Actually, that just makes me a giant nerd. I have been called worse.
Day of the Minicons, courtesy of Fixit from Robots in Disguise
I've put my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. catch-up on-hold to get this review done (seriously, that show is great), so away we go with full spoilers on the penultimate episode, Hunting Season~!
Episode twelve, Hunting Season, introduces six(!) new characters to the show. Autobot Drift (Eric Bauza) and Decepticon Fracture (Kevin Pollak) come to Earth to collect the bounty that the Cybertronian council has put on the heads of Bumblebee and his team. Bumblebee saves Drift from Fracture, causing Drift to owe Bumblebee a life debt, which culminates in Drift helping the Autobots to stop Fracture from collecting the bounty (which he almost achieves).
Drift and Fracture each have two Minicon partners - Drift has Jetstorm and Slipstream (both voiced by Roger Craig Smith); Fracture has Airazor (also Roger Craig Smith) and Divebomb (voiced by Khary Payton (Grimlock)). The voice-acting is great all-round, especially considering Roger Craig Smith voices three of the Minicons and Khary Payton is playing yet another character. Impressive stuff, guys.
Frankly, the Minicons feel like a huge gimmick. Even the action scenes - particularly when they're first deployed right after the opening credits - feel like one big toy commercial... which isn't surprising, given that Transformers started off as such, and has been such to some extent ever since its inception.
Still, despite feeling like one big ad, the Minicons are well-done. Their bland alt. modes blend nicely into both vehicle and robot modes for Drift and Fracture, and their robot modes are fully unique, rife with character. Okay, Jetstorm and Slipstream are quite similar in design and voice (surprise), but they're meant to be.
In fact, our new Minicon friends are probably my favourite addition to this show. They slot right in alongside the characters of Fixit and Russell, with their metaphorically wide-eyed personalities - they're used to a strict lifestyle with Drift that generates curiosity and fascination within them when they're exposed to arguably more colourful characters such as Russell.
I'm really hoping we get to learn more about Minicons in this universe, because the idea that Jetstorm and Slipstream lived a life of crime - perhaps the idea that Minicons are more than just Cybertronian servants - is intriguing. I want to know more about how Minicons fit into the social structure of Cybertron.
Then we have Drift. He's honourable. He's, um... Japanese? I suppose. That's the idea, at least. Jetstorm and Slipstream initially call him "sensei" when talking to Russell and Fixit ("teacher", basically - "mentor" is probably a more accurate translation in this instance, however), but eventually just resort to addressing him as "master", which they do when they first show up. Does Russell even know what a "sensei" is? Maybe he just watched that much TV.
Honestly, I like Drift's design, I enjoyed Eric Bauza's performance, but the character feels hollow. As Bumblebee points out, Drift doesn't really understand what "honour" means. Maybe he spells it "honor". That might be the problem.
One has to wonder why someone so honourable would let himself be classed as a bounty hunter. If Drift isn't in it for the money and truly just wants to work for the Cybertronian council, you'd think he would work for them as an "agent" or something different. "Bounty hunter" implies that he works alone, and that he's a rogue. Drift definitely doesn't work alone, and he seems pretty on-the-level.
My biggest problem with Drift is that he's kind of a jerk. A little, anyway. He reconciles on that just a tad at the end of the episode, but he feels like a very strict high school teacher or something similar. Hopefully, if he does indeed come back (he probably will), he mellows over time.
Fracture, on the other hand, is a bounty hunter through-and-through. He's ruthless and cunning, and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Unfortunately, we don't get to see a lot of interaction between fracture and his Minicons, but I got the impression that they were a pretty tight-knit group - Fracture doesn't seem too strict, but the three of them feel very professional and skilled at what they do, so active discipline isn't really necessary.
Thankfully, Fracture stays around for the next episode and most likely many more. Kevin Pollak does a great performance as Fracture, making him feel like a suitably badass character whose personality slots in somewhere between fellow Decepticons Steeljaw and Thunderhoof.
There's really not much more to this episode, but let's talk about some of the oddities that pop up which just baffle me.
First, there's the ongoing relationship with Denny and his son Russell. At least, I hope it's ongoing - calling it such may be an obvious observation, but I'd hope that this father-and-son duo stays solid for many stories to come. Anyway, Denny tells Russell that he doesn't want Russell going on any more missions because it is too dangerous - obviously being an overprotective parent.
Still, I can't help but find this odd after eleven previous episodes. Denny just decided it was dangerous now? Sure, okay.
At the end of this episode, Denny decides it's better if Russell is with him all the time so that he can better protect him, meaning Russell can once again go on missions. I love these two, but I can't help feeling that Denny overvalues their contributions to the team. Maybe if he had a transforming exosuit that gave him the magical powers of swearing in a children's television show, but... no.
In all seriousness, I feel that this whole plot point was a bit silly. I suppose it was something that needed to happen, but it should have happened near the beginning of the show, not at the halfway point of the first season.
Another problem is Fracture's ground bridge. Dude, you can turn it on and off whenever you want - why leave it open in enemy territory, where it leads right to your ship? Drift's Minicons aren't in your sight. Now they've hijacked your ship. They've set the hostages free. You screwed up, Fracture. Majorly. Seriously, this is just plain stupidity. This is G1 Starscream-tier stupidity. You're better than that, Fracture. Now prove it.
Absolutely my biggest complaint with this episode is the reason that Drift and Fracture show up in the first place. Remember episode ten, where Jazz shows up to investigate the rag-tag group of Autobots? He said the council "wasn't too pleased" with them. He also said he'd "smooth things over with the council" for them.
Two episodes later, and the Cybertronian council has put a bounty on their heads. If they trusted Jazz so much, why would they ignore what he has to say? Suddenly, they go from a concern to criminal fugitives? That's a big jump.
Hopefully we get to find out what happened in a future episode, because as it is, the logical jump required is something ridiculous. Then again, if the Cybertronian council is corrupt as any one of our real-world governments, it wouldn't be surprising. Optimus must be pissed that he saved Cybertron, only to have it turn to crap pretty quickly. Either that or there's a real douchebag on the council. I bet ten bucks that it's Huffer.
I really enjoyed this episode, but I have to say, this is possibly one of the most flawed episodes of the show so far. Don't let that deter you from liking it, though - it was a pretty awesome ride.
Thanks for tuning in to read this review. If you liked it, why not share it around?
If you didn't like it, feel free to send me pictures of dead chihuahuas so that I can share them with my friends over at the NSA, FBI and CIA.
Actually, I have no friends, so don't worry, your secret is safe with me.
Make sure to come back on Friday for the final review (for now) of Transformers Robots in Disguise!