"Transport to Oblivion"
Written By Dick Robbins and Bryce Malek - Directed By John Walker
....."Four million years ago, creatures from the planet Cybertron crash-landed on Earth. Mechanical creatures of great technical sophistication. Autobots...."
.....As Optimus Prime and Ironhide stand outside Autobot Headquarters in the morning sun, Cliffjumper emerges from the base, and sees a familiar shape on the ledge above his two allies.
"Look out! Decepticon!"
However, it is just an odd rock formation, and after Cliffjumper shoots it (nearly crushing Ironhide and Prime in the process), he apologizes for shooting at the non-existent enemy. Ironhide, remembering how the Decepticons' space cruiser had crashed into the ocean months ago, scoff at the idea that their dreaded foes may still be alive. Optimus, however, can't help but worry that Megatron shall someday return....
.....Deep beneath the ocean surface, in the wrecked Decepticon space cruiser, Megatron gloats over the Autobots' failure to destroy them. On Cybertron, however, things are going badly for another Transformer: Shockwave, Megatron's appointed guardian of their home planet. Desperate, he makes a futile attempt to contact his long-disappeared leader....and succeeds. Informing Megatron of the dire situation on Cybertron, Shockwave notes that a new intergalactic transportation system is near completion, which makes Megatron very happy indeed.
.....Sometime later, at a solar power plant, a worker asks his friend, Ed, to turn down his radio. Unfortunately, it's not his: it's Soundwave! Releasing Laserbeak, he chases the humans out of the plant, and the Decepticons begin collecting energy.
.....Meanwhile, Jazz is cruising through the city with Spike enjoying music when they stumble onto a major traffic jam. Everyone is trying to leave, due to a total blackout. Noticing the danger, Jazz rushes back to Autobot Headquarters to find out what's going on.
.....Prime is monitoring the trouble, and sends a Sky Spy to investigate the problem. The satellite homes in on the solar power plant, and discovers the reason for the plant's loss of power: Megatron.
Prime rushes to assemble the Autobots, but the only ones
present (besides himself) are Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl, Cliffjumper,
Gears, and Bumblebee. Undaunted, Prime orders his small force to roll out
for the power plant.
.....The Decepticons continue with their operation, and as the amount of Energon Cubes collected reaches an acceptable amount to send over the Space Bridge, the Autobots arrive and begin their attack. Cliffjumper foolishly takes on Megatron, and is batted away easily by the much larger Decepticon. However, Megatron still has Prime to deal with, a challenge he eagerly accepts. During their struggle, Optimus throws Megatron into a control panel, giving the Decepticon a power boost and quickly turning the tide of battle.
.....Outside, Skywarp and Starscream rush to escape with the Energon Cubes, but are attacked by Ratchet and Prowl before they can take off. Starscream manages to fend them off (as well as Gears and Cliffjumper), and he and Skywarp transform, flying off with the Energon Cubes.
.....Back inside, Bumblebee attempts to get his hands on Laserbeak while Megatron laughs in front of a dazed Prime. Transforming, he orders Soundwave to fire on Optimus Prime. Soundwave fires, but Ironhide takes the shot.
Mildly upset, but still victorious, Megatron leaves, with
Laserbeak and Soundwave following. Prime hands the injured Ironhide to
Ratchet, and orders the Autobots to return to base. Gears protests, but
Optimus replies that the severity of Ironhide's injury takes precedent,
and they must return to Headquarters immediately.
.....Later, as Sparkplug and Ratchet repair their wounded friend, Jazz and Spike hear about the attack from Prowl and Bumblebee. While they commiserate over the loss, Spike asks if the Decepticons have a ship, just as Optimus approaches. He is unsure if Megatron has a ship, but is certain that the Decepticons have some sort of plan. He then has Bumblebee search for Decepticon activity. Spike joins them, and the two leave immediately.
.....Meanwhile, at Decepticon Headquarters, Megatron receives the coordinates for the Space Bridge's appearance on Earth. Furthermore, Shockwave explains what the Space Bridge is, and that it will only be functional for a maximum of 11 minutes.
"Our new intergalactic transport system will establish a Space Bridge between Earth and Cybertron."
Megatron confidently states that the Decepticons on Earth
will be ready.
.....Later, Bumblebee and Spike continue their search in vain when Spike suggest they search in a nearby riverbed, if only to be in the shade for a while. As they approach the riverbed, however, they spot the Decepticons, and watch in awe as the test vehicle is sent through the Space Bridge. The vehicle doesn't reach Cybertron, however, and Starscream declares the Space Bridge a failure, while confidently declaring that he will find a way to transport the Energon Cubes to Cybertron. Megatron silences him, announcing that the vehicle simply needs guidance, and begins to request (and eventually select) a volunteer.
.....Fearing that the Decepticons will notice them, Bumblebee and Spike prepare to leave. However, Bumblebee transforms too close to the edge of the riverbed, and he falls down the side after hastily taking off. They are naturally noticed, and Starscream declares that they should be destroyed. Megatron has a better idea, though: they will be his volunteers to pilot the next test vehicle over the Space Bridge......
.....Skywarp and Soundwave load Spike and Bumblebee respectively into the test vehicle, and strap them in as Megatron notes that they will soon go down in the annals of Cybertron history....regardless of if they survive or not. As Bumblebee and Spike mull over their increasingly weak chances of escaping, the Space Bridge activates as the 11 minute window for the Space Bridge comes to an end. Shockwave informs Megatron that the next window shall occur in 3,000 astroseconds, an amount that Megatron finds to be intolerable. Spike openly hopes for a change in his and Bumblebee's luck, which inspires the Autobot to transform and break through the test vehicle's canopy, freeing them both.
Soundwave dispatches Ravage after the two as Spike tries to
keep up with Bumblebee. Spike trips and falls, and Bumblebee hesitantly
leaves the human behind.
.....After being chased into a cave by Starscream and Skywarp, Bumblebee exits through a hole at the roof of the cave.....
.....only to be met by the two Decepticon jets when he climbs out of the cave.
"My Null Ray will stop your squirming for a while...."
Megatron then arrives, unable to trust Starscream, and
alters Bumblebee's memory chips so that he'll unwittingly lead his
comrades into a Decepticon trap.
.....Later, at Autobot Headquarters, Sparkplug paces nervously, convinced that something has happened to his son and Bumblebee.
"Something's happened to Spike and Bumblebee. We've gotta get-"
However, Bumblebee then arrives, and explains that Spike was captured, and is going to be sent through the Space Bridge to Cybertron. However, Megatron's alterations to his memory chips kicks in, and he explains that Spike and the Space Bridge are in the cave (as opposed to the riverbed). Optimus Prime declares that they must rescue Spike and destroy the Space Bridge immediately, not knowing that they are all being watched by Laserbeak, who returns to Decepticon Headquarters as the Autobots follow Bumblebee to the cave.
.....Laserbeak reports back to a happy Megatron, knowing that his trap has been set. Later, the Autobots arrive at the cave, and Optimus wonders why there are no guards, before being reassured by Bumblebee that the Space Bridge is inside. The Autobots enter the cave, and find nothing, confusing Bumblebee and inspiring Gears to grumpily suggest that Bumblebee get a few volts to shake up his memory circuits. Just then, though, laser fire erupts, sealing the Autobots in the cave.
Ironhide realizes that they had been expected after all, to which Megatron gleefully replies, "And, I insist that you stay-forever!" as the Decepticons begin attacking.....
.....The battle begins in
earnest, and Starscream quickly decides to finish destroying Bumblebee. He
fires a Cluster Bomb at the small Autobot, but it's deflected by Jazz, who
breaks off a stalagmite and uses it to bat the Cluster Bomb back to its
owner. Soundwave ejects Laserbeak, who fires at Prowl before Ratchet fires
a net at him, trapping the bird-like Decepticon.
.....Soundwave then tries to release Ravage, but is stopped by Ironhide. Megatron aims at the Autobot, promising to damage more than his shoulder, but Optimus Prime shoves him out of the way. Megatron attempts to destroy the two Autobots, but is delayed by Prowl. After Skywarp subdues Prowl, Megatron releases a buzzsaw from his left hand and fires it at Prime, whose foot is caught in a now-destroyed piece of stalagmite. The saw releases Prime, and kicks up dust as is rolls along the cave floor, and then the ceiling, causing Megatron to loose track of his foe.
.....Optimus attacks Megatron from behind, and Megatron answers by switching his left hand from the buzzsaw-releasing mechanism to a laser, which he fires at the Autobot Leader. However, Shockwave calls from Cybertron and tells Megatron that the Space Bridge is about to open. Megatron orders Starscream to retreat (despite Starscream's protests) and seals in the Autobots, promising that they'll never escape....alive, at any rate.
.....As the Autobots gather themselves together after the battle, Ratchet notices that Bumblebee is injured, and quickly repairs him. He finds Megatron's alterations to Bumblebee's memory, and after the repairs, Bumblebee correctly remembers that the Space Bridge is located in the riverbed. The Autobots free themselves, then quickly leave for the riverbed, and the Space Bridge.
.....Meanwhile, Megatron receives word from Shockwave that the Space Bridge will be open for only 4 minutes this time, which Megatron believes is fine. Soundwave releases Spike from his prison, and places him in the test vehicle. Megatron explains to Spike how the Space Bridge works, warning him that if he breaks his concentration, he and the vehicle will fly off course, leaving him in the cold void of space forever.
.....The Autobots arrive just as the test car begins to speed down the pathway. Ironhide prepares to blow up the car (and, specifically, the Energon Cubes inside), but is stopped by Sparkplug, who declares that Spike is inside. Bumblebee decides to rescue Spike, and is assisted by Optimus Prime, who adjusts his laser cannon to fire a tight beam, freeing Spike.
Spike jumps onto Bumblebee's hood, and the test vehicle veers off course, into the outer wall of the Space Bridge. Panic-stricken, Megatron tries to scoop up the Energon Cubes and carry them through the Space Bridge himself.
The Autobots shoot the cubes, though, destroying them and
sending Megatron flying into the Space Bridge, which activates and sends
him through it.
.....Starscream assumes command, claiming that Megatron is now dead, and orders the Decepticons to retreat. The Autobots celebrate, and Bumblebee happily notes that Megatron has been lost forever. Optimus Prime, however, isn't able to share Bumblebee's optimism.....
"I wish I could believe that."
.....On Cybertron, the Space Bridge opens, depositing a weary and upset Megatron into Shockwave's command center, where he declares to his subordinate that he shall indeed have his revenge.....
"The Autobots have robbed me of my victory, but, they have not seen the last of Megatron! I shall be avenged!"
Oblivion" is an episode where, in addition to tying up loose ends
from "More Than Meets the Eye", the series needed to establish
itself in earnest and provide a basic template for future (non-multipart)
episodes. As such, it's an incredibly aloof effort, and noticeably
unrefined, particularly when compared to the series' three-part pilot
.....The opening narration from Victor Caroli lacks the elegance of its more detailed counterpart from "More Than Meets the Eye" Part I. Part of this is because the narration was shortened, as revealed by the revised script to the episode, dated 6/8/84, that has found its way onto the Internet, and into the Season 1 DVD set. Also lost is an exchange between Ironhide and Optimus Prime that establishes that this episode begins a day before the Autobots' departure to Cybertron, which was implied to have happened just after Spike's last diary entry in "More Than Meets the Eye" Part III. While this exchange (one of many minor details different in the script, as opposed to the final episode) is a rather poor explanation for the discrepancies between episodes (and, in effect, backtracking from the previous episode), it's better than no explanation at all.
.....After establishing that the Decepticons have been no incognito for months, there's a curious wipe to the coast line we last saw in "More Than Meets the Eye" Part III.
Yep, the Decepticons are gone for good! Right, Optimus?"
It seems that it would have been far better to just show a
stock shot of the space cruiser's crash into the ocean, or to re-create
the scene, than to create a shot that makes little sense.
.....The dissolve from the coastline into the sea is an effective method to show the sunken Decepticon Space Cruiser, which has assumed its customary position and layout (as the Decepticons have built an entire complex around the ship).
"The Autobots think they have defeated us...."
What doesn't make sense, however, is the design of
the sunken cruiser. Instead of resembling the ship that crashed into the
ocean, it resembles the original Decepticon Space Cruiser from "More
Than Meets the Eye" Part I. However, these early backgrounds would
become the template for the new Decepticon Headquarters, and would remain
consistent (and would occasionally be re-used, as a matter of fact)
throughout the first and second seasons.
.....After a brief appearance by Megatron, we're zipped across the universe to Cybertron of all places, where we get our first glimpse of Shockwave in the present day, confirming Megatron's suspicions from the first episode about Cybertron's fate.
It's unclear what he's shooting at (perhaps the writers for making the first two minutes of the episode far too busy with characters and settings), but the scene plays out nicely when Shockwave slumps slightly after transforming, implying that he is dangerously low on energy.
Shockwave's desperation is equally well-played, implying
that the situation on Cybertron has become quite grim indeed. Shockwave's
call to Megatron seems not only like a fit of desperation, but a ritual by
the infamously loyal Decepticon.
.....Megatron's response to Shockwave's call is a nice contrast to his previously stated belief that Cybertron must still exist intact, as it's proof positive that he's had his doubts about the survival of the planet, and of Shockwave's ability to hold off the Cybertonian Autobots for this long. However, as Shockwave stands upright, there's a distinct error in the yellow light surrounding him on Megatron's monitor.
"Megatron, Leader of the Decepticons...."
Megatron's hubris as he responds to Shockwave is classic,
"....and future ruler of the universe!"
and it's a sign that Megatron is still thinking in terms of
universal domination (as cartoon villains have a habit of adjusting their
goals downward during the course of their series). However, the
"intergalactic transport system" Shockwave mentions is a bit of
a surprise, as we don't know what Shockwave is talking about (although
Megatron certainly does), but it's certainly not a good thing if Megatron
is happy about it.
.....The next scene is a decided change of pace, but the transition graphic (which is Decepticon to Decepticon) and the sight of a sickeningly familiar cassette player is enough to explain what's going to happen. There's a major coloring error with the worker Ed in this scene, however,
"Hey, Ed, turn your tape player down!"
as he turns from a black worker to a white worker and back
again, and no, I will not make a joke about this in relation to the
original Transformer packaging. However, Soundwave's transformation is
handled excellently, as the human workers aren't familiar with the
Transformers (something which would be quickly dropped from the series,
and not very surprisingly, either), and there's an excellent angle on
Soundwave, which serves to emphasize his height in relation to the humans.
The shot of Laserbeak terrorizing the humans would become memorable in
Season 3, when it would be featured in the narrated montage featuring the
Decepticons (and, in fact, Don Messick and Casey Kasem's lines here would
be their only contributions to the show for that season), but works here
nicely for the feeling of sheer terror conveyed.
.....We next see the first signs of Jazz bonding with Spike, and of his obsession with loud rock music. The music playing is, of course, a Johnny Douglas composition, and one of two tracks that would appear in virtually every Marvel and Sunbow series that Douglas would score for (the notable exception being Dungeons & Dragons) to represent the whole of popular American music. (Thankfully, it's a good song, if well outside the confines of Casey Kasem's radio show.) Spike is portrayed very strangely, though, as Corey Burton's delivery (and the lines themselves) are extremely out of character. The traffic jam is poorly explained, and a keen eye can easily discern a couple of bizarre details during the pan across the intersection.
One of the buildings reads "IOU" (as the
animators were apparently allowed to scrawl anything in English here), and
sitting right by the entrance is a yellow VW Bug, and the red car seen
rounding the corner of the very same building could be a VW Beetle/Rabbit
(whichever model Cliffjumper is)-rare instances of Autobot-like vehicles
appearing with nondescript cars.
.....Optimus Prime's monitoring of the current crisis is already a standard series procedure, as it echoes events from "More Than Meets the Eye" Part II (and would become common enough to be parodied in the second season when an alert interrupts the Autobots as they watch a soap opera). Teletraan 1's screen has a grid overlay, which would be fortunately dropped in future episodes, though. The readout of the power station's output is terribly misspelled by the Japanese animators.
"Ahh....there's the problem. The solar power station."
The screen is supposed to say, "SOLAR POWER STATION
#001/CAPACITY: 80%/CURRENT OUTPUT: 0%," but "Solar",
"Power", and "Current" have all been butchered. Also
erroneous is the background during the close-up of Prime, which is a
"sky" background instead of the interior of Autobot
.....The force seen assembling is woefully small (as Optimus himself notes), but is in keeping with Sunbow's "small teams" concept introduced by Ron Friedman (which is about the only way to do things when dealing with Hasbro's rather large product lines). The Autobots manage to make a dynamic entrance to the power station, though, effectively spooking Starscream and Skywarp (whose Energon Cubes are without their purple hue for a few frames). Cliffjumper's challenge of Megatron is perversely funny, as there's no way he could challenge the far bigger Decepticon. Prime's entrance is nicely done, though, as the camera zooms out to reveal him.
"Oh....A pleasure to see you again, Prime."
The moment emphasizes the positive aspects of the Prime/Megatron rivalry, as the two are treated as great warriors embarking upon yet another epic struggle. The battle is actually pretty visually stimulating, as they trade some pretty impressive blows (especially Megatron's shot to Optimus' grille with his fusion cannon). Particularly nice is Megatron's collision into the power station's control panel.
.....There's a bit of suspense building here as the scene changes to outside the plant just as Megatron gains the upper hand. An interesting effect is used when Starscream fires on Cliffjumper and Gears, as there's a highlight of energy near the base of his weapon.
"It's never too late, Autobot."
While this would go down as a "one and only"
circumstance, it should be noted that the flash of energy is at a place in
the Decepticon jet lasers that was later used by Thrust in "Child's
Play" to load baseballs into the device. Also rare is Chris Latta's
voice when speaking as Starscream here-he uses a deeper inflection for
Starscream that's unlike even his odd style for Cobra Commander in G.I.
Joe's MASS Device miniseries.
.....Ironhide's sacrifice would eventually pay off in the movie, when his "hero coefficient" would cause his head to get blasted off by Megatron (even if it makes little sense, since Megatron's blasts in the movie have a sudden increase in how lethal they are). The moment works nicely here, though, as it's another sign of Ironhide ruthlessly putting the Autobot cause ahead of himself, regardless of how rash his decisions might be.
.....Megatron is oddly animated when he returns to robot mode, particularly his legs and fusion cannon.
"Aah! We have what we came for. Let's go!"
Also primitive are the Autobots' laser blasts here-instead
of the normal sounds, they're the Joe lasers, much like in the initial
Transformers toy commercials.
.....There's a bit of dissention in the ranks as Gears disagrees with Prime's decision to return to base with the injured Ironhide-another example of Optimus putting his soldiers ahead of the mission (the whole sucking at flying thing probably didn't make his decision harder, either). What we get next is the first of many extended repair scenes, as well as the beginning of a stretch of exposition. Prowl tells Jazz and Spike about the battle, leading Bumblebee and Spike go off to spy the Decepticons in decidedly quick fashion (I believe I mentioned something about deus ex machina around here before Microsoft bullshit robbed me of some 8-9 minutes of the episode in commentary form, and the first one who tells me to start using Notepad gets a price on their head).
.....The expositional material at Decepticon Headquarters is extremely important, as we learn how the Space Bridge works. An odd wrinkle, though, is the 11 minute interval, which is never fully explained but presumed to be because of the great distance between the two planets. This would be one of the first things to be lost about the Space Bridge after this episode, mainly because it's severely limiting to the storytelling experience.
.....There's a nice background at the start of the following scene in the desert.
Not only is it quite detailed, but there's an impression of depth that's enforced by seeing Bumblebee drive along the winding road. Another excellent shot is used when the camera pans into the riverbed, revealing the Space Bridge.
The scope is rather incredible as the Space Bridge's runway stretches off into infinity (most of this episode's best panning shots seem to involve the Space Bridge, including the long runway with equal skill). When the camera pans to the Decepticons, Megatron's mouth is terribly animated, barely capable of properly being in synch with Frank Welker's voice.
"Prepare for the test run, Shockwave."
The test run is well animated, but would emerge as proof of Toei's possible use of stock footage as it looks highly similar to the Space Bridge sequence in other episodes, the least of which being "Divide and Conquer" (and that's not even taking into account the similarities to the other activations of the Space Bridge in this very episode). The reaction shot of Bumblebee and Spike, coupled with the music (which, for some reason, fails to segue from one selection to the next properly as the test vehicle enters the transport ring), adds nicely to the moment's "awe factor".
Another nice touch is the reception sequence on Cybertron.
A hint on that something isn't quite right is provided,
although probably noticeable only to repeat viewers, in that the standard
"stream of energy" isn't present when the reception module rises
and opens. To further illustrate the matter, we see the doors to the
reception chamber open with nothing inside.
.....Starscream reverts to form when the test fails, eagerly proclaiming the Space Bridge a failure and announcing that he will find a way to get the Energon Cubes to Cybertron.
"Your Space Bridge is worthless!"
Megatron, despite having lost a bevy of Cubes forever,
remains calm while announcing that the vehicle needs guidance. While
mildly questionable in terms of a plot choice, Bumblebee's decision to
tear out at the edge of the riverbed creates some solid tension to end out
Act 1 as Megatron declares that he's found his volunteers (whom he was in
the middle of selecting when Bumblebee and Spike made the decision to
.....The start of Act 2 only adds to the suspense, as the opening scene is dripping with foreboding for our heroes. However, Megatron and the other Decepticons have a massive attack of Cartoon Supervillain Logic as they load Bumblebee and Spike into the test vehicle without restraining them, which allows Bumblebee to transform and break out of the vehicle. However, Bumblebee and Spike have an equally lethal attack of Cartoon Superhero Logic as neither one makes any real effort to get Spike inside of Bumblebee (the prescribed best method to getting them both away from the Decepticons in one piece). It then comes as no surprise when Spike trips and falls, which quickly leaves Bumblebee no choice but to leave his friend behind.
.....The ensuing chase sequence is nicely executed, particularly the long shot that "follows" Bumblebee as he races through the desert.
In reality, the ground is animated separately from Bumblebee and the background scrolls in its own direction, creating the illusion of movement that (at the time) was really only available in the best animated cartoons. Also helping the scene are Bumblebee's vocalized doubts about leaving Spike behind, which manages to bring a human side to what could have been a simple action sequence.
.....The interior of the cave Bumblebee retreats into has a nice bit of depth to it, enforced by the animation of Bumblebee climbing to the hole at the top of the cave, which leads to an impressive pan of Starscream and Skywarp that makes them look highly imposing. The device that emerges from Megatron's chest as he moves in to brainwash Bumblebee screams plot device in the worst way (especially given how the Decepticon symbol on Megatron's chest changes appearance from one frame to the next before the brainwashing device emerges).
"You are not to be trusted, Starscream!"
The problem lies not in the idea (as the altering of
Bumblebee's memory chips plays out in a similar fashion to the series'
later uses of Bombshell's Cerebro Shells), but in the character tapped to
do the job.
.....Things play out a bit better in the following scene as Sparkplug's earlier appearance successfully makes his role here an avoided plot contrivance. Bumblebee's return to Autobot Headquarters is also handled well, as his panic and worrying about Spike is genuine. However, when Bumblebee is asked where the Space Bridge is, there's a definite change in his behavior.
"The bridge is located in a cave 96.4 miles from the highway."
Dan Gilvezan's delivery loses all emotion, and purple swirls appear around Bumblebee's head-one of the classic cartoon signs of dizziness and/or confusion. However, the Cartoon Superhero Logic kicks in again as everyone trusts Bumblebee. (Although, in the Autobots' defense, it isn't normally expected that your friend is going to return from a mission all nice and brainwashed.)
.....Laserbeak is watching and listening, so as to make sure that the Autobots take the bait (because Megatron isn't stupid, and neither is Prime, which Megatron is well aware of) and, in what would become a nice bit of design consistency when used again over the course of the series, there's a microphone jutting out of Laserbeak's head. What is odd, though, that Megatron is waiting for his report at Decepticon Headquarters (as opposed to the riverbed or even the cave). This exchange also ends a bit strangely, with a stylized wipe (as opposed to the more traditional ones that have been seen so far in the episode).
.....After the wipe, an embarrassing snafu has been made with the production cels.
The top portion of a cel (likely the next actual cel that was slated to be photographed) is visible over the background representing the cave's entrance. (Though, to be fair, on the original broadcast master, this snafu is relegated mostly to the overscan area of the screen.) It's even more noticeable since the offending edge shows signs of being handled (not surprising given that the utmost care must be taken to ensure that the portions of the cel that will be visible in the frame are not damaged in any way). Oops.
.....The following moment is kind of an iconic one for Optimus Prime.
"....and move in!"
Simply put, it's a great heroic pose, and a triumph of the
artistic abilities of the animators. (If someone owns this cel and its
original background, they are one extremely lucky bastard.)
.....Act 2 ends very strangely, as the fade out is abrupt and the music is entirely inappropriate for the end of an Act. In other words, the music peters out without a big finish, which is highly contrary to the way most American TV shows are scored. I would say that some footage was cut at the last minute, but the beginning of Act 3 picks up pretty much where the previous Act ended.
.....The battle itself is fairly innocuous, but there are quite a few oddities. Firstly, there's a rare use of Starscream's Cluster Bombs, which are the only weapon in Starscream's arsenal that Jazz could hit like a baseball. Next, Brawn literally appears out of nowhere just before Soundwave unleashes Laserbeak.
Then, Ratchet shoots out an energized netting at Laserbeak.
And, perhaps most noticeably, Megatron receives two new weapons: a buzzsaw and a laser, both of which temporarily replace his left hand.
"Yes, making it easier to "cut" you down to size!"
While I can certainly forgive the Brawn error to some
extent (because how could Sunbow possibly have convinced Hasbro that
removing a Transformer from an episode, the plot-dictated abilities seem a
bit much, especially Megatron's laser, since the series occasionally had
the end of Megatron's gun rotate to the side of his body (which is where
it rests on the actual toy) and fire.
.....As the Decepticons retreat to the riverbed, a curious musical cue plays, which would never be used again in any Marvel or Sunbow cartoon. Also, another anomalous appearance occurs as Thundercracker and Reflector (well, two of him, at any rate) are seen flying away with Soundwave and Skywarp.
This is justified by the return to Decepticon Headquarters
(and the center Reflector's presence in the last shot of Act 2), but still
lacking in the making sense category.
.....Also poorly explained is Bumblebee's condition after the battle. For someone who was seen for only a few moments of the fight, he looks completely torn up. Unfortunately, it's how the Autobots find out about his brainwashing. Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, and Trailbreaker all appear here as well, wordlessly and without reason.
"Prime, a bank of Bumblebee's memory chips has been altered."
Of the three, Sunstreaker's appearance is the least
jarring, since he shows up in the one shot, and doesn't do anything. That
isn't to say that it's not stupid mistake, though.
.....Things start to pick up as the climax of the episode starts approaching, though. Soundwave's reply to Spike's rather lame (but well-placed) joke is excellent, as it nicely plays off the Decepticon's already notoriously emotionless behavior. After the joke, we see that Megatron has learned his lesson from the last test run.
"You will be riding on a beam of light...."
Spike is strapped in, and he's not going anywhere (and he
certainly doesn't look very happy about it). Megatron's explanation of the
physics of riding along the Space Bridge is wonderful, as it implies so
much about the transport sequence that can't be shown in the traditional
third-person view that the series used to illustrate the various runs
across the Space Bridge.
.....The subsequent rescue of Spike rushes by quickly, but works very well in creating a sense of urgency. Prime adjusting the beam on his laser cannon is an interesting touch, as is the animation of his shooting at Spike's bonds, where it looks like Spike has experience some pain, even with the great care Prime has taken in freeing his human friend. Megatron's attempt to save the Energon Cubes is very much in character, as is Starscream's rather hasty assumption that Megatron is dead. However, Bumblebee's excitement isn't communicated well at all visually, even if Dan Gilvezan's delivery portrays that glee well. The countering scene on Cybertron, which begins with some truly dizzying camera movements, is done well indeed, as Megatron sounds sluggish, and looks the part, as well. Having the episode end with a declaration of revenge from Megatron works here, but is still pedestrian compared to the other, similar situations throughout the rest of the season.
.....If I've done my job well,
you should be able to easily tell that I think that "Transport to
Oblivion" is an extremely primitive effort. The animation, which is
at times excellent (the Megatron/Prime battle in Act 1 and the Space
Bridge activation sequences, for instance), is very ordinary throughout
most of the episode. Also, there's a lot of silly mistakes here, both in
the animation and in the script itself. Also of note is Chris Latta as
Starscream. His voice is "off" throughout, lacking the Cobra
Commander screechiness that Latta is infamous for.
.....However, "Transport to Oblivion" will always be remembered, thanks to its great contribution to the lore of The Transformers, the Space Bridge. While certainly different from its final form (in part, I suspect, to alleviate future script complications), it is still an incredible storytelling tool. Because of this, "Transport to Oblivion" is able to rise above its rather average parts to comprise a memorable whole.
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