The battle for the Allspark is on! It’s Autobots versus Decepticons as they duke it out to save the world!
Last episode ended with a riveting cliffhanger when Megatron gained a new body, spelling trouble for Optimus’ crew. Now Megatron has two tasks to accomplish: get the Allspark and take back Cybertron for the Decepticons. The Cons have proven to be an indomitable force, to the point that even one of them provides a challenge for our heroes. Now with three on the rampage – one of whom is the Decepticon leader – their goose is pretty darn cooked.
The first episode gave us a good impression of Megatron as a deadly, but subtle foe. Oh, he still has plenty of rough moments. He bellows inspirational speeches. He deals more damage from his pinkie than any Autobot. He’s so unrelenting that tall tales and legends exaggerate his cruelty. Megatron thinks the Decepticons are struggling, underrepresented freedom fighters desperately fighting for their home, but he achieves his goals through wanton violence and intimidation. He’s horribly one-sided, too, caring only for his kind and little else, let alone those squishy fleshling humans. Megatron is really, really strong. At the same time he is also smart, dangerously so in fact.
Megatron’s lack of a body during season one diminishes none of his craftiness. Megatron is exceptionally cunning, clandestinely improvising plans and manipulating his surroundings to accomplish his goals; there’s none of that hammy, brash nonsense here. Sometimes he dabbles in the dramatic, but for the most part he speaks sensibly. I especially love the way he treats his fellow Cons. Blitzwing and Lugnut may be lackeys, but closer inspection reveals how he values his crew. He doesn’t threaten them if they fail a mission, nor does he resort to insults or name calling. No wonder they’re so loyal to him. Starscream is a vast exception and Megatron easily figures out what to do with him minutes after gaining a new body: murder the snake. I’m not a fan of villains who keeps their henchmen around despite threatening to exterminate them or otherwise do away with their repeated failures. There’s usually no valid reason why they keep them around, they just do. It denounces the villain’s credibility and they look like idiots afterwards. That’s not the case here. The second Megatron has an opportunity, he nails Starscream. No excuses, no hesitation, no weak justification to keep him around. Starscream just dies. There’s no excuse for keeping a backstabber around and Megatron knows it. Megatron is exactly the kind of baddie I admire because he is a terrifying combination of brawn and brain. He’s scarily competent.
“Megatron Rising, Part Two” is all action. Every scene is explosive and dynamic. The animators really pulled all the stops on this one and we’re treated to an array of amazing battle scenes that hasn’t been matched since “Transform and Roll Out.” The Autobots are all geared up, knowing they might not make it. It’s all or nothing. I love how the season finale bookends everything from the first episode, right down to its final battle taking place in the Autobot spaceship.
Impressively, it still finds enough space to squeeze in hints that tease you with more questions. The biggest is Sari’s connection to the Allspark. What is it trying to tell her? Why was she chosen? What is Ratchet’s connection to Teletran-1, the Autobot ship? It was first hinted in “Lost and Found” that Ratchet has a greater connection and sentimentality to the ship than the other Autobots. While “Megatron Rising” doesn’t reveal anything, it does emphasize it when he’s the one piloting the thing. Not to mention that the Allspark key seems to have done something to Starscream. Transformers Animated is exceptional with its foreshadowing and I really appreciate how nondescript it is. The show don’t throw it at your face, but there’s just enough for you to realize the story is up to something.
As always, the heart of the show is the Autobot’s growing camaraderie. Throughout the season, the main characters confronted each other and their own personal flaws, forcing them to confront their issues. They’ve formed friendships and close bonds. After Optimus apologizes for his actions from last episode, he commands justly. Every obstacle they’ve encountered—whether it be bad guys or their inner demons—only made them stronger. They’re a fully functional team. Even Isaac Sumdac and Sari lend a hand. None of this would have worked if season one hadn’t done an admirable job with its cast. It’s only fitting that a band of underdogs is taking on the most powerful figure alive in order to protect the most sacred Cybertronian artifact.
“Megatron Rising” is still my favorite Transformers Animated season finale. I think my only disappointment is that the Dinobots didn’t get to join the battle. Also, Blackarachnia’s scene is useless; it’s like she’s only there to let the audience know she exists. I also wished Sari’s brief resentment against the Autobots had a better resolution than simply rejoining the group with no hard feelings. But these are minor mishaps in what is otherwise a fantastic conclusion. With a little tweaking, I could easily accept this as the series finale. It’s immensely satisfying.