Transformers Prime - "Out Of His Head" Recap
“Bumblebee keeps hearing a voice in his head. Little does he realize it’s Megatron himself!”
Continuing from the previous episode, “Out of His Head” opens with Bumblebee realizing everything isn’t quite right inside his mind, unaware that Megatron is trying to gradually infiltrate his brain. Unlike Soundwave, Bumblebee is a harder character to grasp; his voiceless role does him a disservice because his gestures and gimmick isn’t as straightforward as Soundwave’s. There are precious few moments to establish his trait as the young rookie with much to learn, but that’s the default for many of the incarnations of Bumblebee. At times he’ll pull off a youthful exuberance, but his personality is hard to pinpoint.
This makes Bumblebee’s relationship with Raf difficult to deduce.
Bulkhead and Miko’s friendship is the result of similar interests and a matching rambunctious personality. The cautious Jack compliments Arcee’s strict sense of duty; she’s someone who’d rather guard than get personal. Raf and Bumblebee get along by default. He understands Bumblebee’s bizarre speech pattern, but that’s it. There isn’t anything to it—it’s just there. Fortunately, “Out of His Head” attempts to remedy it. With a large family, Raf is the runt who often gets shafted. Having a giant robot to himself in secrecy gives him something over his siblings, not to mention someone who will give him the attention that he seeks. Raf’s loyalty becomes even more poignant when he risks his life to save his friend from Megatron’s grasp. I enjoy the idea that the shy, unassuming boy will unexpectedly leap in headfirst without question when push comes to shove. It’s a satisfying and efficient portrayal of his character.
The other interesting point is Megatron’s return after a relatively short nine episodes, with mixed results. He immediately takes charge after he recovers and thrashes Starscream for even daring to step into his shoes, as well as trying to kill Optimus Prime; his massive ego would never allow anyone to have that particular honor. Unfortunately, his recovery is too quick. Having him awaken at the tail end of season one would have been a killer bookend, and given Starscream breathing room to establish his place as a temporary leader before Megatron steps in to forcefully strip him of that position. Thematically this would have been appropriate, but instead there’s almost no risk taken. It’s as if the creators feared the lack of Megatron would push viewers away.
By contrast, Transformers Animated took a gamble by severely cutting the screen time of Decepticons in its first season despite their significance to the both the show and the franchise, especially Megatron, who spent the better portion of season one as a head. Whether fans liked it or not, it was a calculated strategy that worked to the Decepticon’s advantage. By forcing the Autobots to overcome feeble human foes who were hardly worthy adversaries, the devastating power of the Decepticons was emphasized when they did appear. It was a deliberate attempt by the writers to play them to their strengths, and their return was glorious and satisfying. By the time Megatron arrived by season’s end they had already left their mark, but Megatron added insult to injury by wiping the floor with the Autobots when he made his anticipated and inevitable comeback. But Transformers Prime plays it too safe doesn’t offer as much dramatic impact. Maybe it’s just as well; Starscream’s plans to gain Energon by melting the entire polar ice caps just borders on 80s villain cliché.
“Out of His Head” lacks the intensity and the hold-your-breath sensation of “Sick Mind”, but the overall bond between Raf and Bumblebee more than makes up for it. Megatron’s return is premature, but at least he arrives in a blaze of glory. He may be an aggressive beast, but he’s also effective.