Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

"What? Transformers made from animals instead of vehicles and stuff? Doesn't sound so great, throw it to Kenner division, maybe they can make a quick buck or something."
Beast Wars, Machine Wars, Beast Machines... seeing a pattern? Coming soon: "Wars Wars"

Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby Mako Crab » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:47 am

Where have I been?! I didn't even realize you were doing a retrospective. I have to check out your reviews.
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby andersonh1 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:00 pm

Mako Crab wrote:Where have I been?! I didn't even realize you were doing a retrospective. I have to check out your reviews.


I have to add some reviews. The problem is, I've already re-watched the whole series, so now I have to go back and write the reviews from memory!! My 7 year old loved the show, so we watched the whole thing in a couple of weeks. I'd have taken my time if it was just me. :)
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby andersonh1 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:45 pm

The Weak Component
The war with Megatron could have ended here and now as an accidental power overload of his centralized control of Cybertron shuts down both him and the power on the entire planet. Would an entire planet run on one power source, with no redundancy? They kept trying to make it happen during G1 season three…

Six episodes in, and Rattrap’s character arc progresses as he finally learns how to transform, apparently by being selfless. Whether it makes any sense or not, it’s good to see him finally figure things out, only for Rattrap and the viewer to be hit with mood whiplash as his robot mode lacks offensive weapons, and his friends all turn on him. This is very much an “everybody pile on Rattrap” episode, and I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. It should be a triumph for him as he overcomes a major limitation, but it isn’t. Yes, they’re all under stress and yes, their leader is currently disabled and resting which leaves them without their accustomed moral compass, but it doesn’t speak well for Cheetor and Blackarachnia that they’re so quick to attack their friend.

Cheetor’s out of his depth here, or at least has yet to learn the more subtle points of leadership. His command style seems to consist of barking orders and expecting them to be carried out, and even though he sticks up for Rattrap at one point he’s less than reasonable for most of the episode. Everyone gripes about Rattrap behind his back, so Rattrap decides “screw you all” and goes to Megatron with the intent to swindle him out of weapons and finish him off, which is a pretty gutsy plan. “Never trust a rat,” Rattrap announces cheerfully, having noted earlier that Megatron’s helplessness made this the perfect time to slag him once and for all.

I tend to think the old Rattrap would have ignored Megatron’s transparent attempts to manipulate him. I’m not going to go so far as to label his actions in protecting Megatron as mischaracterization though. Rattrap’s been through a lot in six episodes, and his confidence is pretty much shattered until Primal sticks up for him at the end of the episode. He’s very much “the weak component”, not sure of himself or his abilities at all until the moment he chooses to accept his new body and walk away. So I can buy that he’d make a series of desperate and inconsistent choices, such as being ready to kill Megatron one moment and defending him the next. He’s confused and trying to find his way in this new world and new body, as he has been for most of six episodes. A lot of the blame has to fall on Cheetor and his hot temper, refusing to listen to anything Rattrap has to say and not allowing him to explain.

On the other hand, would Megatron really have let the Maximals walk away? Would he make a deal and stick with it? I doubt it. A quick battle then and there would probably have finished in an easy Vehicon victory, and the Megatron from Beast Wars would have taken the opportunity afforded him. So I’m not quite buying the ending.

Still, a good episode overall, and one that I’ve always enjoyed.

Revelations part 1: Discovery
The Maximals just about get themselves killed, and Cheetor’s taste of power has gone to his head as the writers start explaining just what happened between the end of Beast Wars and the beginning of Beast Machines.

“Discovery” confirms what has been implied since early on, that the empty bodies of the Transformers population on Cybertron were used to create the Vehicons. The fate of just about every Transformers on the planet is that Megatron stole their soul, and turned their body into a mechanical zombie. He is acting very much like the god he thinks he should be by meddling on a large scale with the life and death cycle of his race. Since Transformers are robots, so the story can get away with that scenario, but it’s still pretty grim. It gets worse in season two of course, but at this point Megatron just has conventional technology to work with.

The Maximals end up in the scrapyard thanks to a desperate action by Optimus Primal. Nightscream seems aware of these scrapyards, though I wonder just how that could be if he’s been hiding underground since Megatron’s attack. Maybe he ventured out a few times after he was turned into a bat. Some of the bodies are pretty large and look like Autobots, which Bob Skir confirmed still live on Cybertron, along with the Decepticons, Maximals and Predacons. One of the things I like about this episode is how badly things go for the Maximals, as they logically would in such a lopsided battle. The drones are still useless cannon fodder, but they and the generals really make things rough as Nightscream is wounded, Optimus can’t beat Jetstorm in a fight, and Blackarachnia is nearly killed twice, only to be rescued by Thrust.

The heart of the episode is the interaction between Thrust and Blackarachnia. “Mercenary Pursuits” hinted that the generals might be someone familiar, while this episode out and out confirms it, even if Blackarachnia gets Thrust’s true identity wrong. Thrust is still in his “brooding loner” mode here and doesn’t talk much, which I always thought was more effective for the character. It’s fascinating to watch him and Blackarachnia warily exploring the extraction facility together, since it’s far more interesting to watch enemies interacting this way rather than fighting. And of course, Blackarachnia thinks Thrust is Silverbolt, which sets her up for the next part of her character arc as she becomes determined to rescue him.

This episode never comes out and says it (though the next one does), but it’s obvious that Jetstorm, Thrust and Tankor are all shell programs, much like the one that made the originally Maximal Blackarachnia into a Predacon. The spark gives the Vehicon generals life, but is otherwise suppressed. It’s yet another example of Megatron playing god.
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby Onslaught Six » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:23 am

andersonh1 wrote:This episode never comes out and says it (though the next one does), but it’s obvious that Jetstorm, Thrust and Tankor are all shell programs, much like the one that made the originally Maximal Blackarachnia into a Predacon. The spark gives the Vehicon generals life, but is otherwise suppressed. It’s yet another example of Megatron playing god.


Some people still missed this! I've seen various discussions (mostly on ATT) over time where people think Rhinox, Silverbolt and Waspinator were literally 'turned into' the Generals, which just isn't true. The General personalities are more like a barrier in front of their true personalities. It's interesting to note that all three of the Generals are actually the inverse of their original personalities. (Tankor is dumb, Thrust is badass, Jetstorm is a dick.)
BWprowl wrote:The internet having this many different words to describe nerdy folks is akin to the whole eskimos/ice situation, I would presume.


People spend so much time worrying about whether a figure is "mint" or not that they never stop to consider other flavours.
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby Dominic » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:47 am

Remember though, it was explicitly stated that it was a free will decision by all 3 of the generals to submit. Waspinator and Silverbolt were happier as Vehicons, which was why Silverbolt was so angry initially. (He resented Megatron making him more honest with himself. It also added an interesting retro-active wrinkle to his characterization in BW.)

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-still waiting for a good Obsidian toy.
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby andersonh1 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:00 pm

Dominic wrote:Remember though, it was explicitly stated that it was a free will decision by all 3 of the generals to submit. Waspinator and Silverbolt were happier as Vehicons, which was why Silverbolt was so angry initially. (He resented Megatron making him more honest with himself. It also added an interesting retro-active wrinkle to his characterization in BW.)


It's not quite that simple though. Rhinox told the Maximals that he had been trapped inside Tankor, unable to reach the surface and communicate, but that he was watching and learning. He was an observer only, however much he wanted it to be otherwise. Waspinator was obviously quite happy being Thrust. Silverbolt took pleasure in what Jetstorm was doing, probably allowing himself to do so because he could do nothing to stop it. Afterwards he was angry and guilty about it. No, I think we've got two forced servants and one who was happy to go along for the ride.

-still waiting for a good Obsidian toy.


The "Beast Wars Returns" version has a great color scheme. But I agree, I'd like a better version than the basic size that we got, not that it's all that bad. Admittedly I've got all four versions, so I must like something about it!
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby Shockwave » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:50 pm

I wish the BM toys overall had been better. My main gripe is that they were all horribly out of scale with each other. Optimus Primal was a mega and Nightscream was Ultra? WTF? Seriously. He should have basic at the biggest. It was all so disproportional.
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby Sparky Prime » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:39 pm

I've been re-watching episodes of Beast Machines lately and rather than start a new thread I figured it'd be alright to keep this thread active.

The Reformatting
*I notice some fans seem to complain that Optimus shouldn't have reverted to his original gorilla form since his original body was destroyed, but I tend to think this still would have still been his base form despite his new body emerging from the stasis pod as a Transmetal. In all likelihood, Rhinox programmed the stasis pod with Primal's original template for him to still be a gorilla.
*Apparently the Oracle doesn't care about Rhinox or Silverbolt since it doesn't help point Optimus to them like it does the others. But it's possible they'd already been captured and nothing could have been done to save them with the limited time the Maximals had nearing shutdown themselves. Still, you'd think the Maximals would bring them up since their memory gap doesn't include the Beast Wars and they obviously remember each other.
*Optimus suddenly recognizes the Oracle as the computer "that foretold the first Transformers coming to Cybertron". Wait, what? G1 had established either Primus created them there (comics) or the Quintessons built them there (cartoon) but either way, they came from Cybertron. Where else would they come from? And why is the Oracle sitting in the middle of what appears to be a road? Where did it come from?
*I've always liked the looks of the techno-organic beast modes, but the techno-organic robot modes just never appealed to me. Or the look of their transformations. You can clearly see parts morph as the light passes over them, and limbs just shrink into the body until they disappear while simultaneously new limbs grow out of them.

Master of the House
*This marks the first time the Maximals start to bicker with Optimus over a course of action. He thinks they need a new base to master robot mode but Cheetor and Blackarachnia are more interesting in learning what happened to Cybertron. Yet Optimus pairs them together when they split up to look for a new base. That's just asking for them not to follow orders.
*They never explain why Megatron develops his ideal of technological purity. Seems odd considering he treated his beast head hand almost like a pet in Beast Wars and relished his dragon form when he first got it. And why does he think his should be the only guiding spark/mind on the planet? Where do these changes in his character come from?
*Megatron transforms to beast mode when he gets angry. Why? He doesn't have to maintain an emotional still point like the Maximals and he never had that problem before.
*I don't understand why Megatron breaks apart the path as Optimus runs away. He keeps the sparks down below the throne room as we see in the next episode, so you'd think that's what he'd try to prevent Optimus from seeing, especially since he'd just lied telling Primal the sparks had been extinguished.

Fires of the Past
*If the Cybertron Archives have back up files for every Transformer, how come Optimus was so sure the Council Citadel would be the only place to find answers in the last episode? Shouldn't they have checked this place out and then the Citadel?
*Debut of the Diagnostic Drone. This was a fun character. Kinda wish he'd still been around in the second season. Although he doesn't seem very adept at his job. He reports all organic elements purged from Megatron's body but in short order Megs is back to beast mode. It just doesn't make sense for the drone to report Megatron's body purged when obviously they haven't purged the beast mode at all.
*Optimus insists that Blackarachnia transform back to beast mode, but why? They don't know yet their energy signatures can only be tracked while in robot mode although we do find that out later in this episode.
*Vehicon Generals debut, despite Megatron's ideals of being the only guiding mind. Don't you see that as a flaw in your grand scheme already Megatron? I have to say I didn't care for the Vehicon designs back when the show was originally on but they have grown on me over the years. And having their personalities the opposite of who they really are is a nice touch.
*Blackarachnia and Rattrap realize there were 6 of them aboard the shuttle. So they remember the Beast Wars, they remember being on the way home, but they forgot Rhinox and Silverbolt completely? That doesn't make sense and is inconsistent with the established gaps in their memories.
*Optimus yells at Blackarachnia for the loss of their ship before they could learn anything from it. Oh hey, another source of information they could have checked out before going to the Citadel. And Optimus is overreacting as Blackarachnia was able to get some information, even if it was only that they'd inexplicably forgotten two of their team mates although Blackarachnia plays it smart in deciding now isn't the best time to tell him that.
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby Sparky Prime » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:02 pm

Mercenary Pursuits
*Well that didn't take long for Blackarachnia to tell Optimus about their missing friends. And suddenly Rattrap is complaining about it despite he was the one that wanted to tell Optimus right away in the last episode. This seems a bit out of character for him. He might look out for himself first but he's not the type to abandon a friend MIA either.
*Oh hey, the first instance of Optimus being able to sense the presence of sparks nearby. Interesting how they just kind of throw that in there without any explanation. And when they see it's Tankorr, they think maybe Megatron set it up as a trap after he'd been in Blackarachnia's head in the last episode. When did the Maximals find out Optimus even had this ability?
*Rattrap initially calls the transformation enhancer a counter-virus. Since the Oracle cured that virus when they were reformatted shouldn't this have no effect on Rattrap? Or at least because the method of transforming is different for the Maximals now? This also illustrates why I don't like how the Maximals transform in this series as we see the random parts of Rattrap transform often leaving him at impossible half morphed forms between beast and robot mode, even having his robot mode head appear next to his beast mode head. I know that's more for some comedy in the situation but it doesn't work in my view.
*This is first time Megatron talks about liberating the Maximals from their sparks rather than outright destroying them.
*I find it odd how the Maximals perceive Tankorr's wanting his reward for "freedom". They think he's volunteering to have his spark yanked out, but given Tankorr's limited intelligence isn't it more likely he means freedom from Megatron's control?
*And now Optimus can telepathically communicate with other sparks to convince Tankorr to join them. Not that it matters, Megatron easily erases his memories and somehow blocks Optimus' ability to connect to his spark.

Forbidden Fruit
*Optimus starts to talk about faith in the will of the Matrix. How exactly is Cheetor turning his back on the Matrix for relying on his instincts in battle?
*"Even with wings, a rat's a rat. And we're survivors." Remember you said that in the next episode Rattrap.
*Oh joy, it's Nightscream. Seems strange the Maximals assume he's just a bat until he talks. What happened to that ability to detect sparks Optimus?
*Nightscream says: "I thought the Matrix was just a myth." I think the writers meant Oracle there because every Transformer knows their spark came from the Matrix.
*Why is Cheetor so insistent they not eat the fruit? We saw the Maximals could eat in BW as an alternative to energon. And why is he so distrustful of Nightscream, especially after he'd just helped save them from Jetstorm?
*The tree just turns to ash and disappears when Cheetor cuts through it and that somehow snaps the other Maximals out of their beast frenzy. Nothing about this makes sense.
*Optimus says he can reformat Nightscream, and Cheetor says he's not strong enough... How do either of them know this? Optimus maybe from his Oracle download but Cheetor should have no idea how this might impact Optimus since he's never done it before.
*Cheetor ends up in command with Optimus saying he was right to trust his instincts about the tree. Irrational as it was. And he was wrong about Nightscream who saved them twice in this episode.

The Weak Component
*Rattrap finally figures out how to transform by not being selfish. He's got no weapons but in the process of trying to shut down the factory gets zapped which feeds back on Megatron and actually gives the Maximals the biggest opportunity to fight back since returning to Cybertron. Not bad for his first time transforming on his own.
*Cheetor refuses to use the Intel Rattrap accidentally downloaded on Megatron because they need to stay put to protect Optimus at all costs... But he was willing to leave Optimus alone with only Blackarachnia to protect him on what was supposed to be a recon mission while they knew the Vehicons were at full strength?
*The Maximals are extraordinarily hard on Rattrap here. Sure he screwed up the recon mission but they're ignoring how it ended up benefiting them.
*And so Rattrap goes to Megatron for weapons. This is one of, if not the biggest mis-characterization moments in the series. The whole planet is shut down and Rattrap hears the Diagnostic Drone say it'll take half a solar cycle for Megatron to recover before they know he's in the room. If he really wants a weapon there are literally millions of deactivated drones he could pilfer outside with hours to spare. And he was a resourceful guy in BW. There is no reason for him to turn to Megatron here.
*Of course the other Maximals show up to rescue him and... wait, why are all three here? Cheetor left no one to guard Optimus? What happened to protecting him at all costs? Sigh. Anyway, seeing Megatron weakened they finally believe Rattrap. The whole planet being shut down on the way in wasn't a clue? But as per their deal Rattrap has to defend Megatron. It's understandable they'd think he turned traitor but they wont even let him explain his side of it.
*So solar cycles up and Rattrap is free to go with the weapons he earned by keeping his part of the deal but decides he doesn't need the weapons after all. What... That's it? Megatron really honors his word and lets them go with out a fight? No strings or anything? That's so.... not like him.
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Re: Revisiting BEAST MACHINES

Postby Sparky Prime » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:54 pm

Revelations Part I: Discovery
*The Maximals all jump to safety from the coolant Optimus, releases leaving Rattrap behind who nearly gets swept away. Nice job looking out for your team mates guys.
*The Maximals find the discarded bodies of millions of Transformers. Nightscream mentions this isn't even one of the bigger ones. Rattrap discovers their sparks weren't extinguished, they were removed. Er.... shouldn't they have figured that out when Megatron was talking about liberating their sparks from their bodies 3 episodes ago?
*Thrust saves Blackarachnia not once but three times in this episode although it's not clear why. This leads her to believe he's Silverbolt.
*Geez, shut up Nightscream. There's nothing wrong with Optimus leading them to save Blackarachnia.
*Thrust recalls his spark had been removed before.
*Cheetor removes Optimus from command. He claims Optimus hasn't been thinking clearly since he retook command. Other than freezing while realizing the horror of the spark extraction facility, what's been so questionable about Optimus' orders?
*So the Maximals finally realize the Vehicons are probably Maximals and can't destroy them. Where exactly did they think Megatron got the three sparks to begin with?

Revelations Part II: Descent
*Every episode has the Maximals blaming each other for something. It's understandable they're under a lot of pressure fighting off an entire planet and as a result would have a lot of tension on the team and all which this highlights well but this is also getting really old really fast.
*Cheetor decides they should try and free the Vehicons from Megatron's programming.
*For a guy she didn't even remember a few episodes ago, Blackarachnia seems awfully obsessed with getting Thrust turned back into Silverbolt.
*Setting a trap like last time? You pushed Blackarachnia out of the way to save her Thrust. How could that have been a trap she set?
*Rattrap has a bomb which he throws at Tankorr to get his attention. Just goes to show he didn't need to turn to Megatron for weapons a couple episodes ago.
*I like the subtle hint that Thrust isn't Silverbolt as he remembers the Maximals not looking happy to see him on Earth.
*Seems odd Rattrap assumes Tankorr is showing him his memories until he seems himself. Did he forget they have two missing friends that were also on the shuttle... again?

Revelations Part III: Apocalypse
*The point of Rattrap plugging into Tankorr's mind in the last episode was to wake up his inner Maximal. So why when they figure out he's really Rhinox do they try talking to him instead? He's still got Megatron's Vehicon programming preventing him from being Rhinox that Rattrap never removed or reprogrammed. How do they expect to reach him?
*Surprisingly, Rhinox somehow breaks free of the programming himself but sides with Megatron's ideals of technological perfection. This doesn't fit with his characterization in BW as the badass when needed, zen-like rhino who preferred to stop and smell the flowers. In fact, the way we see he acts throughout the rest of season 1 is more like when Megatron turned him into a Predacon in "Dark Designs", which makes me believe Rhinox isn't truely free of the Tankorr personality here but more or less merged with it.
*Optimus says he believes the Matrix sent them to the Beast Wars to bring back the organic elements in their bodies. He seems to be forgetting Nightscream picked up a beast mode with out ever leaving the planet.
*Optimus also cites Nightscream's tree as evidence Cybertron was once organic and that the Oracle intends Cybertron to return to an organic state. Isn't it more likely the tree was transplanted to Cybertron with all the offworld exploration? And did Optimus forget the organic fruit didn't mix well with their techno-organic bodies? For all the time he's spent trying to understand their role in the Oracle's grand scheme, he seems to be missing some obvious points.
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