Episode Review: Beast Wars S01 Ep04 “Equal Measures”

Years ago, when I first watched this episode of Beast Wars, I still had no interest in Transformers at all. I had been bought – and given away – a solitary toy, watched most of G1 during school holidays as a teenager but didn’t feel any real connection to it so Beast Wars really had a lot to prove and had a lot of work to convince me that any Transformers series was worth watching. Having enjoyed the series to that point, I was still eager to see what was coming…

The Maximals are attempting to install a series of survey posts throughout their region, but their plans are brought to an abrupt halt by an incoming electrical storm. Despite Cheetor’s protestations that he is capable of completing the job before the storm hits, Primal thinks that it’s too dangerous, especially with the need for precision with the underground energon streams surrounding the region so he tells him to sit tight. Meanwhile, Dinobot’s lust for revenge over the Predacons drives him to plan an attack on their base with a newly developed bomb that the Maximals have in their posession. He quickly seizes upon Cheetor’s youth-driven frustration and encourages him to take the initiative but things go awry…

Cheetor sets off on his own and the inevitable happens – he strikes energon accidentally, a survey post becomes heavily charged and while grabbing the post Cheetor finds himself transported to the Predacon base face to face with Terrorsaur. After a brief encounter with him, and a few other Predacons Terrorsaur finds himself transported to the Maximal base, all while Cheetor discovers just how the two ships seem to be connected…

Going back and watching this it’s hard to believe that it’s only four episodes in to the series and only the second standalone episode after the two-part opener. The pacing of the episode is incredibly tight and there’s a lot packed into such a short story but nothing feels rushed at any point. There are plenty of set pieces for those wanting action, strong characterisation, a great deal of character development, humour and intense drama all rolled up into an expertly written package.

What really makes this episode stands out is how the continual tension is still evident between Primal and Dinobot. While it’s evident that they both share the same overall goal of defeating the Predacons, it’s clear that Dinobot’s more savage approach doesn’t sit well with Primal and you can almost sense his disapproval and hints of doubt over his decision to bring him into the Maximal fold. Even as a viewer, we’re still left wondering just who’s side Dinobot is on and it’s clear that he has his own agenda and is with the Maximals for reasons that he isn’t willing to disclose to anyone.

For me, as a big Cheetor fan, the whole episode obviously was one I was set to enjoy anyway with plenty of wisecracks and one-liners coming from the robotic feline. Probably the highlight of these was a great line of dialogue when he first appears on the Predacon ship and encounters Terrorsaur. He is about to be attacked and is already in robot form, and says his voice activation code, Cheetor Maximise… did that already!” A classic line and it gives the character a really “human” touch.

It’s easy to see why Beast Wars hooked me on Transformers. Even though I’m only four episodes in now, I’m hooked once more on re-watching the series and even though the CGI visuals have dated quite significantly, the scripts and acting are still head and shoulders above any other Transformers production – animated or otherwise. It’s no wonder why I was so impressed so quickly first time around.

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