Saturday, March 28, 2009

Transformers: Headmasters – "Planet Cybertron Is In Grave Danger, Part One"

Zarak: Lord Galvatron, will you complete the plan at all costs?
Galvatron: Do you always have to be against me?
Zarak: There's no guarantee the miracle alloy can be created. It's irrational to steal it from Cybertron.
Galvatron: Are you telling me what to do?
Zarak: No, but I don't want to make sacrifices in vain.
Galvatron: I decide if it's in vain! Get ready!

The first multi-episode arc since the series opener arrives in form of quite a game-changer, if one incorporates its story elements into the overall fabric of the animated G1 mythos. At least the writers graciously decided not reveal the ending of the episode in its very title as they often do!

The opening narration explains how peace currently reigns on Cybertron while in its depths Vector Sigma makes an alarming discovery of its own. We see its own factory begin to create something new and then find that Soundblaster and his cassettes, Rumble, Ravage and Buzzsaw, have been spying on Vector Sigma during all of this. Soundblaster reports back to Galvatron that the "mother computer" has developed Cybertonuron, a substance even stronger than Cybertronium. As expected, Galvatron has dreams of using this new compound to fashion a weapon which will lay waste to the Autobots (seen in static shots of him with a giant sword). Almost simultaneously, Twincast learns of this element as well and alerts Rodimus.

This spurns the plot in motion, carried forward by the idea presented in "Four Warriors From Outer Space" how Vector Sigma is a neutral force in the world of the Transformers, maintaining a balance between good and evil by letting both gain the same knowledge. We see Zarak, though still kept in the shadows at this point, question Galvatron's plan, wondering if the "miracle alloy" can actually be created. However, the Decepticon leader cannot be swayed and sends the Predacons to Cybertron as an advance team. Meanwhile, Zarak speaks with his Headmasters, noting he is unsure about this plan and for them to be mindful of getting involved. This ongoing subplot of pitting Zarak and Galvatron against each other is one of the more engaging aspects of this series, as the viewer gets the sense that Zarak could gain leadership at any time and thus only feigns allegiance until ready.

There are two other nice subplots in this episode, one which highlights Chromedome's propensity for rash action, without consideration. It is first commented on for the purpose of a laugh, but later by Fort Max, who tries to caution Chromedome against being so hot-headed, as the young Headmaster rushes off to Earth. The other subplot is Sixshot warning Zarak that he will be exiled by Galvatron, if the latter does indeed gain control of the Cybertonuron. It solidifies this unstable element within the Decepticon ranks consisting of these outsiders from Planet Master, who wish to not be counted among the loyal troops, but rather seen as independent. In the previous episode, the Decepticon Headmasters simply refused to help Cyclonus and Scourge at all in investigating the six mysterious shadows on Earth, even though it did simply turn out to be Sixshot.

Galvatron briefly visits Earth to retrieve the Stunticons and Combaticons, then proceeds with his assault on Cybertron. Interestingly, Fort Max and Rodimus have a similar discussion to what we heard from Zarak and Galvatron, disagreeing about the feasibility of this alloy and advising against sending in troops. Zarak and Fort Max both seem to be two sides of the same coin, both outsiders on their respective sides and thus able to express a more objective view of the conflict. It again presents the "new guard vs. old guard" aspect of this series, as those who have been removed from the war for millions of years are now able to question it from a different perspective and eventually steer it in new directions.

The siege on Cybertron continues, complete with combiners in conflict, although the animation is not quite up to par as seen in the similar sequence in "Four Warriors from Outer Space", with too many static shots as opposed to actual animated movement. After arriving with Fort Max, Rodimus and Galvatron fight, but Rodimus is overpowered. Before dealing the finishing strike, Galvatron is alerted by Soundblaster that the equation for the alloy has been completed and Vector Sigma will start production any moment.

Meanwhile, the Headmasters are all locked in combat with each other, after Chromedome again proved his impetuous behavior by rushing from Earth to Cybertron (along with Hardhead) before anyone else. Fort Max wants to evacuate Rodimus, now buried under rubble by Galvatron, while the rest of the planet is engaged in battle. The last moments of the episode focus on Zarak, who is now skulking in the depths of Cybertron. His concern is not so much gaining control of the Cybertonuron as it is the possibility the Decepticons will lose this battle and the Autobots will become invincible with the alloy in their possession. He calls his Headmaster team away from the battle and lets them know this, deciding that his only option is to destroy both Vector Sigma and the planet itself. He assigns Mindwipe, Skullcruncher and Weirdwolf with placing three explosive devices, though Zarak promises they will time to escape.

Next time we find out if Zarak's terrible plan succeeds!


Jimtron said...

I hadn't considered the Fort Max / Zarak symmetry in this way before. Excellent analysis!

Brian said...

Thanks much!

Zobovor said...

Strange how even though the Headmasters series ignored the events of "The Rebirth," they still seem to be paralleling some elements from the story (i.e., Vector Sigma allowing the Decepticons to gain access to its resources, Galvatron and Zarak constantly butting heads).

Unknown said...

Apparently - according to the liner notes from the Japanese Pioneer DVD release of Headmasters, I think? - the Japanese writers were drawing on some ideas that came from American scripts in these early episodes. In an episode or two, Headmasters introduces plasma energy into the mix, too (sans chamber).