Episode Review: Transformers S02 Ep03 – “City of Steel”

“I want you working, not nagging at each other……”

New York City. A metallic bird hovers overhead, Laserbeak. He blasts a manhole cover and heads for the sewers, where he arrives at a Decepticon underground base. The Constructicons are hard at work… claiming the credit for the hardest part of the construction of the new Decepticon headquarters! Laserbeak reports that no Autobot activity is in the area, so the Constructicons step up their efforts-which causes the Empire State building to sink underground.

The Autobots hear about the calamity at New York on the news, and set off from the Ark to intervene, while radioing another team of Autobots, who are already elsewhere to meet them at Central Park. Laserbeak, on patrol discovers the Autobots are on their way and reports to Megatron in time for him to set up a trap for them at Central Park.

As the Autobots arrive, they are confronted by Soundwave, Rumble and Frenzy, who immediately set about distracting the Autobots, while Megatron and the Constructicons position themselves underneath from below ground. From this position, Constructicon Scavenger breaks through the surface, knocking Optimus Prime down into the Decepticons clutches. Megatron incapacitates him and then tells the Autobots that they must leave if they want Prime to remain unharmed.

“The reborn Decepticon city of New Cybertron!”

Megatron orders the Constructicons to activate the lift which reveals his new headquarters to the world! He again threatens the Autobots that if they try to harm his new creation, he will melt Optimus Prime down.

As humans are being evacuated from New York, the other Autobot team of Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Trailbreaker, Ratchet, Hound and Mirage are held up in the traffic. They are using this time to ponder how they can help. Spike, aboard Bumblebee comes up with an idea and the team divert themselves to another route.

“Even immobilised you worry me….”

At Decepticon HQ, Megatron orders Hook to disassemble Optimus Prime. Even after being disassembled, Prime tries to use mental control of his body parts to stop Megatron, but it is not enough. Megatron orders the Constructicons to dispose of Prime’s body, while keeping his head for himself!

The other team of Autobots, following Spike’s plan have navigated their way underground, and Mirage uses his invisibility power to move ahead of the rest of the team to scout for danger without being seen.

Meanwhile the Constructicons are having fun with Prime’s limbs and are planning on putting them to good use. It doesn’t take long before we see how, they have created an alligator bot from Prime’s parts to patrol the sewers. Aligator-Prime quickly finds the Autobots and attacks them! Not realising that it’s Primes parts they are being confronted by, the Autobots manage to send the alligator off in an abandoned underground train.

“Optimus, what have they done to you?”

While the Decepticons continue to develop New York into a city of steel, Ratchet, Hound and the other Autobots penetrate into the Decepticon headquarters and manage to find Optimus Prime’s head. Ratchet reactivates him and he manages to locate his legs. Only then, does it dawn on the Autobots that the alligator they were dealing with earlier was made from Prime’s parts! Using a combination of Autobot muscle and Prime’s mental control, they get the alligator under control and Ratchet works his medical magic to put prime together-although one part is missing-his right arm.

“I think we’ve just found Prime’s missing arm!”

The Constructicons have turned Prime’s right arm, holding his ion blaster, into a defensive weapon atop of the Decepticon tower. Just as the Autobots realise this, Megatron turns it against them-raining blasts down on them. The Autobots scatter and transform in order to avoid the blasts, but danger is everywhere. The Constructicons have tuned many of New York’s resources into weapons-trains and taxi-cabs attack the Autobots. While Optimus Prime is not fully whole, he is still able to transform and use his power to overwhelm the Constructicons and their weapons.

After earning themselves some breathing room, Prime, Ratchet and Ironhide scale the Decepticon tower in and effort to get Prime’s arm back. The seekers try to stop them but are unsuccessful, so the Decepticons unleash the heavy metal-Devastator! As Megatron and Soundwave watch on from the Decepticon tower, Bumblebee and Spike sneak in to distract them, causing mayhem as the Decepticons try to catch them. An errant blast takes out the weapon control, stopping the blasts coming from Prime’s arm.

Outside, Devatator has taken Prime in hand and is scaling the tower King-Kong style! When Prime learns that his arm is no longer in Decepticon control though, he’s able to use his mental control to blast Devastator with it, sending him tumbling towards the ground. Prime’s blast would prove to be the message the Decepticons needed to understand the Autobots had taken control of the battle, and so they would flee the scene as Megatron vows to return!

Prime’s arm is reattached, and the Autobots restore New York and roll for home, but not before Bumblebee picks up a souvenir for his front bumper!

Key Scenes, Plot Points and Characters:

Seeing Optimus Prime still trying to stop Megatron even though he is in pieces is a reminder of just how brave this powerful leader is, and how he will never give up no matter how bad things may seem. There’s an amusing King Kong related joke towards the end of the episode that raises a smile as Wheeljack is unsuccessful in his attempts to stop Devastator. Spike shows some serious bravery and his value to the Autobots in trying to stop the Decepticons.

The Verdict:

This is not the best Transformers episode, but it has some entertaining moments, as well as some important character development that can be easy to miss amongst scenes of Prime’s body being turned into an alligator and his arm poking out from the top of a tower, as well as blatant King-Kong references. I score this episode 6 energon cubes out of 10.

Afterthoughts:

I can remember the first time I ever watched this episode. I remember not liking the it and being disappointed by it. The concept of Prime’s body being turned into an alligator, and his arm being attached to the Decepticon tower, just looked, and felt silly to me (I know, it’s a cartoon aimed at kids!), it just didn’t seem to hold up to the high standard that I was used to for Transformers episodes. If I hadn’t revisited it for this review, and you asked me to score it, I probably would have given it a 3 out of 10.

However, as I’ve said before, reviewing episodes makes you look at them in more detail. I’ve watched this episode a few times before and I’ve always felt the same about it, but while reviewing it, I actually enjoyed it for the first time.
Something that really stood out for me is that despite the craziness and nastiness of what was happening to Optimus Prime, he just never gave up. For me, this served to further develop this area of his character and enhance his legendary status in my mind. I also found some of the latter King-Kong references amusing for the first time, as well as Bumblebee’s bumper sticker.

It’s amazing how you can see things differently and appreciate them more when you really pay attention. Given the fast paced word we live in where we’re bombarded with images and messages everywhere we look, I find it comforting to know that there are still life lessons to be learned from watching old transformers episodes!

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About Steve Shreeve 32 Articles
Steve Shreeve is a busy Personal Trainer who loves to write. As well as his love for health and fitness, Steve has many interests including Transformers, Star Trek, basketball, conservation of plants and animals and is a keen supporter of The Shark Trust and The Woodland Trust.