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The Return of the Headmaster

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Sentinelprimeanimatedhumiliated

Schadenfreude.


Optimus Prime is forced to team up with his rival Sentinel Prime after Sentinel has a humiliating encounter with the Headmaster.

German title: "Headmasters Rückkehr" ("Headmaster Returns")
Japanese title: "Headmaster, Once Again!" (ヘッドマスター、ふたたび! Headmaster, Futatabi!)
Polish title: "Powrót Headmastera" ("The Return of the Headmaster")

Summary

Returnofheadmaster sarisroom

im in ur room, shackin in ur cribs

In Sari's room at Sumdac Tower, Sari bitterly packs her things while grumbling about Porter C. Powell taking over her home and throwing her to the curb. She doesn't notice Powell enter as she badmouths him, but rather than get upset, the man smugly proves many of her points right and adds insult to injury by introducing her bedroom's new tenant, the freshly re-hired Henry Masterson. As the Headmaster makes himself at home, Sari protests, pointing out the man's lack of sanity, but Powell merely rushes her out the door. Then, just as Sari's day can't get any worse, Powell claims Sparkplug and Tutor Bot as company property. Harsh.

Returnofheadmaster sentinelspeaks

I am destined to be a superhero. To right wrongs and to pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evildoers everywhere.

Meanwhile, the Primes Optimus and Sentinel stand at a press conference along with the mayor and Captain Fanzone. Sentinel is his usual charming self, boasting the significance of the Elite Guard's presence, condescending to the icky organics, showing complete ignorance of the planet's customs, and insulting his comrade's lowly position at every opportunity. Optimus tries his best to ignore all this and put the humans' minds at ease about the current situation, but finds it difficult to get a word in edgewise as Sentinel cuts him off, determined to do all the talking, refusing to let Optimus speak for him.

Powell and Masterson watch the press conference with intent. Powell says he expects great things from Masterson, intending to tap the lucrative military hardware market that Sumdac so foolishly ignored. Masterson is itching to get to work, but wants new robots on which to test his Headmaster units. The old Autobot crew won't cut it, however; he wants the new models, and he eagerly eyes Sentinel Prime's image on the screen.

Masterson calls up Fanzone with a false Decepticon sighting in Old Detroit. Fanzone relays the information to the Primes, and the heroes transform and roll out. Sentinel still hasn't gotten the hang of the city's traffic customs, however, and spends more time driving over other cars than on the road.

AnimatedBumbleeBulkheadProfessor

We tackle any topic, immense or microscopic!

Meanwhile, Sari is moving in with the Autobots at the old factory. Bulkhead and Bumblebee are eager to cheer up the sullen girl with loud TV, music, and a misguided tutoring session in which they end up throwing around theories about her mysterious origins. Predictably, everything they try only seems to make her more miserable.

Sentinel soon arrives at the scene of the supposed Decepticon sighting, prying a stop sign from his shoulder, and is quickly joined by Optimus and the police. Optimus starts making suggestions, but Sentinel shuts him up, opting to split up and search on his own, as he doesn't need help from a scrub.

The search drags on into the night, and Sentinel is jumping at shadows, turning the advanced weaponry of the Cybertron Elite Guard on such dire threats as stray cats. This distracts him, and Masterson gets the jump on him with the Headmaster unit. Shortly afterwards, Sentinel contacts Optimus, telling him it was a false alarm and to send the police away. He then demands Optimus come to his position alone and promise not to laugh. Soon after, Optimus finds Sentinel's decapitated head and breaks out in laughter. Bitter and humiliated, Sentinel pleads with Optimus to help him get his body back without Ultra Magnus finding out. Optimus guesses that the reason Sentinel is trusting him with the task is that he's just not important enough for his opinion to matter, but Sentinel is careful not to say something so insulting in his position. How about that.

Returnofheadmaster optimuslaughs

Haw-haw!

Optimus learns of Masterson's re-hiring thanks to a conveniently timed message from Bumblebee, reporting what he's heard from Sari. The next day, Optimus pays a visit to Sumdac Tower, hiding Sentinel's head under a tree trunk while he chats with Powell. The new manager makes it clear that the Autobots aren't free to waltz into his building as they please any more, but assures their leader that Masterson isn't there. However as soon as Optimus leaves, he phones the Headmaster with information on the new development, warning his employee not to jeopardize the company's image. Lucky for the Primes, Optimus thought ahead enough to intercept the phone call with his ear transceiver as soon as he was out of sight. He traces the call to a cargo ship at the docks.

It's night again when the 1.5 Primes arrive at the docks and start searching for Sentinel's body. They don't get far before a nearby crate bursts open, revealing a sinister Sparkplug and Tutor Bot outfitted with miniature Headmaster Units. Sentinel isn't too worried by the puny automatons until they reveal some powerful laser-shooting upgrades. They send Optimus scrambling for cover while Sentinel's head bounces around impotently on the ground. When the ship Masterson is supposedly on starts casting off, they can't play around any longer, and Optimus rushes through the laser fire, ramps off the deck, transforms in mid-air and rides a powerful burst from his rocket axe to hook into the side of the ship's hull. Awesome. His grappling hooks probably would have worked equally well, but dude, flying rocket axe!

Returnofheadmaster headmastersvictim

Oh, beware the other head of science, Arthur. It bites.

On the ship, Optimus and Sentinel try to find Sentinel's body...until it finds them. The Headmaster pushes Optimus down with Sentinel's shield. Sentinel is surprised that it's so powerful, to which Masterson gloats he upgraded his equipment. Pulling out Sentinel's beam lance and expanding the shield into a spikier version, the Headmaster clashes with Optimus while Sentinel bounces around impotently on the ground some more.

Masterson manages to knock Optimus's axe off the ship, leaving him unarmed. After being pinned to the ground with shield spikes inches from his face, Optimus returns the favor by ripping off Sentinel's arm, shield and all. Sentinel is mortified by the dismemberment, but Optimus feels it was justified. He then uses Sentinel's arm as a makeshift axe and fights back the body, eventually severing the Headmaster unit. The head quickly converts to robot mode and starts to run off, but this time Optimus stops him by kicking Sentinel's head into the fleeing villain like a soccer ball. Again, Sentinel is appalled. Optimus has less of an excuse this time.

Headm anim

Salute!

Back on land, Fanzone has Masterson in cuffs, and it looks like a happy ending until Powell shows up, pointing out that the ship was Sumdac Systems property, the assaulted robots don't have rights protected by the law, and the whole incident occurred over international waters between the US and Canada. Masterson is free to go, much to the chagrin of everybody else.

Meanwhile, at the factory, Bumblebee and Bulkhead are about to try another zany scheme to cheer up Sari, but Prowl stops them and tells them just to listen to her instead. When they try this last resort, Sari opens up about all her worries regarding her missing father, her lost home and company, and her questioned existence. Bumblebee and Bulkhead aren't sure what to do, but they assure her they are there for her.

Finally, aboard the Elite Guard's ship the next day, Sentinel and Optimus report to Ultra Magnus, who has heard something about Sentinel "losing his head". Sentinel trembles uncomfortably in silence, but Optimus reports that they worked together to solve the crisis, effectively covering for his comrade, who really doesn't deserve it. Ultra Magnus congratulates both of them and takes his leave to contact Cybertron Command on an issue of great importance. As the Primes walk down the hallway, Sentinel struggles out a "thank you" to his compatriot. Optimus notes that it must have hurt to say that, and Sentinel acknowledges the fact and reaches out his hand.

Stats

Featured characters

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)

Autobots Humans Others

Quotes

"Whoa, hey! Check it! Major cribbage! And it's mine. It's all mine!"

Masterson, who is surprisingly okay with the fact that his new "R&D facilities" are frilly, lacy, and painted pink.


Fanzone: Attention, all units! We have a Decepticon sighting in Old Detroit!
Sentinel: A "Decepticon sighting"? These organics wouldn't know a Decepticon from a garbage bot! [turns to a garbage bot] Tell your organic captain we're going to investigate.
Optimus: Uh, Sentinel, that's a trash bot.
Sentinel: Well, obviously it's a trash bot. I didn't just arrive on this planet yesterday!
Optimus: Actually, y—
Sentinel: Ah, never mind, let's go.

—Sentinel Prime reaches out to the natives.


"This is why I hate machines...especially arrogant, full-of-themselves machines!"

Captain Fanzone, also saying what we're all thinking.


"Sentinel, we should scramble our comlink frequencies in case the Decepticons are listening in!"
"What you should do is stick within the scope of your programming. If I need a trash can emptied or a floor mopped, I'll call on my buddy Optimus Prime. Or should I say...Maintenance Prime? Hahahaha!"
[Sentinel turns and walks away; Optimus does the same]
"'Maintenance Prime'...then I'll just call you 'Pompous Gas-Bag Prime'. Yeah...that's what I should have said."

Maintenance Optimus Prime and Sentinel Prime match wits. Somehow, Optimus loses.


Sentinel: Uhhh, Optimus. Tell the organic Fanzone that he can send his police force home. It's a false alarm.
Optimus: How do you know?
Sentinel: I just know, okay?! Now I need you to come to my position. ALONE. And promise me one more thing...
Optimus: What?
Sentinel: That you won't laugh!
[Optimus looks around the rubble for Sentinel]
Optimus: Sentinel? Where are you?
Sentinel: [quietly] Look down...
[Optimus looks down to see Sentinel's head severed from his body]
Optimus: [[lets out a hysterical laugh]
Sentinel: You promised you wouldn't laugh!!

— Saying Optimus Prime got a kick out of Sentinel Prime's misfortune would be an understatement.


Bumblebee: Just because you don't have a tutor bot anymore doesn't mean you have to stop learning.
Bulkhead: Right. We can teach you.
Bumblebee: So, class, today's lesson is regarding...um...well, stuff, and how it works. Any questions?
Sari: Yeah. Why is there no record of my existence?
Bumblebee: Okay...a little bit outside the lesson plan. Professor Bulkhead, your thoughts?
Bulkhead: Maybe she came here from another planet in some kinda egg and crashed on Sumdac's doorstep.
Bumblebee: Or a portal could have opened and she fell through from another dimension.
Bulkhead: Or maybe she's really a robot.
Bumblebee: Or maybe Sumdac found her in a cabbage patch.
Bulkhead: Or that stork thing.

—Professors Bumblebee and Bulkhead have obviously been visiting the fan forums...


"Yes! I am so l33t!"
"Yeah? Well, I have no idea what that means!"

Headmaster boasts as Optimus Prime scores a blow against over-sized egos everywhere.


Sentinel: "You... You ripped my arm off!"
Optimus: "It was trying to jam shield spikes into my FACE!"

—Yeah, but we know you've wanted to do that for a while, Optimus.


Sari: What do you guys want?
Bumblebee: Nothing.
Bulkhead: We just wanted to know if you were okay.
Sari: Okay? If I'm okay? My dad is missing, I lost control of his company, that Powell guy is going to destroy everything good he worked for, I've been kicked out of the only home I've ever known, and I don't even know if I exist, and you think I'm okay!?
[she breaks down into tears]
Bulkhead: Oh...her eyes are leaking.
Bumblebee: You let 'em leak as much as you need to. We're here, and you're safe. So whatever it is, you can...always talk to us. We'll listen...
[Sari sniffles]
Sari: Thank you...

Tara Strong gets even the most hard-hearted of fans sympathizing with Sari. Voice-acting goddess!

Notes

  • This episode was first broadcast in Canada on April 19, one week before its United States premiere.
  • In the Japanese version, it was aired as the seventeenth episode.
  • As of according to this episode, Bumblebee and Bulkhead think that Sari would eat already-eaten fish bones, oil cans, and a live rabbit.

Animation and/or technical glitches

  • When the Headmaster unit transformed into robot mode, the head suddenly shrunk.

Continuity errors

  • When Optimus stops Masterson's escape, he asserts the villain is going "back to prison", although the Headmaster has yet to serve time at all.
  • Since when did Henry Masterson know about the Decepticons? (Well, maybe he watches TV.)
  • How did the rumor about Sentinel Prime losing his body spread? Weren't the only ones who knew about this were Optimus Prime, Porter C. Powell, Henry Masterson, and of course Sentinel Prime?
  • Ultra Magnus, in the end, asked Sentinel Prime "What are these rumors about you losing your head!?". Isn't he supposed to ask "What are these rumors about you, losing your body!?". Sentinel Prime's head is with Optimus Prime in this episode and isn't the Headmaster a body snatcher, not a head snatcher? Of course, it's possible he's using a metaphor for getting out of control, but...
  • To call another bot through a COM link, a bot needs to tap their audio unit with their finger, so how exactly was Sentinel able to call Optimus with no body?
  • Powell claims that Sparkplug and Tutor-Bot are Sumdac Systems property, however in Sound and Fury Sumdac states that Sparkplug was built as a gift for Sari's 7th(?) birthday and therefore would make him the personal property of Sari
    • It could be that the Sparkplug unit is a prototype of a intended product line and might technically be classified as assigned to Sari for fieldtesting purposes, in which the company retains legal rights to the product. As such, Sari attempting to remove Sparkplug from the company premises is theft and potentially exposing the product to industrial espionage via reverse engineering.
      But most likely, Powell is just being mean and wanting to make Sari as miserable as possible just for the fun of it.
*

Transformers references

  • How Optimus deals with the Headmaster possesed Sentinel is very similar to what G1 Megatron was originally supposed to do to Orion Pax in the G1 episode War Dawn. The original script called for Megatron to shoot off Orion's arm and then decapitate him with his own arm. It was cut for being too violent, but is similar in concept to what Optimus does to Sentinel in this episode.

Real-world references

  • Bumblebee mentions Sari could have come from a cabbage patch, a reference to the popular explanation of where babies come from - or to the Cabbage Patch Kids said explanation inspired.
  • Powell makes a passing reference to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also known as "the Mounties".
  • Bulkhead's "came here from another planet in some kind of egg" comment could be a reference to 1970s sitcom Mork and Mindy, or also a reference to the Superman origin story.
  • The appearance of Detroit's real-life Wayne County Building and the Renaissance Center in this episode gives a firm location for Sumdac Tower -- it's on one of two blocks of Randolph Street, currently occupied by a parking garage and a surface parking lot.

Miscellaneous trivia

  • Powell claims Optimus and Sentinel's clash with Masterson took place in "international waters". There are no international waters in Lake St. Clair or Lake Erie, just American and Canadian waters. (But then, this is the future.) The "Mounties" remark is still relevant.
  • Powell's argument that the ship belongs to Sumdac Systems is invalid as, despite being an employee of Sumdac Systems, Masterson doesn't own the ship.
    • Then again, because the ship is Powell's property, he may have the final word in whether or not charges are pressed.
  • Apparently, calling the police to report fabricated events (about Decepticons) doesn't constitute a crime in Detroit. Either that, or Fanzone didn't put two and two together as to Masterson being the caller of the faux incident.
  • When Sentinel asks for Optimus to cover for him, Optimus mentions how Sentinel "covered for him" all those years ago, presumably after the Elita-1 incident. Maybe this is the reason that Optimus washed out of the Autobot Academy? As it turns out....
  • Either the events of this episode span at least two days and two nights, or the sun goes down roughly every couple of hours.
  • Given they presumably had very little time to prepare, the Autobots have whipped up a surprisingly comfortable room for Sari in their factory, doubly surprising given the lack of proper materials to hand. Who wouldn't want to sleep in a bed made from a giant radial tire!?
  • On the other hand, their idea of proper human cuisine needs some work, since the meal they provide for Sari consists of a bunch of acorns, a fish skeleton (with flies buzzing around it), a live rabbit, and some miniature barrels of oil.
  • Porter C. Powell is shaping up to be a bigger villain than all the previous human bad guys in the series combined.
  • To go with his Captain America-inspired shield, Sentinel turns out to have an energy lance and a very knight-like battle mask.
  • Prowl is in this episode for less than thirty seconds, yet is still the one who ends up solving one of the episode's conflicts. He's that good.
  • This is the only episode of Season Two where the Decepticons don't appear.
  • Along with Masterson having an excuse for getting away with "destruction of property and assault" they didn't mention theft of property (most of Sentinel) but that may fall under "since when does an alien robot have rights".
  • Why didn't Fanzone point out that Masterson intentionally caused the solar fusion reactor core to almost overload, melt down and destroy the entire state of Michigan? Headmaster That would get Masterson locked up for terrorism.
  • Optimus Prime's laugh is hilarious. Just listen to it.

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