Megatron digs deep into Starscream’s mind to evaluate his true loyalties.
Clip shows are hard to write for. What is one, other than a glorified thirty minute recap? Somehow, Transformer Prime’s second season slapped in two of them, one of which is completely abysmal. While “Grill” resolved the fake Optimus issue from a previous episode, its true purpose was to advertise the show and its characters. No matter what it justifies, it will always strike me as nothing but a poorly disguised half hour commercial. Luckily, “Patch” is far better simply because it isn’t trying to cheaply validate its plot to endorse the toy line. Instead it uses the clips to analyze and study a chief antagonist of Transformers Prime: Starscream.
Honestly, it doesn’t reveal anything new that we didn’t already know about Starscream. What we essentially get is his Greatest Hits as Megatron nitpicks his deeds and emphasizes why he’s a backstabbing snake. If all that information is old hat, their interaction makes up for it. Megatron and Starscream react appropriately: the former is assertive and sporting a no-nonsense attitude, the latter is simpering but stubborn. Things are helped along by Starscream’s comical gestures and dramatic reactions. When they’re not fighting, every character in the show tends to wave their arms in whatever manner they feel like because rather than the animators keeping them still. Every single time, I find myself thinking “What normal people flaps their arms around like that?” Starscream is just as much of a victim of this but when the animators go all out to actually make appropriate expressions, he is all the better for it. Everything works here: the energetic flinches when he tries to explain himself to Megatron, the oddly adorable puppy dog face he constantly makes, and in my favorite moment a look back at his victory dance when he temporarily takes over as leader of the Decepticons. It’s like watching dorky poetry in motion.
There is one key moment here that sparked my interest. Around the final stretch, Megatron hounds Starscream for leaving the Cons when he logically didn’t have to. Starscream counters with an excellent rebuttal; he left because he was mistreated despite honestly striving to be Megatron’s humble second-in-command after his near death. It was an eye opener that could have changed if Starscream hadn’t misheard and Megatron had been more forgiving. It was a serious case of miscommunication and lingering pride. Throughout season two, Starscream tried in vain to be his own Bot and utterly failed at every turn. Tired of this, he returns to the one faction that previously disgusted him. The question is, why go back?
I theorize it’s a combination of familiarity and a matter of swallowing pride long enough to return so that he can once again subvert Megatron’s rule from the inside. Outside of the Decepticons, the only place Starscream could join is its opposite faction—the Autobots. The problem is neither one of them treats him with any decency. Should they? No, absolutely not. However, rewatch season one’s “Partners”. The moral lesson Optimus spouts is that anyone—Starscream included—should be given a second chance if they seek redemption. At that point, Starscream was at such a low point that he was willing to join the Autobots, if only to bitterly strike back against the Con’s oppression. Arcee screwed up and aggressively pounced him, realizing too late that she scared away a potentially valuable ally. Here’s the kicker, though: at no point after do the Autobots attempt to take Starscream back or treat him with respect. He’s dirt to them whenever they meet, including moments when Starscream wasn’t being antagonistic and sometimes was physically handicapped. The Autobots preach love and redemption but they hypocritically only apply it to themselves, so why should he go back to them? This is why I think Starscream returned to Megatron. After numerous blunders, he gave the keys to him as yet another petty act to denounce the Autobots for their failure to uphold their own moral codes. I’m not saying they should have taken Starscream (I predict it would have been a brief, vitriolic team up at best) and his actions are just as reprehensible, but he mocks them because their perceived “superiority” disgusts him even more than what the Cons did to him. After all, the Decepticons may be manipulative and violent, but at least they’re honest about it. So Starscream willingly begs to return to familiar territory for him, though this is also a sign that he believes in the Decepticon cause.
I feel this will eventually resort to Status Quo, but I’m not complaining since it’s inevitable. Starscream may bow before Megatron to stroke his ego, but I bet he’ll go back to his scheming ways. He now has the comfort and the necessary resources needed to try and fail all over again. It’s sad, but conventional and it’s something he can understand. Welcome back, Starscream.
Starscream’s not the only one who gets a chance to shine. Knock Out is interrogated when Megatron discovers he, too succumbed to backstabbing syndrome in order to climb ranks. I don’t know if the plot will go anywhere with this, but I am confident someone else’s will: Dreadwing. He finally finds out what happened to his twin brother and when Megatron tells Starscream to keep mum about it, he is devastated. His loyalties are unshakable, but only Skyquake truly cracks his barrier. Now that Megatron has dismissed his twin, will this finally be the kick Dreadwing needs to leave the Decepticons?
The only issue I have with this episode is the rushed ending. The entire half hour basically amounts to Megatron confirming Starscream’s betrayal so when he invites him back, it feels like a slap in the face. His reasons about unification is just an insulting and throwaway remark that demeans his villainy because he couldn’t end Starscream for the 15,868th time. Otherwise, “Patch” is perfect and an example of a clip show I can get behind.