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Toonzone Transformers Week – BEST. EPISODE. EVER! – Beast Wars Transformers

by on June 28, 2011

BEST. EPISODE. EVER! – Beast Wars Transformers

Released on syndication in 1996 with a 52 episode run and a 26 episode sequel series Beast Machines on Fox Kids, Beast Wars introduced Transformers to a new generation.  Switching from vehicles to Earth fauna past and present, it brought out it’s own unique spin on the franchise.  The roster of both sides are much smaller which allowed the series to focus more on character development, the plot became a bit more continuous, and moreover it expanded the Transformers mythos both generations into the timeline’s future AND past.  It is a series which a lot of Transformers fans hold dear, and its impact on them and the franchise could easily be seen with the past two Fan-voted inductees to the Transformers Hall of Fame.
But alas, it is not about the series we are talking about here; it is the episodes.  Beast Wars has its share of memorable episodes throughout its run, and we here at Toonzone are going to celebrate its shining moments of awesome, with Neo Yi and Juu-kuchi’s choices for the Best Episode Ever!
And now without further ado…
Neo Yi’s Choice – “Possession”

So let me get this straight, we get an episode involving everyone’s favorite chew toy, Waspinator, possessed by the poster bot of deception, Starscream, for 22 minutes? Works for me!

Whether inserting G1 lore into Beast Wars was a brilliant move or not, “Possession” is an excellent and delightfully entertaining episode, a loving tribute to the yesteryear that expertly fit with this series’ more story driven narrative. Starscream, as per usual, steals the spotlight. Ever the crafty, overconfident clod, he manipulates both the Maximals and Predacons, steals the formers’ base, takes Blackarachnia under his (literal) wings as his protégé, and schemes to overthrow both forces for total dominance. Right from the start, Doug Parker’s performance as Starscream delivers: he’s prideful, cunning, hammy, and of course, whiny, whiny, whiny. His plans are pretty effective and for once, we may finally see Starscream succeeding.

Oops, I spoke to soon, karma comes a-knocking for the seeker. Proving he hasn’t learned anything over the years, Starscream remains cocky and sure of himself, unable to see the bigger picture and underestimating the others. Megatron suspected him from the start, Optimus Primal outsmarts him by surrendering and catering to his ego, thus giving him access to his own base (and weapons!), and Blackarachnia becomes the Starscream to Starscream himself when she blows his spark out of Waspinator (is there any other way for our favorite butt monkey to go?) in order to, what else, save her own skin. But snakes in a grass are harder to kill than roaches—Starscream’s spark flies off into the depths of space, threatening his vengeance.

There are some things that never changes. Sorry, Starscream – you’ll always be second best, but we like you that way.

Juu-kuchi’s Choice: “Code of Hero”

Dinobot’s tale in Beast Wars is a winding one rife with honor, destiny, betrayal, and redemption. After a first season where he grew to be an important member of the Maximals, he made a poor decision in the second season after succumbing to an ongoing personal struggle regarding destiny. Here he is faced with the results of his actions: strained relationships with his teammates, contemplations of suicide, and a Megatron who now knows he has the power to change the future. Dinobot, broken and even more unsure of himself, decides to ‘mitigate’ the deeds he has done, only to find his worst fears realized. Then without nary a second thought, he realizes what he can and must do. This decision will not only give him peace but at the end of it all, save the future of mankind.

This episode is truly nothing short of an exceptional product, and reeks of an attempt to be something much more than usual in Beast Wars. This can easily be noticed by the episode’s aesthetic execution. From the angles used when Dinobot is in deep contemplation, the somber melancholy score, to the charge of the lonely turncoat against impossible odds… all these facets were done with an aplomb rarely seen in cartoons of that time, never mind any Transformers properties. The script bolsters the impact by imbuing the already solid writing with a good dose of Shakespeare, right down to taking lines out of Hamlet just to make things all the more dramatic. Thanks to Scott McNeil’s elegiac and distinguished performance as Dinobot does it make such motions all the more effective and never ham-fisted. When contrasted with the arrogant and controlled madness of David Kaye’s Megatron, its impact is amplified even more so. Eventually this culminates into a memorable crescendo of violence as Dinobot embraces his destiny and finally attains redemption in not just the Maximals’ eyes but our own. It is filled with a bittersweet pathos which leaves an indelible impression, and solidifies Dinobot’s place in Transformers lore. There is so much more to say about this episode but I must resist in spoiling it. It is something which has to be experienced to fully understand why I speak of it in such high regard. In terms of aesthetics, emotion, and superlative execution, “Code of Hero” has yet to be surpassed by any one episode in the Transformers series which came after Beast Wars.

Quite frankly, I hope it never will.

Agree? Disagree?  Feel free to have at it with regards to YOUR Best Episode Ever of Beast Wars Transformers.

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