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Transformers G1 - Best Episode Ever! - HellCat's Choice

With a boy’s toy brand, success means you’ll inevitably
introduce new characters//toys to the roster. The thing is, even when there’s a
supporting fiction present, there’s often very little presented to give the new
characters a valid motive to join the fight and instead these characters just
suddenly appear with a fiery devotion to their cause. With Transformers, this
problem was kind of negated by having the conflict span centuries even before
the show started and saying in general that any new characters had arrived as
reinforcements from Cybertron. However, both sides also showed the capability
to newly build reinforcements using Earth technology. These new creations were
wound up, pointed at their creator’s enemies and left to waddle off. But isn’t
that kind of questionable behaviour, especially from the Autobots?

‘War Dawn’ attempts to explore this issue. In a previous two
part story, both sides had created new teams to directly address their
uncovered terrains- the Stunticon cars and Aerialbot jets. As the story opens,
the Aerialbots are attempting to save kidnapped world leaders from Starscream
and co. Well, Silverbolt is anyway. The other Aerialbots are annoyed at having
to fight in a war they didn’t choose and awed at the Seeker’s skills. This
behaviour annoys the veteran Autobots, who can’t understand why the Aerialbots
don’t hold their same desire to defeat the Deceptions or even manage to see
them as a threat. It takes a certain unplanned trip into Cybertron’s past via
Megatron’s latest scheme for the rookies to really understand the conflict.

 The episode is penned by David Wise who by his own admission
tried to make his scripts for the show illustrate the reality of war. Handing
someone a gun and saying ‘These people are your enemy, go kill them’ is
generally not going to motivate them to do it, so the Aerialbots lack of hatred
for the Decepticons is understandable as is them questioning if the Autobots
aren’t just spinning propaganda. You need a reason to fight, something to
oppose and something to protect. It takes this accidental encounter to provide
them such a motivation, though thankfully the sequences are ambiguous enough to
suggest that the story isn’t celebrating war giving young people the more
negative side of these emotions.

Aside from that, the episode also has the distinction of
providing us with the origin of Optimus Prime and rather cleverly ties his own
motivation into that of the Aerialbots. Indeed, the moral is very effectively
summed up by the newly born Prime: “I
admired Megatron merely because he was powerful. I failed to see how he used
that power”.

It’s stories like this which go to show just why
Transformers succeeded. Sure the toys were cool and unique, but those same toys
were propped up by an inventive backstory and characterisation. Though they
might be thirty feet tall and made of metal, they were given hearts that were
so very human.

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