Bumblebee gets more than he can chew when he gains turbo boosters to enhance his speed.
After the heavy-handed and serious nature of the previous episode, “Nanosec” returns to a simpler and lighter format. Is it any surprise it stars Bumblebee? Always the little speed demon, Bumblebee is ecstatic when Sari brings her father’s prototype turbo boosters for him to test. Cooler heads prevail amongst the other Autobots thoguh, as each of them weighs with their concerns and disapproval for such a hasty, useless upgrade.
If this doesn’t quite reach the pinnacle of “Thrill of the Hunt”, it’s because that episode is so remarkable in comparison that it’s almost impossible to top. If anything, I think “Nanosec” is a better Bumblebee episode than “Meltdown”. For one, its key villain matches perfectly with Bumblebee’s dilemma. Nino Sexton, AKA Nanosec, is a bland and personality-free antagonist whose sole purpose is to deliver a MacGuffin and egg Bumblebee on when he gets his speed suit. This drives the little yellow maniac into fits of grandeur; in his mind if anyone should be fastest it is him, and anyone daring to challenge that will go down. Nanosec isn’t interesting, but his defeat is very questionable. When Bumblebee figures out the speed suit Nanosec wears accelerates his aging process, he races him until Nanosec is too old to run. I can’t be the only one who finds something immoral about this. Bumblebee extends this man’s life to the point of near death in order to stop him and nobody bats an eye. An average human lifespan may be a blink of a second to an Autobot, but this is horrifying.
Despite being a “Bumblebee-needs-to-learn-a-lesson” kind of plot, “Nanosec’s” Aesop isn’t what it typically would be. It doesn’t criticize Bumblebee’s bluntness and predictably force him to realize speed isn’t everything. Instead, it embraces who he is while underlining the consequences of his actions. “Nanosec’s” message is that it’s all right for him to have pride in his skills, so long as he knows how to properly channel it. The episode concludes with the Autobots in a dire situation because of a container with unstable chemicals. If they don’t remove it in time, it’ll blow up. Bumblebee remedies this by using his head to accommodate his speed, making use of his turbo boosters to send the container into the stratosphere. It’s a gorgeously animated moment of sheer tenacity, and dramatically captivating as that; we know Bumblebee will be fine, but the feeling is also there that he may not come out of the situation unscathed. Bumblee’s execution of his plan is smart and bold, exemplifying his outrageous attention-hogging personality.
In a way, this episode can be seen as opposite to “Home is Where the Spark Is”, where Prowl installed patience in Bumblebee. It’s actually not that big a contrast, though, as “Nanosec” isn’t denouncing Prowl’s philosophy to take it slow and observe instead of rushing into things. The idea here is that versatility is key, and that it doesn’t hurt to have your own style of doing things. This is further evident at the end when Bumblebee willingly decides to take his time and walk home with Sari.
This is strictly a Bumblebee episode, but Sari stands by him as his willing partner-in-crime. As insightful as she can be she’s not above youthful vices, as we saw when she previously abused her Allspark key for minor pranks with no severe outcome or for personal experiments just to see what the key can do. This episode is truly the first time Sari’s key backfires on her because of childish impulses. Sari doesn’t undergo a lesson like Bumblee does, but this will be a particular issue with her later down the line.
I will say having seen this episode again and figuring out its underlining themes, “Nanosec” comes off a lot better than I thought. As the eighth episode, it’s in a perfect spot after the previous seven build, established, and expanded the show. “Nanosec” is still fairly standard, but it dazzles with a good moral and an epic conclusion. Given this was the first episode scripted, that’s not bad at all.