TV Shows: "Titans Return" Episode 2 Review
Title: Our Heroes Respond
Air Date: November 14, 2017
"Titans Return" is the follow up to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. Posted on the Go90 platform. You can download the app via Google Play or iTunes. The episode was also made available to view online.
Summary (from Go90:
The Transformers are forced into action after the gigantic and destructive Titan Trypticon returns to wreak havoc on Cybertron. At the Primal Basilica, Perceptor proposes a daring plan to resurrect an ancient ally, while Mistress of Flame orders an all-out assault on the brutal lizard-like Titan.
Review (SPOILERS AHEAD):
This is a strange episode. With a title like "Our Heroes Respond" you would imagine that there would be wall to wall battles against Trypticon/Starscream but instead there is a lot of talking and in general the pacing is glacial. I cannot help but think back to the Generation One episode "Five Faces of Darkness" Part 5 which showed Trypticon on his first major combat mission. Within the span of about 4-5 minutes, Trypticon is introduced, takes out a pile of Autobots, transforms and then proceeds to destroy the Ark. Here, Trypticon's one battle sequence is extremely short, with him taking out four Seeker jets and that's it. We spend the rest of the episode seeing various characters just chatting or worrying. This deflates the sense of urgency the episode is trying to project.
The other major issue I had with this episode is how desolate Cybertron continues to be. Now, to give credit where it is due, Metroplex tells the citizens of the city to run for safety and they are sort of "off screen" so at least it is acknowledged that someone inhabits the city. However, we never get any hint of them visually. No generic vehicles or shapes driving away or running away. Not even dramatic stills of Cybertronians running (Anime has made use of this device for years to save money and heighten drama). If I am to believe that Cybertronians are in danger, show them to me so I can have some empathy for them.
What compounds this is the complete lack of defense forces on Cybertron. I don't just mean individual robots fighting. The animators have some generic shapes I'm sure they could have created like cannons on buildings or something to blast away at Trypticon. If he tore those apart it would demonstrate how potent of a threat he is. Showing four Seekers taking him on may have been intended to show us how powerful he was, but I never thought they stood a chance to begin with. But let's say the Seekers were the main force to take on Trypticon. From a cost perspective, they have the Starscream model so the could replicate it in different colors. Why not have a whole armada of them? If there had been, say, a dozen of them or more blasting away at Trypticon and he managed to take them all down that would have escalated the scale of the battle significantly. It would have also given the Titan a reason to transform into his Nemesis mode to blow the jets out of the sky.
I was also confused by a few points. Let's start with Hot Rod. What is he doing exactly? He gave up the Matrix so he can...drive around Cybertron alone? And he says he'll think of something to help but then vanishes the rest of the episode. Meanwhile the Mistress of the Flame seems...well, useless. Other than asking the Elites to fight Trypticon she seems to have no other tactical abilities or knowledge. How did she become leader? I'm not saying it's not plausible. Maybe she's a great politician? But we did not see that in "Combiner Wars" or here so I am just left confounded that she's in a leadership role at all. Indeed, it is Perceptor who comes up with a good idea, not her. Also, Metroplex mentions he needs to repair himself...but from what exactly? Did Starscream damage him in "Combiner Wars"? Was he damaged before then? I'm confused as to why Metroplex needs fixing when he was dormant until recently and only awoke to smoosh Starscream with his giant hand.
Okay, so I have to stop the criticism train here and say that I did not hate this episode. In fact, there were parts I really enjoyed. I really liked the interaction between Perceptor and Windblade. Perceptor is clearly the "absent minded professor" who would rather be in a lab than a battlefield, but he does not hesitate to join Windblade when she asks. He also seems fascinated by everything around him which is fun. I also really like Windblade's personality here much more than her original appearance in "Combiner Wars". She seems eager to get things done but also respectful of the others around her (and even protective of Metroplex). I also enjoyed the Seeker battle with Trypticon. It was big, dramatic and fun even if very short lived.
- Good voice work all around, and the sound processing was much better this time. Everyone was clear and easy to understand. Some of the voice choices are taking getting used to (such as Metroplex's soft tone) but I loves me some Trypticon roaring!
- The color palette of this show really works as a pseudo-continuation of Generation One. A lot of the bright, rainbow colors and the way many buildings are lit up at the edges if very "80's" in design and I think it looks great.
- I would argue that the "Prime Wars" cartoons are a very soft continuation of G1. Among the Seeker jets it appeared that Skywarp and Thundercracker were in the mix, both of whom should be reformatted (via "Transformers: The Movie") at this point. Of course, if this follows some G1 hybrid continuity like "Beast Wars" did, all bets are off.
- The designs of the Seeker jet modes seem largely based on the Classics sculpt that was used for figures like Starscream and Skywarp.
- Perceptor's examination of the sample he took is interesting and suggests a possible clue as to Starscream's immortal Spark.
There are definitely parts of this episode that are very enjoyable. The battle scenes, the voice acting, the production design is all great. Where the episode suffers are some logic/motivation issues with characters and the pacing. With Metroplex closing in on Trypticon I hope the next episode picks up a bit.