The Autobots are still separated, but new changes among both the Autobot and Decepticon factions may lead to their salvation or their downfall.
Following the trails from the last episode, “Scattered” continues to focus on the individually separated Autobots. Since “Darkmount, NV” spotlighted Arcee and Jack, the central shift is now on Bulkhead/Miko and Raf/Bumblebee. The former governs the action portion of the episode when Wheeljack escapes Darkmount to reunite with Bulkhead and Miko. As always, he steals the show. Wheeljack pulls some legitimately crazy moves and they’re satisfying to watch. My personal favorite is when he uses the Vehicons as makeshift hoverboards. Now that’s hardcore!
Raf and Bumblebee’s story delicately balances the emotional segment of “Scattered” and it hits all the right notes. The two finally locate Ratchet, but the medic has taken refuge in a junkyard to live the rest of his life in misery. Quite an appropriate place to sulk. One of the best moments in “Darkest Hour” was the scene where Ratchet questions Optimus and his crew for destroying the only tools capable of restoring Cybertron. While Optimus sacrificed a dying planet to save Earth, I love that Ratchet criticizes it out of pure frustration. He’s annoyed that any hope they had to save their world has been swept away. The Omega keys were a once in a lifetime opportunity and the Autobots blew it. Neither Optimus nor Ratchet is right or wrong: Optimus could and should have attempted a third option, but he was so incredibly peeved at Megatron that he impulsively attacked without thinking straight. In retaliation, Ratchet openly blames his allies for screwing their planet permanently despite Earth’s immediate danger. For a show so rooted in its black and white morality, this is an exceptional shade of gray. Tellingly, never at any point in “Darkest Hour” does the narrative attempt to discredit Ratchet; his opinion—his anger— is just as justified, and he’s very sympathetic here. Beautifully, this continues in “Scattered” when Ratchet refuses to go with Bumblebee and Raf. He’s still bitter and resentful for losing the war and Cybertron, but I love that he still respects Optimus. Unless there is a commander, he has no reason to be enthusiastic. Eventually he’s back on board, but it’s a heartbreaking spectacle.
I’m digging Starscream’s new role, too. The first season was about him trying to usurp Megatron’s throne and ruling in his stead. He spends most of the time scheming only to fail and leave the Con life behind. Striking out on his own during season two yielded far worse results and really had him at its lowest point. Fortunately he managed to return to the Decepticons with dignity and proved he’s just as passionate about the Decepticon cause. I figured Starscream would revert to his backstabbing days against Megatron, but season three surprisingly adds a new goal for him to achieve while maintaining his ego and treacherous nature: competition. Sharing ranking position with the newly arrived Shockwave, Starscream jealously discovers that the one-eyed creep is constantly winning Megatron’s favor. Competently. Amusingly, Shockwave doesn’t even see the rivalry and if he did, he’d probably be indifferent. It’s great. It’s a matter of pride with Starscream; it’s always his turn on the catwalk. The only thing I still haven’t really catered to is Shockwave’s voice. It’s still fine, but he sounds robotic without reaching that proper level of stoicism. Starscream also needs to drop the Cliffjumper kill count. It’s not a funny running gag and demeans both his credibility and Cliffjumper’s death.
I’ve often complained about the dull grays and browns that consumed the backdrops of Jasper, Nevada. With the town now destroyed, new locales take its place and “Scattered” has some truly impressive scenery. I’m especially drawn to the gorgeous sunset that engulfs Arcee and Jack and the flower garden Miko and Bulkhead resides in. They’re visual eye candy.
“Scattered” is another remarkable episode, capping off with an exciting cliffhanger when both opposing factions has a surprise plan up their sleeves. Will our heroes be able to fend off Shockwave’s terrifying new pet? Will the arrival of Ultra Magnus give the Autobots the upper hand?