The Autobots infiltrate Darkmount to take down its fusion cannon. Meanwhile Smokescreen tries to keep Optimus alive.
With Optimus still out of commission, Ultra Magnus leads the rest of the Autobots on a mission to take down Darkmount’s fusion cannon. “Rebellion” is an all-action episode, driven by its engaging battle choreography. Ultra Magnus is an impressive warrior and leader, able to command his crew and stay toe-to-toe with Megatron. Temporary or not, he’s a worthy successor to Optimus.
I’m a bit disappointed they got rid of Predaking so easily, but I’m convinced he’s not out of the game just yet. Shockwave’s reaction to losing his pet is great though. He silently sulks off the base – literally leaping off its walls – and confronts the Autobots. Even when the Decepticons lose he remains cool, stoically walking past falling debris like it’s no big deal. These moments really sell the creepy factor he’s got going.
“Rebellion” is decent, but it really peters out at the end by solving a couple of issues too easily and too early. I have mixed feelings on Optimus’ return. He briefly perishes despite Smokescreen’s protest and reunites with Alpha Trion in the afterlife. Alpha Trion urges Optimus to join with the Allspark, but Optimus is hesitant. It’s an interesting mentality because the episode never specifically tells you if he chooses to live or if he readily accepted it because Smokescreen brought him back with the Solus Hammer. I personally think he picked the latter; he was ready to die even if he still had ties left, but the hammer’s revival gave him the means to finish what he couldn’t accomplish: take down Megatron and end the war. His near death was an act of desperation and last minute thinking to ensure others will survive, so if he gets a second chance, then by golly, he’ll take it. I just wished the show had been patient and save this for a bit later. I feel it’s too soon to reveal something this grand and epic. Optimus’ returns also wastes Ultra Magnus’ chance to be a leader beyond just one episode. It doesn’t give the Autobots breathing ground to deal with this brief switch in command either. Hopefully with Ultra Magnus sticking around we’ll still see some reactions to him regardless, because they really missed a good opportunity to experiment here.
Optimus’ subplot isn’t as bad as Darkmount’s destruction though. The Decepticon tower was a visual symbol of how far the Autobots have lost. It signified the radical changes brought about by “Darkest Hour” and the struggles our heroes must undergo to adapt to their new situations. Four episodes later, Optimus and Fowler’s sky patrol completely obliterates the structure in a matter of seconds and dismantles all that it stood for. It was, simply put, too easy. I think I get what they were trying to do; they wanted to give the Autobots a small victory after the Cons essentially won. Jasper is still destroyed and Predaking is only handicapped, so it’s not like everything reverted back to the status quo – the Autobots just needed that sense of hope. The problem is that it destroys something so significant and game-changing that it needed to last beyond four episodes. As a result, it’s too tidy.
Also, why is the show still sticking with the “robots in disguise” shtick? What purpose does it serve at this point? It was already flimsy before, but now it’s just cheap plot convenience to fix a solution that really shouldn’t be an issue now.
What I did love was Smokescreen’s decision. He’s wanted to be Prime for so long, but when the time comes for him to act on it, he backs away. Smokescreen knows he’s too inexperienced to deal with something so prestigious. “Rebellion’s” title is more than just the war, it’s about Smokescreen defying his destiny and restoring Optimus. I don’t always agree with the narrative treating his obnoxiously bad instincts as the right choices, but I admire Smokescreen’s decisions to decline the Matrix and restore Optimus instead. It may have brought Optimus back a lot earlier than I anticipated, but it gave Smokescreen a tinge of growth and I can abide by that.
Sadly, “Rebellion” falters after the excellent opening trilogy. There are plenty of good moments and I like some of the character interpretation, but I didn’t like the cheap fixes and easy wins after the show made it clear how hard it would be to topple the Decepticons this time around.