We’re starting the week with a brand new iteration of a long-beloved 80s staple: the Transformers are back, baby! A brand new telling of the Cybertronian warriors’ story has just released on Netflix and after seeing some of the promo shots around the internet in recent weeks, I’ve been all hopped up for this like I’ve been guzzling Mountain Dew!
I’ve been a Transformers fan for as long as I can remember and, with how Netflix has delivered in huge ways with Voltron and She-Ra in recent years, I’m fully expecting this series to be another home run. Those Netflix people are taking very good care of the things I grew up loving so I will support until they give me reason not to.
Interesting concept with this series as this is being promoted as a “trilogy”. What is now available is filed under “Chapter 1: Siege” with two more chapters to come at a later date. There are only six episodes currently available so this has the feeling of something we’ll speed through and be begging for more with the quickness.
It’s the nostalgia that bit with this, obviously. All the promo stuff I had seen depicted all the Autobots and Decepticons in a fashion true to their classic 80s selves and – real talk – that grabbed me and I’m prepared to love this show even if it’s terrible.
But that decision can’t be made for another 22 minutes so fire up your Netflix-enabled device, transform and roll out!
Chapter 1: Siege, Episode 1
We open on war-torn Cybertron where Wheeljack and Bumblebee are searching for Energon while trying to avoid detection from the Seekers who are patrolling from above. This is a callback to the classic series which began in the same fashion and, for those who will pick up on that, is very cool.
Bumblebee, at this point, is just a scavenger. He’s been hired by Wheeljack and the Autobots to locate Energon, but is not an Autobot himself and that is by choice. He’s just out here trying to live and doesn’t want to get caught in the reindeer games of Autobots versus Decepticons. Bee leads Wheeljack into what looks like an abandoned science facility that has a decent amount of Energon, but also houses a space bridge. Wheeljack is entranced by the bridge and immediately starts playing with the controls as he reminisces about a time before the war when you could travel around on these things. Bumblebee tells him to knock that off because he doesn’t want to rouse suspicion and Wheeljack tells Bee that he’ll eventually have to pick a dog in the fight. That statement was barely completed before an evil voice chimes in telling Bee to make sure he picks the right ones. It’s Jetfire and he’s leading the Seekers (Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker and two more who I believe to be Dirge and Thrust [although, feel free to correct me as they haven’t to this point been named and I only clearly recall the original three]) who now surround our two friendly robots.
Starscream (my absolute favorite Transformer) is hyped and wants to blast away the two, but Jetfire swings around and slices off Starscream’s cannon-laden right arm with what looks like a sword made of pure energy that he can draw and sheath at will. Jetfire may be a Decepticon, but he’s not killing for killing’s sake. He appears to live by a code. This causes a skirmish between the Seekers and gives Bumblebee and Wheeljack an opportunity to attempt escape, but as they get to exit, there’s a haunting, unmistakeable silhouette standing in their way: Megatron.
Starscream implores Megatron to allow him to execute the Autobots, but even Megatron dismisses him, saying this war was started as a revolution and not a genocide. He want the Autobots to come over to his way of thinking, but Wheeljack isn’t having it. He pledges his allegiance to Optimus Prime even when faced with certain death which I believe is what calls Fawkes the phoenix to your side with the Sword of Gryffindor in tow.
Nope, I was way off. What it actually does is call Optimus Prime himself to make a last-second save giving us our first showdown in this series between Prime and Megatron. Just ten minutes in and this has that “big fight feel”. Hook it to my veins.
Prime reminds Megatron that they once fought for the same things under the guidance of Alpha Trion, the former great elder of Cybertron who was killed at the hands of Megatron. That appears to be one of Prime’s great motivating factors and, after turning down Megatron’s offer of a treaty that would enslave the Autobots to Megatron, the two engage in hand-to-hand combat. A fight scene that would make the one in They Live proud, but appears to be coming to an unsatisfactory end as Megatron hovers above Prime, ready to put out his spark when his weapon is surprisingly shot from his hand at the last possible moment.
Prime’s back up is Elita One and she’s given the Autobots a chance to get out of this mess. They retreat and Prime gives her an order which leads to her setting off an explosive that destroys the path behind the Autobots allowing them to put some room between them and the Decepticons. The Autobots retreat to an underground-looking tunnel which looks like someplace Edgar Friendly from Demolition Man would be living in secret and it leads them to their base: the Ark, which is the ship the Autobots escaped to Earth aboard in the original series.
Upon returning, Prime seeks out Ultra Magnus, his second in command who is ready to give up the fight in honor to ensure the survival of the race. Prime refuses to back down and Magnus stomps off claiming Prime is as stubborn as Megatron.
Prime tries recruiting Bumblee to the Autobot cause, but Bee’s not having it. He wants nothing to do with this war and will continue to attempt to get by and survive on his own.
While this is going on, Megatron gives a propaganda-laden speech where he says he now understands that peace with the Autobots is a fruitless prospect and pledges to end this war in victory for the Decepticons soon enough.
As Megatron sits to ponder his next move, he pontificates to Jetfire and Starscream the way to defeat Optimus Prime as someone approaches the Decepticon base. Some who looks familiar, but is cloaked and can’t quite be made out. Someone who…will be revealed in Episode 2 as we hit the credits.
I don’t even have to pretend to be excited. This was awesome. These were all the Transformers I know and remember looking, sounding and acting like the Transformers I know and remember, but with a much advanced feel for danger and real stakes than in the original. This is not your basic 80s cartoon where thousands of lasers get fired in each episode and nobody gets hit, let alone dies. This show did a wonderful job of building tension and keeping you glued to the screen while hoping the good guys would be able to find a way out of what looked to be their ultimate demise.
It’s darker, it’s much more serious than maybe what you’d be expecting from a Transformers show, but I thought this was an incredible opener that ended with a cliffhanger that I’m 99% sure I have figured out, but would still surprise me if it is what I think it is. If you came to this because of the nostalgia (like I did and would assume almost everyone else did as well), I can’t see how you could possibly be disappointed in any way with the presentation here. Just a really great use and modernization of these awesome characters we grew up with.
Main Man Standing:
I don’t do this a lot so understand that it’s a big deal when I do: QUINTUPLE MAIN MAN! Five stars, a damn unicorn! I’m not BS’ing when I say this made me run the gamut of emotions: from the joy of seeing Wheeljack and Bumble together at the beginning, to feeling the danger of when it looked as if Megatron may take out Prime this early in the series to the nostalgia pops provided by little things like seeing the Ark or Starscream trying to interject on behalf of himself at every opportunity. This was pure dynamite and I cannot wait to roll out into Episode 2 tomorrow.
Comments & Concerns: