For millions of years a race of military like robots have been locked in a brutal war. The two opposing factions are the heroic Autobots lead by Optimus Prime, and the evil Decepticons lead by Megatron. After years of fighting, both sides are facing extinction due to low energy reserves. Seeking a new power source, the Autobots plan a recon mission, but their ship is invaded by the Decepticon force, which causes their ship to crash into a volcano on earth. 4 million years later, they awaken from their dormant state to continue the war, with earth's resources being the ultimate prize and deciding factor of the war. -summary
This is a very interesting release here, and one of the reasons is because it contains material from two different eras of the animated series. The other happens to be that these are two of the best episodes in the franchise, and surprisingly, it's not the action these episodes were remembered for. Instead, it's how they work on an emotional level. Volume 2. contains the episodes The Search for Alpha Trion, which took place in the second season, and Dark Awakening which took place in the third. The latter is set after Transformers: The Movie, where we saw a huge change in the status quo. The Autobots suffered great casualties with Optimus Prime being one of them, and they were given a new leader Rodimus Prime. Megatron was reformatted into a new robot named Galvatron.
The first episode The Search for Alpha Trion debuts the female Autobots, who are spotted and attacked by Shockwave for trying to steal Energon Cubes on Cybertron. He contacts Megatron who is surprisingly delighted to hear of their existence, and from there he orders to capture their leader Elita One. He seeks to lure Prime onto Cybertron into a trap.
Action-wise, this episode is good, and I mean really good, but what makes it better is the characterization and even a bit of mystery going on. The Autobots are usually the Decepticons punching bag; this changes when a portion of their group witnesses what they are told to believe by Starscream to be Prime's corpse. The Autobots present, Ironhide, Inferno, and Powerglide, are sent into a frenzy where they send the Decepticons running for their lives. Ironhide even narrowly misses melting Astrotrain on the spot. There's also a hint on who Primes creator could be. This episode is well put together all around, even blending in the comedy better than usual.
Dark Awakening is no doubt the better of the two though, and quite possibly the best in the entire series. Rodimus Prime and the Autobots are being pummeled by a Decepticon cruiser lead by Galvatron, they are forced to dock in the Autobot tomb floating out there in space. From here, they come into contact with Optimus Prime who appears to be alive, but not exactly very well.
One of the most interesting elements of the third season was the introduction of a third party being the Quintessons. This race of robot beings were revealed to be the creators of both warring factions. They blame the Autobots for driving them off Cybertron and they hate them for it, but they hate the Decepticons almost as much. This episode utilizes them the absolute best, as they double-cross Galvatron (again) coming very close to destroying him and the entire Autobot fleet. But it's the characterization which stands out again, as it's the emotional strings within the Autobot ranks seeing their leader alive again, no matter what shape he appears to be in. Prime was very well used here, as he not only fought against Hot Rod formally Rodimus Prime (reverting back to Hot Rod after giving the Matrix back to Prime), but also against himself hoping Hot Rod does kill him. I still remembered when I saw Dark Awakening in its original run, and the ending indeed moved me. However, I remember thinking that was the best way for Optimus Prime to go out.
The animation of course differs between the episodes, but this time they both look very good. The action sequences are very fluid and entertaining. Although they appear kind of on the cheesy side, the female Autobots look ok. They could have used more color patterns though, instead of solid blue, light, green, and even pink colors with their silver legs. Their color designs are too simplistic.
Dark Awakening isn't as finely polished, however, it has a grittiness and well, a darkness to it that works in its favor. There are a few disturbing scenes that should be seen, with one involving a severely damaged Optimus Prime that still bothers me even now. The voice acting is surprisingly overshadowed by the story, pretty much in the case of Dark Awakening, still it's well directed especially in the case of Susan Blu voicing Arcee. The fear, sadness, and uneasiness in her voice watching the Autobot Fleet being decimated is among her better moments for me. And no matter how much I love to watch Transformers; I don't think it's at all possible for me to ever get use to Davide Mendenhall as Daniel. He is among the most annoying cartoon side kicks ever.
The only problem I can think of with this release is the jump from one era to the next. Someone who is not familiar with the season three characters or Transformers: The Movie will be completely lost and they will have questions. The lack of this volume being newbie friendly is the only gripe here. In any case, Revenge of the Decepticons is more than likely the best of these collections. These two episodes got everything right, and I began to appreciate them more over time. As usual, as good as they may sound. It's better off to skip these for the season sets.
Pros: -Two excellent episodes
Cons: -Second episode will have newbies lost
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