A mysterious creature causes Prowl, Bumblebee, and Sari to investigate. Can Bumblebee and Prowl work together despite their differences?
This is the funniest episode in Transformers Animated.
A large portion of the humor here derives from Bumblebee’s exaggerated dismay over camping. When Optimus sends him, Prowl, and Sari to investigate an energy reading in the woods, Bee is completely out of his element. A world without technology is unthinkable for him. He prattles around looking for an electric cord for his TV. He packs in media players and, for some asinine reason, a strobe light. He naively argues with the meditative Prowl because he has no concept of Earth wildlife. When the latter breaks his video player, Bumblebee belts out the most epic “NOOOO” I’ve seen anyone utter in recent memory.
Bumblebee and Prowl’s interaction is an extension of their strained relationship ten episodes back. Prowl’s attitude has significantly improved since then. Bumblebee is still the same little nuisance frivolously poking the tiger. Prowl no longer avoids or silently disrespect his teammates though; now he’s making an effort to actually open up. He doesn’t hole himself in his room after a bad day, but rather visibly expresses his feelings to Bee and Sari. When they can’t properly set up camp, Prowl helpfully starts a fire and pitches the tent before encouraging the two to learn. This also leads to a brilliantly hilarious scene of Prowl proudly posing after the tent is up, clearly showing some self-indulgence was involved. It’s even funnier when you realize he didn’t have to learn all this. What does a robot need fire for? Nothing, he did it because he can. Prowl’s entire interaction with Bumblebee is no longer hostile or apathetic. Instead, he evolves into an older brother figure (albeit a prideful one) who feels the need to lecture them.
“Nature’s Call” presents two differing viewpoints between Bumblebee and Prowl; typically a technology vs. nature debate. In the wrong hands, the result could have been nothing short of unbearable because lessons like these tend to be strictly one-sided. Who’s justified? Bumblebee’s dependence on technology is a rather uncomfortable criticism of current generation’s reliance on them. Prowl makes a point: what if we reach a time where cellphones and computers are useless? Yet Prowl is clearly biased and his viewpoint skews heavily to one side whenever he defends nature. He’s fully aware of the advantage of technology and the immense progress it has made (and he should, he’s a robot!), but he egotistically refuses to budge simply because he’s just that prissy.
Instead the episode skillfully blends the two, demonstrating neither side as right or wrong. Bumblebee puts his mechanical gifts to good use, but misuses them just as much (seriously, using directions from a video game to navigate a mine?) Prowl’s philosophy is a noble one, but not when he arrogantly forces it down others. The antagonist they face is a thematic fit: a fusion of machine and organics. The aptly named “space barnacles” is so ridiculously idiotic that it only works because the episode mimics the cheesy B-rated horror genre. It turned the Autobots into robot zombies for Pete’s sake!
It’s the proverbial middle man Sari who sets the record straight by informing the two that their team is composed of humans and robots. The message is a deviously simply one: both must work and coexist together. Hey, it’s a better moral than the tired “mankind is evil because they’re killing the environment” plot.
“Nature’s Call” is one of the best examples of character chemistry in the show. I will admit most of the amusement occurs in the first seven minutes when it’s just Prowl and Bumblebee bouncing off each other. It’s taken down a notch when the barnacle beast arrives, but never abandoned. Their opposite dynamic is essential to the story and provides a funny, engaging story.