Transformers Prime - "One Shall Rise - Part 3" Recap
“Ratchet tells Optimus’ origins to the humans while the Autobots and Megatron continue their war against Unicron.”
I have the same feeling over the season finale as I do for the series in general: good concepts, terrible execution. The biggest culprit is the flashback. While it’s an excellent foreshadowing to the upcoming ending, it suffers by being yet another cheap exposition. There is tremendous grounds for character exploration and personal insight if we just see Orion Pax and Megatronus interact, instead of Ratchet explaining the whole thing like a cheap storybook. It needed a classic case of Show, Don’t Tell. While they delivered the necessary show (through beautifully colored artwork, admirably), all that it really amounted to was tell. It honestly could have held an entire episode on its own. In retrospect, the origin story wasn’t even necessary since both the five-part opening and “One Shall Fall” already pointed out Megatron and Optimus’ shared past. It’s a book end and while I adore that particular story element, it’s a wasted one at best.
Airachid is shamefully a poor man’s Starscream. Her attempts to take over leadership of the Decepticons didn’t completely come out of nowhere; “Partners” implied she was trying to up her status amongst the ranks. The thing is I can’t figure out for the life of me is her motivation. She started off as a Neutral who collected living creatures, with a general apathy to the current war. She only joined Megatron’s crew because she had no choice. Now, for some reason, she decides to jump on the bandwagon and fight for his throne. Why? What possible reasoning and purpose could she want for something she never gave a flying flip about before? There’s no indication, no background story, no nothing to push her in this direction. She does it because the plot told her to do so. Granted, I get the hint Airachid’s somehow in it for herself, but without any significant justification, this is a flimsy excuse to validate an otherwise interesting character expansion. But if she ends up being Starscream 2.0, she’s just being redundant. A for effort though.
If there is anything to look forward to, it’s Soundwave. I always thought it was a bold, but brilliant move to reduce him to a voiceless automaton who only communicates through recorded messages. With his excellent design scheme (I look forward to the day I own his toy), he comes off creepy and atmospheric. I already know he’s furiously loyal to Megatron, but he also comes across as cunning and intelligent. He remains a subtle character in a sea of bland. Also, he whooped Airachid’s spidery butt without a word; that is awesome. Too bad he didn’t kill her when he rightfully should have, before she thinks to try that again.
Unicron went down too easily, but the repercussions afterward completely makes up for it. The season finale wraps up with a genuinely surprising twist: Optimus loses his memories. Taking up his old moniker, he ends up in the Decepticon force under assumption Megatron is still his old friend, abandoning his bewildered Autobots. It’s great and pushes the desire for season two to hurry up and air already. I know Optimus will eventually return to normal, but I want to see how it happens. Please don’t let it cop out.