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First Encounter is the first episode of Armada. It first aired in the United States on August 23, 2002 on Cartoon Network.
The episode opens with a brief history of the universe and the Autobot and Decepticon war (in the Unicron Trilogy continuity). It states that Transformers were sent out as explorers, by Primus and that one of the first planets inhabited was Cybertron. It also states they were at war with one another over tiny (human sized) robots named Mini-Cons, who were used as tools to boost power. Eventually they were awakened by an internal protocol and joined forces to resist domination by either Autobots or Decepticons. After a long war, the Autobots and Decepticons called a truce. A craft was constructed for the Mini-Cons and blasted into space to stop them being used in another war. It traveled for millions of years until it collided with Earth's Moon, and crashed into Earth. They lay dormant for millions of years, due to terrain shifting on top of their ship. It then cuts to the present day. A human named Rad introduces himself and his friend Carlos. They go to school and meet a girl named Alexis. Rad asks her if she wants to come with them to explore a cave, but she rejects him. They then meet and argue with two boys named Billy and Fred. They then head to class for the day. After school they race up the mountain to the cave. Billy and Fred follow them using a locator stuck to Rad's bike. Rad and Carlos head into the cave, using a rope, and a trail of rocks to mark their path. Billy and Fred follow them at a distance, and accidentally destroy part of the trail. Rad and Carlos dislodge a large slab of rock which they ride down into a cave filled with the wreckage of the Mini-Con spaceship. Billy and Fred are lost, having been scared by some bats. Rad finds a Mini-Con storage panel, and picks it up. This activates a beacon, which causes an earthquake. Alexis notices the earthquake and heads off to investigate the cave. The beacon disables the geological station's computers. Then the beacon is shown firing out of the cave, in three parts, one red, one purple and one green. The green part of it activates the spaceship wreckage on the moon, causing Mini-Con panels across earth to activate. The other two portions of the beacon alert the Autobots and Decepticons on Cybertron to the location of the Mini-Cons. Back on Earth Rad and Carlos exit the cave, and meet Alexis, only to be confronted by Megatron, a Decepticon commander. The Mini-Con panel Rad has activates, and Highwire emerges. Highwire scans Rad's bike and reforms himself so he can transform into a bicycle. Rad can almost understand him, and the three ride Highwire to try and escape Megatron. Megatron flicks a boulder at them which knocks them off Highwire. Megatron demands they give him Highwire. At the last moment Optimus Prime teleports in and grapples with Megatron.
In the episode
English dub changes
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Would you hurry up, they've probably gone home already!"
"Hey! You don't have to yell at me, I got feelings too, ya know! I-I'm trying my hardest, but no, nothing's ever good enough for you!"
"Aw, quit your bellyaching!"
"My therapist says I don't have to take this from you because you're not the boss of me! Besides, I'm getting hungry again."
- —Billy and Fred arrive at the cave Rad and Carlos are exploring.
Megatron: "You have something of mine."
Alexis: "We have what?"
Megatron: "Give it back immediately or you shall suffer the consequences."
Rad: "Oh... great."
Megatron: "I have given you your chance, Earthling."
- —Megatron giving chances?! Unthinkable!
"Stand down, Megatron!"
- —The line that made a room full of fans cheer at BotCon 2002, as Optimus Prime appears.
Animation and/or technical glitches
- The narrator at the beginning of this episode uses light-years as a unit of time measurement, when it's actually a unit of distance measurement. This mistake periodically reappeared throughout the Armada series as well as the Energon sequel series.
- When the Exodus is making its escape, a device on its underside fires a beam that creates a purple warp gate. However, seconds later, the ship is seen heading towards a much larger blue warp gate with the purple gate below the ship. The blue warp gate is the one that is eventually used which begs the question as to why the purple gate was created in the first place.
- The narrator mentions a 'unique digital entity' coming into being and creating a race of living machines to explore the galaxy, making it the first reference to Primus in the Unicron Trilogy.
- Many Generation One character models are used as generic Autobots and Decepticons during the scenes on Cybertron. This trend would continue throughout the series for all scenes with random Transformers set on Cybertron.
- This episode marks the first time that a variation of the original Generation One theme music has been used as the main theme for a Transformers series since the Generation One television series.
- Billy and Fred appear in this episode as recurring guest characters, but later become part of the regular human cast. According to the Micron Legend Yearbook 2003, the producers of the Armada cartoon kept meaning to write Billy and Fred out of the series, but ultimately never got around to it. Their staying through to the end of the show was, thus, wholly unintentional.
- This is the first episode of the Transformers: Armada cartoon series, introducing some of the main characters, such as Rad, who likes to pick up glowing things in caves and thinks he can hear a robot talking to him, Carlos, who likes to skateboard on giant rocks, and Alexis, who goes home on her own after school and watches earthquakes on her computer. A very average bunch then...