An oversized stasis pod reveals the secrets of Protoform X.
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Cheetor, on recon patrol, spots a giant stasis pod (labeled with a big yellow "X") crashed inside a patch of unstable energon deep inside a murky swamp. Optimus Primal orders Cheetor not to open the pod until he arrives. As Optimus and Silverbolt leave, Rhinox invokes the help of Primus if "that thing survived". However, the Predacons intercept the transmission, and Megatron sends Blackarachnia and Waspinator to retrieve it, subtly planting a listening device on the former. He calmly taps his chair armrest, possibly aware that Tarantulas left a bug of his own under it.
When Optimus and Silverbolt meet Cheetor beside the pod, Primal tells them what the pod means: The stasis pod holds "the dark secret of Axalon's journey," Protoform X. Protoform X was created in experiments attempting to replicate the mutation in the spark of Starscream, making it indestructible, but the subject was treacherous and insane, so the Axalon was to dump the protoform "somewhere far, someplace barren."
Blackarachnia and Waspinator strike, attempting to take Protoform X for themselves. Attacking Silverbolt, Blackarachnia is angry that his code of honor won't allow him to fight back by hitting a female. Then Tarantulas arrives and threatens her. Silverbolt defends her, but the battle accidentally ignites the energon beneath Protoform X's stasis pod, which explodes and triggers an energon storm that scatters everyone for miles.
Blackarachnia and Silverbolt crash-land next to each other. They agree to work together, as they are far from their respective teams and Silverbolt's wing is broken. Tarantulas lands next to the pod; he investigates it, only to find it empty. He then turns to find something looming over him through the mist. His scream echoes for miles...
Optimus Primal and Cheetor return to the Axalon, too damaged to search for Silverbolt. Blackarachnia and Silverbolt journey by foot, learning to trust each other, but Megatron is eavesdropping on them. They soon discover a piece of Tarantulas and conclude with dark humor that he is no longer a threat. Inferno is disgusted by their alliance, but Megatron notes that with Tarantulas out of the way, Blackarachnia no longer needs a protector. However, he's disappointed when Blackarachnia saves Silverbolt's life from an attacking sabertooth cat, making it apparent that she may have feelings for the Maximal.
Tarantulas' body is found—in several pieces. Silverbolt notes that Protoform X must have done this. Megatron, still eavesdropping, fashions an energon blade in preparation. Blackarachnia, freaked, prepares to high-tail it out of the area as an ominous form skitters through the fog behind them. Suddenly, the two find themselves face-to-face with Protoform X! Huge and frightening, it knocks them around effortlessly and is immune to their firepower. The monster lifts Silverbolt in its powerful claw, relishing his victim's mounting terror. Silverbolt screams in pain as X crushes him.
Primal and Cheetor arrive in the nick of time and attack, freeing Silverbolt. Blackarachnia joins them in blasting Protoform X, eventually driving it off a cliff edge. However, it transforms into tank mode and ascends the cliffside. Silverbolt throws a feather missile, knocking him down into another pile of raw energon, but not before Protoform X fires at Blackarachnia, knocking her off the other side of the cliff. Silverbolt jumps after her, unsure if his wing mechanism is healed, but he succeeds, and she is saved. The Maximals let her go before returning home. Blackarachnia watches them depart, then uses her grappling wire to depart, emphasizing a claim that she didn't need Silverbolt's last rescue.
Helpless in the pile of raw energon, Protoform X sees Megatron appear over him with the energon blade. X wakes up in the Predacon base to find that Megatron has carved out a piece of his spark and put it in a tiny cage that, when squeezed, causes him tremendous pain. Megatron has Protoform X at his mercy and renames him "Rampage".
"Primus help us all if that thing survived."
- —Rhinox, on Protoform X
"Spiders spin their webs, yes. But I spin them larger."
- —Megatron after placing a cloaked tracking device on Blackarachnia
"Ah...just enough to make me...interesting."
- —Silverbolt and Blackarachnia
"Do not worry. He has...been disarmed."
"To say the least."
- —Silverbolt and Blackarachnia share a dark joke.
"Just enough to make me...interesting."
- —Blackarachnia and Silverbolt trade roles and lines.
Silverbolt: "Why did you save me?"
Blackarachnia: "Well, uh...there...might be other...creatures..."
Megatron: "Eww, yuck."
- —:—Megs listens in on Silverbolt and Blackarachnia's conversation.
"Forget the rescue plan, Optimus, and start devising an attack plan! Megatron has lost two, but we have only lost one."
"I'll remember that...next time you're out missing in an energon storm."
- —Dinobot and Optimus Primal debate priorities.
"Is that fear you're feeling, Maximal? Mmm...yes. My spark, it feeds on terror. Let it grow! Let it consume your circuitry! Feel it! Yes, feel it! Feel the fear!"
- —Protoform X with Silverbolt in his claws
"Your persistence is futile! I rise again...!"
"In that case, let us give you further to fall!"
- —Protoform X and Silverbolt
"You are much more than a Predacon, my lady. Someday, you will come to realize that."
- —Silverbolt to the departed Blackarachnia.
"Welcome to the Predacons, RAMPAGE. You shall be an honored member...so long as you never forget one important fact about your new life: It's mine."
- —Megatron, showing just how awesome he is as he tortures Rampage into submission.
Writers: Greg Johnson
Original Air Date: February 22, 1998
Major Characters (in order of appearance): Silverbolt, Megatron, Blackarachnia, Tarantulas, Protoform X
Minor Characters (in order of appearance): Cheetor, Optimus Primal, Rhinox, Waspinator, Inferno, Dinobot, Quickstrike
- This is the debut appearance of Rampage, the Protoform X.
- When Cheetor reports in to Optimus in the beginning and Optimus is walking out of the screen to meet him at the stasis pod, the back pieces of his ape legs that form his humanoid lower legs are missing.
- Rhinox notes, "Primus help us all if that thing survived," which was the first reference to the Creator-God of the Transformers outside of the original Marvel comics.
- Protoform X was created as an attempt to duplicate Starscream's "mutant indestructible spark." This is a reference (and a retcon in technobabble jargon) to Starscream's ghost in the third season of the original animated series and, more recently, to Starscream's appearance in the Beast Wars episode "Possession." It also explains why, as Optimus noted in "Possession", Starscream's records were sealed; the Council didn't want anyone else to make the same mistake they did and try to recreate Starscream's spark condition.
Real World References
- The interaction and dialog between Blackarachnia and Silverbolt parody that of a movie (romantic and horror specifically), with Megatron portraying an audience member through his spying and comments.
- Couldn't help feeling that when Tarantulas screamed after seeing Rampage was a reference to 1987 film Predator. Billy maybe?
- Rampage states "Your persistence is futile", in a manner akin to "Resistance is futile" from the Borg in Star Trek.
- Cheetor's Transmetal body can soak up energon, and instead of seizing up, he can shunt it away from his body in a burst of gas. Primal thinks this is rude, and Cheetor apologizes for "blasting one off." In other words, Transformers can fart. This absorption and release of energon radiation was rarely mentioned in the series.
- Rattrap does not appear in this episode.
- Blackarachnia notes at the end that she didn't actually need an saving and could have done it herself at the end ("Like I needed you to catch me"), before firing her grappling hook into the forest to express this. She just wanted to be saved.
- This episode was released theatrically in Japan as the second segment in the Beast Wars Special Super Lifeform Transformers, known as Beast Wars Super Lifeform Transformers - Metals. The episode was included to get fans anticipating the long-awaited Japanese release of Beast Wars Metals, seasons 2 and 3 of the American series. The episode was undubbed, however, meaning the dialogue was the original English version. There were no subtitles, either.