Spoiler Review Of Netflix War For Cybertron Siege Episode 1
Now that the weekend is over, we are starting our spoiler filled reviews of the recently released Netflix series, War for Cybertron Siege. Read on for episode 1!
The episode starts off with about a dozen of the seekers flying into a barrage of laser fire over a city on Cybertron. Two of them are shot down and one crashes right near where Wheeljack and Bumblebee are hiding in an impact crater. Paying homage to how the original Transformers series started out, Bumblebee and Wheeljack are out looking for energon. This time however, Bumblebee isn’t an Autobot but a paid energon scout that chastises Wheeljack for his lack of stealth. They avoid a seeker, could be Skywarp but could also be a random seeker, investigating the wreckage of his friend, and then they proceed onward.
There is one neat moment in this scene where they get to a dead end, and Wheeljack sensing a trap pulls his blaster on Bumblebee saying. “I don’t like dead ends kid.” This is of course forgotten a moment later when Bumblebee opens up a hatch to a large Space Bridge facility with tanks of Energon.
Of course Wheeljack being Wheeljack, he activates the Bridge despite Bumblebee yelling at him for doing it. And just as Bumblebee predicted, he summons every seeker right to them. At this point our heroes are scanned for identification, Bumblebee comes up unknown, but Wheeljack is flagged as an Autobot and collaborator of Optimus Prime. Starscream wants to kill them immediately, but Jetfire, who leads the seekers, for some reason cuts off his hand. You wonder as the viewer if he does this as some sort of secret Autobot spy in the con ranks, but he isn’t. He just hates Starscream and doesn’t let him overstep his authority. Starscream then convinces the other seekers to shoot Jetfire for treason, and in the resulting chaos of the fight the prisoners escape and run right into Megatron.
Megatron, I should mention is written very inconsistently. Half the time he is this noble former slave that led an uprising against his oppressors, and the rest of the time he is an evil psycho whenever ever the plot needs him to be. At this point though, he is the noble leader that tells the cons not to shoot Wheeljack and Bumblebee because this war started as an uprising not a genocide, and that they needed to win their hearts and minds. He then makes a pretty convincing plea to Wheeljack to join his cause to help end this long civil war. However, Wheeljack gives him the famous quote, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” Megatron then calls Bumblebee a coward for not picking a side. He orders them both to be shot as he walks away.
Right as they are about to be shot, Optimus Prime, in true stereotypical fashion crashes in the scene in alt mode knocking over a few seekers and belts out the worst ever, “Let them go!”. Megatron turns around and confronts Prime. They have a nice little argument over the war, where Megatron blames Prime and his kind for Megatron’s kind being forced to work in mines or gladiator pits for their entire lives. Optimus then tells him that Alpha Trion would be ashamed of him, to which Megatron replies, “Of us both, I think.” Megatron offers Prime a chance to accept his treaty, to which Optimus vehemently declines.
They then begin a fight to the death, and we learn that Megatron was the one that killed Alpha Trion. This fight is very one sided as its very clear that Megatron way out classes Optimus Prime. The entire fight, Optimus doesn’t even get a hit in. Megatron is about to finish him off with his sword, but suddenly, sniper blasts coming from Elita One stop him. Megatron sends the seekers after her, but the other bots run away in the chaos. They literally run away. As they are running across a bridge, Prime orders Elita One to blow it up. She does, despite the bots being too close to it. This some how stops the flying Decepticons from perusing.
The next scene shows Wheeljack, Optimus Prime, and Bumblebee walking through Decepticon territory. Why are they walking in enemy territory when all three of them could transform and drive away faster? Who knows? Wheeljack tried to mention the space bridge that they found but Prime doesn’t want to hear anything until they get clear of Decepticon territory. Then Elita one shows up pointing a gun at Bumblebee. Wheeljack vouches for him, but they still are a bit weary of him. They then head off to their base, but Bumblebee just wants to get paid and leave, however, they bring up the point that the Decepticons would shoot him on sight. Agreeing with them, he follows them. They come upon a cloaking device that is hiding their base, which is of course, the Ark. As usual, the situation is dire. Randomly colored Autobots are laying in the hallway of the ark, dead or dying. Energon is low, and moral is almost gone. Wheeljack tried to tell Optimus Prime about the Space Bridge now that they are safe at the base, but Prime cuts him off again for no reason. Prime then finds Ultra Magnus, who tells Prime about how horrible the situation is and that their hit and run tactics aren’t working. He tries to reason with Prime to accept Megatron’s treaty. Prime refuses, saying that they face extinction regardless of if he accepts the treaty.
Meanwhile at med bay, Wheeljack, Bumblebee, and Elita One come in to get checked out by Red alert. One of the best lines in the episode is Red Alert assuring Bumblebee, “I know it looks bad, but trust me, its as bad as it looks”. Prime then comes in and greets Bumblebee who immediately declines to join before Prime can even ask. There is a cool moment that the other Autobots are about to shoot Bumblebee for seeing too much, when Optimus yells out, “We are not Decepticons!”. I think that is my favorite moment for Optimus in the series, as it captures his frustration in this dire situation but still shows his character. So Bumblebee leaves, and Ultra Magnus, over hearing this, decides to take things into his own hands.
Now we jump over to the Decepticons, who are having a rally in a large arena where Megatron is giving a propagandized account of the battle at the space bridge. Making it look like he was this noble leader that was attacked under a flag of truce, he declares that there can be no peace with the Autobots. Jump over over to a long distance shot of the arena, we have this giant cloaked figure approaching. When I say cloaked, I mean he literally is wearing a cloth cloak, and its obvious that its Ultra Magnus. Back inside the arena, the rally is still going on, with Starscream enjoying his new hand, but is threatened by Jetfire for no apparent reason. Starscream and Jetfire both try to suck up to Megatron on his throne, when Megatron warns Starscream of his ambition, Jetfire adds, “And his arrogance.” To which Jetfire is startled to hear Megatron say that he likes his arrogance. Megatron then tells him that they won’t defeat Optimus Prime until they make weapons of his weakness: honor and brotherhood. With that the episode comes to an end with cloaked Ultra Magnus approaching two seekers outside the arena.
Overall, the episode isn’t bad. The general plot for it is pretty good, but the voice acting, story direction, and execution all need work. Recently Peter Cullen said at a convention that this series would be using non-union voice actors as a cost savings, and you can really tell. Jake Foushee’s Prime’s voice is a straight up impersonation of Peter Cullen’s iconic Optimus Prime voice. This is such a shame since he does an amazing original Optimus Prime voice for the Cyberverse series and that would have worked well here. Megatron is a more generalized version falling somewhere between Frank Welker’s TF Prime Megatron and the Combiner Wars trilogy Megatron. Which is understandable since he is voiced by the same voice actor from the last trilogy, Jason Marnocha. Still, you can tell what they were going for with these voices, and I think that they do the series and the fandom a disservice by not using the still working voice actors that they are impersonating. They should either hire Cullen and Welker or just let the voice actors go in a different direction.
That being said, there are some good performances in here. Starscream, voiced by
long time Transformers actor Frank Todaro, is as close to the G1 character as we will ever get since Chris Latta passed away in the 90s. Bill Rogers does an amazing job with Wheeljack, and Todd Haberkorn is great as Red Alert.
As far as issues with the story and its execution, we have moments with Jetfire and Starscream that make no sense, where Jetfire comes off more as a bully than a noble character. Sadly, we have a history that is only briefly referenced to that sounds like a vague IDW origin story. This would have been a great thing to have seen on screen, even if just in a flashback. The biggest issue is characters behaving weirdly to move the plot forward. Such examples of this would be Wheeljack starting up a spacebridge in the middle of enemy territory surrounded by seekers. Or that a bridge being blown up somehow stops the seekers and Megatron from continuing their chase on foot of the fleeing Autobots, who are also on foot. Why were the Autobots fleeing on foot? Why does Optimus Prime keep cutting off Wheeljack who has important information. Or why would the Autobots just threaten to kill a mercenary that they hired? Over all, the story could use some more polish and a better flow.
Stay tuned for our upcoming spoiler review of Episode 2!
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