Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Transformers: Headmasters – "Head On, Fortress Maximus!"

Fortress: There it is.
Hardhead: Eh?
Fortress: The plant originates from the Planet Darhos. It's a carnivorous species.
Hardhead: A carnivorous plant from the Planet Darhos?
Chromedome: What's it doing on Earth?
Hardhead: Don't you see? It was brought by the Decepticons.
Chromedome: Oh...I see, yes. I was just thinking that, too.
Hardhead: Keep up!

As this episode begins, we find Fortress, Chromedome and their fellow Headmasters patrolling the galaxy and debating whether or not to attack the Decepticons while Galvatron is missing, presumed dead. Meanwhile on Earth, what seems to be an earthquake disturbing San Francisco actually reveals itself to be a giant man-eating plant. This aspect is soon confirmed as we see the green, tentacled mass devour manned helicopters and cop cars.

In response to this new bizarre threat, Ultra Magnus sends the Technobots, Trainbots and Arielbots to help, but once they arrive in San Francisco they are met by Bruticus and Menasor. This type of crisis followed by an ambush obviously is reminiscent of last episode's situation, so it must be that Zarak is behind it all. A pitched battle ensues, including one between Bruticus and Raiden, both wielding lightsaber-esque energy swords. Ultra Magnus watches from Autobot City and wonders if he should request reinforcements.

A quick transition to the Headmasters' battleship shows him in contact with them, after which Fortress realizes he might be familiar with this type of carnivorous plant. It originates from a planet called Darhos and had to have been placed purposely on Earth by the Decepticons, prompting Fortress to race towards Earth.

Strangely enough, the episode then turns to Athenia, as Daniel tends to his garden and Wheelie needles him about it. The plant Daniel states he brought from Earth has not yet broken forth from the ground, so he continues to tend to it. Suddenly something does burst from the soil, looking nothing like the picture on the seed package. We the viewer recognize it as a smaller version of the monstrous plant attacking San Francisco, but for Daniel and Wheelie it is a mystery.

We then rejoin the nicely animated action in an evacuated San Francisco, as the Autobot Headmasters arrive, jumping in to take down that plant and being taunted by the Decepticon Headmasters, newly on the scene as well. The plant itself even bursts forth from its concrete cocoon to stride through the city. On Athenia, Spike investigates their new denizen, which proceeds to chase them down and attack the base. He reaches the same conclusion about the plant's origin as Fortress and that Daniel was used to transport the seeds, as it were. During their transmissions, they lose contact with Fortress as his battleship is assaulted by the immense plant.

And so at the time when Fortress is being completely beaten, is when both Fortress Maximus and the Master Sword make their appearance, in a wonderfully animated sequence that will be used in subsequent episodes. Fortress is at first hesitant to draw forth the Master Sword but the peril is real and when he does, he and the massive battleship combine into the mighty Fortress Maximus, much to the surprise of the Decepticons, even Zarak, who watches from Chaar. The Japanese animated series have a well-known penchant for lengthy, elaborate transformation sequences, showcasing all sides of the character and each stage, which is then repeated when needed later. The only downside is that these can sometimes seem more like filler, when the time could be better spent on story and dialogue.

With the Master Sword in hand, Maximus easily dispatches of the monster plant. On Chaar, Zarak and Soundblaster are amazed, but Zarak is mostly unconcerned, still confident that his transtector under construction will be more than a match for Maximus. Meanwhile, on Athenia, the marauding plant seemed to share a link with its match on Earth and explodes as well.

Hardhead (to Fortress Maximus): Commander?
Fortress: Is everyone safe?
Highbrow: Very clever, Commander. You never told us you could grow so huge.
Fortress: Well, I did have my reasons. Let's get back to Athenia!

Even though this episode centers on another of Zarak's plots to distract the Autobots from his still unfinished transtector using a crisis on Earth, I think it holds up better than then previous episode involving the Peruvian volcano. There are some exciting action sequences in San Francisco with the combiners and Headmasters, recalling similar city-based action sequences found in season two of the US series. I can't explain the appearance of lightsabers for both Bruticus and Raiden, however, although a similar weapon showed up in Transformers: The Movie, used by Megatron. Let's just say they decided to add surprises to their personal arsenals!

The duplicate plant threat on Athenia works as good counterpoint, a miniature version of what occurs on Earth. Daniel's character shows some growth in his willingness to be accountable for what he perceives to be his mistake and take action by striking against the plant on Athenia. It's of course not an effective counterattack, I mean, he only carries a big stick and that thing eats children for breakfast, but regardless I much preferred this Daniel who shows some strength to the version that bawled in earlier episodes.

And we do finally witness Fortress Maximus revealed and in command. If I recall correctly, his transform sequences is repeated often later with little variation, but at least it's a fun one to watch!

Next time out, to quote Schwarzenegger, "Get your ass to Mars!"

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