”It’s not about the bread.”
“No, it’s about the internal combustion.”
Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.
Yeah, I don’t really care about Christmas.
There’s nothing wrong with Christmas. Look beyond the cynical commercialism and obnoxiousness of it all (Christmas songs can all go to hell) and I can dig the message it’s sending: be good to your fellow men, peace and love for everyone, and celebrate the joys with friends and family. etc etc. They’re lovely memos to pass on and I by no means will crash another person’s enthusiasm with this holiday, but I’ve always retained a lukewarm feel to the whole thing. I think it’s the overabundance of sentimentality that does me in. Cutesy and/or heartwarming shit isn’t something I avoid and I’ve made it pretty clear I can gush over adorable nonsense before (I will never not love happy, playful puppies), but Christmas’ plethora of tenderness is too much for me to handle. Call me a coldhearted woman if you must, but I’ve never been a touchy-feely person, so all of this is just mush to me.So forgive me if “The Riders of Midwinter” doesn’t exactly fill me with good tidings. For a time, the Burns and Bots assume the same of Mrs. Needlelander, too.
It’s retrospectively amusing to watch this episode for the first time after constant observations of the badassery this woman possess in latter season three episodes. She does visibly react to a pile of logs on top of her car with her inside, but as per usual, she shrugs it off and demonizes our heroes (although she has a point, was no one watching the bonfire logs?) Suffering under her demerits for too long, the family has had enough of Neelelander's crap and finally complains about it. They donh't say that to her face because Charlie is sensible enough to know better and keep his kids and the Bots quiet, but even he shares their exasperation.
Mrs. Needlelander proves she’s more than meets the—nope, not going to say it, this franchise has abused that phrase one too many times already. *ahem* Mrs. Needlelander is the secret Midwinter Rider and has been for the past 49 years, leaving bread in every door. Leaving aside the physical impossibility of this, it’s probably the only time we’ll ever see a calm Mrs. Needlelander, but how smart is it that she covered her tracks so easily through a grumpy exterior. It took me a while to realize she was the Rider; the woman did a damn good job hiding it.
“The Riders of Midwinter” is Christmas in name only. The creators made up a holiday specific to this town and for all intents and purposes, it works. It’s got all the bells and whistles to qualify it as an annual holiday special that the network can air come December, but the history behind Midwinter gives it that nice Griffin Rock touch. It elaborates on the little island the Bots call home and emphasizes why it’s such an important place to protect by "Rise of the Heroes." Griffin Rock isn’t going to dethrone Springfield for most memorable town, but events like these give it a life of its own. Somehow, Rescue Bots really sell the idea that these breads have a genuine measure of attachment to these folks. I especially love the individual reactions of the holiday from each bot, especially Boulder’s. He’s the one who gets the heart of Midwinter while the rest only kinda sorta gets it. It definitely fits with his empathetic nature.
But god, I could have done without that cheesy song. I don’t particularly care for any of the songs Rescue Bots punches out. Outside of that ridiculously catchy western in "The Island of Misfit Tech", they’ve all been secondhand embarrassment for me. “Light Up The Fire” doesn’t do it for me either, though I am surprised the show went for country music. I don’t know, when I think Rescue Bots, I don’t think country music. Hmm, now I’m rethinking that desire to have a Rescue Bots musical. …Oh hell, I still want it. I would love to hear Chase sing.
There is one horrifically sad theory a friend shared with me. I questioned why the Autobots were so clueless about the holidays. Do Cybertronians not have cultural celebrations and festivities of their own? She then pointed out that perhaps the war had gone on so long that the Rescue Bots simply were not aware of it. Maybe they’ve read history, I don’t know, but since we don’t know how old these guys are they could very well have been born or been exposed to the attitudes of a war torn world for so long that concepts like the holidays are not familiar territories for them. Man, that’s depressing. Griffin Rock is doing them a lot of damn good.
“The Rider of Midwinter” is typical of its kind, spreading the same Christmassy jargon that's been shoved up out asses for decades. It’s competent in its own right and sincere in its effort though. I can’t say I felt anything and I’m obviously biased, but my final scores are based on how good the episode is and not necessarily how much I like it, so four stars it is.
OUT OF FIVE STARS