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Survival of the Fittest

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Road appear

Warehouse sweet warehouse.

Sari is kidnapped and the evidence points to the Dinobots. So Prowl and Bulkhead head to a mysterious island to investigate—with a highly suspicious Captain Fanzone on their tail.

German title: "Saris Entführung" ("Sari's Abduction")
Japanese title: "Confronation! Dinobots" (対決!ダイノボット Taiketsu! Dinobot)

Synopsis

Window sari

How much is that Sari in the window?

Concerned for Sari's safety as possessor of the Key and knowing they can't be around every minute to protect her, the Autobots decide to give her self-defense lessons. She doesn't do so well, but undaunted, she continues to practice alone in her room that night. She then goes to bed, but a shadow passing by her window makes her curious enough to get up again. She opens the window and is confronted by the Dinobot Swoop.
SwoopSari

I will make you one of my children of the night.

Shortly afterward, her father stops by to deliver a bedtime snack and is shocked to find her missing.

He immediately contacts the police and the Autobots, and Optimus Prime orders everyone to roll out immediately. Come morning, the police search Sari's room and question Doctor Sumdac. Captain Fanzone coordinates operations from the lobby of Sumdac Tower, checking security video footage and struggling with the operation of his mobile phone. The Autobots arrive, and he asks if anything unusual happened yesterday. Bulkhead mentions her self-defense lessons, to which Fanzone raises some objection, noting that hanging around Autobots might just be, oh, dangerous for a little girl. Just then, Prime spots Swoop on the security footage replay. Ratchet doesn't think it's possible, but Prime notes they never did find out what happened to the escaped Dinobots. Behind him, Bulkhead and Prowl hold a quiet conversation about whether to tell Prime about their role in the Dinobots' escape, but decide to investigate the Dinobots' island themselves first. Fanzone notices them whispering, figures they must be discussing something relevant, and decides to follow this new lead on his own.

Before and after

It's Kremzeek! He's in the phone!

That night, Prowl and Bulkhead take a cargo ship out to the Dinobots' island, with Fanzone pursuing them in a police department mini-sub. By daylight, the Autobots arrive on the island and start exploring, with Fanzone coming ashore shortly afterward. Suddenly, Prowl spots tracks, indicating someone besides the Dinobots is on the island. As they arrive at the edge of the central crater, Bulkhead expresses second thoughts about setting the Dinobots free. What if someone were to find them there? Prowl deactivates his holographic generator and notes that currently won't be an issue, as the Dinobots appear to be gone.

From within his new headquarters, Meltdown observes the two visitors and sends the Dinobots, who are waiting behind him, to deal with the pair.

Donkey Fanzone

Donkey Fanzone.

Back outside in the valley, an outraged Bulkhead growls that they should have melted down the Dinobots as Dr. Sumdac wanted, but Prowl insists the Dinobots are more than just machines, that they are truly alive and so had to be saved. Bulkhead counters by asking who's going to save Sari. The two then leave to explore the island further, with Fanzone pursuing close behind—well, as close behind as possible after dealing with various mishaps.

In Meltdown's control room, Colossus Rhodes offers to pound the Autobots to scrap, but Meltdown stays him. Sari figures they're both as good as arrested and taunts them until Rhodes bulks up and scares her into silence.

Fanzone in Quicksand

This is why I like the nature.

Outside, Bulkhead and Prowl discover Captain Fanzone sinking in quicksand and haul him out. Prowl asks why he's following them, but Fanzone counters by asking what they're doing on an abandoned island research facility in the middle of Lake Erie, and they fall silent.

Still watching the proceedings, Meltdown decides it's time to greet his guests personally and leaves Rhodes to guard Sari. Rhodes taunts Sari for a change, but Sari just asks to go to the toilet.

On the surface, Fanzone continues to question Bulkhead about the situation, wondering if there's something he's not being told. Bulkhead abruptly points out the Dinobots behind Fanzone as the possible missing piece of info. Prowl offers to deal with the Dinobots, as they trust him, but Grimlock orders the Dinobots to attack. Prowl is confused, but Bulkhead figures it's pretty straightforward: The Dinobots kidnapped Sari and now want to destroy them. He also lets slip that he and Prowl helped the Dinobots escape. During the skirmish, Prowl notes acid burns on Swoop's leg plating and deduces that someone with the ability to burn the Dinobots is forcing them to act this way. The Autobots and Fanzone manage to make a run for it, only to find themselves in a dead-end canyon. When Meltdown confronts them, Prowl finally puts it all together, realizing that the villain is behind the Dinobots capturing Sari and attacking them. Meltdown gleefully monologues about finding an island with its own security system just when he needed a place for private experiments, and how Sari will now be his latest subject. An enraged Bulkhead charges, but Meltdown's acid blasts a painful hole in the Autobot's chest. Prowl and Fanzone run to help him, but Meltdown touches a remote-control button and sends the pair plummeting through a trap door down into a steel-lined holding pen.

TFA Survival Fittest Prowl Fanzone mutants

This is why I hate Pretenders!

When they regain conciousness, Meltdown arrives and explains his plans: after last encounter with the Autobots, Meltdown has been toying with the idea of a human capable of Transformation. However, Meltdown's experiments (one of whom was his lawyer) were locked in their "alternate forms". He notes that the failures were a result of using adult test subjects, whereas a still-growing human should prove much more promising. And what better choice than the daughter of his arch-rival, Isaac Sumdac? He then leaves to administer his formula to Sari while his two mutants take care of Prowl and Fanzone.

Elsewhere in the base, Sari tricks Cyrus Rhodes into checking out the rest room toilet, then uses the Key to flood water on him, shorting out the electrode/pistons that let him bulk up. When he turns to attack her, she trips him, then locks him in the bathroom and takes off. Somehow, she finds the controls to turn off the laser barrier keeping Prowl and Fanzone trapped in the holding pit. Freed just in time, they take off and quickly locate Sari. Informed of Bulkhead's predicament, she guides them out the way she was brought in. As they start down the hall, Fanzone spots a rack of spare protective suits for Meltdown and grabs one.

TFA Dinobots fire weapons

"Your death will be swift."

Prowl gets the two humans past a closing steel door and outside, where Sari quickly uses the Key to heal Bulkhead. Before they can celebrate, Meltdown shows up with the Dinobots. Sari launches into a flying kick which totally misses Meltdown, but serves as the distraction needed for Prowl to score a hit. Before a stunned Meltdown can recover, Fanzone tackles him and wraps him up in a spare protective suit he grabbed. Meltdown orders the Dinobots to attack, but Prowl points out that Meltdown has no power over them any more. In preparation for revenge, the Dinobots transform into robot mode, surprising the others. Prowl offers the panicking Meltdown a choice: going to prison or being left to the Dinobots' (lack of) mercies. Just then, Colossus Rhodes (whose electronics apparently dried out) and the two mutants burst out of the entrance into the underground facility, only to draw the Dinobots' attention to themselves. The mighty mechanical trio ignite their weapons and quickly trounce the three mutants.

That evening, Fanzone and the Autobots take Sari and the captive Meltdown and Rhodes back to Detroit. Fanzone calls Dr. Sumdac to give him the good news, and Bulkhead and Prowl wonder if they should admit about the Dinobots to Prime. Fanzone assures Prowl that as long as the Dinobots stay on the island and out of Detroit, he doesn't have a problem with them. Prowl thanks him for all his help, and the two acknowledge they make a decent team, despite their different physical compositions. Watching Sari try out another kick on Bulkhead, Fanzone expresses continuing doubts about teaching ninja moves to eight-year-olds. Prowl agrees, noting Sari can apparently take care of herself in her own unique fashion.

Stats

Featured characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Humans Others

Fusion creature

Quotes

"This is why I hate machines!"
"No need to be such a technophobe, Captain."
"A technophobe is someone who fears technology. Does this look like FEAR TO YOU?!" (Smashes cell phone)
"Um... my mistake."

Captain Fanzone straightens out Prowl's perceptions of him.


Bulkhead: Hanging out. Teaching her ninja nerve blows. Watching cartoons.
Fanzone: Hold up? What was that again?
Bulkhead: Watching cartoons.
Fanzone: No before that.
Bulkhead: Ninja nerve blows.
Fanzone: You're teaching an eight-year-old to do nerve blows?
Ratchet: You want her to pick it up in the street?
Prowl: This is part of every protoform's elemental programming.
Fanzone: Say what?
Bulkhead: Yeah, it's not like we're having her fight Decepticons.
Prowl: Yet.

—Fanzone and the Autobots debate the finer points of child education.


"Wait a minute—roll that back."
"Sure thing, dollface."

—The Reception Bot gets sassy with Optimus.


"Help!"
"That sounded like Captain Fanzone."
"Y-Yeah, hey, I—I do a really good impression of myself screaming for help!"

—Even in mortal danger, Captain Fanzone zings Prowl.


"Who better than the daughter of my arch-rival, the bane of my existence, the simpering fool who is unworthy to lick the mud off the heels of my platform shoes—booga-looga-looga-looz—Professor Isaac Sumdac? Poetic, no?"

Meltdown gets down with his bad self while monologuing. It appears that the suit is more than just for show.


Fanzone: "You are seriously one twisted fruitcake."
Meltdown: "Flattery will get you nowhere, Captain."

Meltdown gets his ego stroked.


"Dibs on Lefty—I hate lawyers."

Captain Fanzone actually hates something besides machines.


"Meltdown not hurt Dinobots... Dinobots hurt Meltdown."

Grimlock. Run far, run fast, Melty.


Fanzone: What the...?!
Sari: Whoa...!
Bulkhead: Uh... they couldn't do that before. Right?
Meltdown: No, no no stop! Keep them away from me!
Prowl: Your choice, Meltdown. Prison? Or do we leave you to your pets?
[Dinobots move toward Meltdown]
Meltdown: Get away. Get away! Get away! Away!

—Meltdown panics as the Dinobots reveal that they are more than meets the eye.

Notes

Animation errors

  • Fanzone presses buttons on a rotary-dial cell phone. Of course, he also manages to get touch-tone sounds from them, so perhaps the rotary dial is just simulated. Y'know, to make him feel more familiar with the device.

Continuity errors

  • When Sari is kidnapped by Swoop, she's just wearing socks on her feet (having crawled out of bed). When she's imprisoned in Meltdown's lair, she has her boots on again.
  • The passage of time between Sari's kidnapping and the arrival on the island is wonky. Isaac appears to arrive at Sari's room with a snack mere minutes after she's gone to bed not too late in the evening, but the police and Autobots show up once the sun has risen. The "search party" heads for the Dinobots' island that night... and arrive in the daylight. Did nearly forty-eight hours really pass all this time, and Meltdown did nothing?
  • Why does Meltdown bother to send the Dinobots, then go to handle his guests himself several minutes later? Sure, it works out, but was it planned that way?

Transformers references

Meltdownexperiments

They've got the power to surprise.

  • The notion of creating non-mechanical or organic Transformers is not new in Transformers lore.

Miscellaneous trivia

  • This is the first episode in which Snarl and Swoop transform. They still haven't spoken, however.
  • This is also the first episode in which Fanzone refers to any of the Autobots by name, suggesting he's getting used to them being more than machines.
  • Bumblebee appears in this episode, but doesn't speak. It's strange considering his personality, not to mention that he has the closest relationships to Sari out of all the Autobots.
  • Captain Fanzone's phone seems remarkably outdated compared to the mobile phone his subordinate is shown using; it's the size of a brick, has a permanently extended antenna and amazingly features a rotary dial (or at least a simulated one; he still punches touch tones on it) to ring in the numbers... and even then Fanzone can't figure out how to use it. The man was clearly born a century after his time and presumably would be more comfortable around gramophones and steam locomotives.
  • Fanzone's dialog suggests that a volcanic island in the middle of Lake Erie is not as preposterous as it might seem, as the island was formerly a research facility of some shape or form.
  • Bulkhead seems to be more than a match for all three Dinobots here, yet they make incredibly short work of the mutants and Colossus Rhodes. (Colossus had previously proven to be a decent enough challenge for Bulkhead, Prime, Prowl and Ratchet.) Maybe their sparks just weren't in it? Or they were holding back? Or that could be attributed to Bulkhead being really pissed at them during the fight, which made him a much more ferocious warrior than the Dinobots were expecting.
  • A lawyer turned into a blood-sucking monster... surely there's no deeper message here.
  • Do we really want to know what that key slot was doing on the controls for a toilet?
  • The two mutants are conspicuously absent in the final scene (Fanzone notes "got 'em both," indicating only two prisoners). As they appear in later episodes, they were obviously not destroyed, but this implies they were left imprisoned on the island, subject to the Dinobots' whims. If so, this seems harsh, given the two were (presumably) innocent victims of Meltdown's experiments. If they're somehow being held on ship, not mentioning or showing them seems to be quite an oversight.
  • Although most human villains in the series to date have been shown in a comedic light, Meltdown seems the odd man out with some rather disturbing, more adult-oriented themes. He attempts murder (of rival Isaac Sumdac); he experiments to create mutants, which constitutes crimes against Humanity; he tortures the Dinobots into submission by burning them with his acidic touch; and he kidnaps a prepubescent girl for purposes of experimentation... but damn can he dance.
  • Speaking of adult themes, when the police learn that Sari is missing, they question the father and send divers into the river. HARSH.
  • It's rather unsettling how nobody, particularly Captain Fanzone, seemed to know that Meltdown wasn't in jail any more. Either Fanzone's inability to work with technology kept him from hearing, or information flow among the Detroit Police Department is really poor, even when a dangerous supervillain has broken out of jail. And on that note, it seems that, just like in comic books, prisons here aren't suited to hold superpowered criminals.
  • The episode ends before Bulkhead, Prowl, and Fanzone return Sari to her father, and before the Autobots report back in to Prime. What they tell Prime (about where they found Sari) is extremely unclear, as discussed further under "Megatron Rising - Part I".
  • Prowl can kick with his knees while the wheels are turning and can ride on walls. This is awesomeness!
  • Apparently, there's nothing wrong with cutting a cargo ship free of its moorings and sailing it out into the middle of Lake Erie without permission. (Prowl and Bulkhead must have convinced either the ship's captain or its computerized pilot system to make an unscheduled trip.)
  • Why does Prowl think that Sari can defend herself against the Decepticons by kicking them?

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