The show most Transformer fans love to hate
When last we saw our intrepid beast Transformers the Maximals, along with their prisoner Megatron, had boarded an Autobot shuttle they had found in the Ark and left prehistoric Earth for their home on Cybertron. What isn't known is whether or not Optimus Primal remembered to remove the spark of Decepticon Megatron from Predacon Megatron's body. What many may not know is there is a deleted scene that was cut for time issues that shows Optimus forcibly removing the spark and putting it back where it belongs thus restoring time to it's natural path. However we never know for sure if Primal did or did not remove the spark. I for one do not like loose ends.
Did Optimus put it back??
Based on some of the comments I got some people didn't like Beast Machines and some did. In my opinion it wasn't that bad of a show. When it was on back in 1999 I myself found it difficult to watch. Simply because we had moved to a new house and did not have cable yet. So there I am trying to catch every episode I possibly can through the static using old school rabbit ears. I understood the basic premise. But due to incessant signal disruption my frustration level became so high it drove me to insanity. So I finally gave up trying to watch. It wouldn't be until years later when I purchased both Beast Wars and Beast Machines that I would get the full scope of what the static had denied me. A big change for this show was the music. They opted for more of a appropriate techno style with this show rather then the usual symphonic music style. While you watch the plight of the Maximals you hear a continuous beat in the background that sounds metallic and oppressive. The show's theme was the very appropriate "Phat Planet" by LeftField.
Taking place directly after the Beast Wars on the Transformers home planet of Cybertron we find Optimus Primal and his crew, (minus Rhinox and Silverbolt,) receiving a cold reception home from strange tank and cycle transformers. Even worse they find themselves back in their original non-transmetal beast forms with something effecting their internal transformation systems. Making it impossible to transform out of beast mode. A problem that if left unchecked could prove fatal. Not to mention the fact that a planet supposedly full of robotic life forms is now devoid of life.
Second episode we learn who is behind all this. Surprise surprise it's Primal's old nemesis Megatron. This show was an answer to a question many fans might have been wondering for years: "What if Megatron won?" The answer of which took the series into a totally different direction. For it is learned through the course of the first season that while traveling through transwarp space Megatron got free and tumbled through time. Somehow he arrived on Cyberton before the Maximals. Instead of trying to rally his fellow Predacons to open warfare Megatron attacks both Maximal and Predacon alike. He develops and unleashes a virus that nearly wiped out the entire population and then removed their sparks leaving only empty bodies everywhere.
Next to fortify his position Megatron uses the empty shells as construction materials and builds his army of mindless drones he calls Vehicons. He hard wires everything from controlling his drones to the regular functions of the planet to his control harness. As soon as the Maximals catch up with Megatron they are already outnumbered.
All Hail Megatron
A problem I had with the end of the original Transformers was what the writers did to Optimus Prime. They had him become a pious zealot to the computer Vector Sigma. The same is true with his descendant. Primal from the get go is summoned underground by The Oracle. (Which Primal informs us is the computer that foretold the coming of the first Transformers to Cybertron.) From then on he occasionally gets visions, (false or otherwise,) from the Oracle throughout the series and begins to sense transformer sparks.
After a long and arduous journey underground the Maximals find and enter the Oracle. They emerge reformatted with new technorganic forms: half robotic, half organic. Their systems are purged of Megatron's virus. However their transformation out of beast mode is not as easy as saying "Maximize!" anymore. Now they must learn to transform. A task Rattrap finds very difficult at first. So now not only is Optimus Primal a prophet for the "will of the Matrix", but now he's a transformation sensei!
"Uh.. These new bodies come with a warranty?"-Rattrap
Following their reformatting the sparks of the Maximals changed to the point where they each have their own individual color. Which you see as they transform. I found it showed more of their individuality.
A major annoyance through the first season is the incessant need by the Maximals to announce "I am Transformed!" Granted the first couple episodes I can understand but for an ENTIRE SEASON?REALLY? Not to mention the fact that their robot forms contain zero guns. A fact that has been a Transformers staple for years. Another Maximal annoyance through season one was Primal thinking that The Oracle wanted the Maximals to restore Cybertron to being just an organic planet.(A fact we learn later to be false.)
Megatron finding it difficult to keep his focus on combating the Maximals, running a planet, AND ridding himself of his organic beast mode decides to grant three Vehicons sparks. Thus are born Tankor, Thrust, and Jetstorm.
Megatron's First Vehicon Generals
Either to prove how evil he is or just because he's familiar with them Megatron chooses sparks for his generals that he and Beast Wars fans are very familiar with:
The strong and aggressive Thrust had...
The Spark of Waspinator
The vicious and evil Jetstorm....
contained the Spark of the noble and galant Silverbolt
and finally. The worst blow of all by Megatron:
The slow lumbering idiot Tankor...
... contained the Spark of the gentle giant Rhinox
What they did to Rhinox was a large affront to me. He was my favorite aside from Optimus. We saw what evil he could do back in the Beast Wars episode "Dark Designs" but this was far worse. Rhinox used his knowledge for his own scheme casting a large net around both the Maximals and Megatron. Thanks to his efforts both sides would be given their own doomsday weapon to use against the other. Weapons from the history of the Transformers. His goal was to let both sides destroy one another and conquer the planet to make it pure of organic imperfections.
Rhinox and Optimus would not be the only one's finding new roles to play. Cheetor not being the youngest anymore, (once they added Nightscream to their ranks,) stepped up to become the new second in command of the team. While poor Blackarachnia would pine all season one long for her lost love Silverbolt. While newcomer Nightscream, (lone survivor of Megatron's viral blitzkrieg,)would step into Cheetor's... uh.. proverbial shoes as the youngest and most sarcastic of the group.
Then of course there's Rattrap. Going from being the best spy in the Maximals to a simple hacker and gadget maker. A step down if you ask me.
After (with the rest of his fellow Beast War survivors)
Though by the end of the series Rattrap would get his own love interest in the form of Maximal late arrival and newcomer Botanica.
"So I'm a tree hugger! Deal with it!"
During the Beast Wars some characters forms changed from one season to the next. Out of all of them Optimus had the most because his form changed with each new season. However once the Maximals are refromatted they do not change at all. Megatron however does. From the beginning he is still in his half robot half dragon body.
Megatron by season two would succeed in his separation of robot and beast. Though a side affect was that his spark stayed with the wrong form. He had built a giant ship in the shape of his head as his new technologically perfect body. It isn't named in the show but online it is called The Grand Mal. While his spark remained in the residual organic form that transformed from a gentle wolf creature to the feral dragon they named Noble and Savage respectively.
The Grand Mal
With the unwitting help of the Maximals Megatron would regain his perfect technological body and thus the war begins anew with the prize being the very sparks Megatron abducted. While inside if he needed to communicate he would create a digital version of his head using Cybertronian computer code that somewhat resembled the code from the film "The Matrix".
"Greetings, Optimus Primal."
His next form was that of just his own red spark which leaves the Grand Mal during his first attempt to merge with the Maximals sparks.
Megatron's 1st attempt at his "grand ascension"
If anything this is a new twist on the old take over the world scheme. Megatron's own organic side would confront Megatron and die causing Nightscream to blast his spark foiling his "grand ascension". Once cast out of his base the Maximals take control of the Grand Mal and the sparks of Cybertron. Megatron's spark roams Cybertron unleashing his fury by taking whatever form he can find and attacking the Maximals. That is until Rattrap figures out what's happening and traps him in a very small diagnostic drone form.
With little time to design a new form Megatron finally decides to construct for himself a new more powerful body chosen from memory not only for it's power and abilities but for it's irony. "..minus the impediment of a beast mode of course."
I was so glad this wasn't revealed until the final episode. Mostly because I was so upset about it.
Like Beast Wars before it Beast Machines stayed true to it's Transformer roots by using the Key to Vector Sigma, the Plasma Energy Chamber, a new version of the hate plague that almost destroyed the universe centuries ago, and of course visiting the old Autobot city of Iacon.
Nightscream hit by the Key Program
Beast Machines Version of the Plasma Energy Chamber
Those familiar with the chamber may remember it appearing like this in the original Transformer series:
The Forge used to build the Autobots
Season one ends with both historical artifacts given to both sides by the twisted Rhinox and used thus destroying the planet. The second season opens with Optimus Primal being summoned and chastised by the Matrix for his decisions and annoying unyielding fanaticism. After realizing his mistake Primal wants to return and make things right. Before he leaves he encounters Rhinox who tells him he has paid the price for his misdeeds, his spark will join with the Matrix, and that Primal should embrace the true nature his own spark. Upon his return Optimus absorbs both Key and Plasma energies and sends them to the only place capable of holding both: The Oracle. He saves Cybertron but true to Optimus Primal form it costs him.
Optimus himself almost joins the Matrix but exerts his own free will and leaves the Oracle. Afterward an orchard of technorganic trees sprout. Proof of the Cybertron to come. That would not be the only transformation this season.
Thanks to Blackarachnia's efforts Megatron is down not one general, but two.
Though she has her love back Silverbolt is furious at being manipulated by Megatron as well as angry at himself for his past deeds as Jetstorm. He vows to bring Megatron down. Yet Silverbolt still serves a purpose for Megatron for implanted within him is a new strain of the ancient hate plague which almost destroyed the universe centuries ago.
What's with Megatron and plagues?
Triggered by tendrils from the Grand Mal that send energy pulses into the planets surface it passed though touch, (like the original strain,) from one Maximal to the other eventually infecting them all.
Eventually the Maximals are cured but not without Silverbolt feeling used once again by Megatron whose plague served to prove a point about individual minds leading to chaos and how his way of "harmony" is better.
Botanica's arrival near the end of the second season was reminiscent of the old "race to the stasis pod" episodes of Beast Wars for the Vehicons and Maximals would be racing to meet her ship. (Which looked exactly like the Autobot shuttle the Maximals arrived in!) As a plant transformer she brought a much needed green thumb to Optimus's wilting orchard. Though upon arrival she too was effected by Megatron's virus. After her reformatting she shows she has heavy firepower!
Botanica in Robot Mode
"Time to clear out the dead wood!"
Megatron now sees his lone general Thrust outnumbered by seven Maximals. That is until he culls two additional sparks from his collection. He chooses Obsidian and Strika. The two supposed greatest generals in Transformer history. (Though I have NEVER heard of them!)
Thrust, Obsidian, and Strika
Unlike Tankor, Thrust, and Jetstorm Megatron does not reprogram them. For it has always been their function to defend Cybertron. As Optimus Primal objects to their allegiance to Megatron Obsidian replies: "Megatron is Cybertron. To defend one is to defend the other."
So the battle continues through season two until it's epic crescendo: The entire planet is deserted, Megatron shares Optimus's link with the Oracle, and has not only the abducted sparks of Cybertron but the Maximal sparks as well.
The Final Battle
In the end Megatron succeeds in merging with all of the sparks. His next step is to use the Key program on the organic core and merge his new upgraded self with the planet Cybertron. Literally remaking it in his own image. As a last ditch effort Optimus Primal sends both himself and Megatron down the abyss and begins to reformat them both just as they drop into the organic core. Megatron did want to remake Cybertron, but not like this.
The result is instantaneous. Cybertron is changed into a technoganic utopia. The Maximals are restored to their shells as are the abducted sparks of Cybertron. The Oracle tells Cheetor to transform his destiny and transcend. Thus the vision of The Oracle comes to pass.
Seeds of the Future come to fruition
A technorganic Cybertron? Everyone who's ever watched Transformers remembers Cybertron looking like this:
Or some other technological variation. The saying goes you like people for who they are, but love them for their flaws. I still watch the show despite how difficult it can be to get past them because at the end of the day it's a good show and is very entertaining.
That isn't the end however. During research for this article I learned that comic book company 3H took it upon themselves to pick up the story where it ended in Beast Machines. The story attempted to merge all aspects of the Transformer universe together into one epic story. Here are a couple of my findings:
Rattrap welcomes Trailbreaker to the reformatted Cybertron
Primal Prime: The Prime of Justice, The Living Matrix, and Emissary of the Vok
In my opinion the comic was beating a dead horse. Plus with so many inconsistencies it made it even difficult to begin to read it. The Transformers universe is just fine as is with the end of Beast Machines. Some would say good riddance. I mourn it's passing.