What you see above is where all the magic happens. Locked up securely in a secret location somewhere that looks an awful lot like the inside of our garage is the secret TV/DVD/VCR combo on which I watch my secret Transformers DVDs. For real, though, the garage is as perfect a place for me to nerd out, as I’ve got that place set up with all my objects of such a nature, from old, cartridge-style video game systems, a random assortment of Chicago Bears merchandise and the toys of my youth, and a full old-style makeshift stereo setup, complete with early-80s vintage tape deck and at least one Dio record. It is truly a sight to behold, but don’t get it twisted, as I refuse to use the term “man-cave” for that place. Because I reject the normal sitcom-inspired view of things, where even if two people love each other and their weekly whacky misunderstandings that get solved in 30 minutes all go toward strengthening this fact, men and women are still inherently incompatible creatures, incapable of actually liking each other, so the man must construct a secret “no girls allowed” lair where he can fart, drink beer, and watch the big game without having to take the youngest daughter to ballet class. You know, “women all be listenin’ to the opera, yo” or whatever. It’s bullshit, and I reject that. All people of all genders are welcome here, for it is a chill place for chill people all get along in harmony. It’s not so much my man-cave as it is my Great Hall, kind of like the one Odin has. Actually, I think the entire point of this paragraph and every other paragraph I’ve ever written is to further prove that I am exactly like Odin. Also, I’m an adult now, and it would just look weird to decorate the living room with a bunch of Iron Maiden poster flags and a rusty ammo belt. So there. Let’s watch some Transformers.
EPISODE THE SECOND: “MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE, PART TWO.”
It’s another part of the origin story, and worst of all, it’s the second part, where nothing really seems to happen, because they had signed a deal for three episodes, but only had enough actual occurrences for two. As for a synopsis, Spike chills with some Autobots and writes in his diary a lot, the Decepticons create a tidal wave that destroys a dam, where Optimus Prime and Megatron fight AXE VS. MACE, the Decepticons take over a mine full of THE RUBY CRYSTALS OF BURMA, and it ends up exploding, and the only way for you to find out what happens to Bumblebee, Sparkplug, and the little car thingy that comes inside Optimus Prime’s trailer is to tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion. It really sounds like a crazy-ass episode, but for the most part, it’s Spike just sort of hanging out with Hound and/or Bumblebee.
– The Autobots can totally fly in this episode, and that’s a big deal, because only a couple here and there can do that in any of them for the rest of the show’s run. I seem to remember whole episodes where the fact that the Decepticons could fly and the Autobots couldn’t was a huge part of the story. To normal people, this means nothing, but to the rest of us, it’s just insane.
– “They can think and have real feelings.” A lot of this episode is Spike either hanging out with random Autobots or chilling up on a mountainside with his diary (because every oil field roughneck has to express his innermost thoughts and feelings, you know?) just trying to understand what the hell an Autobot is. And I’m not sure if it’s the fact that they have to dumb a cartoon down a little for six year olds, because he ends up sounding like a complete numbskull half the time, and the Autobots all talk down to him in like fashion. Like he seriously goes up to Mirage and Hound and is all like, “so how do you transform?” and Hound is all, “like this!” and transforms, presumably with an inner monologue of “..just like the way you’ve seen us do it hundred times already, Earth-‘tard.” Really, though, the Transformers in all its various incarnations would be greatly improved if they stopped throwing stupid humans in there.
– When Spike finally realizes that the fancy, fully-functional tape player that he found in the middle of the goddamn desert was actually Soundwave, he sounds the alarm. And for some reason, in a spaceship for robots that are almost all like twenty-something feet tall, the alarm button is only about seven feet off the ground, and completely unmarked in any language.
– When the Autobots hunt down the Decepticon spy, Ravage, Gears use his special infrared beam to locate him. He uses it to locate him completely unhidden, as a huge black piece of machinery against light brown rocks. HE NEEDED A SPECIAL DEVICE FOR THIS. Gears sucks.
– When the Decepticons latest plot to steal the Earth’s resources involves proving the Republicans right about green energy and destroying a dam, Bumblebee and Ironhide are somehow able to contain the entirety of an entire man-made lake inside less than a mile of hastily-cut ditches, that look to be maybe four feet deep. Uh huh.
– In a world full of super-advanced weapons, Starscream busts out with a stupid sling shot. Really now.
– “Stick it in neutral, Megatron!” For a lot of the earlier episode, the dialogue consists almost entirely of clumsy automotive references. Luckily, they eventually eased out of this habit before they ran out of A-material and it got to a point where Ironhide would have to tell Starscream to suck his manifold intake valve.
– HOLY SHIT, OPTIMUS PRIME AND MEGATRON ARE FIGHTING WITH AN AXE VERSUS A MACE!
– During their AXE VS. MACE fight, Optimus Prime talks more shit than has ever before or will ever be talked in the Transforming robots art form. Dude straight-up calls him junk ready for the scrap heap. That’s cold, man. Cold. Also, in the earlier episodes, Prime talks like John Wayne.
– After the whole dam thing goes down, the Decepticons move on to their next target, which is a mine containing the RUBY CRYSTALS OF BURMA. It’s complete and utter horse shit, but you have to eventually suspend disbelief and accept that crystals of various kinds are sources of infinite power in the Transformers universe, because I swear, half the episodes are about them. It’s bad to think too hard on this, because you’ll start to wonder why Burma isn’t the world’s premiere superpower if they have all these damn things, and whether or not the writers owned a globe, because they seriously act like Burma is about a twenty-minute drive from anywhere in the continental U.S. Also, if these crystals could supposedly fuel all of Cybertron, why do they even need to bother going after some piddly-assed rocket fuel in the next episode? Stupid logic.
“Power flows to the one who knows how. Desire means nothing.” For a show that does some dopey-ass things from time to time, every so often someone will say something intense.
– Toward the end, Sparkplug volunteers to go into the mine, because according to him, he’s “worked these mines before.” Sparkplug worked in a crystal mine? In fucking Burma? What sort of other insanity has this dude been involved in? What was, he some sort of rogue black ops agent who got captured and forced into slave labor? How did he escape? Did he lead an uprising? Was Sparkplug Witwicky the fucking Colonel Kurtz of Burma? This dude could be the great literary character of our time, but we’ll never know, because they jumped the show’s timeline ahead twenty years before we could find out. My god, there is an untapped goldmine of adventure here. Does Sunbow still exist? Do they still handle all the Marvel/Hasbro properties? Sparkplug: Secret Wars is a series that needs to happen now, dammit.
TIMES THIS EPISODE PISSED IN THE FACE OF SCIENCE: TWO – First of all, there’s the Soundwave size issue, that we already covered last time with Megatron’s gun mode. Secondly, and this is another one that’s probably going to pop up again later: YOU CAN’T GET STUPID ENERGY FROM A STUPID CRYSTAL. SHIT. Bunch of hippies must have written this show. Maybe in season two, Megatron tries to harness the power of Sedona, AZ’s power vortex.
PROBABLE REALISTIC HUMAN CASUALTIES: AT LEAST 1,003 – As always, there’s the fact that in a human vs. Transformer fight, the Transformer will always win, usually with the human ending up looking like a mangled mess from the cover of a Cannibal Corpse album cover. So when Rumble attacks Spike (again?), Spike is reduced to meat. Later in the episode, Sparkplug gets punched smooth in the face by Thundercracker, who is literally like ten times Rumble’s size. (one turns into a fighter jet, and the other turns into a cassette tape. Seriously.) So if Spike ended up all Cannibal Corpsed up, Sparkplug ended up looking like something way worse. Like when you see a regular death metal album cover, you’re all “ha ha oh man, that’s gross,” but Sparkplug would have ended up like one of those serious underground death metal album covers where they don’t use a painting and opt instead for some actual autopsy photos or something, and the novelty of a gross painting gets replaced by a general state of disturbed unease, because it’s just all too real. After that, screw Bumblebee and Ironhide’s little laser-ditch, and inland tidal wave leading to a dam collapse would be an insanely fatal large-scale disaster, drowning hundreds of people, even in what appeared to be a sparsely populated area. They leave the area that this is taking place mysterious, bu they only show a few houses in the path of the wave, so we’ll be generous to human life and say about 600 dead. Later on, once we get to the RUBY CRYSTAL OF BURMA mine, the damn thing gets blown up and collapses. And Sparkplug (who should already be a mutilated mess from a Thundercracker punch) is in there, and he should be smooshed to smithereens. As for the other 400 I have figured in to the total? Did we see anyone else in the mine? You’d think that if there was a mine containing immensely powerful minerals, someone would have to be working there to get the stuff out, and the Burmese government probably cares little for safe labor practices, so they’d probably be crammed in there pretty much beyond capacity. Add in a team of giant robots who place no value on human life and really, really want those crystals, and you get the grand total of at least 1,003 dead in this episode. Hardcore, man. Hard. Core.
NEXT TIME: The story concludes in “More Than Meets the Eye, Part Three.” HOLOGRAMS, HOLOGRAMS, HOLOGRAMS!