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Trapped in Cybertron's past, the Aerialbots learn the truth about Megatron and the rise of Optimus Prime.
- Japanese title: "Caused War"
Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker are racing through the skies with the Aerialbots in hot pursuit. They have kidnapped human dignitaries for unknown, but certainly nefarious, purposes. The Aerialbots are debating amongst themselves in pretty stark terms if humans are worth saving. After they outmaneuver the Decepticons, Starscream dumps the hostages in mid-air. He and the others escape as the Aerialbots break off to save the humans.
Back at Autobot HQ, the Aerialbots talk amongst themselves about their admiration of the Seekers, to the ire of the other Autobots. Teletraan I breaks in before the argument gets out of hand and alerts Optimus Prime to strange energy readings emanating from Cybertron. They board Omega Supreme and head into the stratosphere to investigate.
Under the ocean, Megatron gripes about the Aerialbots and losing air supremacy. Soundwave reports in that the Autobots have left earth, and Megatron goes after them across the space bridge. On Cybertron, Megatron explains that he has a time machine called a Kronosphere that he planned on using to steal energy from the past. Now, he wants to set a trap for the Aerialbots and send them back into the past.
The Autobots arrive on a dark and dingy Cybertron, and are attacked by Starscream and the others. Slingshot tries to get the Decepticons to stop attacking and talk to them. Starscream and the others drop down for a chat while Silverbolt frets. After gaining their trust, Screamer leads them right onto Megatron's Chronosphere. Silverbolt tries to warn them that it's a trap but it's too late. Megatron activates the device, intending to send them back to the beginning of time. The Aerialbots are encased in a purple bubble and disappear.
Seconds later, Optimus Prime and the other Autobots ram through the wall of the building and attack. Prime shoots the machine in order to stop it from trapping the Aerialbots in the past. The Decepticons retreat and Optimus orders the machine repaired. He estimates it has sent the Aerialbots 9 million years into the past to Cybertron's Golden Age.
The bubble bursts and the five planes reappear on Cybertron, but a different world than the one they left. This Cybertron is bright and alive. The Aerialbots admire the scenery and argue about whose fault it was that the planet was trashed. Slingshot isn't ready to blame the Decepticons and says they are misunderstood. They are interrupted by a small ‘bot who introduces himself as Orion Pax. He works at the docks unloading energy shipments. Orion's friend Dion and girlfriend Ariel introduce themselves too. Dion alerts them to come outside and see the new type of flying robot that everyone is talking about. The Aerialbots go out and see Megatron, Soundwave and Shockwave flying overheard. Orion and Dion admire the flying robots, and Silverbolt warns them away from their hero worship. But does anybody listen to him? Nooooo.
After Orion goes back to work unloading ships, he is approached by a visitor who introduces himself as Megatron. Orion shows him around but when they reach the energy storehouse Megatron orders the Decepticons concealed outside to attack. When Orion tries to stop him, Megatron mercilessly shoots him and his two friends. The Aerialbots arrive after the battle to find the three Autobots inoperative.
Back in the present, Megatron is planning a counterattack to regain the Chronosphere. In nearby wreckage, Shockwave spots the body of a Guardian Robot, sans head, and Megatron plans to reactivate it. Meanwhile, Optimus, Wheeljack, Ironhide and Ratchet are still trying to repair the device.
In the past, the Aerialbots are carrying Orion's lifeless body to someone who can help. Slingshot is singing a very different tune now; he swears revenge on Megatron. A mustached figure from a doorway calls to them and suggests they go someplace else for help. Decepticon attacks have caused severe casualties among the Autobots. After the Aerialbots ask again, he agrees to fix Orion. After an unknown amount of time, the stranger emerges with a rebuilt Orion Pax, now going by the name Optimus Prime. Prime and the Aerialbots rush off to join the battle, while the stranger muses about rebuilding Ariel into a female warrior named Elita One.
Just as the tide of battle is turning in the Decepticons' favor, Megatron is confronted by Optimus Prime, who takes out the entire Decepticon front line by himself. Meanwhile, the Aerialbots have returned to the docks to find the Decepticons raiding the energy stores.
Flashing to the present, the time machine has been fixed, but Megatron and the Decepticons attack. To further complicate things, they let loose the Guardian Robot against the Autobots.
Back in the past, the Aerialbots set energy pack charges to blow up the storehouse in order to keep the energy out of Megatron's hands. Unfortunately, they are trapped inside because Decepticon warriors are blocking the exits. Silverbolt orders Slingshot to blow up the storehouse anyway. Just as the charges go off, the Kronosphere scoops them up and brings them back to the present. They merge into Superion and take out the Guardian Robot. Megatron retreats and an enraged Slingshot yells after him.
As they head back to Omega Supreme, Silverbolt describes their adventures in the past, including about Orion Pax, and Optimus finally recognizes the Aerialbots as the ones who saved him. Ratchet demands to know what's going on and, seeing as they have a long journey back to Earth, Optimus starts to tell the tale.
Original airdate: December 25th, 1985
Production number: 700-58
Written by: David Wise
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"There's only one way to get those Aerialbots off our tails and that's to dump the chumps.”
- —Starscream right before he dumps the chumps, er, humans.
"Are those guys crazy?"
"Crazy or even dumber than I suspected, hehehe."
- —Skywarp and Starscream talking about the Aerialbots who stopped fighting and want to "talk" to the Seekers.
Starscream: "Okay buddies, we'll talk. What do you want to know?"
Slingshot: "I want to know why Optimus Prime thinks you're evil."
Starscream: "That old rust bucket doesn't know a thing about Decepticons. Stick with me. I'll teach you some things about the Decepticons, all right."
Silverbolt: "I don't believe this!"
- —Starscream prepares to school the Aerialbots.
“Those little twerps. They're tryin' to switch sides!”
- —Ironhide comments on the dubious loyalty of the Aerialbots.
"You'll see, the Decepticons are a swell bunch and do we have fun!"
- —Starscream harping on the Decepticons infamous party habits.
"A warrior doesn't need a head, just a good strong body."
- —Megatron, commenting on the damaged Guardian robot that is about to be reprogrammed to serve the Deceptions.
"You may not recognize him, for he is no longer Orion Pax. He is the first of our new defenders... Optimus Prime."
"I was wrong, my friends. I admired Megatron merely because he was powerful. I failed to see how he used that power."
- —Alpha Trion introducing Optimus Prime.
Optimus Prime: "You've caused enough destruction for one day, Megatron!"
Megatron: "I haven't even started!"
(Megatron fires several shots at Optimus Prime, all of which bounce off harmlessly)
Megatron: (shocked) "You, who are you?!"
Optimus Prime: "Your worst nightmare!"
- —Megatron and Optimus Prime confront each other for the first time.
"It all began about nine million years ago..."
"Oh, great! This is going to be one of those long stories!"
- —Optimus Prime and Ratchet, after the latter demands to know what's going on.
Animation and/or technical glitches
- The air battle at the beginning of the episode is filled with errors: Firstly, Slingshot is coloured like Air Raid when Skywarp is bearing down upon him. Moments later, Skydive fires purple lasers at Skywarp. Moments after that, black panels on Thundercracker's hull are mis-aligned. Finally, Slingshot's cockpit is unpainted, as is Starscream's chest.
- While Megatron berates the Seekers for allowing the Aerialbots to defeat them, Starscream's lower right arm is coloured red.
- When Omega Supreme is transforming on Cybertron, he disappears for a second, then reappears.
- When Ariel is shot by Megatron, her cel is not properly aligned with the background, so one of her legs floats over the energon cubes.
- Ariel is shown with the Aerialbots running to find her own body.
- Air Raid explains to Fireflight why Megatron wouldn't recognize them 9 million years in the past, and Fireflight says, “Huh?” but the scene cuts to a close up of Air Raid so it looks like he's saying it instead. Huh?
- It is unclear why the Aerialbots (bar Silverbolt) are so impressed by the Seekers considering the ease with which the Decepticons were defeated. But then again, the Aerialbots (again, sans Silverbolt,) were unwilling to fight for the humans in "The Key to Vector Sigma, Part 2.
- Optimus Prime somehow knows exactly what the Chronosphere is doing despite the fact he was out of earshot when Megatron said it.
- Optimus Prime is somehow able to recall, in detail, the events leading up to his "promotion" in this episode despite not being able to remember just who Alpha Trion was in The Search for Alpha Trion.
- This takes place "a few weeks" after "The Key to Vector Sigma, Part 2", according to Optimus Prime.
- This episode introduces a lot of major mythological elements from the Generation One cartoon, including the origin of Optimus Prime and Elita One and showing the start of the Third Great War.
- Near the end, when Optimus says "You! So you five were the ones who saved me!" he starts to pull his ol' Ironhide impression.
- In a interview on the Kid Rhino DVD set, writer David Wise says that the meeting between Orion Pax and Megatron happened differently in the original version of the script. Megatron was to blast Orion's arm off and then use it to decapitate him. Sunbow, fearing the scene was too violent, had it changed.
- As what the Arielbots and Orion realized, this episode out of the rest, shows the Deception's brutality and cold nature.
- For whatever reason, voice actor John Stephenson wasn't in this episode and thus Thundercracker had a different voice. The same voice had been used for Jazz in "Kremzeek!", and would be recycled for Ratchet in the episode "Masquerade".
- Dion's fate is never revealed. Fans have speculated that he was also rebuilt and reformatted by Alpha Trion into a familiar character, with Ultra Magnus and Ironhide being the two most popular suspects. Of course, it's entirely possible he simply died.
- Footage from this episode was used to represent a historical video in "Transform and Roll Out!", the opening movie for Transformers Animated. Most notably, a shot of Dion shielding his eyes with his hand was used out of context to represent an Autobot saluting.
- In this episode, Ariel, who would later become Elita One, is played by Samantha Newark, the voice actress who played Jerrica Benton / Jem in Jem and the Holograms, the sister show of The Transformers and G.I. Joe. While in the episode "The Search for Alpha Trion", Elita One was played by Marlene Aragon, who played the holographic computer Synergy in Jem.
- If Megatron had a time Machine this whole time, why not go back in time and do something more effective? He could have killed Orion Pax and ended the war before it began.
- It's possible he still doesn't know, For Primus' sake, it's the guy who used a cloning machine once and tried movng the moon!
- Optimus Prime's first words after his rebuild were "I was wrong".