Bulkhead’s near-demise forces an angry Miko to seek vengeance with Wheeljack.
Last episode promptly teased the audiences by ending on a cliffhanger and leaving Bulkhead’s fate uncertain. “Toxicity” spent the entire half-hour building up his bond with Miko and I thought it was great. They set it in stone and I personally believe that in order to do these emotions justice, Bulkhead has to die. What I got was a smidge different. He’s not alive in the strictest sense, but he’s not offline either. Instead, for better or worse, Bulkhead is in a coma for who knows how long. On a technical side, this gives Bulkhead the option to come back if he wants to pull a big hero moment later in the series. Another possibility is that they’ll keep dragging the string and extend his life before he bites it for real. Personally, I am not thrilled. Bulkhead suffered both physical abuse by a raging Insecticon and a deadly poison, but he endured so he could return to Miko. It’s poignant, heartfelt, and ultimately had the underlining of tragedy. While I can’t in good conscience say it wasn’t without consequences, I do feel cheated. It’s like they had to do something to justify “Toxicity” but without the risk, hence the coma. This is especially annoying because Ratchet tells Miko he may not fully functional when he wakes up. Well, if that’s the case, why don’t they just kill him? What’s the point? It’s cheap and I’m disappointed. Bulkhead fell, but he had a safety net.
Thankfully, I can acknowledge that Miko and Wheeljack’s reactions work. They pull off exactly what I expected them to: vengeance. They’re both impulsive people who are dominated by an “act before you think” mantra. There’s an instant, likable rapport between these two rule breakers. Despite shaky grounds, they comfort one another in their own ways. If the consequences of “Toxicity” are thrown out the window, their quest for vengeance mostly makes up for it.
The heart of “Hurt” is Miko’s anger and guilt for Bulkhead’s current situation. Wheeljack plays an unfamiliar, conscientious role, trying to shield the poor girl from doing something she may regret. Ultimately Miko is the one who kills Hardshell (hardly a loss; he’s a bland, disposable character), but at a price. “Hurt” dives in and emphasizes that for all the bravado she put forth, killing Hardshell solves nothing; she is still distraught and doesn’t feel any better. Revenge isn’t going to bring Bulkhead back to normal. It’s almost hard to see this Miko as the same spunky kid from season one. Along with “Tunnel Vision”, season two is doing a great job maturing Miko. Is this the start of her loss of innocence? Will this dramatically change her character as she is forced to realize giant alien robots aren’t as peachy as television usually portrays them? I guess we’ll see, but I like the current path Miko is headed. Wheeljack’s exit is a bit callous, but it works for his character. Here’s hoping we get more of a reaction from him in future offerings.
Megatron eventually gets the news that Hardshell died under human hands, and he’s surprised. I imagine Jack, Raf, and especially Miko are officially in his enemy list now. Knock Out is still the most amusing character. He’s just as vain and spoiled, but he now seems a great deal more agitated. Most of his ire is directed towards the Insecticons, but I’m still holding out hope that he’ll get some depth from his possible insanity. On another front I also love that Wheeljack constantly praises Ratchet’s skills, indicating the two are on better terms than last time. I do have a minor bone to pick with Optimus Prime passively standing around while Wheeljack runs off willy-nilly. He knows he’s pulling something stupid, but he doesn’t send anyone to keep an eye on him?
This is a great episode for its starring characters, but I felt it a poor choice to leave Bulkhead alive because everything that culminated to this point is all for naught. I guess Bulkhead fans will appreciate the potential second chance he may get, but it rang hollow to me. “Hurt” is still an amazing episode despite that, though. The revenge story is layered perfectly and the lesson is learned without it feeling shoehorned in.