Episode Review: Beast Wars S01 Ep18 – “Spider’s Game”

Beast Wars

Our last couple of Beast Wars reviews looked at the two-parter “The Trigger”, but things are back to normal with our overview of the first season as Episode 18 returns to the single episode format. As you can no doubt guess from the title, “Spider’s Game” is going to focus on the 8-legged Predacons…

Spider’s Game – Story Summary

What seems to be something of a regualar occurance these days, another Maximal stasis pod is falling to the planet. Tarantulas has discovered the pod and triggers an EM pulse disabling the scanners of both the Predacons and Maximals so he can reach the pod before anyone else, hoping to claim the occupant for himself.

Blackarachnia uncovers his plan and offers to help rather than turn him over to Megatron. Meanwhile, Tigatron being the only one out on patrol spots the pod falling so attempts to reach it before anyone else does. By the time the Predacons arrive, the pod has already landed and scanned for a form to adopt so Tarantulas tries to intervene, changing the bots loyalty and forcing it to rescan. However, things don’t go according to plan as it finds another lifeform before it could scan the spider Tarantulas was carrying with him…

Enter Inferno

One properly formed, the new Predacon emerges from the stasis pod in the shape of a fire ant, Inferno. We soon learn that something isn’t quite right with this new bot though, as his beast form is more dominant than most. He soon turns on Blackarachnia and Tarantulas, seeing them as a threat to his “colony” (the stasis pod) but once Airrazor arrives on the scene Blackarachnia seizes the opportunity to gain his favour and bring him around.

While the fight goes on, Tarantulas has taken the stasis pod – his original intention, but not before Inferno is in hot pursuit. Tigatron has other ideas, destroying the pod before any of the Predacons can get their hands on and then to add more complications to an already tense situation, Megatron turns up…

For The Royalty!

While we don’t get to see the full development of Inferno’s personality just yet (and his obsession with Megatron), he already proves to be a fascinating character just from what we see in this episode. He shows that he has the potential to be a formidable warrior, but it’s clear that having that inner beast is going to make for some great storytelling.

What helps no-end here is the character design, animation and superb voice performance from Jim Byrnes. It’s such a stark contrast to many of the other characters he has played on screen before, but he handles the character superbly.

Lighter Moments

For what is a relatively simple story, Spider’s Game is allowed to have it’s comedic elements to it and this time it’s more slapstick than anything, paying homage to some of the old Looney Tunes cartoons of old. First, the encounter with Tigatron and Waspinator early on is filled with visual and audio gags. From the birds chirping when Tigatron is shot, to Waspinator’s eyes bulging out and his delayed fall to the ground, and Inferno’s disembodied head spouting nonsense at the end, they all add a fun touch to the episode.

Of all the Transformers shows, Beast Wars is probably the only one that could get away with this type of content without spoiling any of the episodes. We’ve had jokes and one-liners in stories before (who can forget the jellyfish gag in Robots In Disguise, played to perfection by Peter Spellos) but nothing written deliberately in the way it has with Beast Wars. But for some reason they just seem to work.

Overall

Comedy moments aside, it’s clear that this was one of those episodes that came down with instructions from Hasbro. Inferno was about to hit toy stores and they needed an episode to promote him. Any time that happens, it puts immense pressure on the writers to come up with new and interesting episodes around the premise of “here’s someone new to meet”. What worked well here is the fact that they made Inferno different.

Just like the original Marvel G1 comics and TV show, beyond the basic tech specs on the packaging the production crew had a blank canvas to work with in creating Inferno’s personality and that’s what elevated the story. We’re also given a tease at the end from Tarantulas about impending changes as he knows there’s something dangerous ahead for the entire planet – all feeding into the ongoing story we’ve seen with the show since the first episode.

Spider’s Game isn’t a classic episode by any means, but a strong introduction to someone who will defintely become one of the more memorable Predacons…

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About Simon Plumbe 497 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe