's how the miniseries is so developed, particularly in comparison to the very primitive episodes that are part of the first season's slate. For a first episode (or, in this case, miniseries), this can be very dangerous, particularly when one applies the very wise (and very true) judgment towards pilots postulated by Zadoc Angell and Busta Toons-that they are the baseline for which all future episodes should be judged. Some are better, others worse, and the final group is on par with the pilot. If a pilot is particularly well-crafted, it has the potential to set to high a bar for the rest of the series. The result is that the series is a failure, if only because the rest of the episodes can't even live up to the pilot. Here, however, "More Than Meets the Eye" leaves room for development, primarily since a number of character relationships (such as the Spike-Bumblebee friendship) didn't even exist yet, to say nothing of the ever-present cast additions. In short, "More Than Meets the Eye" is a fine miniseries-for a starting point.

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