Transformers Prime - "Scrapheap" Recap
“The Autobots must deal with a deadly infestation of Scraplets.”
The first six episodes were tied together with an overarching story. “Scrapheap” is the first standalone, filler episode. The Autobots retrieve a huge frozen pod from the Antarctic with no knowledge of its true origin. They wait for the surrounding ice to melt, unaware that they’re unintentionally setting a trap for themselves. The container inside houses the dreaded Scraplets: tiny, parasitic machine drones that eat any metal, especially living metal. Numbered in the thousands, this causes widespread panic among the Autobots.
The premise seems to pay homage to the horror genre. The minute the Scraplets spread and hide among the Autobot base, the robots are paranoid and on high alert. With urging from their human companions, they reluctantly attempt to terminate them. The Autobots anticipate, but never know when the Scraplets will pop out. They hide in corners and lurk in the shadows. At one point, the entire base blacks out to ramp up the tension. It only increases their fear. When they do make their entrance, the Scraplets aggressively bare their teeth and immediately swarm over the Autobots. It didn’t register right away, but it soon dawned on me that these creatures are eating the Autobots alive. They’re essentially dying a slow, but very painful death, fully aware of how helpless the situation is. All they can do is tumble over and scream bloody murder until there’s nothing left. Suddenly, this episode got a lot more disturbing. The animation really did a topnotch job portraying this. Watching the Autobots cry out in anguish and pain from the surrounding Scraplets is nightmarish.
The human kids and Ratchet gets some good exposure here. The children wisely decide to take advantage of their fleshy forms to combat the menace and help the Autobots instead of uselessly standing on the sideline. Ratchet constantly preaches human inferiority, but when push comes to shove, he begrudgingly accepts the trio’s help. He slowly respects their determination and the ending resonates more when he relies and trust them to fix up the base because he’s too injured to do it himself. It’s a small and gradual character development.
They should have taken out the subplot with Arcee and Optimus Prime though. While the rest of the Autobots are fighting the Scraplets, these two volunteer to go back to Antarctica to find any clues on what the pod holds. Their action proves pointless because the mystery is instantly solved two minutes later. The duo traveled for nothing and they end up doing nothing, slowly freezing to death until the other Autobots rescue them. They were both better off in the main plot. “Scrapheap” is the kind of episode where a full ensemble cast would have worked best. I wanted to know how the calm and wise leader, Optimus and the serious, but sarcastic Arcee would have reacted to the Scraplets.
I also think they missed a good opportunity to squeeze in a potential plot with Raf. He’s the one who discovers the Scraplets first. When he meets one of them, he instantly bonds and treats it like a pet. Imagine the dilemma if much of the episode had him befriending the Scraplet. When the same creature attacks his buddy Bumblebee, the emotional residue would have magnified tenfold as Raf must struggle to choose between his “pet” and his best friend. The scene where Raf smashes it with a crowbar would have been much more effective.
It’s a decent episode that offers a nice touch of horror and some character development, but it’s not something I’d watch repeatedly. In the end, it all boils down as mindless entertainment until the next big event occurs.