Transformers Prime – “Operation Bumblebee: Part 1” Episode 30 Recap
Bumblebee questions his value to the team when he loses his ability to transform.
Out of all the Autobots, Bumblebee has proven to be the most problematic character. How do you portray someone who can’t speak? Pantomime usually tends to be the answer, but Bumblebee had precious few moments in the show to rarely indicate anything outside of his mandatory kid-appeal designation. Soundwave doesn’t speak either, but he’s meant to be extremely subtle and quiet. His blank face is a visual reminder of how sneaky and off-putting he is. Bumblebee is far livelier and requires exaggerated movements and facial features to get an understanding of who he is. This time around, the animators thankfully got a good feel for his emotional behavior, as Bumblebee is brimming with personality here.
My personal favorite moment is him detailing his latest escapade with a toy car. It’s adorable.
When Silas takes the T-Cog that allows Cybertronians to transform, Bumblebee is frustrated because he can’t do anything useful. He can’t catch up because he has no vehicle mode, nor can he deploy his weapons. Every time someone talks about speed, he gestures in anger. He mourns when he witnesses Miko and Raf playing a racing game. He emotes and it’s perfection. Finally, I get a good idea of his personality. He takes things hard and mopes as if someone stole his bag of candies. His bratty tone is an appropriate fit for his younger age. Bumblebee never loses that cleverness he occasionally demonstrates; turning a pick-up truck into a makeshift skateboard was ingenious.
Part 1 of “Operation: Bumblebee” introduced some interesting character angles. For starters, Ratchet hints at his insecurities over his failure to fix Bumblebee’s voice box long ago. He tries to cover it up, but it’s clear this is bothering him. Knockout’s moment is brief, but tantalizingly sweet as he taunts Bumblebee – in vehicle mode, no less! Meanwhile, Starscream joins MECH to give them the necessary ingredients to create Energon to power their own Transformer in exchange for Energon deposits. Silas is suitably apprehensive about allying himself with yet another giant robot; the last one didn’t exactly stay for milk and cookies. It’s a good reaction and somewhat makes up for his dull attributes. At this point though, it’s to be expected that he’s not going to be anything more than a generic villain. He’s proven to be an acceptable obstacle for the heroes though, and his callous behavior and inhumane tendencies render him a consistently deadly foe. I can live with that.
All in all this episode opened up several starting points for new stories and plotlines; here’s hoping that part two more than lives up to its potential.