Megatron offers to help Isaac Sumdac build a robot for his daughter’s birthday. Unbeknownst to Sumdac, it is a secret ploy for Megatron to gain a new body and defeat the Autobots.
It was only a matter of time before someone took Sari’s misuse of the Allspark Key and turned it against her. Megatron knows how versatile the key is, and finds it insulting that a human child is chosen to guard it. Sari’s savvy nature is balanced by unwavering youthfulness and curiosity, so like any little kid with the remote control, she has a bad habit of constantly trying it out on machinery. The consequences of Sari’s impulsiveness are often dire and she always understands when she messes up, but after a certain point this gets tiring regardless of her age and maturity level. This is a life lesson Sari’s been endowed with repeatedly over the show, but never one that stuck before.
Megatron takes it upon himself to exploit this by volunteering to create a toy for Isaac Sumdac to surprise Sari with for her birthday, knowing full well that Sari will try using her key to make it more interesting. Just as planned she does and creates Soundwave, and Sari soon makes a mess of things. The more she upgrades Soundwave the bigger and smarter he gets, until finally he gains sentience and rebels against humans.
Fortunately Sari’s failure to learn from past mistakes is somewhat eased by her shining qualities, and her “Lonely Girl” schtick is handled more gracefully. The first episode established that she doesn’t make friends easily, due to an isolated background. Her frequent educator and guardian prior to the Autobots seem to be her father’s robots, which were hardly humane. The issue is brought up and elaborated on in “Sound and Fury” when Sari immediately surmises that her birthday party is a sham. All the invited kids are there out of obligation (their parents work for Sumdac’s company) and none of them are enthusiastic to get to know her. Why her loving father would confine her to this fate is a question for another day, but at least she has another companion who feels the same about the party: Bulkhead.
When Bulkhead literally crashes the party, the other Autobots try and keep the kids happy. Bulkhead takes this as cue that he screwed up bad. The two bond until Soundwave takes over Sari’s time, leaving Bulkhead to feel like a second banana. The two are driven further apart thanks to background interference from Megatron. My favorite scene here is Bulkhead lamenting his distress as he plays the little xylophone he wanted to give Sari as a gift. It’s a small, nuanced reflection of the character’s mood and really enhances his personality. Ultimately the toy itself helps them realize they had misunderstood each other, and I like that thee episode takes two separate character arcs and develops them through their interaction. The pair really come off richer for it.
Soundwave’s motivation is a bit iffy though. Once he gains sentience, he suddenly denounces humans and plots a robot revolution. He does eventually justify a reason at the end: Sari’s treatment of Bulkhead caused him to conclude that humans consider machines inferior, forcing him to revolt. It’s not unwarranted because there are thousands of robots roaming around Detroit built for public service, but I wish there had been specific moments where we see Soundwave reflecting on his personal feelings of Sari and then slowly registering the difference between humans and robots. The lack of that harms his motivation and makes his actions abrupt. For that matter, how did Bulkhead know Soundwave was evil? He barely suspected him at first, while an interrupted phone call is enough for him to somehow deduce things later. It’s a stretch. All in all, Sari and Bulkhead’s time together is handled fantastically, but Soundwave’s subplot is lacking.