IT IS THE YEAR 2005

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:22 pm

The story of how the IDW comics came to depict Arcee as both trans and gay is kind of fascinating but pretty messy.

It started early in the IDW run, where everything was rebooted and everyone was getting a new origin story. Writer Simon Furman decided to address Arcee's role as the token lady Transformer by explaining that Cybertronians are, by default, genderless, but a mad scientist turned Arcee into a female-gendered Cybertronian and caused her to freak out and become homicidal.

It was, as the kids say, problematic.

Subsequently, Furman left the series and a new group of writers were brought on for a soft relaunch they called "Phase Two". The main three writers were John Barber, James Roberts, and Mairghread Scott. Scott wrote a pretty good blog post about the Furman story, why it was offensive, and how she and the other two writers intended to address it.

All three writers introduced a number of new female Transformers (explaining that the reason we'd never seen them before is that none of them were from Cybertron, they were all from other planets that Cybertronians had colonized millions of years earlier, unbeknownst to the current generations of Cybertron).

Barber took Arcee's origin and massaged it into something less jaw-droppingly misguided. Arcee is trans; it was her choice to transition; and while she was subsequently tortured by a mad scientist, that's not the reason she identifies as female.

Barber still depicted her as something of a violent loner, to start with -- the Snake-Eyes of the group -- but one of the major character arcs over the course of his run was having her open up. She meets Aileron, a Transformer from the planet Caminus, where the Primes are literally worshipped as gods. Aileron is religious and naive; over the course of the series she and Arcee each sort of become a little more like the other. Aileron learns a few painful lessons about the world -- such as, Optimus Prime isn't a god, he's just a guy -- while Arcee learns to open up, trust people, and become part of the community rather than an outsider. And then eventually

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Anyway there was a big continuity reset after that and the Transformers/MLP crossover isn't canon anyway (it opens by gently making fun of fans trying to figure out where crossovers are supposed to fit into continuity), but between Arcee flirting with Rarity in Transformers/MLP and having a female partner in Transformers Galaxies (not Aileron this time, somebody new named Greenlight), it would appear that Arcee liking the ladies is one piece of continuity that has survived the latest reboot.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Friday » Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:36 pm

I clicked on Scott's profile and at the top it's Starscream looking into the camera while smug because she's a Starscream fangirl because is it even possible to be a female transformers fan and not want to marry Starscream?

I mean I'm not even a fan and I want to marry Starscream

I really don't understand his appeal its fucking weird

"traitorous smugboy" should not light up the part of my brain that says "wow so cool so dreamy" but somehow it does
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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby beatbandito » Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:47 pm

Starscream is ambitious and motivated, but probably wont outhink or beat you in a fight. He's perfect.
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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:17 pm

Friday wrote:I clicked on Scott's profile and at the top it's Starscream looking into the camera while smug because she's a Starscream fangirl because is it even possible to be a female transformers fan and not want to marry Starscream?


That's a reblog of a poster named transformers-fangirl, but the image on the right is from a comic Scott wrote (Till All Are One #2, art by Sara Pitre-Durocher, colors by Priscilla Tramontano).

I mean I'm not even a fan and I want to marry Starscream

I really don't understand his appeal its fucking weird

"traitorous smugboy" should not light up the part of my brain that says "wow so cool so dreamy" but somehow it does


Scott gave Starscream some real depth and complexity in Till All Are One. He's struggling between his ambition and his ego and his desire to be something better, to really do good in the world. He's the President of Cybertron at this point -- and, it should go without saying, got there through deceit and murder -- and now he's torn between his natural desire to hold onto power by any means necessary and to actually be a good leader who makes a difference to his people.

(He's probably also nagged by the realization that his ego has gotten in the way of his desires; in particular, Megatron turned himself in, was prepared to accept whatever judgement the Cybertronian justice system rendered against him, but then Starscream had to stand up at his trial and do a bunch of self-serving grandstanding, which pissed Megatron off enough that he changed his mind and cited an obscure provision of ancient Cybertronian law that allowed him to request an appeal to the Knights of Cybertron and go shuffle off into another comic book to join Rodimus's crew looking for the Knights. Megatron is, at this point in the story, free and having adventures in space entirely because Starscream didn't have the self-control to shut the fuck up and take the win.)

Starscream's also got a couple angels on his shoulder pressuring him to do the right thing. There's Windblade, who's recently become an important figure in Cybertronian leadership as a representative from Caminus and a city-speaker (ie the only person who can communicate with Metroplex) and, through a series of misadventures, winds up inside his mind and sees there really is a part of him that wants to be better. Starscream is also haunted by the ghost of Bumblebee, acting as his conscience and constantly nudging him to do the right thing instead of being such a bastard all the time. Starscream thinks Bumblebee is a figment of his imagination but it turns out later he actually isn't; he somehow got trapped on some other plane of existence and is able to communicate with Starscream but nobody else.

Scott said that her template for Starscream is that he's the victim of an abusive relationship. I don't think she meant to imply any kind of romantic connection between him and Megatron, but the result is similar: Starscream has trust issues because he's been mistreated.

Till All Are One builds to a climax where Starscream is running for re-election against Windblade and Elita-One. And then he goes up on the debate stage and confesses. To everything. The murders, the double-dealing, all his crimes. The series ends with Windblade as President of Cybertron and Starscream in prison.

Barber finished up the storyline in the Unicron miniseries, which ends with Starscream sacrificing himself to defeat Unicron, whining the whole time that he's never going to get the credit he deserves -- and then, in the epilogue, a recently-resurrected Bumblebee is seen conversing with Starscream's ghost.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Friday » Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:05 pm

Barber finished up the storyline in the Unicron miniseries, which ends with Starscream sacrificing himself to defeat Unicron, whining the whole time that he's never going to get the credit he deserves -- and then, in the epilogue, a recently-resurrected Bumblebee is seen conversing with Starscream's ghost.


Wait, let me get this straight, and forgive me if my canon is wrong here, because I saw this shit a long time ago and like I said, while I enjoy the occasional Transformer I would not really call myself a fan.

So in the original, Generation 1 timeline/universe, Starscream's ghost/immortal spark shows up in Beast Wars to possess Waspinator and feeds the Predacons a line of bullshit about how he sacrificed himself to destroy Unicron in order to get the Preds to trust him, when in fact of course he dumped Megatron out the side of a spaceship, took over, and was subsequently vaporized by Megs when he came back as Galvatron. (Here's a hint!)

The fact that they made Starscream's bullshit lie into how he actually goes out now is fantastic.
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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:15 pm

I haven't watched that episode of Beast Wars in probably more than 20 years so I'd forgotten that detail, but well-spotted; that is a great callback.

Speaking of Beast Wars, I haven't even gotten into Rattrap's role in this story, which is basically as Starscream's Starscream, the slimy, amoral lackey who does his dirty work while not-so-secretly plotting against him -- though it turns out that's because he's one of the good guys after all, and has been sent by Optimus to keep an eye on him. Starscream occasionally laments Rattrap's lack of ambition in never trying to betray and overthrow him.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Tue Feb 02, 2021 12:34 pm

Oh hey, new Beast Wars comic out tomorrow. From the preview, it kicks off right before the beginning of the first episode. (Potentially NSFW link: there's some Vampirella cosplay in the sidebar.)

Solid work by Burcham designing Cybertronian forms for Terrorsaur, Dinobot, Scorponok, Tarantulas, and Waspinator while keeping them all recognizable.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:33 pm

#1 wound up being pretty good. Very little divergence from the original story so far; the only significant change is that there are two new female characters, Nyx (bat, Maximal) and Skold (snapping turtle, Predacon) so that it's not an all-male cast in the beginning before Blackarachnia shows up. There are a couple interviews in the backmatter saying that the storyline will diverge more as it goes on, and the example they give is that Dinobot's defection will be handled differently. They said their template is Marvel's Ultimate universe, which I assume means at some point in the second arc Inferno will attack Waspinator with a can of Raid.

(Nitpick: how come Megatron gets to have a "before Beast Wars" name -- he's Galavar at the beginning of the story but takes the name of Megatron as he absconds with the Golden Disk -- but Rhinox, Rattrap, Cheetor, and Waspinator all have their animal-themed names before they get their animal forms?)

There's also no reference yet to the Axalon's secret mission (transporting Rampage), but the show didn't introduce that element until deep into season 2, so I expect they'll get to that eventually, if the series runs long enough.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Mon Feb 15, 2021 1:09 pm

The more I think about it, the more I think "Ultimate version" is the way to go if you're going to do Beast Wars.

The thing of it is, it's a complete story, with a beginning, middle, and end. So there are only two choices: fit into existing continuity, or don't.

The thing about fitting into existing continuity is that it means telling stories that feel like they don't matter; they can't contribute to the main story in any way. There have been Beast Wars comics before, and they've settled on "there's this other group of Maximals and Predacons that the main characters don't know about." And the thing is that I can't remember really anything about them, except they were written by Simon Furman so Grimlock was in them.

Transformers gets rebooted too damn much, but what the hell, this one's got some promise.

What I'd *really* like to see is what happens after the end of Beast Machines, where things go on Cybertron after it's terraformed, with both Optimus and Megatron dead and Cheetor in the role of Rodimus, the younger, more impetuous leader. Beast Machines made a lot of decisions I disagreed with, but its ending left some interesting ideas for a followup that never came.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:22 pm

Further thoughts on what I'd like to see in the comic:

Do something more interesting with Scorponok and Terrorsaur. In the TV series, they just got unceremoniously killed off at the beginning of season 2, largely because they'd become redundant by that point. Scorponok was the dumb sycophant and largely became redundant once Inferno joined the team, and Terrorsaur was the schemer plotting to overthrow Megatron, which became more of Tarantulas's thing as the series went on. Maybe the comic can find better roles for them, or at least better deaths.

Speaking of Tarantulas, I'd like to see more of the backstory on him and the Tripredacus Council and the various machinations involved there. Given that the new series starts off, page 1, with the Tripredacus Council, I expect we'll be seeing more of that angle.

And it'd be nice to get to know just who the Vok are, what their deal is, what their motivations and goals are. I remember reading that, if the series had gotten picked up for season 4, DiTillio and Forward were planning on spending more time on Tigerhawk, and whether or not they could still be trusted after their capture and transformation by the Vok (rather than just kill them off an episode or two after their first appearance as Tigerhawk). It'd be interesting to get into some of that in the comic, but that's a long way out if they ever get there; at this point the comic's just about gotten as far as the first commercial break of the first episode.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Sat Mar 13, 2021 6:31 pm

I've been rewatching Beast Wars and the most distracting element is, what the fuck is up with the geography on this show?

The Maximals are located in a plains region with a waterfall. The Predacons are somewhere nearby, surrounded by lava. Both camps are close to Stonehenge, and maybe a few hours' travel from an icy, mountainous region populated by white tigers, and at the end of season 2 they find the spot where the Ark crash-landed, which is in Colorado. The Maximals make their base there in season 3, and it doesn't appear to be any farther away from the Predacon base than their last location was.

So it amuses me to open up Beast Wars #2 and it opens with Rhinox saying, "I don't think the sensors are as functional as I'd like, because with everything I'm seeing... ...I mean, this planet makes no sense. It's a patchwork world. Biomes that shouldn't coexist side-by-side do..."

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Tue Apr 20, 2021 2:23 pm

One of the things that the Beast Wars comic has done a really good job on is take a look at the cartoon series as a whole and introduce and reinforce big themes and plot points earlier. The Tripredacus Council shows up right in issue #1, and then #2 introduces the Vok. #3 finally gets around to Dinobot's defection, but does it in a much more dramatic and satisfying way than the cartoon did.

In the cartoon, Dinobot challenges Megatron just because he thinks he'd be the better leader; his ejection from the Predacon base is straight-up Looney Tunes slapstick.

In the comic, he defects because the other Predacons are torturing a prisoner. And then he takes them all on singlehandedly and triggers a security lockdown to trap them in their ship while he escapes. It's a sequence that perfectly encapsulates Dinobot's character and his priorities and foreshadows how he's eventually going to meet his end, standing alone against the Predacons to protect the defenseless.

It's a string of really good character moments -- we've got Tarantulas as mad scientist gleefully devising creative ways of harming people. Nyx, one of our new characters, gets a Moment of Badass when, under torture, she tells Megatron, "Okay! I'll tell you what you need to know." Then says, "History barely remembers the original Megatron. It won't remember you at all."

Then we get a solid character moment from Megatron, who completely loses his composure at that insult, Dinobot gets his big face-turn in and rescues her while speechifying about honor, and we learn a little bit more about the other new character, Skold.

All in all, the series so far has done a really good job of introducing major plot threads earlier while also remembering that character is key and foregrounding it.

A couple of threads that haven't been introduced yet but I'd be interested in seeing the comic expand on:

Rampage. He was a retcon introduced in season 2 of the series; the Axalon wasn't *really* the scientific exploration vessel it had originally been depicted as, it was secretly transporting a dangerous prisoner.

There's no sign of that element at all in the comic, as yet; indeed, Optimus seems like a much more carefree leader in the comic, and so far, at least, there's no indication that the Axalon was anything other than what it appeared. Optimus is the very picture of a guy who was on a boring science mission but wanted adventure and excitement, and (so far, at least) is thrilled that that's what he's gotten.

So I'm curious what the comic will do with Rampage, if it even gets that far. I wouldn't be surprised if they changed his origin. Or another possibility is that he was onboard, just like in the cartoon, but in this version Optimus didn't know about him -- maybe Rhinox was the only bot who had clearance for that kind of sensitive information. He seems to be taking this whole thing a lot more seriously than the rest of the team.

Another mystery the show introduced but never really expanded on: what's Tarantulas's deal? Who is he really?

Season 3 of the cartoon had him betray the Predacons and (IIRC) try to alter the timeline by destroying the original Megatron. He comments that, while this would erase the other Predacons from existence, it wouldn't affect him, because he and the Tripredacus Council have a different origin.

Precisely what this origin *is* is never spelled out, though after Tarantulas dies Megatron refers to him as "Unicron's spawn". It's unclear whether he means that Tarantulas was literally created by Unicron or whether this is just the Cybertronian equivalent of "son of a bitch". I'd be interested in seeing this thread get developed more in the comic, find out more about Tarantulas as a spy for the Tripredacus Council, just what the Council's real goals are, etc.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Fri Jun 04, 2021 12:04 pm

Thad wrote:So I'm curious what the comic will do with Rampage, if it even gets that far. I wouldn't be surprised if they changed his origin. Or another possibility is that he was onboard, just like in the cartoon, but in this version Optimus didn't know about him -- maybe Rhinox was the only bot who had clearance for that kind of sensitive information. He seems to be taking this whole thing a lot more seriously than the rest of the team.

In #4, Cheetor discovers that somebody on the Axalon sent a message to the Predacon leadership on Cybertron right before they went through the transwarp portal, and then tried to delete the evidence. Rhinox tells him not to worry about it. So yeah I'd say my "Rhinox is the only person on the ship who knows one of the pods they're carrying is a prison holding a violent, indestructible Predacon" theory is looking pretty good.

There's also a good bit where Dinobot tells Nyx he was able to track her because his beast mode has a strong sense of smell. I watched "Dark Voyage" the other day, the episode where the Maximals are blinded, and Dinobot keeps doom-and-glooming about how they're helpless and headed toward an ignominious end, and Rattrap keeps telling him to shut up and listen to Rhinox. And it struck me that that felt backwards; I bet if that script had been written later in the series, they would have swapped those roles out. Rattrap should be the guy whining "we're all gonna die" and Dinobot should be the one insisting a warrior like himself doesn't need to be able to see to take out a couple of Predacons.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Friday » Fri Jun 04, 2021 6:14 pm

I'll say this for the Beast Wars cartoon: Even though it's been like almost two decades since I saw an actual episode, I can still perfectly hear Rattrap's whiny, "we're all gonna die" voice and Dinobot's low gravely one telling him to shut up.

Oh, and Megatron's smugness.

Curious to see if they'll do the "Starscream's ghost comes back (through time!) and takes over Waspinator, lies to everyone" episode in the comic.
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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Fri Jun 04, 2021 7:52 pm

Friday wrote:I'll say this for the Beast Wars cartoon: Even though it's been like almost two decades since I saw an actual episode, I can still perfectly hear Rattrap's whiny, "we're all gonna die" voice and Dinobot's low gravely one telling him to shut up.

And they're both the same guy!

Oh, and Megatron's smugness.

Mentioned this when I listened to it, but there's a great episode of Rob Paulsen's podcast where he interviews David Kaye, and Kaye does the Hamlet soliloquy as Megatron.

(Though if anyone in that show is Hamlet, it's obviously Dinobot; let's be real here.)

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby mharr » Fri Jun 04, 2021 11:33 pm


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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:00 pm

Stepping, for the moment, from Beast Wars over to the main Transformers series:

So okay. IDW rebooted its Transformers continuity back in 2019. The guy writing it now is Brian Ruckley. And what's impressed me most about his work is how he's set the story at the very beginning of the Autobot/Decepticon war but still managed to make the new continuity feel lived-in, even ancient. He's given us tantalizing hints about what's come before -- the Age of Expansion, the war against Exarchon and the Threefold Spark, the Great Generals Strika and Pyra Magna, the Nominus Edict, Termagax and the Ascenticons. Ruckley wisely chooses to begin the story at the beginning, with Megatron's coup, Sentinel Prime's assassination, and Orion Pax's ascension to become Optimus Prime, but also does a deft job at establishing these tensions have been brewing for a long time.

It's all rather better put-together than the 2005 continuity, which kicked off on present-day Earth, ran for a few years under Simon Furman, and eventually got kicked over to John Barber, James Roberts, and Mairghread Scott, who changed things pretty substantially and also (with Chris Metzen, Flint Dille, and Livio Ramondelli) filled in the story of how the war first started.

One thing Ruckley's done that I have mixed feelings about is he's made Megatron less sympathetic and Optimus more sympathetic than in the previous IDW universe. I think that's probably the right call -- and making Megatron an expansionist, equating colonialism with villainy, is an excellent touch -- but man, what the 2005 continuity (and Roberts's More than Meets the Eye/Lost Light series in particular) did with Megatron made him an incredibly compelling character. And, among other things, it made his revolution just; in that version, we see that pre-war Cybertron was dystopian, and we even see a "what if Megatron never existed?" parallel universe and it is clearly and unambiguously worse. Megatron started out as the good guy but then went too far. I loved that depiction. (Optimus as a wartime leader who doesn't know how to handle peacetime and turns out to be kind of a fuckup once the war's over was interesting too, though it didn't grab me as much as Megatron.) I'm kinda sorry to lose that nuance and shading in the new continuity. But I still really like what Ruckley et al are doing.

He's also done a good job with representation. I don't think we're quite up to female Transformers making up 50% of the cast, but there are more of them than I've ever seen in any previous iteration of the franchise. And I appreciate how it jabs me in my assumptions -- every so often, I'll run across a "she" or a "her" referring to a character I just assumed was male, and that's good, the book should do that. "Default male", while a reasonable assumption in previous Transformers series, is a good habit to unlearn. And on the art side, it's nice to have female Transformers who don't have obvious gender signifiers like being pink or having red lips or inexplicable robot titties.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Thu Jun 17, 2021 5:30 pm

And back to Beast Wars. The cartoon series this time.

Man, "Possession" is weird. It's a one-off episode that doesn't matter at all to the series arc and if you miss it you won't miss any important plot developments -- and yet, it's the deepest the show delves into G1 continuity at least until they find the Ark at the end of season 2. I mean, don't get me wrong, if there's one dangling thread at the end of the original Transformers series that really needed a followup, it's definitely "Starscream is a ghost now and he's going around possessing other Decepticons." But honest to God, who except the most hardcore fans even remembered that in 1997? Who is even the audience for this episode? People who've been watching Transformers reruns on The Sci-Fi Channel?

Don't get me wrong, it's a great episode -- maybe the best of the ones that weren't part of the main series arc. But it's amazing to me that it got made.

Moving on:

Season 1 also swings around wildly in terms of the age group it's supposed to be targeting. The aptly-named "The Low Road" ends with Rhinox defeating the Predacons with a giant fart. Three episodes later, the season finale ends with Optimus Primal exploding.

And it's surprising how long he stays dead! I remembered him coming back pretty quickly, but it's actually 3 episodes into season 2 before his resurrection. (Not as long as Optimus Prime, granted, but the difference is that Hasbro/Sunbow meant for Prime to stay dead and only backpedaled after backlash from the audience, whereas Hasbro/Mainframe always intended for Primal to come back.)

And man, the change from season 1 to 2 is pretty striking. Season 1 was largely episodic (whole lot of "Predacon infects Maximal with some kind of virus that makes him malfunction" plots), but season 2 really has its arc planned out from the very beginning. The Coming of the Fuzors, Part 1 (the second episode of season 2) spells out what the stakes of the season arc are; it doesn't actually say they're on prehistoric Earth and Megatron wants to change history, but they spell it out in terms so clear even Waspinator can understand them. ("One moon now? Hmmmm...those markings. Hn! Wazzzzpinator knows!")

And then Dinobot steals the Golden Disks and
Thad wrote:(Though if anyone in that show is Hamlet, it's obviously Dinobot; let's be real here.)
and he straight-up delivers a soliloquy that starts with "To be or not to be, that is the question."

But it really sets up his arc for the remainder of the season, his doubts of his own identity, the question of whether free will exists. He's got a historical record, from the future, and he realizes that means one of two things: either the future cannot be changed, in which case free will is a myth, or it can be changed, in which case the Golden Disks and their knowledge of the future are an incalculably powerful weapon, but one that can only be used once -- because once you change the future, everything after that diversion point is useless.

(Dinobot neglects possibility 3 -- that the timeline obeys Back to the Future rules and if you change the future, the contents of any artifacts you have from the future will also change to reflect the new timeline. In which case the Golden Disks' record of the future would work for repeated use. Sloppy, Dinobot.)

And of course all this builds to Dinobot's final soliloquy, in Code of Hero: he gets his answer, learns that the future can be changed -- but that, ironically, he has no choice in what he must do; his fate is sealed not by the records on the Golden Disks, but by his own sense of honor and duty.

But I've still got a ways to go before I get there. In the meantime, man, the western pastiche in Coming of the Fuzors makes for a couple of my favorite sequences in the series. Like this one (start 1 minute in):


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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Büge » Fri Jun 18, 2021 3:29 pm

Thad wrote:And then Dinobot steals the Golden Disks and
Thad wrote:(Though if anyone in that show is Hamlet, it's obviously Dinobot; let's be real here.)
and he straight-up delivers a soliloquy that starts with "To be or not to be, that is the question."

But it really sets up his arc for the remainder of the season, his doubts of his own identity, the question of whether free will exists. He's got a historical record, from the future, and he realizes that means one of two things: either the future cannot be changed, in which case free will is a myth, or it can be changed, in which case the Golden Disks and their knowledge of the future are an incalculably powerful weapon, but one that can only be used once -- because once you change the future, everything after that diversion point is useless.

(Dinobot neglects possibility 3 -- that the timeline obeys Back to the Future rules and if you change the future, the contents of any artifacts you have from the future will also change to reflect the new timeline. In which case the Golden Disks' record of the future would work for repeated use. Sloppy, Dinobot.)

And of course all this builds to Dinobot's final soliloquy, in Code of Hero: he gets his answer, learns that the future can be changed -- but that, ironically, he has no choice in what he must do; his fate is sealed not by the records on the Golden Disks, but by his own sense of honor and duty.


He even has Hamlet's analysis paralysis.
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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Sun Jun 20, 2021 6:54 pm

For all that I've praised the long-term planning on Dinobot's arc, I always felt like Maximal, No More felt abrupt and unearned. Watching it again, I still do.

It's not that the show hasn't laid the groundwork for Dinobot questioning whether he really belongs with the Maximals -- it's certainly done that, in spades. And it's not that it hasn't introduced the idea that he's seriously questioning himself and his place in the world after learning about the Golden Disks, because it's done that too. But I don't think it quite does its job in convincing me that this is enough to make him not only go back to Megatron, but give him back the Golden Disk. Especially since he changes his mind, again, by the end of the half-hour.

I think there are two problems here. One is that his arc needs maybe one more episode to breathe, to establish just how distraught he is. Another is that the writers are still playing coy and not coming right out and saying "we're on prehistoric Earth and Megatron is planning to change the future so that the Decepticons win the war." I don't much see the point of that, really -- yes, it's supposed to be a Big Dramatic Reveal when it finally comes, but the problem is that it's foreshadowed strongly and obviously and it's not really like they're hiding it, the characters all just awkwardly talk around it.

Here's how I'd fix it; here's how I'd set it up so that Dinobot's heel turn feels more natural:

Silverbolt asks what Cybertron is like. He's the new guy, the goofy kid; he's never seen Cybertron and of course he's curious.

Dinobot describes an apartheid state. Predacons treated as second-class citizens, not allowed to participate in society, harassed, disenfranchised, and mistrusted all because of something their ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

Rattrap shoots his mouth off, because of course he does. The Preds deserve it; Maximals mistrust them because you can't trust 'em.

Argument ensues; it gets heated. But it's not butting heads with Rattrap that puts Dinobot over the edge; that's just Tuesday. The part that really tears it for him is when all the other Maximals back Rattrap up; even Optimus interjects with something to the effect that while Rattrap's being a jerk about it he still has a point, Predacons are dangerous and they need to be kept in check.

Dinobot storms off. He gets another soliloquy, about his place in the world, and about how he joined Megatron because he thought his cause was just, and how the Maximals will never understand what it's like to be oppressed. Reluctantly, he decides that Megatron is the lesser evil after all, and goes back to help him free Predacon-kind.

The rest of the story can either proceed more-or-less the same way as the existing version -- but maybe stretch it out to a two-parter, give us more time to see what Dinobot's thinking and why he's making the decisions he is -- and end with Megatron ordering him to kill Rattrap and Dinobot finally refusing. Or maybe even have it lead directly into Code of Hero; Dinobot's still down with Megatron's plan right up until he realizes it's going to involve the slaughter of innocents. Code of Hero proceeds as before; Dinobot summons the Maximals for help but knows they can't make it in time, and holds off the Predacons singlehandedly until they can get there, finally destroying the Golden Disk with the last of his strength.

Or even skip all this and Dinobot doesn't rejoin the Predacons at all; either he never steals the Golden Disk in the first place, or Megatron manages to steal it back without Dinobot handing it right to him. (Or Dinobot only successfully takes one of the two Golden Disks, the Vok disk, and never gets his hands on the original disk that Megatron stole from Cybertron.)

Anyhow, just some thoughts on a story beat that always felt kinda half-baked in an otherwise excellent arc.

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