PREVIOUS SEASON ONE REVIEWS:
3. Trust Exercises
4. More than Meets the Eye
6. As the Kospego Commands!
7. Collect 'Em All!
8. True Colors
9. Rumble In the Jungle
10. Can You Dig It?
11. Adventures in Bumblebee-Sitting
12. Hunting Season
13. Out of Focus
15. Even Robots Have Nightmares
16. Some Body, Any Body
17. One of Our Mini-Cons Is Missing
18. Deep Trouble
19. The Champ
20. The Trouble With Fixit
22. Similarly Different
Annnnd here's the rest of season one. I'm not sure if I'll be tackling season two with the lack of time and interest, but we'll see.
As always, SPOILERS!
“The Buzz on Windblade's” best “No Duh” quality is the eponymous character herself. Windblade's confidence could have been annoying, but it never comes across as egotistical. She's quick to quip, exhibiting a level of sass that gives her instant flair. She takes a great deal of pride in her work and chosen role, yes, but she's just as humbled when needed. Windblade apologizes and sees reason when she is criticized for her actions and is willing to work alongside others. I just really love the charm she oozes and knowing she's a permanent member by the end of season one means more of her. I am 100% okay with that.
Which is why I'm all the more disappointed that the rest of the episode had to introduce her by making the other female character, Strongarm, instantly jealous of her. It's one thing to suspect Windblade’s motives and wonder if she truly is a chosen one from Primus as she claims, it's another to emphasize that through petty behavior. There is a point in the episode where Strongarm calls Windblade out for nearly risking human lives (a justified concern within their moral structure), providing a central conflict for the two to work around, but the minute Sideswipes oggles Windblade, Strongarm is all “harumphs” and “grumble grumble she's not so perfect.” (Strongarm and Sideswipe's interaction doesn't have to be constructed as romantic and is easily something you can decipher as platonic, but having the latter swoon for Windblade while Strongarm watches in green-eyed envy is also not helping the episode's cause.)
Transformers has been very excellent with their female characters in recent years that to see Strongarm – previously the only reoccurring female protagonist (Hank only sorta counts) —act with such hostility for no good reason falls under negative stereotypes we really did not need. If anything, I think it would have made more sense for Sideswipe to be jealous of Windblade. Having this cool, new bot with great skills and a feisty edge as everyone else is enraptured would be more than enough for the oftentimes attention-grabbing dork like him to pout over. I am partially amused Windblade nicknamed him “Slick”; I feel like she's humoring the poor guy. ;D
Though if Primus ordered Windblade to protect Earth because he predicted a great threat to it, then where the heck was she when Megatron and his band of derps and oh, I don't know, Unicron, was terrorizing the planet years ago? I bet there's a story on why she was specifically chosen and with a season two confirmed, it's as good as any to explain the nitty-gritty. I love Windblade and seeing her in animated form was a real treat, but the unfortunate implication kind of killed the episode. “Battlegrounds” proves this might be a one time deal and thank goodness for that.
AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS
For my 15,678th comparison of RID2015 to Transformers Animated, "Ghost and Impostors" actually provides a contrast. Animated's bots are fascinated with Earth life in their own way: Optimus values them as people worth fighting for even if he doesn't always get them, Prowl sees the beauty of their flora and fauna, and Bumblebee and Bulkhead absorb their culture. Ratchet's the odd-bot out, but even he warms up to them fairly quickly. Bee's team could be further from the truth and I think part of that is situational. Animated's team doesn't bother with the “robots in disguise” part, so they're free to absorb and study human culture. RID's team is relegated to the junkyard and wave after wave of forest with only paltry reliance on human culture via Denny and Russell. True, Bumblebee endured the same, too, but he's had years of experience on the little blue planet to find value in it.
And it is this conflict that forces Bee to try and sway his teammates and what better than a little ol' western ghost town? Bumblebee loves cowboys. His enthusiaum is vexing to his crew, but exburant and adorable for me. This is the closest Bee gets to exhibiting the childish behavior he had in “Adventures of Bumblebee-Sitting” and the way he nerds out is relatable as all hell. Outside of that, there ain't much to the episode, though Drift pretending to be a ghost is hilarious as anything.
Also, I wonder if that shapeshifting bot is in the same league as Makeshift from Transformers Prime?
OUT OF FIVE STARS
Oh, Optimus is back.
For the majority of RID's first season, the show has taken great strides to stand out on its own in spite of being a sequel to Prime. Understandable since the show is its own thing, but the “Battlegrounds” two-parter goes out of its way to fully establish once and for all that yes, Virginia, there is a reference to Prime and the show indeed, takes place after it No ifs, ands, or buts. And it's because it refers to the last show that it sorta works against it.
Predacon Rising was meant to end an era of Primes and signify something new, something different. Optimus’ involvement in RID was to play as an infrequent spiritual mentor to Bee. There was an upcoming destiny for the guy, so his return had big hints, but it never indicated he'd be coming back to life permanently. No, that was all Optimus’ decision after Bee’s team practically beg him to stay. On the one hand, I'm not surprised: cheap deaths is an Optimus forte and RID is no exception. I should have seen this coming and as a Transformers staple, it's sound. Within context of the greater story, it reeks more than month old gym socks. I suppose Optimus can continue to play the role of mentor if needed and seeing himself as equal to Bee instead of master-student can lend a new flavor to their dynamic, but I'm having a troubling time figuring out what they can do with him.
Optimus' role in Transformers Prime was that of a tragic warrior who carried on in spite of the stacks against him. He had an especially compelling relationship with his old friend, Megatron that he tried to reach in spite of their conflicting odds. The other half is a bland, but wise mentor figure whose learned experience meant he was better off as a side character. With much of the former solved in the past, I can't help but think the latter is all he'll be here and if that's the case, what's the point of bringing him back when he's done exactly that as a semi-dead guy? Actually, there might be a way to keep his story going and in hinges on whether season two will bring Megatron back.
Last we checked up on ol' Derpy Eyes, he was brought back to life by the robot devil (but not that robot devil) who played him around like a sock puppet. This forced Megatron's heart to suddenly grow three times its size and he turned over a new leaf. Ignoring the vastly clumsy heel face turn, it does provide an interesting opportunity to visit this new Megatron and see how he's adjusted since. My concern is if RID plans to go that deep and all signs are currently pointing to a big, fat “no.”
I wish I could say “Battlegrounds” was an excellent capper to season one. As a season finale, it does. It has all the bells and whistles to end it with style: big honkin' battle for the fate of the Earth, dues ex machina transformations that gives the heroes an edge in battle (I feel like the Power Rangers theme song should have been playing during their TRON henshi-ing), and a couple of changes to shake up the status quo. I should, by all rights, be excited for this, but I wasn't and a lot of that had to do with the flimsy buildup.
Optimus Prime vs. Megatronus should have been a heart-pounding, no-holds bar brawlfest of pure awesome. Instead I was barely moved; there simply wasn't enough screentime devoted to Optimus' journey nor Megatronus' reveal other than some vague foreshadowing that he's some kind of grave threat to Earth. It also doesn't help that Megatronus is duller than dirt. He's evil and he wants to destroy Earth because...something something something. Steeljaw's a complete waste of character, too and the only hope I have is that he hasn't been caught by the Bots, meaning he still has a chance to shine. I'm somewhat relieved this didn't turn into the Optimus Prime show. He's a big figure, but RID remembered this is about Bumblebee and kept him as an integral player throughout.
I'm not going to lie: RID2015 so far has been a sad disappointment. It's a fun and oftentimes funny show with wonderful character chemistry and interaction. What development we get from the cast is frequently decent and the goofy shenanigans they get into are delightful. Unfortunately the infinitely more interesting greater arc was powerfully lacking. While it’s important to focus on Bumblebee’s team first, I wished the greater threat that loomed over season one had better pacing and sense of urgency. Optimus learning solutions that he likewise should have known isn’t urgent; it’s just obvious. Steeljaw's (possible) belief of Con persecution should have been treated with more than kid gloves; there is genuine moral discussion that could have been had. I’m not saying RID shouldn’t love its simplicity and I’m certainly not asking it to spew out philosophical rants, but its ignorance of the bigger story really harmed it, leaving behind a fairly tedious show.
I'm not particularly excited for season two right now, but I'm crossing fingers it'll grow its beard by then. I don't ever want RID to lose its sense of fun, but a little bit more focus on story and a smidge of depth would make quite the difference, me thinks.
But the show acknowledges Rescue Bots' place in the continuity and that made me so giddy. So, so giddy.
AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS
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